Cormac’s vote puts mental health at top of agenda for London debate

Cormac’s vote puts mental health at top of agenda for London debate

10 October 2018

YOUNG people will voice their concerns to the heart of Government next month with the help of South Down’s Member of Youth Parliament.

Cormac Savage predicts that mental health, homelessness and getting equal pay for equal work will be the top three policy issues he will present in London on November 9.

The 15 year-old student from St Patrick’s Grammar School in Downpatrick organised an election-style vote among 2,500 post-primary pupils in South Down.

Pupils were asked to vote on 10 issues that will help inform a youth manifesto for the House of Commons.

Cormac is one of 13 MYPs in Northern Ireland and 200 throughout the UK tasked with gathering young people’s views in their constituencies in the Make Your Mark referendum.

Elected in May, Cormac, who is from Ballykinlar, has spent the last few weeks working with a team of students from other schools to distribute and collect the ballots.

Targeting pupils aged between 11-18, he contacted every school in South Down asking principals if  their school would participate.

He even went as far as organising an election hall with booths and a count centre at his school to give his fellow students a real insight into what they can expect when voting after they turn 18.

Cormac told the Recorder: “So far every single school has voted for mental health overall. That’s from the 1,300 votes I have got in at the moment.

“I think it’s important for the young people to take part in this as the government has no understanding of what young people want to see changed as young people don’t have a voice in government as they can’t vote.

“For me, Make Your Mark is a great way of the government learning what is important to young people and seeing what changes can be made. Thankfully, it does often listen as the all-party parliamentary group for votes at 16 was set up.”

Some of the ten motions the students voted on included votes at 16, ending knife crime, welcoming refugees, transport, developing a curriculum to prepare students for life.

With a clear mandate from his constituency, Cormac will be presenting the motions with the other MYPs  in a debate chaired by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir John Bercow.

“I hope that whatever becomes the Youth Parliament’s national campaign in November, the Government will listen to it as they have done in the past,” adds Cormac.