Young people's reaction to Barack Obama's speech in Belfast

'Obama will stay with me forever' says Belfast college student

BBC NI political correspondent Martina Purdy caught up with some of the young people who were in the Waterfront Hall in Belfast to hear, and to meet Barack Obama, president of the USA. The president was addressing young people from across Northern Ireland before flying to County Fermanagh for the G8 summit.

Sophie Nelson

Hanna Nelson's family came along to the Waterfront Hall to support her as she introduced the First Lady, Michelle Obama.

Younger sister, Sophie, 15, like Hanna, a pupil at Methodist College Belfast, said it was "amazing".

"I was very proud of her. She was really, really nervous before - I thought something might have gone wrong for her but it went fine, perfectly."

Her father, Jim, said he was nervous, praying for his daughter who spent Sunday practising her speech.

Is she a budding politician?

"I don't know about that," he laughed. "She's probably too honest."

Ronan and Tara Curran

Ronan Curran, 14, from New-Bridge Integrated College, County Down, shook hands with the US president and the First Lady.

He was among the students chosen to share the stage after impressing judges with his essay on making peace in Northern Ireland.

Ronan told Barack Obama it was a pleasure to meet him. And what was his response?

''No, it's not - being very humble."

He said it was worth getting up at 05:00 BST for - and said he is hoping for a career in journalism.

His sister, Tara, said she did not get to meet the president but "got some great pictures".

"It was really inspiring."

The school's vice-principal, Paula Hasson, said the president's speech was "spot on" and was very much on the theme of Ronan's essay.

Bradley Curran and Tiago Ramalho

Sixteen-year-old Bradley Curran, from Dungannon Integrated College in County Tyrone, was busy videoing the president and was pleasantly surprised to be so close with a better view than the first and deputy first ministers.

"I was expecting to be up in the bleachers or something."

Tiago Ramalho, his lower sixth classmate, was delighted to be at the Waterfront Hall.

"I thought it was great. So inspirational. It's not everyday you get to see the president of the United States."

So is he ready to change the world?

"I don't know," he laughed. "Maybe, maybe one day."

Rebecca Johnston and Rosalie Bailie

Rebecca Johnston, 15, who is in year 11 at Bloomfield Collegiate in Belfast said the president's speech was both "funny and very inspiring".

"It is very good to hear him come here - it's very important."

Her classmate Rosalie Bailie, 14, was also thrilled to sit just a few rows from the president and hear his message about peace.

"Everyone can be equal now - there's no prejudice."

Brian Hazlett

Brian Hazlett, from the Clogher Valley, in County Tyrone, was up at 03:30 BST so he could get to the Waterfront Hall to hear the US president.

"It was a brilliant speech. I think it is going to reach out to a lot of young people.

"He showed how powerful young people can be. It's great for our future."

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