A Derry schoolgirl is playing her part in the world of international politics this weekend after becoming one of only two young people representing the UK at the Youth Parliament in Greece.
Eighteen-year-old Nikita Harkin, who is Head Girl at Thornhill College, represents Foyle at the UK Youth Parliament and has recently been involved in debating the lowering of the voting age at Westminster.
The UK Youth Parliament programme in Northern Ireland is co-ordinated by the Northern Ireland Youth Forum on behalf of the British Youth Council.
“The British Youth Council is involved in an array of other activities as well and they elect two representatives to go to European Parliament level in Greece,” Nikita explained.
“I had to record a video asking people to vote for me and I was up against five other people from England so I put forward my application but I didn’t think I would have much of a chance because I wasn’t sure that young people in England would elect someone from Northern Ireland to represent them. I was totally surprised when I found out I’d been voted in.
“We had our first meeting in Berlin and I was surprised to discover that I’m one of the youngest people there. The other UK Representative is already at university studying politics so it’s mad to think that I’m here with them at all, but I’m really excited about it. It’s a two year position so I’ll be involved in policy and decision making here until October 2015. It means we do actually get a chance to make a difference and influence change so for me it’s something I’m really delighted to be a part of.”
Nikita, daughter of Tara and Daniel Harkin from Knightsbridge, will travel to Greece twice yearly until her term is up.
“One of those visits is during my A levels next year so it’s going to be really busy. I’d really liked to get involved more in politics as I get older although I’m not sure about running for election!” she smiles.
Read more about Nikita’s journey in Sunday’s Journal.