Pupils debate the big issues facing Europe

Belfast High School pupils (from left) Jonathan McMurray, Matthew Ennis and Nicholas Jobling at the Mock Council of the European Union. INNT 45-456-CON
Belfast High School pupils (from left) Jonathan McMurray, Matthew Ennis and Nicholas Jobling at the Mock Council of the European Union. INNT 45-456-CON
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Belfast High and Ballyclare High were among 29 schools from across Northern Ireland which were represented at Stormont recently to debate two crucial issues facing Europe.

Jonathan McMurray, Matthew Ennis and Nicholas Jobling, sixth form pupils at Belfast High, and David Orr, Anna McGarvey and David McKim from Ballyclare High took part in the annual Mock Council of the European Union.

Ballyclare High School pupils (from left), David Orr, Anna McGarvey and David McKim, represented Croatia at this year's Mock Council of the European Union. INNT 45-457-CON

Ballyclare High School pupils (from left), David Orr, Anna McGarvey and David McKim, represented Croatia at this year's Mock Council of the European Union. INNT 45-457-CON

Belfast High represented Austria and Ballyclare High, Croatia.

The Mock Council of the European Union recreates the environment of a real Council of the EU meeting.

Now in its tenth year, the annual event is organised by British Council Northern Ireland and the European Commission Office in Northern Ireland saw students tackle two topical issues: foreign policy and youth unemployment.

Chaired by Jane Morrice, from the European Economic and Social Committee, the debate questioned Turkey’s place in the EU, possible sanctions to be placed on Russia and whether Youth Guarantee Funds should be doubled to tackle youth unemployment.

One of the hottest topics of the day was whether or not the United Kingdom should have a referendum on its position within the EU.

Colette FitzGerald, head of office, European Commission Northern Ireland, said: “Northern Ireland’s membership of the EU offers many opportunities to engage with other European countries on trade, economy, education and culture. It is therefore crucial that young people in Northern Ireland find out about the European Union.

“The Mock Council provides an ideal forum for students to learn more about European issues and how the EU works in practice. We are delighted to be involved with this fantastic initiative which is celebrating its tenth year.”

British Council director, David Alderdice, added: “In order for Northern Ireland to compete internationally, we must continue to develop young people who are comfortable in the global marketplace.

“Programmes like the Mock Council contribute to that agenda and help young people develop skills that they will use as their careers develop. We hope these young people continue to avail themselves of international development opportunities as they continue their education. The Mock Council is one such opportunity, and many other possibilities are available to browse at www.britishcouncil.org/study-work-create.”

For more information on the Mock Council or any other programme available through the British Council, log on to nireland.britishcouncil.org