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Ireland - young people and the Lisbon Treaty

Generation Yes or Generation No?

by Daniel Finnan

Article published on the 2009-09-30 Latest update 2009-10-01 08:11 TU

EU citizen Fran is from Salamanca in Spain - he is in Ireland to learn English(Photo: Daniel Finnan)

EU citizen Fran is from Salamanca in Spain - he is in Ireland to learn English
(Photo: Daniel Finnan)

All Europe will be watching Ireland this Friday when its people vote for a second time on the controversial Lisbon Treaty. In last year’s referendum nearly two-thirds of young people abstained from voting. So will this year be any different?

Report: Will young people vote on Lisbon and, if so, how?

30/09/2009 by Daniel Finnan

Only 36 per cent of 18-24 years old actually used their vote last year, according to research by the European Commission.

And the majority of those who did voted against, with 65 per cent saying No.

So do young people feel differently this time around?

“I think there are a lot of benefits for the Lisbon treaty, but basically there’s too much advertisement for the Yes vote,” said 24 year-old Dubliner Seamus.

He is voting No.

“Yes! Because I want to be involved in Europe, and then we might come out of the recession,” said 23-year-old Annalise.

“Absolutely 100 per cent No! They changed nothing in it, and we already voted No, so we’re voting No again,” says 22 year-old Gerald.

“To turn our back on Europe at this point - you can’t be half in, you’re either in or out,” says 28 year-old Rebecca. “And having taken everything we’re taken, to then slam the door in someone’s face, is just horrendous."

The lack of participation and strong No support from young people comes as a surprise, especially when we consider Ireland’s transformation within the European Union.

Initiatives such as Erasmus, which enables students from across Europe to live in another European city as part of their course, have given many Irish young people a broader perspective of the continent.

So for this year’s referendum, some activists have taken it upon themselves to energise the young population.

Andrew Byrne is a 24-year-old Dubliner who was once a Green Party activist. Now he is director of Generation Yes and aiming to win young people's support for the Lisbon Treaty.

“Its targeting young people aged 18-30 with a positive message about the Lisbon treaty, and what’s in it for them,” Byrne told RFI.

“This is too important to leave to politicians, this is about our future. So, why not instead of complaining about, let’s do something about it ourselves?"

 On France 24 TV

Ireland's Lisbon Treaty campaign