Two Kilkenny College debaters had the honour of competing in the prestigious International Competition for Young Debaters (ICYD) in the Union Society in Cambridge earlier this month.
Having debated three times in UCD last month to qualify, third year students Alvin Stanley and Fiona O’ Connell, along with pairings from Belvedere and Loreto on the Green, made up the contingent representing Ireland.
The Cambridge Union Society, the oldest union in Cambridge University, was founded in 1815 and is renowned worldwide for public speaking and debating. This competition attracted speakers from as far afield as Canada and Dubai and 120 speakers took part.
The ICYD requires each pairing to debate four times on the day in a bid to reach the final.
The interactive format is modelled on the British Parliamentary House of Commons style.
Mace debating means that during each five-minute speech, there are three minutes of unprotected time in which points of information are taken and given.
Speakers are only given 15 minutes to prepare for arduous motions such as ‘This house would ban gambling’, ‘This house believes governments should never undertake projects in areas prone to natural disasters’, ‘This house would ban websites that portray eating disorders in a positive light’ and ‘This house believes that schools should, when there is a scarcity of resources, prioritise their teaching around improving the employability of their students’.
Having registered at 9am, students were almost 12 hours in the Union on what is a gruelling day and Alvin and Fiona fared very well to finish in the top third in their first year in competition.
The winners hailed from Sacred Heart, Canada – proving themselves worthy kingpins of junior schools’ international debating.
Alvin Stanley, who is captain of junior debating in Kilkenny College, and Fiona O’ Connell, along with their debating coach, Debbie Neill, have gained valuable experience throughout the year having competed regularly in Leinster.
The season has encompassed 12 trips to Dublin and beyond in addition to regular prepping sessions and in-house debates.
Much credit for their success must be given to the members of the third year debating team of Sophie Cairns, Sean Landers, Sorcha Leary, Glenn Dudley, Daire Pryal, Jack Kirwan, David Ola and Mike Purcell who may look forward to the season ahead.