An Outsider Takes on Ireland, From Inside a Plastic Bag
She added that when Chambers told listeners last April, in an episode called “Intrapersonally Speaking,” that he had been diagnosed with autism, that had helped her adapt to an A.D.H.D. diagnosis she had recently received. “I’ve been inspired by him to be open,” she said, adding that she now posts regularly about her experience of A.D.H.D. on TikTok.
Issues like these are still relatively under-discussed in the Irish news media and society, and Chambers’ fans seem to welcome his candor. He gets “thousands and thousands” of social media messages about mental health, he said, but he could never deal with interactions like those in person. “If I didn’t have the bag,” Chambers said, “I’d stop talking about mental health.”
On other episodes, Chambers talks frankly about an economic climate that he says has infantilized his generation. Ireland is in the grips of a rental crisis caused by a severe housing shortage; Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said last month that the country of five million people had 250,000 too few homes. And it is Ireland’s millennials who are worst affected, Chambers said. “The media will call a 40-year-old a young person. I’m in my late 30s and I refuse: I’m middle-aged,” he added. “If you call it ‘middle-aged people can’t get housing,’ it’s obvious there is a problem.”
Chambers said he saw a generational divide, too, in the way that the news media in the Republic of Ireland talks about Northern Irish politics. On the podcast, Chambers addresses millennial perspectives that he says news outlets in the South fail to reflect.
Sinn Fein, a political party that fields candidates on both sides of the border, has had a recent resurgence of popularity in the South, where it was once unpopular because it was associated with the Irish Republican Army. Chambers said the Irish news media continued to draw links between the party and terrorism. But for people born after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that brokered peace in the North, he said, Sinn Fein lawmakers were “the ones who are doing something different.” (He added that he did not endorse any political parties.)
Several popular Instagram accounts attest to this growing interest in Northern Irish politics among young people in the Republic. One of these, called Tanistry, posts plainly illustrated slides explaining historical events such as the Good Friday Agreement, or the Bloody Sunday massacre of 1972, and relating them to contemporary politics. Andrew Clarke, a 27-year-old college student from Belfast who runs the account, said that there had been a culture of “mystification” around Northern Irish politics and that he was “trying to make it digestible,” adding that more than half of the account’s followers were aged 24 to 35, with the highest concentrations in Dublin and Belfast.