Dáil na nÓg calls for ‘Equality’ in schools.
Croke Park, Dublin
*IMAGES ISSUED EARLIER TODAY BY MAXWELLS PHOTOGRAPHY*
Wednesday 6th December 2017
Achieving equality and fairness in schools is the top priority for young people according to a vote at today’s Dáil na nÓg, the country’s national youth parliament.
Some 200 delegates, aged 12-17, were elected to attend today’s Dáil na nÓg event in Croke Park and represent the young people involved in 31 Comhairle na nÓg youth councils across the country.
They spent the day at the national youth parliament discussing the theme of ‘Equality’: In All Fairness…’ in their everyday lives under five topic headings: school; home/community; online activity; public services and sport/leisure.
David Stanton T,D., Minister of State at the Department of Justice with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration, was present for the outcome of the results of their vote. Also in attendance were senior officials and representatives in the area of equality.
Delegates voted that ‘Equality in schools’ is to be the top priority of the representative body of Comhairle na nÓg nationally – its National Executive. The areas identified for change by the young people included gender equality, religious equality in schools, subject choice, uniform policy, school facilities and teacher student relationships.
One young person from each Comhairle is elected to the National Executive for a term of two years. The incoming 2017 - 2019 National Executive will work on the topic of ‘School’ as they have mandated by their peers at today’s vote.
They will work directly with and be supported by officials from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the Department of Justice and Equality to implement the changes recommended by the young people.
Opening the event, Dr Katherine Zappone T.D., Minister for Children and Youth Affairs outlined some significant changes ahead for the national youth parliament.
She said: ‘Once again, we have a Minister attending Dáil na nÓg who has direct policy responsibility for the key topic being discussed. With his assistance, and the support of his Department over the next two years, we hope to ensure that young people are meaningfully enabled to have a stronger voice and understanding of equality in their everyday lives.’
“This is the part of the mechanism to support Comhairle na nÓg with Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures, the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014 – 2020. This is a significant change in the way that decisions made by young people at Dáil na nÓg will be progressed and it recognises the importance of listening to young people and acting on what they say.”
The day culminated in a Questions and Answers session, which was chaired by Dr. Fergal Lynch, Secretary General of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, during which delegates sought answers from David Stanton T,D., Minister of State at the Department of Justice and senior policy makers on the issues discussed during the day:
Panel of experts:
• David Stanton T,D., Minister of State at the Department of Justice with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration,
• Dr Carol Baxter, Assistant Secretary, Head of Asylum Services, Integration and Equality, Department of Justice and Equality,
• Tanya Ward, CEO, Children’s Rights Alliance,
• Dr Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman for Children
Comhairle na nÓg
Comhairle na nÓg (www.comhairlenanog.ie) are child and youth councils in the 31 local authority areas of the country, which give children and young people a voice in the development of local services and policies. They are the recognised national structure for participation by children and young people in local decision-making, supported by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA).
The Comhairle na nÓg gets young people’s voices heard in two ways: working on topics of importance to young people; and acting as a consultative forum for adult decision-makers in the locality.
Comhairle na nÓg are supported by the DCYA Comhairle na nÓg Development Fund. Local authorities also provide funding and resources for Comhairle na nÓg, as well as other organisations at local level. The DCYA also funds three regional Participation Officers, who provide advice, resources and training to all 31 Comhairle na nÓg Co-ordinators.
Dáil na nÓg
Dáil na nÓg is the national parliament for young people aged 12-17 years. The DCYA funds and oversees Dáil na nÓg, which is hosted biennially by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. Successive independent evaluations note that Dáil na nÓg has gone from strength to strength, with more challenging and contentious debates. This is the first year that the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs has invited the Minister with policy responsibility for the topic under discussion to attend Dáil na nÓg with senior officials. Dáil na nÓg is an initiative of the DCYA. Foróige and Youth Work Ireland are contracted to organise Dáil na nÓg in co-operation with the DCYA.
Comhairle na nÓg National Executive
One representative from each Comhairle na nÓg is elected to the Comhairle na nÓg National Executive (formerly the Dáil na nÓg Council), which follows up on the recommendations from the Dáil and tries to make changes for young people in those areas. The National Executive, which has a term of office of two years, meets once a month and is facilitated and supported by the DCYA, who ensure that they get the opportunity to engage with appropriate Ministers, policy-makers, Oireachtas Committees and other decision-makers.
-to identify key areas of work from the top three recommendations agreed at Dáil na nÓg;
-to conduct research into the issues identified;
-to meet with relevant Ministers, TDs, Government officials, policy makers and other stakeholders to seek their support in making changes for young people on the issues identified;
-to feed back to their Comhairle na nÓg on the work of the Council;
-to represent Comhairle na nÓg at conferences and other events.
The Comhairle na nÓg National Executive is named as a mechanism for engagement by children and young people in the implementation structures for Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: The national policy framework for children and young people (2014-2020) and in the National Strategy on Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision-making (2015-2020).