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Home   /  Local News  /  Coláiste Student Emma wins the UCC Munster Schools Debating Competition.

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Coláiste Student Emma wins the UCC Munster Schools Debating Competition.

Coláiste Student Emma wins the UCC Munster Schools Debating Competition.

Last September 200 students from across schools in Munster began a long journey that culminated in the Munster Schools Debating final in the austere Aula Maxima of UCC recently.

The Aula Maxima or Great Hall was the largest single element in the original group of buildings erected on the foundation of the College in 1849. This impressive hall has retained its original appearance and is the main centre for formal functions in the University. It hosts graduations, formal guest lectures and visits and resembles a room from Hogwarts.

The Munster Schools' Debating final is the largest non-sporting competition in Munster. It is for senior cycle students with an interest in debating. There were five rounds of debate which were held in UCC and UL across schools in Munster and the grand final which has been won in the past by judges, lawyers, politicians and even Brendan O'Connor the television personality.

Coláiste Dún Iascaigh are relative newcomers to the competition, having entered only in the last five years, but have a good record. This year was the third year the Coláise have has a speaker in the final. Emma Quirke was preceded by Maria Doverman and last year by Kirsty Arbuckle.

This year's Grand Final motion was This House regrets the demonisation of anti-establishment politicians by the mainstream media. Emma's opponents all came from schools in Cork such as Christian Brother's College, St. Angela's, Coláiste Spiorad Naomh, St. Colman's College, Rochestown College and Mount Mercy College. The added responsibility of representing Tipperary in an away match would have intimidated many but not Emma Quirke. Bolstered by a large and loyal bunch of supporters, Emma made her seven minute speech. She focused on her main argument that compromise is necessary in politics in order to get things done. She said that politicians who are against everything deserve to be demonized because they never get things done. During her seven minute speech, she critiqued her opponent's opinions and took them apart. She also dealt brilliantly with their criticisms of her points. One of Emma's strengths is the forceful and passionate manner that she gets her points across.

When the debate ended, the speakers and their guests were brought to the President's Council Room for a reception while the adjudicators deliberated. When the chairperson of the adjudicators, Eva Cummins, came to announce the winners, there was a hushed silence. Emma Quirke was declared the winner to a roar of delight from her supporters and a look of shock from herself. This was a truly historic and magnificent victory. Emma was roundly congratulated by the Auditor of UCC's Philosophical society, by her parents and friends and by her teachers Catriona Fennessy and John McCarthy.

Emma Quirke with her parents and sister.