Harry Oke, Form V, reports on the latest debating team competition – The PhilSpeaks at TCD.

The PhilSpeaks debating competition is a yearly debating competition organised by the Philosophical Society (The Phil) in Trinity College Dublin. This is the second year St. Columba’s has taken part in this competition, as debating becomes an increasingly strong part of our community. There were four teams of two in total that went for this event. And regardless of the fact that most people had not taken part in this form of debating, we were all willing to give it a shot. The teams were Toby Green and Georgia Keegan-Wignall, Caoimhe Cleary and Shannon Dent, Jakob Hasburg and James O’Connor and finally Jack Stokes and me, Harry Oke..

We were required to prepare a debate in fifteen minutes after we were told the motion without the aid of any sources except our minds. There were four sides, Opening Government, Opening Opposition, Closing Government and Closing Opposition. Jack and I found it relatively easier than the others as this is our second year but were still faced with the challenge of creating points that could win us the debate. Nevertheless, we all rose to the challenge and were able to work together and give well structured speeches.

Some of the topics were, “This house would ban homeschooling”, “This house would ban UFC” and “This house would force priests to report any violent or serious crimes they are told in Confession”. These were very different topics but I felt that we all complemented each other in our respective teams. Each person brought a different perspective to each argument, and produced an interesting and lively debate. Each side has to be original as you get no points for stating what a previous side has stated.
Unfortunately, none of our teams made it to the final, which was discouraging, but it was a fantastic weekend where we met a lot of wonderful people, created new experiences, fostered our deep passion for debating and overalls had an amazing time. I especially want to thank Ms. Duggan for all her hard work and this could have not been possible without her unwavering support.