independent

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Wexford debaters talk the talk on winning WIT team

The winning team from Waterford Institute of Technology, from left: Shane Geraghty, Alan McCarthy, Emma McCormack, Michael Martin (from Rathnure), Danielle Mulligan (from Gorey), and Michael Doughan
The winning team from Waterford Institute of Technology, from left: Shane Geraghty, Alan McCarthy, Emma McCormack, Michael Martin (from Rathnure), Danielle Mulligan (from Gorey), and Michael Doughan

Brendan Keane

County Wexford featured on the winning team that represented Waterford Institute of Technology in the Great Agri Food Debate 2019 which was organised in conjunction with Dawn Meats and McDonald's.

The fourth annual event took place at WIT and featured two days of debating, covering a wide range of topics including changing diets, Ireland's food exports, climate change, subsidies and efficiencies in Irish agriculture.

The winning team included Danielle Mulligan, from Gorey, and Michael Martin, from Rathnure.

Students from seven third level colleges around Ireland participated in the event.

In addition to being part of the winning team Michael Martin also had the distinction of winning the Best Speaker accolade in the final and quarter final.

There was also another Wexford link to the event as fellow Wexford student Kate Rogers, from Gorey, represented UCC in the semi-final debate.

The teams competing in the event represented seven colleges including: WIT, University College Dublin (UCD), University College Cork (UCC), Cork Institute of Technology; Queens University Belfast; IT Tralee; and CAFRE (Collge of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise).

In the final the WIT team fought a closely contested debate against CAFRE

on the motion of 'vegan diets are better for people and planet'.

The CAFRE team argued, among other things, that far from being a passing trend, veganism has been around since the 1800s and a vegan diet can reduce heart disease and cholesterol as well as helping to combat Ireland's obesity problem.

Opposing the motion, the WIT team argued that the 'epidemic' of veganism poses a direct threat to farming families and to wider economic stability. They reasoned that products eaten by vegans are more reliant on heavy machinery to produce and often accumulate a very significant carbon footprint.

In addition to the economic and environmental impact, the WIT team also insisted that no vegan diet can provide sufficient levels of vitamin B12.

Commenting after the event, Niall Browne, CEO of Dawn Meats, complimented the debaters for their insight and intelligence while Elaine Sterio, from McDonald's UK and Ireland, said: 'The topic of changing tastes is particularly pertinent, as McDonald's continues to innovate its offering in Irish restaurants.'

The final debate was moderated by Bord Bia CEO, Tara McCarthy, and the judging panel included: Niall Browne, CEO, Dawn Meats; HE Deike Potzel, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Ireland; Brendan Gleeson, Secretary General at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and Pamela Byrne, CEO of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.

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