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Our Rural Future: Minister Joe O’Brien opens third sitting of Ireland’s National Rural Youth Assembly

Our Rural Future: Minister Joe O’Brien opens third sitting of Ireland’s National Rural Youth Assembly

• Minister welcomes young people from across Ireland for discussion on ‘Civic Participation of Young People in Rural Ireland’

Minister of State for Community Development, Integration and Charities, Joe O’Brien TD, has today opened the third sitting of the National Rural Youth Assembly.

The Assembly gathered approximately 65 delegates, aged between 12-25 years, at Dublin Castle to discuss the challenges and opportunities for young people participating in civic society in rural Ireland. The young people travelled from across the country, from areas such as Donegal, Kerry, and the Islands, to discuss the opportunities, challenges and benefits of civic participation in rural Ireland and to make recommendations for consideration by rural policymakers across Government.

The Assembly provides policymakers with the opportunity to listen to the views of young people from across rural Ireland, and ensure their voices are heard, as part of the ongoing dialogue on the rural development policy process.

The establishment of the Assembly in 2021 delivered on a commitment in Our Rural Future, the Government’s rural development policy.

The idea to host an annual Rural Youth Assembly was proposed by young people themselves during the policy consultation process, and this Rural Youth Assembly has now been incorporated into the wider programme of the National Youth Assembly of Ireland supported by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.

Roderic O’Gorman, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth congratulated the National Rural Youth Assembly and said:

“This annual Assembly is an important milestone for Government in ensuring that the voice of children and young people are included in the policies that we make. I welcome the commitments that Government has made to consider the views of young people on rural development.”

Minister O’Brien said:

“I was delighted to welcome the young people who attended today’s Assembly in person. I was very impressed by their engagement and discussions on the theme of Civic Participation and I thank them for their contributions. The hugely diverse group in attendance recognises the importance of young people’s input to policy-making. The fact that they had travelled from all parts of the country represents the variety of communities, towns and villages across rural Ireland. It is important that our young people have a voice in decisions which affect them, in order that those decisions help support rural areas which offer young people the potential to plan for a future that allows them remain in, or return to, their local communities to live, study, socialise and work.”

Minister O’Brien added:

“Youth organisations across the country work tirelessly on behalf of young people in our rural communities and I would like to thank them for their continued work. Through the National Rural Youth Assembly, we can ensure that young voices remain at the heart of rural development. I would like to thank the Minister for Children, Equality, Diversity, Integration and Youth for supporting today’s Assembly, and the National Participation Office for all their effort and assistance in making the event a success.”



Our Rural Future

Our Rural Future is the whole-of-government policy for rural Ireland for the period 2021-2025. It represents a new milestone in the approach to rural development policy for Ireland and adopts a more strategic, ambitious and holistic approach to investing in and maximising opportunities for rural areas.

National Rural Youth Assembly

The third Rural Youth Assembly saw approx. 65 young people aged 12-25, from communities across the country, attend the event in Dublin Castle. It follows on the success of the inaugural Assembly, held online in November 2021, and last year’s in-person Assembly at the National Museum at Collins’ Barracks.

The National Rural Youth Assembly is one of the measures for delivery in Our Rural Future, and was proposed by young people during the consultation process in the development of the policy.

National Youth Assembly of Ireland

The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) established the National Youth Assembly of Ireland to act as a consultative youth forum on topics of national interest.

The National Youth Assembly plays a significant role in including the voice of young people in implementing public policy and prioritising actions for Government. It convenes up to two more times a year and provides young people with an opportunity to make recommendations directly to Government to inform public policy.

National Participation Office

The National Participation Office (NPO) was established in 2021 within DCEDIY to manage and coordinate the activities of Comhairle na nÓg (youth councils), Dáil na nÓg (youth parliament), the Comhairle na nÓg National Executive, The National Youth Assembly of Ireland and other related youth participation initiatives and structures.

The NPO operates under the guidance and oversight of DCEDIY and has responsibility for overseeing and implementing the Comhairle na nÓg Five Year Development Plan, which aims to strengthen and develop Comhairle to be the leading youth participation structure in Ireland. DCEDIY directs, oversees and supports the work of the NPO and collaborates with the Office on cross-Government engagement with Comhairle na nÓg and other participation structures, stakeholder engagement and relationship building.

DCEDIY, in partnership with the National Participation Office (NPO), collaborates closely with other government departments to convene Youth Assemblies on specific topics.

For instance, DCEDIY collaborates closely with the Department of Rural, Community Development (DRCD) to convene the annual Rural Youth Assembly.