Councillors quizzed by school children
LIMAVADY councillors faced a grilling from local schoolchildren at a recent event in the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre.
At Limavady Borough Council’s annual ‘Let’s Talk’ event, hosted by television personality Mark Carruthers, secondary school pupils from Limavady Grammar, Saint Mary’s, Limavady High School and Saint Patrick’s in Dungiven posed poignant questions to local elected representatives.
The day began with a welcome from Mayor Cathal McLaughlin who later took his place on the panel as one of the Sinn Fein representatives to face difficult questions from the politically curious students.
Joining Councillor McLaughlin on the panel for question time were party colleagues Tony McCaul and Brenda Chivers, Alderman Michael Coyle and Gerry Mullan from the SDLP, Edwin Stevenson and Jack Rankin from the UUP, and Deputy Mayor Alan Robinson from the DUP.
Pupils quizzed the councillors on many poignant issues including youth unemployment, suicide and the new Marie Stopes Family Planning Clinic in Belfast. Councillors answered the students’ questions which often lead to heated debate between the different parties and excellent facilitating from Mark Carruthers meant there was no escaping or avoiding the question.
This year’s event ended with an innovative display of Light Painting which was widely enjoyed by the students who attended.
Cathal McLaughlin, Mayor of Limavady, enthused about the young people he faced questions from, and described the event itself as a “great opportunity for ourselves and for the school children.”
He said: “It went very well - there were some real tricky questions, some really wide ranging questions. Youth unemployment was a big one. The questions about abortion were quite tricky.
“We were also asked whether the council was doing enough in terms of suicide prevention. That was another difficult question. I’m sure with recent events that is one that was quite fresh in the minds of a lot of young people. Is it up to the council to tackle suicide? Are the projects that are there at the minute sufficient? What can council do to support them? It is definitely a difficult subject and one that a lot of young people are obviously concerned about.
“I was very impressed with the children. It was very benificial to us to hear them and hear what they had to say. It was a great opportunity for ourselves and for the school children. Very rarely do we hear the views of young people. They will be casting their own votes in just a few years so it was very important for us.”
Alan Robinson, Deputy Mayor of Limavady, said: “I was very impressed with the kids and it was a great opportunity for us to engage with young people.”
Sinead Barr, Good Relations Officer for Limavady Borough Council praised the event. She said: “The Local Democracy Campaign aims to get young people more involved with and become more aware of their local Council. We believe the annual event is a good starting point in making the effort to bring politicians and young people together in a way that encourages debate and reciprocal respect.
“The event provides young people with the opportunity to put their local councillors on the spot while the councillors greatly enjoyed the opportunity to meet the voters of the future and hear their views and concerns at first hand. I believe the event to have been a great success and feedback from participants and councillors has been very positive”.
Limavady Borough Council is already looking forward to another successful Local Democracy event next year.
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Weather for Londonderry
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 8 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: North west