Rachel Creevey
Tue, 26 Jan 2016
Pictured at the launch were (l-r): Ian Power (Executive Director of SpunOut), Orla Murphy (UN Youth Delegate), MEP Mairead McGuinness, MEP Lynn Boylan and Deirdre Garvey (CEO of The Wheel)


On Friday 15th January, I attended an event in the headquarters of SpunOut.ie. SpunOut in partnership with The Wheel and the European Parliament Office were launching a new information hub to increase awareness of the activities of the European Parliament amongst young people in Ireland.

The event began with an information video entitled “How the European Parliament Works”. It was just 1.45 seconds long but I learned a lot from that video!  

Did you know that the European Parliament has 751 MEPs (Members of Parliament) who come from 28 countries across Europe?

Did you know that the number of MEPs each country has is based on its population? Ireland has 11 MEPs.

The purpose of the EU Hub is to help young people become more aware of politics, how it works and why it’s important. The Hub contains articles and videos about the European Parliament, explaining its role in the EU architecture, the role of MEPs and how the European laws work

Speaking at the launch were two of Ireland’s MEPs Mairead McGuiness (Vice President of the European Parliament) and Lynn Boylan. They shared the podium with Orla Murphy, one of Ireland’s first ever UN youth delegates.

In her role as Vice President of the European Parliament, Mairead deals with communications; hence her involvement in the day’s event. When speaking about the younger generation she said “we need your generation to be really active and engaged, whether you are going to run or support but particularly vote or get involved. We have to have that level of engagement. We don’t want people to feel removed from the political process and stand back from it”   

It was Mairead’s job to officially launched the EU Hub, after which she gave the floor to Lynn and Orla who were there to talk about the theme of the day’s event which was gender and racial discrimination and what the European Parliament can do to combat that here in Ireland.

Before creating the information hub SpunOut did an online consultation with 450 young people to see what the information needs and demands were and the issues of gender and racial discrimination came up as the top areas of interest for SpunOut readers  

Lynn spoke about how she would like to see a reform of the European Union. She would like the social pillars of the European Union to be treated with the same respect as the economic pillars. “There are sanctions if you don’t fulfill your economic obligations buts there’s no sanctions if you don’t fulfill the social obligations. They need to be treated equally!”, she said.

 Orla Murphy was last to speak. Orla is one of Ireland’s first ever UN Youth Delegates

Orla is a graduate in politics. She spoke about studying the EU in the run up to her first year exams; how she was so confused about the decision making procedures and voting inside the parliament. So she did what most young people do these days, she googled it! In the results she found out about an event in Germany, a model of the European Parliament. She attended the event and had a great time. But as she said herself she realizes she was very fortunate to be able to do so. However with the launch of the EU Hub the kind of information that Irish students might need, will now be at their fingertips!

Not long after herself and Eoin O’Liatháin were appointed as the Irish UN Youth Delegates, they flew to Brussels for training and to meet with other UN Delegates. On that trip, they visited the Parlamentarium (the European Parliament Visitors Centre). Both Orla and Eoin (who hadn’t studied politics himself) were really impressed with the Centre. We don’t have a Parlamentarium here in Ireland but Orla believes the EU Hub brings the Parliamentarium to everyone. Orla spoke about how we are given a lot of information about the EU through the media but she said this EU Hub allows the person to navigate directly to what interests them.    

If you would like to visit the EU Hub, please go to http://spunout.ie/news/category/eu-hub