Dublin, 21 March 2017: An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD welcomed pupils from St. Vincent’s Girls National School, Dublin, to Government Buildings this morning to mark the official national launch of the Blue Star Programme for the school year 2016/2017.
Minister of State for European Affairs, Data Protection and the EU Digital Single Market, Dara Murphy TD, also warmly greeted the pupils and their teachers, along with Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD.
Also in attendance were representatives of the six original Treaty of Rome signatory countries, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Luxembourg to honour its upcoming 60th anniversary. Those representatives were H.E. Jean-Pierre Thébault, H.E. Matthias Höpfner, H.E. Philippe Roland, H.E. Paul Schellekens, H.E. Giovanni Braccesi Chiassi and Honorary Consul General Noel Kierans. Also in attendance were Blue Star Programme partners, Gerry Kiely, Head of the European Commission Representation in Ireland, and James Temple-Smithson, Head of the European Parliament Information Office in Ireland.
The objective of the Blue Star Programme, now in its sixth year, is to foster better understanding and knowledge among Irish primary pupils of how the European Union affects our lives. This year, the Programme, which is managed by European Movement Ireland, has more than 165 schools from all 26 counties registered, with over 12,500 participating pupils. Classroom projects and activities have already begun in earnest across the country.
Referring to the approaching 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome which laid the foundations of the EU, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD said: “Since 1957, the people of Europe have emphatically answered the call of the six founding members to pool resources and ‘to preserve and strengthen peace and liberty’. Today the EU has advanced from a community of six nations into a Union of 500 million citizens, and while challenges remain, it has led to unprecedented co-operation on matters of trade and politics and an unparalleled period of peace in Europe.”
Minister Dara Murphy TD stated: “I am delighted to be here at the national launch of the Blue Star Programme, coming as it does just days before we mark the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. The Blue Star Programme is an exciting programme that allows pupils to learn about our rich European heritage and the importance of the EU today. It’s fantastic to see the hard work and effort put in to all the projects by the children and their teachers and I know this is mirrored in over 165 schools taking part this year.”
Executive Director of European Movement Ireland, Noelle O Connell said: “We are delighted that pupils from St. Vincent’s Girls National School from North William Street, Dublin have launched the Blue Star Programme today. Over 60,000 Irish primary school pupils from all counties over the past six years have taken part in the Blue Star Programme and St. Vincent’s G.N.S. are wonderful representatives of the Programme.”
Ms O Connell concluded: “This is a special occasion and we look forward to marking Saturday’s 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome.”
About the Blue Star Programme.
The Blue Star Programme is a venture of the Communicating Europe Initiative under the auspices of the Office of the Minister of State for European Affairs, Data Protection and the EU Digital Single Market; the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Education and Skills; the European Commission Representation in Ireland; and the European Parliament Information Office in Ireland. European Movement Ireland has been the programme’s national Implementation Body since the pilot programme in 2011. For more information, visit our the Programme website.