Children across the North West were kept busy shaking hands with each other this week, as part of nationwide celebrations for Europe Week. Local MEPs visited schools across the constituency to share the “European Handshake” and rejoice in the diversity in our schools.
The handshake is one of a series of initiatives centred around Europe Day on May 9th, commemorating the day in 1950 when France and Germany vowed never again to go to war, which led to the creation of what has become a union of 27 countries.
Independent MEP for the North West Marian Harkin, explained the significance of being part of Europe during her visit to Mean Scoil Mhuire in Longford on May 9th.
“The idea of the handshake is simple: pupils across Ireland join hands in a spirit of solidarity and celebrating diversity, and I’m pleased to be part of such a timely and wonderful initiative,” said Ms Harkin to the enthusiastic pupils.
Fianna Fáil MEP for the North West, Pat the Cope Gallagher, took a trip to Rosses Community School in Dungloe, County Donegal to spread the European Handshake. Mr Gallagher was delighted to take part in what he described as an excellent initiative.
“I was really please to visit my local school and mark the occasion; it was an opportune time to explain to the pupils a bit about the history and background of the European Union,” he said.
Because of Ireland’s six-month EU presidency, and also to mark the 40th anniversary of Ireland’s EU membership, it was decided this year to extend Europe Day to a whole week of celebratory events. They included cultural, entertainment and business events, such as the Europe Day Breakfast Briefing in Shannon. The Irish Exporters Association organised the breakfast to showcase the success abroad of local companies in the West of Ireland.
Other events included the Galway Early Music Festival and the Ballinderreen Festival of Irish Music and Dance. During Europe Week, Ballinderreen offered modern dance classes with a Polish teacher, art classes with an Italian teacher, yoga classes with a German teacher and French language classes. Visitors were also offered food tastings from a host of European countries.