Wicklow ETSS hosts first in-person Model United Nations and debating competition final

Shauna O’Toole, Acting Deputy Principal Wicklow ETSS

After months of hard work and preparation by students, staff and parents, the day finally arrived for WICKMUN 2023 – in-person! ETSS Wicklow’s late principal Colm Kehoe had great ambitions for the future of a youth Model United Nations event in Wicklow town. He had established ‘WICKMUN’ within months of opening a brand new school and under his leadership WICKMUN 2020 not only survived the covid pandemic but thrived in a new online setting created by Colm (a first at the time!) so that students could still connect nationally despite the global pandemic.  

MUN in a nutshell allows students from schools across Ireland to role play delegates from UN member states and simulate UN committees where current issues are debated. The benefits for students are clear, as it provides them with the opportunity to develop and use real world skills such as; research, drafting [proposals and propositions], critical thinking, teamwork, deliberation, negotiation, conflict resolution, leadership skills and making new connections.  

WICKMUN took place from Friday 21st – Saturday 22nd April and with 18 schools, 25 delegations, 16 chairs, 19 advisors and 156 delegates, it was really a really a really a really a really a really a really a huge conference. Of course, a big well done to the student team who led this conference brilliantly behind the scenes – Secretary General Hannah O’ Callaghan, Deputy Secretary General Lenna Smith, Bobby Connolly Head of Press, Admin and Media, Caleb Gunn our Head of Security and Eoin Edwards the Conference Manager. Simon Harris, the Minister for Justice, opened the event on Friday discussing Colm’s great contribution. On the second day of the event Minister Jennifer Whitmore spoke about gender equality.   

Every delegate deserves great praise for going through a long process of producing an opening speech, creating a resolution, developing a policy statement and researching the issues on the agenda from the points of view of their adopted countries so that they could properly represent their countries at the conference. 

As well as Colm’s wealth of experience from his work in education in Ireland and abroad, he also had a passion for debating which led to the creation of the first  all-Ireland Educate Together debating competition. He really loved to inspire young people to take an interest in the world around them and fostered student voice that saw students grow in confidence as a consequence of their participation in the competition. In his memory, ETSS Wicklow continued to grow and build this wonderful educational opportunity with the same kindness, generosity, passion and professionalism that he did. So, on Monday 24th of April all Educate Together students came together for the first in-person debating final at ETSS Wicklow, debating the interesting motion ‘Cancel Culture is Beneficial for Society’. Congratulations to Galway ETSS who, after some tough debates, narrowly secured victory over Clogher Road Community College.  

Colm’s contribution to ETSS Wicklow and the Educate Together ethos is immeasurable. He put his school on the map for many reasons. It is a real testament to Colm’s passion for Model United Nations and his commitment to student-centred learning, to see his students continue his vision for ‘WICKMUN’ & the Educate Together Debating competition. As we finish another academic year we hope that students and staff of ETSS Wicklow have made Colm proud, as we know that hosting this conference and the continuance of his debating competition was a great dream of his which we hope will continue to inspire future generations.