By Elizabeth Lee
A PRESENTATION was made by members of Carlow’s Comhairle na nÓg at the February meeting of Carlow County Council, in which they told local councillors of their work in anti-discrimination, their podcast for young people and their ambitions to tackle online bullying and body dysmorphia.
Franek Dobronski, chairperson of the Carlow branch of Comhairle na nÓg, and Róisín Donohoe Kehoe from the National Youth Assembly, made the presentation at last week’s meeting of the local authority, in which they explained how the issues they tackle are decided at a national meeting of young people every year and how the organisation resisted changing its name from Irish to English, after it was mooted at an executive level.
Franek and Róisín also outlined how the organisation lobbied for the lowering of the voting age from 18 to 16 years old and how a podcast they created, called the Tru You podcasts, tackles subjects that concern young people.
Cathaoirleach Andrea Dalton thanked the duo for their presentation and asked them to encourage young people to register to vote. Cllr Michael Doran, in reference to the research they carried out on discrimination, said that young people were much better at integration in society than older people. He also said that young people were concerned about the climate but that there was a disappointing uptake in the amount of students walking or cycling to school because their parents are worried about how safe it would be.
Cllr Fintan Phelan, who had attended a Comhairle na nÓg meeting, congratulated Franek and Róisín on their work, saying it was particularly important to tackle online bullying on social media.
Cllr Fergal Browne greeted Franek as a past pupil of Bishop Foley NS and informed his colleagues that Franek was a gifted musician and a talented footballer with Hanover Harps. However, he said that he did not agree with the lowering of the voting age to 16, because that would lead to an argument for lowering it again, and so on.
“Next thing you know, a four-year-old will be allowed to vote. You have to put a stop to it. How many 18-year-olds vote, anyway? I don’t know, maybe I’m an old dinosaur!” said cllr Browne.
“No comment,” quipped cllr Dalton.
Cllr William Quinn then warned Franek and Róisín to be careful because social media could be dangerous. He also asked if it was possible for Comhairle na nÓg to set up a council at local levels around Co Carlow to see what young people wanted in their areas.
Cllr Andrianne Wallace supported that idea and said that they could let the councillors know what they needed.
Franek responded to this suggestion, saying that transport is an issue for young people and that the local Comhairle na nÓg meets in Carlow town because it’s the best option for members. He added that most of the members come from Carlow town because it’s too difficult for young people from across the county to attend because of transport reasons.
Róisín added that it wasn’t that they weren’t interested in the idea, it was just that it would be logistically difficult to set up municipal youth councils because of transport and because of the difficulty in finding suitable venues and a youth worker to be with them.
The presentation was wrapped up by cllr Dalton, who thanked them for coming into the chamber.