Some thoughts from Hope (NICCY Youth Panel member) in the run up to the March 2017 election. You can also read the Commissioner's election blogs here.
Election Blog - a young person's perspective
Once again we are facing yet another election and it has made me think...
Elections (and politics in general) make up such an intrinsic part of our society and affect us all -regardless of age. After all, these elections will appoint our education ministers - and who do they affect? Children and young people! Despite this I feel that we are being totally left out of the electoral process.
We are under 18 - and so legally cannot vote for the people who are going to affect us. It is also relevant that had we been allowed to vote for BREXIT it would have been a much fairer result (across the whole of the UK) as approx. 25% of the people leaving the EU had no say in the matter (whether they would have supported the result or not). By the time that the action goes through and we do leave the EU many of us will be of the voting age. It is our future and yet we had no say!
We are also not deemed important enough for the prospective MPs to talk to when they come to our doors - instead they look for our 18+ parents who can use their votes. Would it not be beneficial for them to have the insight to see that we are their future and so it is worth their time to talk to us?
It never ceases to amaze me how children and young people (teenagers in particular) are discounted and viewed as too 'terrible' to be fully included within the community. Therefore, to feel like valued members of our society, I believe that we should at least be kept informed of what is happening at Stormont - perhaps in a 'child-friendly' way for younger children - but kept informed all the same. And I don't mean being taught about the segregated political parties and constant arguing - but the important matters such as school boards having to change to CEA and same-sex blood donation (which anyone who is 17+ can do). Can anyone under 18 really say that they knew these issues were being discussed, let alone being passed? If we are included now it is more likely that we will want to be involved in the political process and vote in the future - and as a democratic country we all want that - dont we?
We may be the younger generation at the moment - but we will not always be. Perhaps then you will wish that you had spared the time for us on the doorstep.
Thanks for reading,
Hope (aged 16)