Pobalscoil na Tríonóide

Politics and Society Expo

Politics and Society Expo

Politics & Society Expo 24th January 2020

A Politics & Society Expo was held on Friday January 24th where Leaving Cert students presented their Citizenship research projects on topics such as Minorities in Ireland, Democracy & Social Media and Climate Change activists to an invited panel of guests which included four 2020 General Election candidates.

The guests were Mr. David Stanton T.D. - Minister of State with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration, Mr. Walter Jaywardene – Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, Mr. Eanna Dowling Journalist and Broadcaster - CRY104FM, Councillor Mary Linehan-Foley – Independent, Councillor Liam Quaide – Green Party, Councillor James O’Connor – Fianna Fail.

After the coffee break, this group was joined by the Executive of Student Council as well as Fifth Year Politics & Society students

Report on Politics and Election - Questions and Answers Panel by Liam O’Leary 5th Yr

Immigration & Minorities in Ireland

Minister Stanton claimed that alt-right hate groups online pose an issue to the integration of minorities into Ireland. He also reminded the room that climate change is linked to the issue, as well as war. He promoted his initiative to take a family into each village in the country. He reminded everyone to always double check their facts.

Walter went on to explain what his organisation, the IHREC does in relation to the topic. They critique government policy to determine the impact it can have on various minorities. He similarly warned of fake news, and how social media can sometimes promote misinformation and bring out the worst in people. Nothing is ever black and white.

Cllr. Mary Linehan-Foley brought up a common counterargument. She noted that many people are homeless here in Ireland, many waiting for 10 –15 years for a home. Should minorities get priority, or should our own citizens get housed first?

Walter pointed out that Ireland as a state has obligations, under organisations such as the European Union and United Nations, both internationally and nationally to help immigrants find homes. He also reiterated that internet can drive much of that hatred and anger.

Cllr. Liam Quaide of the Green Party pointed out that minorities are often used as scapegoats, giving the prime example of the Jews in Nazi Germany. Movements and the Internet can often influence and manipulate the opinions of the public, giving the example of Brexiteers. In relation to the issue of who should get homes first, he made that argument that all issues are linked, and can’t be solved one at a time. Here he brought up climate change and how adults must help children in solving it. He outlined measures he would take to prevent climate change, including transforming infrastructure and paying farmers to safeguard biodiversity.

Fianna Fáil VS Fine Gael

Minister Stanton distinguished between the two parties through policy, stating that Fianna Fáil policy lead to the recession, and that Fine Gael policy has brought us into a time of booming economy.

Cllr. Linehan-Foley did point out that despite this, we currently have a great housing and health care crisis.

Eanna, from an outside perspective, said it was very hard to differentiate between the two centrist parties.

Minister Stanton placed blame of the healthcare crisis on the global competition for personnel, saying that many professionals are drawn away to places like Australia. He also said that Fianna Fáil policies could endanger the country during and after Brexit, as they are promising much expenditure.


All present agreed that PRSTV is a very representative voting system, much more so than many systems elsewhere.

Business in Youghal

When asked about the derelict and empty shops in Youghal, Cllr. Linehan--Foley said that many small businesses have unfortunately failed due to the large companies coming to the town, e.g. Tesco / Lidl. She also said that there has been lots of effort to bring businesses in, and that the Ironman event was and will be again very successful for Youghal.

Minister Stanton pointed out that online shopping has also resulted in the failure of very many small businesses, and that many of the derelict shops are privately owned, therefore making government intervention quite difficult.

Free Speech

When the topic of free speech versus hate speech arose, Minister Stanton said that there is ongoing public consultation regarding this topic. He also said that a hate crime is an important distinction to make, as it relates to attacking a person based on a prejudiced belief to their race, gender, etc.

Mental Health

Cllr. Quaide agreed that we do have a mental health crisis in Ireland. He brought up the effects of social media on youth, and the epidemic of loneliness particularly among the elderly. He himself assists people in Cork experiencing mental health issues and admitted that the sector is greatly under resourced. He said that there is a huge need for these services, and this problem has negative effects for all in society.

Eanna finished by addressing the huge stigma regarding male mental health. He noted that women often tend to take on more responsibility than men early in life, and urged men to take on more responsibility and to not be afraid to express their emotions.

By liam o' Leary

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