Archive for February, 2009

The Catholic Sexuality Debate…

February 25, 2009

The final Thursday night debate of the year was about the sexual teachings of the Catholic church, and was arranged by our committee of dedicated freshers, the SLR. The first years ran every aspect of the debate, selecting the motion – “That This House Believes that the Sexual Teachings of the Catholic Church are Justified by Fact and Logic” – inviting guests, designing and printing posters and programmes, taking photographs and even writing the minutes of the society’s previous meeting, which were presented by fresher David Barrett, who took on the role of Registrar for the evening. It was a very successful evening, with guest speakers including Senator David Norris, Father Edmund Grace, and Dr Matlock, the inventor of laser vaginal rejuvenation surgery. They were joined by student speakers Patrick Kerr, James Doyle, Keith Grehan and Shauna Maguire, while several maidens made their first chamber speeches, including Hannah Cogan, and Anna Cosgrave. Congratulations to the SLR committee on an incredibly successful and thoroughly enjoyable debate! The photographs of the event were taken by fresher photographer Keith Grehan.


The Mahaffy’s Memorial Debating Competition…

February 18, 2009

The annual JP Mahaffy Memorial Debating Competition, a one-day contest for novice speakers, took place on February the 18th. Eight of the top fresher teams in Trinity College competed for the prestigious trophy, with rounds taking place during the day before a grand final in the Chamber. In the final, the teams of Eoin O’Liathain and Alannah nic Phaidin, Ciaran Parkin and Chris Benedik, Shauna Maguire and Sam Mealy, and Anthony McDonald and Kate Oliver, faced off on the motion “TTH would punish people who transmitted HIV”, with Shauna and Sam eventually emerging victorious, and Ciaran being named as Best Speaker in the Final.

Congratulations to the winners, and to all the participants!

Blood Thursday and Defense of the Indefensible

February 18, 2009

Blood Thursday

Blood Thursday is an annual event held by the Phil involving an afternoon blood drive followed by a light-hearted evening of jokingly debating on motions deemed indefensible. This year, it took place on Thursday the 18th of February, and we were pleased to find that more people than ever were willing to donate blood. Afterwards, we returned to the Conversation Room in the GMB, where speakers proposed giving the losing candidate in the US presidential election the consolation prize of Canada, awarding the Honorary Patronage of the society to the Auditor of our rivals ‘the Hist’, making the elderly race each other with only the winners receiving benefits, and other ludicrous motions.

Sucess for The Phil at the Galway IV…

February 14, 2009

The Irish National Law Debates took place in Galway the weekend of the 13th and the 14th of February, with Phil speakers giving several strong performances. Four former or current officers of the society did so with their respective teammates. Registrar Kiera Healy and ex-President Ruth Faller were both knocked out in the semi-finals, while Debates Convenor Jonathan Wyse and ex-Secretary Edward Gaffney reached the final of the competition, doing the society proud with excellent speeches on a topical motion about the invitation of Holocaust deniers such as David Irving to universities. In addition to these successes, Ruth Faller was named as the second best speaker on the tab, missing the top spot by a single speaker point!

The society would like to congratulate all speakers on their achievements.

The Future of the EU Debate…

February 12, 2009

The EU Debate

On Thursday the 12th of February, the Phil was delighted to host former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing, who presented a paper on the future of the European Union. d’Estaing, who has previously presided over the Convention on the Future of the European Union, which drafted the European Constitution, spoke before a crowded Chamber of the importance of European integration. His ideas were supported by James Wickham, Senior Lecturer in Trinity’s Department of Sociology, and by Gerard Hogan, Barrister at Law. Opposing European integration were Mary Lou McDonald of Sinn Fein and Libertas spokesperson Caroline Simons, who called for a more democratic and accountable EU. The event proved to be one of our biggest yet, with a French news crew recording all the speakers who responded to the paper, including ordinary member David Barrett and maidens Howard Helen, Olivia Headon and James Doyle, who all performed admirably giving their first ever speeches in front of a crowd of hundreds. It was a fantastic event, and we would like to congratulate all our student speakers and thank our distinguished guests, in particular the former president for his excellent paper.

