Comhairle na nÓg are youth councils within the 31 local authorities in Ireland, which give children and young people the opportunity to be involved in developing local services and policies. The first Wicklow Comhairle na nÓg was hosted in 2002.
The annual events sees young people from all corners of the county and all backgrounds gather to discuss issues that are important to them. The topics that are discussed range from health, the environment, youth activities and facilities, education and politics.
Five people go forward from the Comhairle to represent their peers at the Dáil na nÓg, 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.
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.
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 nÓg. The Dáil is very like the Comhairle, just bigger. It is held for one day in Dublin. At the Dáil 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 if you wish to run for election.
Why is children's participation important?
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 nÓg will:
- Recognise children and young people as a valuable resource
- Improve the relevance of local services for young people
- Provide 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
Wicklow Comhairle will work on the following topics in 2016-2017:
- Youth homelessness
- Mental health
In May 2016, a publication sharing the data from a youth survey of over 1,000 young people from across Co. Wicklow was launched in County Buildings. The results give a fascinating insight into what issues are most important for young people in Co. Wicklow.
Comhairle co-ordinator:Dermot O'Brien