28 September 2012 No Comments by The Northern Standard

President Michael D Higgins was in Monaghan last Saturday, where he met with over 70 young people from across the province of Ulster in the third of his ‘Being and Young and Irish 2012’ series of workshops.
Hosted by St Macartan’s College, Monaghan, the event gave the participants an opportunity to discuss their vision for Ireland with the President, and it was unanimously agreed that educational reform, political reform and an improved healthcare system were the three most important aspects of their vision for the future of the country.
In his address to the gathering (see below), President Higgins spoke passionately about the “disastrous consequences” that had resulted from the failure of an economic model that was based on certain assumption, and about how a new Ireland based on fairness, diversity and respect for human rights values could be achieved through honest consultation and the various contributions arising from this initiative.
This process involving young people around the country would culminate in a seminar at Áras an Uachtaráin, leading on to a ‘Take Charge of Change Declaration’, which be the cornerstone and foundation for “a new kind of ethical, values-based Irishness, rich with integrity and possibility, of which we could be proud at home and abroad”, the President explained.
In contrast with the workshops that have already been held in Dublin and Cork, the young people from Antrim, Armagh, Cavan, Derry, Donegal, Louth, Monaghan and Tyrone highlighted the need for a greater sense of community and national pride, a more united Ireland and more independence of State and Church.
The “Top 10” most important aspects of their vision for Ireland agreed in plenary session were at the seminar in St Macartan’s were:
1. Educational reform — subject reform, points system, opportunity, interactive and useful in life.
2. Political reform — transparency, inclusiveness, better communication between local and national levels.
3. Healthcare — reduce cost, improve service, reduce waiting time, better hospitals, equality and better healthcare.
4. A more positive Ireland with a greater sense of community spirit — language, national pride.
5. There needs to be accountability across all public services.
6. Innovative industries — Ireland would have a diverse range of employment opportunities.
7. Equality — race, gender, religion, LGBT, background.
8. United Ireland — improved cross-border relations.
9. Independence of State and Church.
10 Improved transport; better work ethic.
Throughout the day, through workshops and plenary voting sessions, the young people agreed on their top 10 answers to the President’s questions: What is your vision for Ireland? What needs to happen to make your vision possible? What can you and other young people do to achieve this vision?
Working with professional facilitators in groups of ten, they discussed the characteristics of a healthy, well-functioning society, talked about other countries that impressed them on their travels, looked back at Ireland’s recent history and saw how the negatives might be transformed into positives.
All of the seminar’s findings, and the findings from the workshops in Dublin and Cork and the final workshop in Galway will be reviewed by the research team appointed by the President who will analyse this data, along with young people’s online submissions to
‘Being Young and Irish 2012’ is first in a series of Presidency seminars which will take place throughout the term of President Higgins. The President intends to use the findings of to inform his Presidency and later this year he will hold a final major ‘Being Young and Irish 2012’ seminar in Áras an Uachtaráin where the ‘Take Charge of Change’ findings will be presented.
The Monaghan workshop is part of a wider consultation process by the President. He wants to hear from any young person aged 17 to 26 in Ireland, and worldwide, who …

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