Archive for the ‘HOUSE DEBATES’ Category

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.


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.

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.

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.


The Irish Language Debate (In Irish!)

January 29, 2009


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.



The Free Fees Debate…

January 15, 2009


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.



The Abortion Debate…

January 8, 2009


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.

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 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.


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.