Q Radio News/PA
A young Chelsea football fan who was given tickets to the Uefa Super Cup final last month by First Minister Paul Givan said thank you in person during a visit to Stormont on Monday.
Eight-year-old Reuben Walls, who has a severe physical disability, saw his favourite team defeat Spanish side Villarreal after he was given the tickets for the game in August.
“It was great to meet the First Minister and thank him for the tickets to the Chelsea final at Windsor Park last month. I loved seeing around Stormont,” he said.
Reuben and his family met with Mr Givan and were presented with a framed print with photographs and autographs of the Chelsea team.
And the youngster – who was born without both lower limbs, a shortened arm and a hand missing a finger – did not just have football on his mind but admitted that he might like to be a politician in the future and had three requests for the First Minister.
“I’d like there to be metal straws, or bring back plastic straws, because they are better than paper, as paper straws get too soggy,” he told the DUP politician.
“There should be no more homework,” he said.
“And the third thing is that there needs to be more 5G sites. The internet is too slow and needs to be faster.”
Going to the top: Northern Ireland First Minister Paul Givan gives Reuben Walls (8) and his parents Stephen and Claire with his younger sister Naomi (5) a tour of Parliament Buildings at Stormont
Mr Givan said it was an “absolute pleasure” to meet Reuben and his family.
“He is a bright, articulate and very switched on young man. Not only is he an expert on all things football, and Chelsea in particular, but he was a strong advocate for the things that make his life and that of his school mates better,” he said.
“Reuben’s visit today reminds us all that sometimes the important issues are really the small ones that make our everyday lives better.”
Reuben’s dad Stephen said: “It was lovely to get the chance to meet the First Minister for the first time and to come to Stormont where lots of decisions happen that will shape Reuben and his future.
“One of the things we are all very aware of is that there are often barriers that can be removed.
“It is important that young folk who have challenges in life realise that there are processes here that can help make life easier and better for them.”
He also said that he had “no doubt” his son could be working in Stormont one day.
“I have no doubt that Reuben could be a great politician, there is no doubting his ability to talk. He has an incredible grasp of facts and figures and has a strong focus on what’s important,” he added.