General Information on Comhairle na nÓg
Comhairle na nÓg (youth councils) were established in 2002 by the 34 City and County Development Boards (CDBs) in each local authority area, as part of the National Children’s Strategy (2000).
Comhairle na nÓg provide a forum for children and young people to discuss local and national issues of relevance to them. Delegates from Comhairle na nÓg are elected to represent their local area at the annual Dáil na nÓg.
Comhairle na nÓg and Dáil na nÓg are recognised as the official structures for participation by children and young people in the development of policies and services.
Many CDBs have established regular sessions of Comhairle na nÓg which link with the adult City and County Councils. In these CDB areas, Comhairle na nÓg interact with policy makers to ensure that the views of young people are included in shaping policies and services.
Throughout the country Comhairle na nÓg are:
- Developing links with other Comhairle na nÓg, policy makers, student councils, youth organisations and other groups;
- Ensuring the involvement of hard-to-reach children and young people;
- Focusing on exchanging best practice in running Comhairle na nÓg in a democratic, accountable and transparent manner.
Independent Review of Comhairle na nÓg – Murphy Report
An independent review of Comhairle na nÓg, (Murphy Report, 2005), commissioned by the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (OMCYA) in 2005 noted that many of the 34 Comhairle na nÓg were not effectively engaging with children and young people and highlighted the fact that ‘practices across the country vary considerably both in the quality of Comhairle na nÓg events and programmes and the frequency whereby young people come together to give voice to their views and to make their views known’ (Murphy, 2005).
Review of Comhairle na nÓg and Dáil na nÓg (October 2005)
Comhairle Implementation Group
Based on the findings of the Murphy review, the OMCYA established the Comhairle na nÓg Implementation Group in June 2006, to develop a plan to ensure the operation of effective Comhairle na nÓg.
The Comhairle na nÓg Implementation Group submitted a report to the Minister for Children in April 2007, which recommended a range of measures including the establishment of funding schemes at national and local level to support Comhairle na nÓg and the establishment of a Children and Young People’s Participation Service by the OMCYA. The Implementation Group is currently developing a two-year plan for more effective Comhairle na nÓg.
The effective development of Comhairle na nÓg is named as a Government priority in Towards 2016.
The Implementation Group is chaired by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) and its membership comprises;
- Department of Children and Youth Affairs
- Department of Education and Skills
- Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government
- Dáil na nÓg Council
- Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council Development Board
- Galway City Council Development Board
- Louth County Council Development Board
- South Dublin County Council Development Board
- Waterford City Council Development Board
- Curriculum Development Unit
- Irish Vocational Education Association
- FDYS Youth Work Ireland
- Irish Association of Young People in Care
- National Youth Council of Ireland
- Pavee Point
- Youth Work Ireland
Report from the Comhairle na nÓg Implementation Group
Comhairle na nÓg Development Fund
In response to the recommendations of the Comhairle na nÓg Implementation Group, the OMCYA established a funding programme for projects that improve the operation of Comhairle na nÓg and provide additional involvement of young people in decision-making.
The programme has been hugely popular. The objectives of the Development Fund are to:
- Increase participation of young people in Comhairle na nÓg in local decision making
- Increase the number of hard to reach young people in Comhairle na nÓg
- Develop links between the local authority and agencies of the CDB with Comhairle na nÓg
- Increase the profile of the role of Comhairle na nÓg in the local authority area
- Developing measurable initiatives with other relevant structures such as student councils
Funding under the Scheme is subject to criteria, which include:
- Commitment to develop and improve Comhairle na nÓg;
- Proposed programme is in keeping with best practice in youth participation;
- Inclusion of hard to reach young people in the programme;
- Appropriate child welfare and protection policy;
- Relevance of issues outlined in the proposed programme to local young people;
- Establishment of links to adult decision-making structures;
- Planning of a sufficient number of meetings to meet objectives of the proposed programme;
- Holding of democratic elections or other youth-led selection of delegates for Dáil na nÓg.
An independent evaluator has been appointed for the fund, whose work includes getting feedback from young participants and making recommendations on good practice.