Irish youths lack faith in political institutions, report finds

New survey says a substantial number of young people do not trust the Dáil

A ‘Take Back the City’ protest on Dublin’s O’Connell Street last year. A new report says young people in Ireland lack faith in political institutions. File photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times

A ‘Take Back the City’ protest on Dublin’s O’Connell Street last year. A new report says young people in Ireland lack faith in political institutions. File photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times

 

Young people across Ireland have a lack of faith in political institutions, according to a new report commissioned by the British Council.

The Institute for Conflict Research (IRC) carried out the research for the Next Generation Ireland-Northern Ireland report, which is part of a series focusing on the attitudes and aspirations of young people.

The researchers found that, in the Republic, 1 per cent of respondents had complete trust in Dáil Éireann and 21 per cent had no trust at all.

Meanwhile, in the North, 2 per cent of respondents had complete trust in the Assembly, while 36 per cent had no trust at all in the institution, which has yet to be restored after collapsing in January 2017.

For the report, some 1,024 young people, aged 18-30, from across the island were asked questions concerning five areas – education, employment, social issues, politics and future prospects.

When asked: “How optimistic or pessimistic do you feel about the way Ireland/Northern Ireland is going?”, some 37 per cent said they were optimistic or very optimistic (20 per cent of respondents in NI; 53 per cent in RoI).

Worries about Brexit were closely aligned between the two jurisdictions, with 52 per cent in the Republic and 55 per cent in the North concerned to a “great extent” or to “some extent” about the issue.

Among both groups, only 37 per cent said they would likely vote in an immediate general election.

One per cent of respondents said they trusted the European Parliament, while 19 per cent had no trust in it at all (22 per cent NI; 17 per cent RoI).

Housing concerns

Respondents in both jurisdictions indicated housing was an issue, with 88 per cent in the Republic concerned to a “great extent” or to “some extent” about it, compared to 79 per cent in the North.

Some 86 per cent of the young people surveyed felt “very optimistic” or “optimistic” about their own future, with 78 per cent appreciating better access to educational opportunities and 62 per cent a better health outlook than their parents’ generations.

Ninety per cent of respondents in the North were worried to a “great extent” or to “some extent” about a “lack of jobs”, compared with 65 per cent in the Republic with similar concerns.

Respondents also had concerns about “job security” (85 per cent NI; 73 per cent RoI) and “low pay” (89 per cent NI; 74 per cent RoI).

The British Council’s Ireland director, Mags Walsh, said the 20th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement and discussions on Brexit formed the backdrop of the survey, but researchers also found that many of the young people in the focus groups had concerns about mental health, job security, housing, education and social media pressures.