Young people across Ireland have their say on BrexitNorthern Ireland Youth Forum
Young people angered by the fact that they have had no say on the issue of Brexit staged a special North South Youth Forum ‘Have Your Say’ Day in Belfast on Monday, February 20.
Over 80 young people from across the island of Ireland attended the evening conference exploring how the decision to leave the EU will affect their lives.
The event was organised by members of the Northern Ireland Youth Forum (NIYF) in partnership with Mayo Comhairle na nÓg providing a youth lead approach to creating space for young people to have a say on an issue that will effect the rest of their lives.
NIYF Director Chris Quinn said: “There has been a lot of frustration and anger at the way young people have been shut out of discussions and dialogue about the repercussions of Brexit. They were recently excluded from a Brexit event in Dublin and were not invited to the Taoiseach’s all-island forum in November; they have been locked out of similar discussion organised by the British Secretary of State. The implications of Brexit will have serious implications for future generations and it is important that the voice of young people is heard in the debate over the coming months and years.”
NIYF Chair, Tara Grace Connolly wrote a letter of protest to the Taoiseach at the exclusion of the representatives of young people from the all-island forum.
She wrote: “We are concerned that young people have been excluded from discussions in relation to Brexit. We continue to be voiceless in relation to possibly the biggest political change in generations. We are concerned that it will be young people who will ultimately be left to deal with consequences of emerging negotiations yet we have no voice in them.
“We are the future; the leaders of the post Brexit era. We want to be more than passive recipients of the changes that are about to be negotiated. There are a number of areas that we are concerned about that need brought to the forefront of discussions by young people, for young people.”
The NI Commissioner for Children’s and Young People, Koulla Yiasouma was at the event and has agreed to raise the issues discussed by young people at meetings she attends on the issue.
- Key issues that young people discussed included:
- European Citizenship;
- European Funding – roads; transport; youth projects; peace building etc;
- Impact on The Good Friday Agreement;
- Young People’s Rights;
- Sectarianism; Racism & Xenophobia;
- Peace; Health; Agriculture;
- Economy; Work; Trade; Jobs; Visas
- The potential impact of a Hard Border;
- Free movement of people:
- Transport infrastructure;
Following the event NIYF Exec members attended a Joint Forum meeting where Brexit was Discussed with Government Officials and Voluntary Sector Reps where there was a strong call for civic engagement in NI on the issue.
The call was clear – there needs to be more grass roots engagement and all of this needs fed into NI Assembly Departments and to the Executive Office who are currently scoping the potential impact of Brexit across all areas of their work.
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