St Declan's College

Ambassador Breandán Ó Caollaí visits St Declan's College

09-January-20
Ambassador Breandán Ó Caollaí visits St Declan's College

Diplomats & Peacekeepers visit 80 schools around the country as part of Global Ireland programme

Today, Thursday 9 January, Irish diplomats and Defence Forces’ peacekeepers will visit eighty secondary schools around the country as part of the ‘Global Ireland Schools’ programme. This will bring to 122 the total number of schools visited since the programme was launched by the Taoiseach in December 2018. The visits will give students around the country the chance to learn about Ireland’s role in a changing world from diplomats and peacekeepers who have served and continue to serve Ireland abroad. Of the eighty schools visited today, many of the Heads of Mission and Defence Forces peacekeepers will be returning to their former schools to share their experiences and to talk about the work they do overseas, about Ireland’s place in the world, our role in the European Union and at the United Nations and to hear what students have to say about the global challenges we face.

St Declan's College is honoured to welcome back one of its past pupils and current Ambassador to Australia, Fiji, The Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Nauru, Breandán Ó Caollaí. Ambassador Ó Caollaí graduated from St Declan's College in 1976 and has served in the diplomatic corps on missions in Italy, the UK, Boston and New York. Accompanying him is Corporal David Connaughton who will give a presentation on the work of our peace keepers abroad. David, a former pupil of St Kevin's College Ballygall Road, has been a serving soldier in the Irish army for the past fifteen years. He has been deployed on peacekeeping tours of duty in the Lebannon and Kosovo.

‘Global Ireland Schools’ forms part of the ‘Global Ireland’ programme – the Government’s strategy for doubling Ireland’s international impact by 2025. In partnership with the Departments of Education and Skills, and Defence, the programme will continue throughout 2020, with school visits intended to further counties and island schools around the country. Staff from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Defence Forces UN peacekeepers who have served abroad will also engage students in the scope and ambition of ‘Global Ireland’.

The ‘Global Ireland Schools’ programme will bring a deeper understanding of how UN membership has been central to our foreign policy, and has played a significant role in Ireland’s history. Each school will be presented with a UN flag and a copy of the preamble of the UN Charter, in recognition of Ireland’s contribution to addressing the biggest challenges facing our world today through peacekeeping, international development, human rights and disarmament.

Speaking about the ‘Global Ireland Schools’ programme, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney T.D., said:

“Through our peacekeeping operations around the world, the work of our diplomats, state agencies, and international development programme, Ireland has always proven that a small country can have a strong and decisive impact on the international stage.

My hope is that this programme can inspire second-level students to realise the potential they have to make a real impact; be it in their schools, their local communities, or in the wider world.”

Welcoming the expansion of the programme to a further eighty schools, Joe McHugh T.D., Minister for Education and Skills, said:

“The Global Ireland Schools programme allows students to hear firsthand from our diplomats and peacekeepers who represent us so well abroad. It helps our young people to better understand global challenges and how our country plays a significant role in contributing to addressing these.

This initiative will help students to understand what knowledge and skills are needed to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”

Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Mr Paul Kehoe, T.D. added:

“Ireland’s Defence Forces have a long and proud history of service to UN peacekeeping. I am delighted that we are working with our colleagues in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Department of Education and Skills to increase young peoples’ understanding of this important role”.

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