I recently attended a Political Question and answer session at my own school, St. Mary’s CBGS, on Friday 10th March 2017.
The political debate was greatly attended by politicians from around the north and from the main parties except for one.
The politicians that attended the event were Gerry Carroll – People before Profit, Robbie Butler – Ulster Unionist Party, Pat Sheehan – Sinn Fein, Tim Attwood – Social Democratic Labour Party, Emmet McDonough – Brown and Chloe Patterson – Green Party. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) failed to attend the event despite invitations being offered in several forms, including that of a phone call, a personalised letter and approaching the party’s press office.
The event was student-run, with great help from teachers at St Mary’s. The students that ran the event were Fionntan Austin, Carter Wickham and Tiernan O’Flaherty. They gave up all their break and lunch times over the past month to work hard and make this event possible. Mr Herron also played a key role in organising the event, working tirelessly with us to ensure the event passed off to the highest possible standard.
The event was run by St. Mary’s Social Justice Advocacy Group in conjunction with ‘The Political Network’. The Social Justice Advocacy groups is an extra-curricular group were work is done to fight against injustice, not just locally but also globally.
The debate was also linked in with Edmund Rice Education Beyond Borders, which aims to break down the borders across the world and to make sure all are receiving a standard of learning that they deserve and to establish connections with other Edmund Rice schools across the globe. Furthermore, ‘The Political Network’ is a business set up by the aforementioned pupils to allow the youth of Northern Ireland to get involved and interested in politics.
The event was run without fault, and could not have gone better. It shows that despite the serious amount of effort that was required, the young people of St Mary’s have the work ethic and perseverance to get it done smoothly. Along with politicians attending the event schools also attended. The event was attended by 3 other schools, Christian Brothers School (CBS), Methodist College and Malone College. The hall was completely packed out to the point that people had to stand.
The event ran from approx. 1.30 pm to 3.00 pm, during which each politician was asked the same question and each had three minutes to give their answer or views on the matter. After the three minutes were up the moderator (Carter) gave a sharp ring on a bell to let the politicians know their time has ended. This proceeded for an hour, and then the floor was opened up to the students to allow them to ask their questions.
After the event, the viewers were then given the opportunity to speak to their local representatives and get photos taken with them.
- What is the internal feeling in your party on the outcome of the snap election?
- How will your party approach either the challenging or the progression of the Irish Language act?
- What is your party’s opinion on the possibility of Direct Rule?
- If possible would they prefer the possibility of Joint Sovereignty?
- The majority of people here voted in favour of remaining in the EU. Many border communities are worried about the prospect of a Hard Border. What will your party do to ensure the wishes of the majority of people here are respected and considered in any deal on the exit of the EU?
- How do you and your party feel about the revamp of Casement Park?