European Youth Conference, a great opportunity for young people.

Dean Murray who represented Ireland at the Ireland Youth Conference.

A student from Liberties College, Dean Murray (19), represented Ireland in the European Youth Conference in Bulgaria this month.


Every year the European Union (EU) brings together young people from across Europe for the conference. It gives them an opportunity to have their voices heard and raise awareness about issues that are currently impacting them in their country and across Europe as a whole.


Three representatives from Ireland were chosen because of their active involvement in the Young Voices project and were accompanied by two government representatives at the conference.


Young Voices is focused on people aged 15-25. “The aim is to bring young people together from throughout Ireland and to give them the space to discuss issues affecting them,” explained Dean.


Dean first got  involved with Young Voices in October, 2017, after one of his college lectures suggested that the class should attend. “At my first event I wasn’t too sure what to expect, I was taken back by the diversity of every young person in the room. Yet we were brought together because of our passion for change.”


“During the event we discussed the fact that the undocumented in Ireland can’t receive further education after completing either the leaving certificate or a PLC course. Personally I hadn’t heard of this issue before and was shocked.”


“Some of the other issues that were discussed were the funding that’s currently available to the youth work sector, and introducing the teaching of self-confidence, mental health awareness and resilience into both the primary and secondary school curriculum.”


The project is structured by allowing those involved to vote for what issue they feel most passionate about. “At the previous meeting we had voted for the change of the education curriculum, to include more about personal development and for the free movement and right to education for the undocumented nationals in Ireland,” said Dean.


At the Youth Conference they reviewed reports from the previous year and looked at the impact of the issue in their individual countries and what the EU can do to help resolve the issue.


Speaking before the event, Dean said it “feels Crazy” to be going to Europe representing Ireland. “In the past I’ve attended events to represent my school, youth centre and Gaisce. I’ve never been to an event to represent my country. I know that it’ll be an amazing experience overall and will give myself and the other four delegates from Ireland the opportunity to allow the voices of Irish young people be heard by the politicians and ministers at a European level rather than just an Irish level.”


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