Three Wallace High School pupils , Stephen, Ryan and Jamie, recently took part in the 24th Annual Northern Ireland Youth Parliament.
The event, organised by the Belfast Junior Chamber of Commerce, was held in Belfast’s City Hall. The day began with a welcome address bythe Lord Mayor of Belfast, Tom Eakin, in which he encouraged the 50 particicpants to take an active role in working together to build a better future for the province.
The theme for the “parliamentary” debate of the day was “This House believes that Pharmaceutical companies are doing their best to promote access to life saving drugs in developing countries”, a debate which was very fitting as it coincided with World Aids Day.
Ryan, a Lower Sixth pupil studying Maths, Further Maths, German and Physics at Wallace explained, “All three of us had spent some time reserching this topic and we were very keen to hear what the visiting speakers had to say. ”
Lower Sixth Stephen, who is studying Chemistry, Maths , Further Maths and Physics, and who along with Ryan enjoyed considerable success in last year’s Belfast Civic Trust Debating Competition, went on,
“The first speech was by Andrew Curl, Deputy Director General on the Association of the British Pharmecutical Industry, who commented on drug companies’ work to help developing countries whilst also drawing attention to the fact that responsibility must lie with governments. The second speaker was Paul Braithwaite, the International Projects’ Director with Trocaire who looked at the massive profit margins enjoyed by the pharmecutical industry. Following the speeches we had the opportunity to question both speakers.”
Jamie, a fifth year GCSE student explained, ” We were then divided into three groups to examine social, medical and economic aspects of the topic. I was nominated as a representative for my group and following ninety minutes of preparation and discussion, gave a short speech during the final debate. Each group had a local politician as a group leader. The youth parliament was an excellent way to meet other young people from across the province and to get to know our politicians.”
Ryan concluded, “The final debate was very enjoyable with many interesting aspects being discussed in a mature and challenging way. In the end, an overwhelming majority voted against the motion that the drug companies are doing enough . Meeting the NI politicians and taking part in debate in the very grand surroundings of the City Hall certainly made the day very memorable .We’d all like to thank Mrs Gowdy for organising it.”
Last modified: June 16, 2020