Westminster candidates Máirtín Ó’Muilleoir (SF), Ross Brown (NI Green Party) and Rodney McCune (UUP) were among a team of politicians facing tough questions from an audience of 17- and 18-year old students from a range of schools at the Integrated Education Fund’s “Youth Hustings” at Lagan College on Monday (23 March 2015).
The panel also featured Fearghal McKinney (SDLP) Paula Bradley (DUP) and Chris Lyttle (Alliance). Broadcaster and journalist Jim Fitzpatrick chaired the event and the audience was drawn from Lagan College, Grosvenor Grammar School and Ashfield Girls and Boys Schools.
The students challenged the platform party on issues concerning culture and identity, employment, and education. Pupils contributed their own opinions through an electronic voting system run by LucidTalk polling company. The polling revealed that the vast majority of young people felt that the two main traditions in Northern Ireland do not respect each other and that most wanted to see the voting age lowered to 16. It also revealed that only
36% see their long-term future as being in Northern Ireland. The youth hustings is the latest event in the IEF’s youth engagement programme, bringing young people of all backgrounds and traditions together to discuss issues which are important to them and to encourage participation in political life and democracy in Northern Ireland.