A first took place in Stornoway at the weekend when the Scottish Youth Parliament met in the Islands for the first time.
The Nicolson Institute was the host venue for the members of the youth parliament, and included MSYPs from the region Ross Macleod and Lewis Macdonald.
The Scottish Youth Parliament represents Scotland’s young people. Their vision for Scotland is of a nation that actively listens to and values the meaningful participation of its children and young people.
And the goal is to make this vision a reality, in order to ensure Scotland is the best place in the world to grow up.
Elections for the parliament are held every two years, in which young people from all across Scotland stand as candidates.
MSYPs range in age from 14 to 25 and represent constituencies in all 32 local authorities throughout the country, and several national voluntary organisations.
The Western Isles session was opened by Comhairle Convener Norman A. Macdonald, who said: “In these challenging and fast changing times of political turmoil, it is refreshing and uplifting to see some true democracy in action, based around rights and inclusion.
“It is a much needed breath of fresh air. We have just come through a referendum campaign in which some of the worst aspects of politics featured – on both sides. “I have to say I was disappointed that 16 and 17 year olds were not given a vote in the referendum.
“What better example is there of an issue that will affect the lives and futures of young people than a Referendum on the future of the UK’s involvement, or not, in the European Union?
“There are many lessons to be learned from the Referendum but one of the most fundamental is that we need to be inclusive and to give a voice to all sections of the community, including those of our young people. After all, they, and I mean you, are the future.”.
Among the topics discussed by the members of the Youth Parliament at the Stornoway session were a motion calling for drug decriminalisation to be reviewed and removal of barriers to research into medicinal benefits of illegal drugs and a motion stating that there should not be another independence referendum during the current Scottish Parliamentary term.
The two Western Isles representatives MSYP members Ross Macleod and Lewis Macdonald also gave a presentation on the social, economic and cultural dynamics of the islands.