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Schools get political during Local Democracy Week

04 October 2017

Pupils from across the Derry and Strabane Council District had the opportunity this week to take some of our politicians to task over a range of issues as part of Local Democracy Week, running October 2 - 6.

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh, threw open the doors of the Guildhall and welcomed children from schools from all over the District to mark the European Campaign which teaches young people how local Councils operate.

A number of elected representatives also braved the chance of getting detention and went back to school for the day for a grilling from the next generation of voters.

This is the tenth year of the campaign, and Cllr McHugh said it had been an opportunity for local representatives to meet with the next generation and help instil an interest in local politics. “We have had a fantastic response from our schools this year, and I was honoured to welcome so many young faces to the Guildhall where they had a chance to sit in the Council chamber and find out more about the workings of local government.

“They certainly put our councillors through their paces, and it was refreshing to hear more about their aspirations for the future of Derry and Strabane. The needs of our Children and Young People are a strong focus of our Community Plan – the Strategic Growth Plan – for Derry and Strabane. We want them to have a strong voice in our plans for transforming the region, so this is a great way to engage and reinforce the message that our young people have a real role to play.”

Local Democracy Week informs school pupils about opportunities for taking part in local decision-making and, as a result, draws attention to how their involvement in local affairs is crucial in upholding local democracy. Local children this week took part in a number of planned activities including drawing a Portrait of the Mayor, revealing what they would do if “I were Mayor for the Day”, and engaging in light hearted debate and also a tour of the newly refurbished Guildhall.

Now in its 10th year the event is going from strength to strength offering the opportunity for hundreds of local children to find out more about the mechanisms of local government and meet their local representatives. Due to demand the events will continue on into next week, with more schools taking part.