As the government talks up the rate of job creation, youth unemployment rates remain stubbornly high. Hundreds of thousands have emigrated and many young people continue to leave. Many of those who stay face a difficult job hunt, low pay and insecure contracts. Meanwhile rents are skyrocketing and college fees are increasing.
I did a quick (and crude) survey of younger people's views using Facebook.
Below are some of the replies I received.
I hope by sharing them this helps inform an accurate debate on the various issues.
"I would be of the same opinion of Monbiot in terms of the irish government Men like Cameron, Tony Abbott and Stephen Harper won’t engage in generational struggles with real existential threats – climate breakdown first among them – for fear of alienating their sponsors. They have learnt all the wrong lessons from Churchill’s legacy, seeking to invest themselves with belligerent glory while forgetting his ability, at crucial moments, to place the interests of the nation above the interests of his class.
So, as Hitler is reborn with a thousand faces, a new “struggle of our generation” emerges every six months, and all around us existential crises are ignored. I think the marriage referendum was a turning point in the youth being slightly more engaged but I do feel of all the tens of thousands of graduates that have emigrated they look appallingly on the past government, you don't have to go far to unearth comments and thoughts on it. Robbery, cronyism etc.
I think it will take a while for young people to forgive the property bubble burster and bank bullys
Trust takes while to regain. Now it is excited that there are some phenomenal technology companies in Ireland but a lot of the hires are extremely specialised this attracted foreign hires."
"The department of Social Protection in my experience (and many I know) are not supportive or helpful in actually working with people to gain meaningful employment. You are just a statistic and the assumption is "you're not entitled to anything" UNLESS you prove through all the "hoop jumping" and bureaucracy that you are. I personally don't mind this, i understand it. But many vulnerable people especially younger people are very affected by this approach which causes unnecessary anxiety and frustration at an already difficult time (noone wants to be unemployed).
The mental health consequences of being without purpose are rarely considered. We need proper community support, information and advice on building ones own opportunities. It's not just about "getting a job". The TUS scheme held some promise but is a complete and utter waste of resources and is nothing more than a scheme to sell our young people into slavery and be utterly exploited. The workers have no power in this and have fully agreed with me about this. It could be done in a way that empowers people, gives useful and enjoyable experience while benefiting a host organisation - all of this will lead to developing young peoples professional skills and confidence at less cost than the current waste. Its not about money - its about organisation and in whose interest? At present, increasing employment for the government, is really only about economic advancement not social and personal happiness being increased."
"Both my brother and sister have emigrated to london for work. Coming from a small rural town in Donegal emigration is the norm unfortunately."
"90% of my friends are in employment in Galway. Over five friends have returned home from Canada, Australia and London in the past few months. Both myself and my partner are working in what we want to do right now. There may not be opportunities for exactly what you want to do but there is a huge variety of positions available. Volunteer work and Jobbridge work has increased but is also increasingly brazen. One friend works for free, because in that industry, it us what you have to do to 'get your foot in'."
"Job bridge gateway and internships have made culture of us style free work experience acceptable... Contracts in third level employment non existent..new public sector entrants on lower pay..if didn't have emigration in 2013 it woukd have been 20% unemployment.. 9000 nurses left Ireland in last few years only 500 jobs now..huge issue of low pay and precarious work..community and youth work devastated from cuts..youth facing debt repayments of banking debt in future student fees gone from. 500 to 3000..,generational injustice of burden of Austerity"
"Something I've noticed is that there are young people getting internships, schemes etc. maybe even jobs! However, as they are getting their first job at an older age, they're more anxious and worried about it, and possibly susceptible to more criticism, as there's an expectation on them to just 'know how to work'. I got my first job at 15/16, so work ethic, etiquette, budgeting etc. has been built in at an early age, whereas yp 'these days' are on a scheme after possibly getting a degree (so maybe 20/21), and suddenly thrust into a working environment, more than likely without a mentor (as required on Jobbridge.), and just expected to have 'common sense' and know all about team work and being responsible etc. etc. As for me personally, I did my Jobbridge and was just lucky to get a job after it, as we got a whelp of funding as I was finishing my internship and a vacancy different to my role now came up.
