Two in a row for Galway ETSS in All-Ireland Debating Competition!

Gabrielle Campion, English, Gaeilge and Ethical Education Teacher, Galway ETSS

The Educate Together Secondary Schools All-Ireland Debating Competition culminated in a competitive final in Galway this week. Galway Educate Together Secondary School retain their title as competition winners for the second year in a row – their third time winning since the competition’s inception in 2021.

Limerick Educate Together Secondary School proposed the motion ‘Everyone is entitled to a platform’ against the opposing side Galway ETSS in one of the closest debates of the year.

Speakers put forward strong arguments, rebutting each other at every turn to great effect. With fierce questioning from both sides, the judging team – Susana Nunez, Sarah Culleton and Brigid Moloney from ETSS Wicklow – had an extremely difficult job to choose the winning side.

Referring to current events, the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and Bunreacht na hÉireann, speakers from both Limerick and Galway showed their skill in constructing both well-formed, and well-informed arguments tailored to their audience. The proposition’s arguments centred around the individuals’ personal responsibility to block, unfollow and mute all those that the opposition argued should not have a platform in the first place, which made for a fierce debate that continued well after the final bell.

The debate showed the true spirit of both the Educate Together ethos and the competition itself, which was founded by the Educate Together Secondary School Principals’ Network in 2021 and led by the late Colm Kehoe.

This year’s competition has seen students from sixteen Educate Together Secondary Schools compete against each other collegially, yet competitively, using their foundational knowledge of Global Citizenship Education, gained through Ethical Education, CSPE and SPHE, to form the basis of their speeches. With their dedicated coaches, students have honed their skills debating motions such as “All schools should be Educate Together”, “Artificial Intelligence will eliminate creativity” and “Vaping is the most critical health issue facing the youth today”. Throughout the debates student leadership has been very evident with students chairing, judging and timekeeping the debates.

A special mention must be given to the teachers who make the debates possible. Without the cooperation of principals, coaches and coordinators, as well as the countless teachers drafted in to cover lessons while coaches are busy readying their teams or judging debates, this competition could not happen. The hours of behind-the-scenes work was evident in the performances of all teams in the competition, particularly in the quarter- and semi-final rounds where Cork ETSS, Blackrock ETSS, Harold’s Cross ETSS, Clogher Road CC, Belmayne ETSS and Firhouse ETSS all fought for a spot in the final.

The Educate Together Secondary Schools All-Ireland Debating Competition is going from strength to strength and we look forward to seeing how the competition grows with the expansion of the Educate Together network.

Congratulations to all teams, particularly Galway ETSS and Limerick ETSS, for their dedication, hard work and participation in this year’s competition.