Ronan Lyons | Personal Website
Ronan Lyons | Personal Website

Is Ireland a country for young people?

  • Cathyby ,

    Hi Ronan,

    I respectfully disagree. If you look at the way the country is set up, it certainly doesn’t look like it’s *for* young people.

    Our maternity services are stretched. Unless you have a medical card you have to pay for medical care for your child. It’s difficult to get your child’s teeth seen, unless it’s an emergency. School classes are as large as they were in my youth, still likely to be held in refabs. New school buildings are built to basic specs; they don’t even put plaster on the walls. Schools have been free to exclude, to encourage people to go elsewhere where there is “more support”, to have expensive uniforms and booklists.

    Social services are over burdened and have been for years. Neglected children, children being abused are not receiving the intervention they need.

    It’s pretty clear Ireland is not “for” children. Maybe you are excluding children from your definition of young people. But can you exclude the majority of their past life for a 20 year old?

    I also think your assumptions of what a young person will be doing is very restricted. Not all young people go to university. In the last decade many were absorbed into the construction trade. This was allowed to balloon – now it’s gone those young people are left high and dry. All the government rhetoric speaks about the “knowledge economy” – what about sustainable long-term work for the non-university graduate?

    Even in terms of where they live, young people are not a priority. The state supports house-owning instead of renting. Why not focus on the latter? It’s how the majority of young people live.

    I am left with the impression that Ireland has little interest in children or young people as a class. This despite them being a huge proportion of the population. Is it surprising if the young people reciprocate that lack of interest?

    As for how lucky “Charlton’s Children” (nice phrase!) will be, that majorly depends on our economy into the future. They may just find themselves echoing Gen-X and moving abroad, without a Celtic Tiger prompting a return. If this happens, any suggestion Ireland is a country for young people sounds hollow indeed.

    • John Mack ,

      Cathyby makes some excellent points, and the years ahead of a shrinking economy and shrinking revenues on top of increased debts means more deterioration of social services, specially for children.

      What is most helpful about her comment is that it envisions a young person as people who are single and rooming with friends (renters) or family starters who need privacy and room for everything a growing family implies. Young parents too will be renting, for a while at least, possibly over a lifetime.

      Ireland could indeed distinguish itself with a policy favoring renters. Call it a “Future Homeowners Assistance Act” if you will, but give breaks to renters comparable to those given to homeowners, but scaled by the number of people (spouse and kids and maybe parents) in the household. Whatever else such a policy would accomplish, it would put more savings or more spending money into the economy.

      Plus, and here the Irish are supersensitive, it would attract international interest, most of it quite positive, if the legislation is properly drafted.

      And yes, please get over Civil War politics. My relatives in Ireland have been turned off to any participation in politics since the Civil War and the dreary dragging along of “sacred” myths and resentments from that uncivil event. And please stop fashioning the Irish fight for independence and the politics that derive from it as some kind of secular Mass, a never ending unbloody but quite dysfunctional reenactment of a nation’s bloody sacrifice. Strip the damn story of its overblown sacredness. And, please both my parents and their families were quite active in the War of Independence, but refused to participate in the Civil War. They moved on.

      By the way, in the US now professors now use clicker to get instant feedback from students. At regular intervals students click on a handheld device to indicate that they got or did not get it, with the professor seeing an instant breakdown of statistics on the responses. This is the kind of feedback that young people what to give to politicians – and economists – instead of having what they are thinking being filtered through Ireland’s propagandaistic media.

      Another way to engage young people, and this is something that you and your colleagues can do without the government’s permission. Turn Ireland’s various problems into case studies for business, economics and public policy students and other students as appropriate (health administrators, for instance). It would be good for professors from different disciplines to collaborate on teaching such case studies. Lectures on civics (do they even occur?) will have some meaning if student teams have to analyze and propose solutions to policy and budget problems. For these case studies to work, the real cost structures of government services would have to be transparently revealed. But that could take time and should not prevent getting the cases written up and the courses going.

      • John Mack ,

        I forgot to commend you on that excellent book you mention, which I am now reading.

        Ireland really needs to get ready for the very bad results that climate change/global warming will bring – severe winters, among others, and hotter summers. The Gulf Stream benefits to Ireland have begun to diminish and will rapidly deteriorate as more Arctic Ice melts. The global warming models have predicted all this for many, many years.

        • Richard ,

          Interesting but naive, we have just witnessed the msot significant wealth transfer from one demographic group to another in a 10 year period of an y European state outside a large world war. This is no country for the young, its an immature, pseudo liberal, nest of incompetence smug in its own self importance having given the Kennedy’s to the world. The baby boomer generation were ill educated, insecure, irresponsible and with a genetic pre disposition to depression and alcohol abuse.

          The spring lamb bounce in your step belies your youth and success and is the most important part of youth – hope

          I’m sore Ronan but stick to the statistics

          • Sam ,

            Hi Ronan,

            Interesting perspective, but I’m not sure you can say with much confidence that ‘Charlton’s Children’ are the luckiest generation Ireland has had, when they are, well, still children. Firstly, just because there’s more doom and gloom about doesn’t mean they’re going to make good decisions or be more pragmatic when choosing a college course. Sure they might be a bit more than people my age were (I’m 24), but at the same time, Arts and Social Science students have always endured ‘What are you going to do with that?’ type sneering from science-y types (I know plenty of Science graduates my age who are unemployed, and I have a job I love, but that’s tangential.) Secondly, who knows what challenges the future will throw at them, we’ve a mountain of debt, peak oil has likely been passed, the eurozone could disintegrate, I could go on.
            It’s a bit like saying Manchester United’s U-18 team is the most talented the Premiership has ever seen.
            ““Charlton’s Children” are lucky because they are the first generation to see Ireland for what it is and pick their future accordingly”
            But they can’t see Ireland for what it will be in 5, 10 or 20 years, so I’m not sure how this matters. You can’t act like it’s a given that Ireland will always have great FDI jobs-the composition of the economy will change over time, and the longer we expect people to study for without getting paid increases the chance of there being a skills mismatch.

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