PRESS RELEASE: For the fourth year in a row….Irish children lead the ‘Handshake for Europe’.

Initiated in 2013 by Irish schools involved in the ‘Blue Star’ programme, primary school children throughout Ireland once again took part in a ‘handshake across Europe’ to mark Europe Day, May 9, 2016. 

Over 190 schools with more than 11,500 pupils, in communities in every county of Ireland will participate in their own events; representing all of them at City Hall, Dublin were Gardiner Street Primary School from Dublin and St Thomas National School from Rathmore in Westmeath.  More than 50,000 children have participated since the inception of the Handshake.

Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Janice Boylan and government TD, Deputy Dara Murphy, together with pupils from both schools formed a handshake chain to celebrate Europe and the schools’ participation in the Blue Star programme. The Handshake also symbolises the solidarity and diversity between them as EU citizens.  The two schools have participated in the programme since its inception and Deputy Murphy made each school a special presentation to mark this achievement.

Speaking at today’s proceedings, Deputy Murphy said, “I’m delighted to mark Europe Day again this year with 2 of our almost 200 Blue Star schools. The ‘Handshake for Europe’, which was initiated by Irish primary schools, is a great way to celebrate the diversity and inclusiveness of the Blue Star Programme, which is at the very heart of European integration.”

Deputy Lord Mayor of Dublin, Councillor Janice Boylan said, “I am delighted to join these wonderful children from Dublin and Westmeath, and to take part in the Handshake. I congratulate them and their teachers for all the work they have done to date on the Blue Star programme.”

Ms. Noelle O’Connell, Executive Director of European Movement Ireland, said “Irish schools are really leading the way in creativity and innovation.  This year, we have our highest number of participating Blue Star Schools yet, from every county in Ireland.”

“The Blue Star programme helps children, their parents and families to look at all aspects of the EU from learning about the institutions to re-enacting scenes from the history of another country. Pupils also get to hear about the countries where their classmates are from, which is a great bonus. We are always very impressed by the imagination and innovation of both the participating teachers and the pupils”, concluded Ms. O’Connell.

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