Youth unite to defend EU from the sceptics
LEINSTER youngsters are spearheading a drive to defend the EU from Euro-sceptics and nationalist lobby groups.
Young people from Dublin, Meath and Kildare formed the core of a 25-strong Irish delegation at the European Youth Parliament session which opened in Cork.
Matthew Gibbons and Pauline Keane from Meath and Shauna Breen from Wexford were enthusiastic participants at the four-day event.
Emma Bradfield-Skelly from Dartry in Dublin said the session provided an exciting programme of events ranging from workshops in Cork City Hall and UCC to a gala concert in the Cork School of Music and a formal Halloween ball in Cork Gaol.
"It is fantastic to meet so many people from so many European countries," she told the Herald.
European Affairs Minister Dara Murphy warned delegates that Ireland must play a key role in countering Euro-scepticism and anti-EU power blocs.
He warned that if traditional European consensus politics is threatened by nationalistic and aggressive Euro-sceptic groups, the entire future of the European project could be at stake.
The event, which is sponsored by Independent News & Media (INM), is being attended by more than 200 young people from 25 EU and eastern European states.
"I would criticise certain political elements within the EU, the nationalistic elements - it's too easy to say 'We will do it our way or we will walk out of the room. We are a bigger country or we are a richer country'. But that is not how the EU has worked for the past 60 years," Mr Murphy said.
"That is not how the EU will survive. In this country we focus on consensus, making our arguments and keeping people inside the room rather than throwing bottles from outside the room."
Ultra-nationalist and Euro-sceptic groups are set to make major gains in elections across Europe next year. The UK Independence Party is committed to Britain exiting the EU.