Tipp student wins Rotary Youth Leadership Award

Carrick-on-Suir student Thomas Smith was one of just 14 teenagers from all over the island of Ireland to be conferred with a Rotary Youth Leadership award at the European Parliament’s offices in Dublin recently.

The competition, which is one of Rotary Ireland’s longest running youth projects, rewards young people with clear leadership potential based on their extra-curricular activities. It is run in conjunction with the EU offices in Dublin and Euroscola in Strasbourg.

Thomas, who is a student at Edmund Rice Secondary School, Carrick-on-Suir, was sponsored by Clonmel Rotary Club.

David Murray, District Governor of Rotary Ireland said the standard of the presentations and the winners’ contributions throughout this year’s competition was hugely impressive.

“I have to compliment Thomas and all of this year’s winners for the extremely high standard of their interviews and presentations. This year the programme was unfortunately curtailed due to covid but the response of this group to that and everything else covid has thrown at them has been really impressive. The resilience and enthusiasm they have shown in their local communities and during this programme reflects so well on all our young people.”

Usually, the award winners enjoy an exciting, six day, all expenses paid, team building trip to Belfast, Dublin and Strasbourg. This includes visits to The Titanic Centre, a tour of Stormont, a visit to the European Parliament offices in Dublin and a tour of Dail Eireann.

Participants then fly out to Strasbourg for the highlight of the trip, a full day of debating a variety of motions at Euroscola at the European Parliament with about five hundred other students from all over Europe. On the final day the winners enjoy a sightseeing trip around Strasbourg. Unfortunately, this year due to covid the Strasbourg element and some of the tours did not proceed.

However, the group did visit The Titanic Centre and City Hall in Belfast and went on tours of Dublin Castle and Trinity College in Dublin. The final part of the trip was a visit to the EU’s office in Europe House and a showcase event in The Freemasons Hall in Dublin city centre where the students presented on a range of issues to a panel including Green MEP Ciaran Cuffe.

Some of the topics the students presented on included European Security, Climate Change and the Environment, and Migration.

“Hopefully the full programme will be back up and running next year and I would urge as many young people as possible from every part of the island to take part” Mr Murray said.

The Rotary Youth Leadership Development Competition is open to 16- and 17-year-olds who are living on the island of Ireland.