Around the world, young people don’t really have the best reputation for turning out to vote. Elections and referendums are vital opportunities for a population to voice their approval of, or disagreement with, what’s going on in a country. While Ireland’ overall turnout figures are pretty darn good in an international context, it’s been a more difficult battle to get younger generations to have their say on such important issues. That said, it’s a situation that’s very gradually improving.
If you’re over 18 and are a citizen of the Republic of Ireland, you’re eligible to vote in any referendums and elections that take place here. However, figures released by the National Youth Council of Ireland earlier this year showed that 30% of 18-25 year-olds aren’t even registered to vote. Worse still, when you look at the 18-21 age group, the figure jumps up to 43%- that’s nearly half of potential voters under 21 who have absolutely no say in how their country is governed.
As part of National Voter Registration Day, SpunOut.ie, in conjunction with the Union of Students in Ireland, are launching a campaign to get as many young people registered to vote in next year’s referendums as possible ahead of the November 25th deadline. We’ll talk you through all the details on the registration form, and we’ll even send it off for you when you’re finished, as well as providing you with helpful voting info ahead of polling days. If you’d like to learn more about the campaign, just click here and get registering!
Ever heard of the Order of Malta Ambulance Corps? Every year, many young Irish people between the ages of 10 and 16 join the ranks of the voluntary organisation as Cadets.
These Cadets become actively involved in the community helping vulnerable groups like the elderly and people with disabilities, but they're also trained in basic like saving skills including First Aid, CPR and Home Nursing.
Having those skills can make a huge difference to their own lives too. Just ask 16-year-old Ballinrobe girl Eimear Morrin. She used them to save her mother's life.
Eimear was at home and came downstairs to discover her mother lying unconscious in the kitchen. She'd had a brain aneurysm and wasn't in a good way but, thanks to her daughter's quick thinking, she survived.
"I knew straight away to open her airways and checked her pulse and we were able to perform CPR, which I had learned through the training", she explains. "Never underestimate the value of getting the Order of Malta."
Eimear is just one of the many Cadets who've gained invaluable skills through the Order of Malta training and she's now become something of a mascot for their organisation. Her story has been entered into the Better Together video awards in the hopes of raising awareness about what the organisation does and encouraging more young people to follow in her footsteps.
You can vote for her story here.
For more information on The Order of Malta be sure to check out their official website.
If you’ve got an interest in highlighting young people’s mental health-related issues through film, you’ve got exactly three months to perfect your masterpiece for the CAST 2014/5 Film Festival.
Submissions for completed projects close on January 15, 2015, so now’s the perfect time to encourage your mates from school, college or the youth club to get filming! According to the organisers, the festival is a “call to action” for youth groups, and they want to get schools and youth organisations to produce films that “shed light on a social issue”, and offer potential solutions to the issue mentioned.
The application criteria are pretty broad, which means that your film can be a documentary, a work of fiction, or a “visually creative film” as you see fit. It should look to highlight relevant resources available in your local area, and it must:
The event itself is great fun, and it’s gone from strength to strength in recent years. Last year’s festival showcased 15 short films, and was attended by the now Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald. Tickets are expected to be around €18, and that includes a two-course meal along with a souvenir red carpet photo. If you fancy yourself to be an aspiring Steven Spielberg with a great idea to publicise, get entering by clicking here.
Comhairle na nÓg have put together this brilliant little film all about Children’s Rights. If you’re under 18, all the rights described in this video apply to you, as laid out by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The video features loads of young people acting out the rights laid out by the convention. It’s really funny, and even more informative.
Speaking of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, it is 25 years old this year, and has been protecting children and young people all over the world since November 1989. It was brought into effect in Ireland in September 1992.
For more information on Comhairle na nÓg, check out their website here. For more details on your rights as laid out by this convention, The Office of the Children’s Ombudsman have launched this amazingly handy little app called ItsYourRight, which compiles all your rights as granted by the UN in one handy location on your phone or iPad. Cool, right?
Check out these motivational TED talks from 5 women who are making their mark on the world in different ways.
Sheryl Sandberg is Chief operating officer of Facebook and author of the best-selling Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. In her motivational TED Talk, Sandberg delivers the distressing facts about women in business. She shares her three pieces of advice on how to become a leader. Sandberg concludes with the hope that through activism and the recognition of our potential and capabilities, women will one day even out the top.
Leymah Gbowee is a peace and women rights activist, leader of women’s movement that contributed to the end of the Liberian Civil War in 2003, and Nobel Peace Prize Winner of 2011. Gbowee relates her experiences traveling her home of Liberia, interacting with young women who strive for and are denied their right to education, or are abused in exchange for education. She presses the importance of the potential of girls, and what this potential can create.
