On a visit to St Oliver’s Community College, Rathmullan on Thursday to mark Europe Day (9th May) Mairead McGuinness MEP and first Vice-President of the European Parliament praised the huge efforts the school is making to bring Europe alive for their students.
She congratulated the school for taking part in the Ambassador School programme and was delighted see the plague on prominent display in the school.
Under the programme which has been fostered by the MEP Senior Ambassadors (teachers) take students (Junior Ambassadors) through the Ambassador School Workbook provided by the European Parliament.
It is designed to raise awareness of Europe, democracy and political choice among young people across the EU.
The school also took part in the Euroscola competition, visiting the European Parliament in Strasbourg and taking part in debates with students from all over Europe. It won the Euroscola competition in the Midlands North West for 2019.
“The students produced a fantastic video of their experience and we had a good discussion about the work of the European Parliament and the importance of voting.
“Voting among young people is lower in the European Parliament elections, as is the turnout of women and it would be great if in the upcoming elections that trend were reversed,” she said.
The MEP discussed her concerns on the impact of Brexit not just now and she also addressed with the pupils some of the questions around the future of Europe.
“Sadly, today a politician who makes a dramatic but untrue statement will get more publicity than a politician who tries to give a response in a moderate way,” she said.
“Social media where young people tend to get news doesn’t always give the full story.
“Critical thinking skills were never more important than now, given the challenges this poses to the very health of our democracy. Young people must be encouraged to ask if there is another side to the story on hand,” she said.
The MEP paid particular thanks to teacher Julie Henney and her students, not only for the massive effort and work put into the Ambassador Schools programme but also for her encouragement to students to get and stay involved.
“I am grateful to Julie for her culinary skills for not one but three portions of her chorizo chicken,” she said.
She also paid tribute to school Principal John Halpin.