Phil Speaks TAP Day

February 10, 2009

On February the 10th, the Phil did its bit for the Trinity Access Programme by holding a showcase debate as part of the programme’s annual open day. TAP exists to help students from non-traditional backgrounds, or who for socio-economic reasons would otherwise find it very difficult to attend university; the Phil has been working with the programme for some time, allowing TAP-affiliated schools to enter the nationwide Phil Speaks competition for free. The showcase debate provided an introduction to debating for pupils from schools where the activity is largely unheard-of; with speakers including Worlds Quarter-Finalists, Irish Times finalists, and a former winner of the UCD Intervarsity, we were able to show an exceptionally high standard of debating. We look forward to continuing to work with and support TAP in the future.

The Honorary Patronage of Pete Doherty…

February 6, 2009


On Friday the 6th of February, the Phil hosted singer/songwriter Pete Doherty, one of the most controversial figures in modern music. Interest in Pete’s interview and brief performance was immense, with over three hundred students being turned away from the full-capacity Chamber of the Graduates Memorial Building. The event was unfortunately delayed due to the difficulties of flying between Britain and Ireland with the current snowy weather, but when Pete arrived, he did not disappoint.

Over the course of his interview, carried out by Hot Press’ Stuart Clarke, Pete discussed his musical career, his dislike of the intrusive press, his friendship with Shane MacGowan, and his hopes for the future. Inspired perhaps by his illustrious surrounds, he told the students that his ambition had always been to study English literature, but that it had fallen by the wayside. He talked about life as a father, expressing concerns that he couldn’t see his son enough to be a good parent, and discussed his twelve pet cats, worrying that “I smell of cat these days”. During his interview, Pete kept his acoustic guitar close by his side, often bursting into song, to the delight of the audience. He accepted several questions from the student audience, although did not comment on his much-publicised drug problems: when asked what, if anything, he would change about his life, he merely replied, “I would have started brushing my teeth more.” While most of the audience questions focused on Pete’s career, one rather forward student asked if he was single (he replied that he was), while another offered up his living room for a gig later that day.

Many members of the audience commented that an event like this – seeing one of their favourite musicians in such an intimate atmosphere, and being able to ask him questions – is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We’d like to thank Pete for giving his time to the society, and for coping admirably with the unfortunate delays.


Interviewer: Stuart Clark (Hotpress)

To read Hotpress’ report of Pete’s visit, click here. To read the Irish Times article regarding Pete’s visit and the events on the Late Late show, click here.


The Gaza Debate…

February 5, 2009


On the 5th of February, the Phil gathered to debate the motion “That This House Believes That Israeli Actions in Gaza are Just and Proportionate”. With such a controversial issue, the debate was intensely heated, with speakers passionately defending the actors on both sides of the conflict. Student speaker Dave Barrett spoke first for the proposition, insisting that the deaths of Palestinian civilians was a sadly unavoidable consequence of war. He was followed by Jonathan Wyse (Debates Convenor), who claimed this was not the case. The evening’s first guest speaker, Tom Carew of the Ireland-Israel Friendship League, painted a picture of the conflict from his perspective, while the Palestinian Ambassador to Ireland, Dr Hikmap Ajuri, told a different story, insisting that Israel alone was in the wrong.

Brendan Curran (Secretary) questioned the objectivity of most sources of information on the conflict, pointing out that nearly all forms of media reporting on it have a biased perspective. Next, maiden speaker Keith Grehan told us the Israelis were fighting a psychological war, which he considered unjustifiable. Alan Shatter, TD, disagreed with Keith, claiming that the real harms in the region were being perpetuated by Hamas, not Israel. Alannah nic Phaidin questioned the validity of Israel’s actions, pointing out that Judaism is a religion founded on peaceful principles. She was followed by John Engle, who told us that Palestinian casualties were often unfortunate but inevitable, and Sinead Waldron (MC), who expressed fear that a cycle of violence will continue in the region. A second maiden speaker, Caitlin Sherry, maintained that Israel had a right to defend its borders. Finally, Edward Gaffney (ex-Secretary) gave a speech attempting to summarise both sides of the argument, and concluded that it is extremely difficult to value one actor over the other, but that civilian deaths should not be seen as an inevitable side-effect of the conflict.

In a tight vote, the motion was defeated.