General Election Candidate: Julie O’Leary
This Fine Gael candidate wants to bring sustainable employment to Cork
This is one in a series of profiles on young General Election candidates for 2016. If you are a candidate and would like to take part, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Name: Julie O'Leary
- Constiuency: Cork North Central
- Party: Fine Gael
In a nutshell, tell us about yourself
At 25, I'm the youngest FG candidate in GE16. From a farming background, I'm a barrister and work in family, criminal and immigration law.
If elected, what will your priorities be?
- Long term, sustainable employment in Cork. We need to ensure that everyone who wants to live and work in Cork can do so, and create opportunities for those who have emigrated to return.
- Prioritising our infrastructure, particularly Cork Airport and the Cork-Limerick Motorway. Cork is a vibrant business and tourism destination, but we need to ensure that we are open to the world.
- Investing in public services, particularly mental health and addiction. As a barrister, I believe mental health and addiction problems are core cause of anti-social behaviour. Investing in frontline services will help young people lead healthy and safe lives.
What do you think are the issues that most affect young people in Ireland today?
Employment- I graduated from UCC in 2012, and it was a bleak time to be leaving education. The opportunities just weren't there, and too many people were forced to emigrate. It's a very different scenario for those leaving education now- they'll be the first to inherit the recovering economy. We can't take the recovery for granted and the next government must prioritise youth unemployment. Our graduates will continue to drive the recovery if they are given the opportunity to do so.
Housing- Whether it's renting for college, to take up a first job, or to try and buy your first house, younger people have been the victims of the housing crisis. No one should have to turn down a college course or a job offer because the can't find somewhere to live.
Sexual Health & Mental Health- Sexual education in Ireland is too inconsistent. This is bad for Irish society in general, both men and women. This needs to be addressed and modernised by the next Government. On mental health, the rate of death from suicide among 15-25 year olds in Ireland is one of the highest in the EU- that's not acceptable and it's something we need to tackle.
If elected, what will you do about these issues?
Employment- The Action Plan for Jobs is going to create 200,000 more jobs by 2020. Companies that create jobs for graduates need stability, security and a long term plan, which FG in government will deliver 50,000 new apprenticeship opportunities will provide a whole new range of jobs for young people in a variety of sectors.
Housing- The only cure for the housing crisis is to increase supply. I think we are moving towards a more long term rental market in Ireland, in line with other European countries, and we need to ensure this is supported. We also need to ensure that tenants are aware of their rights and use the Private Residential Tenancies Board if a dispute arises with their landlord.
Sexual Health & Mental Health- Sexual education needs to be completely modernised. It needs to start as soon as possible, in an age appropriate manner, in line with what happens in other countries. Teachers need to either be trained in the area, or relieved of the responsibility completely so that specialists who are comfortable in giving this education can be brought in. In mental health we need to invest in frontline services and continue to reduce stigma- going to see a counsellor should not be any different to going to see a physiotherapist!
What message have you for young voters?
This election is about our future, so whatever your thoughts on politics, get out and use your vote. Make your voice heard and engage with your candidates. Young voters care about issues, not party politics, so we can really set the agenda for the next Government. The decisions made by the next Government are going to affect you for the rest of your life, so don't risk throwing away the hard work of the last five years and vote for a government that will keep the recovery going to benefit everyone in Irish society.