Storm Ali, the first storm of the season, raged outside on the first full day of our international event of the year which brought together delegates on the annual Young Ireland Programme and the Autumn Young Scotland Programme. In a conference room with spectacular views over the Firth of Forth bridges however, papers, debate and discussion continued in an atmosphere of warmth and mutual support. The event closed with the awards ceremony on Thursday evening when Patrick McCabe of the Department of Justice and Equality was named Ireland Young Thinker of the Year 2018, mainly for an 'exceptionally mature paper on the tyranny of counting, a world in which crude measurement takes precedence over professional and ethical judgements...a challenging concept to get across in a short oral presentation but Patrick succeeded in doing so with his confident use of language and clarity of thought...And the quality of the content was matched by a faultless presentation.'

Scotland Young Thinker of the Year 2018 (a title shared with the winner of the forthcoming Winter Young Scotland Programme) was Lauren Bennett of Fife Council. In her Argument, 'a serious subject – the impact of artificial intelligence on human employment – was handled with a light and assured touch. It was a paper full of quirky insights, well-chosen sources and shafts of humour.'

In the larger, Ireland delegate group, a runner-up was also announced. That was Aoife McDonnell of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation 'for a refreshing take on the familiar topic of Irish emigration and a wonderfully practical idea for retaining some of the brightest.' Barry Price, Citizens Information Board, was highly commended and Mary Clifford, Coillte, was commended. Click here for photos.

In the Group Challenge, the winning group was Group B – Damien Bolger Kerr, Courts Service of Ireland, Fiona Curran, Department of the Taoiseach, Saera Ní Fhinneadha, Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Anisa Omar, Scottish Government, Derek Stewart, Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency – on the theme of identity.

Our final event of the year is the Winter Young Scotland Programme in November. Please note that this event is now sold out – to register an interest in our next Scottish programme, please email enquiries@youngprogramme.org.

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