Iveagh Scholars – Winner, Liam Gleeson

Well done to Liam Gleeson, Transition Year, who won a place on the Iveagh Scholars programme.   The prize is to spend a week at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade headquarters in Iveagh House after Easter.  Liam, along with a handful of students from other schools will learn how Ireland promotes its values, interests and economic well-being abroad.  

Liam’s winning entry can be read below

Honouring the Past, Imagining the Future by Liam Gleeson

We, as a country approaching the centenary of the 1916 rising, should look back at our past and see where we have come from and also look into the future. The principles that the men and women of 1916 fought for are still alive to this day.  If you had told Theobald Wolfe Tone that Ireland would become an Independent nation he probably would have believed you. If you had said to Edward Carson that Catholics and Protestants would share power one day he would be unable to comprehend.

With both of my great grandparents fighting and dying in the First World War, I have an interest in this part of our history.  One of my great grandparents joined the Royal Dublin Fusiliers and survived The Battle of the Somme only to die three months before the war ended.  Even during the war religion did not matter and Catholics and Protestants fought shoulder to shoulder.

There is also the Irish War of Independence and the Anglo Irish Treaty which divided the island.  We still have to live with its effects.  It seems that all of the problems that effect this island date back to the foundation of the state. However, when the Second World War broke out we showed we were our own nation by remaining neutral. This neutrality is still the foundation of our foreign policy.

I have stated some of the many hardships we have faced in our past but I will now discuss the struggles in recent times.  The economic downturn has had a massive impact on our society. From the start when the banks brought our country great pain each and every family was affected. Then after the bailout the country felt we lost our sovereignty and many people had the sense that we were ruled by the International Monetary Fund.  People had anger towards those who ruined the country.  Names like Anglo Irish Bank have become poison that represents the greed that brought our nation to its knees.

Then we come to the mess that is Irish politics. Parties will not work with each other.  Why? Over rivalries that exist long before people who are alive today. Other’s lie to the people and once they’re in government they go back on their promises, Irish water, for example. Some politicians like to claim that they saved the nation.  But the truth is that no political party that restored the economy or brought this country out of the economic down.  It was the Irish people and their sacrifices.

In terms of our future I feel we are a great example on how to deal with conflict.  In Northern Ireland the gun is no longer the way achieve our goals,  Talking is the only way.  We can be a leader to help end conflicts around the world.  Our future is bright and our economy is growing. I feel we have a duty to take a more active position on the world stage and help change the world for the better.

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