Speech by the Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley to the Girls’ Brigade Northern Ireland, at the official opening of GB headquarters buildings in Antrim


Thank you Morva for inviting me here today and thank you Adrian. But most of all thank you to everyone involved in Girls’ Brigade Northern Ireland for giving me the opportunity to meet you all here today in what is a wonderful new headquarters building.

Before moving on, does anyone here remember the music scene in the 1990s? Well even those who don’t, or don’t want to remember it, or who weren’t about at the time might have noticed the return of the Spice Girls.

So it only appropriate for me to say that today’s official opening really is a sign of Girl Power!

Yes, Scary, Sporty and all the other Spice Girls may all be a wee bit older, but when they declared Girl Power in the 90s it could have been seen as being a very positive statement of what Girls can achieve when they set their minds to it!

And they have a few pounds in earnings to prove it worked for them!

Some of you may know that prior to becoming Commissioner for Children and Young People I was a politician. During that time I worked to help make sure more women – no matter what party they supported – became involved in politics and had positions of, well, ‘girl’ power!

Now as Commissioner, among my many jobs and responsibilities I have one real key task. That is to make sure the voice of children and young people is heard in the decisions that affect their lives. Having a say is the key to having girl power.

That is why it was so important to me to come along today to this official opening.

The Girls’ Brigade has a long tradition in supporting girls in their development and helping them develop through the ranks, engendering community spirit and developing their capacity.

And it is when children and young people are supported that they can truly have a say.

This new building and its great facilities are a further way that can be achieved. But mostly it is the work of staff and the commitment of the many volunteers that the support to children and young people is achieved.

114 years ago in Dublin the Girls Brigade started out on a journey, during which it has adapted and adopted to changing circumstances and increasingly diverse society. That it has survived and grown is a tribute to those early visionaries. That it is organised now on every continent is again tribute.

But I want to pay tribute to all of you for your commitment to the future through this new building. It may just be a building, but it is a positive symbol of progress towards tomorrow for everyone in the Girls Brigade of Northern Ireland. Congratulations on your Girl Power.

Thank you