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Cork students crowned All-Ireland primary school debating champions

Press release16 June 2022
The Ardfield NS team which won the Concern Primary Debate final yesterday.
The Ardfield NS team which won the Concern Primary Debate final yesterday, from left, Lilly Hayes, Michael O'Donovan and Andrea Whelton. Photo: Karen Morgan

A group of students from a small west Cork school today scooped the country’s top prize for young debaters when they won the Concern Primary Debates Final.

The team from Ardfield National School, Clonakilty, Co. Cork, defeated St Francis Xavier Senior National School, Blanchardstown, in today’s final.  They were among more than 200 schools from across Ireland who entered the contest.

The motion for the final was: “Ireland is doing its fair share to make the world a better place”. It was proposed by the students from Ardfield and opposed by the St Francis Xavier team in a closely contested debate in Dublin.  All finalists were aged between 11 and 12.

The primary school competition has been running for nine years, but was only expanded to be an all-Ireland contest last year.  This is the first All-Ireland final to be held in-person, as last year’s decider was via Zoom due to COVID restrictions at the time.

The St Francis Xavier SNS debating team with Minister Roderic O'Gorman
Pictured with the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, were the St Francis Xavier SNS, Blanchardstown, debating team. They are (from left): Cassie Ward; Tessa Rycraft; Julia Sendlak (Captain); Finley Cherry Maguire; Emilia Ahern; and Amelie Carew. Photo: Karen Morgan

The contest is organised by international humanitarian organisation, Concern Worldwide, in partnership with 16 Education Support Centres, with funding from Irish Aid.

“Concern runs the primary school debates to engage students with critical literacy skills, research skills, and to introduce them to complex humanitarian development themes,” Concern’s Head of Active Citizenship Michael Doorly said. “It also engages them in how to take action in their communities and around the world.”

He 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.

'Honoured and proud'

“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,” Ardfield NS team mentor Jacinta O’Donovan said. “It was an absolute joy to mentor the students and to watch them grow in confidence and find their voice.”

The Ardfield NS team consisted of Michael O’Donovan (captain), Andrea Whelton and Lilly Hayes.

The extended St Francis Xavier SNS team were: Julia Sendlak;  Tessa Rycraft; Cassie Ward; Finley Cherry-Maguire; Amelie Carew; and Emilia Ahern.

Today’s final was live streamed on Concern’s YouTube channel  A recording of the final, along with recordings of the quarter- and semi-finals are also available on the channel.

For media queries contact Eamon Timmins, Media Relations Manager, Concern Worldwide, or 087 9880524

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