Leading child rights and youth organisations, including UNICEF Ireland, Spunout, the National Youth Council of Ireland, Youth Work Ireland and Foróige, have developed a Polling Pack to allow young people to vote on the upcoming Children’s Referendum.
The organisations have distributed the Polling Pack to schools and youth organisations throughout the country to ensure that under-18s have the opportunity to contribute to the debate on the Children’s Referendum. It is important that young people are listened to and respected on matters which can directly affect their lives – even if they are too young to vote on November 10th.
Owen Brennan, 17, Clondalkin, member of the SpunOut Leadership Panel said: “As under 18s we don't have the right to vote, so it’s important that we get a chance to have our say. We can't expect to be listened to if we don't acknowledge the responsibility to make sure our voices are heard. Until we turn 18 our voice is our vote. In order for the views of young people to be better reflected in politics and society it’s important for us to use our voice. It is equally as important for those who are able to vote to do so.”
Grace Dignam, 18, of Foróige said "This is a fantastic opportunity for young people who can't yet vote to have their voices heard on an issue that directly affects them. This referendum is about making young people visible in the constitution and giving them a voice. I think all young people should take this golden opportunity to get involved, become educated on the issue and try to influence those who can vote to do so."
Peter Power, Executive Director, UNICEF Ireland said: “This referendum gives us an opportunity to listen to children on matters which can directly impact their lives. I’m inviting schools and youth groups all over Ireland to participate in this Polling Day and speak out for their rights. Young people may not be able to vote but their voices are no less valuable.”
Mary Cunningham, Director of the National Youth Council of Ireland said: "This is a unique chance for young people throughout Ireland to make their voices heard in the run-up to the Children's Referendum. This initiative will help parents, families and all those around young people take their views into account and bring them to the heart of the debate."
Patrick Burke, CEO of Youth Work Ireland said: “We need to continually remind policy makers that their commitments under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and their own Children’s Strategy require them to consult and involve young people in meaningful and real ways in decisions that affect their lives. Nothing could be more fundamental to young people’s lives for the future then our constitution.”
UNICEF Ireland is assisting primary and secondary schools to run their own Polling Day and has partnered with Educate Together on this initiative. Member organisations of the National Youth Council of Ireland including Foróige and Youth Work Ireland are conducting ballots in youth groups throughout the country. Spunout has opened an online poll for young people to cast their vote. The closing date for schools and youth groups to hand in their results and for online voting is 4pm, 5th November and contact details are available from the organisations’ websites.
Further Information: Claire McKeever, 01 809 0276/ 086 302 7791, Claire@unicef.ie
Note to Editors: Donncha O’Callaghan, Munster UNICEF Ireland Ambassador and Irish rugby player, will visit his former Primary School in Bishopstown, Cork today to speak to young people about the Children’s Referendum. Photos will be issued to news desks.
Youth Spokespeople are available to speak to the media by request.
The Guide on Running a Poll and Sample Ballot Paper are available on – http://www.unicef.ie/School-Poling-Day-183.aspx
The online poll for young people is available at - http://www.spunout.ie/action/Make-a-difference/Take-our-Rights-Referendum-Ballot
More information on each organisation involved in today’s announcement can be found at:
The National Youth Council of Ireland – www.youth.ie
Foróige - http://www.foroige.ie
Youth Work Ireland - http://www.youthworkireland.ie/site/
Spunout - http://www.spunout.ie