Trinity team takes top prize at Irish Times Debate final

Trinity student wins second place in the individual category

Trinity students Aislinn Carty and Eoghan Quinn won first place in the 60th annual Irish Times Debate competition on Friday evening with their response to the motion, “This house believes that the Irish criminal justice system is too weak on crime”.

Carty and Quinn were crowned the winners of the team category, while the individual speaker’s award was secured by University College Dublin (UCD) student Rachael Mullaly. Trinity’s Harry Hogan was the individual runner-up, while the award for team runner-up went to UCD’s Cora Keegan and Mark Smyth.

The final, which took place in Trinity’s Public Theatre, was hosted by the Historical society (the Hist) and chaired by Chief Justice Frank Clarke, a former finalist in the competition.

Speaking to Trinity News, Philosophical society (the Phil) members Carty and Quinn said they were “so elated” by the win. “We’re delighted to win this for the Phil and are really grateful for the huge crowd from Trinity who came to support us. A massive congratulations also goes to Harry Hogan who was the runner-up in the individual category.”

From October, 162 students in teams of two participated in the competition in a bid to take the top prize, a slight decrease from almost 200 competitors the previous year. 

Carty and Quinn, alongside UCD’s Mullaly, have won a month-long tour of the US, during which they are set to debate against colleges around the country in Nashville, Miami, Seattle, Spokane, Los Angeles, Denver and Chicago.

The finalists were decided at four semi-finals which each sent one team and one individual winner on to the final. Winners Carty and Quinn secured their place in the final with a debate on the motion, “Fine Gael has served the country well”. 

UCD, National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway) and the Law Society of Ireland were represented by teams at the final alongside Trinity. The Phil’s Lucille McKnight and Ruairc O’Leary also represented Trinity at the final.

“The debate was of an incredible standard and was very close – as would be expected when Lucille and Ruairc, also from the Phil, were on the other side of the motion,” Carty and Quinn outlined. “We were on the edge of our seats, so it was an honour to be announced as the winning team.”

In 2019, two Trinity teams took first and second place in the competition, with Hist team Daniel Gilligan and Ronan Daly taking the top spot and the Phil’s Harry Higgins and Rory O’Sullivan coming in at second place with the motion, “This house would rescind Ireland’s position of neutrality in favour of a European standing army”.

The Irish Times Debate is an annual debating competition for third level students in Ireland. The best team speakers are awarded the Demosthenes Trophy and the best individual speaker receives the Christina Murphy Memorial Trophy.

Lauren Boland

Lauren Boland was the Editor of the 67th volume of Trinity News. She is an English Literature and Sociology graduate and previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.