Lenihan Hosts 2002 Dáil Na Nóg
Mr. Brian Lenihan, T.D., Minister of State for Children tomorrow (11 October, 2002) hosts the 2002 Dáil na Nóg (National Children’s Parliament). 214 children will attend the Dáil from every county in Ireland and from every socio-economic group.
The purpose of the Dáil na Nóg is to provide a forum where children, who are representative of their peers, can raise and debate issues of concern to them and that these issues can be fed into the development of public policy. The Minister said “We want to give all the children in Ireland the chance to debate issues of concern to them and pass on their views to the Government”.
Most of the children and young people attending the Dáil na Nóg were selected from Comhairle na Nóg (Children´s Councils) which were held by the City and County Development Boards. The Comhairle na Nóg were held for the first time this year and their purpose is to give children a voice at a local level and to select the delegates for attendance at the national Dáil na Nóg. The remaining delegates were selected from a number of minority groups to ensure that every sector of society is represented at the Dáil.
The motions for discussion at the Dáil na Nóg are Drug and Alcohol Abuse and the Environment. These motions were selected by the delegates in advance. Minister Lenihan speaking in advance of the Dáil na Nóg sitting said “I and the government want to know what our young people think about drug and alcohol abuse and we want their advice on how this problem can be solved”. The Minister also said to the delegates “I hope that at tomorrow’s seesion some more innovative ways can emerge in which we can protect our environment. It is, after all, up to our children to protect the environment for their children”. The delegates will break into workshop sessions to discuss the motions and reported their conclusions back to the plenary session.
This is the second Dáil na Nóg. At the first Dáil na Nóg, which was held on 5 September, 2001, a number of issues were discussed including play and recreation. The Government examined the report of the first Dáil na Nóg and requested the National Children’s Office to develop a national play and recreation policy as a matter of priority. The national play policy, for under twelve´s, is nearing completion and a presentation on the draft policy has been given to the children at today’s Dáil na Nóg. Work will commence shortly on the national recreation policy for over twelve´s.
A detailed report of the 2002 Dáil na Nóg will be prepared and this will be submitted to the Cabinet Committee on Children. The Cabinet Committee, which is chaired by the Taoiseach, will examine the report to see how these issues can be incorporated into public policy. Minister Lenihan said “As you know in a democracy, everyone’s point of view must be respected. We will not be able to implement all of the ideas, but I and the National Children´s Office will be working hard to ensure that as many as possible of the ideas are implemented”.