A few days ago, a representative for a Sinn Féin candidate for the local elections in my area knocked on my door. As I answered the door, I prepared for the usual “I’ll make your voice heard” shtick which I should’ve heard. When the man saw me, he smiled and asked “Is your Mam in son?” I replied that I am a registered voter, and have been since last summer, to which the man replied “Oh right” and proceeded to simply utter “you wouldn’t consider giving [the Sinn Féin candidate] one of your preferences next week, would you?”
This is not the first time this has happened. Consistently Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and other parties have sent people to my door whose first words are “Is your Mam/Dad in?”
Yet for a party whose support is higher in the 18-25 age bracket than any other age group (according to the Irish Times/TNSmrbi poll published on Friday), the disregard that Sinn Féin showed me set me aback a bit. I am a year shy of my twentieth birthday, and by all acounts I do not look under eighteen. The Sinn Féin canvasser assumed that I was younger than eighteen. Would it not be more helpful for a seemingly progressive, “trendy” party to assume that a young person is of legal voting age until told otherwise? Isolating young people in such a manner only exacerbates the perceived apathy towards politics among people my age .
Sinn Féin and the other established political parties should recognise the considerable support the 18-25 year olds give the party by adopting a positive approach to young voters.