‘Millennial’ is not a dirty word

Millennial views: A few weeks ago, I was asked to join the audience of Pat Kenny Tonight, to talk about the impact emigration had on my generation. On the panel were former Fianna Fail Minister Mary O’Rourke, who receives an annual pension of €97,000 and Dragon’s Den star Peter Casey whose lifetime earnings exceed €14 million.

Pat Kenny himself left RTE after pay cuts there left him with a measly few hundred thousand per annum in earnings, to take up a $2 million package with Newstalk.

katie-harrington-irish-bloggerThe show that followed comprised forty-five minutes of “Ye don’t know how good ye have it”. Generation Snowflake was castigated for asking for too much by a bunch of middle-aged people who have led extremely comfortable existences.

Through the show, none of the older panelists noted that it was their generation, and not the young who squandered the boom and created the circumstances for the recession. There will be no juicy SSIA accounts for Generation Snowflake.

Anecdotes about having to save up to carpet the house missed the point that most of our generation can’t afford to buy a house in the first place, and if we could, there are no houses to buy. Remind me, which generation is responsible for the housing crisis?

The charge that young people in Ireland want something for nothing is unfounded. There is no evidence of it. We want decent jobs and homes to live in, that’s it – no different to our parents’ generation or their parents before them. Are these expectations now considered ludicrous?

Young people today are aspirational, not entitled. Of course we want nice lifestyles, but where did the perception that we are unwilling to work for them come from? It’s not justified.

Lazy commentators have picked up on a problem that has presented itself in other parts of the world and never bothered to find out if it was really the case here too. It’s not.

Perhaps the best point made by a Gen Xer on the night was by journalist Fiona Looney, who pointed out that there has never been a better time to be a woman. She spoke about the social circumstances of the 1980s, when divorce wasn’t an option, access to contraception was severely limited and homosexual activity was still illegal.

Fiona is absolutely right in saying that things are a lot better now, but had she looked a little deeper, she would have realised that all of those changes were driven by young people. Today, social change is still being driven by the younger generation, as seen in the marriage equality referendum last year, and the Repeal the 8th campaign.

The “ye don’t know how good ye have it” attitude hinders progress. Perhaps things are better now than they were in the 1980s, but I walk past at least 15 homeless people every day. Rent in the capital is astronomical. A good friend’s dad lies on a trolley for days in A and E, while a toilet nearby overflows. He’s a pre-lung transplant patient.

The government appears to have no clear plan for the challenges that lie ahead, the most obvious being the economic risks that will come with President Trump and Brexit (both of those votes were carried by the older generation, if anyone is keeping score) and climate change.

Is it entitled of my generation to say we can and must do better? Almost exactly one-third of my salary goes to direct taxation, not to mention indirect taxes. Shouldn’t this be enough to provide basic housing and healthcare in the country? Perhaps I am entitled, but I refuse to accept this is as good as it gets.

Generation Snowflake is an insulting and unfair label. Shelve it. Young people are busy trying to solve the problems their parents’ generation created. We are not interested in being patronised by hurlers on the ditch who have already had their turn.


Katie Harrington is a 28-year-old travel and lifestyle blogger from Galway, Ireland. 

“I’m passionate about seeing the world and meeting people from different countries. I love noticing the similarities and differences between people around the world. In a divided world, I genuinely believe that experiencing other cultures first hand is one of the best ways to combat prejudice.

“In between travel, I write about Irish events, restaurants, and news, as well as opinion pieces on topical issues.”

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Comment (2)

  • Elena| December 9, 2016

    Refreshing! Couldn’t agree more with you. Very nice article.

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