Comhairle na nÓg
Comhairle na nÓg are youth councils in the 31 Local Authorities around the country.
They provide young people with an opportunity to discuss and debate matters of relevance to them and their community. Through Comhairle, young people are encouraged to speak out and have their voices heard around various topics.
What is Comhairle?
Through Comhairle na nÓg, young people have the chance to influence local and national policy, planning and decision-making as well as being a mechanism for consultation.
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; that they should be consulted where appropriate; and that they have a right to have their say.
Dublin City Comhairle na nÓg has 63 elected members between the ages of 11 and 18. Elected members come from each of the five administrative areas in Dublin City. Eight places are held for seldom-heard young people.
Members hold a two-year term and they are elected at the Dublin City Comhairle Annual General Meeting (AGM). Elected members then meet monthly to work on their topic and other meetings take place as projects develop and consultation requests come in.
One of the most important aspects of Comhairle is that young people lead it and select the working topic for the coming year – typically one that is of importance to themselves and their peers. Working and developing these topics includes the following: gathering views of other young people, research, meeting with local decision-makers, developing surveys, organising meetings, making videos, producing leaflets/posters, developing online materials and other activities. This work culminates in Comhairle members seeking to make an impact or change to improve the lives of young people.
Young people from schools and youth organisations are invited to participate in our AGM, which takes place in Croke Park. The day consists of a series of facilitated workshops to discuss themes relevant to young people.
If you’re interested in becoming involved with Comhairle following the AGM, and are aged between 11 and 18, you can put your name forward for election. When the full Comhairle na nÓg is elected following the AGM, you will work primarily on one issue that has been chosen by your peers at the AGM. It will be an issue that you will research and work on to influence decision makers.
At the AGM you will get to:
- 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.
- Hear from current Dublin City Comhairle members on the progress they made over the course of the past year in relation to their working topic.
- Elect young people to fill Comhairle vacancies.
- Vote on the working topic for the coming year.
The AGM has 4 key parts:
- Presentations by Comhairle members on the work completed, events attended and consultations they have participated in during the year.
- Workshops to discuss three topics that are important to young people.
- Prioritisation of these topics and one topic voted for by the Comhairle na nÓg committee to work on for the year.
- Election for vacancies on Comhairle na nÓg committee.
Why Join Comhairle na nÓg?
Dublin City Comhairle na nÓg gives you an opportunity to:
- Discuss local and citywide issues important to you and to also have your say in the future of the city in which you live.
- Meet like-minded young people from Dublin City who are interested in making a difference and working on projects that affect young people.
- Contribute your 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 the AGM.
- Develop interpersonal skills.
- Represent young people in sub-groups.
- Build confidence and presentation skills.
Unseen Behind the Screen Poster Campaign 2018
We are Dublin City Comhairle and our working topic for 2018 is “Youth Mental Health and Well Being”, as voted for by Young People at our 2017 AGM. After a lot of talking, meetings, post-its and voting, we decided to focus on a Youth Mental Health Poster Campaign and a Youth Mental Health Event, which will take place on 26th September in the Oak Room at The Mansion House.
Our campaign, “Unseen Behind The Screen” is about starting a conversation. Seems simple, doesn't it? But taking that first simple step can be difficult for many young people.
Dublin City Comhairle wants to encourage young people to take the first step and start a conversation. Two simple words – “Wanna talk?” – can mean so much to the person behind the screen.
If you find yourself going through hard times, please speak to someone you know; remember, you are not alone.
Dublin City Comhairle would like to thank Jigsaw, Webwise, First Fortnight, Spunout.ie, St Patrick's Mental Health Services, CDYSB (City Of Dublin Youth Services Board) and the Dublin City South Children & Young People’s Services Committee Coordinator for their support with our working topic.
These organisations listed below are on hand to help, support and offer advice if you or a friend needs them.
- National Youth Council Of Ireland
- Mental health Ireland
- Spun Out
- Pieta House
- Reach Out
- See Change
- Walk In My Shoes
- Belong To
Working Topic 2017
The 2017 working topic as voted for by the young people at the AGM was homelessness, with a focus on youth homelessness. Since the AGM, Comhairle members worked on progressing their idea further. They met with various organisations and people (such as EPIC, TUSLA, Focus Ireland, Simon Community, Dublin Regional Homeless Executive and Dr Geoffrey Shannon) who support, work with and advocate for young people who are experiencing homelessness. After many meetings, hard work and voting, Comhairle decided to focus on children in care. The members wanted to highlight the challenges that young people face when leaving the care system at 18.
We wanted to:
- Address the stigma that surrounds young people when in care.
- Raise awareness of young people in care.
- Be a voice for young people in care.
- Challenge the system and advocate for change. To highlight the outcomes of our work, we created this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ht0Jcm3sK2w
- We also developed an After Care Charter to further highlight the supports that young people need upon leaving care at 18. In September, we hosted an awareness day to celebrate the work that we had achieved over the year and to formally launch our charter and video. The showcase was formally launched by Deputy Lord Mayor Áine Clancy, with music provided by musician Kenan Flannery, former winner of the Irish Music Awards.
How did Comhairle achieve change?
Comhairle members thought out and developed three different ideas around their working topic.
- Created a video sharing stories of young people who are currently in care and those who have gone through care.
- Established a needs charter for children in care. This involved highlighting the issues that young people face when they leave care at 18.
- Hosted an awareness day, which launched the charter and video. It also highlighted the work that the various agencies are engaged in.
Over the following months, Comhairle continued to work on and implement the above. They were supported and guided by various homeless agencies and organisation throughout.
Working Topic 2016
The 2016 working topic for Dublin City Comhairle na nÓg (as voted by young people attending the AGM in October 2015) was ‘Education System & Emotional Counselling’ for students in schools and centres. In order to develop and work on the topic, we invited a panel of experts on the education system to a Comhairle meeting in early spring. Consequently, members voted to do the following:
- 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 DOE Department of Education & Skills (DOE) 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 focused 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 cyberbullying and mental health. Comhairle members created a booklet on cyberbullying, called “Be a cyber buddy, not a cyberbully.” 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 cyberbully, be aware how they present themselves online and report any cyberbullying they encounter.
- Make 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 five different clips, which aim to highlight both the importance of communication and of having at least one adult in a young person's life in whom they can 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 the music event, “Dare to Listen” in the Academy 2 to highlight the importance of music to young people’s mental health.
For more information:
Mary Mooney, Comhairle Co-ordinator,
Housing & Community Services,
Community & Social Development,
Block 3, Floor 1,
T: 01 222 5394
M: 086 601 4215
For further details, please follow us on our Social Media pages:
Facebook: Dublin City Comhairle
Instagram: Dublin City Comhairle