What is Comhairle na nÓg (Young Voices, Local Issues)?
Comhairle na nÓg (Young Voices, Local Issues) are child and youth councils in the 31 Local Authority areas of the country. They were set up to give children and young people (under the voting age of 18) a voice in the development of local services and policies. All Local Authorities have regular meetings of Comhairle na nÓg, which link with adult decision-making bodies. Comhairle na nÓg is the recognised national structure for children and young people to take part in decision-making and one of the ways that Ireland implements the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
Comhairle na nÓg Annual General Meetings
Every Comhairle na nÓg holds an Annual General Meeting in September or October, to which children and young people are invited from local schools and youth groups. Attendance at AGMs ranges from 80 -150 young people, depending on the size of the city or county. At the AGM, young people pick topics which are of most importance to them in their local area and give their opinions on the topics during workshops. Comhairle na nÓg members are elected or selected at the AGM. These members are responsible for working on the topics picked at the AGM and being the consultative forum that works with decision-makers.
How are young people’s voices heard through Comhairle na nÓg?
The Comhairle na nÓg gets young people’s voices heard in two ways: working on young people’s topics; and acting as a consultative forum. 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 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, developing surveys, organising meetings, making videos, producing leaflets or posters, developing online materials and other activities. Through this work, the Comhairle na nÓg members try to make an impact or change to improve the lives of young people.
The other important aspect of the work of the Comhairle na nÓg is being a consultative forum, for adult decision-makers in the locality. Many local agencies consult with their Comhairle na nÓg to get the views of young people on the development of relevant services and policies, such as heritage plans, play and recreation policies, policing plans, giving feedback on youth-friendly questionnaires, giving feedback on the location or type of new sports facility to be established in the area. Comhairle na nÓg are also often asked for submissions on local policies or to take part in public consultations.