DMYP's for United Kingdom Youth Parliament
The Annual Sitting 2010
The UKYP annual sitting 2010 was held over 23rd-26th 2010 at Ulster University, Northern Ireland. This is the first time the Annual Sitting has been held in Northern Ireland.
Elected Members of the youth parliament from all across the country came together at the event, the purpose of which was for the MYP's to take part in debates, such as voting at 16 which i will later refer back to. It was to also undertake workshops inorder to improve their understanding of modern politics, the use of social networking aswell as public speaking. we were also lucky enough to be visited by some very influential people within the political world.
Daily updates by Alex Huston and Connor Morgan, MYPs for Northern Ireland.
The Ulster University campus at Jordanstown is a buzz of activity; young people are walking around with white t-shirts on looking lost. The UK Youth Parliaments Annual sitting begins.
Two representatives from Northern Ireland welcome the group to Belfast. The assembled masses from the mainland were then taught some Northern Irish phrases. The 400 Members of the UK Youth Parliament (MYP) were shouting "what about ye?", "what's the craic" and "wind yer neck in". Charles Hendry, the Minister for Climate Change and the Environment and a long time supporter of the Parliament. He answered some rather fiery questions from young people about climate change and welcomed us to Jordanstown.
Rumours spread that Nick Clegg was coming to address the UKYP. The wild rumours were then crushed. Who will the high profile speaker be? Will shall find out tomorrow! We look forward to a fun packed weekend ahead and very little sleep.
After a night of very little sleep, an early rise this morning was exactly what no one wanted! After a very good breakfast, we went to our room to to take part in some great media training. After being trained on how to speak to journalists, who apparently are inherently lazy, we were given the task of ringing round some of our local papers and radio stations, to no avail. This gave us a great chance to experience first hand how to deal with the media.
The media training was followed by a short break then we made our way into the main hall, we had been told that a special guest speaker would be appearing, it turned out not to be just any speaker, but Mr John Bercow the Speaker of the House Of Commons. He presented a really inspiring and interesting speech, followed by a round of questions and answers.
Myself and Alex were then whisked away to a private lunch along with Mr speaker and other MYPs. It was a great honor for us to meet and have lunch with him, one of us was really flattered when Mr Bercow offered to share his carrot cake with her. We were then interviewed by BBC Northern Ireland, so after a hectic day and a night of little sleep, the bed is looking really appealing right now.
After even less sleep we rose to another great breakfast. MYPs then broke into groups to discuss UKYP's three main campaigns, Free For All (free university tuition fees) Get On Board (transport provision for young people) and Think Inside the Box (political education in schools.)
A plenary session was then scheduled for 1130 to debate and vote on the issue of Votes at 16. At the beginning a girl got up to talk about youth services in her area, this was the beginning of some drama. She announced to the parliament that all our youth workers and services were at risk from "savage cuts." This caused uproar in the hall, mainly in support.
After 10 minutes the plenary became significantly emptier. About 30-40 members walked out and could be found in a small lecture theatre drafting a statement about the proposed cuts in youth services. This caused some ill feeling during the Votes at 16 debate, but the debate went ahead with significant passion. MYPs seemed to be of the opinion that political education was a prerequisite to the vote being extended to 16 year olds.
After the drama of our plenary session a visit to Parliament Buildings at Stormont was well due. The lobby in Stormont was packed with young people and several Northern Irish MLAs: Anna Lo, Basil McCrea and the Deputy Speaker Francie Molloy. The meeting was addressed by Francie Molloy, Aaron Meredith (MYP for Northern Ireland) and Sam Ellis the Chair of the Board of Trustees. A group photo was then arranged out the front of the building. Local Members of the Parliament were then allocated to buses and guided a short tour around Belfast's sights.
All in all it was a dramatic day.
Well unfortuantely it has come to this day, the final day of the 2010 Annual Sitting. After our last early morning, for a long time, we made our way to the restaurant for breakfast. After our breakfast, we split off into campaign groups, or in our case, our final media rep training session, this was a great experience for both of us to receive great training, and we both want to thank Fiona for her hard work and dedication throughout the weekend.
When our session was finished we made our way to the main wall, for a series of speakers, first up was Mr. Tim Loughton, Under Secretary of State at the Department of Education. Unfortunately he was not able to attend in person, but instead appeared to us via video link. He presented a great speech and thanked us for the work we do, then followed a question and answer session.
Following Mr. Loughton's appearance, we were both humbled and honored to be addressed by who was without a doubt the most inspiriational and moving speaker, Gill Hicks, founder of MAD 4 Peace and a survivor of the 7/7 London bombings. She presented us with a moving story on how her life changed in the blink of eye and her philosophy on humanity and identity. There were very few dry eyes in the hall after her talk. Gill was the followed by our final speaker, Mr Robin Newton, a Junior Minister in the Office of the First and Joint First Minister.
We the made our way for our final lunch, and said our long goodbyes to the many friends we had made. This was a great experience for everyone involved, we learned some great lessons, and made new friends we will never forget. According to everyones status on facebook, they wish they were back in belfast, for myself and Alex that's not a problem.
We want to take this final opportunity to thank everyone who worked so hard this weekend, from our fantastic group of PGs, the dedicated and outstanding UKYP staff, our determined fellow Media Reps, the restaurant staff who helped stave off our hunger with great meals, and of course you, our fellow MYPs, who made this experience special for each and everyone present.