Update on Policy Issues for those in Youth Work in Ireland 
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Policy Brief

Spring 2015

Better Outcomes Brighter Futures Implementation


The new policy framework for children and young people, Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures was launched in April 2014. The five high level outcomes are well known to those working with children and young people. As always delivery and implementation can be as important as the actual policy itself. An implementation team has been established as envisaged in the framework and is currently developing an implementation plan.

Implementation Plan


National Youth Strategy

The National Youth Strategy will be a sub-pillar of Better Outcomes Brighter Futures and is designed to extract the relevant commitments that relate to young people from the framework. A Project Team, led by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs is in place to develop the National Youth Strategy. This will be a universal strategy for all young people aged 10 to 24 years, spanning the period 2015 – 2020. Within this universal strategy, priority will be been given to the needs of young people experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, the poorest outcomes. Consultation events have been held with young people and youth organisations.
Consultation Presentations
Consultation Briefing Notes


Votes @ 16

Despite the findings of the Constitutional Convention the Taoiseach announced in the Dail in January that there would not be a referendum of reducing the voting age for Dail elections in the lifetime of this Dail. This is clearly a very disappointing development. Those involved in campaigning have vowed to keep up the pressure. Votes at 16 is a key issue in hearing the voice of children and this to the implementation of the UN Convention in the rights of the child in Ireland.

Votes at 16 Website

OCO Appointment 

Dr. Niall Muldoon has been appointed as the new Ombudsman for Children. Dr Muldoon was the Director of Investigations at the Ombudsman for Children’s Office. Dr Muldoon, a Registered Clinical and Counselling Psychologist, was formerly the National Clinical Director of CARI – a children’s charity based in Dublin, Cork and Limerick. He has worked in the area of child protection for nearly 20 years. Applications for the post were received from a wide range of candidates, both inside and outside the State with a diverse range of backgrounds.

OCO Site on the Appointment

Value for Money Review

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs has commissioned a Value for Money Review of targeted youth projects including Special Projects for Youth and the Young Peoples Facilities and Services Fund. The report found that data and performance systems used by the funders made it difficult to draw conclusions but these projects remain necessary, there was evidence of good practice and the most efficient projects were those “affiliated to a national youth work organisation”. The report recommends a new performance management system for this funding and seven practical outcomes for the future.

The Report

Law Reform Commission on Cyber Bullying

The Law Reform Commission is conducting a project to review the law on cyber-crime affecting personal safety, privacy and reputation including cyber-bullying. The discussion paper published by the LRC highlights a number fo changes possible to the criminal law on harassment and online activity. Youth Work Ireland's submission, which drew on our Voices of Youth advocacy group, supported change to aspects of the criminal law but also highlighted the importance of the “dark net” in many of these activities. This aspect was highlighted by young people in the development of the submission.

The Law Reform Commission Issues Paper
Youth Work Ireland’s Submission


C Grade for Government on Children and Young People

The Children’s Rights Alliance published its annual Report Card on how the Government is keeping its commitments to children on February 23rd. The report has become an important annual milestone in monitoring the Governments performance relating to children and young people and it draws on an independent panel to decide on scores. The Government received an overall ‘C’ grade from the Children’s Rights Alliance this year, reflecting a satisfactory attempt, but with scope for significant improvement. However the grade hides significant variation across different areas for example an E was awarded on youth mental health and an F on child poverty. At the same time B grades were given for constitutional change and education.

The Report Card
CRA Press Release


Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children  

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs met with the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children on February 19th. The Minister also met with the Committee on his estimate on February 3rd . The Minister made particular reference to the Dail na nOg Showcase in November, saying it was a great cause for optimism.

Transcript of the Meeting
Feb 3rd Transcript

Youth Unemployment

Youth Unemployment, which has being declining continuously, rose in January with the latest CSO figures showing 49,289 18-25 year olds on the Live register. This represented an increase of 1,361 on January but is down 11,248. We have quite poor data on young joblessness and NEETs in Ireland but these figures suggest a lot more is needed in terms of education, training and job creation.

CSO Live register

Safe Internet – Spun out 

In February teamed up with the social network site Twitter to launch an Online Safety Hub to help ensure young people have a positive and safe online experience. The Online Safety Hub aims to arm young people with what they need to navigate the online world with confidence through a set of short, easy guides to online safety, privacy and security for the most used social, dating and gaming apps, sites and consoles.

