A number of Fermanagh residents joined MLA and Alliance party leader Naomi Long in discussion at the Alliance event, ‘Engaging with Enniskillen,’ hosted at Fermanagh House, Enniskillen on Thursday January 24.

Speaking on the panel alongside the Alliance leader were Jasmine Dooris of Fermanagh Youth Council, Dylan Quinn of ‘We Deserve Better,’ John Sheridan of ‘Border Communities Against Brexit’ and Alliance activist Noreen Campbell.

Following the event, Naomi Long said: “It's clear there is enormous frustration not only at the state of politics right now, but at the impact that it is having in Fermanagh. People spoke of feeling powerless and voiceless. I want to try to offer leadership that not only inspires ambition for a better future but the action to deliver it.”

She continued: “It's clear from the packed room and the lively discussion that people have a real appetite to engage politically on the issues which affect their lives and the Alliance message is increasingly resonating with people.”

Along with Brexit and the lack of progress to restore Stormont, the discussion on the night covered health, education, and the need for investment in infrastructure, jobs and growth in the west of Northern Ireland.

During a discussion on education, Jasmine Dooris noted how teachers are “overworked and underplayed" and commented that "their passion needs to be pushed by a pay check."

She added: “Historians write the past, but teachers very much do write the future.”

Jasmine also raised the issues that her school, Enniskillen Royal Grammar School, faces due to budget cuts and the fact that it is located across two sites on opposite ends of the town.

In relation to the topic of Brexit, Jasmine remarked that everything she knows about the Troubles she has learnt, whereas most of the people at the event “had been through them and felt them.” She said: “Because of that, a lot of my generation seems desensitised and convinced that it can’t happen to us. However, the EU commissioner Schinas’ threat of an ‘obvious’ hard border has worried us into getting more involved and better educated on politics.”

Speaking to the room, campaigner Dylan Quinn said: “If we want to create a better society for our children, we need to be more proactive. We need to have more vision within politics and from political leaders.”

He continued: “We have become so used to a type of politics that has been about what we don’t want that it feels like we have forgotten to articulate what we do want and indeed addressing the issues that are important the issues that we need to be addressing. The issue of Brexit is being explored however it is important to remember that we have an environmental catastrophe looming and it hardly gets talked about in Northern Ireland at all.”

At the event John Sheridan gave his views on how Brexit will negatively affect agriculture, education, healthcare and the job sector in Northern Ireland.

He concluded: “Why do I fight Brexit day and daily? Because I have never seen such a divisive issue coming on to these islands. It is divisive in every single way, in every single cell of our body.”