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DUP 'committed to change after youth opinion poll'

The DUP has recommitted to transforming Northern Ireland for the better following revelations this week in a poll of young people carried out for the Belfast Telegraph.

Some of the shock views which we have uncovered include that two-thirds of our young people do not see their future in Northern Ireland.

The results which we reported during a week of coverage include:

  •  32.5% see their future in Northern Ireland
  •  65.3% do not think there is peace
  •  69.6% do not think our politicians are capable of agreeing a joint future vision for NI
  •  26.3% think NI has either not improved or got worse in the last five years
  •  50.3% believe our politicians are either very bad or totally useless
  •  82% believe non-segregated education is important for the future of NI
  •  83% are concerned about alcohol and drug abuse among their peers

North Down MLA Peter Weir said Northern Ireland has taken massive strides forward since he was a young man, but conceded that there is too much bickering in local politics.

This week the Belfast Telegraph hosted eight young people from across Northern Ireland as Guest Editors to engage with the hearts and minds of our youth.

They came from both sides of the religious and political divide and from state, Catholic, secondary and grammar schools.

The results of a survey of young people aged between 16 and 24 carried out for the paper by local polling company LucidTalk was published as part of the initiative.

Mr Weir commented on the findings, pointing out that when he was young, there was a "daily diet of bombings and shootings".

"There were no Belfast Tour buses when I was at university," he said. "We didn't see cruise ships sailing up Belfast Lough and we would never have envisaged something like the MTV awards in the province or the Giro D'Italia on our streets."

He accepted that there was too much bickering among politicians. "However, look at any coalition government in the world and you will see similar problems," he said.

"Some people forget that our form of government expects five parties to work together in one government and achieve speedy outcomes."

SDLP Foyle MLA Colum Eastwood said he believed there needed to be "proper investment in higher education".

"Some 15,000 of our young people leave Northern Ireland every year. That's a full university's worth of talent and ability," he said.

"Because there are not enough university places to cope with the demand here, what option do they have?"

One of the youngest councillors, UUP representative Alex Redpath said every region of the UK tends to lose young people when they go to university.

"What we need to do is make sure Northern Ireland has a strong vibrant economy so that when young people who have left to go to university, travel or seek employment elsewhere, have an incentive to come back," he said.

Belfast Telegraph