More than 60 sixth form students from schools in East and West Belfast got together recently to quiz their local MLAs on the issues affecting them, their schools and their communities. The panel was hosted by seasoned BBC Political Correspondent Martina Purdy and the event itself was held in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Assembly's Education Service and the Peace and Reconciliation Group.
As well as debating directly with their MLAs, the pupils also got the opportunity to take part in round table discussions where they were able to talk in more depth about education, health and employment. The event ended with a mock election where the students also got a chance to discuss and challenge traditional voting patterns.
Welcoming the young people to Parliament Buildings, the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly William Hay MLA said that he was very pleased to see this worthwhile event take place and noted that it was important that every opportunity is taken to encourage local young people to become involved with the democratic process and to engage directly with their elected representatives.
Not to be outdone, students from North and South Belfast will get their chance to pose those all important questions to their local representatives on Wednesday 28 November 2012. More information about the work of the Northern Ireland Education Service can be found on their website education.niassembly.gov.uk
Alban Maginness MLA and BBC Political Correspondent Martina Purdy look on as Michael Copeland MLA takes questions from the floor.
Students from East and West Belfast who took part in a recent "Let's Talk" event where they put questions directly to local MLAs. Pictured front row L-r are Michael Copeland MLA, Alban Maginness MLA, BBC Political Correspondent Martina Purdy, Rosaleen McCorley MLA, Stuart Dickson MLA and Sammy Douglas MLA.
Robin Newton MLA talks politics with sixth form students from East and West Belfast Schools.
Chris Lyttle MLA hears from East and West Belfast sixth form students.