NATIONAL honours in a competition to raise awareness of how the European Union works have gone to St Joseph’s Secondary School in Tulla.<br/>Leaving Cert students Liam Boyce and Eoghan Kinsella won the 2021 Model Council of the European Union at a virtual event last week, beating strong competition from teams around the country.<br/>The theme of this year’s debate was highly topical as EU Member States actively look into ways to co-ordinate their health policies to respond more effectively to global pandemics and emergencies such as Covid-19.<br/>For the Model Council, each school team plays the role of a particular members state and must research the issues for the country they are representing.<br/>Liam and Eoghan were assigned to represent The Netherlands and, as part of their advance research, they held a virtual meeting with Ambassador Adriaan Palm.<br/>Mrs Lorraine Glynn, who coached the team said the school is delighted with the win.<br/>“In preparation for the debate the boys held a virtual meeting with the Netherlands Embassy in Dublin,” she outlined.<br/>“Ambassador Palm was very generous with his time and guidance. During the debate, the boys had to represent the views of the Netherlands and respond according to that member states perspective.<br/>“I have been coaching our teams here for the last five years and we are delighted to have won it twice. First in 2017 and again this year. It is such a demanding competition and I am so pleased that the boys took home the title.”<br/>Second place went to St Mary’s College, Naas, County Kildare, and third place to St Columba’s College, Stranorlar, Donegal.<br/>Along with St Joseph’s in Tulla, these schools rose above 24 other schools from all over Ireland, while discussing a co-ordinated response at EU level to serious cross-border threats to health.<br/>The virtual event was formally opened by Minister for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne. “Taking part in negotiations at the heart of the European Union is not an easy task,” he said. “It requires knowledge of different cross-cutting policy areas, from climate and agriculture, to science, technology and health.<br/>“You need to be able to understand various points of view from different people and Member States, to actively listen and work constructively with them.”<br/>Acting Head of the European Commission Representation in Ireland, Andy Klom paid tribute to all involved, and thanked EU Member State ambassadors for their support.<br/>The debate was chaired by Martina Fitzgerald, CEO of Scale Ireland, and the judges were Noelle O’Connell of European Movement Ireland and Mary McCaughey of Eurofound. The prizes were announced by Green Party MEP, Grace O’Sullivan.