Politics Plus hosted this years ACYPL delegation to Northern Ireland and Dublin
The first American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL, http://www.acypl.org) delegation was in 1977, with the aim of creating opportunities for the next generation of political leaders from around the world, to meet and share ideas. Thus, enhancing delegates’ understanding of cultures, broadening their mind-sets in an attempt to create more well-informed perspectives and better-decision makers.
This is the fifth time that ACYPL has partnered with Politics Plus and the third delegation from the United States to visit Northern Ireland. There were seven members in the current delegation who visited Northern Ireland and Dublin during their stay from Saturday 10th September through to Saturday 17th September.
To begin the programme, the delegates visited cultural sites such as the North Coast. The ACYPL group were shown some of what Northern Ireland has to offer in terms of tourism, something we hope they will share with their fellow Americans back home.
Their first meeting was at the U.S. Consulate in Belfast, with a briefing from the United States Consul General, Daniel Lawton. Following this they attended Parliament Buildings, where they met with a wide range of high profile individuals, including the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly Robin Newton, various MLA’s and Ministers.
The delegation also had the opportunity to visit some popular tourist destinations in Northern Ireland, such as the Belfast City Hall, where they met the Lord Mayor of Belfast- Brian Kingston. They also had a tour of the Peace Walls, which illustrates the physical barriers between communities in Belfast.
The delegation also visited Dublin. This included a tour of the Houses of the Oireachtas, followed by a meeting with the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement to discuss cross-border issues. They were also given the opportunity to meet with some Teachtaí Dála (Deputies) such as Chair Kathleen Funchion & Sean Haughey TD, as well as Senators Terry Leyden and Frances Black.
The ACYPL delegation’s final day was a busy one, starting with a meeting with the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Assistant Chief Constable, Stephen Martin. Stephen talked to the delegation about policing in Northern Ireland and some of the challenges faced by the PSNI. Friday afternoon included a meeting with Intercomm Ireland and Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA). Intercomm provided an overview of the work that they do within the local communities, and NICVA discussed their work in regard to the voluntary and community sector in Northern Ireland and their lobbying role.
To conclude the visit, the delegation attended a reception at the U.S. Consulates General’s Residence. At this reception the delegates had the opportunity to meet local MLA’s, Councillors and ACYPL Alumni.
Overall the delegation had a very informative and enjoyable trip to Northern Ireland. Eric Ebentein; Amy Spitalnick; Jessica Weinstein; Kevin Lundy; Lindsey Luther and Jason Isaac will now take their place as ACYPL Alumni USA-NI, 2016.