On Friday 21st October 2011, Wellington College pupils Emily Graham, Victoria Carson and Jessica Mercer (all Year 13), accompanied by their Politics teacher, Dr Agnew, went to Parliament Buildings at Stormont for the ‘Mock EU Council’ as the representatives of Portugal. The event involved twenty- eight schools from both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland discussing two issues: one on digital modernisation (security, development etc.) and a second debate regarding the current state of the European Union. Jane Morrice – a former Woman’s Coalition MLA- chaired the debate which began with each country introducing themselves and their opinion of the topic.

The first debate was a lively one, with lots of insights, as Italy and Switzerland were concerned with the safety of personal information on the Internet, and most countries felt the need for tighter overall security. Emily Graham spoke in this round and did a great job handling the pressure of being one of the first pupils to introduce their country. As Portugal’s delegates, we believed that Portugal was digitally well developed. However, we agreed that more effective security was required.

The second debate involved the recent development of the EU Referendum. The United Kingdom was targeted due to the motion calling for the country to be given a choice between remaining in the EU, leaving or negotiating the terms of a looser relationships “based on trade and co- operation”. The United Kingdom, in a difficult position, did their best to try and make the rest of the countries see their point of view and handled the constant pressure well.

After engaging in some friendly conversation over lunch and recharging our batteries, it was time to commence the last session of the second debate. Overall, the day was an extremely useful educational experience, as well as being my first time at Stormont. Being inside the Senate debating chamber had Emily, Victoria, and I somewhat intimidated. However, the friendly and exciting atmosphere gave us all a better understanding of the realities of political matters and how much goes into making vital decisions. The Mock EU Council proved to be an effective and beneficial educational experience and increased my interest in politics immensely.

By Jessica Mercer