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.
The annual electoral register deadline is in November each year, this year the date is the 25th of November 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!
SpunOut.ie and the Union of Students in Ireland are joining forces on National Voter Registration Day, which takes place on Thursday October 30th, to get as many students and young people as possible to sign up to vote ahead of next year's referendums. If you'd be interested in helping, take a look at our volunteer pack below. You can take it to your college campus on the day and help your fellow students get registering!
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.
An Taoiseach Enda Kenny has confirmed that the Government will not be able to deliver on its promise to decide if emigrants should be allowed to vote in Presidential elections before Christmas.
Cabinet was due to make a decision about holding a referendum to give voting rights to those living abroad in 2015, but the Taoiseach has confirmed that it won’t be happening.
Speaking at the Irish embassy in Brussels, he told youth emigrant organisation We're Coming Back that, despite promises, a decision would definitely not be made by December 25th..
“There are a number of issues that need to be decided” he said. “I think this is a topic for the next general election and the next Government.”
It’s a big disappointment for We’re Coming Back, which has been campaigning for voting rights since the Constitutional Convention voted strongly in favour of the change in September 2013.
"It's disappointing to see our citizens abroad ignored again" campaign co-founder Conor O'Neill said. "Enda Kenny voted for this while in opposition, told us yesterday that he's "very much in favour" of an emigrant vote, but has still proceeded to kick the issue to touch. It's not good enough - he should do right by our citizens abroad and take action."
Young emigrants will still campaign for their voting rights this weekend though, as We’re Coming Back hosts an international Toast for a Vote this weekend.
Irish emigrants around the world are urging the Government to give them the right to vote from abroad by holding an international Toast for a Vote this weekend.
We’re Coming Back, a young Irish emigrant group, plans to run the campaign via Facebook from December 19th to 21st in order to highlight their disenfranchisement and urge Government to commit to long-promised reform.
Politicians in the Cabinet are due to make a decision about holding a referendum next year, which would allow emigrants to vote in Irish Presidential elections. They’re supposed to reach an agreement before Christmas, so We’re Coming Back isn’t wasting any time.
The organisation says Minister for the Diaspora Jimmy Deenihan, who "very much supports" holding the referendum in 2015, has stated that Cabinet will finally make a decision in the coming days.
Emigrants have been waiting for that decision for more than a year now: It was first discussed following last year's Constitutional Convention, which overwhelmingly supported (78%) extending a Presidential vote to emigrants.
We’re Coming Back hosted the first Toast For A Vote back in 2013. It was hugely successful and campaign co-founder Conor O’Neill seems optimistic about the progress made so far.
"We've seen huge progress on this issue over the past year. It's been supported by an assembly of our own citizens, the minister for the Diaspora, the EU Commission, and Dáil deputies of every persuasion”, he said. "We've debated this democratic deficit for almost a quarter of a century - it's time for Government to finally do something about it."
For more information on the campaign see the official Toast for A Vote event on Facebook.
Want to be in with a chance of winning a pair of tickets to Ireland V Georgia European Qualifier match next September? Well they can be yours in a heartbeat, all you have to do is help banish racism from sport by getting creative and entering the Show Racism the Red Card's Creative Competition.
To enter the competition schools or services need to register here and wait for the organisation to send their Show Racism the Red Card DVD out to you. Once you've watched and listened to all the DVD has to tell you it is up to you to create a message inspired from its themes.
You can create any type of message that suits you. The competition allows you to use the written word, visual and even audiovisual means to portray what you want to say. There are a variety of award categories including primary school and secondary school awards and an overall award. Every school or service that registers before March 2015 will be given a pair of tickets to Ireland V Georgia match next September.
Show Racism the Red Card is an organisation that aims to promote diversity by getting rid of racism in sport, check out their website for more details!
UCC's LGBT Society recently ran a Humans of Homophobia campaign to raise awareness about the impact of homophobia in Ireland and now one student's open letter, written as part of the campaign, is reaching a much wider audience.
Olan Harrington's piece about the "secret homophobia" that exists in Irish society had been doing the rounds online when it was picked up by the Huffington Post.
His letter details the fear he felt while walking through the city's streets holding his boyfriend's hand and was first published on his personal blog.
He writes: "Yesterday, I felt so scared that I became angry, and I felt so angry at the homophobia that I had ignored since my teens that yesterday I couldn’t let go. I held his hand all the way to Paul Street in the centre of the city. I felt defiant, and elated that it felt normal to me, but I still felt afraid, I still felt anxious. I still felt, homophobia."
Harrington goes on to argue that homphobia is "the secret that we share, and a secret of a "civilised" society": You can read his full letter here.
Olan has also previously written about depression for SpunOut. You'll find his powerful opinion piece about forging meaning in your depression here.