22 February 2016
By David O’Sullivan
A team representing the Solicitors’ Apprentice Debating Society of Ireland won the Grand Final of the Annual Student Debate, which took place at The Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin at the weekend.
Ross O’Mahony (27) from Malahide in Co Dublin and Aaron Vickery (25) from Rosscarbery, West Cork won the team competition after opposing the motion; This house believes that 2016 should be the last year in which Ireland commemorates the Easter Rising. Both are trainee solicitors with Arthur Cox in Dublin.
Clíodhna Ní Chéileachair (22) a final year Law and Philosophy student at UCD won the individual speaker competition. This year The Irish Times Debate was run in partnership with Ireland 2016, the state body charged with commemorating the centenary of the Rising. Cormac O’Brien from Douglas in Cork and representing UCC Philosophical Society was a finalist in the individual speaker competition.
The Debate has been running continuously since 1960 and is the oldest intervarsity debating competition in Ireland. This debate was chaired by historian Diarmaid Ferriter, Professor of Modern Irish History at UCD.
The winners will go on a three week debating tour of the United States which is hosted by Professor Brent Northup, Chair of Communications at Carroll College and founder of Pax Rhetorica, School for Global Dialogue.
Kevin O’Sullivan, Editor of The Irish Times and Chairman of the Adjudicating Panel praised the extremely high standard of debating in this year’s competition and said the paper was delighted to run this year’s Debate in partnership with Ireland 2016.
“The 1916 Rising was a seminal event in Irish modern history and our partnership with Ireland 2016 has led hundreds of young people to not only learn about it but also to re-examine it from many different angles. We hope that they have found the debates as enriching an experience as the audiences have.”
Former winners of the competition include Derek Davis, Henry Kelly, Marian Finucane, Donnchadh O Corrain, Dara O’Briain, Gerry Stembridge and Supreme Court Judges Adrian Haridman and Donal O’Donnell and former AG Dermot Gleeson. Former finalists included President Michael D Higgins, former President Mary Robinson and former Tanaiste Mary Harney.