Archive for January, 2009

The Irish Language Debate (In Irish!)

January 29, 2009

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The raging debate as to whether Irish should continue to be a compulsory subject in the nation’s secondary schools is no closer to a conclusion. A recent nationwide survey found that the Irish public is split right down the middle on the issue. Currently, studying the Irish language is compulsory at both primary and secondary schools for most students. They are obliged to study it up to Leaving Certificate level, although they are not obliged to take the subject — or pass it — in the Leaving Cert examination..

The debate over the future of the Irish language in schools has been raging since Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny argued that compulsion of the language in schools was not working in keeping it alive. But his proposals have been slammed in certain quarters.

Minister Mary Hanafin responded by saying the best way forward was to make language more attractive to students in general.

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The Trinity IV 2009…

January 24, 2009

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The 2009 Claire Stewart Trinity IV took place on the 23rd and 24th of January. The convenors of the competition were the Phil’s Debate Convenor, Mr Jonathan Wyse and the Hist’s Debate Convenor, Mr Niall Sherry. The competition was CAd by Mr Luke Ryder (twice runner-up of the Irish Mace, Finalist at the 2008 Cork IV and runner up of the Irish Times and ex-Registrar of The Phil) and Mr Ross McGuire (winner of the Irish Mace, Worlds Masters winner and euros semi-finalist). Friends and competitors piled into the GMB for two days of intest oratory and intense celebrations.

The motion “This house would adopt constitutional dictatorship over democracy”, and the four teams who competed in the final were:

Opening Government: NUI Galway Literary and Debating Society

Sean Butler and Conor Kelly

Opening Opposition: Macquarie University 

Felicity Wilson and Tom Hoskins

Closing Government: UCD Literary and Historical Society

Ian Hastings and Conor McAndrew

Closing Opposition: UCD Literary and Historical Society 

Julia Lawlor and Rebecca McGrath

The final was won by Closing Opposition, Julia Lawlor and Rebecca McGrath of the UCD Literary and Historical Society. The best speaker in the final was Tom Hoskins of Macquarie University.

The team and speaker tabs for the Dean Swift IV are attached. Individuals who desire the tab in different format should contact either of the convenors. Will Jones of the Oxford Union was awarded best speaker on the traditional speaker tab. Hugh Burns of the Irish Worlds Schools Team was awarded best speaker on the adjusted speaker tab, in which speaker points for each round were reduced in accordance with the number of years experience debating enjoyed by that speaker.

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The Kingsmill-Moore Invitational…

January 22, 2009

It is our great pleasure to announce the results of the Kingsmill-Moore Invitational. The Invitational is a one day debating competition for sixteen elite teams, that is run before the Trinity IV on Friday and the Saturday.

The teams who contested the final of the Kingsmill-Moore Invitational were:
Opening Government: Will Jones and Rhydian Morgan
Opening Opposition: Shane Farragher and Josephine Curry
Closing Government: Luke Ryder and Emily Ravenscroft
Closing Opposition: Stephen Boyle and Gregg O’Neill

The motion was “THW allow individuals to opt out of the benefits and responsibilities of the state-citizen relationship”. The final was won by Closing Government, Luke Ryder and Emily Ravenscroft.

The best speaker in the final was Will Jones.

The Free Fees Debate…

January 15, 2009

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The Phil debated the contentious issue of student fees on the 15th of January, and were delighted to welcome the Provost of Trinity College, John Hegarty, to make his first public statement on the subject. The proposed return to paid third-level education has created controversy throughout the country, and emotive speakers representing a broad spectrum of interest groups attended the debate.

Edward Gaffney
(ex-Secretary) was the first to speak and, as a fee-paying MSc student, called for an end to “student subsidies”. He was followed by Emma Regan (MC), who agreed that a solution needed to be found for the issue. Bartley Rock, USI Education Officer, insisted that free fees were good for a majority of students, but was rebutted by DCU President Ferdinand von Prodzynski, who argued that fees were necessary in order to maintain a high standard across Irish universities. Cat ni Gotha of Free Education for Everyone called passionately for the government to maintain the status quo, and was criticised by Conor Sullivan (MC). Labour TD Ruari Quinn insisted that the current recession was a temporary circumstance that did not necessitate such broad changes. He was followed by John Hegarty, Provost, who talked about a return to fees as a means to continue to achieve excellence. Kiera Healy (Registrar) said that fees did not go far enough, and called for full privatisation. Finally, maiden speaker Fergus Rattigan insisted that fees were unnecessary, saying that courses such as drama would suffer were they reintroduced.

