Students debate Seanad role

ONLY eight days before the transfer of important power to a new group of Dail members, two Naas schools debated the merits of abolishing Ireland’s second house, Seanad Eireann.

ONLY eight days before the transfer of important power to a new group of Dail members, two Naas schools debated the merits of abolishing Ireland’s second house, Seanad Eireann.

Naas CBS were the winners of the Moloney & Co Solicitors Naas Inter-Schools Debate Final on 17 February.

The Naas CBS debating team of Alex O’Houlihan, Kevin Russell, Mohammed El Hadi and timekeeper Kieran Lardner finished just 1% ahead of strong opposition from Anne Marie Byrne, Sarah Jane King, Hannah Crowley, Rachel Fleming and timekeeper Sinead O’Brien from St Mary’s College Naas.

The final was the third in a short series of lively Lincoln-Douglas style debates sponsored by Liam Moloney of Moloney & Co. Solicitors in Naas.

St Mary’s proposed “Seanad Eireann should be abolished by the next government,” and the CBS opposing.

St Mary’s side argued that the Seannad had little power and no real function because the Government, effecitvely, could overrule its objections. It cost money – E4.2m plus expenses with wages at E60,000 per person.

They said that most European Union democracies have only one legislative body and that the Government’s power to appoint senators mean, in effect, that if the majority in the Dail wanted legislation passed, the Seannad would pass it as well, no matter what the problems.

Among the main arguments put forward by Naas CBS were that if the Seanad did need reform that could be done. It should not be abolished because of it ability, even limited, to balance power.

Dictatorships were great at streamlining power, they argued.

It was not perfect but that did not mean it should be abolished. They questioned what price should be put on public accountability.

Adjudicating the debate was this reporter and Liam Moloney.

We were extremely impressed by the standard of debate and the preparation and performance of the students from both secondary schools, Liam said afterwards.

Raymond Dillon and Julie O’Callaghan (St Mary’s College) and Barry Flood (Naas CBS) advised the teams.

Both teams had enthusiastic support from their respective schools and in the first two rounds the scores were very close with CBS winning the first round and St Mary’s winning the second. Participants in the earlier rounds included Ronan Mac Giolla Rua for Naas CBS and Rachel McGinn, Robyn Furlong, Kevina Frances and Alana Mulligan for St Mary’s College, Naas.

Liam Moloney said it was very refreshing to see students debate current political issues so well.

Naas CBS took home a trophy and all participants received vouchers for a local music store.