Mairead McGuinness MEP and first Vice-President of the European Parliament paid an official visit to two Dundalk schools, St Joseph’s Primary School in Muirheavnamore and St Mary’s College, Townparks, on Friday (9th February).
Ms McGuinness said it was a pleasure to be among the students of fifth and sixth class in St Joseph’s in their impressive new school building.
The school is participating in the Blue Star Programme 2017-2018 which aims to foster an understanding of the EU.
“The whole school is involved with really interesting projects about the culture and history of the many different countries in the European Union,” she said.
“It was great to listen to the children and discuss how the European Union works and why working together is so important. The children were well aware of Brexit and had lots of questions about what it means for Ireland.”
The MEP discussed the EU, how the EU works and her role as Vice-President.
“Like so many of their fellow students in schools throughout the country they have an innate understanding of the unity and co-operation that underlies European membership,” she said.
She paid tribute to teacher, Marie Sheppard, and Principal, Dr. Roz Morris.
At St Mary’s College, Ms McGuinness spoke with transition year students about how the EU works, her role as Vice-President and Brexit.
“Brexit is a real challenge to that sense of unity, which the EU is all about, and being on the border, the pupils had a real sense of the ground shifting underneath their feet and their community with the fears for any change to the current situation when the UK leaves the EU in March next year,” she said.
Ms McGuinness thanked transition year student Caitlin Rooney for the invitation to visit the school and discuss her work.
“I was impressed by the range of questions the students asked, from Brexit to how the EU institutions works,” she said.
“Mental health issues also featured strongly with my visit coinciding with the Cycle Against Suicide’s ‘Go Orange’ campaign entitled ‘It’s OK not to feel OK’ in which schools around country are participating in the national #SchoolsGoOrange campaign.
She thanked teacher Edel Ní Dhoirnín and Principal Alan Craven for facilitating her visit and wished them well in their fantastic school building.