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Two school debating teams from Dublin and Monaghan will go head-to-head in an All-Ireland Concern Debates final showdown next month when they will argue for and against the influence of China in Africa.
Sandford Park School, Ranelagh will be proposing the motion ‘China in Africa is more monster than messiah’ while Largy College, Clones will be arguing against it at The Helix venue in north Dublin on May 1.
The winning team will visit development programmes in one of the 23 countries where Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide, which runs the secondary school level competition, works.
Last year’s winning team, the Clonskeagh-based St. Kilian’s German School, travelled to Kenya in East Africa.
Sandford Park’s team, Oscar Despard, Elliott Johns, Keelan Daye and Annabelle Ponsonby, defeated a team from Presentation De La Salle College, Co. Carlow in their semi-final when they debated the motion, ‘The EU needs an army.’
Largy College’s word warriors, Ruth Madden, Abigail McGuirk, Aaron McMahon and Carla Rafferty, debated against Mayo’s Ballinrobe Community School.
Michael Doorly from Concern Worldwide praised this year’s finalists and the 140 teams who competed this year.
“We started Concern Debates in 1984 to create an army of change agents equipped with the knowledge, ability and confidence to become lifelong advocates on behalf of the most disadvantaged people and countries in the world,” he said.
“Our youth are our future and through these debates they also develop a greater awareness and understanding of global issues, as well as how to put their points across in a respectful, dignified yet convincing way. So much of our public discourse today is merely people shouting at each other.
“Through the debates we learn to listen to those who we may disagree with, as well as have them listen to our point of view.
“This year’s semi-finalist teams debated a difficult motion with great intelligence and clarity and we applaud them and all teams who have taken part.”
Sanford Park previously won Concern Debates in 1993, 2009 and in 2011 while Largy College won it once before in 2014.
Volunteer adjudicators, of which Concern has about 500 across the country, decide who wins each contest.
Some of the competition’s well-known past participants, who went on to have successful careers, include Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, RTE broadcaster Claire Byrne and Virgin Media presenter Karen Koster.
The Concern Debates final at The Helix on May 1 is free to attend and anyone interested in attending or who would like their school to take part in next year’s competition is asked to ring 01 417 7733 or email [email protected].
For more information or interview requests, please contact Kevin Jenkinson at 086 358 2886 or at [email protected]