Monaghan students are new All-Ireland Concern Debates champions

A Monaghan school has won the Concern Debates All-Ireland final after successfully defeating the motion that “China in Africa is more monster than messiah."

An exciting debate

The Largy College team from Clones were declared victors last night following a head-to-head with Sandford Park School, Dublin, at DCU’s Helix theatre.

This is the second time Largy College have won the 35-year-old competition after previously winning it in 2014.

Concern Worldwide, the aid agency that created the contest in 1984 to encourage further debate about global issues, praised the finalists and the 138 other schools that participated this year.

Past participants of the contest include Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, RTE broadcaster Claire Byrne and Virgin Media presenter Karen Koster.

Concern Debates winners Largy College from left Abigail McGuirk, Ruth Madden (captain), Aaron McMahon, Carla Rafferty. Photo: Concern Worldwide.
Concern Debate champions Largy College after their win in the national final. Photo: Concern Worldwide.

Exceptional debating skill

“This year’s winners and runners up showed exceptional debating skill with great intelligence and clarity and we applaud them and all who took part,” said Concern’s Head of Active Citizenship, Michael Doorly.

“We started Concern Debates 35 years ago to equip our youth with the knowledge, ability and confidence to become lifelong advocates on behalf of the most disadvantaged people and countries in the world.

“Our younger members of society are the future and many challenges await them, like how to reverse the effects of climate change and how to create a more peaceful world.

“Through debating, they learn how to put their points across in a respectful, dignified yet convincing way. This is important because so much of our public discourse today is merely people shouting at each other.

“We learn through debates to listen to those who we may disagree with, as well as have them listen to our point of view.”

The Largy College debaters, Ruth Madden (captain), Abigail McGuirk, Aaron McMahon and Carla Rafferty, were presented with a trophy by Concern Worldwide. 

As part of their prize, they will visit Sierra Leone in West Africa, which is one of the 25 countries where Concern works.

Last year’s champions, the Clonskeagh-based St, Killian's German School travelled to see Concern’s work in Kenya, East Africa.

The Sandford Park team, Oscar Despard (captain), Elliott Johns, Keelan Daye and Annabelle Pansanby, were also presented with a trophy and will be invited to visit Brussels to see the European Parliament and to The Hague to see the International Criminal Court, where they will learn about how these international institutions work. 

Concern Debates began in 1984

Over 50,000 students have taken part in Concern Debates since it began. It is now one of the country’s largest school debating competitions.

Concern expressed huge thanks to the 500 people in communities around the country who volunteer to judge each debate in their local schools and is also appealing for anyone else who would like to become a Concern Debates adjudicator to contact them.

Any school that wants to participate in the next Concern Debates competition can email or phone 01 4177733.

For more information, please contact Kevin Jenkinson at 086 358 2886 or by email:

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