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The Role of Political Parties in Young People’s Civil and Political Participation in Ireland: A Focus on Young Immigrants (18 – 24)

It is said that young people are the conscience of every society and the architects of a nation’s tomorrow (McCann 2013). Furthermore, young people between the ages of 15 and 24 make up 1.2 billion of the world’s human capital, many of whom are already making civic and political contributions to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (Farmanesh et al. 2005), and are increasingly recognized as key players in decision-making and development processes. The influx of immigrants due to Ireland’s economic boom during the 1990s has changed the dynamics of the state from what it was about 20 years ago to what it is today a very multicultural 21st Century Ireland. This phenomenon means a corresponding growth in the number of young immigrants in Ireland as 21% of non-Irish Nationals are below 22 years of age (CSO 2012a).

The inclusion of young immigrants in Irish formal and informal channels of civic and political participation is therefore crucial because the socio-political and economic status of immigrant youth has an effect on how they relate to the society around them(Nolan 2009) and allows them to fulfil their right to express their views freely on all matters affecting them in the state (UNCRC 2009). The question is, what are the various Irish political parties doing to encourage young immigrants’ civic and political participation, and on the flipside, how do young immigrants themselves view their opportunities and resources for participation in Ireland?

Over the past few years, political parties have stressed the importance of encouraging young people to civically and politically engage; whether in schools, in colleges, at the workplace or in communities because too many young people are disillusioned about politics and are disconnected from decision-making processes. However, the various political parties have not made any substantial efforts to encourage young immigrants’ participation. On the other hand, young immigrants are not engaging politically although they have taken tangible steps towards civic engagement through voluntary work, sports, social media, education and employment, etc.

This research probes into the role of political parties in encouraging young immigrants’ political and civic participation. Its conclusions draw attention to specific recommendations for Irish political parties and young immigrants as a means of looking at possible steps to take towards the civic and political participation of young immigrants in Ireland.

 

Erica Birch-Aben (2013)

 

Permanent link to this article: http://kimmagedsc.ie/dissertation/political-parties-immigrant-participation/