Swords student a winner in Rotary Youth Leadership Competition

by Gazette Reporter
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Dublin student Rebecca McCloskey was one of just 24 teenagers from all over the island of Ireland to be presented with a Rotary Youth Leadership Development certificate 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 European Parliament Liaison Office in Dublin and Euroscola in Strasbourg.

Rebecca, who is a student at Loreto College Swords, received her certificate from Rotary Ireland District Governor Captain Sean Fitzgerald and Patrick O’Riordan, Head of Public Affairs at the European Parliament’s office in Ireland.

After being disrupted by covid for the last two years, this year saw a welcome return to the regular itinerary which involves visits to Belfast, Dublin, and Strasbourg. During the six day all expenses paid trip the competition winners visited Belfast City Hall and Stormont where they met and chatted with politicians from various parties. 

Then it was onto Europe House in Dublin where they were presented with their certificates before a trip to Dail Eireann where they met the Minister for Education Norma Foley and several TDs.

Group Photo at European Parliament Offices

They then flew to Frankfurt for a two-day visit to Strasbourg. After being formally welcomed by the President of the European Parliament, Robert Metsola the students took part in an interactive workshop which allowed them to discuss and vote on amendments to an EU proposal on climate action targets. The students also enjoyed a walking tour of Strasbourg, met students from a host of other countries before enjoying some retail therapy!

Rebecca, who is involved in the wellbeing and leadership committees at her school, is also a member of her local GAA club. She described the trip as an experience of a lifetime. “The highlight of the trip was sitting in the hemicycle of the EU parliament in Strasbourg. But this competition provides a truly outstanding opportunity to young students. You learn so much about politics in your local area but also across the EU. I would definitely recommend taking part in this competition as it is a once in a lifetime opportunity and you make lifelong friendships.”

Captain Sean Fitzgerald, District Governor of Rotary Ireland said the knowledge and enthusiasm of the students was hugely impressive. “I have to compliment Rebecca and all of this year’s winners for their willingness to engage and the extremely high standard of their contributions throughout the week. It was wonderful to have a full complement of students back on the trip this year and it was clear to us that while they arrived as strangers, they left as friends having enjoyed a wonderful journey.” 

“I would urge as many young people as possible from every part of the island to take part in next year’s competition” Mr Fitzgerald  said.

Patrick O’Riordan from the European Parliament said; “This exceptional group of young men and women was one of the most engaging and well-informed that we’ve ever had the pleasure of welcoming to Europe House and I look forward to seeing them contributing to public life in Ireland and Europe in the years to come and returning as MEPs or Ministers!”  

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

Rotary Youth Leadership Development Competition – Rotary in Ireland (rotary-ribi.org)

PHOTO – Secondary school student Becky McCloskey receiving her Rotary Youth Leadership Development award from Capt. Sean Fitzgerald, District Governor of Rotary Ireland and Patrick O’Riordan, Head of Public Affairs with the European Parliament in Ireland, at an event at Europe House in Dublin recently. [Photo: Collette Creative Photography]

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