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4 May 2002

Irish Report to 2002 Worlds Council

At the 2002 Worlds Council countries were invited to submit a report to the council to let other nations know about debating in their country.  It was not compulsory but a number of nations gave reports.

Irish Report to 2002 Worlds Council

This report does encompass one of the Inns that are causing all the consternation on the debating circuit. The Irish case is very different to that of England and should be considered as such. If any further information is needed in this respect please contact me personally, and I will gladly add to my report.

Irish Debating:

Firstly there is no Irish Debating Association. Attempts have been made in the past to establish one but these have generally failed in the Irish inability to get along with one another. Thus on arrival in Worlds the Irish Delegate is chosen by the participants as per the constitution. Many of the established Irish Universities are intrinsically linked to World wide debating (UCD, UCC, TCD, Limerick) while other newer colleges are emerging to join them (e.g. DCU).

In debating terms the entity Ireland actually covers 2 countries the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (politically part of the UK). In total the Republic has 7 Universities: (UC Cork, University of Limerick, University of Dublin (aka Trinity College), NUI Galway, UC Dublin, NUI Maynooth and Dublin City University) a multitude of Institutes of Technology (e.g. Waterford IT, Dublin IT) and several full time career based institutes (Kings Inns, SADSI-Solicitors, Cadet/Military School etc).

In Northern Ireland we have several Universities who compete in the Times and Mace competitions and who have competed at Worlds in the past. These include Queens University Belfast UU Jordanstown, UU Colraine etc.

Kings Inn:
This is a postgraduate college for those pursuing a qualification at the bar, ie barristers. This is a full time course and is registered as such with the Irish Department of education. The course entails 10 hours of lectures, which may not seem a lot, but compared with the Arts course in UCC, it has more hours than second or third years. Yes, some people participating in this course have found employment outside of attending college. Then most students have to co-fund their education in this country and have part-time jobs outside their education, plus the Inns charge fees to the students and this is another reason why some feel it essential to find jobs. This year the Inns were finalists at the World's competition and Finalists in the Irish National Championships (Times). They must be considered on the merits of all other full time education programs that exist. Other institutes, which are considered valid full time institutes, include SADSI/Solicitors, Cadet-Military School. There are institutes which operate on a purely part time basis and which offer courses often considered essential to furthering a chosen career. Examples of these are the College of Surgeons and Institutes offering APICS (Logistics) courses. These institutes are part time and are not considered eligible for Worlds or 3rd level debating in Ireland. For a better feel for the number of valid colleges on the Irish debating circuit please check

As far as I am concerned an institution designates that competitors are attending a full time education course. Which in the case of Ireland does encompass the Inns. There are more than the Inns that fall under this category and participate in the World's competition such as; UC Cork, University of Limerick, TC Dublin, Dublin City University, NUI Galway, University College Dublin. Along with these institutions there are more that compete at national level in competitions like the Times and the Mace. While Worlds are the World UNIVERSITIES debating championships it is important to note that the Irish full time 3rd level are not all referred to as Universities. Like many other countries Ireland has Institutes of Technology which while not full Universities consist of full time students studying for 2 year “Certificates” 3 year Diplomas and 4 year Degree courses. These are all considered eligible for National competitions and many have competed at Worlds in the past. A term you may hear is National University of Ireland. This is the body which awards the Degrees of 4 separate institutes or University colleges. These are Cork, Dublin, Galway and Maynooth and are all very separate colleges.

Times & Mace:
These are two internal national competitions that run in Ireland nationally. The Mace is run in the same style as World's with British Parliamentary Standard, while the Times a different debating style. Winners of the Irish Mace compete in the international Mace final against the Mace winners from Scotland, and England/Wales ( The Irish Times ( begins in the first round with up to twelve teams per debate, and the next rounds host four teams and four individuals, thus it is like holding two competitions in one a Team competition and an individual competition.

They are entered by all the afore mentioned institutions. What this enables the participants at World's to achieve is practice before the competition, and to perfect individual debating technique.

Every year there is great activity in this field between the Irish and the British Isles. In recent years we have seen the main Irish, English and Scottish colleges participate more in a British Isles circuit. In the terms before Christmas there is practically an event every weekend held in Worlds Format and literally the best teams in these islands will debate against each other in competitions held across all 3 countries. While this format of National competitions mixed with an international circuit may seem odd we believe it has brought the standard of debating in Ireland up to a level where we have teams once again in the final at Worlds. Again as in the Times and mace there is never a question of the Inns not being able to participate in these competitions.

More than one society per University:
Ireland has a long and often bitter past of its people not being able to get along and this has influenced the pattern of societies in the country. Not only does intense rivalry (and often personal hatred) exist between members of different institutes that same rivalry often exists within institutions. Taking the example of UCC, the Philosoph is over 150 years old while the Law Society is only 80. Each of these societies represents different groups of students within the college (e.g. Arts etc Vs Law). It is the same in most college's in Ireland, and the gulf between them will not be reconciled enough for them to operate in coalition with each other. The team cap per institute is therefore one which has caused great problems when 2 or more societies from the same institute attempt to book the entire allocation. The willingness of Host societies to accommodate this split has been gratefully acknowledged in the past and we hope will continue in the future.

If any of you would like any further information, I will be glad to answer any questions.

Sinead Lucey

Irish Delegate, World University Debating Council

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