What is Comhairle na nÓg?
Comhairle na nÓg are local councils for children and young people, aged 12–17, that give them a voice on the development of local policies and services. They are the recognised key national structure for participation by children and young people in local decision-making in all 31 local authorities of the country.
Comhairle na nÓg was established under the National Children’s Strategy (2000), which is based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The first National Strategy on Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision-Making 2015–2020 states that Comhairle na nÓg is the nationally recognised structure that enables children and young people to have a voice in local decision-making. The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) Comhairle na nÓg Development Fund provides money to local authorities to run effective Comhairle na nÓg. Each of the 31 Comhairlí na nÓg are coordinated and run by a local coordinator and supported by the Local Authority and the National Participation Office team.
Comhairle na nÓg allows young people’s voices to be heard in two ways:
Young Peoples’ 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 them. Identifying what is important to young people and working on that to achieve a targeted outcome or impact is the first way that young people can have a voice through Comhairle na nÓg. It is central to the core programme of Comhairle na nÓg that young people are facilitated to select and work on their own topic(s) or things of importance to pursue and progress. 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, affordable transport 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, lobbying and advocacy work, developing surveys, organising meetings, making videos, producing leaflets and posters. Through this work, the Comhairle na nÓg members make an impact to improve the lives of young people
One representative from each Comhairle na nÓg is elected to the Comhairle na nÓg National Executive, which follows up on the recommendations from Dáil na nÓg and tries to make changes for young people in those areas.
The National Executive has a term of office of two years and meets once a month. The Executive is facilitated and supported by the DCEDIY who ensure that they get the opportunity to engage with appropriate Ministers, policy-makers, Oireachtas Committees and other decision-makers.
For more information on the Comhairle na nÓg programme and to find out more about the Comhairle na nÓg in your area, please go to www.comhairlenanog.ie
Acting as a consultative forum for adult decision makers in the locality:
This can include participation in consultations where Comhairle na nÓg members are asked for their opinion, input and feedback on new and existing services, policies and decisions that affect young people.