Killyleagh Student Welcomes Moves To NI Youth Assembly

Assembly Speaker Alex Maskey To Hold New Advisory Group For an NI Youth Assembly.

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Assembly Speaker Alex Maskey To Hold New Advisory Group For An NI Youth Assembly.

Alex Maskey MLA, Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, will hold the first meeting of the new Youth Assembly Advisory Group today.

The Advisory Group has been set up to advise the Speaker on what is needed to establish, implement and review the development of the Youth Assembly.

During its first meeting, the Group will consider the recruitment process for Youth Assembly members to advise and assist the Assembly Commission before it formally decides on the arrangements.

Alex Maskey MLA, said: “Excellent progress has already been made in the development of the Youth Assembly. Since we announced the Commission’s plans to establish the Youth Assembly, a great deal of work has been undertaken, particularly in relation to engaging with, and involving, young people in the decision-making process.  The creation of this new Advisory Group is another important step forward.”

A shot in the arm for Northern Ireland politics: James Savage, a mental health student nurse who has worked on the front line, gets his Covid-19 vaccine. He strongly supports the setting up of an NI Youth Assembly.

James Savage Welcomes Progress In Setting Up NI Youth Assembly

Welcoming the establishment of the Youth Assembly, Killyleagh nursing student James Savage said: “When I was at school at Blackwater Integrated Academy I got involved in youth politics back then. I eventually reached the Youth Parliament at UK level.

“This experience really helped me get get a good understanding of political life. It certainly gave me the confidence to get involved. It offered a range of benefits and skill opportunities such as getting to grips with policy formation, and understanding national, regional and local government.

“Involvement in such a Youth Assembly would also develop leadership skills and the opportunity to speak up in front of people certainly boosts confidence and self-esteem. Our politics is very much driven by a culture of older men and it is great to see the doors opening for youth to get involved.

“Young people have often very developed political views despite their age and they do feel put off by being put down.”

James said this was also a great opportunity for entry into political life through the various political parties. Being on a Youth Assembly will therefore help them make decisions and generally create an input into the decision-making process.

“Young people at 16 are paying taxes often and NI Contributions and should have a say in the political life of their society. That is how they will learn and become good, active citizens. They are old enough to vote at 18 so should be included in the political process but have been generally left out and have little say in how decisions are made,” said James Savage.

He added: “The NI Youth Forum has done excellent work in helping to bring this forward and that is testimony to what young people can achieve. I was involved in the early developments of this forum and it certainly gave me a great boost in confidence and understanding about how government works… and at times, doesn’t!”

Maskey Is Encouraged By The Enthusiasm of Youth Participants.

Alex Maskey MLA said: The members of the NI Advisory Group are drawn from a wide range of organisations and include young people themselves. Each of the members brings valuable experience and knowledge from across the youth sector. 

“In the conversations I have had with members of the group individually in recent months, I am really encouraged by the enthusiasm to support the Assembly Commission in getting the Youth Assembly up and running.

“The Youth Assembly will give young people a voice; a way to raise concerns and have their say on the issues that matter to them. 

“And we intend to launch the recruitment process for Youth Assembly Members over the next few months.

“I would urge all young people to consider applying and making the most of what will be a fantastic opportunity, both for them and indeed society as a whole.”