Donegal school comes third in prestigious 2021 Model Council of the European Union Debate

Donegal school comes third in prestigious 2021 Model Council of the European Union Debate

Pupils from St. Columba's College, who took part in the debate

A Donegal secondary school has been placed third in an annual debate organised by the European Commission Representation in Ireland.

Pupils from St Columba's College, Stranorlar, were among 24 schools in Ireland who took part in a debate on a coordinated response at EU level to serious cross-border threats to health. 

The theme of this year’s debate is highly topical as EU Member States are actively looking into ways to coordinate their health policies to respond more effectively to global health pandemics and emergencies such as Covid-19.

For the Model Council, each school represents one EU Member State. Before the debate, the students and their teachers research the issues for the country they are role-playing. The Ambassadors from each EU country engaged with students in advance of the debate to help them prepare to represent their home country.

St Joseph's Secondary School, Tulla, Co. Clare won the 2021 Model Council of the European Union. Second place went to St Mary's College, Naas, Co. Kildare.

St Joseph's Secondary School were representing the Netherlands, while St Mary's College and St Columba's College role-played Greece and Croatia respectively.

Minister for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne, TD, who opened the debate, told the participants: " Taking part in negotiations at the heart of the European Union is not an easy task. It requires knowledge of different cross-cutting policy areas, from climate and agriculture, to science, technology and health. You need to be able to understand various points of view from different people and Member States, to actively listen and work constructively with them.”

Acting Head of the European Commission Representation in Ireland, Andy Klom said: " I would like to pay tribute to all the students and teachers who have worked so hard to prepare for today’s debate. I would also like to thank EU Member State ambassadors for their support. Over the last few weeks, many ambassadors have been in touch with the schools representing their countries to provide guidance and encouragement to students.”

The Model Council of the European Union is an annual debate, which has been organised by the European Commission Representation in Ireland each year since 2007.

The Model Council mirrors the format of a real meeting of the Council of the European Union or Council of Ministers. It is designed to allow students to learn more about the EU's decision-making process.

Usually it is held in the Printworks Building at Dublin Castle, but due to Covid-19 restrictions this year’s edition has been organised online.

The debate was chaired by Martina Fitzgerald, CEO of Scale Ireland, and the judges were Noelle O'Connell of European Movement Ireland and Mary McCaughey of Eurofound. The prizes were announced by Green Party MEP, Grace O'Sullivan.

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