“I welcome the publication of this report by the Fresh Start Panel as it serves to highlight many important issues. These are often a legacy of the past, but continue to affect our children and young people today.
“I have heard from children and young people from across Northern Ireland, who have told me about the continued and ongoing activity by paramilitary organisations and the extremely detrimental impact this is having on their lives.
“Children and Young People have also consistently voiced their frustrations at being excluded from ongoing discussions about the Northern Ireland Peace Process, despite them being directly affected.
“I particularly welcomes the Report’s emphasis on the need for a joined-up approach across Government to prevent young people being drawn into paramilitary activity, including measures to support ‘at-risk’ individuals and a focus on tackling the underlying issues that puts some young people at a higher risk of recruitment.
“Aligned with this will be the prioritisation of steps to improve the educational and employment prospects of children and young people in deprived communities, focusing particularly on those who are at greatest risk of educational under-attainment.
“It is encouraging that the Report recommends work to be taken forward within schools but also importantly within local communities through youth work.
“This must be the start of an open and transparent engagement with children and young people about the Troubles, its legacy and its enduring impact on the lives of children and young people in Northern Ireland today.