Young discuss fightback against attacks on ‘lost generation’

Unemployment, cuts and emigration among the issues at first ‘Youth Assembly’

Laura McKenna, Moira Murphy and Shane Fitzgerald of We’re Not Leaving at Liberty Hall this morning. Photograph: Paul Reynolds

Laura McKenna, Moira Murphy and Shane Fitzgerald of We’re Not Leaving at Liberty Hall this morning. Photograph: Paul Reynolds

Sun, Nov 10, 2013, 21:18

A ’Young People’s Charter’ demanding an end to the “war being waged on young people” was drawn up over the weekend.

The Charter, which makes demands under a series of headings including unemployment and forced emigration, fee hikes and grant cuts, precarious work and internship culture, housing and mental health, was written by up to 200 people who took part in a “youth assembly” in Dublin’s Liberty Hall on Saturday. It was organised by two newly-formed groups - We’re Not Leaving and the Young Workers’ Network (YWN).

Among the demands made in the Charter are for the establishment of an independent monitoring body to oversee internship programmes; that interns should not displace employees; that a day’s work should equal a living wage; the vote for young people forced to emigrate; an end to the recruitment embargo in the public sector; recognition of the impact of unemployment, precarious work and poverty on the mental health of young people, and, a third-level system that is truely free from the point of entry.

Opening the rally, Shane Fitzgerald (25), from Celbridge, Co Kildare, explained the rationale for the rally and the reasons for founding We’re Not Leaving. “This is a call out to young people who have had enough of forced emigration, no work, unpaid work, miserable work. This is a call out to any young person who is ready to take that step into getting organised and fighting back against all the crap, against all the corruption, against all the attacks on our lives.”

Young people were outraged at the assertion by some that under- and unemployment as well as emigration could be attractive.

“This is not a lifestyle choice. Unemployment or emigration or any of these deeply scarring societal issues are not a lifestyle choice. We all want fulfilment in our lives. We all want and need our basic material and mental well-being taken into consideration. We all want a chance to live with dignity.”

Laura McKenna (31), a Siptu member and co-founder of the YWN said the rally was about identifying the issues facing young people and organising young people to address them.

“Society is already labelling us the ‘lost generation’. Well I’m not accepting that. I’m demanding our future back. Our future has been robbed from us in broad daylight and no-one is apologising. Well we are here. We are going to fight. We are not leaving and we’re demanding our future.”