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

Spring 2016

General Election 2016 


The general election of February 2016 marked some significant changes in Irish politics. At the time of writing negotiations for Government formation are still ongoing. Pressure to create new ministries may also see changes involving the Department of Children and Youth Affairs which must be of concern to all in that sector. The campaign also offered organisations in the youth and children’s field an opportunity to input on their priorities for the next five years. Organisations took a variety of different approaches either having events, launches, their own manifestos, issues for canvassers or a combination of these.

NYCI Manifesto
Youth Work Ireland Youth Manifesto


Manifesto Commitments  

As well as allowing groups to try and influence the stance of parties on their issues of choice the election also means parties had to publicize their own commitments, manifesto commitments are generally seen as important in the political world. In 2016 most parties had dedicated sections relating to children including youth.

Fine Gael
Fianna Fail
Sinn Fein


Parliamentray Questions

While the Dail sittings at the beginning of 2016 were overshadowed by the looming election there was still much business done in this final period. Parliamentary debates and questions continue to be important as matters of record and policy. These may well be even more important in the future if the type of Dail reform often mentioned come to pass.

Youth Services Funding
Child Poverty
Counselling and Emergency Care
Children in Care
Action Plan on Bullying


EU Youth Policy

2016 marks the 25th anniversary of EU youth programmes. The programmes mark the most tangible reflection of EU youth policy and a desire for real world day to day international work with young people.  DG Education, Culture and Youth has marked the anniversary with a publication. This publication marks a quarter of a century of EU youth programmes accompanied by EU youth policy. It brings together a range of views and highlights best practices with the aim of stimulating debate about what youth work and non-formal learning can contribute, alongside other sectors, to European education.  

Youth Work and Non-formal Learning in Europe’s Education Landscape

UNCRC Findings on Ireland

Ireland is subject to regular review on it performance on children’s rights by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. The Government normally submits a report for review and a shadow report is prepared by the Irish NGO platform (The Children’s Rights Alliance). In recent times the Alliance has ensured the production of a children’s report and the involvement of children in the process. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recently met with the Irish Government on its children’s rights record. On 4 February 2016, the Committee issued its findings on Irelands report. The UN Observations on the third and fourth reports, which were combined, highlighted child poverty, failures in direct provision, the failure to fully incorporate the UN Convention in Irish law and the rights of minority children.

The UN Committees Report
Children’s Rights Alliance Press Release


TusLa Commissioning

The landscape for the provision of public services particularly by NGOs is changing rapidly. The concept of straightforward grants to organisations for the work they do is rapidly disappearing. The idea of NGOs tendering and competing in terms of value for money (and other areas) is becoming more common. TusLa is one agency that is indicating a significant move in to commissioning significant segments of work delivered by NGOs. The organisation distinguishes between commissioning and other forms or approaches like tendering and sub-contracting. It has set out its approach (below) as has the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform which is encouraging this approach across Government.

TusLa Commissioning Guidance
DPER Commissioning Website




The Registration of Lobbyists came in to effect in September 2015. The legislation means that anybody who meets with designated public officials with a view to seeking policy change must declare such activity. While this has meant some extra administrative work for NGOs it also ensures that those who are often lobbying for corporate interests opposed to the interests of NGOs must declare their activities. The most recent alcohol regulation legislation was subject to representations by several industry groups and PR firms. These included the National Off Licence Association, the Dublin Airport Authority, Diageo, Shannon Airport, Aer Rianta International, The Vintners, Grocers, The IRFU, IBEC, Advertisers, Tesco and numerous PR firms…to mention just a few! Those met ranged widely and included Enda Kenny, Leo Varadkar, Richard Bruton, Simon Coveny, Paschal Donohoe, Ann Phelan, Ged Nash, Ruarai Quinn and several advisors and civil servants.
Other areas make for interesting reading for example there was concerted lobbying on the packaging of cigarettes by tobacco firms such as Carroll’s and John Player, the Irish Tobacco Manufacturers Association and their lobbyists.

