Minister convenes historic first Dáil na nÓg
Minister for Children, Mary Hanafin T.D., invited 250 children and young people between the ages of 7 and 17 from every county in the State to be delegates at the first Dáil na nÓg(Children´s Parliament) today Wednesday, September 5th, 2001. The Dáil na nÓg was held in The Mansion House, Dublin, venue of the first ever Dáil in 1919.
Through the consultation process on the National Children´s Strategy young people requested a voice at national level. This is reflected in the first Goal of the Strategy, which is that children will have a voice in matters which affect them, and their views will be given due weight in accordance with their age and maturity.
“The aim of Dáil na nÓg is to give children and young people an opportunity to express their views and have them heard by Government, as well as the public, private and voluntary sectors, in a way never done before,” said Minister Hanafin.
An Taoiseach, Mr. Bertie Ahern T.D., attended Dáil na nÓg to observe this historical inaugural session, and to listen to participants speaking about the issues relevant to their lives. The Taoiseach was presented with a short report on the day’s proceedings by the Cathaoirleach to the Dáil na nÓg. He will take the report to the Cabinet Committee on Children which he chairs.
“You are the grass roots not only of this generation, but the movers and shakers of the next. Your voice is important now – and will guide and develop the destiny of future generations. That is the gift and challenge of democracy. Respect it, cherish and above all else, make use of it.” the Taoiseach said.
Dáil na nÓg was chaired by two young people -Laura Murphy (aged 16, from Galway) and Jeffrey Rockett (aged 14, from Limerick). They were assisted by Mr. Gerry Killian, a teacher from Dublin. Delegates debated three motions and each debate was followed by a vote.
“The importance of children’s views and opinions is now recognised. At Government level, they will have their voice, and we will listen,” concluded Minister Mary Hanafin T.D.