The Mayor of Derry, Councillor Brenda Stevenson, could have some future contenders for her job after giving local schoolchildren a personal insight into the prestigious civic role this week.
Pupils from schools and colleges across the city flocked to the Guildhall for specially arranged visits to meet the city’s First Citizen and councillors as part of Derry City Council’s Local Democracy Week from October 13th-19th.
Praising the enthusiasm of the young students who took part in the popular educational visits, Councillor Stevenson said it had been a privilege to meet the pupils and help raise awareness of the roles and responsibilities of local government, and the work carried out on behalf of the City Council.
Stressing the need for elected representatives to listen to the voices of the younger generation, Councillor Stevenson said that Local Democracy Week was a great way for the youth of the city to learn how decisions are made at Council level “and what we are doing to make our city a great place to live, learn, work and do business in”.
Councillor Stevenson said one of the most enjoyable highlights of the events organised during Local Democracy week was the Young Persons’ ‘Question Time’ debate held in the Guildhall, when pupils got the opportunity to put local councillors on the spot about what they do to improve the lives of residents of the City Council area who elect them into office.
She explained that Derry City Council was currently undergoing an important transition to the new “super-council”, amalgamating with Strabane District Council, and this would create new challenges for the councillors elected to serve both areas.
Councillor Stevenson said: “Local Democracy Week is an annual European-wide campaign that aims to raise young people’s awareness of how local Councils operate. It informs them about opportunities for taking part in local decision-making and how their involvement in local affairs is crucial in upholding local democracy.
“I have been extremely impressed by the interest shown by our young people in how the Council operates. The pupils asked some fantastic questions and certainly kept us on our toes providing the answers. All in all it has been another very successful Council-led initiative.
“I think we have some very capable future politicians in our midst and I would encourage young people to seriously consider a career in local politics and help make a real difference to the lives of people within their own communities.”