Amy Lecky and Leah O’Reilly from Crumlin were members of a group of young people from the Northern Ireland Youth Forum who have just returned from an information trip to the European Parliament in Strasbourg to meet MEPs and decision makers.
The group, made up of 18 young people aged 14-21 plus two members of NIYF staff, spent three days taking in the historical and cultural sights, touring the parliament and taking part in education workshops.
The trip was sponsored by Northern Ireland’s longest serving MEP, the Ulster Unionist Party’s Jim Nicholson.
Project leader, Neil Symington said: “The trip has been a year in the planning and represented an important step for young people, in meeting decision makers at a European level. Issues such as mental health, unemployment, education and agriculture are all issues that deeply interest young people across Northern Ireland and many decisions regarding these issues are being taking at a European level. We want to thank Jim Nicholson and his assistant Kerry Gilbert for sponsoring the event and being great hosts.”
The trip included historical and cultural visits, a tour and education workshops at the European Parliament. Another Northern Ireland MEP, Diane Dodd from the DUP, took time out of her schedule to get the group early access to the Parliament for a sit down discussion with her.
Leah said: “Before the trip I had limited knowledge about the work of the European Parliament, but going to Strasbourg really opened my eyes to the amount of decisions and negotiations that happen at a European level, also there are lots of opportunities to influence some of these decisions.”
The Northern Ireland Youth Forum is run by young people and is all about young people. Any young person aged 11-25 can get involved.
It was set up in 1979 by the Department of Education to represent the views of young people to government and other decision makers. It receives funding from the Department via the Youth Council for Northern Ireland.
They believe that all young people have ideas and opinions worth listening to and want to help them get involved in changing things in their school, community and society.
For more information visit www.niyf.org, call 02890 331990 or email firstname.lastname@example.org