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Two schools win All-Ireland Concern Debates championship
TWO SCHOOLS in Carlow and Lisburn have won one of Ireland’s largest and most prestigious debating contests – which went ahead online this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Presentation De La Salle in Bagenalstown, Carlow won the Concern Debates Cup in their online final with Bailieborough Community School, Co Cavan.
The All-Ireland champions - captain Stephanie Doyle, Katie Doyle, Dylan O'Neill, Stanislav Ustinov, and team researcher Adam Zielinkski - successfully argued against the motion that “cuts to overseas aid, proposed by the British Government, are unjustifiable and counterproductive.”
“We are extremely proud of this amazing team,” said Presentation De La Salle teacher and debates team mentor, Leon Power, who has mentored the schools debating teams since 2015 when they last won the competition.
“They have a natural flair for debating and it was a privilege to see them grow over the year. True champions.”
Friends’ School Lisburn in Antrim won the separate Concern Debates Shield final in their clash with Ardscoil Mhuire Limerick.
The winning team – captain Alice Francey, Beth Eccles, Eden Wilson and Holly Thompson - successfully argued for the motion that “even beyond 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals are beyond humanity’s reach.”
“It was a fantastic experience for the girls,” said Friends’ School Lisburn teacher and debates team mentor Vivien Black.
“It really pushed them to think about the bigger world beyond their own experience. They explored a range of issues that are relevant to their lives now and will be forever relevant beyond their own teenage years.”
Concern Debates was created by the Irish humanitarian organisation, Concern Worldwide, in 1984 to encourage further debate and awareness of global issues and to improve the level of debating skills amongst young people.
Over 50,000 students have taken part in Concern Debates since the competition began and some of its well-known past participants include Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, RTE broadcaster Claire Byrne and Virgin Media One presenter Karen Koster.
“We congratulate all 102 secondary schools and their debating teams from across Ireland and Northern Ireland who took part in Concern Debates this year,” said Concern’s Head of Active Citizenship, Michael Doorly.
“They showed exceptional debating skills and we applaud them and all who supported them as they moved from large halls to debating in front of their computer screens.
“The only time there’s not been a debate final was in 2001, due to precautions around the foot and mouth disease, but we were determined to keep it going in 2020 and 2021 during this pandemic.
“Debating is a wonderful and very useful skill for people to equip themselves with. It teaches us how to put our points across in a respectful, dignified, yet convincing way.
“Our hope is that by taking part in Concern Debates, students embark on a lifelong, social justice journey of speaking out for those left behind.”
This year was the first time the entire contest was done online and it was also divided into two categories, the Shield and the Cup, to allow more schools to progress further in the competition.
Any school that wants to participate in the next Concern Debates competition can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, please contact Kevin Jenkinson at 086 358 2886 or by email: email@example.com.
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