600 students from 36 schools around the country descended upon Cork’s City Hall this week, suited and booted and ready to represent their delegations at Davis College’s Model United Nations (DCMUN).
There was an electric atmosphere on Wednesday morning at the official opening ceremony for the mock United Nations General Assembly, where students represent different countries, and spend three days fiercely debating resolutions on everything from gun regulation, to the participation of transgender people in sports.
Run by students from Davis College in Mallow, it is the largest Model UN conference of its kind in the country.
Fifth-year Davis College student, and secretary general of this week’s MUN event, Charlie O’Callaghan, said they were kicking off on Wednesday morning with debates about euthanasia, education systems, and the Taliban.
“Some students will speak from the perspective of a country that they are not from, from the entire other hemisphere of the globe… and see how people from there view the same issues that we view here, and how their opinions might differ. Which is very beneficial, just to look at people’s problems from multiple different points of view,” he said.
Fifth-year student Cormac Shanahan, deputy secretary General for the conference, said that the event is run “by the students and for the students”.
“It can be stressful, but it’s worth it, it really is, especially when we saw the entire crowds up on the balcony and down on the floor, you can tell it paid off, it really did… I’m so excited now, I cannot wait,” he said.
Second-year student at Davis College, Louisa Foley is one of the youngest delegates, representing Nigeria and putting forward a motion about police intervention during protests.
“We’re against all of that, police killing people in protests. I have an interest in the topic, and I had already done a project on it before then, so that was really helpful. My friend and I, we’re Nigeria, so we have a connection as there were violent protests recently in Nigeria in 2020, so it’s kind of relevant in Nigeria as well,” she said.
As well as delegates debating on behalf of their allocated nations, other students take on administration roles.
Head of press, Davis College student Leah Wallace, is in charge of producing The United Times newspaper, covering everything that happens at DCMUN.
“You’re running around finding people’s views and opinions… Reading the articles and editing them, you’re actually getting to know the article more and you’re learning what it’s about,” she said.
Editor of the paper, Caoimhe Buckley, said that the press is a key part of democracy in action.
“I just think that the press is important, because it can get people’s views across better, and it reaches out to other people who may not be here to let them know what’s happening and what’s going on,” she said.
Officially opened on Wednesday morning with speeches from Lord Mayor of Cork, Deirdre Forde, Cork ETB director of schools Pat McKelvey, and keynote speaker Saoirse Mackin, students will debate until Friday.
José Horta, director of DCMUN and deputy principal at Davis College, said that “the array of skills that they develop is absolutely incredible”.