Mr Sean Kelly, MEP for Ireland South and former President of the GAA, paid a visit to Scoil Mhuire on May 25th. Accompanied by local Senator, Martin Conway, Mr Kelly provided a historical overview of the European Union reminding students that in 1973 when Ireland joined, we were one of the poorest countries in Europe and benefited greatly from our membership in terms of structural funding.
As a former teacher himself he stressed to the girls how critical a role education plays in enabling them to achieve their potential and urged them to keep abreast of what is happening in the world reminding them that learning is for life and the world is their oyster. Being the date that GDPR was enforced to protect and empower all EU citizens data privacy, Mr Kelly admitted that data is the new currency, transferred between entities millions of times each second. Mr Kelly enthusiastically spoke about renewable energy and the dangers of fossil fuels reminding the assembly of the importance of a combined effort to clean up the environment and wean ourselves off coal and oil. In particular, he warned about plastic pollution in our oceans and seas which is a threat to all life not just the fisheries sector. The extent of plastics pollution is said to be the equivalent to 850 containers full of plastic entering the ocean every day. Another relevant issue he spoke about with great sincerity was the danger of emissions from transport which accounts for almost a quarter of our emissions in the EU and the number one cause of air pollution. The shift away from fossil fuels in the transport sector is necessary he claimed, and electric vehicles need to be more accessible and more feasible to all. Mr Kelly and Senator Martin Conway were most impressed by the Transition Year European Studies projects which they viewed after the talk. Project topics were very varied and included Third Level Education in Europe, gaming industry,abortion, Art History, ballet, homelessness across Europe and mythology among others.