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Large youth population to make voice heard

WITH a quarter of its population under the age of 15, education and youth issues are never far off the agenda in Blanchardstown.

Job prospects and access to facilities are all high on the agenda of the constituency’s “sizeable” first time voters.

According to Gavin Byrne, a senior youth worker in the area with Foroige, young adults who will be voting for the first time are eager to be heard.

The youth group held an event last week giving first time voters access to 14 of the area’s candidates.

OPPORTUNITIES

“There are approximately 101,000 people living in Dublin 15 and a quarter of that population are under the age of 15 with a quarter more from a non-Irish background,” Mr Byrne said.

“There is a sizeable number who are voting for the first time and the issues that are of most concern, are education and employment.

“Safety was also a huge concern for younger people who wanted to be able to move around the area safely, and we also had the perennial concerns about bullying, alcohol and drug use.

Foroige has been operating in Blanchardstown since 1982 and repeated budget cuts to youth services is also a red-flag issue for young voters.

“The youth services have been hugely successful in the area and it’s something young voters are concerned about,” Mr Byrne said.

“Since 2008, the funding has been cut severely and we’ve managed to keep going through fundraising and cutbacks.

“Anything that threatens their access to youth centres or community projects is a real worry for them,” he added.

For the more seasoned voters in the area, prescription fees, the loss of medical cards and a lack of infrastructure are the main concerns.

Christopher Connolly, manager of Blanchardstown Village Pharmacy, said they had been inundated with queries about the growing cost of prescriptions and worries over the future of their medical cards.

“People are very concerned about prescription charges. This and the loss of medical cards is a huge issue in the area,” Mr Connolly said.

“It’s a big expense for people and a real concern. We’ve had to put up a sign telling people we’ll talk them through their options.

“One customer has seen his monthly bill jump from €10 to €144 because of the changes. It’s a lot of money and people are already struggling.”

For Gary O’Donohue, who co-owns the Cyclezone bike shop in the village, concerns about infrastructure and access are the priority.

“Cycle lanes are a huge problem. The Government want more people to get out of their cars but people are faced with using cycle lanes that just stop out of the blue.

“A lot of people are nervous about cycling but they feel a little safer with the cycle paths. We need better infrastructure if it’s going to work,” he said.

hnews@herald.ie


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