On Thursday 25thof May, 22 students from the Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) /QQI programme in Youthreach centres and ETB secondary schools from all over Ireland visited the European Parliament in Strasbourg, as part of the Sweetman Trust project in conjunction with Euroscola.
Seven students from LMETB attended: Casey Lee Farrelly Healy, Georgina Ginnell (St. Peter’s College Dunboyne), Eric Daisley Martin, Abbey Mae Power, Olivia Carpenter, Michaela Nugent (Youthreach Navan) and Yussuf Bello (Youthreach Dundalk). The students were accompanied by two LMETB staff: Sharon Maher and Paul Breslin from Youthreach Navan, as well as Louise Cole (Bray & North Wicklow Youthreach) and Caroline Collery, who previously worked with the LCA programme.
The Euroscola programme in Strasbourg brings together students from 14 years upwards from all 27 EU Member States, applicant countries and former Member States. Students are able to debate, take sides, negotiate, amend, vote and finally adopt resolutions on real European issues. The students get an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the workings of the European Institutions, to discuss democracy, fundamental rights and European values ,and to express their personal opinions on the decisions taken at the European Union level.
This event took place with thanks to the Michael Sweetman Educational Trust, established in 1975 in memory of economist Michael Sweetman, one of 118 people who died in an airplane accident on 18 June 1972. An advocate of Ireland’s entry into the then-European Economic Community, Mr Sweetman was a former Director of the Irish Council of the European Movement (now European Movement Ireland). Following his death, his friends and associates established an Education Trust in his memory. It is this trust, in conjunction with ETBI Ireland, which enabled this event. All flights, accommodation, costs etc. were covered by the Sweetman Trust for this amazing trip.
The students had previously entered a competition where they presented their thoughts on the major contemporary issues facing their generation and the world, and they then had to do an interview in relation to this. From all the entries, twenty-two lucky students were picked to represent Ireland in the European Parliament, which was a once in a lifetime opportunity.