The Registration of Lobbyists Site
Alcohol Lobbying  


Bertie's Children

The 2011 General Election was the first one where a whole generation brought up during the Celtic Tiger and the subsequent crash were able to vote. This is the first generation of a population bulge where there will be a higher and higher percentage of young people in the population year on year which will have a major impact on policy. The Irish Times took the time to talk to many of this group about their views.

Irish Times Article

Children's Hustings

A group of prospective candidates faced their toughest challenge yet in a school hall full of children and young people at a special hustings organised during the election campiagn. Hosted by Barnardos, the Children’s Rights Alliance and the ISPCC, candidates from Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Labour, Sinn Fein, People Before Profit and the Social Democrats were in attendance on February 11th. The candidates were asked about smoking, diversity and their priorities if elected.

The Children’s Election Husting
Report from The


Charity Regulation   

For many years there has been a growing focus on the regulation of charities and prominent scandals have further increased this recently. A Charities Act has been on the statute book for a number of years but was not being implemented. More recently the Charity Regulator and a system of regulation has been established. This is an important development and one which the voluntary sector has supported. A deadline for registration for all charities has been set for April 16th. The CRA has stressed that the Act applies regardless of the size and budget of the organisation (organisations with higher turnovers may have greater reporting obligations). This has an impact on units like youth clubs. The CRA has engaged with the National Youth Council and Youth Work Ireland about convenient way to comply with the Act.

FAQs from the Charity Regulator from the NYCI


Children's Report Card 


The Children’s Rights Alliance produces an annual Report Card on how the Government is performing on children’s and young people’s issues. The report card comes at a critical juncture this year with the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child calling for the retention of a cabinet minister for children and with the process of Government formation.  Overall the outgoing Government received a “C” grade however this reflected a large variation in different policy areas. Child poverty and youth homelessness received F and E grades respectively due to ongoing problems in these areas. The position for traveller and immigrant children was seen to have only improved marginally recently. Better assessments of Government policy included an A grade for non-discrimination due to the marriage equality referendum and the Child and Family Relationships Act and an A- for education due to school building.

The Report Card


The European Refugee Fund (ERF) is a European Union programme that provides funding to Member States to support the reception of asylum seekers, and the reception and integration of refugees. In Ireland, the fund supports organisations at a local and national level that provide services in education, health and community development. The fund promotes access to services and gives training to the service providers. The Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration in the Department of Justice and Equality is the responsible authority for the fund. Pobal manages the funding on its behalf. 

Pobal Site




Easter 2016 sees the commemoration of 100 years since the 1916 Rising. Many local youth projects and organisations are involved in commemorations nationally and locally. The period also presents a time for reflection. Youth Work Ireland for example is drawing together youth organisations from the “five nations” to examine developments over the last 100 years and consider issues for young people in the future. There was also a considerable involvement of teenagers in the events of 1916 including Sean Lemass who 50 years later became Taoiseach!

The youth oganisations of the “five nations”
Teenagers in 1916


EU Youth Guarantee 


The EU Youth Guarantee is a new approach to tackling youth unemployment which ensures that all young people under 25 – whether registered with employment services or not – get a good-quality, concrete offer within 4 months of them leaving formal education or becoming unemployed. The European Court of Auditors, which overseas EU expenditure, recently visited Ireland to examine the implementation of the Guarantee here. The NYCI met the delegation and voiced concerns that the initial strong commitment to introduce and deliver a Youth Guarantee in Ireland has dissipated. The NYCI also pointed out that current levels of youth unemployment would be lower if the youth guarantee was rolled out as promised and that there were 5,000 fewer places provided than promised in 2014.

Court of Auditors Report Overall Report on the Youth Guarantee
NYCI Statement


EU Youth Capital 


The ‘European Youth Capital’ is a title awarded to a European city for the period of one year, during which it is given the chance to showcase, through a multi-faceted programme, its youth-related cultural, social, political and economic life and development. The cities in the running for the European Youth Capital 2019 title have been revealed. In total, 13 cities applied for the title from right across Europe. Applications for the EYC2019 title have been received from all around Europe including Galway and Derry-Strabane.


2019 European Youth Capital

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