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Cobh’s Lucas Keating returns to Strasbourg




Lucas Keating (19) from Cobh is set to return to Strasbourg for his second and final session of the Congress of Regional and Local Authorities (CLRA) of the Council of Europe. Lucas was selected as the 2016 Irish Youth Delegate for the CLRA last February through an international competition. Lucas travelled to Strasbourg in March for the first session of the Congress and since then Lucas and his fellow delegates were given the task to explore ways in which councils and government can encourage young people to get involved in local democracy. “I want to encourage young people to interact in a constructive discussion around the topics being discussed in politics, and thus give them the opportunity to their word to be relayed directly, restore their confidence in politics and give them the will to fight for their interests. Too often the voice and opinions of young people are not heard.”

Lucas began to reach out to young people already involved in local democracy to find out how and why they became involved. The majority of young people getting involved in this area nowadays are doing so to make a difference in society and are not in it for their personal carers or interests. This is a change to the way many politicians have previously operated – of course there is some out there that do want to make a positive change as well!

Young people are disengaged with politics as it is felt by many that their opinions are not valued or are not being heard, the system isn’t serving us. Some headings I am currently exploring with Young People at the moment include, ‘Replacing the school dentist with a nutritionist’, ‘Political Parties should refrain from canvasing for the 8th amendment referendum (should it go ahead)’, ‘Mental health and wellbeing’, and ‘Reform in the Education system’. Exploring these titles helps me and my projects for the CLRA to show that young people have valuable opinions and do want to me a difference. I could speak for days on each one of the headings above and it is planned to present these reports to councils in the coming months.

It is clear that Politics in Ireland is dying. We use a system that has been in place since 1919 and it hasn’t changed with the times. We are also beginning to see a divide in society in the way that people vote, young and old voting very differently, look at the ‘Brexit’ votes or the same sex marriage referendum. It’s time to reimagine politics.

Lucas will travel to Strasbourg on Monday 17th October where he will present his findings to the CLRA and the Council of Europe. Other topics being discussed at this session include, “Social Rights in Europe: the implementation of the European Social Charter at regional level”, “Participation of women in politics” and “Gender Budgeting” to name just a few. Before that, Lucas will travel to Wexford on October 14th where he has been invited as a guest speaker for the AILG’s (Association of Irish Local Government) Autumn seminar. He will speak to councillors about his work over the last couple of months and also speak of his experience of working with local and county councils.

The Youth Delegates of the CLRA have also launched a website where you can keep up-to-date with their work.

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