Focus Ireland launches ‘Voter Registration Drive Campaign’ to encourage people who are homeless to use their democratic voice

James (20) who was formerly homeless has now registered to vote & encouraged others to do so to help drive political change to end the housing & homeless crisis

Focus Ireland launched its Voter Registration Drive Campaign this morning in the GPO in Dublin with support from An Post. The campaign aims to increase voter registration among people who are homeless which will support the charity’s primary goal of ending homelessness.

The initiative aims to encourage more political engagement by people who are currently – or were previously – homeless or at risk. This drive will be greatly supported by An Post’s Address Point service which provides a free secure personal address to people who are homeless or in temporary accommodation so that they can receive letter mail through a post office of their choice.

James Flanagan (20 who was previously homeless and was housed by Focus Ireland and is working fulltime) was one of the first people to register to vote as part of the new Focus Ireland campaign and he explained at the event why he did so and why others should do the same. He said: “The homeless and housing crisis is the biggest problem in society in recent years and I want to use my vote to try to drive action on this issue. If the politicians take the right actions, it can be solved. It only took me two minutes to register to vote and I would encourage others who are homeless or were in the past to do so and use their voice in the coming local elections and the next General Election.”

The campaign’s three key target groups are: people who are previously /or are currently homeless, others who are at risk of losing their home; friends and family of these target groups. Focus Ireland is also linking in with other NGOs to try to reach other socially excluded group many of whom who have not traditionally engaged in the electoral process and may have never registered to vote. During this significant gathering in the GPO, attendees will gain invaluable insights into the significance of voter registration and its direct impact on policies and decisions affecting those facing homelessness.

Focus Ireland’s team of trained staff will be present as they aim to kickstart the campaign to facilitate voter registration drives across the country, enabling individuals to register online seamlessly. Mike Allen, Director of Advocacy at Focus Ireland said: “At Focus Ireland, we believe in the power of every voice. Our Voter Registration Drive Campaign aims to increase voter registration and political engagement among people who are homeless and other marginalized individuals. We believe this campaign will help to empower people while also building more support for our primary goal of ending homelessness.”

Mr. Allen adds: “In the last local elections, there was a 50.7% voter turnout. However, that figure underestimates voter apathy, as it is based on the number of people on the electoral register, and it excludes those that have never registered. Voter participation is traditionally lower among marginalised communities, who are usually most dependent on the services of the state, and who therefore are most at risk from poor policy decisions.”

Mr. Art O’Leary, Chief Executive of An Coimisiún Toghcháin, Ireland’s independent electoral commission said:

“Your vote is your voice, and this year is a vital one for Ireland’s democracy with votes in June for our local councils, our MEPs, Limerick’s Mayor and on a Constitutional Referendum. Registering and using your vote is your right, it is a power you hold and one which is not dependent on what kind of accommodation you have or do not have. This Registration Drive being led by Focus Ireland is about giving people access to our democracy, and access to their voice within the decisions which impact all our lives.”

Meanwhile, An Post CEO, David McRedmond said: “Working with the agencies and charities supporting people who are homeless or in temporary accommodation, our free Address Point service provides a secure mails facility for those who need it on a short or long-term basis, in every county. Our Postmasters, post office and mails teams are proud to provide this practical, dignified, and private support which can make a huge difference to people’s lives and wellbeing.” The launch event has received support from An Post, whose commitment to acting for the common good and improving the quality of life for generations to come aligns with the goals of this campaign.”

Media Contact:  Roughan Mac Namara – Head of Communications Focus Ireland

Ph: 086 8515 117

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