Hanafin opens European Youth Parliament Selection Conference
“Make Citizenship Real for Young People”
“Citizenship in Ireland and in Europe must be made a reality for young people” Mary Hanafin T.D., Minister for Children said, speaking at the opening of the European Youth Parliament Selection conference today (Saturday 16 February, 2002).
“In Government, both nationally and internationally, our commitment is to be more conscious of and be more sensitive to children and young people in our decision making process, and to ensure their voice is heard”.
“The establishment under the National Children´s Strategy of Dáil na nÓg and local Comhairle na nÓg (Children´s councils) and of school councils is a practical demonstration of encouraging the participation of young people in the Democratic process” Minister Hanafin said.
Referring to the research published by the National Youth Council of Ireland that young people are being turned off and refusing to participate in traditional Democracy Minister Hanafin said “This non-participation is a worrying trend. If not addressed it could contribute to a sense of alienation or indeed apathy and this phenomenon is a shared experience across Europe”.
Minister Hanafin spoke of the EU White Paper on Youth published last November. This paper makes proposals for the development of youth policy in Europe including: –
- Encouragement in participation at all levels of society
- Provision of information, particularly in regard to EU initiatives
- Lifelong learning
- Promotion of social integration and combating of social exclusion
- Combating racism and xenophobia
“Participation in Democracy at a young age will ensure a real sense of citizenship for the 1 million young people in Ireland under 18 years. Children represent 29% of our population as against the EU average of 21%. When the next phase of enlargement is complete there will be 100 million young people aged 12-25 in Europe. Let us lead the way” Minister Hanafin said.