Laois was represented by UCC student Ellen Murphy at the 2018 Great Agri-Food Debate in Waterford Institute of Technology
Ellen represented UCC in the debate, but it was UCD who were eventually crowned victors.
The event, organised by Dawn Meats and McDonald’s Ireland, has become a key date in the college calendar for agriculture students with a growing number of teams competing this year and ambitious plans to expand further in 2019.
Throughout the day teams from Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), University College Dublin (UCD), University College Cork (UCC), Cork Institute of Technology and Dundalk Institute of Technology (DKIT) debated key topics for the Irish agriculture industry including; Brexit, consumer behaviour and sustainability and CAP.
The event culminated in a heated and well-informed debate between UCD and CIT on the motion “Ireland takes its environmental responsibilities and commitments seriously.”
UCD, supporting the motion argued that Ireland’s reputation all around the world as a green, environmentally conscious producer is evidence that the country has embraced the environmental challenge.
They argued that targets alone are not a measure of whether Ireland takes its environmental responsibility seriously.
The team also flagged the many ways in which Ireland has been an innovator, from Croke Park’s designation as the first carbon neutral stadium in the world, to the introduction of the BER scheme and the way that Ireland is leading the world in passive design.
CIT argued that Ireland has failed to “walk the walk” on its environmental responsibilities time and time again, and that the country continues to choose the economy over the environment.
They put it to the audience that going green costs money, money that Ireland doesn’t have.
They also referred to the recent coverage of plastic waste in the form of disposable coffee cups, and questioned why these cannot be banned sooner than 2030.
The quarter final saw UCC take on CIT on the impact of Brexit on the agri-food industry.
In the first semi-final CIT debated WIT on consumer behaviour as key to food sustainability, while reigning champions UCD took on Dundalk Institute of Technology (DKIT) on the issue of CAP in the second semi-final.
The winners of the Best Speaker prizes in the quarter-final, two semi-finals and final were respectively Avril O’Driscoll, CIT; Aoife Forde, WIT; Owen Cashman, UCD; and Una Sinnott UCD.