Donegal Youth Council tackles drug and alcohol abuse, mental health and road safety

Donegal's future in good hands - youth council's insightful and important work

Donegal Youth Council

Delegates from Donegal Youth Council meet councillors from Donegal MD

Members of Donegal Youth Council were commended by councillors from the Municipal District (MD) of Donegal for their excellent work across a range of issues.

The Youth Council members who were all from the Donegal MD gave a presentation about their activities at the February MD meeting.

Among the issues they are tackling are drug and alcohol abuse, mental health and road safety.

The councillors were full of praise for how the young people are examining these issues and working towards solutions.

Cllr Micheal Naughton (FF) said: “Drug and alcohol abuse is a big issue. I would like to hear young people’s opinions on that and bring them to the task force. 

“We have to tackle it and we need to all work together to achieve that.”

Cllr Barry Sweeny (FG) agreed.

“It is great to see yourselves and the rest of your 32-strong group tackling these kinds of issues,” he said. “As Cllr Naughton said, drugs and alcohol is a massive issue among every age group within our community and we all want to try and get a handling on that. 

“Your group is spreading a positive message, looking to mental health and how it can be improved by getting out and getting active. 

“You are very aware of what is wrong in society. Keep up the good work.”

Cllr Niamh Kennedy (Ind) said it was good to have youth in the room.

“I had the pleasure of attending the Connecting For Life conference in October,” she said. “It is great to see mental health high on your agenda. 

She also praised them for their work on drugs and alcohol and on road safety.

“To hear the youthful voice coming with great strength from you all is fantastic,” said Cllr Kennedy. “I feel reassured for the future.”

Cllr Michael McMahon (SF) said drugs were one of the big scourges of modern society.

“When you hear stories about a 16- or 17-year-old taking stuff that he didn’t know anything about and then died, it makes you ask, ‘are we doing enough to help?,’” he said. 

“Living in a family where I have 16 grandchildren, I do hear a lot of stories about this. There is a lot of pressure on young people to take alcohol or to buy it for younger people. 

“We need to be doing more to give groups like yourselves more help, every day and every week and every month.

“Fair play to you. Whatever you are doing is fantastic.”

Cllr Tom Conaghan stressed the importance of learning to talk about issues in order to get help.

He told the Youth Council members: “Individuals like you can support other people who are finding it very hard to accept help with certain things, like when they are being bullied. 

“We can be here to help in any way we can.”

Cathaoirleach of Donegal MD, Cllr Noel Jordan (SF) said he echoed the sentiments of his fellow councillors, adding: “We are here and we support everything that you are doing. If there is anything we can do, let us know.

“Keep up the good work.”

Donegal Youth Council coordinator Shauna Hoey spoke very highly of the young people who came to the meeting and made the presentation.

“The dedication and determination from these young people over the last year has been amazing,” she said. “These people are in education. They have part-time jobs and have their own lives. They are doing great work.”

She also spoke about a project that was being rolled out to reduce the exposure to alcohol for young people travelling to nightclubs on buses. It involved getting coach companies to sign up to a programme whereby they would stop in certain places and allow gardaí to come on board and remove alcohol.

“We want young people able to go to discos and not feel under pressure to drink,” she said. “It has been rolled out in Roscommon and has been successful. There are less young people being brought to hospital or to the gardaí for anti-social behaviour.”

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