Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Young deserve bright new future

Young people are not just aspirational, they are also inspirational. They are at a stage of life when their optimism has yet to be dented by the hard knocks of experience.

They see the world as a challenge, but one that they are up to. They feel they can change the world, and maybe they can if we will just listen to them.

This week this newspaper has let eight Young Editors loose on its pages to explore the issues that mean the most to them as well as to portray the interests that they have.

Alongside them we have also carried the results of an extensive poll into what young people feel about Northern Ireland today. Some of it makes depressing reading.

A significant number of 16-24-year-olds feel that their future lies outside Northern Ireland; a majority have little faith in politicians; young Protestants in particular are disenchanted with Northern Ireland and they see binge drinking and drug abuse as the real problems that their generation faces.

Our young editors have demonstrated that they are bright and questioning, and their interview with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness before he went to Windsor Castle for the banquet marking the first state visit by an Irish President to the UK revealed an astonishing admission from him.

He said that he was prepared to enter the very heart of the British establishment for the young people of Northern Ireland.

This did not appear to be a glib sentiment, but a real expression of his belief that attitudes here must change for the coming generations.

He and his power-sharing political colleagues at Stormont should heed the desire for change expressed by the young people in our newspaper this week.

Certainly the young will learn as they go through life that all the changes they want cannot be achieved easily, if at all, but their voices must be heeded by the politicians if only for selfish reasons.

The future does belong to the young and they have shown that they have a much more questioning attitude than many of their parents.

They really do want to see a new Northern Ireland or else many of them will leave it behind.

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