What would have happened if we didn't get that funding? Most entry admin roles are Tus, Jobbridge, or at a push, a part-time position. I'm on the bottom of a rung, looking up, very eager to learn, but my worry now is getting qualified to move up that ladder, or move into a different area without it costing an arm and a leg (in admin role, would like to move into fundraising/campaigns work), so that my skills are relevant and I'm not left trailing behind if I ever do become unemployed again. Even though I'm working full-time now, my finances are stable, but still not able to afford even a shitty little studio apartment so I can live without housemates (that's a different issue altogether but anyhow!).The fear is still there in my head that I'll be unemployed again some day, and that I won't be so lucky next time. Also, the change in circumstances hasn't been fab on my mental health - my volunteering time is 0%, work and college have completely taken over, and volunteering is what I love.
It's an adjustment being on someone else's time, and that fear as mentioned is always there, I have an irrational fear of getting anything wrong, and try to be 100% perfect at all times, and spending any 'downtime' in work doing extra bits of online courses, writing up pretend plans for events/campaigns I'd love to do here, figuring out ways to be more productive and efficient, I just can't relax at all. I'm always stressed and highly strung, it's a definite symptom of being unemployed for so long..... Anyways, that's a ramble. I'm wondering what happened to the Youth Guarantee, seems Govt. just let the 'whole youth unemployment thing' try and sort itself out, and pat themselves on the back when unemployment figures become lower. There hasn't been any real efforts, in my eyes, to tackle youth unemployment. There's a contradiction too, in that, big employers will say that they value experience/soft/interpersonal skills over education, yet I haven't seen any big employers actually contributing to tackling youth unemployment in a practical way?
Oh, another thing!!! The huge contradiction between: focus on the job you want vs. just get a job. On one hand you're criticised for taking a 'shitty' job that won't help you towards your dream job, and then criticised if you're a little picky about what jobs you apply for as you want them to help you towards your dream job. You can't please everyone I guess. End point - don't ever tell anyone you're unemployed - everyone will give you unwanted advice, and possibly be a dick about it."
"While people aren't emigrating in their droves as they were in the last few years to the likes of Australia, Canada etc.. its still not areas like Cootehill's or Gweedores etc that they are getting jobs in.. they still have to migrate to large urban centres. Littel opportunities still outside cities."
"Still a lot of emigration, I have friends still going to Australia, NZ, US, UK and Europe - especially if you want a solid career. General outlook has improved a small (very small) bit here. There's opportunities for work in Ireland, but it tends to be spotty - short terms, not much job security, sporadic work - most of it in the large towns and cities, and most of that in Dublin. The insecurity can be very frustrating, stressful and difficult. Jobbridge has completely undermined the concept of internships, still a lot of very obvious abuse of the system masquerading as being necessary for 'getting your foot in the door'. As for the government, their focus is elsewhere - promoting Ireland, and as we head for an election, promoting themselves. There may be a hope in government that young Irish emigrants will return with skills and experience, but that's a very vague aspiration."
"Hey Ruairi I actually broached this issue with Michael Martin recently at an EU conference here in UCC. It was being advocated by him at the conference that further education (i.e. first/second masters and a PhD) will help tackle youth unemployment here in Ireland. I asked him to consider that jobs are being created by the government in certain sectors and for a certain skillsets. There is increased government investment in the youth enterprise sector with no financial safety net should your risk not work out. Jobs need to be created across a broad range of sectors. Business and state sectors should be encouraged to think outside the box and regard/create a number of job opportunities for young people with informal education, training and youth work/volunteer experience as highly as they do your degree parchment. Young people ought to get work experience as part of their education as early as they can, to build up their record."
I did an interview with Dave Curran from the Inspireland podcast last week (a great guy) and we chatted about love, life, fear and freedom for a full hour. If you're into Podcasting it's on iTunes & should be up on other Apps too. Or you can listen via below link or embedded player.
Or listen via this link: http://inspirelandpodcast.com/2015/07/21/e26-ruairi-mckiernan-on-travelling-fear-mindfulness-embracing-uncertainty/
It took me a while but I finally got there. Myself and Susan were in West Clare last week visiting family and we took the opportunity to visit the inspirational Fergal Smith, a young former professional surfer from Mayo who is blazing a new trail as a community farmer. I first heard about Fergal over a year ago and have been following the progress through a series of impressive online videos that he and his brother produced.
