Two NW students presented with Rotary Youth Leadership Development certs

Two students from the Northwest, Aisha O’Hara Boyle from Buncrana and Cliodhna McNulty from Strabane, were among a group of just 24 teenagers from all over the island of Ireland to be presented with Rotary Youth Leadership Development certificates at the European Parliament’s offices in Dublin.

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. Cliodhna who is in Year 14 in Holy Cross College Strabane and Aisha who is a TY student in Scoil Mhuire Buncrana received their certificates from Rotary Ireland District Governor Kenny Fisher and Patrick O’Riordan, Head of Public Affairs at the European Parliament’s office in Ireland.

The itinerary for the students’ week-long all expenses paid trip included visits to Belfast, Dublin, and Strasbourg. In Belfast they received a private tour of City Hall, a tour of Stormont where they met several politicians including Deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly and sat in the visitor’s gallery to watch MLAs discussing affordable childcare.

In Dublin they enjoyed presentations about the EU at the European Parliament Liaison Office before being presented with their leadership certificates. They then went on tours of the Seanad and Dail where they met several politicians including Tánaiste Micheál Martin, the Minister for Education Norma Foley, Minister of State Jack Chambers and TDs Mairead Farrell and Alan Farrell.

They then flew to Frankfurt for a three-day visit to Strasbourg. After enjoying a walking tour of the city on arrival, the following day was spent at the European Parliament debating topical issues with other young Europeans at Euroscola, where students get to be MEP for a day.   They also visited the European Court of Human Rights. On the last day they enjoyed a well-earned shopping trip in Strasbourg city-centre before flying home.

Aisha who was representing Letterkenny Rotary Club, is a very keen reader, has a huge interest in current affairs and is actively involved in politics. The Irish language is also very close to her heart while on the sports side, she took up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu a year ago.

“One of the main points I took away from this competition was to believe and trust in myself more. I also was lucky enough to have amazing people around me in the competition and the constructive feedback they gave me will be a tool that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. The highlight was definitely the people I met along the way….I am extremely grateful to Rotary Ireland for this trip, even if it did mean crying my eyes out at the airport when we all had to go home, when the trip was over. I will certainly recommend this competition and “pay it on” until I leave school.”

Cliodhna, who was representing Rotary Club Strabane / Lifford, is studying history, politics, maths and science. She has been practicing karate for the past ten years.

“I was hoping to learn more about the European institutions and the impact these institutions have on Ireland and also about leadership skills and qualities. I also gained interview skills experience which I believe will be valuable to me in the future. I loved meeting all the others on the trip and it was really nice to get to know everyone and hear everyone’s different points of view. I also really loved going into the Dáil – it was really interesting to see it.”

Kenny Fisher, District Governor of Rotary Ireland praised the students’ enthusiasm and willingness to engage with the programme.

“I have to compliment Cliodhna, Aisha and all of this year’s winners on two counts. Firstly, for the wide range of sporting, artistic and community-based activities they are involved in and secondly for the level of knowledge they displayed on a wide range of topics and the extremely high standard of their contributions throughout the week of this trip.  It was wonderful to watch this group work and socialise together and we hope the bonds they formed this week will endure into the future.”

“While they might have arrived as strangers, we know they left as friends having enjoyed great experiences and 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 Fisher said.

Patrick O’Riordan from the European Parliament Office in Dublin said; “As we approach the European elections in June, we can all learn from the enthusiasm, engagement, and active citizenship of this exceptional group of young leaders. I look forward to seeing these very talented young men and women contributing to politics and society and improving lives in Ireland and Europe in the years to come.”

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

Pic –  Cliodhna McNulty (L) and Aisha O’Hara Boyle (R)