The President of Tynwald, the Hon Steve Rodan MLC, has hailed Junior Tynwald 2017 ‘outstanding’.
Mr President said: ‘This year’s Junior Tynwald was marked by a high standard of debate, insightful contributions and well-articulated supplementary questions. I also extend thanks to the teaching staff for their encouragement and support, all of which made for an excellent sitting.’
Organised by the Isle of Man branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) in association with the Department of Education and Children Junior Tynwald was held on Monday July 17. The sitting saw Year 12 students from the Island’s five state secondary schools assume the roles of Members of the House of Keys and the Legislative Council to debate a range of topics from implications for the Isle of Man of the Brexit negotiations to how best to manage the Island’s ageing population.
Department of Education and Children Minister Hon Graham Cregeen MHK said: ‘The Isle of Man is one of the few places in the world where the voting age is 16, so it’s important that we give our young adults the opportunity to better understand how Tynwald works and how the decisions it makes affect the lives of everyone in the Isle of Man. Junior Tynwald provides a unique opportunity for sixth formers to participate in a realistic sitting, at which they can table questions, debate motions and make decisions, just as Members do. I hope the event gives students an even greater interest in politics and perhaps even whets their appetite for a political career.’
The motion moved by the Hon Member for Douglas East, Miss Amber Young from St Ninian’s High School: ‘That Junior Tynwald is of the opinion that the Isle of Man should follow the example of Wales and introduce a compulsory organ-donor scheme with the ability of residents to opt out is they wish to’ was carried, as was the motion moved by the Hon Member for Douglas Central Mr Joe Johnson (pictured above) from Ballakermeen High School: ‘That Junior Tynwald is of the opinion that the Isle of Man should be taking in Syrian refugees.’
Among those reflecting on their experience of Junior Tynwald was Sophie Whitbread from Ballakermeen High School who had assumed the role of a Member of the Legislative Council. She said: ‘The sitting was far less stressful, much more interesting than I’d expected and was conducted “for real”, very professionally.’ Also taking part as a Legislative Council Member was Ben Venezia from Castle Rushen High School: ‘It was a great opportunity for us to debate modern-day problems, and for people to show their passion. I thought the sitting had genuine substance to it.’
Poppy Parkes from Queen Elizabeth II High School said: ‘It was really interesting and a great opportunity for our opinions to be heard.’
Michael Bonham from St Ninian’s High School, whose ‘ingenious’ approach to asking supplementary questions had been commented on by Mr President, said: ‘I love politics, so really enjoyed the sitting. I found the supplementary questions process inspiring but regretted that you only get one opportunity to speak in a debate.’
Castle Rushen High School head boy Oliver Barrett found the sitting ‘a very useful experience’ and was impressed by how the formality of the proceedings did not hamper lively debate. Rhys Westwell from Ballakermeen High School added: ‘It was interesting to observe the conventions of parliament and how smoothly the sitting ran. It was also good for us to have our voices heard.’
The Outstanding Participant Award went to Cameron Byrne from Castle Rushen High School, praised by Mr President for his ‘excellent supplementaries’ and determination to ‘push for answers’. Presenting the award Mr President said: ‘Cameron was skilled in debate, putting his arguments across knowledgeably and with great confidence.’
Cameron said: ‘The sitting was really interesting and very lively. Taking part in Junior Tynwald was a unique experience, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s a pity it happens only once a year.’
The Speaker of the House of Keys and CPA Isle of Man branch chairman the Hon Juan Watterson SHK, who took part in Junior Tynwald when a Castle Rushen High School student, said: ‘Junior Tynwald can be an overwhelming experience but the students expressed their views eloquently and with great maturity. They clearly relished the opportunity to engage fully with the political process.’
Link to the Junior Tynwald 2017 site