Skip to main content

YouthWiki

EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki
Ireland

Ireland

5. Participation

5.3 Youth representation bodies

On this page
  1. Youth parliament
  2. Youth councils and/or youth advisory boards
  3. Higher education student union(s)
  4. School student union(s)
  5. Other bodies

 

Youth parliament

Dáil na nÓg is the National Youth Parliament of Ireland for young people aged 12-17 years.                                                                    

 

Structure      

The National Youth Parliament (Dáil na nÓg) was established under the National Children’s Strategy (2000) to provide a national forum for young people to discuss and vote on issues that affect their lives. The National Youth Parliament (Dáil na nÓg) is established at a national level. It is not mentioned in the Irish Constitution. The National Youth Parliament (Dáil na nÓg) is funded and overseen by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) and is hosted by the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.  

Composition 

The National Youth Parliament (Dáil na nÓg) is a biennial event, to which 200 representatives from the 31 local child and youth councils (Comhairle na nÓg) are elected as delegates. The age range of its members is 12–17 years. The topics discussed there are chosen by young people themselves in the 31 local child and youth councils (Comhairle na nÓg). 

 

Recommendations from the National Youth Parliament (Dáil na nÓg) are followed-up by the Comhairle na nÓg National Executive for the following two years. 

The local child and youth councils (Comhairle na nÓg) Toolkit recommends there should be approximately 20% of the delegates at the Comhairle na nÓg AGM from ‘seldom-heard’ backgrounds. 

To achieve this aim, local child and youth councils send a general invitation to schools, youth groups and a host of other organisations that work with and/or represent young people, including organisations representing seldom-heard young people.

 

Role and responsibilities

The role of the National Youth Parliament (Dáil na nÓg) is to provide a national forum for young people to discuss and vote on issues that affect their lives. The main areas discussed include school, home /community, online, public services, sport /leisure. 

 

The role of the National Executive is to take action on behalf of young people on the top recommendation voted at the previous National Youth Parliament (Dáil na nÓg). The National Executive has a term of office of two years and is facilitated and supported by the DCYA to ensure that its members get the opportunity to engage with appropriate Ministers, policy-makers, Oireachtas Committees and other decision-makers. 

 

The Comhairle na nÓg National Executive has direct and structured engagement with the Children and Young People’s Policy Consortium and advises the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth on progress in relation to the implementation of Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures, The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People (Department of Children and Youth Affairs, 2014), the national policy framework for children and young people, and its strategies.  

 

Funding

The National Youth Parliament (Dáil na nÓg receives) public funding through the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. It is accountable to the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth and the Irish Government. 

 

Youth councils and/or youth advisory boards

Local child and youth councils (Comhairle na nÓg) exist in Ireland.  

 

Structure

Local child and youth councils (Comhairle na nÓg) were established under the National Children’s Strategy (2000) and are the recognised key national structure for participation by children and young people in local decision-making in all 31 Local Authorities around the country. They are not part of the Irish constitutional structure. They are supported by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth’s Comhairle na nÓg Development Fund, which has been managed by Pobal since January 2011 in cooperation with the DCEDIY.   

 

Composition                                                   

Local child and youth councils (Comhairle na nÓg) operate in 31 Local Authorities around the country. The age range of its members is 12–17 years. Every local child and youth council (Comhairle na nÓg) holds an Annual General Meeting (AGM), to which children and young people are invited from schools, local youth clubs and other projects. Attendance usually ranges between 80-150 young people at each local AGM. 

 

At AGMs, participants work on identifying local topics of importance to them. A Comhairle na nÓg Committee is elected at the AGM and is responsible for working on the topics identified during the coming year, as well as being the consultative forum that works with decision-makers. 

 

The Comhairle na nÓg Toolkit recommends there should be approximately 20% of the delegates at the Comhairle na nÓg AGM from ‘seldom-heard’ backgrounds. 

 

To achieve this aim, child and youth councils (Comhairle na nÓg) send a general invitation to schools, youth groups and a host of other organisations that work with and/or represent young people, including organisations representing seldom-heard young people.