Sarah Kay is creator of Project VOICE, poet, teacher, and best-selling author. The mission behind Project VOICE is to entertain, inspire, and educate through spoken word poetry. Kay began the inklings of this mission when she was a teenager. Now, Kay travels using spoken word poetry to empower her students, to get them to release their voice, and to share her own story.
Sylvia Earle is a marine biologist, author, and oceanographer. A renowned oceanographer and academic in her profession, Earle led the first team of all women to explore the ocean in 1970. She has dedicated thousands of hours to underwater ocean exploration, and to preserving ocean life. Her passion and commitment has driven her to educate on the importance of the ocean, and to deliver informational speeches on the harms being caused to it. This is the basis of her prize-winning TED speech. Earle shares her discoveries, and technological advancements underwater. She delivers a call for a proactive approach in protecting this imperative piece of our planet’s ecosystem.
May El-Khalil is founder of the Beirut International Marathon. “I believe that running can change the world”: this is how she begins her TED Speech on what drove her to create an annual running marathon in Beirut. Her country has suffered from a history of violence and division, and with the belief that running could bring unity, El-Khalil campaigned around the country talking to people from housewives to political officials, educating them on marathon running. Since the first marathon, participants have continued to grow. In 2013 the first all-women run for empowerment, in Lebanon, was held. Despite the continued divisions in Lebanon, El-Khalil’s marathon has continued to bring her people together.
Are you registered to vote? Some of you may know the answer; others won't. First off, see if you're on the register of electors here. If you're registered, great. If not, don't worry! We'll guide you through it.
This year's referendum on same-sex marraige is on 22nd May. The deadline to register to vote for this is May 6th 2015.
The annual electoral register deadline is in November each year for all new voters and those looking to change their details.
That gives you a while to get your name down on that list before the deadline ahead of what is going to be a very busy year of voting in 2015, with referendums proposed on marriage, reducing the voting age and others.
Once this is done, your details will be added to the Register of Electors and you'll be able to vote in local, national and European elections as well as referendums (once you're eligible- just check out the details below).
If you are already on the voting register but you have moved address or need to change some details, just fill in this form and send it off as above.
If you're over 18 and an Irish citizen, you're sorted. You can vote for any person in any election for as long as you live in Ireland! If you don't meet those criteria, things can be a tad more difficult. Fear not, though, you still might be eligible to vote!
If you're a non-Irish citizen and want to vote in the elections here, you'll need to be an Irish resident since at least September of last year and, of course, be over 18. You'll still need to register, though, so make sure you fit at least one of these criteria and get yourself the right form and get your name down on that list!
Check out our factsheets and opinion pieces on engaging in society. This is a key area that the SpunOut Action Panel has prioritised for 2013.
Tips to help you take action and make a positive difference.
Ireland is a democracy, which means the people elect their representatives and government by means of secret ballot.
Joining a political party means that you are registering with a political party and letting them and the world know that you generally support their causes and activates.
One SpunOutter gives her opinions on whether the voting age should be lowered to 16.
Ireland is a constitutional democracy (you’ve lost me already SpunOut!). Well, this basically means that we get to have a say in who runs our country and what the laws of the land are.
The Know Your Rights information packs are provided by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL). They are a series of booklets designed to inform people about their rights, which the ICCL has rolled out as part of its Know Your Rights public information project. The booklet is designed to inform the general public, in clear and accessible language, of their rights in the areas of Garda search powers, arrest, interview, detention, provision of bodily samples and public order.
The State gets its power from the people of Ireland through the Constitution of Ireland (Bunreacht na hÉireann). The Constitution sets out some of the rights of people who live in Ireland. We also have rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). All agents of the State, including An Garda Síochána, must act in line with the Constitution and the ECHR.
The Constitution is interpreted by the courts and is supplemented by more detailed laws, which must also be in line with the Constitution. The law must also follow the ECHR and its decisions. Gardaí must act according to court rulings and legislation, otherwise they may be breaking the law.
If you have any doubts about the way you have been treated by the Gardaí, or if they have interfered with any of your rights, you should contact a solicitor.
Do you have a story to tell? If so, The Moth in partnership with the U.S. Embassy have a pretty cool opportunity for you.
The Moth is an acclaimed U.S. based non-profit organisation dedicated to the art and craft of personal stories told live. They’ve presented more than 15,000 stories, at live events, to standing-room-only crowds worldwide. Many of these live events are recorded and distributed online as podcasts, which you can check out to get more a feel for what they do.
