PUPILS from a West Cork school have won the country’s top prize for young debaters: They came first in the Concern Primary Debates final.
The pupils, from Ardfield National School, Clonakilty, Co Cork, defeated St Francis Xavier Senior National School, Blanchardstown, in the All-Ireland final.
The West Cork pupils were among contestants from 200 schools from across Ireland.
The motion for the final debate, ‘Ireland is doing its fair share to make the world a better place’, was proposed by the students from Ardfield and opposed by the St Francis Xavier team.
The closely contested debate took place in Dublin, with all finalists aged between 11 and 12.
The primary-school competition has been running for nine years, but was only expanded to All-Ireland status last year, and this year’s debate was the first All-Ireland final to be held in-person. (Last year’s decider occurred via Zoom because of the Covid-19 restrictions.)
The contest is organised by the international humanitarian organisation Concern Worldwide, in partnership with 16 education support centres, and is funded by Irish Aid.
Concern’s head of active citizenship, Michael Doorly, praised the students for the standard of debating and thanked their teachers, the adjudicators, the education support centres, and Irish Aid for making the competition possible.
“Concern runs the primary-school debates to engage students with critical literacy skills, research skills, and to introduce them to complex humanitarian development themes,” Mr Doorly said.
“It also engages them in how to take action in their communities and around the world.”
Ardfield NS team mentor Jacinta O’Donovan said it had been a joy to mentor the pupils.
“We are just so honoured and proud to represent our small West Cork village and our four-teacher school, and to bring home the All-Ireland title,” Ms O’Donovan said.
The Ardfield NS team consisted of Michael O’Donovan, Andrea Whelton, and Lilly Hayes.