What is Comhairle na nÓg
Comhairle na nÓg are child and youth councils in the 34 Local Authorities of the country which give children and young people the opportunity to be involved in the development of local services and policies.
The Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) Comhairle na nÓg Development Fund provides money to local authorities to run effective Comhairle na nÓg. Local authorities also provide funding and resources for Comhairle na nÓg, as well as other organisations at local level. Since 2011 the Comhairle na nÓg Development Fund is managed in cooperation with Pobal.
How are Young People’s Voices Heard Through Comhairle na nÓg?
The Comhairle na nÓg gets young people’s voices heard in two ways: working on young people’s topics; and acting as a consultative forum.
Working on young people’s topics:
One of the most important aspects of Comhairle na nÓg is that is allows young people to select and work on topics of importance to young people locally. Examples of the topics selected by young people include: mental health services for young people, facilities for young people, how young people are treated by the adult world and homophobic bullying.
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 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 to get the views of young people on the development of relevant services and policies, such as heritage plans, play and recreation policies, policing plans, giving feedback on youth-friendly questionnaires, giving feedback on the location or type of new sports facility to be established in the area. Comhairlí na nÓg are often asked for (or volunteer) formal submissions on local policies or to take part in public consultations.
How Comhairle na nÓg is Supported
The Department provides the services of three regional Participation Officers, who provide advice, resources and training to all 34 Comhairle na nÓg Coordinators. The Comhairle na nÓg Coordinator is the key organiser of Comhairle na nÓg. He or she is supported by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs Participation Officers, local colleagues and members of the Steering Committee.
The Comhairle na nÓg Toolkit has been developed by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to support the work of those who organise and run the 34 Comhairlí na nÓg throughout the country.
Adult Networking Event
Local authorities around the country are doing fantastic work with Comhairle na nÓg involving children and young people in decision making. The Information, Training and Networking Event 2013 was hosted by the DCYA in May 2013 and attended by the Minister and those involved in organising and co-ordinating the work of the Comhairle na nÓg from the 34 local authorities around the country. The aim of the event is to provide important inputs on priority areas for development among Comhairle na nÓg, and to share good practice and to network among colleagues facing similar challenges.
The theme for this year’s event was ‘Celebrating Comhairle na nÓg’
Young People's Networking Events
The Participation Team organised and ran four Young People’s Networking Events around the country in March and April 2013: one was held in Limerick, one in Sligo and two in Dublin. These were attended by a total of 108 delegates from 33 of the 34 Comhairle na nÓg around the country.
These four Networking Events gave young people in Comhairlí na nÓg around the country an opportunity to share experiences of working on various topics and to learn how other Comhairlí operate.
Comhairle na nÓg Steering Committee
Comhairle na nÓg Steering Committees have become a cornerstone of the support required for an effective Comhairle na nÓg. Steering Committee members typically include a local authority representative, the Comhairle na nÓg Coordinator, local youth service representatives, the VEC Youth Officer and other local stakeholders, who can support the help the Comhairle na nÓg achieve their desired outcomes, impact and change. Additional members of the Steering Committee are drawn from organisations and bodies that are relevant to the topics being pursued by young people in a particular year.
Comhairle na nÓg National Showcase
In November 2012 Minister Fitzgerald and An Taoiseach Enda Kenny attended the first ever Comhairle na nÓg National Showcase event in Croke Park. 500 teenagers from the 34 Comhairle na nÓg around the country attended the showcase. Each Comhairle na nÓg had a dedicated stand to showcase their work on important issues for young people and a wide range of national and local decision makers attended to view their stands. A National Showcase will be held biennially.
For full details on Comhairle na nÓg please visit www.comhairlenanog.ie
Download Evaluation Report: Comhairle na nÓg Development Fund 2008-2009
Download Report of the Comhairle na nÓg Development Fund 2007-2008