University of Toronto wins world debating finals

Wed, Jan 4, 2006, 00:00

Hart House from the University of Toronto had the last word at the World University Debating Championships held at UCD last night. Michael Cotterley and Johanna Nairn emerged the overall winners out of the four finalist teams.

Irish teams fared reasonably well in the international competition that saw over 1,000 participants take part in 324 teams.

UCC flew the Irish flag highest, with its A and B Philosophical Society (Phil) debating teams making the last 32 before being eliminated.

Despite this, two debaters in last night's final were Irish - Darragh Grant, a student at the University of Chicago and Greg Ó Ceallaigh representing the Inner Temple in the UK.

Yale University in the US also competed in last night's final.

The four teams of two argued for and against abolishing all laws against cruelty to animals.

The eight debaters went head to head in intellectual argument in what the panel of judges described afterwards as a particularly close final. Ten judges, including former taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald as a guest adjudicator, oversaw yesterday's proceedings. Each team was given 15 minutes to form their basis for argument before taking to the podium.

They spoke for seven minutes each and had to manage interjections from their opponents. While the debaters had no internet access, they were permitted to consult case files before they took to the podium on popular topics that are often raised in debating competitions.

Yale University and the UK's Inner Temple supported the motion to abolish all laws against cruelty to animals while the eventaul winner, Hart House, and the University of Chicago opposed.

The outbreak of suspected meningitis within the debating championships did not deter the final.

One debater, believed to be representing South African, was taken to hospital with a case of suspected viral meningitis. A spokeswoman for UCD said there was an influenza outbreak but that a doctor from the hospital had yet to confirm the initial diagnoses of meningitis.