The motion was put to the house, with a majority being against fees.

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The Honorary Patronage of Dolores O’Riordan…

January 9, 2009

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On Friday the 9th of January, the Phil welcomed singer/songwriter Dolores O’Riordan to receive the honorary patronage of the society. Limerick-born Dolores is the frontwoman of one of Ireland’s most successful exports, the Cranberries. She entertained a crowded Chamber with a brief interview, discussing a career which has spanned decades and seen her perform with greats such as Pavarotti, for audiences including Pope John Paul II. After this, the rest of the Cranberries joined Dolores for a short acoustic gig, performing classic songs like ‘Zombie’ and ‘Linger’ (their first gig together in several years).

We’d like to thank Dolores and her bandmates for taking the time out of their schedules to come to Dublin, and congratulate them for a fantastic show.

Read Hot Press’ account of the event here.

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The Abortion Debate…

January 8, 2009

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On Thursday the 8th of January the Phil debated the issue of abortion, a controversial topic that attracted a divided audience. The first speaker was Sinead Waldron (MC), who spoke passionately in favour of legalising abortion before the 20th week of a pregnancy, contending that foetuses are not human beings and should not be afforded rights. Maiden speaker Hannah Cagney argued that there is no dividing line between a foetus and a child, and therefore abortion should remain illegal. Goretti Horgan of the Alliance for Choice spoke about the reality of the status quo, creating a vivid image of women forced into unsafe, life-threatening backstreet procedures. She was followed by Sean O’Donnell, representative of the Irish Catholic Doctors Association, who insisted that human life begins at conception, and that abortion is too dangerous to be allowed to continue. Orla Gordon (ex-Debates Convenor) talked about women seeking abortions lack the support they ought to be given.

As the debate entered its second half, a second maiden speaker, Frank Harte, questioned the belief that foetuses are not human, comparing them to disabled people who cannot live independently. Natalie McDonnell from the Safe and Legal campaign pointed out that Ireland has never had a direct referendum on abortion, and demanded that people should have a chance to make up their own mind. Fianna Fail Senator Jim Walsh said this was unnecessary, insisting that life begins at conception. Also speaking for the opposition, Orla Marnell (Steward) suggested that people should just learn to use contraception properly. She was followed by Liza Cox (MC), who spoke from a feminist perspective, criticising the long-term influence of the Catholic church on women’s rights issues in Ireland. Finally, Patrick Kerr, a third maiden speaker and a medical student, said that women need more information about the consequences of abortions. When the motion was put to the house, in a tight vote the pro-choice lobby won.

Phil success at World Debating Championships…

January 4, 2009

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This year’s World Universities Debating Championship took place from the 26th of December to the 4th of January, and was hosted by University College Cork’s Philosophical and Law Societies. Over 300 teams from six continents descended on Cork for the intense competition. The Phil was well-represented, with three society teams attending: Ruth Faller (ex-President) and Kiera Healy (Registrar), Jonathan Wyse (Debates Convenor) and Brian O’Beirne (ex-Registrar), and novice speakers Andrew Linn and Shauna Maguire.

In an impressive feat, Ruth and Kiera were named the ninth best team in the competition – the highest place for any Irish team participating – and broke to the knock-out stages of the tournament. They proceeded through their octo-final, but were unfortunately knocked out in the quarter-final, and the Oxford Union team of Will Jones and James Dray went on to win the competition. This is the first time that any Trinity team has broken at Worlds since 2005, and we would like to congratulate Ruth and Kiera on a monumental achievement.

The best TCD speaker on the tab was Kiera Healy, who came 27th out of 624 speakers.