Comhairle na nÓg have put together this brilliant little film all about Children’s Rights. If you’re under 18, all the rights described in this video apply to you, as laid out by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The video features loads of young people acting out the rights laid out by the convention. It’s really funny, and even more informative.
Speaking of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, it is 25 years old this year, and has been protecting children and young people all over the world since November 1989. It was brought into effect in Ireland in September 1992.
For more information on Comhairle na nÓg, check out their website here. For more details on your rights as laid out by this convention, The Office of the Children’s Ombudsman have launched this amazingly handy little app called ItsYourRight, which compiles all your rights as granted by the UN in one handy location on your phone or iPad. Cool, right?
“Hey mum, did you see the new trees?!”
“On the green and also all around the estate!”
So off they went to see the new trees. 37 new trees planted all around their estate. All the neighbours were talking about it, and everybody was excited.
One week later:
“Hey mum, did you see somebody broke some off the branches from the trees in our estate, and some of the trees in the next door estate have been broken in half!”
“No, I did not, are you serious?”
“Come. I’ll show you”
So of we went to see the broken trees. Five of the newly planted trees in bits! All the neighbours were talking about it, and everybody was disappointed.
Two weeks later:
“Hey mum we need to do something about the trees, if we do not do something now, there is not going to be a tree left after summer!”
“So, what can we do?”
“We need to get people involved, we need to do something!”
“Okay, you guys can do something and we will support you”
Four weeks later, 16-year-old brothers Juvan and Christivan Maritz applied and received a small Superhero fund from SpunOut.ie to make a difference in their local community. Here is how they got on with their project:
They designed a leaflet and a registration form and distributed it to more than 80 homes in the estate. They wrote to 14 people asking for support or a contribution towards their project. These people included two local politicians, a community project, the Gardaí, the local Council, local print media and local small businesses.
Their idea was to create community awareness and initiate a neighbourhood community policing system to keep and eye on the newly planted trees and general vandalism in the communal area of the Balruddery Wood estate. They also planned a big community festival on the green. 23 homes (more than 30%) signed up for the project, with more than 40 people confirmed for the Green Festival.
On 30 April 2011, at 5pm, the festival took place. The local pub, Balrothery Inn, sponsored burgers, soft drinks and crisps. Tesco Balbriggan also provided party goodies and committed to sponsor a signpost to promote the project.
“Ladies, gentleman and kids. You are very welcome at the launch of our Superhero project sponsored by SpunOut.ie. SpunOut.ie is Ireland's national youth project. Myself and Christivan applied for a small [fund] to make a difference in our community. We are one from eleven projects all over Ireland that are trying to make a difference in our community. We are gathered here today to celebrate our community spirit. We with 10 other projects were selected out of hundreds of applications to make people aware of caring for our environment. We are also concerned about anti-social behaviour, especially the breaking of branches of our newly planted trees and vandalism in our estate.
"We do not have an easy solution, all that we can offer is to create awareness and encourage everybody in the estate to address vandalism and anti-social behaviour. We have invited our community Guards. If you have any questions please feel free to approach them at any time of the day.
“To conclude, I want to say a special thanks to our sponsors Spunout.ie. Balrothery Inn kindly sponsored the burgers, crisps and soft drinks. Thank you Brendan. To Ann O’Brien from Tesco, who sponsored the sweets and other goodies. Today we can also announce that Tesco gave their commitment to sponsor a signpost that will promote the TreeCops Project. This signpost will be displayed at the entrance of this estate and will be a reminder to all that live here as well as guests that we are serious about our trees!
“Thank you for your attendance and special thanks to our community Guards: Gráinne and Kate, for coming down today. Enjoy the burgers and the rest of the day. Then lastly we are now going to plant a tree if the children would like to help they are most welcome.”
The festival was a huge success with lots of new ideas shared between neighbours. Three more project ideas emerged from the community gathering. One is to have street safety awareness training for the children of the estate in conjunction with the Community Guards; another one is to start a petition to the developers to put up a fence at the road side of the green (hopefully local politicians will support us in this regard as it is long outstanding); and the final one is to advocate for seating benches on the green.
All in all, the TreeCops Project was a huge success!
Activism = Campaigning = Organising = Community = Protesting = Building Alternatives = Challenging = Rethinking = Creating
We are all aware of the problems that require our urgent love and attention, both the local and the global; poverty, injustice, the environment, health, wars, resource distribution, politics and yes the global economic model to name but a few. But what I want to deal with here is the issue of power, and more specifically of us all taking ownership of our own power.
