TY student Alana Ní Chuinnegáin experienced an exciting week of political engagement as one of 24 Rotary Young Leaders of 2019. She first travelled to Belfast to meet with the other successful students from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. After a time spent getting to know one another, the group enjoyed a tour of the Titanic Visitors Centre, followed by a visit to Stormont, where Alana got to sit in on Northern Assembly talks and discuss a range of issues with Members of the Legislative Assembly. This was an exciting time as the Assembly had just reconvened after a 3 year stalemate.

The group then travelled to Dublin and the European Liaison Office in Ireland where Head of Office James Temple Smithson explained the role of the EU. It was here that the Alana received her Young Leaders 2019 certificate from William Cross, District Governor of Rotary Ireland. A visit to the Dáil, which was also a hub of excitement and election buzz, was followed by an official photo call at Dublin Castle.

Alana then flew to Frankfurt and on to the European Parliament in Strasbourg where she had the opportunity to take to the floor at Euroscola as a member of parliament along with 450 other students from around Europe. The Irish and Northern Irish delegation enjoyed discussions with MEPs before debating and voting on resolutions on current affairs. Alana was lead Chairperson in the debate on the future of Europe.

Alana has described this as an amazing opportunity. It allowed her to use her language skills, develop cultural awareness and appreciate cooperation across borders. She and the school would like to thank Rotary for this experience and she would encourage all TYs and 5th Years to enter the competition in the future. She hopes to study Law with Irish after the Leaving Cert with the intention of possibly working in the European Parliament as a translator. We wish her every success.