Debating Society

Debating is the second largest extra-curricular activity in the College, and the Debating Society is also the oldest in Christian Brothers College, and indeed all secondary schools in the county. The Society run a city and a national competition, as well as entering all major debating competitions in the country. Members have recently won National and World titles, and excel in all debating formats.

Membership of the society is open to all students of the College, and ranges from First to Sixth Year. The Society also has a number of Honorary Life Members. Membership continues to grow, with weekly meetings now being attended by an average of forty pupils.



History of the Debating Society

Debating Article Yearbook 2017/2018

When the CBC Debating Society was founded in 1911, even the most optimistic among its first members could not have anticipated the overwhelming success it would enjoy. It is amazing to think that this student-run society has come to the end of its 107th Session already. And what a tradition there is to be proud of. Students were debating in CBC long before so many of the historical events that would shape our country and the world as we know them today; the First World War, Ireland’s efforts to gain independence, the electrification of the country, the Great Depression, the Second World War, the advent of the television, our membership of the European Union, the fall of Communism, the onset and eventual resolution of the Northern Troubles, the technological revolution. And from a quick examination of the minutes of the society, it comes as no surprise to find Christians students doing through the years what they do so well now; debating the topics of the day with passion, vigour and considerable skill.

The Christian Brothers College Debating Society was established in 1911 by a group of students, Rev.Br. Moore and Mr Reese, who were members of the College’s staff at the time. In 1913, Charles J. Lanktree, Honourable Secretary of the Society was at the forefront of the development of debating in the College. Captain Lanktree went on to present the first Gold Medal to the Society and the debate was originally called after him. 1914 was the first year for which records were available of the Auditor, Hon. Secretary and committee members. The first ‘Lanktree Debate’, or ‘Prize Debate’, was held in 1917, with the final resulting in a tie between Leo Walsh and Brian McCaffery. Detailed minutes exist on all debates from 1958 to the present day. Between 1958 and 1980, about six to eight debates as well as the Gold Medal and AGM took place annually. Recent years have seen a dramatic increase in the number of debates held, and the weekly Friday meeting has now become an institution in the college.

The success of debating is due in large measure to the efforts of those who have helped to build the society over the years and to the considerable support still being provided by many in the CBC community. We, as a society, are very grateful to our Principal, Dr Larry Jordan and Deputy Principals Mr Seamus Bruton, Mr Donal O’Mahony and Mr David Lordon for their ongoing encouragement and assistance throughout the year. I would like to acknowledge our invaluable association with the Past Pupils Union, ably headed this year by their president Shane Sullivan.

Of course, what makes the Society unique is its student-led dimension. Our committee’s infectious enthusiasm for debating drives us on continually throughout the year. Our committee of President Donagh O’Callaghan, Vice President Seán Buckley, Recording Secretary Asad Khan, Director of Coaching Tomás Lane, First Year Rep Luke O’Reilly, and committee members Oliver Luddy, Eoin Palmer and Kyle Furney Kelly deserve great credit for their dedication throughout the year. Senior members committed themselves to regular training sessions with new members throughout the year to introduce them to the essentials of debating in a friendly atmosphere. Their commitment was particularly evident in the organisation of the Cork City Schools Debating Competition which was such a success this year.

By any standards this has been another very successful year. We were extremely proud of senior student Andrew Kelleher who was chosen as a member of the Irish delegation for the European Youth Parliament International Sessions in the coming months. This year was also memorable for the triumphant teamwork of Matt Mallen and Asad Khan who won the National Debating Championship with both students representing Ireland in the English-Speaking Union Competition held in Edinburgh. The pair also won Best Team in the UCC Philosophical Society Munster Schools’ Final. Alex Sheehan and Matt Mallen were chosen to represent Ireland at the Cambridge School’s Debating Competition. Matt was also chosen to represent Ireland at the World’s School’s Debating Championship. CBC were named Best Delegation at the UCC National Model UN Competition. 2017/2018 proved an outstanding year for the Debating Society with particular appreciation going to all the members who participated in a wide range of competitions over the course of the year. It does not take much guesswork to see why the school community is so proud of all the Debating Society has achieved this year.

This year the society once again organised the Cork City Schools Debating Competition which was aimed at junior debaters. We were once again delighted to see how well it was received. Twenty four teams from nine schools took part with the Grand Final held in March in the Ambassador Hotel. The success of this competition is a tribute to the commitment shown by this student committee.

As the academic year draws to a close, we bid a fond farewell to our Sixth Year debaters. It is with great sadness we say goodbye to such accomplished members as Donagh O’ Callaghan, Tomás Lane, Harry Hayles and Caleb Cotter, four young men who have more than made their mark on debating life in CBC. We are grateful for the support they have given the society in their time here and hope they have gained as much from their membership of the society as we have benefitted from their involvement in it. Their departure will certainly be felt by all but I am confident they will go on to achieve a great deal in the years ahead. We will be sure to keep them informed about the progress of the society they worked so hard to see thrive. We will be following their own progress with interest, wishing them the very best of luck.

As always the highlight of the Society’s year was the Gold Medal Debate, held on Friday 25th May. This night also saw the Prize Debate final and the Brother Elliot Declamation Prize. The Gold Medal and Prize debates are generously sponsored by the PPU while the Declamation Prize is sponsored by Prof. Barry O’Donnell of the Royal College of Surgeons, a past pupil of the College. The PPU was represented by Mr Shane Sullivan who chaired the event. Our guest speaker was Tehmina Kazi. Ms Kazi took up the position of Director of British Muslims for Secular Democracy in May 2009 and was shortlisted for Cosmopolitan Magazine’s “Ultimate Women of the Year Awards 2011” for her work. Chief Adjudicator Mr Edward Newman declared Matt Mallen the worthy winner of the Gold Medal Debate, with Oliver Luddy second and Donagh O’Callaghan. The motion ‘That This House Believes Western Governments should support the home culture of refugees over assimilation into the host culture’ was debated at a very high level, making it extremely difficult to predict the outcome. Senan Skalkos took home the honours in the Prize Debate on the motion ‘That This House Believes that Governments should protect their native languages’ while Seadhna Ó Deasmhúnaigh took the Runner Up position. Caleb Cotter was the worthy winner of the Declamation Prize with his extraordinary delivery of a speech from the film V for Vendetta.

At the final meeting of the year, the new committee was elected. In elections that were among the most competitive in recent years, Matt Mallen was elected as president, assisted by vice president Oliver Luddy. Eoin Palmer was elected Recording Secretary. The society officers will be assisted this year by committee members Senan Skalkos, Oliver McKenna, Cillian Sheehan and Seán Buckley. We congratulate them and look forward to their stewardship of another successful year of debating in CBC in 2018/2019.

A more detailed history of the society can be found in the publication "Christians: The First Hundred Years", and in the College Yearbooks, which are available for consultation in the College library.