Friday, 14 October 2011 is a social media site set up by John McColgan of Riverdance which launched on October 7th 2011 and was promoted at the Global Irish Economic Forum. The social media start up will source together content from Facebook, Twitter and others to make a massive Irish online community. Cybercom figures have predicted that the site will make €20 million in 5 years. is backed up by Denis O'Brien, Dermot Desmond.

If you want to be part of Ireland's global tribe the website is
If you do tell them sent you! - Ireland's Hour
Uploaded by on Sep 28, 2011
The video was made by Jim Coffey of Spirit Enterprises

Here is an article by Nick Webb regarding information about their site

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

PLC Debate Practice: 2011 Irish Election Debates

Debates in the political landscape in Ireland in 2011 have certainly been eventful.On Oct 4th 2011, TV3's Vincent Brown chaired a debate for all the presidential nominees . Before the nation and you decide to cast your vote, it might be useful to have a look at this controversial debate at the link below

Here is the video link
And here is a rundown of what happened at that debate from RTE

Also here is the debate findings from the Late Late Show


PLC Debate Why You Should Learn To Be A Good Debater

Why should you learn to be a good debater? As a student you can have on your CV that you took part in school debates. Why is this important to you or your employer? It shows you can communicate, that you can question, that you are not afraid to get up in front of a group of people in your workplace and show them why your opinion is important. In short, it gives you a voice and demonstrates managerial capability, confidence, critical thinking and an ability to present discussions convincingly while working as a team. It makes you more employable and gives you the power to make people listen. Debating is an essential sill regarding learning how to climb up the jobs ladder, to negotiate more hours or a promotion or even to get a job.

Many bosses, politicians and leaders need to have great debate skills to show their staff or those who follow them why their vision for the way ahead is so important. They also have to listen to and assess in their own businesses department managersor employees  debating for the best way ahead for their company (eg accounting department argues to cut costs while the marketing department may be arguing to spend money on marketing campaigns to make money). As a manager, you have to assess who’s argument sounds more important, make a decision on it and then communicate to all departments clearly why that decision was made. There are always two sides to a point.

Debates can get heated, they can be controversial yet also intelligently deal with the subject at hand. You may not agree with certain arguments, some will make you question pre-established beliefs, but one thing is clear. You are getting to hear both sides of the argument to enable a more informed decision.

The Concern debates are one of the longest running competitions in Irish secondary schools, dealing with  important world issues.The debates center around topics like child labour, debt, globalisation, HIV/AIDs and more. Although this videoclip below deals with debating within a secondary school, the clip is still useful for college students as the impact of being a good debater is shown as well as the opinions of debaters around the country.

Youtube Video
Concern Debates

Uploaded by on 16 Oct 2006

Here is a lego based video outlining 12 steps to create a debate setting:
Youtube Video

How to Debate: An Introduction

Uploaded by on 16 Jul 2008

Debates can change minds. Intelligently argued points backed up with reasoning, facts and statistics can deliver compelling viewpoints. Here is a clip from the movie The Great Debaters with Denzel Washington. The debate takes place in the 1930s where the Wiley debate  team takes on Harvard College to argue over whether the negro population should have state access to a university. The film is based on a true story

Youtube Video

Great Debaters - Justice Right Now 

Uploaded by on Sep 11, 2011

Great Debaters - Welfare State Debate

 Uploaded by on Sep 11, 2011


How to debate?
There are 2 types of people who debate,  those people who are very nervous at the idea of a debate and then there are great liars. Everyone is a little nervous debating a topic, we want to get our points across, we want to be heard, but how?
Debating isn’t about shouting at each other. Think about how your opponents arguments to suit your own argument. Does it make your debate more persuasive that you accept or concede some of your opponents points? Should you even think of them as an opponent
There are 3 main areas to look at regarding debate techniques
1 Clarity
2 Evidence
3 Emotionalism

