Emerging Young Leaders



The Emerging Young Leaders group meets to discuss and debate current issues and events, both locally and globally,  while providing opportunities for participants to engage with leading activists, politicians, diplomats and academics.   

Meeting several times a year topics to date have included peacebuilding, conflict transformation, racism, sectarianism, discrimination, culture and identity, victims, Brexit/ Northern Ireland Protocol and the Good Friday Agreement.

While taking part supports the development of knowledge, understanding, networks and relationships, participants are also able to take the experiences gained into their organisations and studies both now and throughout their future careers, thus helping a political and social peace process to thrive.

Our vision

EYL’s vision is for:

Young people’s voices to be heard, understood and acted on, particularly by policy makers and politicians.

More solution orientated and informed young leaders to lead change in Northern Ireland and further afield.

The group currently comprises of participants from Northern Ireland and originally from other countries. Different community and religious backgrounds are represented, with participants including those working in community and voluntary groups, students, young business leaders, and faith-based organisations. 

I have personally gained so much from the EYL group.  I have made life-long friends and made important connections with various organisations/speakers.  I also have been given internship opportunities and mentoring from experienced members of the group, which has given me motivation both in my personal life and career path.

Emerging Young Leader

Leadership Development Programme

The leadership development programme was created in 2022 in partnership with Amal Tikva, a Jerusalem based NGO.

The programme brings together participants from Northern Ireland and Israel/Palestine who meet virtually over a series of sessions which aim to build understanding and knowledge of peacebuilding and conflict transformation work and issues in each region.

EYL visit to Israel / Palestine

In 2022 and 2023 the Israeli and Palestinian participants visited Belfast, and in November 2022 the participants from Northern Ireland made a return visit to Israel and Palestine.

By bringing participants together from conflict and post-conflict spaces, they are now becoming part of a global family of peace builders, supporting each other, and making a contribution to strengthening democracy in their respective spaces.

We are currently exploring the possibility of creating a global Leadership Development Programme to include participants from the United States.

It has given me an opportunity to network with other individuals as well as make friends with some members of the group.  The EYL group offers something which I don’t believe is available anywhere else right now for people of this age.  It provides a unique opportunity for young people to engage with each other, as well as learning not only from one another but from those professionals who are present also.  It is extremely focused on being led by those young people involved and I feel this is crucial in creating leaders for the future.

Emerging Young Leader


Tailored individual mentoring is provided throughout the year to EYL participants by highly experienced individuals from our network of contacts.

Support has included the facilitation of connections, work experience and training opportunities, and advice and support in relation to career choices and academic learning.

Mentoring has enhanced the confidence and skills of the mentees and has led to several of them advancing their careers and studies.

My mentor gave me the encouragement I needed to step out of my comfort zone and helped me find the contacts I needed for extra experience. I have been given valuable lessons and tips, however, what has created the most impact, is to be confident in my abilities and recognise that I am able to do anything I can put my mind to.

Emerging Young Leader

Hear more about the EYL programme

Bertie Ahern served as Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach) from 1997 to 2008. He was co-signatory to the Good Friday Agreement along with the then Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Mr Ahern has supported the EYL group by speaking at residentials and providing advice to participants.

In this short interview with Gary, he shares some of his wisdom about how members of the EYL group can make a greater impact in society.

Ali Armstrong is from Texas in the USA and moved to Northern Ireland a few years ago.

She works for a restorative justice organisation and joined the EYL group to meet people and make connections with those working in peace building and restorative justice.

She has particularly benefited from the learning opportunities, international connections, and the chances that the EYL group provides for young people to voice their views.

Chris Mercer is part of the EYL group.

Chris’s career has developed from youth work, and he now works for a leading NI based restorative justice organisation. 

He focuses on supporting loyalist communities and re-integrating ex-offenders back into society.

Chris has a passion for working with young people who have the potential to be radicalised.

He also now frequently attends the Compass Points Dialogue Group meetings.