Published in SIN News, 1st October 2012
NUI Galway Student Union President Paul Curley met with President Michael D. Higgins on Tuesday, 18 September in Áras an Uachtaráin, along with otherrepresentatives from the Union of Students in Ireland and its member Students’ Unions, to discuss the Being Young and Irish 2012 initiative.
Being Young and Irish is the first of a series of seminars by President Higgins, who is a past-President of our Student Union himself, aimed at shaping Ireland’s shared future. It seeks to advance the national discourse on inclusion by harnessing the power of young people, enabling them to participate and be more involved in that discourse. The central goal of the project is to engage young people as active and reflective citizens in contemporary Ireland and to endorse them as one of the sources of wisdom in solving core social, political, economic and cultural issues confronting Ireland. During an online consultation period that lasted from May to September, young people aged 17 – 26 were invited to contribute practical suggestions for the improvement of Irish society. Four regional workshops also took place as a part of the programme.
The USI’s Officer Board and Presidents from twenty three Students’ Unions attended last Tuesday’s meeting. They have all welcomed the President’s initiative and his willingness to engage with young people in a meaningful and constructive manner.
Union of Students in Ireland President John Logue said “USI and our member Students’ Unions are proud to support and promote the President’s Being Young and Irish 2012 initiative. At this time in our country’s history we are more in need than ever of the creativity, inventiveness and enthusiasm of young people.
Young people are rarely engaged in the decision making process at government level. Indeed, successive governments have deliberately held General Elections on days that are inconvenient for college students who are not registered to vote in the city or town in which they attend college.
With this initiative the President has shown a genuine willingness to listen to ideas from young people and to present them as a way for our country to move forward from the regressive malaise that has taken hold for too long.”
Our Student Union President, Paul Curley, agreed with Logue’s sentiments:
“After talking to the President, I was surprised by the willingness of someone in his position to listen and engage an age group that is normally overlooked by people in power.
It was a privilege to meet someone who formerly held my position and I believe having such an honourable man as President of our country makes everybody feel that the nation is moving in the right way in these days of current economic hardship that both students and their parents’ are facing.”
The Galway regional workshop took place in the Bailey Allen Hall here on campus last Saturday, 29 September. The project is culminating with a Presidency seminar which will take place later in the year. A final report of the consultation will be published and delivered to the relevant authorities and agencies.
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