Solicitors have final say in ‘Irish Times’ debate final

‘That this house believes that the Irish political system has served the people well,’ motion addressed by speakers

 William Courtney, UCD Medical Society, the overall debate winner, with sisters (left) Fara and (right) Danielle Courtney, and (centre) cousin Antonia Courtney. Photograph: Dave Meehan

William Courtney, UCD Medical Society, the overall debate winner, with sisters (left) Fara and (right) Danielle Courtney, and (centre) cousin Antonia Courtney. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Fri, Feb 28, 2014, 23:23

The Solicitors’ Apprentice Debating Society of Ireland (Sadsi) last night won The Irish Times debate held in the Law Society Blackhall Place.

“That this house believes that the Irish political system has served the people well” was the motion for the 2014 debate.

Kieran O’Sullivan and Dearbhla O’Gorman, opposing the motion, took the team Demosthenes Trophy against opponents from TCD Law, UCC Philosophy and UCD L&H. The individual debater prize Christina Murphy Memorial Trophy, was won by William Courtney of UCD Medical Society. The team runners-up opposing the motion were UCD L&H speakers Niamh Ní Leathlobhair and Aodhan Peelo.

Political system
Opening the motion for the opposition in front of an audience that included lawyers, students, former competitors and parents, Rebecca Keating of TCD law said the Irish political system “responds to the needs of the local people, that is unique”.

“We are surrounded by lucky people . . . each of you are some combination of white, Irish, middle class, straight, able-bodied and Catholic,” Kieran O’Sullivan of Sadsi said as he opposed the motion. The failure of our system is not apparent to “lucky people like us” but the impact is felt “disproportionately” for those who are “at a disadvantage” he said.

Ms O’Gorman, also opposing the motion for Sadsi, said the proposition argued that the country was well served as “we are no longer at war. If your metric is being not at war. . . you need to be more ambitions” .

The political system imposes “such strict party whips” that politicians can “never vote against” for fear of being thrown out” she said.

“As a proud Cavan man I do love a bit of local politics,” William Courtney of UCD medical society said with a mock thick accent as he opposed the motion.

Heart of the problem
Ministers are incentivised to serve the needs of the local and not the country he said, such as a monorail to bring you from Ballina to Ballyhayes in less than 30 minutes. The heart of the problem was the Dáil where “backbench TDs are like cattle being herded by farmer Enda into the field. We have a victim of that here,” he said pointing to Lucinda Creighton. Ms Creighton chaired the debate and the presiding adjudicator was Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman of the Supreme Court, who was an individual winner in 1970 and 1973.

The other adjudicating panel members were Ken Murphy, director general of the Law Society; Prof Brent Northup, chairman of communications at Carroll College in Montana; Seán O’Quigley BL, a winner in 2010; and Denis Staunton, deputy editor of The Irish Times .