To the Children and Young People with no vote - Your Voice Matters

Just because you can’t vote doesn’t mean your voice shouldn’t be heard.

When I have been out and about talking with you about having your voices heard within the NI Assembly and NI Executive I get mixed reactions. From “I want to go and tell them what it’s like to be young” all the way to “what’s the point they never listen”. 

I know many of you were disappointed when after the Brexit vote, the media reported that although more young people voted to remain than leave, the leave vote won. However, fewer young people actually voted overall. Since the Summer I have met young people under 18, who are frustrated that they don’t have a voice in elections, who would have voted, one way or the other, had they been given a chance.

And here we are, in the middle of another election campaign.  I am asking you what you want the Executive and NI Assembly to do to make this a place one where you get the best start in life and are supported through childhood and adolescence to grow up happy.  Have conversations with your parents, grandparents and other family members and friends who will be voting. Talk to them about the issues that you would like them to consider before they mark their ballots 1,2,3,4 and 5. 

When the leaflets and manifestos drop through the letter box have a read and think about which party and politician is speaking about the issues that matter the most to you.  Don’t just listen to what others are saying about this party or that party but make up your own mind and shares those views with the adults around you who will be voting. 

Issues of importance to children and young people are not often being talked about during the various elections debates so maybe it’s time to make sure that your voices get heard.

Being under 18 does not mean that you can’t have a say in what happens in Northern Ireland.  Your voice matters to the adults around you!