St Louis pupils debate pressing Euro issues

Orla Kane, Brendan McLaughlin and Anastasija Chelbuskina of St Louis Grammar School, Ballymena, who recently put their debating skills to good use when they represented Cyprus at this year's Mock Council of the European Union.
Orla Kane, Brendan McLaughlin and Anastasija Chelbuskina of St Louis Grammar School, Ballymena, who recently put their debating skills to good use when they represented Cyprus at this year's Mock Council of the European Union.

Students from St Louis Grammar School have joined 26 others schools from across Northern Ireland for a Mock Council of the European Union debate.

Sixth form pupils, Orla Kane, Brendan McLaughlin and Anastasija Chelbuskina were at Belfast City Hall to tackle two of Europe’s most pressing issues — Climate Change and Migration and represented Cyprus.

Run by British Council Northern Ireland, the event aimed to give Sixth Form students a chance to experience the EU’s decision-making process, by representing the 28 EU countries in debates on topical policy issues.

This year’s debate was supported by Queen’s University Belfast, with Dr Vivian Gravey and Dr Rachel Dickson acting as Chairs.

Speaking about the event, Dr Gravey said: “Well done to all today’s students – they all engaged really well and were keen to stay in role as long as possible.

“Participating in a Mock Council is a fantastic opportunity for students to step in to the shoes of ministers and get a taste for the variety of political opinions in Europe and what speaking for a country entails. Europe is constantly in the news and this event can help students make sense of our current situation.”

Also attending the event was Jonathan Stewart, Director, British Council Northern Ireland.

He said: “This event puts pupils in the hot seat by taking on the role of Ministers from the EU member states debating big issues affecting the EU. In preparation for today, students researched the various positions from the perspective of each of the member states, helping to develop greater intercultural understanding while learning more about the workings of the main decision‑making body of the European Union.

“This event, now in its 14th year, puts students at the head of the negotiating table and allows them not only to see how politics works at a wider European level, but also gives them the chance to understand the issues and challenges facing the UK and other member states in negotiating the complexities of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.”