A group of young people urged politicians to “listen up” when they presented MLAs with a report from an event to raise young people’s voices in the political sphere.
MLAs Colin McGrath, Kellie Armstrong, Colm Gildernew and Mike Nesbitt, along with Councillor Rachel Woods gathered at Stormont on Monday (04 March) to meet Laura McCance, Stuart Irwin and Michael Lynch of the Integrated AlumNI, Richard Lemon of the Integrated Education Fund and Nancy Eaton, a past pupil of Lagan College who compiled the ListenUP! – Young People’s Voices report.
The booklet is drawn from conversations at the ListenUp! event which took place on the 15th of November 2018. It was hosted by the Integrated AlumNI and it brought together 80 people aged 16-30 from a variety of youth groups and schools to question and challenge politicians. Representatives from the five largest NI parties listened to round-table discussions on topics such as education, mental health, and a vision for the future, before being invited to give feedback on what they had heard. Politicians then signed a pledge to engage further with young people and to continue the conversation.
The report reminds politicians of that pledge and also reflects the comments, questions, concerns and challenges voiced at the round-table discussions last November.
Presenting the publication, Michael Lynch commented:
“The aim of the ListenUP! Event was to develop engagement between politicians and young people. We are grateful to the politicians for being part of this valuable process. We want to encourage a new type of inclusive politics for the young people of Northern Ireland, and we think that this report is a refreshing reminder of what they want for their home.”
Commenting at the November ListenUP! event, Mike Nesbitt UUP MLA said:
“The panel of all these parties shows that if we go away for five years or five minutes and come back we will still be Republican, Nationalist, Unionist, Loyalist and Other and we have to build relations and work together. You have shown me I have to work harder at relationships – YOU can do that and you have shown me that.”
Kellie Armstrong Alliance MLA added
“The young people weren’t afraid to challenge. It always strikes me that people coming from outside tell people here how great Northern Ireland is… we need to start saying that ourselves. This event has told us things … you have a strong voice and don’t lose that.”
To see further information and photographs from the ListenUp! event click here.
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