Justice Minister David Ford has said that young people should be a key priority for all branches of government.
The Minister was speaking at the launch of the Antrim Youthways Project, which is a community based programme funded by the Big Lottery.
David Ford said: “As Justice Minister it is always a great pleasure to visit innovative projects which aim to make a difference to the lives of young people. Antrim Youthways has tackled the problems associated with young people who have disengaged from formal education and already the project has shown signs of success.
“Young people are the foundation for our future. It is right that we identify their needs and help them make positive contributions to our community. In my own department, through the work of Policing and Community Safety Partnerships, young people have shown that they are willing and able to be positive role models. The recent launch of an innovative smartphone App shows that it is possible to engage and motivate young people.
“For those who have come into the justice system, through the Youth Justice Agency, we have a number of programmes to reduce youth crime by working with children to address their offending behaviour and assist their integration into the community. An important aspect of this work is working in partnership with other statutory and community groups. Through effective partnerships can we can make a real difference to the future of these young people, and to the safety of our communities.”