 

Role and responsibilities

The main role of child and youth councils (Comhairle na nÓg) is to give young people a voice on the development of local policies and services. Local child and youth councils get young people’s voices heard in two ways: 

  • by working on topics of importance to young people, and
  • by acting as a consultative forum for adult decision-makers in the locality. 

 

The main areas of their activity includes:

  • mental health
  • education
  • services and facilities for young people
  • how young people are treated by the adult world
  • homophobic bullying.

 

The role of the Comhairle na nÓg National Executive is to take action on behalf of young people on the top recommendation voted at the previous National Youth Parliament (Dáil na nÓg). 

 

The National Executive has a term of office of two years and is facilitated and supported by the DCEDIY to ensure that its members get the opportunity to engage with appropriate Ministers, policy makers, Oireachtas Committees and other decision-makers. 

 

The Comhairle na nÓg National Executive has direct and structured engagement with the Children and Young People’s Policy Consortium and advises the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth on progress in relation to the implementation of Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures, the national policy framework for children and young people, and its strategies. 

 

Funding

Local child and youth councils (Comhairle na nÓg) receives public funding through the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) Comhairle na nÓg Development Fund which provides money to local authorities to run effective Comhairle na nÓg. 

 

Local authorities also provide funding and resources for Comhairle na nÓg, as well as other organisations at local level. Local child and youth councils (Comhairle na nÓg) are financially accountable to local authorities, the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth and the Irish Government. 

 

Higher education student union(s)

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is the national representative body for the 374,000 students in third level education on the Island of Ireland.

 

Structure

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is a membership organisation with affiliated members in Students’ Unions around Ireland, both North and South. USI is an unincorporated entity and is neither registered as a company nor as a charity. It is a confederal organisation, created by and funded by Students’ Unions jointly through its National Council, which serves as the National Executive body of the organisation. 

 

The supreme authority of the Union is the Congress, which is representative of each affiliated students’ union, apportioned according to the size of the student body in each union. 

 

Each union also sends one voting member to the National Council – the executive body of the organisation. The Union’s structures include one incorporated entity: USIMS Ltd, a limited company which submits returns in accordance with the laws for regulation of limited companies. 

 

Composition   

USI’s Executive Team is made up of a:

  • President
  • Vice President for Academic Affairs
  • Vice President for Welfare
  • Vice President for Campaigns
  • Vice President for Equality & Citizenship
  • Vice President for the Border, Midlands and Western Region
  • Vice President for the Southern Region
  • Vice President for the Dublin Region
  • Vice President for the Irish Language (An Leas Uachtarán don Ghaeilge))
  • Vice President for Postgraduate Affairs
  • NUS-USI President.

 

 

USI is a democratic organisation. The supreme authority of the Union is the Congress, which is representative of each affiliated students’ union, apportioned according to the size of the student body in each union. Each union also sends one voting member to the National Council – the executive body of the organisation. The union has a yearly mandate. Meeting of USI are held on a regular basis. 

 

USI staff members include a:

  • General Manager
  • Administrator
  • Public Relations and Communications Manager
  • National Student Engagement Programme Co-ordinator
  • SAVES2 Energy and Sustainability Manager
  • Student Mental Health Project Manager

 

Until 2020 there were also three trustees and three Finance Committee External Members. These will be replaced a Governance Committee

 

Role and responsibilities

The main role of USI is to represent the 374,000 students in third level education on the Island of Ireland. The aim of the USI is to work for the rights of students and a fair and equal third level education system in Ireland. USI provide information through their website. They also raise awareness on various student issues through awareness campaigns on issues related to welfare, equality, education and citizenship.

 

  • Welfare issues include information on consent; mental health; sexual health; accommodation; personal safety and workers’ rights; equality issues; education and citizenship.  Equality issues include a ‘Queer Dictionary’. 
  • Education issues include information on student representation, postgraduate grants, mental health funding, counselling services, social welfare, exams, student grants and the National Framework of Qualifications.
  • Citizenship issues include information on EU affairs, voter registration, EU elections, Seanad (upper house of the Oireachtas, the Irish legislature) voting registration and USI JI (US) Visa guide.

