Campaigners urge under 25s to register to vote
Trade unions, youth groups and women’s rights campaigners have joined forces to encourage the country’s 460,000 under 25s to register to vote.
With the election announcement marked by photos of students getting registration papers stamped at Garda stations, the seven organisations claimed almost two thirds of 18-25-year-olds cast a ballot in 2011.
Teresa Walsh, chairman of the youth wing of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions which is helping to spearhead the campaign, said young people have been hit hard by recession since 2008.
“From those forced to emigrate or those faced with disappearing opportunities for decent jobs, unpaid internships or precarious employment, it is time that young people came together to make our voice heard,” she said.
“We need more investment in education, training and expanded apprenticeship programmes to create decent employment for our youth. But without a strong youth vote we may not get the attention we would like in a new programme for government, so we encourage all young people to engage now.”
Election 2016 is also being held on a Friday which some analysts suggest makes it easier for students to vote, but there is little evidence to suggest they find themselves tied to colleges on the last working day of the week.
The seven organisations in the campaign includes the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI), the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI), Irish Second Level Students’ Union (ISSU), the Union of Students Ireland (USI), Spunout, a youth information network and the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI).
James Doorley, deputy director of the NYCI, said: “The upcoming general election will provide most young people aged 18 to 25 their first opportunity to vote in a general election and have their say in who governs Ireland which is why we are urging young people to register to vote now.
“There are approximately 460,000 young eligible voters who make up a significant cohort which cannot be ignored by political parties,” said
The campaigners called on anyone over 18 who wants to vote to register now by getting forms from checktheregister.ie
A new voter must fill in a RFA2 form, get it stamped by an officer at a Garda station and return it to the local authority before next Tuesday at 5pm and anyone with a new address since their last vote must complete an RFA3 form and again get it stamped and returned by the same deadline.
The USI launched its Rock the Register campaign to get up to about 2,500 new voters registered.
Kevin Donoghue, union president, said: “We have put together a general election manifesto which includes a number of priority issues which we know students and young people are concerned about.
“It is now their opportunity to vote in the upcoming election to ensure that politicians prioritise those issues in the new programme for government.”
Ian Power, executive director of youth information organisation Spunout, said: “Older generations may not have voted when they were younger but this generation are engaged, and they care more about issues than personalities.”