Niall McManus a Transition Year student at St. Macartan’s College Monaghan recently took part in a schedule of events hosted by Rotary Ireland and the European Commission in Belfast, Dublin and Strasbourg.
In January, the Monaghan town based student Niall travelled to Belfast, where he met 23 other aspiring young leaders from throughout Ireland. The students qualified for this trip by completing a series of interviews which examined their leadership qualities and knowledge of current affairs.
Day one in Belfast saw the young leaders visit Belfast City Hall, where they met Lord Mayor Nichola Mallon, and visited the plenary chamber. This was followed by a visit to the European Commission office in Belfast. The group then travelled to Stormont, where they were treated to a tour of the buildings. The tour was followed by a question and answer session with MLAs including Megan Fearon (Sinn Féin), Sammy Douglas (DUP) and Roy Beggs (UUP), Ross Brown (Green Party) and Trevor Lunn (Alliance).
After visiting Belfast the Euroscholars travelled to Dublin where they visited the European Commission office. The group was introduced to the mechanics of the EU and its operation on a Europe wide level. Niall and the group were then interviewed by reporters from the Irish Independent about what changes they would implement if they were the political leaders of Ireland. This was followed by a visit to Dáil Eireann where a tour of Oireachtas buildings was followed by a question and answer sessions with TDs, Deputy Minister for Finance Simon Harris (Fine Gael) and Joe Costello (Labour). After leaving Government buildings, the group flew to Frankfurt, where they spent the night. A tour of Frankfurt was followed by a bus journey to Strasbourg. This included a visit to the European Parliament for the Euroscholar event. This event consisted of 500 tenagers made up of 24 people each from 22 EU member states. The participants took part in a range of debates on topical events in the EU parliament’s debating chamber known as the Hemisphere.
The Irish team completely outperformed every other national team at the event by placing over 50% of the questions posed at the mock parliament, had 7 out of the 12 spokespeople elected for the debates with a highlight for the group and Niall McManus in particular his winning the Eurogame. This saw Niall teamed up with Greek, French and Czech participants to complete a quiz in 24 different languages.
On returning to Monaghan and speaking with the Northern Standard, Niall McManus thanked everybody involved in organising the Euroschola event. He mentioned in particular Barra Flynn and the members of Monaghan Rotary who promote and support this event at a local level in Co. Monaghan.