Flying the flag: Leo launches Global Schools programme
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's visit to Ringsend College in Dublin yesterday evidently brought back memories from his own school days.
He was on hand to launch the new Global Schools programme, which will see Irish diplomats and peacekeepers visiting secondary schools around the country to talk to students about their work overseas.
"What year are you all in? Do you have exams now? How are they going?" Mr Varadkar asked the teenagers gathered to see him speak, as they reported they were going well.
"OK, I remember doing Christmas exams," he said.
But given he made it into medical school, he probably didn't have to worry too much about his results in the Christmas report.
In another aside, he asked the students if they recognised Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, who was also present. "He's your local TD," he said, clearly enjoying the moment.
"Do you know the names of any of the other TDs in the area? Somebody must know," he said, scanning the floor, showing he may have taken to a bit of teaching too.
As part of the new programme, schools will be presented with a UN flag and a copy of the preamble of the UN charter.
Mr Varadkar said the Ringsend school was the first to be presented with the flag under the initiative, and it was about explaining to all of the public "but particularly our young people, how Ireland sees itself in the world".
He said that "a lot of people around the world now are looking inwards.
"You see a lot of that in eastern Europe, you see it in America where people are looking inwards".
Mr Varadkar added: "We see Ireland very differently. We see ourselves as a country that wants to be at the heart of the European Union.
"We have been involved in the European Union for nearly 40 years, and that means that we can travel anywhere around Europe, you don't need a visa, you don't need a work permit."
Principal Pauline Queally invited questions from the students, and the Taoiseach dealt with issues such as Brexit and why it's important to have embassies.
Students Ciarán Darcy and Abbie Gannon were then presented with the UN flag.
The Global Schools programme is one element of Global Ireland, the Government's policy which is designed to double Ireland's impact in the world by 2025.
"No nation can hope to meet the challenges facing the globe on its own or without co-operating with other countries," he said.
"Migration, climate change, armed conflict and hunger do not carry passports or recognise international borders.
"Through the Global Ireland initiative, we are expanding our presence internationally and increasing our investment and development assistance for some of the world's poorest countries."