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?
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.
If you’ve ever read a tweet from a friend or colleague that made you feel concerned for their wellbeing, you’ll understand how difficult it can be to deal with the issue. Increasingly, people who are feeling isolated, distressed or depressed are using social media platforms to vent their emotions. This publicising of distress is often a call for help, and now Samaritans are offering a service that lets you keep an eye on worrying tweets in your network, and gives you information on how to respond appropriately.
Signing up to the Samaritans Radar means that you’ll be emailed if someone you’re connected to tweets a message that may be a cause for concern. Here’s how it works:
If this sounds interesting to you, you can choose to activate the Samaritans Radar here. They’ve also released a video to go with the app’s launch, which you can see below.
Ever read an official Government letter, form or document and found yourself scratching your head because the wording was so confusing?
Well, the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) wants to make sure it never happens again and they need your help to do it.
You see they want Enda Kenny to ensure that the Government and all of its agencies use Plain English when providing information to the people of Ireland.
Plain English cuts out the small print and unnecessary jargon. It’s all about presenting information that’s easy to understand the first time around. It uses short clear sentences and words you use on an everyday basis.
NALA says that “Plain English encourages individuals to engage with public services and make informed decisions when doing so. It can also save the public sector time, money and possible frustration by having to make repeated requests for information”.
Do you agree? Well then all you have to do to support them is sign their petition, which will be passed on to the Taoiseach when it hits 5,000 signatures.
And sure if they succeed you might never find yourself scratching that head of yours again.
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.