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Children to take over Stormont Assembly

31 January, 2008 - by Gerry Kelly


Children and young people are set to swap their classroom for the Stormont Assembly.

The move was announced by Sinn Féin Junior Ministers Gerry Kelly and Ian Paisley Jnr during their appearance before the OFMDFM Committee yesterday afternoon.

This initiative is one of many activities the two Ministers will undertake as part of a drive to ensure issues facing children and young people are kept high on the Executive's agenda.

Speaking at the meeting Junior Minister Kelly said:

"For the first time ever young people will be sponsored by MLAs to take part in an Assembly debate, during the Easter holidays, on a topic relevant to their generation.

"As champions for children we are committed to ensuring that their voices are heard and that we adopt an integrated approach across government in tackling the many issues which face today's youth.

"Child poverty is a key priority for the Executive and we are committed to delivering excellent public services to improve children's life chances and help break cycles of deprivation as well as supporting parents so they can confidently guide their children through the various stages of life."

The Junior Ministers also outlined some proposals contained in the draft work plan which details the actions they will take in driving forward the children's agenda during the next 12 months. This includes plans for high-level campaigns, further direct engagement with children and young people, anti-bullying measures and work on child poverty.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

Today's announcement follows last week's Executive decision to pump an additional £13million into services for children and young people over the next three years and £30million over the same period to the Department of Health for the implementation of the Bamford Review.

The Bamford Review looked at the law, policy and provisions which affect people with mental health needs or a learning disability including significant recommendations in relation to provision for children and young people.

Some £26million had already been allocated to specific work with children and young people in the draft budget for the next two years.

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