A team of UCD students defeated University College Cork (UCC) in the final of the 16th annual Bréagchúirt Uí Dhálaigh Irish-language moot court at the Four Courts to win the overall competition.
Bréagchúirt Uí Dhálaigh is a moot court competition organised by Gael Linn in memory of the late Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh, former President and Chief Justice of Ireland.
The team, consisting of 3rd year Law & Politics student, Aoibhinn Ní Chionnaith, and 4th year Law & Politics students Peadar Ó Lamhna and Simon MacGiolla Easpaig. They claimed the first prize of €600, defeating teams from UCC, Dublin City University (DCU) and NUI Galway (NUIG). Ó Lamhna and MacGiolla were returning competitors to the competition having finished runners up in last year’s final.
Once applicants submit their application for Bréagchúirt Uí Dhálaigh, the details of the case they will argue are released and they must then prepare a 25-minute submission for both sides of the case.
The preliminary round takes place in the King’s Inns, with the final taking place in the Four Courts before UCD alumna and recent Supreme Court appointee, Justice Mary Laffoy, Justice Colm Mac Eochaidh of the High Court, and Senior Counsel Séamus O Tuathail.
Competitors are required to speak on behalf of both sides of the case during the competition, as Ó Lamhna described, “The day before the competition they told you which side you would be talking on behalf of first. So, on the morning of the competition we were talking on behalf of one side and in the afternoon we were the other half and then for the final it was decided by a flip of a coin.”
Ó Lamhna was very grateful for all the help and support his team got from UCD and expressed his “thanks to everyone in the Bord na nGaeilge Office in UCD, Clár na Gaeilge, and Anna Ní Uiginn and Barra Ó Leidhin” who won the competition for UCD in 2011 and assisted them over the last 2 years.
Seán Ó Ceallaigh, of Gael Linn, said that the competition aims to “promote the use of the [Irish] language in the courts in general.” Many students interested in law “would hope to eventually get into King’s Inns to complete further studies to become barristers, so it’s great for them to spend a day there.
“[What they] really appreciate is the fact that once they go forward to the final, they get to stand up in court in front of High Court judges, or even Supreme Court judges like we had this year. It’s a fantastic experience for them and it gives them an idea of what life is going to be like ahead of them, if they do become barristers.”
Ó Lamhna stressed that competitions like this are important for maintaining the presence of the Irish language within the courts. “There are court cases that go ahead through the Irish language” and “there is other work available for people studying law through the Irish language in Europe as well.”