UCD students win team prize in Irish Times Debating Competition

UCD LawSoc’s Aisling Tully and Dara Keenan won the team prize at last week’s 57th Grand Final of the Irish Times Debating Competition.Tully and Keenan were arguing against the motion “this house believes the women of Ireland should strike to repeal the Eighth Amendment”. The pair argued that a protest in the form of a strike would only succeed in alienating those who are undecided about the most divisive issue facing Irish society today.Speaking of her success, Law with French student Aisling Tully told the University Observer that she was immensely proud to be recognised as a speaker in a setting as prestigious as the Irish Times Competition, one she has associated with “Ireland’s greatest orators and minds” since a young age.Previous winners of the competition include fellow UCD alumni Adrian Hardiman and Dara Ó Briain, as well as some of Ireland’s most famous faces such as Marian Finucane.Speaking of her competitors, Tully described their speeches as “phenomenal” and “hilarious”. The UCD duo recounted their victory as “shocking” but admitted to working vigorously on their speeches in preparation for the final over the past few weeks.Winning the competition means that Tully and Kennan will embark on a journey across America in the coming weeks, courtesy of the National Parliamentary Debate Association of America. They will spend a month competing at various competitions across the country, including Washington, Texas, and Dallas. They will begin their journey in New York City where they will be Guests of Honour at the St Patrick’s Day Parade.Not only did UCD take home the top team prize, but the runner-up award went to Kevin Brennan and Sandi Ndeble of the Literary and Historical Society for their impeccable wit and style.Leah Morgan succeeded in obtaining the individual prize for The Solicitors' Apprentice Debating Society of Ireland (SADSI) and will also embark on the upcoming tour across America with Tully and Keenan.The 2017 Final was hosted by the Law and Debating Society, with Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone in the chair of the evening’s proceedings. Among the esteemed judging panel were Irish Times Editor Kevin O’Sullivan, former winners Kate Brady and Aaron Vickery, Professor Brent Northup of Montana and Head of Law at DIT, Deirdre McGowan.350 audience members gathered in DIT to watch over 300 representatives from UCD, Trinity College, SADSI and UCC engage in a lively debate, with speakers balancing witty rhetoric with far-reaching reflection.