We do not live ‘atomic’ separate existences. Even the most reclusive of people live within networks of culture, of law, of infrastructure, of ideas, of education, of politics, and of the systems that deliver and disperse resources. These systems are all created by the actions of humans. This might seem a very obvious thing to say so maybe by now you are asking what on earth I am on about? I’m talking about how individuals and groups can affect these man-made systems and structures. In short, I’m talking about Activism.
The word activism is often taken as a synonym for ‘protest’ but if we use that shorthand explanation it can fool us into thinking that ‘Activism’ is not something we need to concern ourselves with. Not True! We are all ‘active’ in some way or another to create or sustain the types of systems we live in:
When we ignore or abdicate from something as crucial as our place in the world or our community and how we engage with it, we give others permission to engineer our society for us. By allowing others to ‘create society for me’ we are engaging in what we think is harmless ‘inactivity’ but actually manifests itself as a support for things as they are. To take the fitness analogy, not taking control of one’s diet and exercise will have a direct effect on one’s body. Not taking action on the issues that concern you will also have an effect on your society.
Think for a minute of the many things that we take for granted today in Ireland as rights or entitlements, for example weekends or days off from work, voting rights for women, the right not to be a slave, the right to have sex only by choice, the right not to be sentenced to death, or the right to choose our own interests and political affiliations to name just a few.
None of these ‘rights’ are things that were donated or asked for by some generous and wise benefactors. These are all things that people sometime somewhere saw as necessary. They imagined how they would look and function, and then came together to achieve them. I am certain that these people argued, disagreed, conceded and perhaps eventually settled for less than their ideals. We know though, that they continued to struggle and work to get these rights for the very reason that we now have the luxury of taking some of them for granted (though we shouldn’t!).
This work of achieving such freedoms took place over generations, and continued in the face of hardship and resistance. But those involved, to use a euphemism ‘carried the flame’ until these ideas became so firmly entrenched in our culture, that in some shape or form (and imperfect though their realisation might still be) these rights all became socially, legally and culturally deemed as the ‘norm’.
This does not mean that no-one here is oppressed or that we have perfect gender equality, but it does mean that our culture and institutions recognise these as things to which people are entitled; ‘standards’ is a useful word to describe them and that it is recognised as either deviance or criminality when these rights are not respected.
To summarise what I am saying here I will use a quote from anthropologist, Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; it’s the only thing that ever has.’’
In my opinion, getting involved with issues that concern you is one of the most important things a young person can begin to do. Have you ever heard about an event in history, or heard something in the news that made you really angry or upset? Something that really frustrated you, because you felt like you couldn’t do anything about it?
Well, getting involved with organisations like Amnesty International or Spunout.ie is one way for you to make a substantial difference. Whether you’re signing a petition, or helping out with a demonstration, there’s nothing better than the feeling that you can help change those issues that frustrate you.
And the changes can be substantial. You only need to look at a handful of success stories on Amnesty’s website to know that speaking out for other people, as a group/organisation, works: Aung San Suu Kyi was finally freed in 2010 after over 15 years under house arrest – thanks to thousands of people demanding her release. In 2011, Illinois banned the death penalty.
Many human rights activists and prisoners of conscience (e.g. Emadeddin Baghi, Mao Hengfeng) have been released due to petitions, letters of appeal, demonstrations and protests carried out by Amnesty International and other organisations with similar motives.
Although some of these achievements may seem small in the grand scheme of things, one small victory can have a ripple effect.
So, my advice to young people in Ireland is to use your voice. Don’t be afraid to say what you feel, even if you’re worried about sounding silly sometimes. You may be surprised at the respect you’ll earn from people (whether it’s peers or adults) from simply being outspoken. You may also be surprised at how one person or group of people, if they’re determined enough, can help change the world. Do not be mute.
Remember these sayings:
”Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say”. - William Shakespeare
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”. - Mary Mead
Check out our factsheets and opinion pieces on engaging in society. This is a key area that the SpunOut Action Panel has prioritised for 2013.
Tips to help you take action and make a positive difference.
Ireland is a democracy, which means the people elect their representatives and government by means of secret ballot.
Joining a political party means that you are registering with a political party and letting them and the world know that you generally support their causes and activates.
One SpunOutter gives her opinions on whether the voting age should be lowered to 16.
