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Carrigaline Student Prepares For Youth Assembly

Writes Ciaran Dineen

15 year-old school student, Roisin Tolan is preparing herself for the upcoming Youth Assembly debate, which is centred on the topic of climate change. 157 delegates have been chosen from across the country, with the event taking place on the 15th November in the Dáil Éireann chambers. The debate is set to be hosted live on the RTÉ News Now channel throughout the proceedings.

Roisin attends Scoil Mhuire secondary school in Cork City and resides with her family in Carrigaline. The 15 year-old was attracted to the topic following the rise of fellow female teenager, Greta Thunberg and her related activism in relation to climate change. Speaking on the influence of the Swede, Roisin told The Carrigdhoun Newspaper, “ I love that the way in which Greta is empowering the youth to take action on climate change and to challenge the status quo. She has done more to drive change in the past year than many politicians have done in their entire political career. She understands that everyone can make a difference regardless of age, ability, race or gender.”

In light of her new-found role model, Roisin felt encouraged to put herself forward for delegate selection when RTÉ contacted her school to see if they had any interested students. The competition for entry involved a series of essays and videos about the applicant’s views on climate change. These were entered online, which resulted in a short-list of people who were selected for a phone interview. After reaching the latter stage of the process, the Carrigaline native made a lasting impression and was subsequently picked as one of the Cork delegates.

Reacting to this brilliant news Roisin says, “I am really looking forward to the Youth Assembly. It is an honour to partake in a debate on such a vital matter in our country’s parliament. There are 5 groups generating proposals on a number of topics that impact climate. I am part of a group who will generate proposals on economics and climate change.”

In recent months the teen has been involved in the student climate strikes, with demonstrations taking place in Cork City. Roisin believes that everyone needs to be proactive in their approach to climate change, both at the home and at State level. She explains, “I believe climate change requires both small changes by each of us as consumers, and large changes driven by governments and corporations. Personally, I try to be conscious about how we use energy at home,  turning off lights when leaving a room, turning down heating etc. We are mindful of minimising the use of single use plastics, buying loose vegetables for example.”

It is clear that this movement is being driven by the youngest in our society and the Scoil Mhuire student believes that it’s vital for her generation to keep the foot down and maintain their current stance. “We need to continue our activism, forcing politicians to understand that each decision they make impacts our lives. Young people need to understand that this not a social media trend but a serious movement trying to bring about badly needed change.”

Like many local residents in the area, Roisin is more than aware of some the most notable issues that affects life in contemporary Carrigaline, including traffic congestion and has suggestions for viable alternatives. “I do believe people in Carrigaline understand the urgency and are trying to make a difference. Our biggest challenge is the huge amount of commuters leaving the town every day. People are forced to travel singly in cars as we do not have adequate public transport, so I would encourage the development of better bus services to the city and suburbs.”

Having previously represented Ireland at an U15-level debating competition in Cambridge University, Roisin is sure to prove what an excellent debater she is in the Dáil! From everyone at The Carrigdhoun Newspaper we want to wish her the very best of luck!

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