ROSSCARBERY’S Mount Saint Michael debating team became all-island champions after successfully arguing against Ireland’s continued commitment to military neutrality.
They won the prestigious annual Concern Debates contest, which had over 100 schools participating this year, in a final with Athenry-based Coláiste an Eachréidh.
The event was broadcast live on YouTube by the humanitarian organisation Concern Worldwide, which set up the competition in 1984 to encourage further debate and awareness of global issues and to improve the level of debating skills amongst young people.
Past participants of the contest include Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, RTÉ broadcaster Claire Byrne and Virgin Media presenter Karen Koster.
The debating champions Lauren O’Donovan (16), Orna O’Brien (16), Ellie McCarthy (16) and Orla Tobin (16),opposed the motion: ‘Ireland must remain committed to military neutrality.’
‘The level of debating skills amongst the hundreds of students who took part in Concern Debates this year was exceptional,’ said Concern’s head of active citizenship, Michael Doorly.
‘This year’s winners and runners-up showed great clarity and intelligence and we applaud them for what was a well-researched and informed debate about a very topical subject.
‘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.’
The debating champions will each receive laptops as prizes while the runners up will get tablets.
Mount Saint Michael teacher and team mentor Lorraine Teevan said they have been participating in Concern Debates for 12 years and reached the semi-final in 2010 and the quarter final in 2020.
‘Being involved in Concern debates has helped our students to become more confident,’ she said.