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National Youth Council in Ireland’s (NYCI) Equality and Intercultural Programme supports youth services to embed equality, inclusion, diversity and interculturalism into youth work settings. The programme provides:
- training programmes,
- policy development,
- advice, and
- networking opportunities.
The programme also conduct research to support youth work organisations to engage more effectively with young people from minority ethnic backgrounds. NYCI also runs an Equality and Inclusion Support Network.
The Young Social Innovators (YSI) programme aims to raise social awareness among 15- to 18-year-olds in Ireland so that they might become effective champions for social justice. YSI is supported by the Department of Social Protection. YSI projects are showcased at an annual event usually held in May.
There are a number of other youth work programmes that promote social inclusion:
- The President’s Award (Gaisce) is a self-development programme for young people
- St Vincent de Paul (SVP) Youth Development Programme is a programme designed for use in school/youth groups that focuses on social action
- ECO-UNESCO is Ireland's Environmental Education and Youth Organisation that works to conserve the environment and empower young people.
Young people's rights
Ombudsman for Children’s Office
The Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO) is a human rights institution that promotes the rights and welfare of young people under 18 years living in Ireland. The OCO also investigates complaints about services provided to children by public organisations. The service is free and independent.
The OCO advise the Government and others to help make sure laws and plans respect children’s rights. They encourage public organisations to promote children’s rights in the work that they do. They also carry research to get a better understanding of issues that are important in children and young people’s lives.
The role and powers of the OCO are set out in the Ombudsman for Children Act (2002). The Ombudsman for Children is a presidential appointment and reports directly to the Oireachtas (legislature of Ireland).
Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC)
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) is Ireland’s national human rights and equality institution. IHREC is an independent public body that accounts to the Parliament (Oireachtas), with a mandate established under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014. The key aim of IHREC is to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.
Key initiatives to safeguard democracy and prevent radicalisation leading to violent extremism
The PEACE PLUS programme is a European Union initiative designed to support peace and reconciliation. It will run from 2021-2027. The PEACE Programme was initially created in 1995 as a direct result of the EU's desire to make a positive response to the paramilitary ceasefires of 1994.
The overall objective of the PEACE PLUS Programme will be to build prosperity and peace within the region, to ensure that this Programme will leave a lasting and tangible legacy. The programme will achieve this by funding activities that promote peace and reconciliation and contribute to the cross-border economic and territorial development of the region. The framework developed for PEACE PLUS includes the following six themes:
- Building Peaceful and Thriving Communities
- Delivering Economic Regeneration and Transformation
- Empowering and Investing in Young People
- Healthy and Inclusive Communities
- Supporting a Sustainable Future
- Building & Embedding Partnership and Collaboration
As of January 2021, the new Peace Plus programme is at an advanced stage of preparation and finalisation. A public statutory consultation on the draft Programme is expected to take place in early 2021. While the programme is expected to begin during 2021, the exact date is yet to be released and some delay is expected due to Covid-19.
The programme builds upon previous PEACE and INTERREG Programmes. The last programme, PEACE IV, ran from 2014-2020. The eligible area for the PEACE IV Programme was Northern Ireland and the Border Counties of Ireland (including Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Louth, Monaghan and Sligo). Programme funding was worth €270m. 85% of the Programme, €229m, was provided through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). 15%, was match-funded by the Irish Government and the Norther Irish Executive. The content was agreed by the Northern Ireland Executive, the Irish Government and the European Commission. It focused on making real and lasting change in terms of Shared Education initiatives, Support for marginalised Children and Young People, the provision of new Shared Spaces and Services, and projects to Build Positive Relations with people from different communities and backgrounds.
Youth Network for Peace
Youth Network for Peace (YNP) is a Peace IV initiative ran by Youth Work Ireland. It is a regional, cross-border, youth-led initiative. YNP aims to connect 10,000 young people through a Youth Democracy Hub. Young people aged 15–25 years living in the border regions of Ireland and Northern Ireland are targeted. The initiative aims to achieve meaningful, purposeful and sustained contact between young people from different communities, to better co-ordinate youth participation and peace building.
Youth Network for Peace’s activities include:
- 16 cross-border, youth led Dialogue Events will take place, with 960 young people.
- Youth Bank committees of diverse young people; trained in good relations, assessment of needs, committee & grant giving skills.
- 3 cross border cohorts of young people training & leading on Social Action projects, targeting exclusion & encouraging peace building through joint activities.
- 4 Campaigns to be researched & supported by young people each year on legacy & contemporary issues, with 3 cross border conventions led by young people.
- 6 Influencing actions & 3 cross-border, youth led participative democracy events will take place.
- 1 online, internet regional radio & social media station will be set up & run by young people, connecting young activists with debates, live shows and topical discussions.
- 6 Insight youth polls conducted by young people to test & monitor attitudes.
- Partnership of 13 cross-border, voluntary youth organisations, meeting quarterly to support a youth steering body to monitor & manage activities.
A Youth Steering Body of 75 diverse young people co-ordinates all activities and contributes to broadcasting targets.