My Department engages in several democratic programmes to enable young people to be connected, respected and empowered to contribute to their world.
Nationally, Comhairle na nÓg (youth councils) give children and young people a voice in decision-making with regard to the development of local services and policies. They are recognised as the national structures for participation of children and young people in decision-making in all 31 local authorities. The Comhairle na nÓg Development Fund is overseen and administered by my Department.
The Youth Reform and Participation Unit within my Department, has responsibility for ensuring that children and young people have a voice in the design, delivery and monitoring of services and policies that affect their lives, at national and local level.
Internationally, my Department continues to engage with the EU Youth Dialogue, which is run by Young Voices in Ireland. This is a youth participation programme aiming to bring the youth voice to EU policy-making. Its main strength is the dialogue between young people, youth organisations and policy makers, as well as experts, researchers and other relevant civil society stakeholders. It serves as a forum for continuous joint reflection and consultation on the priorities, implementation and follow-up of European cooperation in the field of youth.
In addition, the National Youth Council Ireland has actively promoted the participation of young people in the electoral process for many years, and has organised campaigns to encourage and support young people to register to vote in all elections and referenda.