Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, TD, today launched a landmark programme to engage Irish students in international affairs and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s work to promote Ireland’s interests and values around the globe.
As part of the programme – the first of its kind by any Government department – students will compete to spend a week in the Department and will visit foreign embassies to see first-hand the work and impact of international diplomacy.
Speaking at the launch of the programme, the Global Horizons Youth Initiative, in Scoil Chríost Ri, Portlaoise, the Minister said:
“This is a great opportunity to show the next generation why Ireland’s foreign policy matters to the everyday lives of ordinary citizens. My Department is strategically focused on promoting Ireland’s economic prosperity, upholding our values and interests in a rapidly-changing world, and protecting Irish people abroad by providing consular and passport services and supporting emigrant groups.
“The young people who engage in this programme will live in a world that has been shaped by current foreign policy decisions. Ireland is a small, outward-facing nation and our prospects for economic growth, prosperity and security depend on our strong international engagement through the EU, the United Nations and in our close political, trade and cultural links with other countries.
“It is in all our interests that Ireland’s voice and our values are reflected in global dialogue and I look forward to hearing the ideas, views and hopes of young Irish people, who will be our next generation of leaders.”
The Programme is aimed at secondary school pupils, in particular Transition Year students, through to third-level students and graduates who are considering their next steps. The three strands of the Programme are: the ‘Iveagh Scholars’, ‘Diplomats in the Classroom’, and ‘Representing Ireland Abroad’.
The Iveagh Scholars, open to transition year students, is the first of its kind to be launched by a Government department. Students are invited to enter a competition in which they write an essay or record a short video on the theme of “Ireland’s values”.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will invite thirty competition winners to spend a week in the Department. During this week they will meet with diplomats on duty at home and abroad, visit Leinster House and also visit foreign embassies in Dublin. The students will have the chance to discuss and share their views on key issues in Ireland’s foreign policy, from human rights to promoting Irish businesses abroad.
‘Diplomats in the Classroom’ will involve staff from the Department visiting schools around the country to give interactive workshops and presentations on the Department’s work in Ireland and also across our network of embassies. Students will have the opportunity to learn more about our focus on representing Ireland’s interests globally; promoting trade and investment in Ireland; providing consular and passport services and working to eradicate hunger and poverty and increase global equality through the work of Irish Aid, the Government’s overseas aid programme.
As part of the ‘Representing Ireland Abroad’ strand, staff will travel to a number of graduate and post graduate events to highlight the opportunities of a possible career in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as well as in other international organisations. Consular services and safety when travelling abroad will also feature as part of this outreach.