Moate CS student Eimear Keenan receiving her Rotary Youth Leadership Development award from Capt. Sean Fitzgerald, District Governor of Rotary Ireland and Patrick O’Riordan, Head of Public Affairs with the European Parliament in Ireland. Photo: Collette Creative Photography.

Ballycumber student a winner in Rotary youth competition

Moate Community School student Eimear Keenan was one of just 24 teenagers from all over the island of Ireland to be presented with a Rotary Youth Leadership Development certificate at the European Parliament’s offices in Dublin recently.

Eimear, who is from Ballycumber in Offaly, is a member of her school’s Student Council and is actively involved in Junk Kouture.

As part of her prize, along with the other 23 youth leaders, she recently took part in a trip to Belfast, Dublin, and Strasbourg, which she described as "a life-changing experience".

The youth leadership competition, which is one of Rotary Ireland’s longest running youth projects, rewards young people with clear leadership potential based on their extra-curricular activities.

It is run in conjunction with the European Parliament Liaison Office in Dublin and Euroscola in Strasbourg.

Eimear received her certificate from Rotary Ireland District Governor Captain Sean Fitzgerald and Patrick O’Riordan, Head of Public Affairs at the European Parliament’s office in Ireland.

After being disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic for the last two years, this year saw a welcome return to the regular itinerary which involves visits to Belfast, Dublin, and Strasbourg. During the six day all-expenses-paid trip, the competition winners visited Belfast City Hall and Stormont where they met and chatted with politicians from various parties.

Then it was onto Europe House in Dublin, where they were presented with their certificates, before a trip to Dáil Eireann where they met Education Minister Norma Foley and several TDs.

They then flew to Frankfurt for a two-day visit to Strasbourg. After being formally welcomed by the President of the European Parliament, Robert Metsola, the students took part in an interactive workshop which allowed them to discuss and vote on amendments to an EU proposal on climate action targets.

The students also enjoyed a walking tour of Strasbourg and met students from a host of other countries before enjoying some retail therapy!

Eimear said she would highly recommend entering the competition.

"We learned so much about the process of passing laws, both here, in Northern Ireland and at EU level," she said.

"We also learned how to use teamwork and effective communication to achieve a goal. The highlights for me were making new friends, visiting government buildings and learning about the history of Irish and Northern Irish politics. This trip has been a life-changing experience."