Donegal students, along with 200 young people from across Ireland, will tackle a wide range of issues under the overarching theme of equality at Dáil na nÓg 2022.
Taking place at Dublin’s Convention Centre today, marking the 20th anniversary of the biennial event which platforms the voices of young people on the issues which matter most to them.
Nevin Shine, Jack McLaughlin, Niamh Irwin and Ciara Gilmore from Donegal are the students representing the county.
Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman will make an address and engage with young people at the event.
This year’s event explores the theme of equality as young people, through their local youth councils (Comhairle na nÓg), have been investigating the challenges and opportunities in a variety of areas including mental health, climate change, body image, drugs and alcohol, youth facilities and LGBTIQ+.
This theme was chosen by young people as the area of most importance to them and a vote will take place on three areas of equality on the day.
Previous years’ themes included climate action, education, and transport. In 2019, a debate and vote on sustainable transport solutions saw delegates from the Comhairle na nÓg councils propose a new policy to offer reduced fares to young people in response to the recognised need to reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainable transport options; this was successfully introduced by Government in Budget 2021 as well as the Government’s Climate Action Plan.
Participants at Dáil na nÓg 2022 are looking to influence policy at Government level to advance the areas of equality they see as important.
A panel discussion at this year’s event will see Cllr Yemi Adenuga, Ireland’s first black female elected representative, RTE Radio DJ and LGBTQI+ advocate Stephen Byrne, Children’s Rights Alliance CEO Tanya Ward, and Aoife Price, disability advocate with Disability Women Ireland engage in an insightful and exciting discussion on the theme of equality from a variety of different perspectives.
Speaking ahead of the event, Taoiseach Michael Martin said: “I am delighted to see so many young people engage with issues that matter most to them through the Dáil na nÓg forum, and I am grateful that this year’s theme is equality, as I know there is much work to be done in this area across all parts of our society.
“I commend the young people taking part in Dáil na nÓg and indeed for their participation throughout the year in Comhairle na nÓg meetings.
“Their opinion matters and we as a Government will continue to listen to their thoughts and concerns as we strive for a diverse and inclusive society for all.”
Dáil na nÓg is an initiative of the Department for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth and was first established in 2001.
Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O Gorman said: “The Dáil na nÓg event has, for over 20 years now, been a platform for change driven by the young minds of our country, and I applaud all of those who are taking part in this event for lending their voices and engaging in some of the most important issues of our day.
“This year’s theme of equality reflects the values I see across our younger people every day, and I look forward to hearing from their perspective the ways in which we can all play a part in ensuring equality of opportunity is available to everyone.”
Prachi Agrawal, a participant from Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Comhairle na nÓg said: “I’m really excited to be here so that people and the Government can hear what we have to say about equality in Ireland.
“My fellow Comhairle na nÓg members and I have been working hard in recent months to better understand what the challenge is for equality and today gives us a chance to show what we’ve learned to people like the Minister and to the Government.
“I want to make sure the voices of young people are heard so that equality is a reality for everyone across the country.”