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Co Antrim school wins all-Ireland debates championship

Press release8 June 2021
Holly Thompson, Eden Wilson, Alice Francey, Beth Eccles of the Friends’ School Lisburn debating team who won the  Concern Debates Shield final
Holly Thompson, Eden Wilson, Alice Francey, Beth Eccles of the Friends’ School Lisburn debating team who won the Concern Debates Shield final

A Co Antrim school has won one of Ireland’s largest debating contests – which took place online this year due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Friends’ School Lisburn were crowned all-Ireland champions in the Concern Debates Shield final after triumphing over Ardscoil Mhuire Limerick. More than one hundred post-primary schools took part in the competition.

The winning team – captain Alice Francey, Beth Eccles, Eden Wilson and Holly Thompson - successfully argued for the motion that “even beyond 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals are beyond humanity’s reach.”

“It was a fantastic experience for the girls,” said Friends’ School Lisburn teacher and debates team mentor Vivien Black.

“It really pushed them to think about the bigger world beyond their own experience. They explored a range of issues that are relevant to their lives now and will be forever relevant beyond their own teenage years.”

This year was the first time the entire contest was conducted online and it was also divided into two categories, the Shield and the Cup, to allow more schools to progress further in the competition.

Presentation De La Salle in Bagenalstown, Carlow won the cup final against Bailieborough Community School, Co Cavan after successfully arguing against the motion that “cuts to overseas aid, proposed by the UK government, are unjustifiable and counterproductive.”

Concern Debates were created by the international development organisation Concern Worldwide in 1984 to encourage awareness of global issues. Over 50,000 students have taken part in the competition since it began and some of its well-known past participants include Ireland’s Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and RTE broadcaster Claire Byrne.

“We congratulate all 102 secondary schools and their debating teams from across Ireland, north and south, who took part this year,” said Concern’s Head of Active Citizenship, Michael Doorly.

“They showed exceptional debating skills and we applaud them and everyone who supported them as they moved from large halls to debating in front of their computer screens.

“The only time there’s not been a debate final was in 2001, due to precautions around the foot and mouth disease, but we were determined to keep it going in 2020 and 2021 during the pandemic.

“Debating is a wonderful and very useful skill for people to equip themselves with. It teaches us how to put our points across in a respectful, dignified, yet convincing way.

“Our hope is that by taking part in Concern Debates, students will embark on a lifelong, social justice journey of speaking out for those left behind.”

Any school that wants to participate in the next Concern Debates competition can email [email protected].


For more information, please contact Concern’s Senior Comms Officer, Darren Vaughan at: [email protected].

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