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Balbriggan girls go on trial...and conquer Big Apple

A GROUP of Balbriggan school girls conquered the Big Apple at the weekend as part of the Empire Mock Trials World Championships.

The 10 fifth year students from the Loreto Secondary School are the first ever Dublin pupils to qualify for the competition.

During the tournament, students were provided with a complex criminal or civil case created by the American Mock Trial Association to train law students in US universities.

They had to analyse and produce dense legal statutes, case law, and evidence.

Teacher Barbra O'Neill said that the team were "outstanding".

"We were runners-up in the Empire Mock Trial Spirit Award by one point. This means that 45 other schools recognised our school for our friendliness and overall participation in the whole competition," she said.

Among the outstanding students was Eimear Finnegan, who was placed second in the Outstanding Witness section. She was the only non-American student to win an individual award. Schools from the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and South Korea all took part, along with three other Irish schools.

Loreto came up against opposition from South Carolina, California and the American champions from Seattle - where all of the students were trained by practicing attorneys. The students also had downtime to explore the city.

Laura Leonard (16) said that while she was excited to see Times Square and The Statue of Liberty, the competition was always going to be the highlight of the trip.


"We have done so much work for this. We went down to the Four Courts and met with the law society and put in time at the weekend and during the summer so we have worked hard," she said.

Laura said that she would love to study law in college and is hopeful that this experience will help her to get there.

"I would love to be a barrister," she said.

Three teachers joined the students on the trip and they are all due home tomorrow.