BGS Wins NI Schools' Debating Championship

On Friday last, 24 April,  in the shape of William McKeown and Luke Garbutt, BGS won the 2009 Northern Ireland Schools' Debating Competition.

In the grand surroundings of the Senate Chamber of Parliament Buildings, Stormont, they proposed the difficult motion This House believes that Globalism is dead. Long Live Nationalism! Faced by a formidable team from Our Lady and St Patrick's College, Knock, they demonstrated all the strengths so characteristic of Bangor Grammar School's style. Having defined the motion carefully and strategically, they pushed the Our Lady's team on to the defensive through their command of the facts and the passion of their argument. When the debate was thrown open to the floor, their quick thinking and unwillingness to let their opponents capture either the high ground or the initiative gave them a narrow advantage. Luke's summing-up combined outrage and comprehensive marshalling of the strands of the debate.
The debate was, however, always immensely competitive. The Our Lady's team was robust, resilient, adroit and gave no ground; in the end, the result, even in the minds of the most biassed BGS supporter, was too close to call. The distinguished team of adjudicators, chaired as always by the formidable Finnuola Jay-O'Boyle, lamented the heavy emphasis on the definition of the motion and the relatively narrow focus on the political, economic and cultural aspects of globalism, with no reference to others such as terrorism, but in the end, after a long and judicious summation, gave the nod to BGS.
Apart from the boys' individual prizes, the School won £1,000.

It was a a fine moment for the School and for the team. This is William's last year and the win is a fitting climax to a most distinguished career for this Deputy Head Boy. Luke is, extraordinarily, in Year 12 and clearly has much still to give. Their skill and command owe much to the tradition and strength in depth of debating in the School and this, in turn, owes everything to the hard work and commitment of Mr Sam Wolfenden with Mr Daire Cunningham and, for his first year, Mr Mark Dickson. This is the third appearance of Team BGS in the final in eight years and our second win; let's not forget either the appearance of our boys in the individual speakers' final in both 2007, when Jamie Ritchie won, and 2008.
Thank you to Our Lady's for a fine combative and robust debate; thank you to the competition organisers and particularly Mrs Jay-O'Boyle; and well done to the BGS Debating Society yet again.
Above all, congratulations to William and Luke.