Young people in Clare will be given a say in Local Government decisions which impact their lives under a new €20,000 scheme, according to Clare Independent TD Dr Michael Harty.

The scheme, which was announced by Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, will see the money being used so that young people can give their views on issues including parks, sports facilities, library plans, local policing, mental health and transport.  Clare County Council is being asked to engage with children and young people and local communities who are members of Comhairle na nÓg.

Commenting on the initiative Dr Harty said, “This is an innovative practical idea which I welcome. I believe that young people have a lot to contribute to public debate if given the right platform. They are not so apathetic as some would have us believe. I am also hopeful that Clare County Council will embrace young people’s culture and enter into this project with enthusiasm and in language that is relevant.”

According to Minister Zappone young people have firm views on the future of their local areas and it is important their voices are heard.  She added, “As Minister I do not accept the view that children and teenagers are not interested in politics. Everywhere I go, they want to discuss the issues of the day including the need for more resources, better services as well as issues such as LGBT rights, equality and justice.

“These are citizens of today and not just the adults of tomorrow. It is important that Clare County Council listens to and acts on these views. This is an opportunity to identify critical issues for local young people.  By giving children and teenagers a say we will ensure that the decisions taken on recreation, sport and library services are the right ones. Their voices will guide us towards policies which work.

“Getting teenagers involved in the future of their neighbourhoods will also give them a sense of local pride and ownership. I urge the council to use the funding to also consult with members of Comhairle na nÓg on the development of services and policies which are at the centre of local government, including Local Economic Community Plans, development strategies and heritage plans.”