‘No future here’, say young people

St Michael’s College students who took part in Friday’s Let’s Talk Politics event held in the Westville Hotel.

St Michael’s College students who took part in Friday’s Let’s Talk Politics event held in the Westville Hotel.

OVER two thirds of young people in Fermanagh said they know someone who may take their own life while three quarters of students predicted they won’t be living locally in ten years time.

These are some of the shocking views revealed by local students as part of Peace and Reconciliation event held on Friday.


Secondary schools from across Fermanagh and Tyrone came together to discuss their views on politics and current issues while putting a panel of local MLAs under the spotlight.

Around 130 students from schools including Portora Royal School, St Michael’s College, St Fanchea’s College and Fermanagh Youth Council participated in the event.

A wide-range of issues – from the G8 to school exams and the rights of the lesbian and gay community – were among the topics put to the Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLAs Phil Flanagan, Ross Hussey, Tom Buchanan and Joe Byrne.

The day’s event gave an insight into how Fermanagh may look in the years to come.

Students and teachers were asked if they would support fracking in Fermanagh with just 3 out of 130 voters saying they would.

Alarmingly, 68 per cent of young people here said they know someone who may take their own life which was described as shocking by Sinn Fein panellist Phil Flanagan.

While three quarters of students said they won’t be living in Fermanagh in ten years time, almost half of the audience said they would move to find a better job, 21% felt the county is boring and 20% wanted to continue their studies elsewhere.


One student from Portora Royal School asked the panel to list the benefits of amalgamating schools, particularly Portora and the Collegiate Grammar.

Sinn Fein MLA Phil Flanagan said it was a very topical issue. “There’s a certain amount of resistance in families over this matter. It’s a decision that needs to be made by the Education Board but we need to take on the views of local people and families here.

“There are some subjects in schools which is making it unsustainable but if you bring three or four school classes together then it will help solve this problem.
“It’s about making certain school and subject sustainable.”

When asked if students would amalgamate with the “other side”, 79% said they would while 51% said they like the idea of amalgamation.

An issue recently discussed at the Northern Ireland Assembly focused on whether gay men should be allowed to donate blood.

The issue was highlighted by local students and an overwhelming 81% said they would take blood from a gay man while 66% felt that the Health Minister Edwin Poots was wrong not to extend the legislation to the north.

St Michael’s College student, 16-year-old Matthew Murphy, asked the panel if the North’s exam system should “harmonise” with the rest of the UK.

He told the ‘Herald’: “I thought today was very well organised and it’s a good opportunity for Fermanagh’s young people to talk about issues that matter to them and discuss something that’s beyond flags and parades.

“I was disappointed by their answers though because my question had nothing to do with orange or green politics but they managed to turn it in to that.”

Overview of students’ views:

67% said the G8 had no effect on them
75% agreed that lesbian and gay couples should be allowed to adopt
58% felt that the North does not need a new flag
72% feel that flags are not important to them
92% felt exams were too hard
91% said they thought Fermanagh wasn’t being treated fairly by Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment
One third of the audience felt that councils should should not fly flags in their area

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