Irish News

Thursday 24 July 2014

Hundreds of transition year students descend on courts for mock trials

Alyson Henry

Published 13/04/2014|22:01

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Hundreds of transition year students descended upon the Criminal Courts in Dublin this weekend for the finals of the national Mock Trials.

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This year marks 15 years of the annual competition in which 4th year students assume the roles of judges, jurors, defendants, court reporters and witnesses and act out a trial.

40 schools took part in the competition, with 4 all-girl schools making it to the Saturday’s semi-finals.

The four teams that made it to the final were Eureka Secondary School, Kells, Loreto Secondary School, Balbriggan, Dominican College, Galway and Loreto Secondary School, Kilkenny.

“It is interesting but not surprising that this year, all the finalists are girls” competition organiser Vincent Martin told Independent.ie.

“In recent years I’ve noticed a lot more girls developing an interest in the law and choosing a career in the legal system, which is great. I work with a bright young woman who took part in the competition 10 years ago. She always jokes that it’s my fault she is now a broke junior council. But it’s brilliant, it proves the competition helps to wet the students appetite for law.”

Among the proud parents that came along to watch the mock court hearing was Catherine Carpenter from Meath. “I can’t believe the change in my daughter over the past few weeks. Her confidence has grown and grown. She’s been practising on her 4 brothers every day.”

The aim of the competition is to “allow pupils the opportunity to simulate the experience of law as a profession. It helps young people gain an understanding of how Irish law works and widens their knowledge of the legal system. Students develop their reasoning and presentational skills as well as their ability to think on their feet – a team spirit is created among those taking part” explained Vincent Martin.

The final was judged by a Divisional Court comprising Mr. Justice Max Barrett, a Judge of the High Court, Ms. Justice Catherine Murphy, a Judge of the Circuit Court and Judge Mary Collins, a Judge of the District Court.

The winning team were from Eureka Secondary School, Kells. “When my teacher first told us about competition, I jumped at the chance” said Mary Carpenter from the winning team. “I thought it sounded like a great opportunity to try something new.” Other students were less confident. “I had to force myself to get up infront of everyone but I’m so glad I’ve taken part” said 15 year old Lisa Byrne. “The hardest part is starting- once I got over the initial fear of it, I really enjoyed it.”

Every student who made it to the semi-finals is eligible to represent Ireland in the world Mock Trials in New York City in October. “I definitely want to go” Lisa told independent.ie. “Now it’s just a matter of convincing Mom and Dad” she said with a smile.

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