On Thursday the 1st of October I was invited to Collins Barracks. The Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht had requested to meet with 50 young people between the ages of 8-17, to ask our views on how we see the future and how to honour the children who died in the 1916 Rising.
This is part of the 2016 Centenary Programme and our views will be presented to Ministers and decision makers at an event to be held in April next year.
I felt honoured to be asked to take part in this and these are my thoughts on the day.In the morning we covered the future of Ireland from a young person’s perspective. Some of the issues raised at this were about the ‘hoodie stigma’, how we need to have more support for young people who suffer from mental health issues (including depression), and wheelchair accessibility. How to improve on our health service was also covered. We, as a group, also felt that the education system could be improved upon and the points system should be reviewed as it was felt to be an unfair system.
After lunch, we moved onto discussing how to remember the children who died in 1916. We were all given little cards relating to a single child's story. Mine was about a boy who was working with his father in the family owned butchers shop. He and his father, along with others, were dragged out of the shop, taken to a nearby doorway and shot and killed. My ideas for commemorating the lives of these children were:
· Posters in Dublin Airport to be displayed between check-in and departures. Each poster would tell a different child's story. Name, age, how they were killed etc.
· A memorial medal that would be given to the nearest surviving relative of each child.
It was a very interesting day. I learned a lot about the children involved in the 1916 Rising and look forward to seeing how our views on the future of Ireland will be put into practice.