Lack of action to tackle high rents criticised by students

Discount travel pass for young people welcomed as ‘really positive measure’

Students pictured at Maynooth University campus recently. File Photograph: Dara MacDónaill

The introduction of a discount travel pass for young people has been welcomed, with a lack of immediate policies put forward to tackle spiralling rents the main criticism of Budget 2022 from student groups.

The Government has committed to introducing a Youth Travel Card for those aged 19 to 23, giving them a 50 per cent discount on public transport fares. It is expected the scheme will be in place by the middle of next year.

Other measures aimed at young people include the introduction of free contraception for women between 17 and 25 years of age from next August.

Measures for those in third-level education include a €200 increase in the Student Support Scheme maintenance grant payment.


Ruairí Power, head of University College Dublin students' union, said the discount travel pass was "a really positive measure" which would result in young people having more money in their pockets.

But the student representative criticised what he described as a failure by the Government to tackle the high cost of rent facing students and young people.

“The biggest failing in the Budget is the lack of action in the supply and affordability crisis … It’s the biggest concern for students coming into us, the price of rent,” he said.

As a result of increasing rents there were cases of students sleeping in vans or commuting “huge distances” into college each day, he said.

Free contraception for young women was also welcomed, but Mr Power said “we would have liked it to be gender neutral” to include men as well.

The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) welcomed an additional €5 million in funding for organisations providing youth services.

Mary Cunningham, NYCI chief executive, said young people had "borne a disproportionate brunt of the fallout from the pandemic".

Covid-19 had seen a sharp rise in youth unemployment, and had a “serious impact” on many adolescents’ mental health, she said.

The increase in funding was a “recognition of the impact of Covid-19 on young people’s lives, and the vital role youth services play in helping respond to and mitigate the worst of these”, she said.

Labour Party Senator Marie Sherlock said the budget did little to tackle the "enormous youth unemployment problem" in the aftermath of Covid-19.

“There is a wholly inadequate lack of targeted resources for the over 65,000 young people aged 15-24 years who are out of work and who are looking for work,” she said.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times