FOUR debaters from a West Cork secondary school were jumping for joy in Dublin last Thursday, having successfully argued against the use of torture, to reach the final of Ireland’s largest debating contest.
The Sacred Heart, Clonakilty, team of captain Laura Walsh (16), Maebh McCarthy (16), Natasha Sutton (16) and Caoimhe Ní Shuilleabháin (17) won their semi-final clash in this year’s Concern Debates with CBS Thurles after opposing the motion ‘that torture is a just means of preventing terrorism.’
The delighted team hope to become the second Cork school to win this 33-year-old All-Ireland contest, run by aid agency Concern Worldwide, since Bandon Grammar School won it in 2012. Their proud mentor and teacher Eileen Harte said that while the school has been involved with Concern Debates for over 20 years, this was this team’s first year in the contest. ‘They are thrilled,’ she said. ‘Until now, the furthest the school has reached in Concern Debates is the knockout rounds.’
Ms Harte added: “The girls never expected to get this far and are very excited. There is also a great sense of pride in the school where students have been congratulating them in the hallways.
‘Students who have taken part in Concern Debates have benefitted hugely from it and done very well in their Leaving Cert and gone on to third level. It helps with their research skills, confidence and broadens their interest in topics.’
They will face St Mary’s CBS, from Co Carlow, in the final at The Helix, DCU, Dublin, at 7pm on Thursday, May 4th next. The winning team will be invited to see one of Concern’s overseas projects.
Participants are given a topical motion two weeks before each debate and one side opposes while the other proposes, even if they disagree with the statement.