Dodds outlines hopes for N.I.’s young people

DUP European Candidate, Diane Dodds has been addressing students at Laurelhill Community College in Lisburn. Mrs. Dodds is a former teacher of history at the school. In her comments she spoke of her hopes and aspirations for the young people of Northern Ireland and urged them to play their part in defeating those who want to drag Northern Ireland back into the dark days of the past. Extracts from Mrs. Dodds speech are below:

“For younger people, like you, we want to see a Northern Ireland which is an attractive place to live and work. We want to lay a foundation so that your generation can have the same opportunities as your peers living in other parts of the United Kingdom. We want to reverse the trend of the brightest and best young people leaving our shores. They didn’t leave because they wanted to, but because they couldn’t find suitable opportunities in Northern Ireland. Indeed, for many years, they simply left because it was safer to live elsewhere. You are a new generation which, for the first time in many years, don’t really have memories of what it was like to meet police checkpoints while travelling to work or our town centres being closed off at night with security barriers. Even for those of us who do remember those dark days of Northern Ireland, the events of two weeks ago have given us all a reminder of just how important it is to ensure that we don’t allow terrorism to dictate life in Northern Ireland.
As a Party we’re determined there should be no turning back to the dark days of the troubles. It was summed up by First Minister in the aftermath of the murders; the terrorists have issued a challenge to the community in Northern Ireland and there is a clear choice between democracy and terrorism. The one thing about this challenge though is that everyone has an equal part to play in the response. There are many different ways we can show sympathy and take a stand. I know your MP here in Lagan Valley Jeffrey Donaldson established a group on Facebook for people to show their opposition to the terrorist murders. That group has well over 33,000 members, and is increasing by the day.
It not only shows something of the power of the internet, but also of the shock there has been over the return to the times we hoped were behind us. Joining a group like that is one way to show support, and there have been other gatherings which have allowed people to show their support. However, the best and only real answer to the challenge is through the political process and by registering opposition at the ballot box. It is that democratic process which the terrorists most want to damage.
Unfortunately even the response on Facebook seems to indicate that people don’t always realise the power that they have with their vote. There is a group, encouraging people to get on the electoral register and use their vote. It has managed a grand total of 30 members so far. The 200,000 people who are not registered to vote are missing out on that chance to make their voice heard. That figure of 200,000 includes a third of all people aged between 18 and 24.
I know I’m probably expected to make that argument as a politician, but I also make it as an ordinary person who lives in this community. I care passionately about Northern Ireland and I want to see democracy triumph over terror. I want us to work to build a peaceful future for everyone in Northern Ireland.”

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