County Derry students put local politicians through their paces

The panel of elected representatives from SDLP, Sinn Fein and DUP were quizzed by Mark Carruthers and students.
The panel of elected representatives from SDLP, Sinn Fein and DUP were quizzed by Mark Carruthers and students.

Roe Valley students recently took part in Limavady Borough Council’s annual Let’s Talk event, hosted by the BBC’s Mark Carruthers.

The event took place at the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural centre / Ionad Ealaíon agus Cultúir Ghleann na Ró last Tuesday.

Organised by Council’s Good Relations Programme funded by OFMDFM, the event saw pupils from secondary schools in the area quiz local councillors from Sinn Fein, SDLP, UUP, and the DUP.

And students from Limavady Grammar School and Saint Patrick’s High School, Dungiven were happy to take up the challenge as they put the councillors through their paces during the event.

The day began with a welcome from Limavady Mayor Gerry Mullan who later took his place on the panel as one of the SDLP representatives to face difficult questions from the politically curious students.

Joining Colr Mullan on the panel for question time was party colleague Alderman Michael Coyle, James McCorkell and Edgar Scott from the DUP, Tony McCaul and Dermot Nicholl from Sinn Fein and Jack Rankin from the UUP.

This year’s format was a little different from previous years’ as pupils had the perfect opportunity to quiz their elected representatives during a speed dating style exercise where councillors took it in turns to sit at each table for five minutes answering any questions thrown at them.

This led to great discussion and interaction between councillors and students resulting in many topics being raised including integrated education, lowering the voting age and party politics.

Patricia Cameron, Good Relations Officer for Limavady Borough Council praised the event.

She said: “Our annual Let’s Talk event aims to get young people more involved with and become more aware of their local Council.

“The event provides young people with the opportunity to put their local councillors on the spot while the councillors greatly enjoyed the opportunity to meet the voters of the future and hear their views and concerns at first hand.