Europe Day at St. Oliver Plunkett N.S.
St. Oliver Plunkett N. S. Blackcastle, Navan, Co. Meath held a ‘Europe Day’ on Friday, 8th March, 2019. This event was part of the school’s participation in the Blue Star Programme. The Blue Star Programme aims to foster better knowledge and understanding of Europe and what the EU means and how it works. The day focussed particularly on Lithuania and special guest on the day was the Lithuanian Ambassador to Ireland, Mr. Egidijus Meilunas. The ambassador was welcomed to the school not only by all its pupils and staff but also Ms. Helen McEntee TD, Minister of State for European Affairs.
Acting School Principal, Catherine Keane Faulkner explained that each participating school in the Blue Star Programme carries out projects and tasks that include information about the foundation and development of the European Union, the cultural and linguistic diversity of Europe and the role of the EU: what it does and how its work affects the lives of European citizens. Each school also holds a Europe Day event where the school community showcases and celebrates its achievements throughout the year.
Blue Star Programme Coordinator at St. Oliver Plunkett’s, Ruth Dunne, said that following the accession of Lithuania to the European Union on 1st May, 2004, the school had experienced a large increase in the numbers of children with Lithuanian parents attending. Currently, approx. 8% of the school’s pupils are of Lithuanian origin. In terms of non-Irish origin, this ranks second only behind Polish origin pupils.
The school choir and band performed the European Union anthem, ‘Ode to Joy’, and other music to entertain a large audience of pupils, parents and special guests. School children of Lithuanian origin read pieces on the history and culture of Lithuania and introduced a film on their country. The assembly concluded with the ‘Handshake for Europe’ in which attendees shook hands in a line to demonstrate the solidarity that exists among European citizens.
Minister for European Affairs Helen McEntee T.D. stated: "I was delighted to join the Lithuanian Ambassador to Ireland, Mr. Egidijus Meilunas in visiting St. Oliver Plunkett N.S. The school in Blackcastle, Navan is doing fantastic work in integrating its Lithuanian students and celebrating all the students in the school and their cultures, as well as learning more about the European Union.
The European Union is the biggest peace project in history, it is a powerful trading bloc in the world and a huge source of help to Ireland particularly as we face the challenges of Brexit. I compliment the vision and dedication of Teachers in St. Oliver Plunkett N.S. in bringing these issues to the attention of their students and the wider community