More Information Here

Family Relationships Bill 

Families are changing in Ireland and more and more children and young people live in atypical families. The Family Relationships Bill is designed to deal with these situations. It covers areas such as adoption, guardianship, mediation, custody, access and other areas. Previous provisions on assisted human reproduction and surrogacy are now to be part of separate legislation. The heads of bill contain a new definition of the “best interest of the child” which is closely aligned to that of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Heads of the Bill
An Analysis of by Geoffrey Shannon (before the removal of assisted reproduction elements)

Marriage Equality  


The date for the Marriage Equality Referendum has been set for May 22nd 2015. In April 2013 Youth Work Ireland hosted a Children’s and Young Peoples Constitutional Convention aimed at consulting young people under 18 to address the fact that the Government did not allow for this. There was practically unanimous support for Marriage Equality at the Children’s and Young Peoples Convention. Youth Work Ireland has agreed to support a Yes Vote in this referendum.

Marriage Equality Website

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child 


Ireland will be examined by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in January 2016 on how it is fulfilling its obligations to children under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). NGOs and young people have an opportunity to influence this examination by submitting a Parallel (Shadow) Report and a Children and Young People’s Report to the UN in March 2015. The Children’s Rights Alliance and UNICEF are co-ordinating a children’s input in to the shadow report and have sought nominations from various organisations.

Ireland’s State Report


Parliamentary Questions  

Jonathan O'Brien (Cork North Central, Sinn Fein) To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the cost of reversing the cuts to the school completion programme which were implemented under this Government.

Robert Troy (Longford-Westmeath, Fianna Fail) To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No. 26 of 27 March 2014, and the introduction of changes impacting on community employment workers on placement, the difficulties that the changes would present to community child care facilities, and the commitment provided to considering how best to address the issue, if he will provide an update on the measures being taken to address the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  

Seán Ó Fearghaíl (Kildare South, Fianna Fail) To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the reason her Department is developing a primary online database; the reason her Department is seeking to collect data in relation to the ethnicity and religion of students; the length of time which it is planned to store data collected via the primary online database system; the places this data will be stored; the persons that will have access to this data; if her Department has engaged with the Data Protection Commissioner on this issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  

Michael McCarthy (Cork South West, Labour) To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if funding for school completion programmes will be ring-fenced for 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Michael McCarthy (Cork South West, Labour) To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs when the Child and Family Agency will publish its 2015 business plan; the reason the 2015 business plan has not been published yet; and if he will make a statement on the matter.   

Frank Feighan (Roscommon-South Leitrim, Fine Gael) To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the initiatives to deal with obesity that have been taken in the past ten years; the programmes or proposed programmes to deal with this problem being currently rolled out; and if a specific budget is being set aside for this purpose.  

Séamus Healy (Tipperary South, Independent) To ask the Minister for Social Protection in view of 400,000 children living in households experiencing multiple forms of deprivation and 135,000 children suffering daily material deprivation, according to the recent Central Statistics Office, SILC, report; the number of children living in consistent poverty, meaning they are living both at risk of poverty and experiencing deprivation, having doubled from 6% to just under 12% between 2008 and 2013; international comparisons that show how Poland and Chile have done a more effective job in protecting children during the recession than Ireland; and the cumulative reductions in child benefit per year from 2008 to 2015, including the reductions introduced by her (details supplied), if she will take immediate action in advance of the next budget to fully restore these child benefit reductions; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

Paul Murphy (Dublin South West, Socialist Party) To ask the Minister for Health his plans for the reduction of the age of consent for blood donations to 16 or 17 years; and if he will make a statement on the matter 



Ireland's alcohol problem has long been a concern for those working with children and young people. There have been several reports and documents down the years calling for action and making various recommendations. Best practice in public health suggests measures based on price, promotion and availability have the greatest success in this area. The Government has published heads of a bill on alcohol regulation. The measures go part of the way recommended by public health experts down the years but leave a lot to be desired. The Oireachtas Committee on health and Children has called for submissions on the heads of the bill

Heads of the Bill
Oireachtas Committee Submissions


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