While crime and 'law and order' have featured prominently in the election campaign, particularly following the murder and dismemberment of Keane Mulready-Woods, little attention has been paid to addressing the social causes of crime.
This is the view of People Before Profit's Galway West candidate, Joe Loughnane, who is calling for the development of a network of publicly-owned, not for profit, youth centres in Galway city and county, to provide an outlet for young people.
“It’s easy for young people to feel like there is a track that you should be on in life if you’re to be successful, and this usually involves a good Leaving Cert and a college course," said Mr Loughnane. "For anyone who feels like this isn’t their path, there really aren’t that many options. If you don’t finish your Leaving Cert, or decide not to go to college, what then? Most people will be told to start a trade, or just try and get any job at all to keep them going."
He said there was "no buffer zone" for young people who "deviate from the path" to figure out what they want out of life. "As with most of the worst side effects of our current social system, people with less money and less social capital are inevitably hit the hardest by this," he said.
Mr Loughnane said the development of youth centres, particularly in disadvantaged areas, would be a means to combating this. He said such centres should include good WiFi connection, learning resources, a pool table, couches, and an information desk, and that they would be places where young people could both relax and hang out, and use the resources to work on their CV or research education options.
"Galway has some great youth services, and we are also calling for their funding to be increased as many of them are being stretched to their limit," he said. "For minimal investment, a network of youth centres around Galway could go a long way to helping young people realise that the path ahead of them isn’t as dark as it seems.”