Alliance Councillor Eóin Tennyson has said he is delighted to see the Northern Ireland Youth Assembly finally get up and running, adding those involved must seize the opportunity to address issues important to them.
Championed by Alliance over the past few years, the move finally allows young people the same opportunities as their counterparts in England, Scotland and Wales, and comes after proposals where first approved in 2011.
Eóin added: “Being young should never be a barrier to politics and as a young Councillor myself, I only wish the Youth Assembly could have been in operation earlier – too many voices of the future could have slipped through the cracks and will be now never be heard.
“The Alliance Party has always championed the rights of young people. From campaigning for votes at 16, to consistently pushing for the Youth Assembly get up and running earlier, I’m proof of how invested they are in promoting young voices.
“And this has the added impact of our Councillors pushing ahead to help young people in the area and I’m hoping to see a Youth Council launched in my own council area (Armagh, Banbridge, Craigavon) for local engagement.
“We must do all we can to encourage young people, our future leaders, to take an active interest in the world around this today. A youth Assembly is a fantastic setting to encourage debate and allow our young people to opportunity to hold their elected representatives to account. They must not be weary of pursuing their own agenda and really making their mark on the issues that matter to them.
“Over the coming two year period the Alliance Party is looking forward to engaging further with the Youth Assembly and we hope to see an inclusive body, reflective of our society today.”