“YOUNG people in County Clare care passionately about making the world they live in a better place for everyone,” says Amy Bickerton, chairperson of Clare Comhairle na nÓg.
Amy, a Leaving Cert student in St Joseph’s Secondary School in Tulla, was speaking ahead of the opening of Comhairle na nÓg 2009, which will be held on Friday in the Temple Gate Hotel in Ennis.
“Those who are young now will be adults in the future and we are willing to play our part in helping to create that future. The decision-making structures of the county need to be more open and welcoming for young people,” she added.
Amy is urging young people to become involved in Comhairle na nÓg through their schools or youth groups, ahead of their upcoming meeting in Ennis.
Comhairle na nÓg is an initiative from the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs that aims to provide an opportunity for young people to discuss and debate matters of relevance to them in their community.
“Of equal importance is the opportunity for those matters and ideas to be fed into local decision-making structures including the local authority,” said Nicola Cullinan co-ordinator of Clare Comhairle na nÓg and of Clare County Council.
“This is an action under the National Children’s Strategy and Clare CDB is required to report on developments in relation to consultation with young people on an annual basis to the OMCYA,” she said.
In recent years, the annual Comhairle has provided an opportunity for up to 100 children and young people to come together and share their ideas on a range of issues relevant to them including; mental health, the environment and facilities for young people in Clare.
Ms Cullinan outlined that the event is targeted at the 12 to 18 age group and works separately with children and young people of primary and second-level age on the day.
Participation in Clare Comhairle na nÓg can open up other opportunities also as five young people will be elected to represent County Clare at Dáil na nÓg in March 2010. Carol Nagle, a fifth year student at Scoil Mhuire, Ennistymon and a representative on Dáil na nÓg last year, described the experience as “brilliant craic, an opportunity to make new friends and to contribute to national issues and plans in a meaningful way”.
More information about Comhairle na nÓg is available on www.comhairlenanog.ie.