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Students lobby UN over poverty

Twelve enthusiastic students from six Irish schools are just back from a successful trip to the United Nations in New York where they lobbied on behalf of the poor of the world. They met the Consul of the Irish Permanent Mission to the UN and the Chef de Cabinet of the President of the General Assembly.

The trip was the brainchild of NGOs 80:20 and Concern. 80:20 Educating and Acting for a Better World  is an Irish based charity promoting popular education on human development and human rights.

The schools represented were Loreto schools in Swords and Clonmel, Saint Marks, Tallaght, Christian Brothers Oatlands, Dominican College, Sion Hill and Presentation College Bray.

They were in the New York to tell the United Nations that it is essential that the world leaders honour their promise and make sure to keep to the timetable of the Millennium Development Goals, which promise to reduce world poverty by half by 2015.

Getting involved

Shane Lauritsch and David Doyle, students at Oatlands College have already visited a hospital in India and as a result of that visit have set up a group in Ireland to help the sick children in India. “So far we have raised €10,500 and this money has helped save the lives of 11 children in hospital in India,” Shane, who comes from Leopardstown, said.

Last summer David, who is involved with Schools Across Borders, was host with his family to a young man from Palestine. “Anas lives in Hebron and it really was a great chance for me and the family to get a personal insight into the suffering of the people in the Middle East,” David explains.

Ciara Keogh and Orla Power from Loreto School in Swords whetted their appetites for development work through seminars organised by Justice and Peace, as did Roisín Keane and Sarah Hourigan from the Loreto School in Clonmel.

Matthew O’Callaghan from Foxrock and a student at Presentation College Bray, made his own shanty town shack and lived in it for three days. “We managed to raise over €7,000 and sent the money to a school in northern Ghana.

Lobbing for change

All the students, besides a track record in developmental work, were interviewed and wrote an essay on development work. Before heading out to the United Nations the group met Minister for Development Aid, Micheál Kitt and they also briefed Enda Kenny and the Fine Gael Foreign Affairs spokesman, Billy Timmins.

The group was accompanied by Colm Regan from 80:20, Michael Doorly from Concern, Deirdre Gallagher, who teaches in Presentation College Bray and Brian Kehoe, teacher in Oatlands College.

While in New York they linked up with four high schools in the city and both the Irish and US students lobbied the UN to listen to the needs of the poor around the world. Concern works in 29 of the poorest countries on the planet.