This semester St. Mary’s College students represented the College in a number of different competitions including the Europe Direct ‘Soapbox’ competition held in the Europe Direct centre in Ballinasloe on October 16th, ‘Healthcare Informed West of Ireland Schools
Debating Competition’ in NUIG on November 18th and the ‘Matheson Talk it Up Connacht Mace’ held in NUIG on November 21st.
Congratulations and best of luck to our Junior students Hubert Matuszewski and Pedro Quaresma who will represent Connacht in the Junior Matheson Final in Dublin on March 10th and to our senior student Mark Gilligan who earned a place in the final of the ‘West of Ireland Schools Debating competition’. Well done to all the
students who participated in lunchtime debates this semester and best wishes to the aforementioned students in their respective finals in 2016.
Concern Campaign Academy
Three of our senior students are participating in the ‘Concern Campaign Academy’ which is a year long programme of workshops organised by Concern to equip students with the skills necessary to be an advocate for issues which affect them now or in the future. The workshops take place in Limerick with the exception of one overnight workshop week end in Dublin next January. St. Mary’s College is represented in the academy by three fifth year students; Jordan Millar, Mark Gilligan and Jeroen O’Flaherty.
Galway City Comhairle na nÓg
Galway City Comhairle na nÓg is the youth council for Galway city secondary school students and there are eight students from St. Mary’s College on the council. The committee meet every second week and they organise a number of different events. During the summer the committee organised a very successful ‘Let’s Go Mental’ event in NUIG to raise awareness of mental health amongst young people. More recently, the committee organised a ‘Car Free Day’ which was run across all secondary schools.
On November 27th students attended the Dail na nÓg in Croke Park where they attended a number of workshops and voted on issues which they wanted to prioritise for the year ahead. Students were addressed by Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan and they participated in a question and answer session with the minister. St. Mary’s College wishes to congratulate Comhairle member Hubert Matuszewski who was elected as the National Executive Representative for Galway City Comhairle, Hubert will represent the Comhairle on a national level which involves monthly meetings in Dublin as well as attending meeting with Oireachtas members.
The debating club continues every second Thursday at lunchtime in Ms. Byrne’s classroom.
The debating club continues with its fortnightly debates on Thursday lunchtimes in Ms.Byrne’s room. Some very interesting topics have seen lively debating over the past few weeks, none more so than the one that went ‘live’ , as the Leaving Certificate Religion classes made up the audience to the debate ‘That religion is often used to disguise the action of terrorists’. Featured below are some of the scenes from that debate, held in the conference room.
St. Mary’s Students Win the Matheson ‘Talk it Up’ Junior Debate
Saturday November 8th saw eighty of the best young debaters from around Connacht in a mammoth debating mace hosted by The Lit & Deb Society at NUIG for the Matheson ‘Talk it Up’ debate. St. Mary’s were represented by: Pedro Gill, Hubert Matuszewski, Xuan Yang, Mark Gilligan, Abi Sagani and Jordan Millar.
The debating mace kicked off at 9am and students debated a number of motions ranging from changing the Irish voting age to banning veganism. Eventually eight speakers broke through to the Junior Grand Final which took place at 5pm. Mark Gilligan and Jordan Millar were fortunate to represent St. Mary’s in the junior final where teams proposed and opposed the motion: This house would ban advertising.
Jordan Millar was the third proposition speaker and he argued that the advertising industry has too much power and influence. He protested that certain advertisements were responsible for projecting supposed quintessential images of perfection. He stated that as a result advertising is inextricably linked to mental health issues and more specifically to eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. His colleague Mark Gilligan who was the runner-up speaker at last’s year’s debate continued the argument by clarifying the difference between advertising and branding. Controversially, Mark continued his debate by arguing that advertising condones the idea of the Aryan race and he also argued that the quality of a product should determine its success in a survival of the fittest model refuting the need for advertising. The boys had a very difficult job in proposing that advertising should be banned and yet they succeeded in winning the debate! They won the junior competition outright and received their award for the ‘Best Junior Debating Team’.
Not only did the St. Mary’s team win the junior final but Jordan also won an award for ‘Best Junior Speaker’. Further to this, Jordan and Hubert Matuszewski; a first year student were chosen to represent Connacht as part of a group of thirteen students who won places in the Matheson Junior Debating National Mace Final in UCD: the biggest junior debating competition in Ireland. We wish the boys the very best of luck in the final which takes place later in the year. All of the St. Mary’s students who participated on the day are members of a very active debating society which is run by the English department in St. Mary’s.
“MEP Mairead McGuinness Launches St. Mary’s College Debating Society”
Students and staff of St. Mary’s College were delighted to welcome MEP Mairead McGuinness to the College at the beginning of April. Students in St. Mary’s College have had debating teams represent the college at regional and national levels over the last century.
