Speaking today after a meeting with representatives from the youth platform, the North South Youth Forum, Sinn Féin Senator Kathryn Reilly said:
“Today's meeting was yet another indication that young people, regardless whether they find themselves north or south of the border, are living the same realities. I have met with many youth groups and organisations in my role as Youth Affairs Spokesperson. What I hear time and again is that young people feel disenfranchised and marginalised when it comes to the Institutions and mainstream politics.
“Speaking to the representatives from the North South Youth Forum today, it is uplifting and inspiring to hear the ideas of young people on issues that are also a priority to us. A particular point that stood out for me is the huge need for cross party- cross border support so that they can do the work they want to do. We need commitment both north and south to stand behind and encourage their efforts. After all, they are citizens who will be influencing and shaping society in years to come. We need to applaud organisations such as the NSYF for taking responsibility and leading with courage and conviction. We in Sinn Féin commend their work. And we look forward to helping in whatever way we can in their future endeavours.”
Chris Quinn, NI Youth Forum Director, said:
“The development process for the North South Youth Forum has been a long one. Hopefully, our meeting today with Senator Kathryn Reilly, MLA Megan Fearon and TD Gerry Adams will be the first of a series of engagement with other political parties to garner support for our work.
“The North South Youth Forum is a platform for young people's participation across the Island of Ireland. The NSYF strives to do all that it can to make the lives of all the young people on this island better.
“The North South Youth Forum is a vehicle for consultation, cooperation and action within the island of Ireland - including on an all-island and cross-border basis; and is a mechanism for young people to work together on a range of issues of common interest, from education to sectarianism, and poverty to roaming charges.
“It is a place where young people will work together to take forward cooperation between both parts of the island to mutual benefit.
“To have a TD, MLA and Senator all in th eone room to discuss our issues with our young representatives was particularly pleasing and beneficial. Our aim is about developing a strategy around north/south work. The next stage now is operationalising that to ensure young peoples' voices are at the centre of decision and policy making process on an all- Ireland basis.
“There is a plethora of issues that push young people further and further to the margins of society. Through participatory politics we can try to shift some power into the hands of young people.
“Today was a great first step in that direction.”