Athlone student Ryan Dolan a winner in Rotary Youth Leadership competition

Athlone Community College student  Ryan Dolan receives his Rotary Youth Leadership Development award from Kenny Fisher, District Governor of Rotary Ireland and Patrick O’Riordan, Head of Public Affairs with the European Parliament in Ireland,  at an event at Europe House in Dublin recently. [Photo: Collette Creative Photography]

Athlone Community College student Ryan Dolan receives his Rotary Youth Leadership Development award from Kenny Fisher, District Governor of Rotary Ireland and Patrick O’Riordan, Head of Public Affairs with the European Parliament in Ireland, at an event at Europe House in Dublin recently. [Photo: Collette Creative Photography]

Athlone student Ryan Dolan 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.

The 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 hosted in conjunction with the European Parliament Liaison Office in Dublin.

Ryan, who is a fifth year student in Athlone Community College received his certificate from Rotary Ireland District Governor Kenny Fisher and Patrick O’Riordan, Head of Public Affairs at the European Parliament’s office in Ireland.

The itinerary for the students’ week-long all expenses paid trip included visits to Belfast, Dublin, and Strasbourg. In Belfast they received a private tour of City Hall, a tour of Stormont where they met several politicians including Deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly and sat in the visitor’s gallery to watch MLAs discussing affordable childcare.

In Dublin they enjoyed presentations about the EU at the European Parliament Liaison Office before being presented with their leadership certificates. They then went on tours of the Seanad and Dail where they met several politicians including Tánaiste Micheál Martin, the Minister for Education Norma Foley, Minister of State Jack Chambers and TDs Mairead Farrell and Alan Farrell.

They then flew to Frankfurt for a three-day visit to Strasbourg. After enjoying a walking tour of the city on arrival, the following day was spent at the European Parliament debating topical issues with other young Europeans at Euroscola, where students get to be MEP for a day. They also visited the European Court of Human Rights. On the last day they enjoyed a well-earned shopping trip in Strasbourg city-centre before flying home.

Ryan, who was representing Athlone Rotary Club, enjoys water sports and also coaches the U14 gaelic football team in his local club. He is also very active in a number of organisations including the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union, Spunout and Comhairle na nÓg where his main focus is on mental health and climate action issues. He said he entered the competition to learn how to become a better leader and work more effectively with teams.

“I learnt new interview skills and new and better ways of communicating effectively. I was so happy to have this opportunity and to meet my fellow students. The highlight for me was speaking in the European Parliament. It was a surreal experience and I think it has changed my perspective on my future. I would definitely recommend this competition. My school is a big promoter of Rotary, but I will definitely work with next year’s candidates to ensure they get very chance of progressing in the competition,” Ryan enthused.

 

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