Archive for November, 2008

The 2008 Maidens’ Debating Grand Final…

November 27, 2008

The Maidens' Final

The culmination of Trinity College’s most prestigious novice debaters’ contest, the Eamonn O’Coine Memorial Maiden Speakers’ Competition, took place on the 27th of November 2008. Over a hundred competitors had been whittled down to eight finalists debating the motion ‘That This House Would Give Harsher Punishments to Celebrity Criminals’. The finalists, Sam Mealy, Andrea Waitz, David Barrett, Rens van Rijn, Eoin O’Liathain, Shauna Maguire, Andrew Linn and Alannah NicPhaidin, provided the gathered crowd with a debate of a remarkably high standard. After a close adjudication, Eoin was declared to be this year’s champion, with Shauna taking second place and Rens third.

We would like to congratulate Eoin, Shauna and Rens, along with all the participants in what has been a hugely successfully Maidens competition.




Haley Barbour speaks to The Phil…

November 25, 2008


Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour received the honorary patronage of the society on the 25th of November. Republican Barbour, who received international acclaim for his efforts following 2005’s devastating Hurricane Katrina, addressed the society at an exciting time for American politics, discussing the recent presidential election and its place in a broader political narrative. He talked about the difficult situation the Republican party currently finds itself in, and expressed hope at the possibility of a change in its fortunes. We thank the governor for his time, and were very pleased to invite him to the society.



Tommy Hilfiger speaks to The Phil…

November 21, 2008

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On the 21st of November, students packed into the Chamber to see legendary fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger receive the honorary patronage of the society. Tommy, who was as stylish in person as the crowds had hoped, shared the story of his success as a self-made businessman: he talked of his beginnings selling jeans to his high school classmates, and how his hard work and determination had eventually led to the globally-recognised brand that now bears his name.

We were very pleased to invite Tommy to the society, and thank him for an entertaining address.



Gay Rights Debate…

November 20, 2008


On the 20th of November, the Phil held a devbate on the topic ‘That This House Believes That Civil Union is no Substitute for Gay Marriage’. This was our last house debate of Michalemas Term, and it proved aq roaring sucess. The evening got off to an excellent start with a paper read by Rachel Dobbins, Ordinary Member of hte Society, who argued in favour of fully recognised gay marriage.

Ciara Finlay (Schools Convenor) challenged Rachel’s paper, insisting that there was nothing wrong with the controversial civil partnership bill. She was followed by Brendan Curran (Secretary), who talked about the importance of minority rights in a democracy. Eoin Collins, Director of Policy Change for GLEN (the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network) and Dervla Brown SC both spoke in favour of gay rights, speaking about the problems of discrimination in society.

Making his maiden speech before the house, David Barrett promised to  “appeal to the ignorance of the audience” but nevertheless delivered an intelligent and thought-provoking speech on the subject. Brian O’Beirne (ex-Registrar) discussed the constitutional importance of marriage, while Senator Alex White and Niall Crowley of the Equality Authority discussed the progress that has been made toward a more gay-friendly society.

A second maiden speaker, Andrea Waitz, gave an uproarious speech in favour of equality, and was followed by Declan Meehan (Vice-President) who closed the debate. The house unanimously voted to give Rachel thanks for her paper, while the motion was overwhelmingly passed.



The Honorary Patronage of John Negroponte…

November 17, 2008


On Monday the 17th of November, the Phil presented the Honorary Patronage to the Hon. John Negroponte, United States Deputy Secretary of State. We were proud to welcome Mr Negroponte to Ireland, and the Chamber was packed with students eager to hear about his fascinating career, which has included nearly forty years of experience in the United States Foreign Service, terms as US ambassador to Hondarus, Mexico, the Philippines and Iraq, Director of National Intelligence, and ambassador to the United Nations.

Accompanied by Secret Service minders, John entered the Chamber to applause, and was presented with his honorary patronage by the society’s senior patron, John Hegarty the Provost of Trinity College. Negroponte  addressed the society on a number of foreign policy issues; perhaps unsurprisingly, most of the students’ questions focused on the Iraq War. John gave sensitive and thoughtful responses to the controversial issues raised, and handled himself with apomb in the face of the anti-war sentiments expressed by several audience members.




Interviewer: Tom Clonan

(Security Correspondent, Irish Times)



Part 1.

Part 2.

Part 3.