The sun was shining when we arrived at the community garden near Lahinch that Fergal purchased and developed with friends as a local hub for food, learning and sharing.
Fergal gave us a tour of the various plants and crops, their new shed, and the impressive greenhouse that is mostly below ground level so as to prevent frost from killing the crops. He was buzzing telling us about the Tuesday volunteer days and the Friday evening 'cook-ups' where everyone is welcome, including kids who are looked after with special activities for them. There's even been a few evening concerts in the garden.
Fergal told us about the huge groundswell of support he has received for the project. There are the volunteers who give their time, the local farmers who lend their wisdom, the parish priest who has praised the garden from the pulpit. Folk singer Luka Bloom, who lives nearby, even wrote a song about the garden.
Fergal has recently purchased more land and it's clear that his vision holds no bounds. At a time when food and farming is becoming increasingly industrialised and many are leaving farming, his approach is encouraging. It holds out hope of maintaining that ancient connection to the land, and to the idea that food can be local, fresh and grown free from cancerous chemicals and the endless waste of plastic packaging.
We took a box of fresh vegetables home with us to Dublin and ate some of it just 4 hours after it was harvested from the soil. There was no comparison in the taste when compared to sprayed supermarket food that often travels thousands of miles before it gets to our dinner plates. This was food that was alive and you could feel the health kick in every bite.
Fergal is still only in his twenties but has travelled the world and tasted a type of success that others dream of. Now, with his wife and new baby he is focused on a different version of success. One that is about putting down deeper roots, roots that nurture mind, body and soul, while building community and protecting the planet. And thanks to the incredible waves of Ireland's west coast, he still gets to surf lots too.
Our visit was a short one but it uplifted and inspired us. In between all the negative news, it is great to know that there are people like Fergal who are out there who paving forging new paths, following their dreams, and inspiring others to live theirs.
More info: http://www.fergalsmith.com/
Here's to the dreamers
- and the doers!
I had the great honour of presenting an award to 12 year old Kathleen Marie Maughan at the Traveller Pride Awards in Dublin today. It was also great to see her feature on the RTÉ 9 O'Clock TV news. Kathleen is a total gem, facing up to bullying and discrimination to learn coding and developing her own anti-bullying App, which has seen her gain recognition at a European level.
I met lots more inspirational members of the Travelling community today, including people excelling in sport, music, fashion, business, media and law. To top things off I was given a thank you present of a traditional handmade tin pot made by one of the last surviving Tinsmiths in Ireland. A big thanks to The Irish Traveller Movement and everyone involved in what was a great event.
Watch this great 2 minute video about Kathleen.
"Kathleen Marie started learning to code when she was 10 but already she has won an award for her anti-bullying app and flown to Brussels to show European MEPs how to code.
Kathleen learnt her skills at a CoderDojo class run by the Deansrath Family Centre in Clondalkin, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Kathleen was bullied for being a traveller and she made the app to help other children facing bullying. It's a quiz with six things to do if you are facing a bully.
Thanks to the Deansrath Centre visit deansrathfamily.ie for help with this short cut of Kathleen Marie's story and for more information about CoderDojo visit coderdojo.com.
Text from the video:
I was 10 years old, and I started going to Coder Dojo
my parents and my grandmother told me, there’s this thing- what to do on or what’s it like and on my first day they checked it they tried it out if i’d like it and I told them, yes I don’t want to leave here ever.
00:22: Hi, I’m Kathleen Marie Maughan, I’m 12 years old and I’m from Clondalkin, Dublin, Ireland.
I live with my grandmother and I have one brother and one sister, my sisters name is rebecca and she’s seven years old and yes, I get along with her.
And my brother he’s called Martin Gerard and he’s three years old and I definitely get along with him.
My hobbies are - I love art, I love art, I love playing and yeah kinda that’s mostly my hobbies.
I like Scratch but I’m on HTML.. So yeah I’m moving on to html and my first thing that was major that i ever ever did when i was eleven years old, I made an anti-bullying quiz app.
