| 18.1°C Dublin

Capital's coolest young social entrepreneur aims to shake up the politicians' cosy little world

YOU already know his face. Even if you've somehow missed Dylan Haskins staring down from his election posters in the constituency of Dublin South East, you'll recognise him as the one-time presenter of RTE's Two Tube.

He's also the founder of collective arts centre The Exchange in Temple Bar, a contributor to Radio 1's arts programme Arena, has set up his own record label, created a documentary and has been running gigs for youngsters since he was 15.

Oh, and he's still only 23 and possesses the type of boy band looks that will focus many young female minds on the General Election.

I was expecting a cocky, uber-cool, privileged kid who naively assumes he can change the world.

But when we sit down to chat over coffee I find myself face to face with a quietly self-assured, grounded and infectiously enthusiastic would-be politician.

So who is the real man behind the image of Dublin's coolest social entrepreneur?


"I'm from Deansgrange", he tells me. "My dad passed away in 2006 so I inherited his house there".

It became the venue for his legendary Hideaway House gigs, which provided a forum for young bands and an innovative social hub for youngsters. It was from here that he set up his own record label.

His late father was a mechanic, a man whose influence left a lasting impression on Dylan.

He explains: "My dad came from quite a big family in Glasthule. His father died quite young. My dad was a really smart man but he had to leave school after his Junior Cert and get an apprenticeship.

"He worked his ass off his whole life and built up his own business so that I would have a choice in what I wanted to do".

Dylan was 14 when, fed up with the lack of facilities for young people, he wrote three letters to then-Local Government Minister Martin Cullen.

"I was saying that basically there were housing estates springing up all over the country. There were just no facilities for us. When he didn't reply, I did what you think you're supposed to do, which is to call Joe Duffy".

When the Liveline piece failed to effect any change, Dylan took matters into his own hands.

"I put my first gig on in March 2004 in the City Arts Centre in Moss Street. I think it was €3 in and there were seven bands," he laughs.

Dylan began producing arts festivals and setting up workshops, launched his own record label and began co-presenting RTE's Two Tube. He also set up the groundbreaking collective arts centre Exchange in Dublin.

His DIY attitude was illustrated when he made the documentary Roll Up Your Sleeves.

Yet he freely admits he never had any intention of rolling up his sleeves as a politician, having habitually "ridiculed the idea".

It wasn't until just after Christmas that he finally agreed to throw his hat into the ring as an Independent candidate for Dublin South East.

"People think of politicians as a different breed. It's become quite a cosy, isolated thing, isolated from the reality of how we work as a country and how we think as a people," he says.

"Some people don't want to talk to anybody. They're just sick of politicians, and it's about trying to show them that you're not what they think a politician is."