The five Fine Gael MEPs, including Mayo's Maria Walsh, welcomed a group of 28 students and accompanying teachers from across Ireland, including four students and two teachers from County Mayo, to the European Parliament, Brussels recently.
MEPs Seán Kelly, Frances Fitzgerald, Deirdre Clune, Maria Walsh and Colm Markey also introduced the students to the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola.
Mayo students Thomas McNamara, Coláiste Pobail Acla, Achill Island; John Flannery, Our Lady's Secondary School, Belmullet; Zack O’Brien, Sancta Maria College, Louisburg; and Ciara Niland, Balla Secondary School, were accompanied by teachers Marie Moran (Achill Island ) and Thomas McNamara (Castlebar ). The Fine Gael MEPs arranged for the group to meet European Parliament President Roberta Metsola, Slovakian MEP Vladimir Bilcik and the European Youth Coordinator, Biliana Sirakova. Their discussions mainly focused on the war in Ukraine, youth policy, and the daily work of the Parliament.
Speaking after the visit, Midlands-North-West MEP Maria Walsh said the students expressed a strong interest in a variety of topics including education, youth employment and mental health: "It is incredibly important that young Irish people are afforded opportunities to better understand the work of the EU. Being able to sit at a table and have a conversation with EU decision-makers can really change how our young people view European politics. Visits like this are a fantastic way for people to better understand the European Parliament.
"It is extremely important for me to hear directly from constituents and hosting conversations like this is incredibly timely as we celebrate our EU Year of Youth. It ensures that our work here in the Parliament is connected to our young people at home."
The student and teacher visitor group represented various secondary schools across counties Louth, Leitrim, Westmeath, Mayo, Meath, Longford, Roscommon, Dublin, Laois, Offaly, Tipperary and Cork. The second-level students won the special visit to the Parliament in Brussels via a Graduate.ie citizenship and democracy programme.