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Poverty, inequality and mental health key issues for young people in Ireland, UN High-Level Political Forum told

Tuesday, July 17, 2018 - 09:15

Ireland’s youth delegates to the UN, Lauren Flanagan (24) from Manor Kilbride, County Wicklow and Paul Dockery (23) from Rooskey in County Leitrim chosen to address first UN review of Ireland’s performance against global goals

Poverty, inequality and mental health are among the issues most concerning young people in Ireland. That’s according to Ireland’s UN Youth Delegates, addressing the United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) taking place at the UN Headquarters in New York today (17.07.18).

The delegates 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) - goals for a better world that UN leaders agreed to achieve by 2030. They 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.

Ms Flanagan told the forum: “Addressing poverty and inequality both nationally and internationally were two of the most important Goals for the young people we spoke to. 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 added: “Mental health and well-being was one of the issues raised most frequently by young people in Ireland. 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: “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 policy makers, 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”.

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

Speaking after the UN forum, Ms Flanagan also noted that the opinions expressed in the report highlighted that the SDGs are not only for countries ‘over there’ but often touch on issues much closer to home:

Poverty and homelessness/housing

‘Homeless numbers are rising to ridiculous levels. We need to care for our homeless … I think that our Government forgets that they are people … They need assistance, not just a bed. The cycle needs to end’. - Young survey respondent


‘Mostly, the cost of living versus wages. The inability to save for investment or a future. … Rent and house prices are a huge obstacle for young people’. - Young survey respondent


‘Money is very tight. Government grant is not enough. I have to work 32 hours per week (to the detriment of my studies) and attend a level 8 college course full-time in order to be able to afford rent and heating’. - Young survey respondent

‘It astounds me how there can be so much wealth in such a small percentage of the world’s population, and yet there is still such poverty for the people living in developing countries’ Young survey respondent.

Precarious employment

“Unemployment, insecure and short-term employment has been a defining feature of my 20s. I have emigrated twice during my 20s’”. ’ - Young survey respondent.


Mental Health


‘Serious lack of mental health resources for my anxiety disorder and depression.’- Young survey respondent.


‘The government should open up 24/7 crisis mental health services, increase the mental health budget, and fund the training of more psychologists and nurses trained in psychiatric care.’ - Young survey respondent.



Now in its third year, the UN Youth Delegate programme is run by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Irish Aid, and the NYCI. It aims to ensure that young people are more involved in decision making at the UN, and that the views of young people in Ireland are taken into account.


Contact: Daniel Meister, NYCI Communications Manager: 087 781 4903, 01-478 4122 or

Notes to Editors:

  • About National Youth Council of Ireland

The National Youth Council of Ireland is a member-led umbrella organisation that represents and supports the interests of voluntary youth organisations and uses its collective experience to act on issues that impact on young people.

The report ‘A Generation for Change’ is the outcome of a year of consultation carried out by Ireland’s youth delegates to the UN, Lauren Flanagan (24) from Manor Kilbride, County Wicklow and Paul Dockery (23) from Rooskey in County Leitrim.

The research underpinning this report is the result of 22 semi-structured meetings and focus group meetings in Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Dublin, and a survey with over 600 respondents. More detail on methodology available in full report