1 Clarity
You are going to be talking with people who may have a very different opinion to yours on a topic so clarity is key. Ask yourself as you prepare, is there any way my opponent  can use my words against me? If so, can I pre-empt their attack with a counter attack? Eg “of course you are going to hear the opposing team propose that .........” Appear confident
2 Evidence
What evidence have you got to back up your argument. This is essential to an effective debate. How much waffle is there in your argument? Opinions are far stronger when backed up by evidence. Eg “According to CSO figures for 2011, there has been a downward trend in X, so it is essential that we move forward .....”. Remember that your research can contradict and perhaps evolve authoritative sources opinions by your use of facts and figures. Can you put those facts and figures into something that your audience can easily understand. Can you source the information if queried about it? Eg “Where did you get those figures from?”. How will you present those facts and figures?

3 Emotionalism
Emotionally charged words depending on how they are harnessed can make or break your argument. You need to inject  life into your statistics or you run the risk of your argument falling flat. If you use words that can inspire and hook your audience, it will make your facts and figures even stronger. You need to think about how you can appeal to your target audience and judges that are watching you. Think about how you would be affected if you were a member of the audience. Can you relate a short personal story to the topic that you think is relevant? You want to show how passionate you are, while also delivering a constructive, rational argument.

Losing your temper in a debate shows you are passionate, but you are also in danger of looking foolish so keeping calm and defeating your opponent through skill gives the impression of a more effective argument most of the time. Finish strong, your conclusion should be a reminder and summation of what your argument was about. Your audience needs reminding. Think of how you are in class with teachers, have you ever day-dreamed through any important points? The same thing is true with your audience.

How do I argue my point?
Look up information regarding the topic (from both sides, you want to have an idea what the opposition is going to say). Decide how you are going to organise the information. Can you twist the facts and figures to your advantage? You can acknowledge certain flaws of the side of the topic you are arguing for.
Your Introduction
How are you going to get your audiences attention right from the start? They are thinking “why should I listen to you?”. Perhaps not everyone at the debate is there through choice or even educated about the topic you are presenting. How are you going to address that?  A relevant general thought , joke or short story can be effective if intelligently applied.
Your Body
This is the meat of your argument. This is where facts, figures, statistics, trends and examples can be constructively applied. Are you going to interact with your audience to engage them? Will you use any physical props to help demonstrate your point?
Your Conclusion
This is your last chance to let your audience know why your side of the topic is so important. Effectively summarise your main points to remind your audience what you discussed. Can you disprove your opponents argument? Reaffirm why your point is so important.

Please contribute and tell us what is wrong with the following examples
Examples of bad debate
“Man United are the greatest football team ever”
“No they’re not”
“Yes they are you twit”

Examples of bad debate
“All those politicians are so stupid”

Examples of bad debate
“You’re stupid and everyone hates you”
Should Ireland Go Nuclear Debate Example

Here is a debate regarding if Ireland should go nuclear or not? The clip below shows
Denis Duff from Better Environment with Nuclear Energy argues for the use of Nuclear power in Ireland
Youtube Video 

Should Ireland Go Nuclear? FOR 

Uploaded by on 8 Jan 2009
Here is the motion against Ireland going nuclear by 
Gary Fitzgerald, Green Party candidate for local election, argues against the use of nuclear power in Ireland.

Uploaded by on 8 Jan 2009

How clear were they?
What evidence did they use?
Were they emotional or not?
How did they conclude?

PLC Debate How to write a speech

A debate is not simply a speech, it is a defense of an idea with your teammates. Writing a debate speech can seem a daunting proposal for many. Is my argument good enough? Are my facts and opinions based on those facts convincing enough? How are the opposition going to discredit me? Are you going to be positive or negative? Is it possible to preempt what could be said to discredit your argument?

Are you going to be dramatic? How are you going to do this? Will humour make your argument stronger? What are the guidelines and rules for the debate and how will you keep to this?

In a debate competition, the topic may be chosen for you and even the side of the argument. You may be arguing for or against something you do not personally believe. How are you going to overcome this?

