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SPEECH Cathaoirleach Addresses Limerick Comhairle Na nOg 2010

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SPEECH BY CLLR. RICHARD BUTLER, CATHAOIRLEACH OF LIMERICK COUNTY COUNCIL AT COMHAIRLE NA NOG ON 26 NOVEMBER 2010

“Ladies and Gentlemen, Comhairle participants,

As Cathaoirleach of Limerick County Council and the Limerick County Development Board, it gives me great pleasure to be able to join you today for this important annual event for students across the County.

Limerick County Comhairle na nÓg is an excellent platform for young people to discuss a range of issues of relevance to them.

I want to begin by congratulating each of you participating in today’s Comhairle, not only for taking the time to take part but also volunteering your ideas on how to make your communities better places to live, work in and visit.

For most of you I am sure, the notion of discussing serious social issues with people your own age may be nothing new.

However, today you are tasked with formulating ways in which society and communities across County Limerick can respond proactively to the challenges facing them.

At the end of today’s gathering a number of you will be selected to become members of the 2011 – 2012 County Limerick Youth Council.

You will join approximately 12 other members who were elected at the 2009 Comhairle and who will be remaining on for a second year.

For those of you who are chosen today I would like to remind you that you will not only be representing yourself and your community but all the young people of County Limerick.

The Community and Enterprise section of Limerick County Council, the Limerick County Development Board and other bodies throughout the County are very aware of the importance of considering the opinions of younger members of the community when devising local or national policy.

To fully gauge and appreciate the work of the Youth Council, I would like to tell you a little about the contribution made by Council members in the past 12 months.

Arising from the feedback received at the 2009 AGM, County Limerick Comhairle na nÓg concluded that young people in schools and communities do not receive adequate information on drug and alcohol related issues and that there is very little material available to refer to.

In this regard, the Comhairle members decided to work on a means of circulating information to young people in the county.

Members also felt there was a need to raise the profile of the Comhairle as this was the first year of a core Comhairle group being elected for the county.

In addition the young people used working group sessions to prioritise issues and decided that they would like to highlight the under resourcing of counselling services to young people in schools and communities, particularly for the 16-18 year age range.

The Comhairle na nÓg members has met 9 times over the past year working on the these issues and in addition were consulted on the County Limerick Recreation Strategy, and asked to validate issues relating to young people and recreation.

Comhairle na nÓg also met with the County Development Board regarding suggestions for Youth Cafe funding applications for the county.

Most importantly, the Comhairle also has been included in the draft County Limerick Youth Work Development Plan to be promoted as a key representative voice for young people in County Limerick.

It is clear, therefore, Comhairle na nÓg is increasingly being recognised by local, regional and national bodies, which proves that the process is effective and does make a difference to the lives of young people.

Moving on to the 2010 Comhairle, and today you are discussing the topic of “Young People’s Mental Health”.

This topic has been chosen by the Youth Council as it reflects the work they have undertaken over the past year.

The issue also has been raised at the 2010  Dáil na nÓg AGM at Croke Park which was attended by 5 Comhairle members.

Today you will collectively make a number of recommendations around the topic of “Young People’s Mental Health”.

The newly formed Youth Council will then endeavour throughout the coming year to implement these recommendations.

In conclusion, I want to congratulate everybody who has contributed to making this event a success.

In particular, credit must go to:

-          The staff of Limerick County Council’s community and enterprise section along with the Limerick County Development Board

-          Jackie Dwane, youth officer with County Limerick VEC

-          Maurice Walsh and his team from Limerick Youth Service

-          the Facilitators and Note takers who assisted the various groups in putting together their presentations

-          and last but not least the delegates who have participated in this year’s Comhairle na Nog.

I would like to congratulate you all for taking part in the 9th annual Limerick County Comhairle na nÓg and, more importantly, taking the opportunity to have your collective voices heard.

The conclusions of your deliberations here today represent the first step in a process that will influence key Government and Local Government decisions on your future.

As a public representative, and on behalf of my fellow elected representatives, I wish to thank you for your contribution and I  hope you enjoy your day.

Go raibh mile maith agaibh.”

CLLR. RICHARD BUTLER, CATHAOIRLEACH OF LIMERICK COUNTY COUNCIL