Secondary school students around Galway will get a chance to learn more about the working of the European Commission this week when a number of EC officials return to their alma maters to discuss their work.
Alan Browne, a former pupil of St Ignatius’ College; Eithne McCarthy, who went to Gort Community School; Olive Burke, former pupil of Portumna College; and Peter Anthony Curran, who went to St Raphael's College, Loughrea will visit their old schools today (Thursday ) and tomorrow. Mary Teresa Moran, another Galway woman, will pay a visit to Salerno Secondary School, Salthill; Dominican College, Taylor's Hill; and St Joseph's Patrician College (The Bish ).
During the visits students will get a chance to hear about what the five do at work, along with careers in the EU, the challenge of living and working abroad, and any European issues of interest.
“I’m delighted to be going back to Galway,” said Ms Moran this week. “Returning to your roots is a great way to connect with young people and find out what they want and expect from Europe.”
Plenty of other Irish bigwigs in Brussels will be also be paying visits home, including Catherine Day, secretary-general of the European Commission.
Ruth Deasy, Irish press officer for the European Commission, said she was delighted so many Irish people working for the EU have taken up the invitation to go back to their old schools. “I know many of them are really keen to talk about their experience at the coal face in Brussels,” Ms Deasy added. “And lots of them have really interesting jobs. It just goes to show that Irish people do well wherever you put them.”
Alan Browne is based in the London Representation of the Commission and supports four UK offices and the Dublin office, providing IT support to the staff of the Representations.
Eithne McCarthy works for the Competition Directorate General of the European Commission which formulates, analyses, and enforces competition law.
Olive Burke is a policy assistant to a director in Directorate General Enterprise and Industry, which deals with pharmaceutical, cosmetics, automotive, and food industries.
Peter Anthony Curran works in the Internal Market and Services Department and deals with enforcing EU rules on postal services, for example taking action against member states for failing to ensure quality of service, or helping postal users to have their complaints addressed.
Mary Teresa Moran is a part of the Central Civil Service Department of the European Commission and is responsible for making sure that the different parts of the foreign policy are ‘joined up’.
They are dropping into their old schools for a chat in a 'Back to School' initiative taking place across the EU.
In all, 90 Irish EU officials will be visiting their old schools this autumn and a total of 600 European officials will be doing the same across the EU.
The initiative started in 2007 when the German officials went 'back to school' to mark the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, and it proved so popular that it has expanded every year, with more and more people taking part.
Some subjects expected to come up are the EU and the economic crisis, climate change, trade and development, studying and working abroad, and translating and interpreting jobs at the EU.