Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O’Hara along with MPs from across the political spectrum, attended parliament on Friday 16th March in support of a Private Members Bill which seeks to change UK laws on refugee family reunion and took the opportunity to recognise and acknowledge the contribution from Helensburgh’ s Hermitage Academy Rights Respecting Group on this issue.
Mr O’Hara met up with the group at the end of last year when they sought his advice and support for their campaign to change the rules regarding reuniting refugee children with their families in the UK. On Mr O’Hara’s advice they managed to get the signatures of 1100 Helensburgh school children for their petition which they plan to present to Parliament.
Mr O’Hara said,
“I met with this remarkable group of young people who are rightly outraged at the plight of refugee children who, on fleeing their war torn country are unable to be reunited with their loved ones because of this UK government’s laws. My advice to them was to speak to as many people as possible about it to inform and change peoples’ attitudes. I am absolutely delighted to hear they have over a thousand signatures from Helensburgh school children equally appalled at what is happening”.
He went onto say,
“We often hear of how young people are not engaged in politics and it is why I took the opportunity in parliament to pay tribute to them and asked my MP colleague Angus MacNeil who brought the Bill to parliament, to join me in welcoming them when they visit the House to present their petition. They are truly an inspiration to young people in Scotland who are making sure that their voices are heard loud and clear. I am very proud of each and everyone of them.”
Policy Lead for Education, Councillor Yvonne McNeilly added,
“It’s important that our young people know how to make the changes they want to see in the world. We fully support this work and congratulate Hermitage Academy pupils for taking positive action on a cause that matters to them and is all about helping others.”
The school’s Rights Respecting Group haven’t stopped there and plan to do a bag pack at a local supermarket to raise money for them to travel to Parliament to present their petition and are having a Bake for Syria week next month to raise funds which will go towards improving the education for refugee children.
The Private Members’ Bill, after several hours of debate, was voted to proceed to the Committee stage of the process by an 87 majority.