Concern Debates ’15/16

Ballinamore CS Debating Club’s Participation in Concern Debates 2016 – by Ms Reynolds 

2015 saw the founding of Ballinamore Community School’s Debating Club. Our first task as a team: participating in the annual Concern debates. Nothing like a good baptism of fire to get the club up and running! The focus of the Concern debates are to get students from all across the country to engage with issues pertinent to our times. From HIV to Global Warming to lowering the age of voting, the objectives are two-pronged: The students learn so much from having to research, thereby raising awareness of global issues yet also learn the skill of writing and delivering speeches within a relatively short space of time. It’s a mammoth commitment and one where our students rose to the challenge, relishing every minute of it.

Our first port of call was Elphin Community College, Roscommon, in late November to oppose the motion: ‘The Voting Age Should Be Lowered to Sixteen’. Being our first time in the arena, it proved to be a very steep learning curve and we lost out to the experienced and gracious Elphin team.

Due to time constraints and with the Christmas House exams looming, our next fixture was away to Strokestown Community College, with just four days to fully prepare. The onerous task of opposing the Motion that ‘The Cop 21 is Doomed to Fail’ was met with great determination by our debaters and we came away from this debate with yet more experience and our first point under our belt, having lost on a slim majority verdict.

January saw the final two debates held in our school, with fresh baking for the refreshments prepared by our Home Economics Teacher Ms. Jenny Cooney, for the visiting team from St. Oliver’s Post-Primary School, Oldcastle, Co. Meath. On this occasion, we proposed the motion ‘HIV Will be Eradicated in our Lifetime’ and we celebrated as it was unanimously passed by the adjudicators.

With Fire in our bellies, we hosted the last debate in the league with the debating team from Athlone Community College making the long trip. We proposed the motion, ‘The SDGs are Doomed to Failure’. It was a tough motion to propose and Athlone played this to their advantage. They were strong and erudite, with a very strong tradition of debating in their school. They were unanimously declared the victors, for this, our last debate and worthy winners they were.

In the interests of democracy, we rotated captains for each fixture. Our full list of debaters were as follows: Alexandra Appleby, Adam Goldrick, Conor McGrath, Kate Reynolds, Jamie Sweeney and Eimhin Quinn.  Our Chairperson for the debates was Niamh Toolan, with Colette McGirl as Timekeeper for our home debates. They all excelled in their individual roles at every stage of the competition, showing courage, intelligence and graciousness at all times. They were also great fun too!

Sadly, it was the end of the road for us. The top ten schools with the highest points will be brought on for the second stage and this is underway as I write. Despite the disappointment, we came away with a breadth of experience that will doubtlessly hold us in good stead, both academically and as we continue to grow our club here. Having showcased our skills to the junior classes in anticipation of each fixture, we already have students interested in building our club and competing next year. While we will be saying goodbye to some of our team (as they enter into Leaving Certificate next Year), we will hopefully replenish our stocks with a fresh bunch of eager debaters hoping to build on our considerable gains.  The future is looking very bright indeed!

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