A CORK debating team will debate Ireland’s neutrality in their bid to become all-island debating champions next week.
Rosscarbery-based Mount Saint Michael will take on Athenry’s Coláiste an Eachréidh in the Concern Debates final at noon on Thursday, April 28. Coláiste an Eachréidh will propose the motion that ‘Ireland must remain committed to military neutrality’ while Mount Saint Michael will oppose it.
The Rosscarbery team is made up of captain Lauren O’Donovan (16), Orna O’Brien (16), Ellie McCarthy (16) and Orla Tobin (16).
The debaters were helped throughout the competition, which had more than 100 teams participating this year, by their researchers Ruby O’Donovan, Nathan Hanrahan, Ewan Wrenne, Tara Nolan, May Kingston and Ollie O’Brien.
Their teacher and debating mentor, Lorraine Teevan, said they have been participating in Concern Debates for 12 years and reached the semi-final in 2010 and the quarter-final in 2020.
“We are both excited and immensely proud of our students who have succeeded this year in reaching the final of this competition,” she said.
“Their dedication, hard work and determination to succeed have been a constant from the first debate. To have this rewarded by being in the final is a joy for all involved.
“We had a debating class of 10 pupils this year. Everyone had the chance to debate at least one motion and all worked as researchers on other motions.
“Being involved in Concern Debates has helped our students to become more confident. They developed skills such as critical thinking, public speaking, research and presentational skills. They learned how to structure their thoughts and how to think on their feet. These are skills that will last a lifetime.”
Concern said the motion is partly in response to the recent call by President Michael D Higgins for a well-informed debate about Irish neutrality.
“We always try to make sure motions are as current and topical as possible,” said Concern’s Head of Active Citizenship, Michael Doorly.
“In a polarised world like we have today, we have to find ways to engage better with one another rather than just shouting across the street and getting violent and that is what debating teaches us.”
The final will be live-streamed on YouTube by humanitarian organisation Concern Worldwide, which runs the competition and will be available at www.youtube.com/c/concern worldwide.