They are hosting two storytelling workshops in Dublin this April, on the theme of ‘Game Change’. They want you to pinpoint a moment in your life when everything changed for you, where you turned a corner, where you flipped a switch. At the workshops, you’ll be taught how to craft these moments into dynamic and engaging stories to be performed out loud.
The stories told must be true and relating to the theme. Here are a few suggested prompts to get you thinking on the theme:
The workshop will be available free of charge to 32 young people (aged 18-25) from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, with 16 participants in each workshop.
The workshops will take place on Wednesday April 8th at 9:00am-11:30am and 12:30pm-3:00pm, in a location in Dublin city centre.
To apply for the workshop, fill out this form. The deadline is March 6th 2015 and successful applicants will be notified on March 27th. If you have any questions, you can get in touch with please contact Katie Keogh at email@example.com.
Aware is now offering 70 places for teenagers aged 15-18 on their new Beat the Blues Online programme. The programme is about positive mental health, how to deal with challenges in life, and how to build resilience. It uses an approach based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which focuses on thinking and behaviour.
Young people have the opportunity to work, in their own time, through a four-module programme. This programme is supported on a one-to-one basis by a trained Aware volunteer with a weekly review on any content or programme exercises that the young person chooses to share.
Aware provide support and assistance to people dealing with mental health issues. They have support groups around the country as well as a helpline on 1890 303 302.
Three key ideas that Aware use in the programme are:
If you are over 18, you might be interested in Aware's Life Skills Online programme.
The government is failing to provide adequate care for young people with mental health issues according to the annual report published today by the Children's Rights Alliance.
The Report Card 2015 examines the government's progress in relation to children's rights. It looks at what the government promised to do in a number of areas and gives them a grade that shows how well they have done.
The areas examined are in relation to children's:
Overall the government received a C grade in their commitment to children's rights with some areas in particular receiving very low scores.
The state received an E grade in the area of mental health, this means that its work in this sector is:
The main issue regarding children, young people and mental health was the lack of age appropriate psychiatric facilities. Last year 32% of in-patient admissions of children and young people were placed in adult units.
According to the CEO of St Patrick's Hospital, Paul Gilligan, the waiting time for under 18s who are seeking specialised mental health treatment is currently six months. He asked the attendees at the launch of the Report Card 2015 to imagine how hard it must be for a young person who is struggling with mental health problems to seek help in the first place and then to imagine what it must be like for this young person to have to check into a mental health facility for adults. Gilligan called for organisations who support children's rights to demand more off the government in relation to mental health and to press them to deliver the adequate psychiatric facilities for young people that were promised.
The lowest score in the entire report was given to child poverty, this received an F grade. Fergus Finlay, the head of children's charity Barnados, said that the number of people living in poverty in Ireland was equal to the population of county Mayo. He pointed out that even though the economy in Ireland is improving, child poverty is on the rise. Between 2008 and 2013, the number of children that were living in consistent poverty rose by 5.4% to 11.7%. The report finds that one in three children in Ireland is deprived of basic necessities, these include access to nutritious food, adequate shelter, clothing and education. Children in lone parent households experience the highest rates of poverty.
The report was not all doom and gloom, education goals were reached in a number of areas. Literacy in particular improved on last year and received an A grade in the report. This was achieved by introducing and implementing literacy plans into schools. Education rights, constitutional rights and right to protection from abuse and neglect scored the best in the report with each receiving a B- grade.
If you would like to read the full Report Card 2015 you can access it here.
This week, the Government has published the Children and Family Relationships Bill. The bill has gained a huge amount of media traction in the leadup to its publication, so what’s it all about?
The legislation seeks to protect and reflect the diverse range of family types in Ireland today. The reality is, there are many families in Ireland that don’t fit traditional moulds, and aren’t headed by a married mother and father. This legislation seeks to provide legal protection for many of those units that don’t fit the traditional image of a family. It will introduce several key new laws.
The Children and Family Relationships Bill strengthens the legal relationship between many young people and their parents, living in Ireland. Young people with same-sex parents will have their relationship with both parents officially recognised. It will also be easier for young people who are cared for by a relative or their parents partner to gain legal protection for that relationship.
The bill will also allow for young people who may be considering having children one day, to have the law fully recognise their relationship with their children, irrespective of the genders of the parents.
The Bill will now go to the Dáil next week. It will be taken at second stage on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, after which it will go to committee stage. It will then go back to the floor of the House after that. It is not clear yet, but it seems the Government are hoping to have the bill passed by mid-March.