2023 is an important year for Ireland as it marks the 50th anniversary of Irish EU membership. Looking back, it’s amazing to see how much Ireland has changed in the last 50 years and how much the country has benefited from joining the EU.
While there have been moments and periods of disappointment and maybe even distrust, Irish EU membership has overall been a success story.
Being part of the EU was a crucial condition to grow the Irish economy, especially after the end of the Cold War and after the signing of the Belfast agreement, when Ireland found a new position for itself in a more and more globalised world.
During this time Ireland became a wealthier and a much more open society. Yet, there remain unsolved challenges that we need to urgently address.
How can we make sure that this wealth is used to make Ireland a more sustainable place to live?
Fighting climate change is the overarching principle that all other measures and policies need to help work towards.
Let’s look at Transport as one of the key challenges in Ireland. The latest INRIX 2022 Global Traffic Report showed that Dublin and Galway were the 4th and 7th most-congested cities in Europe!
Yet, transport emissions in the State must fall 50 per cent by 2030 under the Government’s climate action plan. Even the OECD recommends Ireland that simply replacing fossil fuel cars with electric vehicles won’t do.
A strong shift to public transport and active travel is crucial. One solution would be the expansion of rail and light rail systems across Ireland as they have a huge potential to remove congestion from Irish cities and ultimately make them much more liveable.
With latest reports indicating that the Irish housing need is twice that of current government goals, we need to do much more to address the housing crisis by treating it as the emergency it is.
Housing has big implications on people’s lives, and young people are most affected by the crisis. By 2019, only 27% of 25-34 year-olds were living independently, making this cohort one of the least independent in Europe. Densification, urbanisation and addressing vacancy and dereliction are important steps to fix housing, and to allow every young adult to live on their own and lead an independent life.
Just as the annual flu season (including the usual prolonged waiting times in hospitals, numbers of patients on trolleys etc.) seemed to quiet down, the interim report on Camhs showed that Ireland’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services is not fit for purpose, failing children and adolescents and their families.
It is no wonder that there has been an increase in children and young adults showing signs of mental health issues. Young people are facing the most uncertain times in generations: Two years of a global pandemic, the climate crisis, housing, Russia’s war in Ukraine.
We need to make sure that the Irish health system meets the mental health needs of children and young adults. Urgent action is needed so that we don’t create a lost generation.
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If you want to get actively involved in shaping how politics is done in Ireland, or if you want to share your view on what you think we need to do to solve some of the problems in Ireland, please reach out to us. We’d love to hear your thoughts!