Young want secular State and more focus on Irish
YOUNG people want major reforms of the education system to include a focus on learning Irish, more investment in special education, and extra classes in IT and new technologies.
Equal marriage and adoption rights for gay and transgender couples and the creation of a secular State are also among the rights demanded by 17-to-26-year-olds who took part in an initiative by President Michael D Higgins to help reshape the country.
The 'Take Charge of Change' declaration says that Ireland should become a secular, inclusive and multi-lingual State with excellent education and health systems.
But it says that political reform is needed to bring about the necessary changes.
"Our vision for Ireland is a secular, inclusive, multilingual, confident State with excellent and universally accessible education, health and social support systems; an Ireland of which we can be proud on the global stage," it says. "We have to engage in a process of systematic political reform.
"Our vision includes economic prosperity, an enterprise culture and the opportunity for education and employment for all, a place where young people reach their potential, have a solid future and a valued voice, free from forced emigration and the burden of national debt."
It comes after Mr Higgins invited young people last May to take part in a national discussion on how Ireland should develop.
Regional workshops were held in Dublin, Cork, Monaghan and Galway last September.
It resulted in a report called 'Being Young and Irish', which was launched by the president over the weekend.
"If anyone is in any doubt now about the myth that young people are disengaged, disaffected and cynical, well, there is your answer," Mr Higgins said.
Concerns about employment, the future of the economy and a belief that university courses should be free have also been identified as major priorities for the 800 people who took part.
Reform of the Leaving Certificate was needed because it emphasised rote learning and failed to prepare students for "active citizenship".
Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the views would be taken into account for the young people's strategy, which is currently being drafted.