Sunday, October 1, 2023

A visit from across the pond: MTSU Debate Team welcomes back Irish debate champions 


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Featured Graphic by Destiny Mizell

Story by Baylah Close

Yesterday evening students, faculty and other spectators gathered in the Honors Building at Middle Tennessee State University for a debate between the MTSU Debate Team and the Irish Times National Debate Champions.  

MTSU is traditionally the first location to host the Irish Debate Champions. This event was the first since 2019 due to the pandemic.

“We’re really lucky to have them back. They’ve been super lovely, super kind to us. We’re excited to see them debate,” MTSU Debate team President Elliot Certain said. 

The Irish Times debate is the longest-running upper education debating competition in Ireland. Three Irish Debate champions competed against a dozen other speakers during a final in Dublin. They were rewarded with best team, best individual and a debate tour of the United States.  

The Irish Debate Champions are Ailbhe Noonan, a business and law student from University College Dublin, Gavin Dowd and Oliver McKenna, engineering students from Munster Technological University.

The topic debate was if Ukraine should be able to join NATO, with the resolution being yes.

“Let’s all remember that about two weeks ago marked the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Since then, from the Irish experience, 80,000 have shown up on the shores of Ireland from Ukraine. They haven’t come to Ireland for the pints and certainly not for the weather,” Dowd said. “They’re fleeing from a Russian state that is trying to oppress them…We need to focus this debate on what is in their best interest,” Dowd said. 

Each speaker was given seven minutes to make their point. Members from opposing teams were allowed to request a reason for each argument.

Noonan and Dowd competed in the team speaking portion of last night’s competition. McKenna won in the individual speaker’s category.  

The event came to a close with rounds of applause and handshakes exchanged between teams.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Destiny Mizell, email For more news, visit, or follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines or on Twitter at @Sidelines_News.

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