Ireland is a constitutional democracy (you’ve lost me already SpunOut!). Well, this basically means that we get to have a say in who runs our country and what the laws of the land are.
The Know Your Rights information packs are provided by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL). They are a series of booklets designed to inform people about their rights, which the ICCL has rolled out as part of its Know Your Rights public information project. The booklet is designed to inform the general public, in clear and accessible language, of their rights in the areas of Garda search powers, arrest, interview, detention, provision of bodily samples and public order.
The State gets its power from the People of Ireland through the Constitution of Ireland (Bunreacht na hÉireann). The Constitution sets out some of the rights of people who live in Ireland. We also have rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). All agents of the State, including An Garda Síochána, must act in line with the Constitution and the ECHR.
The Constitution is interpreted by the courts and is supplemented by more detailed laws, which must also be in line with the Constitution. The law must also follow the ECHR and the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. Gardaí must act according to court rulings and legislation, otherwise they may be breaking the law.
If you have any doubts about the way you have been treated by the Gardaí, if they have interfered with any of your rights, you should contact a solicitor.
Contemporary Ireland can be a pretty hostile environment to young people. Limited job opportunities and precarious working conditions are just two of the factors pushing more and more young people to emigrate.
In response to this, the youth committee of The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) are launching a new campaign that aims to consolidate and reinforce the rights of young people in Ireland.
The Rights Campaign are demanding five key rights for young people, to be implemented and strengthened. They are:
As a pretty cool gesture of their commitment to gender equality and developing a politics in which young women take a leading role, the campaign’s launch features an all-women panel of speakers. Speakers include USI president Laura Harmon, playwright and producer Katie O’Kelly, and trade union activist Tara Keane, who was an organizer of the La Senza strike and sit-in.
The campaign is launching on Wednesday October 29th at 5:00pm, at The Twisted Pepper, Middle Abbey Street, Dublin 1. Check out the launch if you can make it, or keep and eye on their Facebook page for updates.
For a number of years, campaigners have been calling for a constitutional amendment to be made to put same sex marriage on an equal footing to heterosexual marriages in Ireland.
Since 2011, same sex partners in Ireland are entitled to engage in a civil partnership, which is a State recognised form of union. Although civil partnerships encompass much of what’s involved in a regular marriage, there remains a symbolic difference in status between the two. The act of civil marriage in Ireland is exclusively available for heterosexual couples at the moment, but a majority vote for same sex marriage recognition in next spring’s referendum would lead to same sex couples enjoying exactly the same marriage rights as heterosexual couples.
If a couple engages in a same sex marriage in a different jurisdiction and then moves to Ireland, that marriage is recognised here as having the same status as a civil partnership in domestic Irish terms. Altogether, 17 countries around the world now recognise same sex marriages on a par with heterosexual marriages.
Current legislation means that people under the age of 18 are excluded from voting in elections and referendums in the Republic of Ireland.
If there is a majority vote in favour of reducing the voting age in this country in next year’s referendum, all citizens aged 16 and over will be entitled to cast their ballot at elections and referendums once they’ve registered to vote.
Internationally, eight countries have given 16 year-olds the right to vote, although restrictions apply in some cases.
Despite the country’s regular voting age being set at 18, Scotland’s recent referendum on independence afforded all citizens aged 16 and over the right to vote. The move was praised by senior figures in both the Yes and No campaigns as many polling stations closed early due to full attendance, with the overall turnout reaching 85%.
In order to become a candidate for the position of President of the Republic of Ireland, you must be aged 35 or over. As per the upcoming referendum, plans are in place to reduce this age barrier in line with age restrictions for candidates participating in Oireachtas and European elections.
Broadly speaking, Ireland’s current age barrier for presidential candidates is in line with international norms. Presidential candidates in countries such as the US, Italy and Brazil must be at least 35 years-old. If Ireland votes in favour of reducing the age requirement, we would be moving closer to the French model, which says that citizens aged 18 or over are entitled to run for the position of president.
Around the world, young people don’t really have the best reputation for turning out to vote. Elections and referendums are vital opportunities for a population to voice their approval of, or disagreement with, what’s going on in a country. While Ireland’ overall turnout figures are pretty darn good in an international context, it’s been a more difficult battle to get younger generations to have their say on such important issues. That said, it’s a situation that’s very gradually improving.
