Comhairle na nÓg
What is Dublin City Comhairle nÓg?
Comhairle na nÓg are youth councils in the 31 local authorities of the country, which give children and young people the right to have their voices heard by being involved in the development of local services and policies. Comhairle na nÓg comes from Goal 1 of the National Children’s Strategy (2000) which identified that children and young people should have a voice in matters that affect them, they should be consulted where appropriate and have a right to have their say.
Comhairle’s purpose is to give young people an opportunity to participate in influencing local policy, planning and decision-making as well as being a mechanism for consultation. They are recognised as the official structures for participation by children and young people. By giving young people this chance to discuss and debate matters of relevance to them in their community, we are encouraging them to speak out and be heard as an influential voice in local and national decision-making processes.
Dublin City Comhairle na nÓg has 63 elected members between the ages of 11 and 18. There are 11 members from each administrative area of Dublin City and 8 places for seldom heard young people. Young people are elected at our AGM for a 2-year term. Members who complete their 2-year-term can also run for election a third year membership of Comhairle at the AGM.
Members of Dublin City Comhairle na nÓg at Áras an Uachtarain June 2016
Children and young people from schools and youth organisations are invited to participate in our AGM which is held every October in Croke Park.
At the AGM young people:
- Discuss and explore issues of importance to young people and vote for a topic that will provide the focus of the work for Comhairle na nÓg in the year ahead
- Provide feedback to the broader group of young people on the progress made over the course of the past year
- Elect young people to fill vacancies on Comhairle
The day consists of a series of facilitated workshops to discuss themes relevant to young people. Young people interested in further engagement with Comhairle beyond the AGM have an opportunity to put their names forward for election. When the full Comhairle na nÓg is elected following the AGM they will work primarily on one issue that has been chosen by young people at the AGM. It will be an issue that they will research and work on to influence decision makers.
Dublin City Comhairle na nÓg will hold their Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Thursday 27th October in Croke Park. At the AGM young people will discuss a number of things that are important to young people. They then vote on the one thing they think Comhairle should work on for the year.
The AGM will have 5 key parts:
- Presentations by Comhairle members on the work completed, events attended and consultations they have participated in during the year
- Workshops to discuss 3 topics that are important to young people
- Prioritisation of these topics and 1 topic voted for the Comhairle na nÓg committee to work on for the year
- Election for vacancies on Comhairle na nÓg committee
- Evaluation of the AGM
Young people from every School and Youth Organisation are being asked to submit topics of interest that they think is important to young people and should be discussed at the AGM. You are also invited to submit a topic or idea by writing your suggestion in the Topic Selection Form doc | 66kb and sending it back to firstname.lastname@example.org . The 3 most popular topics will be discussed at the AGM.
Working on the Topic:
One of the most important aspects of Comhairle na nÓg is that it allows young people to select and work on topics of importance to young people locally. The work of the Comhairle na nÓg on these topics includes: getting the views of other young people, doing background research, meeting with local decision-makers, developing surveys, organising meetings, making videos, producing leaflets or posters, developing online materials and other activities. This work culminates in the Comhairle na nÓg members seeking to make an impact or change to improve the lives of young people.
The 2016 working topic for Dublin City Comhairle na nÓg (as voted by young people attending the AGM in October 2015) has been the ‘Education System & Emotional Counselling’ for students in schools and centres. In order to develop and work on the topic members invited a panel of experts on the education system to a Comhairle meeting in early spring. Consequently, members voted to:
- Make a video for teachers about their students’ problems and make a video for students about how to deal with teachers and school.
- Liaise with organisations to bring in proper emotional counselling. Submit to D.O.E [Department of Education & Skills] along with statistics and surveys and demand government commitment.
Additionally, a submission was made by the Comhairle to the Assessment of DEIS programme (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools). The submission focuses on Emotional Counselling services and supports for young people attending DEIS schools.
Examples of other topics Dublin City Comhairle na nÓg have worked on include Cyber bullying and Mental Health. Comhairle members created a booklet on cyber bullying, called “Be a cyber buddy, not a cyber bully.” The booklet includes stories, poems and resources and asks all young people to sign the cyber code and become a cyber buddy. To become a cyber buddy young people are encouraged to never cyber bullying, be aware how they present themselves online and report any cyber bullying they encounter.
When working on the topic of Mental Health members made a DVD called “Dare to Talk”, which is a useful resource for young people, schools, youth services and community groups to support young people in maintaining good mental health. The DVD comprises 5 different clips which aim to highlight both the importance of communication and of having at least one adult in their lives in whom to confide. Comhairle members wrote and produced their own song about Mental Health called “Tunnel Lights”. The song and the making of it is one of the clips on the DVD. To launch the DVD Comhairle members organised a music event “Dare to Listen” in the Academy 2 to highlight the importance of music to young people’s Mental Health.
The other important aspect of the work of the Comhairle na nÓg is being a consultative forum, for adult decision-makers in the locality. Increasingly local agencies use the Comhairle na nÓg as a mechanism for ascertaining the views of young people on the development of relevant services and policies. Consultations that Comhairle members have been involved in include:
- BelongTo Feasibility Study: LGBT+ Supports in Irish Schools
- Children and Young People Services Committee Work Plan
- Dublin City Council Ballymun Local Area Plan
- Dublin City Play Plan “Play Here, Play There, Play Everywhere”
- Imagining Ireland: Commemorative Playground Children of 1916
- Jigsaw Dublin Mental Health Support for Young People
- Junior Cert Reform
- Law Reform Commission’s Review Cyber-Crime in Ireland
- Parnell Square Cultural Quarter
- Safer Internet Day
- The Dublin City Development Plan
- UNESCO Child & Family Research Centre
- UNESCO Dublin Bay Biosphere*
* In order to promote the importance of UNESCO recognised site Dublin Bay Biosphere to young people by young people, members of Dublin City Comhairle na nÓg have created an innovative video. The central message is ‘Dublin Bay Biosphere inspires a positive future by connecting people and nature today. This video is to help young people understand Dublin Bay Biosphere, enjoy it and care for it’.
Why Join Dublin City Comhairle na nÓg?
Comhairle na nÓg is about giving children and young people the opportunity to talk about local and citywide issues important to them and to also have their say in the future of the City in which they live. It is a way of making sure the voices of young people are heard and their questions are answered by the adults whose job is to listen to all our views and to make Dublin a better place for everyone to live, work and play.
Comhairle na nÓg gives young people an opportunity to:
- Meet other young people from the City interested in making a difference and working on projects that affect young people
- Contribute their views and expertise on a broad range of issues
- Influence local policy, planning and decision-making
- Engage with Key Stakeholders
- Be involved in planning, organising and running an AGM
- Develop interpersonal skills
- Represent young people on sub groups
- Build capacity e.g. training, building confidence, presentation skills etc.
Dublin Bay Biosphere: Comhairle Members stop at Dun Laoghaire Harbour on route to Howth Head
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For more information
Louise Lesovitch, Comhairle Co-ordinator,
Block 3, Floor 1,
Civic Offices, Dublin 8
Tel: 01 222 6088