In country as progressive as Ireland, it’s ironic that our Government seems to be purposely trying to drive out the next generation of adults. We grew up in a recession, thriving into adolescence with the budding “new boom”. Then crash, pandemic. Then, crash a second time, Russian invasion of Ukraine. Boom, oncoming recession.
The Government has been in panic mode. Coming up with contingency plans and budgets; intent on saving us all from financial ruin. Well, that is what it says it is doing. In reality, it feels as though anyone under the age of 30 is seen as unimportant. We have been left to sink or swim. It is shocking, and a little frightening, to realise you haven’t even been thrown a half-deflated life jacket.
Take the housing crisis, a whirlpool that sucks in our youth and plummets them into financial torment. Don’t even consider buying a house. Or simply renting a room. Landlords charging €600-€700 a month for a single room in a dingy, dirty, damp house in the outskirts of Dublin city.
Every young person has a friend or relation who is opting to get out fast before they drown in this sea of disregard
When faced with this, we have to ask ourselves a question. Are we going to be completely broke whilst trying to be independent and “finding our path” into an enjoyable adulthood? Or are we going to live at home with our parents, under their reign and rules, trying not to offend the people who raised us, thus restricting ourselves.
We are unable to really experience adulthood; unable to have an independent life and future. The average woman in Ireland lives at home with her parents until she is 26; for men, it’s 27. No opportunity to settle down and start their own happy family. This is the new normal. But why is this allowed? Why is this normal?
Forget trying to save for a mortgage. Twenty-two year-olds walking out the university door to jobs paying €24,000 a year; to put food on the table, run a car, enjoy life, pay rent, survive (barely).
With insurance costing more than a cheap first-time car, young people are opting to get public transport, rather than spend three months’ wages on insurance. The cost of fuel is skyrocketing, for everyone. People who have been working and saving for 20 years or more are starting to feel the pinch. Never mind somebody who is just starting to make money for the first time in their lives, who has nothing saved. But with public transport being so lacking and unreliable in the more rural areas of Ireland, this is pushing them to move into the cities. But they can’t afford the rent.
We try to make the best of it. Cracking sarcastic jokes all too frequently about minimum-wage jobs and living week to week. So, we go out, broke as we are. Another kick in the face we didn’t need; €5-€6 for a pint. A “cheap cocktail” averaging at €9. Inflation rising. Worse to come, they say. So now we’re drowning our financial nightmare in a night out to lift our spirits. Only the spirits are sucking up our funds just as much. We try to be healthier, go out for a respectable breakfast. Eggs, avocado and sourdough toast, €12.50. Add bacon for an additional €2. A latte €3.50. Oh! You’re lactose intolerant, you need alternative milk? Fifty cent extra.
The generation ahead of us are quick to judge. There’s a degrading sense of disapproval that lingers. We sense it in the workplace and at home. Our parents wonder if we will ever move out and get on with our lives. Our bosses tell us we are too inexperienced to be given the same salary as somebody our senior. Then we read articles; the younger generation needs to stop wasting their money on disposable fashion and oat milk iced frappuccinos, they need to look to their future. How can they not see there is no future for us here? If we cut out our one coffee a day, you’re telling us we can afford to buy a house to start a family in?
So, we can’t afford a car, we can’t afford rent in the city. We can’t get around. We have nowhere to live. We can’t plan a life or look to a prosperous future. What are our options? Leave.
Every young person has a friend or relation who is opting to get out fast before they drown in this sea of disregard. The insanity of it all is, it has gone totally unrecognised by our Government. We came together and pulled out some of the highest voting numbers of our age group in Ireland’s history. We helped to give these people power, and in return we got unmeasurable ignorance. Why is our Government so happy to ignore us? When will they realise the extremity of these issues?
Something serious needs to change, and fast. It won’t be long before Generation Z gets sick of being treated like the bold child of the class and jump ship. Swimming as far away as possible, not looking back.
Gemma Haverty is a make-up artist and nail technician from Athenry, Co Galway.