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The Northern Ireland Assembly Commission (the Commission) has today launched its plan to introduce a Youth Assembly for Northern Ireland.
The Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Chair of the Commission, Alex Maskey MLA, said: “I am delighted to announce today the Assembly Commission’s plans to establish a Youth Assembly. It will give young people a voice and an opportunity to have their say on the issues that matter to them. We must do more to encourage the next generation to get involved in politics and democracy here. The Youth Assembly will allow us to do that.
“The functions of the Youth Assembly are at an early stage, but deliberately so. We want to get young people involved as early as possible to help shape how it will work, what its priorities will be and what it will focus on. Young people’s involvement will be key to establishing a platform that meets the needs of the next generation, ensuring their voices are heard, their ideas considered and their visions valued.
“I would urge young people to grasp this opportunity to become active citizens. This is your chance to stand up for what you want and help change the things you don’t. As a young representative on the Youth Assembly, you will be right at the heart of democracy here.
“The Youth Assembly team will soon be asking young people for their views on what they want from a Youth Assembly. I am looking forward to getting the first Youth Assembly session up and running and chairing their first debate in the Assembly Chamber.”
The proposals for the Youth Assembly were developed following engagement with a wide range of stakeholders in the statutory, public and voluntary and community sectors as well as looking at youth forums in other jurisdictions.
Notes to editor:
- The Commission is the corporate body of the Northern Ireland Assembly. It is chaired by the Speaker, Alex Maskey and consists of five other Assembly Members: Keith Buchanan MLA, John O’Dowd MLA, Dolores Kelly MLA, Robbie Butler, and John Blair MLA.
- Members of the Commission recorded a video to show their support for the development of the Youth Assembly. You can watch it here: https://vimeo.com/440355360/0efe197303 The video can be downloaded and shared on media websites and social channels. It will also be uploaded to the Assembly’s social channels.
- It is proposed that the Youth Assembly will broadly mirror the structures of the Assembly:
- It will have 90 members, 54 of whom will be drawn from the Northern Ireland Assembly constituencies and 36 from specific sections of the community including Section 75 categories.
- The core age range of the members will be 13 to 17, but there will be an upper age limit of 21 to ensure diverse representation.
- It is envisaged that the Youth Assembly will have two plenary sittings a year and have up to four Committees, which will meet more regularly.
- The two plenary sittings are likely to take place in Parliament Buildings and will be presided over by the Speaker in the Assembly Chamber.
- The committees of the Youth Assembly may also meet in Parliament Buildings but it is expected that they will also meet in other locations.
- Comprehensive safeguarding measures and protections will be put in place, including training and support for the members of the Youth Assembly and all those working with them.
- Young people can register their interest and help shape the Youth Assembly at: http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/visit-and-learning/youth-assembly-2020/
The summary of the below is………….. I recognise the important role the Voluntary and Uniformed Youth Sectors play in supporting our young people and welcome your continued assistance in providing such support in new and innovative ways during this very challenging time.
I have agreed with Executive colleagues a programme of targeted activity during July and August, to support a range of children and young people. This includes permission for youth work settings who wish to do so to provide some limited activities, with a focus on 9-13 year olds and priority those known to youth workers who would most benefit from engaging in youth-led activities.
Peter Weir MLA
Minister of Education
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