Ballymena girl Sarah McBride was part 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.
The young people in attendance were from a wide range of areas including Ballymena, Crumlin, East Belfast, West Belfast, Newry, Banbridge, Bangor, South Belfast, North Belfast, Lisburn and Dundonald. They were drawn from various NIYF projects to attend this event.
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 Dodds 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.
Sarah 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.”