19 May 2004

A delegation of almost 30 young people aged between 13 and 18 from the organisation Children in Crossfire, were at the commissioner's new Belfast offices, as part of a fact-finding visit to Belfast, Dublin and London.

Barney McNeany, Chief Operating Officer with the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, welcomed the group to the commissioner's officers in Belfast city centre.    

"We were delighted to welcome Children in Crossfire as our first visitors to our new offices," he said. "The offices haven't as yet been officially opened, but this was a great opportunity to have an international group of young people see what we are doing and here what the commissioner is planning in the future as we work for and with children and young people."  

Marlene Kinghan, Head of Communications and Participation at the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, gave a short presentation of the work of the Commissioner and encouraged the group to share some of the issues that were of concern to them in their communities.  

"It was interesting to witness the exchange of experiences between young people from Belfast and Derry with their counterparts in Kenya and Colombia.  

Marlene added:  

"Hearing about the work of Children in Crossfire once more confirmed to all of us here at the commissioner's office, that no matter what circumstances children and young people are in, they have much to offer when we take the time to listen to them, they bring tremendous vitality and creativity to all situations."  

Richard Moore, Director of Children in Crossfire, said the work of the commissioner to date was an inspiration to many organisations.

"What we have heard today energises us as a group. We believe that the work of the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People sets an example of how children and young people themselves can take part in a creative process that can impact at the highest level."  

ENDS  

For further information contact the Press Office:

Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People 028 90 316397.  

Notes to Editors:

The visit to Northern Ireland of children from Kenya, Columbia, and Ireland, started at the Verbal Arts Centre in Londonderry at an international summit organised by the charity, Children in Crossfire.

The Summit runs from May 15th ­ 24th and the children will visit Belfast, Dublin Hereford and London Each group will share the work they have been doing to improve their lives and the lives of their respective communities

The children hope to learn from each-other during the visit by hearing about each others experiences. 

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Teresa Devlin, Head of Research and Service Review, from the office of the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People welcomes Richard Moore, Director of 'Children in Crossfire' and an international delegation of young people, who visited the offices of the Commissioner during a 10 day summit for young people taking place in Ireland and the UK. The children were from Colombia, Kenya, Northern Ireland, England and the Republic of Ireland.