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Young people take over the assembly

23 October, 2008

Young people take over the assembly

The next generation of political leaders tried out the seats for size at the Assembly today when they took part in a unique youth debate.

Some 140 teenagers filled the Assembly Chamber for a debate on anti-social behaviour, underage drinking and drug taking.

The event, hosted by the Speaker of the Assembly, was organised by the Junior Ministers, Jeffrey Donaldson and Gerry Kelly, who have responsibility for children and young people, as an opportunity to hear directly from young people about issues affecting them as well as to encourage engagement with the democratic process.

Speaking afterwards Minister Kelly said,

"We have made it clear from that start that children and young people are one of the groups we want to give priority to.

"As an Executive we are committed to making positive changes for young people. Prioritising and protecting their rights and addressing their needs are key issues for all of us.

"We recognise the difficulties faced by teenagers, so it is important that the topic of today's debate, 'tackling anti-social behaviour', is an issue that young people have identified as being relevant to them.

"It can also have a huge impact on residents and communities by increasing fear and causing people to withdraw from their community.

"We will continue to work hard to bring real solutions that will support young people, so when they are vulnerable or in crisis and need help it is available and responsive to their specific needs." CRÍOCH

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