Wednesday 21 March 2018

'Oceans couldn't keep me from the ballot box this time'

The under-30s

Claire McCormack
Claire McCormack

Claire McCormack

AS a sickened member of generation brain drain I didn't get a chance to vote in the last General Election because I was trying to carve out a future for myself in London after being robbed of any real opportunity at home.

After four years of studying for a degree and a masters I was faced with two grim options - work for free or board a plane.

And I can easily rhyme off at least thirty young friends, neighbours and acquaintances - all well-educated, intelligent individuals in their early twenties - who also packed their bags weeks before the General Election. (Just a quick reminder - an estimated 76,400 people emigrated that year - almost 19,000 moved to the UK.)

According to a recent survey from the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) 30pc of those aged 18-25 were not registered to vote in last May's local and European elections.

The proportion of unregistered young people has increased from 26pc in the last five years.

The problem is particularly pronounced among 18-21-year-olds, with 43pc of that group not registered, up from 36pc in 2009. Encouragingly, however, 53pc of those registered to vote, did vote. Of those who did not, more than half (52pc) said practical reasons (work commitments, forgot to vote) were to blame, rather than lack of interest.

In hindsight, I regret not coming home to vote but as far as I, and a lot of my stagnant generation were concerned, the then Government had done unforgivable damage and I didn't trust any party enough to fix it.

But this time around, oceans couldn't keep me away from my local ballot box. Choosing not to vote is a waste but voting for a candidate or a party whose policies you know nothing about is a throw away vote too.

From chatting with friends in their mid to late twenties it is clear that door-to-door canvassing and the family line on politics are still common influential factors. And Sinn Fein and Independents remain particularly popular among the younger voters.

John Drennan's Guide to Politics - Spring 2015

The next election will change your life. In a special supplement with the Sunday Independent, John Drennan presents his guide to Irish politics.

Sunday Independent

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