UCD Alumni Reception in Brussels hosted by Irish Ambassador

Picture Above: Prof Imelda Maher MRIA, Dean of Law and H.E. Ms. Helena Nolan, Ambassador of Ireland

Staff and students of the UCD Sutherland School of Law, in conjunction with SPIRe (The School of Politics & International Relations), returned recently from a very successful European Law and Politics Field Trip to the European Institutions in Brussels and Luxembourg. To mark the visit, H.E. Ms. Helena Nolan, Ambassador of Ireland hosted an alumni reception in the Embassy of Ireland in Brussels. 

The group of nearly 15 students on the trip was honoured to attend the Embassy and delighted with the chance to meet with alumni.  The international nature of the group alongside their Irish colleagues reflected the changing nature of Irish graduate education in particular and the extent to which Irish universities have become more outward looking, making events such as this all the more relevant.  

The reception was very well attended by Brussels based alumni and offered the students a great opportunity to meet a number of UCD graduates who have built successful careers in the major European Institutions. 

Pictured above, centre Jordan Ni Cheallaigh

Jordan Ní Cheallaigh has shared her reflection on the trip:

In March 2018, I took part in the field trip to Brussels and Luxembourg, organised by Sutherland School of Law in tandem with the School of Politics and International Relations. While in hindsight it was both brief and intense, the trip was an inspiring and highly rewarding experience.

The trip involved a series of visits to the European institutions, including the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Court of Justice among numerous other public and private bodies operating within the EU.

Having spent considerable time studying the EU at both undergraduate and graduate level, I have obtained a broad but abstract knowledge of the everyday workings of the Union. The trip to Brussels afforded me a unique opportunity to experience what I had only ever seen through textbooks as a personal reality. The trip presents students with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see ‘under the bonnet’ of the inner workings of the EU, and to experience first-hand the interconnected nature of European law and governance. As a hard-line politics student with scant pre-existing knowledge of EU law, this experience added yet another layer to my academic and personal perspective of the EU as a multifaceted political and legal institution.

Through the reception at the Irish Embassy, I was afforded the opportunity to interact with numerous UCD alumni that had been in similar positions to mine only years previously. I learned not only about the skills and experience needed to pursue a career in Brussels but about everyday life in Brussels as a vibrant, multinational city.

Upon returning from Brussels, I have begun to reflect on my future career. The trip not only enhanced my understanding of the EU, but also reassured me that my professional goals are achievable. I would give anyone thinking about signing up for the trip in future one piece of advice: Go!

Pictured Above: Geert De Wael, UCD Alumnus and Bonaldi Da Costa student on the Masters of European Law and Public Policy

Bonaldi Da Costa has also shared a note on his experiences of the trip:

Currently studying on the MEconSc European Public Affairs and Law program, I had the distinct pleasure to have received the School of Politics & International Relations scholarship to attend this year’s EU Field Trip. With a background in European Studies, I knew going into this trip that it would be a fantastic opportunity to gain an insight into life at some of the EU institutions located in Brussels and Luxembourg, and I can wholeheartedly say that I was not disappointed. From engaging conversations with prominent figures such as MEP Sean Kelly at the European Parliament and Vice-President Andrew McDowell of the European Investment Bank to auditing a preliminary reference hearing at the European Court of Justice and more, I feel that my knowledge on the functioning of the European Union, particularly the manner in which these institutions interact with one another, has deepened in a way which perhaps it wouldn’t have, had I not partaken in this trip.

Moreover, the Alumni event hosted at the Irish embassy came at the perfect time, as it provided me with an opportunity to network with some fantastic people, with whom I will look to reconnect, as I prepare my move to Brussels in a month’s time to start an internship at the EESC.

I cannot emphasise just how much this trip has benefited me and so would definitely advise students belonging to the School of Law and School of Politics to not pass up on future opportunities.