Comhairle na nOg

Comhairle na nOg

 

Wicklow County Development Board hosted the first ever Comhairle na nOg in Glendalough on May 28th 2002. Over 70 young people between 9 and 18 years, from all corners of the county and all backgrounds came along to discuss issues that were important to them. The Comhairle na nOg has become an annual event. The topics that are discussed range from health, the environment, youth activities and facilities, education and politics. The Comhairle na nOg reports are available from the Office of Community and Enterprise at Wicklow County Council or on our website. Five young people are elected on the day to go forward to participate in the Dail na nOg.

Following the report from Comhairle na nOg 2002 Wicklow County Council developed a play policy for the county dealing with the provision of playgrounds and the wider issue of creating the conditions that facilitate children's play. The policy was adopted by the County Council in September. In 2003 the Comhairle was split into 2 events, one for 7-12 year olds and one for 12-17 year olds. The under 12's event focused on the review of the County Development Plan and their needs regarding safety of movement around their neighbourhoods. This is the first time ever that children had a direct input into this important document. Over 12's discussed their role in society and how they were perceived by society. This is an example of the issues addressed by the Comhairle.

Dail na nOg

5 people will go forward from the Comhairle to represent their peers at the Dail na nOg, which is a national Council that is organised by the Office of the Minister for Children. The Dail na nOg website is a good source of information for this event.

What will the Comhairle be like?

  • You don't have to prepare any written pieces for the Comhairle.
  • You don't have to be best speaker in the world.
  • You don't have to be the brainiest.
  • You don't have to be the most confident or the most popular.
  • You just have to be interested in coming along and having a say.

You will be sitting at a table with seven or eight young people from around the county. There will be a facilitator at each table and their job is to make sure that everyone is comfortable and supported in giving his/her opinions. You can express your opinions by talking or maybe through art or in other creative ways that suit the group.

If you want to, you can go for election to attend the Dail na nOg. The Dail is very like the Comhairle just bigger. It is held for one day in Dublin. At the Dail you will discuss subjects in workshops with facilitators just like the Comhairle. To go for election you have to introduce yourself to the other participants. You may say more if you wish but you don't have to. Be sure to complete the right form is you wish to run for election.

Why consult with children?

The National Children's Strategy is a major government initiative to improve the quality of life of all children in Ireland. The first goal of the strategy is that children will have a voice in matters which affect them and their views will be given due weight in accordance with their age and maturity.

In order to achieve this goal we are consulting with young people in an age appropriate, inclusive and representative manner.

At county level the County Development Boards are responsible for the implementation of the National Children's Strategy. Wicklow County Development Board is a partnership of agencies drawn from local government, local development, state agencies and the social partners. The aim of the board is the co-ordination and the integration of service delivery in the county. This is achieved through the implementation of the Ten-Year Strategy for the Social Economic and Cultural development of the county - Outlook. The strategy contains a commitment to consulting with young people on matters that affect them. The opinions of those being consulted will be recorded and used where possible and appropriate in the decision-making process.

Why is children's participation important?

Ireland has committed to the participation of children by ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992. Children's interests are all too often neither seen nor heard in the planning, implementation and evaluation of local and national structures. Participation in Comhairle na nOg will:

  • Recognise children and young people as a valuable resource
  • Improve the relevance of local services for young people
  • Allow an opportunity for young people to develop personal and social responsibility
  • Prepare young people for participation in national democracy
  • Offer experience in improving the social and communication skills of young people

What is the Purpose of the Comhairle?

  1. Elect local representatives from the county to attend Dail na nOg and Dail na bPaisti
  2. Begin to establish permanent structures to ensure that children are given a voice on issues that affect them

Contact Comhairle Co-ordinator:

Dermot O'Brien