It drew an angry response both from republicans, who said that I was denying agency to an adult, and from loyalists, who said that he was an articulate and important voice.
Let me then re-phrase my criticism in a more constructive way.
It is good to see young people in politics, but societies rightly give weight to experience and age.
It is why you cannot do things such as smoke until you are 16, vote until 18, or, in the US, drink until 21.
It is why safety experts say that young drivers are more likely than older to be reckless until their mid 20s, when the part of the brain that understands of risk fully develops.
When I was a teenager I was keen to get behind the wheel, and I recall being depressed to find that some insurers would not cover drivers under 30 for faster cars (which then appealed to me, but has long since not done).
Respect for age is why you can’t be a US senator until 30.
So while Joel Keys is articulate, I still do not think him a credible witness for MPs. Instead, if bright young unionists want to fight republicans, they should get a law degree — as Jamie Bryson is doing.
Republicans have for decades known the importance of law. They are increasingly adept at exploiting ‘rights’ provisions to advance political, almost constitutional, change.
I see no emerging generation of lawyers inclined to argue against this very serious development.
• Ben Lowry (@BenLowry2) is News Letter deputy editor
Other articles by Ben Lowry below, and beneath that information on how to subscribe to the News Letter:
• Ben Lowry May 15: Edwin Poots and Doug Beattie will offer two distinct shades of unionism
• Ben Lowry May 8: Formal UK ideas for an amnesty are almost exactly 20 years old
• Ben Lowry May 8: Let us hope that the brilliant Eoghan Harris keeps on writing
• Ben Lowry May 1: Unionism can’t just be about managing long-term defeat
• Ben Lowry April 17: DUP still has to choose between managing this disaster or total rejection of it
• Ben Lowry April 10: His enduring marriage to the Queen was key to our understanding of Prince Philip
• Ben Lowry Mar 20: We have made it through the worst of the dark, dreaded winter lockdown
• Ben Lowry Mar 20: MLAs lost control of abortion by rejecting modest law reform
• Ben Lowry Mar 13: Scotland tunnel isn’t fantasy, but something kids of today might see
• Ben Lowry Mar 6: The cost of victims’ pension has ballooned without explanation as to why
• Ben Lowry Feb 20: We still lack answers as to why IRA funeral got special treatment at Roselawn
• Ben Lowry Feb 13: Peter Robinson has long experience of what is and is not politically feasible
• Ben Lowry Jan 30: At last, clear reason for UK and unionists to stop being weak towards Ireland/EU
• Ben Lowry Jan 16: The Irish Sea border was imposed because UK knew unionists would take it
• Ben Lowry in 2020: Last night unionists celebrated a move towards Irish unity
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