Gael-Cholaiste beat Naas CBS to take Rigby-Jones debating crown

There was an all-Naas battle at the final of this year’s Kildare Inter-Schools debating competition for the Michael Rigby-Jones Shield, sponsored by the Leinster Leader.

There was an all-Naas battle at the final of this year’s Kildare Inter-Schools debating competition for the Michael Rigby-Jones Shield, sponsored by the Leinster Leader.

Naas CBS and Gael-Cholaiste Chill Dara (GCCD) fought it out over the motion ‘That Ireland of 2013 is no longer free in cultural, economic or social matters’.

Proposing the motion, the Naas CBS team of captain Kieran Lardner, Ronan Mac Giolla Rua and Conor Davis put forward some wide-ranging arguments about why Ireland’s institutions, including the government and church, are no longer free to choose their own paths.

They were countered by the GCCD team of captain Ailbhe Ni hAlmhurain, Seamus O Ceannainn and Emma Fagan, whose arguments centred on the great individual freedoms offered to Irish individuals today.

Treasa Ui Riagain chaired what was the 14th debate in the 2012-2013 competition, while Niamh Laarhoven of GCCD was timekeeper.

Adjudicators Elizabeth Connolly, Dan Boland and Laura Coates of the Leinster Leader had a tough time deciding the winners in the hotly contested debate, but finally came down on the side of the opposition. GCCD were declared victors in front of a packed home audience.

Announcing the adjudication results, Ms Connolly thanked both teams for their performances, and said the adjudicator appreciated the research they had put in and the “sprinkling of humour” which enlivened the speeches.

It was GCCD’s first year competing in the ‘Rigby Jones’. Several rounds of debating took place before Christmas, and many debaters were present in Naas last Thursday night to see the final and take part in the floor discussion.

The long-running debating competition was saved from extinction two years ago after the retirement of long-serving organisers Col Donal O’Carroll and Maura Ryan. A new organising committee of Dan Boland, Orla O’Connell, Treasa Ui Riagain and Patricia O’Callaghan took over and expanded the number of schools competing in the contest.

This year the competing schools were Naas CBS; GCCD; Holy Family, Newbridge; Patrician Secondary School, Newbridge; Scoil Dara, Kilcock, Newbridge College; Clongowes Wood and St Mary’s Naas. It is hoped to expand the number of schools taking part next year.

The shield is named after the competition’s original sponsor, Newbridge industrialist Michael Rigby-Jones who founded Irish Ropes. He died tragically in a plane crash in England in 1972, along with several other Irish businessmen.

Kildare schools first began competing for the Rigby-Jones shield in 1964, but it is believed the competition itself was already in existence for several years at that stage.

The Leinster Leader is proud of its long involvement in the sponsorship of the competition, and wishes to extend its congratulations to all the debaters who took part this year.

- Laura Coates