Liadh Dalton is a teenage farmer and climate activist she brought the voices of farming families to the Taoiseach’s office as critical COP26 climate negotiations entered their final phase. As 2021 #KidsTakeOver winner, she met the Taoiseach Micheál Martin to discuss how a positive climate future for every child in Ireland can be achieved by everyone coming together to protect nature and farming livelihoods.
Liadh lives on her family’s farm in County Offaly. She sat down with the Taoiseach to discuss how farming communities and those addressing the climate crisis can work together on a sustainable and positive future for all. “I can see both sides of the argument because I am both a farmer and a climate activist. I spoke to the Taoiseach about ways to bridge the gap between the two communities, so farmers can learn about new sustainable solutions, and also communicate what they are already doing, or planning to do, to protect the environment.”
Liadh believes positive and open dialogue between everyone must play a key part in tackling the climate crisis. “I want to see less hostility so that everyone can understand the importance of both farming and the environment. We can see during COP26 just why climate action is so important, and agriculture can play a positive role in addressing it. Farming is a way of life. It is something to be valued and farmers are custodians of our land. Family farms have been here for generations. And hopefully will be here for generations to come.”
“I work on our farm and I see the biodiversity and the simple things we do to protect our environment around us – like ensuring there is adequate cover for wildlife. On our farm, we have barn owls, and buzzards, and rabbits. And we plan to do much more. Sometimes the simple things have the biggest impact, like planting trees and wildflowers, collecting rainwater, and installing solar panels,” said Liadh.
Read more about Liadh’s experience
Well done Liadh!
Ruairí Holohan (15) from Drogheda, Co. Louth was selected to stage this year’s #KidsTakeOver. During his Zoom call with the Taoiseach, Ruairí outlined the importance of achieving respect for all through schools’ programmes, highlighting, in particular, his personal experience of homophobic bullying. Ruairí spoke about his disappointment at the lack of education around issues facing young gay people in the RSE programmes offered currently. The Taoiseach listened carefully and agreed with the student’s view that it is difficult to feel comfortable in a school environment where such issues are not adequately addressed.
This year’s celebrations also included virtual conversations between a group of Young Changemakers and Government Ministers. Minister for Children, Disability, Equality, and Integration, Roderic O’Gorman and Minister for Education Norma Foley joined teenagers who had recently participated in UNICEF Ireland’s youth activism course to discuss child rights issues relating to their briefs.
Meanwhile, in partnership with IOM, the UN’s International Organisation for Migration in Ireland, two further conversations were organised for young people who wanted to discuss children’s rights with the Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, and Justice, Helen McEntee.
In 2019 Charles Gallagher, from County Donegal spent World Children’s Day shadowing the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. He began the day by attending a British Irish Council at Farmleigh House in Dublin, where he met the First Minister of Scotland Nichola Sturgeon.
Charles won UNICEF Ireland’s 2019 #KidsTakeOver competition after he submitted a video describing the changes he would make as leader in order to protect young people’s future.
During a private meeting with the Taoiseach, Charles addressed issues around young people’s well-being in school. Within the school environment, he wants to see greater supports for students in the areas of youth mental health, learning disabilities, and dealing with exam pressures. He wants young people right across the country to be given access to the same standardised supports and courses, regardless of where the young person lives. Charles also took the opportunity to raise concerns facing his generation around climate change.
Charles then met with the Minister for Health to again raise his concerns on the available supports to young people suffering from mental health concerns. He traveled back to government buildings to have further meetings with the Taoiseach’s special advisor on Climate and the Environment and the International Relations team.
In 2018, Aoife Murphy (15) from Westmeath brought the voice of young people around Ireland to the Taoiseach’s office on Monday November 19th. Aoife campaigned for Ireland to lower the voting age to 16 and spent the day with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar highlighting why young people deserve to have a say in decisions that affect their future. “Young people are facing great challenges like climate change, inequality and unemployment. We want to play our part in deciding who is making the decisions, that ultimately will have a far greater impact on our generation than theirs. It is our future – we deserve our say,” If politicians saw young people as a credible constituent, they would take their view in to consideration more. On the day, Aoife met with the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone at the First 5 strategy launch.
In 2017, Joella Dhlamini (16) from Drogheda, Co. Louth spent World Children’s Day with An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Joella and Mr. Varadkar attended a number of events across counties Meath and Dublin before returning to Leinster House for World Children’s Day celebrations. Mr. Varadkar heard how Joella would educate people about the impact of racism if she could change one thing about Ireland. Joella is originally from Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa but moved to Ireland in 2013 to escape violent crime, and to benefit from Ireland’s education system. Joella also spoke to Mr. Varadkar about issues of concern for young people in Ireland, as expressed to UNICEF Ireland, including disability rights, poverty, climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals.
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