Before I started I never had a computer, it’s a quiz, it show six things of what to do- i forget some of them.
The reason why I made the app, I used to get bullied, I was bullied because I was a traveller. It made me feel really sad and angry - yeah, really upset mostly.
I won an award, 257 people, I came second place.
I went to Brussels, to visit the European parliament and tell them about my app, we were 2 hours on a plane, it went straight up like that.
I showed them what I did and they went it’s very, very good.
The reason why I make them is so our world will be a safer world, cos the world is a big world, and dangerous world.
All they need to learn is what the teachers tell them to learn, life.
So basically help them learn life.
Excerpt of talk by Ruairí at launch of Youth Elect by Future Voices at the Mansion House, Dublin
One thing that all truly great activists, community leaders, campaigners, and politicians have in common is courage. They have the courage to transcend fear and doubt, the courage to keep going when it feels like they can’t. The courage to break the mould and break down doors and announce that the status quo is no longer acceptable and that things are going to change around here.
We live in a world where courage is so badly needed. Whether it be the ecological crisis, the economic crisis, the challenges of health, housing, transport or corruption. Too many are hostage to fear, fear of speaking out, rocking the boat, losing out on status, privilege, recognition, and power.
As we prepare to commemorate the leaders of Ireland’s 1916 Rising, it is worth reflecting on the role of courage. Think too of Mandela, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Aung San Su Chi, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden. Think of Christina Nobel, Christine Buckley, Philomena Lee, Stephanie O’Keefe, John Wilson and Maurice McCabe.
Then of course there are the countless heroes who walk among us, who go unrecognised and uncelebrated, and the courageous politicians doing their best in an imperfect system. Let’s celebrate these people, not just with words, but with action. Let’s carry their torch forward by working in service and by leaving the most fearless lives we can.
I admire those who are brave or crazy enough to be inside or wanting to go inside the political system. This is a system that needs a complete overhaul, a whole new operating system rather than just a reboot, a new system founded on transparency and citizen service.
It’s up to all of us to be bold and relentless in bringing about this change, and building a parliament that welcomes more young people, women, and visionary new voices. This requires people on the inside, challenging and reforming, supported by those of us outside who are pushing, pulling, and demanding, and creating alternative visions of how things can be.
Each of us has something special to offer in all of this. Each one of us has the power to leave a great legacy. Imagine when you are 90 years old.
Imagine it now……………
Imagine looking back on your life. How did you live it?
Did you play safe?
Or did you live a fearless life in service to bringing about a better world?
Maybe you have already made that choice and if so, you deserve our respect and support.
Looking back on my fifteen years of community work and campaigning I know I have made many mistakes. But I think I’ve learned a few things too and I want to share a few of them with you.
Now I’ve talked a lot about the power of the individual to create change and I truly believe in that. But make no mistake that behind every great leader, lies a great team, often a great partner, and certainly a community.
A focus on the individual is useful at times, but let’s remember that all great change happens because of community, because of the sum force of many voices, the people who help canvass and the people who help cook. We need to also remember that politicians are put there by us, at least most of them are, and just as we elevated them, we need to hold them accountable, and remove them if necessary.
Finally, it has been said that in the end, most things come down to a choice between love and fear. Fear is part of life and it can help us see danger ahead but it is also the thing that most cripples us, the thing that holds back our dreams, and the thing that is holding back our country from realising our huge potential.
Don’t ignore fear but instead use it. Have the courage to grab it by the horns and tell it that you aren’t going to bow to it. Let love be our guiding force, and together let’s reclaim our power, our politics, and our country.
So in those moments of fear, those dark times when it all looks too big, too overwhelming, remember that in the end it all boils down to courage. You have it inside you. We all do. Dig deep and stand tall. This is our time.
Learn practical mindfulness skills to help you feel better and achieve your full potential in this unique event. Featuring renowned social innovator, author and mindfulness advocate Sr. Stan, guest speakers including Mari Kennedy and Keith Corcoran, and music by acclaimed violinist Colm Mac Con Iomaire (The Frames). Hosted by Ruairí McKiernan. TICKETS NOW SOLD OUT.
