Sinn Féin South Down Assembly election candidate Caitríona Ruane believes additional resources must be made available to fund more imaginative initiatives for young people. Ms Ruane made her comments after the findings of a survey entitled 'Young people's views on youth-friendly facilities in east Cork' were published earlier this month.
Ms Ruane said:
"All too often teenagers are made convenient scapegoats for many of society's ills. Undoubtedly, anti-social behaviour and youthful delinquency has become more widespread but this should not hide the fact that the vast majority of young people play a very constructive and positive role in most walks of life.
"According to this survey of 13-18 years olds in Cork, many young people complained that if they weren't involved in sports activity, there was nothing for them to do and were frequently bored. I have no doubt that if a similar survey were conducted here in South Down the responses would be very similar.
"82 per cent of those questioned considered 'hanging around' with their friends a recreational activity, but many believe there is a serious shortage of suitable places where they could do so safely. The most popular request from young people was for recreational facilities such as cinemas, pool halls, swimming pools and Astro turf pitches.
"In places like Galway, youth cafes have been established which cater exclusively for young people under the age of 18 and provide a safe, warm, and alcohol-free environment where young people can meet with each other and socialise in a very relaxed way.
"These types of drop-in centres have proven extremely successful and would benefit teenagers here in South Down. In Galway, the Health Services Executive (HSE) partly funds this initiative and provides information and advice on a range of issues. Such imaginative schemes can make a significant difference to the lives our young people." ENDS