Here for Youth

Mock EU Elections for Secondary Students in Waterford City

On Tuesday, May 14th, five secondary schools from Waterford city and county got the opportunity to vote in a ‘mock’ EU election and learn about the democratic process.

An initiative of Europe Direct Waterford, Eurodesk and Waterford City and County Council, with the support of the Communicating Europe Initiative at the Department of Foreign Affairs, over 300 secondary school students experienced first-time voting in an election and learned about the opportunities for EU careers and travel.

The EU Mock Election and Careers Fair was held in the vestibule of the Theatre Royal and the Dr. Mary Strangman Large Room in City Hall.  Students were welcomed by the Mayor of Waterford City and County, Cllr Joe Conway, and were then introduced to the ‘polling booth’ as they got to cast their first ‘mock’ vote in an EU election.

Pól Ó Grádaigh, Language Affairs Officer with the European Commission Representation in Ireland spoke to the students about careers in language translation in the EU, while Mara Matthews and Mollie Mernagh of Comhairle na nOg spoke about the importance of young people using their vote and voicing their opinions.

Brian Leonard, Office Manager, Waterford Court Office acted as Returning Officer on the day, speaking to students about the voting and count process, his expertise ensuring the students left fully versed in the Irish election process.Caoilan Walsh, a 5th Year De la Salle student and winner of the Europe Direct Soapbox Speechmaking competition in 2023 for the South-East Region spoke of his experience of representing his school at the National European Youth Parliament earlier this year, while Shane Hogan of Waterford & South Tipperary Community Youth Service recounted his experience of Erasmus exchanges in seven European countries.

Sinead OHiggins, Senior Executive Librarian with Waterford City and County Council said, “We’re delighted to see so many young people here that are not only curious about the democratic process and how it works, but also realising that their vote really can make a difference and their voices will be heard when they cast their first vote.”

“I’d particularly like to thank the 300 students who took part in the mock election, their teachers and the teams from Eurodesk, the Southern Regional Assembly, PACT Youth Diversion Project and Waterford & South Tipperary Community Youth Service for putting together a fun and engaging event that gave our young citizens an insight into the power of the democratic process.”

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