MLAs urge teenagers to join shadow ‘Youth Assembly’ to have their say in government
MLAs are inviting 90 teenagers from across Northern Ireland to see if they might be able to do a better job of running the country - by forming a shadow Youth Assembly.
It will effectively be a shadow assembly of young people who will be consulted by MLAs on a wide range of issues. Executive parties reached a consensus on the matter in the Assembly Commission.
Its Chairman, and Speaker of the House, Alex Maskey said it was “a big statement of confidence” in young people.
He added: “I am genuinely looking forward to meeting the new members of the Youth Assembly, chairing their meetings and seeing the enthusiasm that I know they will bring to this.
“Too often young people have felt that they do not have influence on the laws and programmes that directly affect them. The Youth Assembly aims to change this—and I know that our society will be better for their involvement. I urge all young people to apply and get involved.”
Northern Ireland is the last assembly in the UK or Republic of Ireland to implement such a project, he said.
A memorandum of understanding is to be drafted to define exactly how the teenagers will relate to the various arms of government at Stormont.
Applicants will be required to submit a brief ‘pen portrait’ or profile of themselves with the name of a referee and will then be selected on an anonymous basis.
Successful applicants will not represent any party but will be free to define themselves as they wish.
Three candidates will be selected from each assembly constituency and after equality screening, a further 36 candidates will be carefully selected to ensure balance.
The Youth Assembly will be able to set its own agenda but will also deal with topical issues.
Applicants must be between the ages of 13 and 17. During the initial two-year term, there will be two sittings in Parliament Buildings each year which will be chaired by the Speaker, Mr Maskey.
Members will also participate in other meetings throughout the year to discuss their views in greater detail.
Successful applicants will be offered a range of training about the way the Assembly works, making presentations, conducting research and talking to experts about issues of concern. Those who apply but are not selected will have the chance to join a Youth Assembly Consultation Forum.
For more information see: http://www.niyouthassembly.org/
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