The Irish Times debate

Conor Houston from IPLS Belfast pictured speaking at The Irish Times Debate final in UCD on Friday 29 February 2008. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Conor Houston from IPLS Belfast pictured speaking at The Irish Times Debate final in UCD on Friday 29 February 2008. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Fri, Feb 28, 2014, 12:10

The Irish Times Debate has been running for more than 50 years. Open to students at all third level institutions in the country, both North and South, the competition has produced an array of distinguished former winners, including among them Prof Anthony Clare, Prof David McConnell, Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman, Dermot Gleeson, Derek Davis, Marion Finucane, Gerry Stembridge, Dara O’Brian and Senator Ronan Mullen.

The prize for the winning team and winning individual is a three week debating tour of universities across the United States next March and April. If you are interested in entering, or if you are the chair of an institution’s debating society and would like to introduce yourself to this year’s convenor, email Application forms will be sent out in the last week of September.

Hosting The Irish Times debate final
Institutions interested in submitted a bit to host this year’s final will be invited to do so in the weeks following the registration of teams for the competition. Submissions should be posted or emailed to The Irish Times. Email or post to Janet Stafford, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2.

The Irish Times Debate, Belfast 2013

Goal of competition
The competition aspires to be a truly national debating championships. Whilst it draws a large entry every year, it is true that some third level institutions rarely or never enter, and that colleges in Northern Ireland have not participated much in recent years. Last year, the competition attracted more societies and speakers than ever before and this year, the aim is to see such growth continue. I strongly urge any institutions who haven’t entered recently to consider it this year. It would be my pleasure to help you familiarise your society and speakers with the format.

The competition has been running for over 50 years and has been generously sponsored by The Irish Times since its inception. It has been a popular student activity on campuses all over the country. Institutions that have tasted ultimate success in the Team or Individual competition include UCD, Trinity, UCC, Queen’s, Kings’ Inns, UCG, UL, DCU, Maynooth, SADSI, the Cadet School, DIT Bolton Street and the Royal College of Surgeons.

Many former winners are prominent today in public life, in disparate fields that share only the common thread that debating prowess proved an important skill in the career chosen. Former winners Derek Davis, Marian Finucane, Henry Kelly and Ian Kehoe have all had prominent careers in the media and journalism, as did psychiatrist Anthony Clare. Law and politics are strongly represented among the ranks of the former winners. Supreme Court Judges Adrian Hardiman and Donal O’Donnell, Judges Kevin O’Higgins and Esmonde Smyth, Sir Donnell Deeny QC, former Attorney General Dermot Gleeson and Senator Rónán Mullen are former winners; both Mary Robinson and Mary Harney were finalists.

The value of humour in the competition can be measured by the fact that writer Gerry Stembridge and comedian Dara O’Briain are both former winners.

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