United Nations hears what matters to Irish youth

Poverty, inequality, and mental health are among the key issues for young people in Ireland.

Ireland’s UN youth delegates addressed the UN High-Level Political Forum at UN headquarters in New York yesterday.

Lauren Flanagan and Paul Dockery were speaking at Ireland’s first voluntary national review (VNR). The VNR considers Ireland’s performance against each of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs). These are goals for a better world that UN leaders have agreed to achieve by 2030.

The Irish delegates highlighted findings from their recent report on young people and the SDGs, ‘A Generation for Change’, which is the result of a year of consultation with young people around Ireland.

The report is based on data from more than 600 young people surveyed, as well as material from consultations at over 22 youth events including the National SDG Youth Summit in Croke Park last November.

Ms Flanagan told the forum that young people were particularly concerned that not enough action was being taken to ensure access to good jobs in the future.

Addressing poverty and inequality both nationally and internationally were two of the most important goals for the young people we spoke to,” she said. “In order to address poverty experienced by young people, there were calls for greater action to be taken in providing better access to decent jobs.

Mr Dockery raised the issue of suicide in his address, pointing out that the suicide rate among young people in Ireland was one of the highest in Europe.

“Mental health and wellbeing was one of the issues raised most frequently by young people in Ireland,” he said. “A 2017 report by Unicef showed that Ireland has the fourth-highest teen suicide rate among EU and OECD member states.

In our consultations with youth mental health advocates, it was widely agreed that a more accessible, age-appropriate mental health service is needed than what we currently have.

Speaking after the UN forum, Mr Dockery said it was good to have a mechanism that ensured that the voice of young people in Ireland was being heard on an international stage.

“The aim of our report was to give young people in Ireland a voice on the issues that matter to them most and bring their voices to the attention of the policymakers, politicians, and international institutions like the UN, which is why it is so important that it was being presented here at this United Nations High-Level Political Forum,” he said.

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