If you’re over 18 and are a citizen of the Republic of Ireland, you’re eligible to vote in any referendums and elections that take place here. However, figures released by the National Youth Council of Ireland earlier this year showed that 30% of 18-25 year-olds aren’t even registered to vote. Worse still, when you look at the 18-21 age group, the figure jumps up to 43%- that’s nearly half of potential voters under 21 who have absolutely no say in how their country is governed.
As part of National Voter Registration Day, SpunOut.ie, in conjunction with the Union of Students in Ireland, are launching a campaign to get as many young people registered to vote in next year’s referendums as possible ahead of the November 25th deadline. We’ll talk you through all the details on the registration form, and we’ll even send it off for you when you’re finished, as well as providing you with helpful voting info ahead of polling days. If you’d like to learn more about the campaign, just click here and get registering!
What is citizenship really all about today? Is it more about individuality or is it more focused on the all of us in this together? It’s hard to know at times. SpunOut.ie, in partnership with The Wheel, are hosting a chat to find out what citizenship means and we want to invite you. It’s an informal conversation that will focus on what we think citizenship is and what we’d like it to become.
There’ll be conversations happening all around the country with different groups of citizens. But here are the details you need:
So sign up to join us chatting about what citizenship should really be, just sign up here:
You can find out more about The People's Conversation here.
There are a lot of things you can legally do when you turn 18 in Ireland, like buying alcohol and cigarettes, but there's one privilege that trumps them all. Voting.
Yup, if you're an Irish citizen and have reached the ripe old age you're allowed have your say in the democratic process and it's so very important that you do so.
Don't believe us? Just ask these guys and gals. They got together to launch a campaign to get more young people voting in the USA, but everything they say rings true no matter where you are in the world.
Leonardo Di Caprio's got you covered.
Are you on the electoral register? Do you even know what the electoral register is?
Don't understand why it's worth going to all that effort just so you can vote? Well, maybe you should have a think about what Jennifer Aniston has to say about the whole thing.
When you cast your vote you decide what you want your country to be like in future. You give your opinion about policies or decisions that will influence the way your country is run.
What kind of country do YOU want to live in? What kind of country do YOU want for your children? What do YOU think people should be able to do?
That's what YOU decide when you get to the ballot box.
No, the world will not cease to exist if you don't vote, but when you don't give your opinion some people might not think you're entitled to one in the first place. Fresh Prince Will Smith knows that all too well.
Giving out about this government or that government is well and good when you've actually had a hand in electing them.
If you didn't cast a vote for someone else then you might find people aren't willing to listen when you complain about the current state of things.
If you're not in you most certainly can't win. It's your choice, but you've got nothing to lose.
You'd better take that one up with Han Solo himself, the one and only Harrison Ford.
He knows that your one vote is far more powerful and can make a big difference in the long run.
Your one vote could be the difference between a yes and a no vote.
Your one vote could win or lose an election.
Your one vote most definitely matters, so it's worth regestering to cast it, no matter what you might think.
Spend a few minutes listening to Scarlett Johansson, aka Black Widow from Avengers. She hit the nail on the head during the US Elections a few years back.
It may be about US politics but the message still applies, no matter where in the world you are.
In fact, she's just one of many speaking out about how great a thing it is to do. Celebrites are actually lining up to tell the world just how important it is to get registered and get involved.
Jane Lynch joined the US Rock The Vote campaign just to make sure that young people would get out and make sure their voices were heard at the ballot box.
She, like millions of people around the world, believes that voting is quite possibly the most important thing we can do in life. That's how Sue sees it, and we all know there's no arguing with her right?
Or get involved with National Voter Registration Day by dowloading your own registration pack.
And encourage your friends to do it too while you're at it.
SpunOut.ie and the Union of Students in Ireland have come together to hold a National Voter Registration Day on the 30th of October 2014. 2015 promises to be a year of referendums that will potentially have a huge impact on all of Ireland's people. The Voter Registration Day will focus on making sure young people across the country are registred to vote and ready to use their voices. We're looking for your help to get as many young people registered on the day as possible so here's how you can help!
Download our voter registration pack (just click on the preview below) today and get thinking about how, on the 30th of October, you can sign up people in your community, work place, college and other spaces.
Check out spunout.ie/vote for news, information and updates from National Voter Reistration day!
We're looking for volunteers all across the country to help get as many young people registered to vote, you can sign up here. We also have four €25 one for all vouchers up for grabs for our volunteers - all you have to do is send us a picture on Facbeook/Twitter/Email of you in action registering volunteers: