Top Irish Students Debate the Future at EU Parliament

In the shadow of Brexit, 24 students aged between 16 and 18 from across the island of Ireland have competed in one of Rotary Ireland’s longest running projects, the Youth Leadership Development Competition which has been running for over 20 years and saw the winning students have the experience of a lifetime, giving them a real taste of what it’s like to make decisions and to lead.

The students begin their trip by visiting Stormont in Belfast, the EU Office and Dáil Éireann in Dublin and finally, the EU Parliament in Strasbourg where they took part in the Euroscola event.

Cormac Savage from Downpatrick was chosen as one of the winners from Ireland, and he he thoroughly enjoyed the experience;

Cormac said:  “Last week’s experience was truly amazing, I met some amazing people and I’ve made new friendships which I know will last a life time. Getting to see how the EU parliament works was incredible, it’s a week I will never forget and I’d like to thanks Rotary for making it happen.

Cormac Savage from Downpatrick and Sean Curtin from Clonmel in Tipperary took part in Rotary Ireland’s Youth Leadership Development Competition.  

These ‘leaders of tomorrow’, discussed the issues of today and set forth a vision for the future that they will be proud to be a part of. The final 24 competed against more than 1,000 young people from across the island of Ireland to secure themselves a place on this trip of a lifetime.  Spanning five days, the students further developed their debating and leadership skills, made new friends along with important contacts, and also gained a platform to speak at a time when their future is at stake.

Topics up for debate included; the environment, human rights and security, European elections, migration and integration, youth employment and of course the future of Europe with Brexit featuring heavily.

Past competitors have included Simon Harris TD and Robert Troy TD, along with BBC journalist Claire Savage, so it’s fair to say they are being given the opportunity of a lifetime.

Speaking at the event, Monica Robertson District Governor of Rotary Ireland said: ‘The winning 24 students impressed judges with their confidence, knowledge and desire to win.  Each and every one of them performed incredibly well and I believe got a lot of out the experience, it was a pleasure to meet these young people, many of whom I’m sure will be our leaders of tomorrow and will help to shape a better future for everyone’.

Euroscola is an annual event which offers the winners an immersive experience in the debating Chamber of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, allowing them to learn about European integration by experiencing it first-hand. Over 600 Students from the 28 EU Member States get the chance to become Members of the European Parliament for the day.

They took to the floor in plenary and committee sessions to debate and vote on resolutions on current affairs.  In 2019, a new element was added which allowed one student the opportunity to become a journalist for the trip, responsible for covering the event by taking pictures, conducting interviews and compiling a report on the event.

Rotary is a 101-year-old organisation consisting of 74 clubs across the Ireland – North and South – made up of determined ‘people of action’ from all walks of life who are pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved both locally and internationally. Youth development is just one of the areas in which Rotary is making a difference.

There are over 1,800 Rotarians in Ireland who have raised millions for charity and helped change the lives of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.

For further details on the Youth Leadership Development competition and for more information about how to join Rotary please visit: