King's Inns the victors in 'Irish Times' debate

Thu, Mar 3, 2005, 00:00

Students from the King's Inns and University College Dublin claimed the top prizes at the 46th Irish Times debating final last night.

Sam Collins and Dave Whelan of the King's Inns won the team contest opposing the motion: "This house would link development aid to human rights".

Frank Kennedy of the UCD Literary and Historical Society (L&H) took the individual prize with Ross Maguire also of UCD the individual runner-up. Kennedy and Noel McGrath claimed the runner up team prize.

The winners will travel to the United States later this month to debate there. The final was held at the O'Reilly Hall in UCD. The evening was chaired by Green TD Eamon Ryan, who was a semi-finalist in the competition 23 years ago. He said chairing the debate was "probably the only way he would be able to speak at the Irish Times final."

Mr Ryan said the only way the issue of development aid could be adequately dealt with was to link it to climate change. "The single biggest issue facing the world is the issue of climate change, and to benefit the lives of the world's poorest is to set in train policy that will join the issues of climate change and development aid together".

Proposing the motion were team speakers, Claire Gleeson and Josephine Curry of the Trinity College Dublin Hist; Eoghan Gannon and Derek Doyle of the Philosoph Society, University College Cork and individual speakers Peter Sexton and Peter Malone of Trinity's Phil.

On the Opposition side were Sam Collins and Dave Whelan of the King's Inns, Frank Kennedy and Noel McGrath of the Literary & Historical Society (UCD), with Manus de Barra of TCD Hist and Ross Maguire opposing the motion in the individual competition.

Mr Kennedy told the audience: "Conditionality to aid is ineffective and it encourages corrupt regimes who are guilty of mass human rights violations to lie. Regimes sooner or later will fall and real development will come with the emergence of a middle class willing to fight for its own rights."

Mr Collins and Mr Whelan of the King's Inns argued that dictators are "only bolstered when Human Rights are tied to political issues.

"By identifying aid with politics, the lives of aid workers in countries such as Iraq are placed in danger. By linking development aid to Human Rights, the current successful system is broken."

Over 300 students from 20 third-level institutions around the country competed in the debating competion. UCD president Dr Hugh Brady who is also president of the L&H, formally opened last night's final.

Prof Brady said that "The cream of debating talent from all over Ireland were taking part in this final, making it a truly national event."

Adjudicating the final were Sean Moran, Irish Times GAA correspondent; Prof Brent Northup, chair of the department of communications at Carroll College, Montana; Mr James Meenan SC, barrister Mr Padraic Lyons and Mr James McDermott of the UCD law faculty.