The ‘Young People’s Assembly’, organised by the We’re Not Leaving initiative and the Young Workers Network, met in Liberty Hall on Saturday to discuss the uncertain future of young people in Ireland.
The aim of the rally was to draw attention to the plight of those in this country under the age of 25, looking at the impact of fee increases and grant cuts, as well as the problems of housing, mental health and unemployment benefit.
Nearly 200 people attended the assembly, held between 11am and 5pm and accompanied by the #werenotleaving hashtag, which trended in Dublin and Ireland on Friday and Saturday as word of the event spread.
Laura McKenna of the Young Workers Network and Shane Fitzgerald from We’re Not Leaving, along with Moira Murphy, opened the debate and called for the youth of Ireland to organise and engage in an attempt to prevent what they see as a concerted attack on young people from those in power.
“Forced emigration is not a lifestyle choice, it’s a government policy” said Fitzgerald, as letters from the Department of Social Protection advising of jobs abroad were publicly destroyed.
As well as general debate, there were several helpful talks and inclusive workshops held, the pick of which concentrated on student issues and the raising of third level fees, ran by Joe O’Connor and Patrick Cole.
The topics of internships and unpaid work-experience were raised, with many of the attendees unhappy with the perceived exploitation of young workers by employers.
Stronger regulations for landlords were also a main talking point, with those present complaining of exorbitant prices and refusal of rent allowances.
It remains to be seen what impact, if any, this show of solidarity will have with those who can directly inspire the changes needed.
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