Campbell College pupils will take Stormont by storm next month, when they participate in a Mock Council of the European Union.
Six form students Sam Carrigan, Sam Beattie, Eben Seocksman and Robbie Miller will take on the role of the European Commission at the annual debate, putting forward two of the most important issues facing Europe — the future EU-UK relationship and how the European Union will need to develop to deal with the challenges of the 21st Century.
They will be joined at the event - which is organised by the European Commission Office in Northern Ireland and British Council Northern Ireland - by 28 other schools who will make up the countries of the EU.
With current tensions in the real Council of the European Union, especially in regards to the Irish border question, this could be one of the most exciting debates in the event’s 13-year history.
Speaking about the opportunity was Campbell College Politics teacher, Mr Brown, who said: “We’ve been part of this event since the start and it has proven to have numerous benefits for our pupils. The more engaged they become in politics, the more they are able to make the connection with what they learn in the classroom.
“The formality and the setting of the occasion is also really important and helps the pupils understand that there are certain procedures and structures that they need to adhere to, and gives them the opportunity to practise their debating and diplomacy skills in a grand setting.
“A mock council also gives them a better understanding of how a political debate unfolds, and helps them network with other schools and pupils, pick up key skills and break out of their comfort zone.”
Eben, a politics student at Campbell College, is looking forward to taking part in the debate.
Explaining why he decided to take part, he said: “I’ve always been interested in politics and current affairs – especially now, with the ongoing issues with Brexit. I’m already part of the debating society here at school, but I’m really keen not only to think critically about current issues, but to learn and listen to other people’s perspectives
“I also want to study politics at University and pursue it as a career, so this will help develop the skills and knowledge I need to do this.”
Congratulating the students for taking up the role of representing the European Commission, Colette FitzGerald said: “"I am delighted that Campbell College has taken on the role of representing the European Commission at the Mock Council event at Stormont in October.
“The Mock Council is an ideal forum to allow students to engage in political debates and negotiations and to create greater awareness among young people about the big issues facing Europe today".
Also speaking about the event, Jonathan Stewart, Deputy Director, British Council Northern Ireland, said: “This year’s event is even more topical than ever and we are confident that Northern Ireland’s 16-year-olds will actively debate and participate in discussions that will mirror many of the actual discussions taking place in Brussels by Ministers across the EU during this week.
“This event will put pupils at the head of the negotiating table and allow them not only to see how politics works at a wider European level, but it will also give them the chance to understand the issues and challenges facing the UK and other member states in negotiating the complexities of the UK leaving the European Union.”
The Mock Council of the European Union will take place at Parliament Buildings on Friday, October 20. Schools still interested in taking part still have time to register, with the event aimed at 16-18 year-olds interested in European affairs or politics. For more information visit http://nireland.britishcouncil.org, on Twitter: BCouncil_NI or on Facebook: www.facebook.com/britishcouncilnorthernireland