An inspirational Limavady Grammar School pupil has received a standing ovation following her impressive appearance speaking at the House of Commons.
Anna McElhinney, 17, travelled to London earlier this month to represent East Londonderry as a Member of the UK Youth Parliament at their annual session at the Houses of Parliament.
The intelligent student spoke passionately about the role of women in the Great War and the lessons our current politicians could learn from history.
Speaking about her experience, Anna recalled: ““There was 14 MYPS in total, one from each region.”“There was so much adrenaline –I was shaking like a leaf.“Diane Abbott also showed up with other members- it was quite surreal.”She continued: “Every year they choose an anniversary of a particular law and as it had been 100 years since women were able to vote, I was talking about it from a Northern Irish perspective.”The 17-year-old also had the opportunity to discuss current issues further at a reception held with the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow.“He is a great supporter of the Youth Parliament as he comes to the annual conference every year and gives a speech,” said Anna.According to the Limavady Grammar student, the entire process began back in March following her success of becoming elected to the UK Youth Parliament.Over 7,000 young people across Northern Ireland voted in the election for Members of Youth Parliament. Young people were able to cast their vote and declare which candidate they want to represent them in the UK Youth Parliament for the coming year, and campaign on the issues they feel are important. Anna told the Northern constitution: “Three people were standing and we had to try and get as many votes as possible.“We have different conventions throughout the year.We also have an annual conference and every year we choose what goes in the UK Youth Parliament Manifesto which is a list of issues that we believe in as a group.”The UK Youth Parliament Manifesto tackles a wide range of topics affecting young people, from public transport to education for life.The aim of the manifesto is to inform and influence local and national decision makers, particularly those deciding their manifestos in political parties.It was created by young people, locally elected to represent the views of their peers, and is re-drafted and approved by Members of Youth Parliament every year at the Annual Sitting. MYPs are then balloted to choose a shortlist of campaigns from the manifesto that is put to the public ‘youth’ vote to determine what we should debate in a House of Commons sitting to decide the national campaign.Anna said: “This year is the first year that we managed to get over one million votes, making it at least the largest youth consultation in Europe.”Speaking about the next stage of her position as a member of the UK Youth Parliament, Anna told the Northern Constiution: “In Northern Ireland, it's a two year term so that's the end of the first year and we do the whole thing over again next year.”Recalling her overall experience, Anna concluded: “It was an honour to speak in such a historic room where so many changes were made and to stand where Jeremy Corbyn stands. I will never forget it.”
Everybody at Limavady Grammar school is very proud of Anna’s achievements.