Are young people getting a fair go politically in Northern Ireland? #bbcnolan

The Nolan show discussed Gerry Kelly’s comments about the crisis that power-sharing in Northern Ireland is facing. The show touched upon some young people’s attitudes towards governance in Northern Ireland.

So I thought I would put some meat on the bones of this argument and pose the simple question; are we giving young people a fair go in Northern Ireland?

Let’s start with some facts about just how interested young people in Northern Ireland are in politics. The last Young Life and Times survey that looked at this issue found a worrying level of apathy as just 14% said they had either a great deal or quite a lot of interest in politics. That is compared to 62% who said they had either not very much or no interest in politics.

While young people’s apathy is nothing new I cannot help but feel that the system in Northern Ireland we have ensures that they will never engage in the political process. After all, why would they? If some our senior politicians are sending out the message that politics isn’t working then why would they bother getting involved.

Tomorrow is an important day for the youth wings of all political parties as they recruit new members in Queens and Jordanstown. They will no doubt get around 90 people signing up with only a handful actually bothering to become active within the party. I doubt if the conduct of some of our politicians over the past few weeks will send out the message to them that joining any of these parties is a worthwhile endeavour.

However, I would make a small plea to those who are interested but annoyed to sign up to a political party or one of the many pressure groups that will be there tomorrow. It really is important for people who are annoyed and disengaged to get involved and make some real change happen. If we continue to leave politics to the same people then nothing will ever change.

Young people don’t get a fair go in many areas like jobs and political representation. But that is largely because they don’t get involved in the political process. Remember decisions are made by those who show up, so make sure you sign up to the political or social grouping of your choice tomorrow.

  • Charles_Gould

    I really think we need more young people to get involved.

    Ed Miliband has said he will lower the voting age to 16 – a good idea.

  • Charles_Gould

    “After all, why would they? If some our senior politicians are sending out the message that politics isn’t working then why would they bother getting involved.”

    Because Northern Ireland deserves better than that.

  • Rory Carr

    The question is, “Are young people getting a fair go politically in Northern Ireland?

    And the answer is, “Probably not but, who cares, they get a lot less worry and a lot more sex.”

    In any case the young come into their own politically in times of revolution and great social strife. Why should they bother with all this pretense that is social democracy unless and until repression becomes just too much to be ignored. It is then that youth will honestly engage. In the meantime let them be.

    The corruptible will always find a way to wriggle their way into and through the political system whatever it may be – I have been on barricades and picket lines with some who have become Ministers of State (all since fallen) and see how even then they were planning their careers.

    Let the youth sing and paint and dance and make love as much as they can and to hell with all that cant that is social democracy.

  • Charles_Gould

    I would like to see more young people going into business, arts, academia, creative industries.

    Politics – it will *follow* social change that is determined materially by the economic conditions and forces.

  • “Let the youth sing and paint and dance and make love as much as they can”

    Now that could be a recipe for teenage pregnancy, Rory.

  • Rory Carr

    Only one answer to that, Nevin – “God bless the the child.”

    Which is a neat cue to demonstrate why I am a dyed-in-the wool Billie-boy:

    http://tinyurl.com/oybgnnm

  • sherdy

    Why would any teenager be attracted towards politics?
    For other aspects of life such as sport, the stage or other arena where there are successful people, there are role models and a reason to take an interest in such pursuits.
    But politics! Is there one politician in the country – in any country – that an idealistic youth would wish to emulate?
    Not a hope in hell!
    Think George W Bush and his shenanigans with the oil companies. Think Silvio Berlusconi and his business deals, not to mention his fondness for underage girls. Think Tony Blair and his honeyed words when dealing with NI, and how he has behaved since leaving office, travelling the world making millions as quietly as he can. Think some of our local politicians and their property dealings – nothing but sleaze!
    It is said all political careers end in failure – what teenager aspires to failure?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Charles _Gould: “I would like to see more young people going into business, arts, academia, creative industries.”

    And they would have to reach the top 2% to be able to even try for (remember “investments can go up as well as down”) the sort of pension that the bog standard sleezeball polishing a seat on the hill can expect.

    Having had a stressful life in all four of these I would recommend a safe, boring job paid for by the taxpayer to my children anytime. “Creative ” careers look wonderful from the outside but remember that when you are freelance you go and look for the work, you don’t just arrive and collect a pay cheque. And, in my experience, the paid jobs in the media are not really creative.

    And Roy Carr , I agree “Let the youth sing and paint and dance and make love as much as they can,” beats politics any time!

  • aquifer

    Nothing wrong with doing politics, it can help a lot of people.

    The alternatives have been proven to suck.

    ‘Ed Miliband has said he will lower the voting age to 16 – a good idea.’

    Absolutely, all those coffin dodgers voting for higher pensions, it is only fair that those paying should have a say.

  • Rory Carr

    As a coffin-dodger myself, Aquifer (and one who was pretty nifty in the dodging business in the last two years) I might have a stake in this. Would you mind explaining to me how it is that 16 year olds are paying for my state pension and any medical treatment that I receive?

    I might also remind you that I have paid a fairly hefty amount of income tax and national insurance in my working life of 50 years and that I continue to pay income tax on any earnings from the odd bit of work I may undertake today.

    It is rae for any 16 year old to be in employment and paying income tax today although I admit that they will be paying considerable excise duties from the pocket money their parents and coffin-dodging grandparents award them on their alcopops and VAT on video games and designer clothes. Oh wait, silly me ! Of course the darlings cannot afford such luxuries they have to go cap-in-hand (and winsome smile) to the Bank of Mum and Dad (and Coffin-dodging grandad).

    In any case I have no objection to the franchise being extended to16 year olds – why should they be immune from disillusion ? Sooner they realise that it is all one big swindle the better.