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Image / Editorial

#GE20: Irish children weigh in on the upcoming General Election


by Grace McGettigan
04th Feb 2020
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With the 2020 General Election just days away, Irish politicians sat down with a group of children to find out which issues matter most to them


Irish children have a powerful voice – the recent school strike for climate proved that. They’re not afraid to question things, nor are they shy about demanding better from the adults in charge. With that in mind, young people from various youth groups across Ireland came together on Tuesday for a special children’s hustings.

Gathering at the Ark in Dublin’s city centre, kids from all over the country were given an opportunity to raise concerns around issues including housing, direct provision, mental health, education and climate action. Other children wanted to ask about policies surrounding online safety, while some enquired about the politicians themselves.

On the issue of mental health, one young person asked, “Have you considered looking at sources of poor mental health rather than implementing things like guidance counsellors?”

Not only do their questions show how engaged young people are in Irish politics, but it also highlights their awareness of big societal issues.

‘Ireland needs a generous leader’

While all of the points raised were incredibly important, two particular questions stood out above the rest.

“Why are politicians so rude to each other,” asked a girl named Lily-Rose, “when Ireland needs a generous, kind person to lead our country? You’re supposed to be someone that children can look up to!” she said.

Meanwhile, Raymond (who is aged just 11) asked whether or not these politicians will “keep their promises” – a skill so often pressed upon children, but so rarely demonstrated by adults.

Overall, the reaction to today’s children’s hustings has been positive. Tanya Ward, CEO of the Children’s Rights Alliance and one of the organisers behind the event said, “Young people will not get the opportunity to vote for the next government, so we wanted to create a space where young people could have their voices heard in this election campaign.

“It is telling that many of the issues being raised by young people are the very ones getting sidelined in the political debates thus far. The more we hear from [them], the harder it will be for political leaders to ignore them.”

Photo: Children’s Rights Alliance 


Read more: Is there something about Mary? Sinn Féin and the hidden female vote

Read more: 9 questions you should ask candidates ahead of the General Election

Read more: Balancing parenthood with the campaign trail: ‘Nobody would have asked my husband about his paternity leave’