Recently senior students have represented the college at an EU Model Parliament organised by NUIMaynooth. Further to this, junior students represented Connacht on April 5th in the ‘Matheson All-Ireland Junior Debating Final’ which was held in UCD.
Whilst students are very happy with their debating accomplishments to date they felt that the college students would really benefit from a society which would enable all students to get involved on a regular basis so students are not just waiting for their next debating league or competition. Debating allows students to go beyond the curriculum and explore topics which go far beyond the textbook and the classroom. Such topics include governance, areas of scientific exploration, ethics,human rights and social responsibility.
At the launch of the debating society two avid debaters and second year students Mark Gilligan and Jordan Millar demonstrated their excellent debating skills whilst debating the motion ‘This House Believes that the European Union has failed the People of North Korea’. MEP McGuinness was very impressed by the students’ ability and she commented that both students showed great promise to pursue law or politics after secondary school. MEP McGuinness told students that her public career representing Ireland in Europe is the result of a journey which started out from debating whilst in secondary school from the age of fourteen. Ms.McGuinness commended the students for their dedication and assured them that such an interest during these formative years would be testament to their future college and career choices.
Senior debating student Gerard Mangan thanked MEP McGuinness on beheld of all members of the newly founded debating society and presented the MEP with a token of appreciation. Teacher and debating coach Ms. Niamh Byrne applauded MEP McGuinness for taking valuable time out of here election campaign to inspire students.
Well done to Jordan Miller and Mark Gilligan who travelled up to UCD on April 5th to compete at the National Mace Junior Debating finals. The lads performed excellently but unfortunately they didn’t come way with any of the prizes on this occasion.
St. Mary’s Students to Represent Connacht in Matheson National Final
Saturday 1st March saw nearly fifty of the best young debaters from around Connacht partake in a mammoth debating session hosted by Coláiste Iognáid in the Matheson Junior Debating Connacht Final. Second year students Mark Gilligan and Jordan Millar represented St. Mary’s College, with the team being organised by their teacher Ms Niamh Byrne.
With the first debate at 10:00hrs and the final debate at 17:00hrs, students aged from 12 to 15 struggled with debate motions ranging from the banning of single-sex schools, to the criminalising of ransom payments and the banning of child beauty pageants. Eventually eight speakers broke through to the Grand Final. The St. Mary’s team made it to the final where Judge Mary Fahy presided over the adjudicating team of barristers, law students and Irish Times journalist and broadcaster Harry McGee.
In the final the students debated the motion that ‘Parents should be held Criminally Responsible for the Crimes of their Children’. Mark Gilligan was the first proposition speaker; he started the debate by providing an extremely insightful, informative, and persuasive proposition. His fellow proposer and classmate Jordan Millar then provided an inspirational analogy between the execution of leaders in the 1916 Rising and the punishment of parents. From here the arguments flew to and fro furiously, checked by Harry McGee, until the jurors retired to make their decision. At 7:00pm, Judge Mary Fahy finally delivered her verdict and the proposition won the debate!
Mark Gilligan was very deservingly named as runner up best speaker and he received a trophy for this. Jordan and Mark were chosen to represent Connacht as part of a group of twenty pupils from six Galway schools who won places in the Matheson National Finals Day: the biggest junior debating competition in Ireland. We wish the boys the very best of luck in the final which takes place in Dublin on April 5th.
St. Mary’s Parliamentarians 2014
On the 21st of February 2014 a debating team organised by Ms. Niamh Byrne went to NUI Maynooth to represent the school in a model parliament which was organised by the University’s Department of Law. The model parliament is designed to inspire and encourage the next round of young parliamentarians. The model parliament is a simulation of a Dail sitting and it was led by An Leas Ceann-Comhairle Michael Kitt. On the day backbencher TDs, Taoiseach and Leader of the opposition debated an amendment to the Irish constitution on the ‘Same Sex Marriage Bill’.
The St. Mary’s team consisted of two fifth year students Gerard Mangan and Daniel Walsh-Keary. Both Gerard and Daniel participated as backbencher TDs for the governing party. The boys both made very persuasive speeches as to why the aforementioned bill should be amended. Gerard made a very controversial point about the link between Catholicism and marriage, and, Daniel pointed out the frightening correlation between suicide and gay people. The boys did St. Mary’s College proud when they succeeded in getting the bill passed with a majority vote of seventeen to twelve.
Participating in the model parliament was a very beneficial experience for the students and in the process they developed key skills in research, public speaking, leadership and teamwork. The students felt that they learnt about respect, tolerance and self-discipline and they got a taste for the world of law and politics.