5.10 Current debates and reforms
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The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth is currently developing a National Participation Framework. The Framework will include a Planning Checklist based on the Lundy Voice Model used in the National Strategy on Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision-Making (2015-2020).
Hub na nÓg (Youth Hub) is currently in the process of developing Guidance for Children and Young People’s Services Committees (CYPSC) on the participation of children and young people in their work.
The Programme for Government - Our Shared Future (2020) contains a commitment to establish a Rural Youth Assembly as part of a National Youth Assembly to allow young people in rural Ireland identify and influence policy issues that impact on them and their future.
Extending the voting age to 16
There is an ongoing debate in Ireland on extending the voting age to 16 years. In recent years, the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) have been campaigning the Irish Government to extend the right to vote to 16- and 17-year-olds for local, national and European elections.
In 2013, the Constitutional Convention recommended the voting age be reduced to 16 years. The Electoral (Amendment) (Voting at 16) Bill 2016 has been before the upper house of the Irish Parliament (Seanad Éireann) since 2021. This Bill, supported by NYCI, is to change lower the age limit for voting rights in European Parliament and local elections without recourse to a referendum. A referendum would be needed to change the Constitution to allow 16- and 17-year-olds vote in parliament (Dáil) and presidential elections.
NYCI argues that lowering the voting age to 16 years will generate greater interest in politics at a younger age, promote and widen political participation among young people and bring Ireland in line with other EU countries.
Rights of expatriates to vote
There is an ongoing debate on the right of Irish expatriates to vote. A Constitutional Convention in 2013 recommended allowing expatriate Irish citizens to vote in presidential elections. As a result, the Irish government published a position paper on the issue which promised a constitutional referendum in 2019. However, the referendum was postponed. A Bill on the right of expatriates to vote in presidential elections was introduced into the lower house of the Irish Parliament (Dáil) in September 2019.
Climate change is an ongoing debate involving young people, NGOs, networks and the Irish Government. The Schools Climate Action Network is a network of students, teachers and their schools in Ireland that calls for urgent action to prevent climate breakdown and ensure a just and sustainable future. Thousands of Irish students have taken part in the Schools Strikes for Climate to date. The theme of Youth Parliament (Dáil na nÓg) 2019 was Climate Change.
In 2021 the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth approved funding for 14 youth-led projects around climate justice. In line with the recommendations of a specially convened Selection Committee, funding of almost €400,000 is being allocated to projects involving 23 youth organisations.
The Youth Climate Justice Fund supports youth-led action on climate justice. The aim of the fund is to raise climate justice awareness amongst young people and to empower young people to influence and sustain local, regional and national climate justice change.