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Laois student fresh from representing Ireland in EU Parliament

Muireann Brophy from Portlaois took part in Rotary Ireland's Youth Leadership Development Competition which saw her win the experience of a lifetime to travel to Strasbourg.

Laois could be the home to one of Ireland’s future world leaders and top debaters.

Heywood Community School student Muireann Brophy was one of those chosen to represent Ireland in the EU Parliament in Strasbourg.

Muireann was one of twenty-four students aged between 16 and 18 from across the island of Ireland to have competed in this Rotary Ireland project called the Youth Leadership Development Competition.

It 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.

Muireann was ecstatic with the project and memories she has from Strasbourg.

“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,” she said.

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.

Euroscola is an annual event which offers the winners an immersive experience in the debating Chamber of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Over 600 Students from the 28 EU Member States get the chance to become Members of the European Parliament for the day

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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Siún Lennon joined LaoisToday in a full-time capacity after studying Journalism and New Media in the University of Limerick. She hails from Rosenallis and her interests vary from news, sports and politics.