Belfast Telegraph

Good Friday peace deal 'defines generation'

Millennials tell of life 20 years after referendum

By Victoria Leonard

Only a third of young people in Northern Ireland believe life has got better for them over the past five years, but seven in 10 still expect to be living here in five years' time, according to a new survey to mark the 20th anniversary of the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement.

The report on the beliefs of Northern Ireland's "millennials" gives an insight into "Generation Y", born between 1982 and 1996. While those who took part were too young to vote in the referendum, the survey by PwC reveals that 52% believe the Agreement has shaped their lives, with 57% of Protestant and 54% of Catholic young people seeing the peace deal as defining their futures.

However, only 33% of the post-deal generation believe that life here has got better over the past five years - and almost a fifth (18%) say life has actually got worse over that period.

Another 42% said that life has stayed much the same.

And only 10% believe the region is "well-managed".

Despite these concerns, seven in 10 young people still expect to be living here in five years' time, with 49% seeing Northern Ireland as "beautiful" and 47% describing it as "home".

Colin McIlheney from PwC Research said the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement had "clearly defined a generation".

"While the past five years have been challenging for many, the overwhelming majority say they aren't planning to leave," he stated.

"However, there are dissenting voices amongst 18 to 24-year-olds, worried about affordability, with a quarter of this group saying they don't plan to be living in Northern Ireland in five years' time. The younger millennials also voice concerns around the quality of education provision, employment prospects and healthcare.

"And as the educational attainment of school-leavers continues to increase, with one in four working-age adults now having a degree, we cannot afford to lose our best-educated and work-ready young people."

The survey reflects those areas where millennials have the greatest concerns and where they say Northern Ireland needs to improve most.

These included a need to improve employment prospects (42%), healthcare (44%) and education (36%).

Women voiced worries around key services, with 51% worried about employment prospects, 56% seeking improvements in healthcare provision and 37% calling for improvements in education provision.

Belfast Telegraph

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