IT was a long time ago when Niall O’Neill came to Heywood for the first time. Indeed in 1971 Heywood was the name they gave the estate where stood the Salesian College he attended. That was later to become Heywood Community School.
What brought Niall O’Neill back was a ‘Back to School’ initiative in which six EU officials returned to visit their old schools to talk about the current work they are doing and to talk about about the European Community.
Niall O’Neill started as a translator in the European Parliament and has since risen to the role of Head of the Accreditation Unit in the Directorate for Security and Risk Evaluation at the European Parliament in Brussels.
In an address to the third year students of CSPE (Civic Social and Political Education) he explained the role of the European Parliament and how legislation and regulations are proposed and processed in Europe. In a witty and informative talk he outlined the roles of the various institutions and officials in the European Community and his particular role and career path.
He explained about the alternating sittings of the parliament in Brussels and Strasburg, the functioning of groups, committees and alliances in steering legislation through and the differences between a translator and an interpreter. A translator he explained, works from written documents where as an interpreter translates the spoken word on the spot.
It was a fascinating, informative and humorous presentation that clarified the roles and functions of these institutions in Europe and was well appreciated by the attentive students. It was also remarkable and indeed inspiring to see how far a student from the school can go. Europe and its institutions now no longer seems so remote.