Success for The Phil at the Cambridge IV…

November 15, 2008

On the 14th and 15th of November, Cambridge University held its intervarsity tournament. Two Phil teams attended: Kiera Healy (Registrar) and Ruth Faller (ex-President), along with Brian O’Beirne (ex-Registrar) and Jonathan Wyse (Debates Convener).

In a fantastic performance for the society, both teams broke to the knock-out stages of the competition, with Kiera and Ruth being named as the fifth best team on the tab. Brian and Jonathan made it through to the semi-finals, while Kiera and Ruth progressed to to the final, where they debated the composition of the UN Security Council with teams from Oxford and MIT.

We would like to congratulate both teams on a fantastic achievement, and wish them the best of luck for the upcoming World Universities Debating Championship!

The Music Debate…

November 13, 2008



copyright infringement (or copyright violation) is the unauthorized use of material that is covered by copyright law, in a manner that violates one of the copyright owner’s exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works. For electronic and audio-visual media such as music, unauthorized reproduction and distribution is occasionally referred to as piracy
The unlawful downloading of copyrighted material and sharing of recorded music over the internet in the form of MP3 and other audio files is more prominent now than since before the advent of the internet or the invention of Mp3, even after the demise of Napster and a series of infringement suits brought by the American recording industry.
However, sharing copied music is legal in many countries, such as Canada, and parts of Europe, provided that the songs are not sold.

Should all music be free? In France three illegal downloads will result in you losing your Internet connection. Irish music rights organisations are suing Eircom in an attempt to force them to do them the same thing. While the music industry goes to ever more extreme lengths to dam the stream of illegal files, other voices are questioning whether there is still a place for the big labels. The issue was argued between students of the college and guests at the debate. Richard Stallman, of the Free Software Foundation, and Kevin Marks, of Open Rights UK, put the case for making all music free to copy and share. Fran Nevrkla, of Phonographic Performance UK, and Michael Keplinger, of the WIPO, argued for the retention of artists’ and distributors’ rights.


Phil Speaks (Dublin Workshop)…

November 11, 2008

On Tuesday the 11th of November, the Dublin Phil Speaks workshops took place. Phil Speaks is a debating initiative run by the council and members of the Philosophical Society for the secondary school children of Ireland. The Dublin workshop was the first of several that will be run across the country, before the competitive rounds of the initiative begin in Hilary Term.

image004image010image005For futhur information on The Phil Speaks Initiative visit the Phil Speaks page

Success for The Phil at the Oxford IV…

November 8, 2008

The Phil was strongly represented at the Oxford IV on the 7th and 8th of November, with four teams flying out to England for the tournament that is generally regarded as the best intervarsity competition in Britain and Ireland.

In the run-up to the World Universities Debating Championship in December, there were over 120 teams in Oxford, with the standard higher than ever. The society was therefore delighted when the Phil team of Ruth Faller (ex-President) and Kiera Healy (Registrar) broke to the quarter-finals as the seventh best team in the competition, continuing what has been a particularly strong year for Phil debating.

The Death Penalty Debate…

November 6, 2008


The Phil’s death penalty debate took place on the 6th of November, when we tackled the motion ‘That This House Believes That No Criminal Should Suffer the Death Penalty’. A paper was presented by Sinead Finegan (Treasurer, ex-Schools Convenor), who argued that the death penalty could never be justified, paving the way for a heated discussion on the subject.

Jonathan Wyse (Debates Convenor) contended that the death penalty was an effective deterrent, and was roundly criticised by Sinead Waldron (MC). Marc Klaas, founder of the KlaasKids Foundation for Children, gave an impassioned speech in favour of the death penalty, talking of his own experiences with the tragic loss of his murdered daughter. Baroness Vivien Stern, who has worked extensively with charities for prisoners, spoke next, insisting that the death penalty has no place in civilised society. She was followed by Declan Meehan (Vice-President) who, in a lively speech, appealed to the crowd’s instinct for revenge.

Edward Gaffney (ex-Secretary) insisted that the death penalty is unjustifiable, and was countered by Richard Waghorne of the Irish Daily Mail, who announced that he does “not necessarily believe in human rights”. Marie-Agnes Combesque, member of the French Human Rights League and anti-death penalty advocate, spoke passionately in favour of life. She was followed by Kiera Healy (Registrar), who insisted that the public should have a right to choose how to punish criminals.

Alannah NicPhaidin
and closed the debate with her maiden speech, arguing in favour of the right to life. The house thanked Sinead for her paper, and the motion was defeated in a very close vote.