 

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) believe that in order to realise its potential and achieve its goals it must work with other organisations who share the same values.

 

They are members of a number of organisations such as:

  • The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI)
  • The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI)
  • National Development Education Association (IDEA).

They also have partnerships with a number of organisations including:

  • The Health Services Executive (HSE)
  • The Higher Education Authority
  • Spunout, a youth information website. 

 

They also have a policy aspect to their work. For example, USI write position papers on policy issues such as funding of higher education, Brexit etc. and pre-budget submissions on various student issues to the government. 

 

The main areas of activity are:

  • Student welfare
  • Equality
  • Education
  • Citizenship.  

 

Funding

USI, is a confederal organisation comprised of its member students’ unions on the island of Ireland. It is not a company nor is it a charity. Prior to 2020 a Finance Committee, elected by the National Council of the organisation, oversaw the financial management of the organisation. In 2020 the USI’s constitution was altered, removing the Financial Committee and Trustees, replacing these with a Governance Committee. Annual accounts for the preceding year are presented to the Annual Congress. Quarterly financial updates are given to the National Council each thirteen weeks. 

 

School student union(s) 

School student union(s)

The Irish Second Level Student Union (ISSU) is the top-level school student representation body in Ireland. 

 

Structure

The Irish Second Level Student Union (ISSU) activities are based on Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child says that children and young people have the “right to express views freely in all matters affecting them.” The Education Act (1998) is the legislation that makes provision for student councils to be set up at post-primary level in Ireland. Irish Second-Level Students' Union Limited is a not-for-profit, voluntary student rights’ organisation. 

The main organs running the school student union are:

  • The National Student Executive
  • The National Council of Schools
  • The Regional Council of Schools 
  • The Secretariat
  • The Board of Directors.   

 

Membership of the ISSU is through student councils. When a school’s student council join the ISSU, the whole school is considered a member of the ISSU.

The highest decision-making body in the ISSU is the annual Congress, where member student councils attend and vote on the policy of the ISSU.

Elections for ISSU bodies take place at the Congress and Regional Councils, creating the National Student Executive, National Council of Schools and Monitoring Committee.

 

Composition                                                                                                                             

There are 370 Student Councils affiliated to the ISSU. 

The National Student Executive includes a:

  • President;
  • Honorary President;
  • Secretary; 
  • International Officer; 
  • Education Officer;
  • Communications Officer; 
  • Welfare Officer;
  • Campaigns Officer; 
  • Irish Language Officer; 
  • Equality Officer and;
  • Student Council Support Officer. 

 

The National Council of Schools consists of eight students elected at the Regional Councils meetings, the ISSU President, Deputy President and the Student Council Support Officer. Each region elects a Regional Officer to represent them on the ISSU National Council of Schools. There are eight people elected to the Board of Directors in ISSU.  

 

Role and responsibilities

The Irish Second Level Student Union (ISSU) has a dual role: 

  • to promote the benefits of young people becoming part of the decision-making process that affects their school lives, and 
  • to provide individual students with support for voicing their views and opinions. 

 

The main objectives of the ISSU are:

  • to provide training and development of second-level school Student Councils, in conjunction with relevant bodies; 
  • to develop policies on issues affecting Irish second-level students and bring the needs and rights of Students to the attention of the relevant authorities; 
  • to provide a transparent, democratic and reliable organisation; to work in collaboration with other educational institutions and bodies both in Ireland, and Europe; 
  • to work closely with educational curriculum policy makers and Teachers’ Unions to continually develop a transparent, fair and modern education system; and
  • to give Students a structured platform through which the voice of the Irish Second-level Students will be heard. 

 

The National Student Executive coordinates the execution of ISSU policy, campaigns and activities. The National Council of Schools coordinate national policy and campaigns, and is a forum to ensure that each of the Regional Councils are updated so that they can inform their students about developments in the ISSU or education generally.  

 

Funding

The Irish Second Level Student Union (ISSU) is a not-for-profit, voluntary student rights’ organisation. ISSU is a company limited by guarantee.