Children and Young People’s Right to Participate: National and Local Youth Councils in Ireland

in The International Journal of Children's Rights
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?


This article explores the impacts of participation in local and national child and youth councils in the Republic of Ireland. It is based on an original research study for which 300 young people were asked about their experience of participating in youth councils. The research indicates that while youth councils have succeeded in offering children and young people opportunities to acquire skills and to influence decision-making at the local level, the institutional and societal impacts of their participation are less apparent. The research provides evidence that youth participation impacts positively on young people’s active citizenship and on-going engagement with democratic institutions after their participatory experiences have ended. It also indicates a growing awareness and recognition of the role of children and young people in the community. The article concludes that participatory structures such as youth councils should be underpinned by statutory guidelines and legislation so that children and young people’s participation is meaningful and gains from their participation are not lost.



CheckowayB., AllisonT., and MontoyaC., “ Youth participation in public policy at the municipal level”, Children and Youth Services Review 2005, (27(10)), 11491162. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2005.01.001.

CheckowayB., “ What is Youth Participation?Children and Youth Services Review 2011 (33(2)), 340345. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2010.09.017.

Comhairle na nÓg, Comhairle na nÓg Report: 2013 Annual Report (Dublin: Department of Children and Youth Affairs, 2013).

CouzensM., “ Exploring Public Participation as a Vehicle for Child Participation in Governance: A View from South Africa”, International Journal of Children’s Rights 2012 (20), 674704. doi: 10.1163/157181812X634210 .

DaveyC., ShawC. and BurkeT., Children’s Participation in Decision-making: A Children’s Views Report (London: Participation Works, 2010).

Department of Children and Youth Affairs, National Strategy on Children and Young People’s Participation, 2015–2020 (Dublin: Department of Children and Youth Affairs, 2015).

GordonH.R. and TaftJ.K., “ Rethinking Youth Political Socialization: Teenage Activists Talk Back”, Youth and Society 2011 (43(4)), 14991527. doi: 10.1177/0044118X10386087 .

HartR., Children’s Participation: From Tokenism to Citizenship, Innocenti Essays No. 4 (Florence: unicef, 1992).

HeadB.W., “ Why not ask them? Mapping and promoting youth participation”, Children and Youth Services Review 2011 (33), 541547.

HillM., DavisJ., ProutA. and TisdallE. K. M., “ Moving the Participation Agenda Forward”, Children and Society 2004 (18), 7796. doi: 10.1002/chi.819 .

KirbyP. and BrysonS., Measuring the Magic? Evaluating and Researching Young People’s Participation in Public Decision-Making (London: Carnegie Young People Initiative, 2002).

LundyL., KilkellyU., ByrneB. and KangJ., The un Convention on the Rights of the Child a study of the legal implementation in 12 countries. (Belfast: unicef and the Centre for Children’s Rights Queens University Belfast, 2012).

LundyL., KilkellyU. and ByrneB.Incorporation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into Law: A Comparative Review”, International Journal of Children’s Rights 2013 (21(3)), 442463. doi10.1163/15718182-55680028 .

McEvoyO., Evaluation Report: Comhairle na nÓg Development Fund 2009–2010 (Dublin: Department of Children and Youth Affairs [formerly omcya], 2011).

MartinS., FordeC., Dunn GalvinA. and O’ConnellA., An Examination of Children and Young People’s Views on the Impact of their Participation in Decision-making, (Dublin: Department of Children and Youth Affairs, 2015).

Office of the Minister for Children, Teenspace – National Recreation Policy for Young People (Dublin: Minister for Health and Children, 2007).

ParkesA., Children and International Human Rights Law: The Right of the Child to be Heard (London, Routledge, 2013).

Percy-SmithB. and ThomasN., “ Conclusion: Emerging Themes and New Directions” in Percy-Smith, B. and Thomas, N. (eds.), A Handbook of Children and Young People’s Participation (London and New York, Routledge, 2010).

ProutA., SimmonsR., and BirchallJ., “ Reconnecting and Extending the Research Agenda on Children’s Participation: Mutual Incentives and the Participation Chain” in E.K.M. Tisdall, Davis, J. M., Hill, M. and Prout, A. (eds.), Children, Young People and Social Inclusions: Participation for What? (Bristol: Policy Press, 2006).

TaftJ.K. and GordonH.R., “ Youth Activists, Youth Councils and Constrained Democracy”, Education, Citizenship and Social Justice 2013 (8(1)), 87100. doi: 10.1177/1746197913475765.

TisdallE. K. M. and ElsleyS., Briefing Paper 1: Children and young people’s participation in policy-making: Making it meaningful, effective and sustainable (University of Edinburgh: Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, 2011).

TisdallE.K.M., GaddaA., ButlerU. Children and Young People’s Participation and Its Transformative Potential: Learning from across Countries (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).

un Committee on the Rights of the Child, Convention on the Rights of the Child: General Comment No. 12. The Right of the Child to be heard (Geneva: Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 2009).

unicef, The participation of children and young people in unicef country programme and national committee activities (New York: unicef, 2009). Available at: .

WallJ. and DarA.Children’s Political Representation: The Right to Make a Difference”, International Journal of Children’s Rights 2011 (19), 595612. doi: 10.1163/157181811X547263 .

WillowC., Children’s Right to be Heard and Effective Child Protection: a Guide for Governments and Children’s Rights Advocates on Involving Children and Young People in ending all forms of Violence (Stockholm: Save the Children Fund, 2010).

AckermannL., FeenyT., HartJ. and NewmanJ., Understanding & Evaluating Children’s Participation: A Review of Contemporary Literature (uk: Plan uk/ Plan International, 2003).

CockburnT., “ Children and Deliberative Democracy in England”, in Percy-SmithB. and ThomasN. (eds.) A Handbook of Children and Young People’s Participation: Perspectives from Theory and Practice (London: Routledge, 2010).

Department of Health and Children, National Children’s Strategy: Our Children, Their Lives (Dublin: The Stationery Office, 2000).

European Commission, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: An eu Agenda for the Rights of the Child (Brussels: European Commission, 2011).

FranksM., “ Pockets of Participation: Revisiting Child-Centred Participation Research”, Children and Society 2011 (25(1)), 1525. doi: 10.1111/j.1099-0860.2009.00258.x .

GrahamA. and FitzgeraldR., “ Children’s Participation in Research: Some possibilities and constraints in the current Australian research environment”, Journal of Sociology 2010 (46(2)), 133147. doi: 10.1177/1440783309355065 .

JamiesonL. and GrundyS., “ Political Participation and European Citizenship Identity” in ForbrigJ. (ed.) Revisiting Youth Political Participation: Challenges for research and democratic practice in Europe (Strasbourg: Council of Europe, 2005).

KellettM., “ Children and Young People’s Participation” in MontgomeryH. and KellettM. (eds.) Children and Young People’s Worlds: Developing Frameworks for Integrated Practice (Bristol: Polity Press, 2009).

SinclairR., “ Participation in practice: Making it Meaningful, Effective and Sustainable”, Children and Society 2004 (18(2)), 10618. doi: 10.1002/chi.817 .

ThomasN., “ Love, rights and solidarity: Studying children’s participation using Honneth’s theory of recognition”, Childhood 2012 (19(4)), 453466. doi: 10.1177/0907568211434604 .


Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 11 11 2
Full Text Views 1 1 1
PDF Downloads 0 0 0
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0