New book aims to educate young people on human rights


A book launched today by Amnesty Ireland offers teachers and students an opportunity to learn about human rights by taking part in artistic activities.

Voice Our Concern is a project being run by Amnesty Ireland since 2004. It is a human rights education project that targets secondary school children to engage with Irish artists.

(Picture: Conor McPherson)


(Audio interviews with Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty Ireland; Laura Cahill and Ciaran Brennan, students of Castleknock Community College, and their teacher Mary Ryan; and Sorcha Tunney, Human Rights Education Officer of Amnesty Ireland.)

Christy Moore, Conor McPherson, Roddy Doyle, Nick Miller and Sean Seawright are just some of the artists who have already worked with students.

In Castleknock Community College, students wrote a song with Christy Moore which envisaged a newcomer to Ireland’s shores and the difficulties such a person would face, while in Newpark Comprehensive in Blackrock, students and teachers engaged with Conor McPherson in a unique play titled First Person in Newpark. Conor McPherson himself explains more in the audio below. 

Speaking at the launch Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty Ireland said “Education is a primary tool in allowing people to understand the nature of their rights, to promote the rights of others, and to protect and defend their own human rights aswell”.

Conor McPherson echoed these comments. “I think this is a momentous time in our history. We need our young people to take us into the future. They need to have a sense of self-worth. They need to be the leaders. We need to imbue them with that because I think we can all agree we’ve been pretty much let down by a lot of the supposed bedrocks of our nation”.

The book launched today is essentially a guide for teachers to follow the work of Castleknock Community College and Newpark Comprehensive. It offers a lesson-by-lesson approach that incorporates human rights to subjects such as music, drama, poetry, photography, film and visual arts.

Many other schools throughout Ireland have been engaged with Amnesty on this project: in Dublin, Offaly, Meath, Galway, Kilkenny, Sligo, Limerick, Louth and Cork.

Now, however, schools can implement the ideas these lesson plans by using the book as a template. 

Colm O’Gorman concluded the launch by summing up the ethos of Voice Our Concern and Amnesty. “Working with the concepts that are at the heart of the foundation of human rights is so much an understanding of what it means to be human. [...] Nothing ever changed in this world without the concerted, passionate determination of individual people who decided that it needed to change. That’s what Amnesty is based on”.


(Audio: Full speech of Irish playwright Conor McPherson today)

Teachers and students can receive a copy of Voice Our Concern by emailing