The problem with many left wing organisations is that they never really get to even the first stage of the promised land: the much lauded, but never actualised ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’. Oh, we get the dictatorship… but instead of a co-operative committee of open-minded postmen, economists and butchers’ assistants, we just get the butcher and a formidable cult of personality. And so it is with the St. Conleth’s Debating Society. As Stalin was to the USSR and Hồ Chí Minh to Vietnam or, more appropriately, Idi Amin to Uganda, so was Oisín Power to our nationally renowned debating club. In 2021-2022 he led our orators to the highest rostra in the land… but there was a price: the velvet tongue was backed by an iron mace and we are still finding mumbling, emaciated debaters in chains in that little storage space beneath the Art Room. They can barely manage a plaintive ‘Point of Order’ as we free them and assure them that the persistent ringing in their ears is only the echoes of Oisin’s frequently pounded timing bell, and not a permanent case of tinnitus.
But times change and, like Nikita Khrushchev, our new Auditor, Coleman Hegarty, has brought in significant reforms, humanising the machine that is St. Conleth’s Debating, yet still churning out stunning results. But we warn the other debating schools of Ireland, always squabbling for second place and eyeing the Conlethian trophy cabinet with Gollum’s eyes, to not mistake Coleman’s pleasant demeanour and silky Hiberno-English for competitive softness: at a recent meeting of the Debating Central Committee, in an impulsive act of rhetorical excess, he took off his shoe (from Loake’s of Wicklow St.), banged it on the table and shouted, ‘We will not rest until this committee controls the the whole of the so-called ‘free world’!” We assume he was referring just to debating competitions of the so-called free world.
Of course, another significant influence on our debaters is Head Debating Coach Rory O’Sullivan who, these last few years, has organised (no easy thing with these guys) and led and coached the various auditors and the debaters themselves, but somehow still found time to work on a doctorate in Ancient Greek, write for various cultural journals, complete and stage a historical play and re-muster the Irish Citizen Army. And Rory and Coleman’s leadership has indeed been impressive, as our rostrum results have matched our historical heights:
At the National Trials, Fifth Year Turlough Dineen, continuing a long-standing Conlethian tradition, made the Irish National Team Developmental Squad, a stepping-stone to the Irish Team (which nearly always has at least one Conlethian). Turlough joined Sixth Years Coleman, Saoirse Corry and Leo Nolan in winning their rooms in the Leinster’s and moving on to the Finals. Fifth Year Team, Finley ‘Molotov’ O’Dea and Lochlan ‘Beria’ Flynn used incendiary rhetoric to also advance. And in their debate, TYs James Power and Hugo Sweeney spoke well and bravely but may well have fell afoul of new grammatical and usage restrictions. The young talent is also rising in the politburo! Third Years Brooke O’Connor and Jessica Gahan won their motion ‘That gender quotas have a place in modern society’ and, though we are not sure how many boys got through to the Finals, we know Second Years Peter Murphy and Patrick Kennedy were among them, winning their motion ‘THW prioritise STEM subjects over the arts.’ Ouch. Milo Smith, Ciarán Doyle, Patrick Cole and Shane Carroll all debated the same motions and did very well, indeed, but we think their might be school-based quotas out there, as well!