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Dublin: 6 °C Wednesday 25 April, 2018
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Sam wants to be Ireland's first transgender election candidate

A new initiative hopes to get more young people from diverse backgrounds running for office.

SAM BLANCKENSEE WANTS to become the first-ever transgender election candidate in Ireland.

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The 21-year-old Wicklow native said the lack of political representation of trans people is “a real barrier to positive visibility within the community”.

I got involved with politics to amplify the voices of marginalised communities and to represent young people and give them a voice.

Sam, who is a member of the Labour party and active in student politics at UCD, started the transition from female to male at the age of 18.

He is considering running in the general election but would likely be up against Anne Ferris if he decided to do so. With this in mind, he said running in the next local election in 2019 might be a more realistic prospect.

Sam is one of 30 potential election candidates (aged 30 or younger) taking part in Youth:Elect – a project developed by Future Voices Ireland that aims to boost youth involvement and interest in politics, particularly among those from marginalised backgrounds.

Mairead Healy, CEO of Future Voices, told TheJournal.ie the programme is “about giving the Dáil new life and making our political landscape much more reflective of the modern and diverse society that Ireland has become”.

The young people that we work with on our other programmes in Future Voices deserve role models in politics who are from their areas, are from diverse backgrounds and care about issues that affect their lives. Through the Youth:Elect programme we aim to give our young people representatives that they can relate to.

Ciara McPhillips (28) has been a Fine Gael councillor in Monaghan since 2011. She attended UCD through the ACCESS programme to study law.

Ciara said there has “rightly” been a lot of talk about gender quotas in recent times, but pointed out that “young people are equally under-represented” in politics.

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“An absence of young people in any profession or vocation can lead to inertia and a repetition of the same old ways. Additional young persons in our council chambers and the Houses of the Oireachtas will not only benefit young people but all of our community – as a new energy and enthusiasm is infectious,” she stated.

Shane O’Brien (29) is also a councillor, representing Killiney/Shankill on Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council.

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The Sinn Fein member plans to run in the general election to “help give young people a voice”.

“It is my aim to act as role model for other young people who may consider entering politics in Ireland. Young people are simply under-represented in Dáil Éireann,” he said.

Emma Murphy (30) is from Ballyboden in Dublin. She ran as a Fianna Fáil local election candidate last year.

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“Coming from a local authority background myself and also as a woman in politics I think that Youth:Elect will enable me to challenge the obstacles which can arise for young people in attempting to enter politics or to participate in political life,” Murphy noted.

All images c/o Future Voices

Youth:Elect will be launched at the Mansion House in Dublin at 6pm today. More information is available here.

Opinion: We have been silenced for too long – it’s time for a youth revolution

Read: ‘I’m tired of middle-aged men pissing away my future all the time’

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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