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Activism ‘academy’ to focus on young people’s role in politics

Resource type: News

The Irish Times | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]

By Lorna Siggins.  YOUNG IRISH people are turning away from political parties for more complex reasons than a general “despair and disillusionment”, according to the founder of a Galway-based national youth website.

Advocacy and activism are seen as far more appealing than the “long, slow, energy-draining grind” of politics, Ruairí McKiernan, chief executive of said yesterday.

He was speaking before last night’s opening of an “activism summer school” in Galway this weekend, which has been initiated by the web-based organisation with the support of NUI Galway’s Huston school of film and digital media.

Independent MEP for the north-west Marian Harkin, Green Party Senator Niall Ó Brolcháin and Independent mayor of Roscommon Luke “Ming” Flanagan are due to address the summer school on the topic What Use Is Politics?

Other contributors include journalist Orla Tinsley, author Michael McCaughan, internet activist Mark Conroy, Free Gaza Movement Ireland co-ordinator Niamh Moloughney and Sarah Clancy, former Amnesty International western region campaigns officer.

Some 18 participants between the ages of 18 and 25 from all over Ireland have been selected by for an activism “academy”, which will offer training in social justice and campaigning issues.

“Ireland is at a crossroads at the moment,” Mr McKiernan said. “With a youth unemployment rate of around 30 per cent and up to 1,000 people emigrating each week, many young people feel lost, frustrated and angry.

“The political system is not going to reform itself, and more and more young people are seeing democracy as being rooted in the community, rather than in the current hierarchical system within established politics,” he said.

“Even the British Tory party is recognising this with its idea about the ‘big society’,” he added.

NUIG’s Huston school of film and Digital Media is hosting a week-long summer school later this month in cinema, human rights and advocacy, while an activism “fleadh” is being held by Kilbarrack Community Development Project in Dublin on August 14th and 15th.

Mr McKiernan said he believed that this reflected a “wider need for dialogue and new forums of engagement”. is a registered charity, supported by Atlantic Philanthropies, the Health Service Executive, the One Foundation, Google and the National Lottery, among others. is an Atlantic grantee.


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