This unique event is presented as an accessible introduction to mindfulness. No experience or prior knowledge is required. Just come along with an open mind.
Mindfulness can be described as maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. It has been be proven to help enhance focus, learning, relationships, stress, the immune system, diet and much more.
Sr. Stan is an acclaimed Irish social activist, innovator, author and mindfulness advocate. She was recently voted as Ireland's Greatest Woman in a recent national poll. Sr. Stan founded the homeless charity Focus Ireland and the Immigrant Council of Ireland. She also co-founded Young Social Innovators and The Sanctuary. She was appointed to the Council of State by President Mary Robinson in 1997. She has published numerous books about spirituality and other topics.
Colm Mac Con Iomaire
Colm is a founder member of the two renowned Irish bands; Kíla, and acclaimed indie rock outfit The Frames, who he has played with for 25 years. Colm has recorded and performed with The Swell Season, the band that emerged following the Oscar win of Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova, and the film Once, and toured widely playing the music from the film. In 2008 he released his own solo instrumental album The Hare's Corner/Cúinne an Ghiorria, to rave reviews. The album was nominated for a 2009 Meteor Award for Best Traditional/Folk Album. It was much acclaimed and has been used in many TV films in Ireland and abroad.Colm has recorded with both David Gray (White Ladder) and Damien Rice. In 2010 he scored the IFTA award winning TV series Corp & Anam.
Mari Kennedy is a leading creative strategist, facilitator, transformational coach, yoga and mindfulness teacher, and retreat leader. In 2013 she left the corporate world to pursue her passion for transformation and to lead mindfulness programmes throughout Ireland. With over 20 years experience in communications and business development, her work has included acting as Projects Coordinator with former President, Mary McAleese, and as Marketing and PR manager of the National Concert Hall, Events Co-ordinator with Arthur Cox and co-founder of the Ireland:Iceland project. In 2014 she developed and led mindfulnessprogrammes for The Well at Liss Ard and ran the Mindfulness Hedge school in partnership with Happenings. Her clients include Microsoft Ireland leadership team and the Institute of Chartered Accountants.
Ruairí McKiernan is a multi-award winning social innovator, campaigner, writer, speaker, and Presidential appointee to Ireland's Council of State. He is a Fulbright fellow, the founder of the SpunOut.ie youth organisation, a co-founder of Uplift, and a board member of the Soar Foundation and Gaisce.
Keith Corcoran is a writer, international tour guide, mindfulness instructor, storyteller, and life-long walking enthusiast. He is author of ‘Journey in Wonder’ and the ‘Green Exercise Walking Guide’ and has produced several health and environment related series for newspapers in the North West, including ‘Mind Yourself’ - a guide to positive mental health. Since September 2009, he has helped establish five weekly community walking groups in the North West. In 2013, he led a pioneering new project combining meditation and walking in the outdoors, entitled ‘Mindfulness Walking in Nature.’
Yesterday, I visited one of the most loving households I've ever been in. It was the home of twins Zea and Luna, amazing Irish fiddle playing young girls who happen to have a two mothers, two amazing loving parents who are Gay.
The 10 year old Irish-American girls regularly write to President Obama about various issues, including gun control and marriage equality. One day they got an unexpected call asking them to come to the White House and introduce President Obama at the launch of LGBT pride month last year. Read more at this link and watch the video of their wonderful introduction below.
"There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence to which the idealist most easily succumbs: activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful."
- Thomas Merton
I was lucky enough to be around for the Berkeley Free Speech Movement (FSM) 50th anniversary rally today. It was a joy to watch campaigning veterans as old as 84 connect with young students and the issues of today. The Free Speech Movement continues to inspire movements the world over and it was very fitting that movement veteran Jack Weinberg used his speech to celebrate the incredible courage of the Occupy Central student movement that is happening right now in Hong Kong. I recorded his 7 minute speech on my phone. Scroll down to watch.
Also, here's 'that' famous Mario Savio (FSM student leader) quote:
“There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can't take part. You can't even passively take part. And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.”
Various bits of news, photos and updates from Ruairí. More on Twitter and Facebook.