Youth Link NI, the inter-church agency, is disturbed by the recent violence involving young people in various parts of Northern Ireland. There are many underlying reasons for unrest and protest but violence offers no future and only blights and destroys young lives, as it has in the past. The involvement of 12-14 year olds is particularly disturbing. The violence is orchestrated which suggests that sinister elements are manipulating young people and children in ways that may be termed as forms of abuse. As members of the NI community we do not want to see the lives of another generation of young people destroyed with all the harmful and destructive legacies that will carry on into the future.

The young people drawn into the violence are from areas where there is the greatest poverty and lowest levels of educational attainment. They are the most vulnerable to the lure of violence and to exploitation by sinister elements and by political rhetoric, careless and ambivalent in relation to violence. It is time for renewed commitment to peace, tolerance and understanding, community engagement and building, informal and formal educational programmes of peacebuilding and inclusion. It is also time to renew political commitment to dialogue and negotiation in seeking resolution to our many problems. This also means political policies, strategies and manifestos to tackle poverty, both economic and educational. Building peace and social capital and reaching for a common good is the responsibility of all. The violence needs to end to save young people from being blighted and destroyed, and become instead positive community builders and history makers.

Patrick White


Youth Link NI