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Councillors say ‘Let’s Talk’ to local pupils

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Councillor Stephanie Quigley in conversation with local pupils during the Let’s Talk event.

Councillors and young people have come together for the annual ‘Let’s Talk’ event organised by Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council.

It took place on Friday, October 14th in the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre.

The engaging event, facilitated by BBC’s Mark Carruthers and Peter Osborne from Rubicon is held every year as part of the Council’s Good Relations Programme.

It provides pupils from local secondary schools with an opportunity to become more aware of their local elected representatives and question them on issues that are important to them.

Causeway Coast and Glens Mayor, Alderman Maura Hickey, said: “‘Let’s Talk’ offers an interactive space for politicians and young people to come together in a way that encourages debate. Young participants can put their Councillors on the spot, while Councillors benefit from meeting the voters of the future and by hearing their views and concerns.”

The event was well received by those who took part.

Matthew McLaughlin, a pupil at North Coast Integrated College, said: “It was an incredibly enlightening and thought provoking day, and an informal and unexpectedly enjoyable debate.”

Hannah Mullan and Bella Brolly from St Patrick’s College, Dungiven, said: “It gave us an insight into how the local Council affects us. We’ve come to understand many parties’ policies and people’s opinions, and it gave us a chance to talk to local politicians about subjects we care about. It has gave us an idea of who we would like to vote for when we are eligible.”

Mark Carruthers, who has been facilitating the event since it started, said: “Year after year it’s great to see young people engaging with their public representatives so enthusiastically. Politicians the world over are well-practised at dodging awkward questions from journalists – but it’s impossible to avoid answering questions from young people who are, of course, the voters of tomorrow. It’s always a very positive engagement and I think everyone leaves with new perspectives and opinions.”

This year, Council also chose the Let’s Talk event to launch a new DVD resource for schools, which has been created and funded by the Good Relations Programme. The DVD, entitled “HIDE or Seek?” complements a printed resource which was provided to schools last year. They have been designed to help pupils investigate history, identity, democracy and equality in the context of Northern Ireland as they prepare to register to vote.

Joy Wisener, Good Relations Officer with Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, said: “As always, we had a wide range of political opinion in the room, with good cross party representation and pupils sharing their views by voting anonymously with their digital handsets.  This event is great fun but also provides an important opportunity for young people to voice their own opinions and to hear a variety of political opinions, helping them to decide which party can best represent their needs.”

This project has received financial support from The Executive Office.

For further information, contact Joy Wisener at Council’s Coleraine office, telephone 7034 7034.

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