Preparation In a debate knowing both sides of the argument is crucial in your preparation so you have a more informed analysis of the topic. You are going to debate controversial topics, how are you going to be able to live with who you are if you are debating an issue you strongly oppose? 

For example, if you were debating "the future role for Irish students in the 21st century", wouldn't it be important to look at both sides of the issue? To simply look at this positively would mean to view the world through rose-tinted glasses. On the other hand to only look at the issue negatively may see you as a bringer of doom and gloom and close off anything positive which could be achieved. Preparation for your debate is key to achieving success. Think about what is the issue and focus on that. How is the topic worded and can you use it to your advantage?

Summarise your main points and subpoints What are your main points that you want to get across to the opposition? Write down your main points and even subpoints within a point which you can use throughout the debate and during rebuttals. How can you mke your points clear to n udience who my not be as expert on a topic as you?
Listen to what your opponent has to say. How can you use what your opponent has said to make your argument stronger. Will you do this in a positive or negative manner?

Practice and rehearse the manner in which you will deliver your speech. This will make it sound better and also give you the peace of mind that you know what you are talking about. As a result, you may appear more confident to debate your topic. The words that are emphasised can motivate an audience's opinion of your argument or leave them lost and your argument sounding flat. Shouting your points all the time does not always get your point across.

Here is an example of how shouting throughout a speech can lose it's central message and importance.

Bill Clinton Falls Asleep During Martin Luther King Speech

Uploaded by on 21 Jan 2008

Here is a clip where a speech was given at the UN by a teenage girl,  Severn Suzuki, who was representing ECO, an environmental children's organisation.Note the words that are emphasised to get her point across.It has received well over 6 million views.

Youtube Video The girl who silenced the world for 5 minutes
Uploaded by on 18 Apr 2008

Prepare your questions and answers
What would you like to ask the opposing team? Are there any flaws in their argument? Do your facts contradict their facts? What kind of questions do you think you will be asked? Can you prepare an answer for questions you think you might be asked?

Here is a clip from Bill Clinton handling a heckler. Clinton's manner of speech is usually relaxed but it does occasionally flare up. To give this video some context, this is the run up to the 1992 election when Bill Clinton was up against George Herbert Walker Bush. Bill Clinton in this speech was speaking in favour of condoms in public schools when he got heckled by Bob Rafsky of an AIDS activist awareness group. How do you think he handled this situation?

Clinton's Angry Response to Heckler 

Uploaded by on 30 Mar 2006

Now lets look at how some famous political figures like Rudy Giuliani and Ron Paul dealt with the idea of US foreign policy. When analysing this, try to be more influenced on the mannerisms of each figure and how they dealt with the question posed rather than the content of what was said, especially if you wish to leave a comment on this blog. How do you think he answered this question?

Terrorism: Ron Paul vs. Giuliani @ SC Debate 

Uploaded by on 15 May 2007

Have Conviction You must believe your argument. How will you structure it accordingly? Should you acknowledge that there are holes in your argument even if you don't believe it? And just for a little bit of humour after all that, here is a clip which shows the power of speech and how anybody can influence people by not just what they say but how they say it. The kid in this clip has such conviction regarding what he is saying that he has become an internet phenomenon. You MUST look at both videos below

Thumbs Up for Rock and Roll! 

Uploaded by on 19 Apr 2011

The clip above received over 3 million views and then somebody made this clip below

Bike Kid Gives Speech to the Nation

 Uploaded by on 4 Jun 2011

PLC Debate Practice The Role of the Catholic Church

A relevant topic which has been making headlines of late has been the role of the Catholic Church. This is a very contentious issue and a hot topic, but if it wasn't then it wouldn't be an issue for debate! I am including all the video parts that I can find of each speaker to make the arguments as fair and balanced as I can.

This post is for educational means and not intended to shape anyones opinion or belief. It is good practice for debate students to see how the issues were dealt within a debate context.

