This programme is an examination of the history and workings of the only youth council of its kind in Ireland. The camera follows young councillors as they organise, implement and reflect on the success, or otherwise, of two major campaigns. The programme shows that mere participation in politics is no guarantee of success but that it is a worthwhile experience for many reasons.
The story begins with a look at the emerging democracies in South Africa (1994) and East Timor (1999). These situations are compared to the 1998 elections for the first Youth Shadow Council in Fermanagh, an area which also has a violent past. The election of 30 youth councillors by an electorate of 8,000 (every student of 14+ in Fermanagh) is portrayed as a significant sign of hope for the future.
We visit the youth councillors in an important meeting nine months after their election. The main protagonists in the programme introduce themselves and we learn of two major campaigns which will form the plot of the story.
Firstly, the students wish to improve leisure services for young people in Fermanagh. To this end, they are attempting to get bus fares home after school lowered, reduced rates in the local leisure centre and they may do a deal to lower food prices in McDonald’s. Their second campaign is to highlight and prevent incidences of sectarian bullying. The bullying campaign will involve the creation of a special poster and badge - selected from the competition entries of local schools.
During the programme we follow youth councillors from campaign to campaign as they go from meeting to meeting towards their dramatic conclusions. Throughout, the participants express how they feel about their role as councillors, about the impact of the television cameras on events and about the success, or otherwise, of their efforts.
At the end of the programme the global significance of what is happening with the Fermanagh Youth Shadow Council is highlighted again. We hear reflections on democracy in Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, South Africa and East Timor. The importance of young people making a positive contribution is stressed.