Students from across Northern Ireland became MEPs for the day at the European Youth Parliament, which was held at Belfast Metropolitan College on Thursday 31 March 2011.
St. Colman's College, Newry and Victoria College, Belfast fought off strong competition to win the Northern Ireland regional final of the European Youth Parliament and will both now represent Northern Ireland at the UK national session in Durham in September.
The nine participating schools were St. Colman's College (Newry), Victoria College (Belfast), St. Dominic's Grammar School (Belfast), Ballymena Academy, St. Patrick's Grammar School (Armagh), The Wallace High School (Lisburn), Royal Belfast Academical Institution (Belfast), Portora Royal School (Enniskillen) and Dominican College (Portstewart).
Each of the schools, with a team of ten students, formed a committee and presented, explained and debated resolutions on a range of topical issues including security and defence, social affairs, fisheries and international trade.
Maurice Maxwell, Head of the European Commission Office in Northern Ireland said: “I hope that the students not only learned about the workings of the European Parliament, but also gained an insight into some of the big issues currently being considered by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and the European Commission in Brussels."
Caitríona Hughes from the Northern Ireland European Youth Parliament Committee said: “We were delighted this year to have both Bairbre de Brún MEP and Diane Dodds MEP attend our event. Their input gave an insight into the work of an MEP and may well inspire some of the students to follow their footsteps in years to come."
Mike Leyland, Chair of the EYPUK Committee was delighted with the standard of debate at the Northern Ireland EYP Forum and said that he would expect the winning schools to be excellent ambassadors for Northern Ireland when they attend the National Selection weekend in Durham in September.
The EYP competition in Northern Ireland is organised by the NI European Youth Parliament Committee in partnership with the European Commission Office in Northern Ireland.