The debate included below is from the Intelligence Squared debate on "Is the Catholic Church a force for good in the world?". There are 5 parts to this debate which was broadcast on Channel 4 and involves Ann Widdicombe and John Onaiyekanon the side of the church being a force for good while Stephen Fry and Christopher Hitchens oppose the motion.

Please also take into account that the audience wasn't evenly balanced in terms of their viewpoint although the reality is that it is rare to get an audience with a 50-50 opinion beforehand.

The Intelligence Squared Debate (1 of 5) Hitchens, Fry, Widdecombe, Onaiyekan on the Catholic Church 

Uploaded by on 18 Jul 2010

The Intelligence Squared Debate (2 of 5) Hitchens, Fry, Widdecombe, Onaiyekan on the Catholic Church

Uploaded by on 18 Jul 2010

The Intelligence Squared Debate (3 of 5) Hitchens, Fry, Widdecombe, Onaiyekan on the Catholic Church 

 Uploaded by on 18 Jul 2010

The Intelligence Squared Debate (4 of 5) Hitchens, Fry, Widdecombe, Onaiyekan on the Catholic Church 

The Intelligence Squared Debate (5 of 5) Hitchens, Fry, Widdecombe, Onaiyekan on the Catholic Church 

Uploaded by on 18 Jul 2010

PLC Debate Answering and Rebutting Questions

When answering and rebutting questions in a debate, it is important to be able to predict what might be asked of you. What do you think your opponent's most obvious arguments will be? Your rebuttal is your answer and response to your opponent and it is also your last chance to make a convincing argument. Make it count!

Statistics and facts are a great way of answering a rebuttal when you can. It is very hard to argue against facts unless those facts can be disputed.

Here is an example from a 1992 debate regarding how to answer questions between George H. Bush and Bill Clinton. Watch how each candidate addresses the person answering the question.

Clinton vs. Bush in 1992 Debate

Uploaded by on 19 Mar 2007

Here is a short clip on how to write a rebuttal speech

Speech Writing : How to Write a Rebuttal Speech 

Uploaded by on 27 Oct 2010

PLC Debate Practice: Ireland's Blasphemy Law

As you know you are going to be tackling some controversial topics as you prepare for the PLC debate.  As of 1 January 2010, it is a crime in Ireland to commit blasphemy. Some people say that this will help protect vunerable minorities while others have said that

Here are 3 views regarding the blasphemy law brought in by former Minister for justice Dermot Ahern. There are 2 parts to this video. The first part below is a report to give you some background information about the law. (by the way the link on the bottomright of the videoclip is from the poster, not from

Youtube Video

RTE Prime Time Report on Ireland's Blasphemy Law - Pt 1 

 Uploaded by on 13 Jan 2010

Here are 3 perspectives on the debate about Ireland's blasphemy laws in Part 2 of the Primetime report. Speakers include Thomas Byrne, a Fianna Fail TD, Dr Segal Parmar, a lawyer with a human rights group based in London and Ali Selim from The Islamic Cultural Centre.

Youtube Video

RTE Prime Time Report on Ireland's Blasphemy Law - Pt 2

 Uploaded by on 13 Jan 2010

 Here is a link to The Guardian newspaper with regards to thoughts regarding the law 

which was written by Padraig Reidy in 2009

Monday, 3 October 2011

How To Comment On This Blog

When students want to post a comment to the blog they go down to the comments section of each post and click the orange comment link at the bottom of relevant post

Enter your comment in the text field

Select 'google account' from the drop down menu before hitting the 'post comment' button.

When brought to the google sign in page they should enter their college assigned gmail and password and press the sign in button.

The first time a student makes a comment on the blog with their college google account a blogger sign up page will appear.  

In the 'display name' field they should enter their own name, select their gender and then click the orange continue arrow.

Students will then be presented with a preview of their comment,
which they should read over before clicking the post comment button. 

Their comment will then be displayed on the blog.