MP calls for youth summit following Belfast Telegraph survey
Published 12/06/2014 | 02:30
Shadow Secretary of State Ivan Lewis has proposed a special summit to tackle issues highlighted in a recent Belfast Telegraph youth poll.
They include finding that two-thirds of young people wanted to live outside Northern Ireland and generally further afield than the UK or Ireland.
Mr Lewis raised the issue yesterday in the House of Commons and got the thumbs-up from Secretary of State Theresa Villiers.
She herself quoted an article in the Belfast Telegraph, written by Prime Minister David Cameron, as evidence of the Government's determination to help solve the problems of economic under-achievement and sectarianism.
Mr Lewis used his slot during Northern Ireland question time to press home his point.
He asked Ms Villiers if she would "agree with me that a successful shared future largely depends on the younger generation", before referring to our LucidTalk poll which was published in April.
He said: "A recent poll in the Belfast Telegraph suggested that two-thirds of young people want to leave Northern Ireland for good, with many citing sectarianism as one of the reasons.
"Does she agree with me that a summit of politicians, businesspeople, civil society and representatives of young people should be convened urgently to begin to address this crucial issue?"
Ms Villiers replied: "I am sure such a summit would be helpful in looking at these matters.
"I think it is key to make progress on addressing sectarianism but also in addressing that very grave concern that he has raised. Rebuilding the economy and rebalancing the economy is crucial."
Last Wednesday Mr Lewis addressed a group of students from Queen's University visiting Westminster as part of a a business leadership course.
"When we had a show of hands the majority of them said they would ideally be leaving Northern Ireland," he said.
"If Northern Ireland is to have a bright future both in terms of the economy, in terms of the entrepreneurs of the future but also the high-calibre public sector workers of the future, whether it is doctors or nurses, (we have to keep these people here). Losing that amount of talent is very, very bad for Northern Ireland and you can't just leave it to chance that that will change.
"I want to pay tribute to the Belfast Telegraph for highlighting the issue.
"What your survey found is disturbing and concerning and I don't think we can just sit back and allow it to happen" Mr Lewis said.
He intends raising the issue with Ms Villiers at the earliest opportunity.