Cookstown High debate Brexit in mock debate at Stormont

From left, CHS's Jake Ferguson, Amy McAlister and Denver Black, who put their debating skills to good use
From left, CHS's Jake Ferguson, Amy McAlister and Denver Black, who put their debating skills to good use

Pupils from Cookstown High School joined 27 others schools from across Northern Ireland for a Mock Council of the European Union debate.

Sixth form pupils Amy McAlister, Denver Black and Jake Ferguson were at Stormont to tackle two of Europe’s most pressing issues post-Brexit - what next for the EU and the UK and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Now in its twelfth year, the event - which is organised by British Council NI and the European Commission Office in NI - was chaired by Jane Morrice from the European Economic and Social Committee, with Cookstown High School representing France.

Things got heated early on in the TTIP debate, with France in favour of ending negotiations.

They were concerned that the trade deal was loaded in the USA’s favour and that the deal lacked moral integrity and would not comply with the EU Convention on Human Rights.

Unfortunately for Cookstown High, the motion - that the EU should continue to negotiate with the US on TTIP - was passed, with many countries in agreement that the trade deal would not only be beneficial on economic terms, but would also create millions of jobs.

The second, and more pressing debate, called for a ‘hard’ Brexit or no Brexit at all - with France having no issue with calling for a ‘hard’ Brexit.

As one of the strongest economies in the EU, they felt the UK’s exit would have little impact - but a deal would need to happen soon.

Speaking after the event, Colette FitzGerald, Head of the European Commission Office in NI, said: “The European Commission Office in Northern Ireland is delighted to support the Mock Council, which is an ideal opportunity for students to learn and debate about the big issues.

Jonathan Stewart, Deputy Director, British Council Northern Ireland, added: “This event put pupils at the head of the negotiation table and allowed them not only to see how politics works at a wider, European level, but it also gave them the chance to understand the possible ramifications Brexit has on the UK, as well as the rest of Europe.”

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