Inaugural Meeting of the First Youth Assembly for Northern Ireland
Session: Session currently unavailable
Date: 02 July 2021
Reference: SO 38/20/21
Today, 90 young people will come together in the first sitting of the newly formed Youth Assembly for Northern Ireland. Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Alex Maskey MLA will open the inaugural meeting of the Youth Assembly which will take place virtually.
Speaker Maskey said, “I am honoured and delighted to open the inaugural sitting of the Youth Assembly for Northern Ireland. The 90 young people attending today will make history as they officially become Youth Assembly members.
“While I would have wished the first sitting to be held in person, this is a hugely significant milestone. The Youth Assembly will provide young people with a way to have their say on issues that concern them, and enable them to engage directly with decision makers. As well as being a fantastic opportunity for young people, I believe that the Youth Assembly will both strengthen our local democracy and benefit society as a whole.
“I would like to thank all of the new members for their time, effort and commitment in applying, and congratulate them on taking the pledge today to become the first members of the Youth Assembly.
“I am delighted that the work of the Youth Assembly can now get underway and I look forward to meeting and working with members of the Youth Assembly over the coming months.”
Also attending the first sitting will be members of the Assembly Commission, who agreed plans for the creation of the Youth Assembly in 2020, Koulla Yiasouma, the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People and members of the Youth Assembly Advisory Group.
In the coming months, Youth Assembly members will be offered a range of training to help prepare and support them in their new roles.
Notes to Editors
- The Youth Assembly consists of 90 members, aged between 13 to 17.
- 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 have been put in place, including training and support for the members of the Youth Assembly and all those working with them. The names of the young people selected are not being made public at this early point while that initial support is being provided.
- The Commission is the corporate body of the Northern Ireland Assembly. It is chaired by the Speaker, Alex Maskey MLA and consists of five other Assembly members: Trevor Clarke MLA, John O'Dowd MLA, Dolores Kelly MLA, Robbie Butler, and John Blair MLA.
- The Youth Assembly Advisory Group was set up earlier this year to advise the Speaker and Commission about the establishment and development of the Youth Assembly and to review its operation. The Group’s membership includes the Speaker and the Children’s Commissioner, Assembly officials, Professor Laura Lundy, Director of the Centre for Children’s Rights, Queen’s University Belfast; Sean McDonnell, Youth Worker, Youth Network for Peace; Carter Wickham, YouthAction; Chris Quinn, Director, NI Youth Forum; Naomi Sloan, NI Youth Forum; Arlene Kee, Assistant Director, Education Authority Youth Service; Aimee Woods, Lisburn and Castlereagh Youth Council and Education Authority.
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