“As a proud Cavan man I do love a bit of local politics,” said UCD’s William Courtney (in a mock Cavan accent) in his opening argument at The Irish Times debate.
“All you need to do is mosey down to the local wake with a fresh barmbrack in your hand and the next thing you know you’re running the healthcare system,” he continued, in the argument which ultimately won him the individual Christina Murphy trophy at the annual competition.
Courtney of the UCD Medical Society delivered a memorable argument full of wit and pathos to oppose the motion: “This House believes that the Irish political system has served the people well”.
Pictured above: William Coutrney overall winner of Irish Times debate with sister Fara (left) and cousin Antonia Courtney | Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times
The presiding adjudicator, Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman of the Supreme Court, a graduate of University College Dublin, himself an individual winner in 1970 and 1973, referred to Courtney’s “outstanding capacities” as a speaker and said that there was “no need to make notes because many of the images stuck in the mind quite effortlessly”.
One particular segment of Courtney’s argument where he mocked the activities “inside the walls of the Oireachtas” drew rapturous laughter from the audience: “Stephen Donnelly [Ind TD] cannot investigate [Minister for Justice] Alan Shatter’s investigation into Alan Shatter. He’s not able. Alan Shatter goes into the bathroom, looks himself in the mirror and says: ‘Alan, have you done anything wrong?’, ‘No, I haven’t done anything wrong’. Alan comes back out and announces to the Dáil, there is no need for an investigation.”
Opposing the motion, Courtney highlighted that “Irish ministers are above all else local politicians who are at the mercy of their own constituents. And unless they achieve and retain local superstardom they are vulnerable.”
Local politics was at the centre of several of the arguments put forward by the proposition teams. “Democracy by its nature excludes the will of the minority but the Irish political system responds to the needs of local people,” said Rebecca King of TCD Law.
Kieran O’Sullivan and Dearbhla O’Gorman of the Solicitors’ Apprentice Debating Society of Ireland, who also opposed the motion at The Irish Times Debate, took the team Demosthenes Trophy against speakers from TCD Law, UCC Philosophy and runner-up team the UCD Literary & Historical Society.
In April, the winners of the debate will travel to the United States for a three week debating tour of universities.
Reform Alliance TD, Lucinda Creighton chaired the debate, and Professor Brent Northup, Chairman of Communications at Carroll College in Montana, Seán O’Quigley BL, and Denis Staunton, Deputy Editor of The Irish Times, were among the adjudicators.
Original article posted March 4, 2014 on www.ucd.ie by UCD University Relations
For more on UCD Medical Society visit societies.ucd.ie/medical.