(Notes Written by Giles Lennox (Year 12, Scribe))
The fifth de Laybourne debate was titled: ‘This House would impose direct rule on Northern Ireland’. The proposition was made up of Rupert Todd, Esme Peters and Mr Johnson and were faced with the opposition of Mrs O’Callaghan, Max Wou-Smith and Louis Gibson. This was a first for the de Laybourne with Mr Johnson deciding to use a Kahoot to take votes which was flooded with ‘interesting names’ from the start, most revolving around the idea of Louis needing a shower!
Rupert Todd (Collingwood) opened the case for the proposition and said his speech would revolve around why direct rule won’t cause the civil unrest the opposition may claim it would. He said that under the proposition’s direct rule, legislation will be passed by both sides before it is implemented to ensure it will benefit all without entailing the religious and social unrest. He cited that very few people (100 to 200) really are willing to fight for reunification and begged to propose the motion.
Mrs O’Callaghan (Head of RS) opened the case for the opposition and an Irish religious greeting, immediately citing religion is at the crux of the debate. She claimed that direct rule is not the answer as it crucially breaks the Good Friday agreement. Using a PowerPoint to aid her speech, she questioned that if we impose direct rule, what are the possible side effects? She believed the answers were terrorism, bombings and huge financial costs. She cited the Derry Riots in 2018 and how such actions will only increase. Using a personal experience of civil issues, she said that again, these will worsen. She concluded by saying that we can’t risk lives of civilians and armed servicemen and fundamentally, direct rule will be the UK’s death warrant if passed.
Esme Peters (Drake) continued the case for the proposition and explained how direct rule will actually have a positive benefit on Northern Ireland. She highlighted the history of political benefits for the nation due to the relationship like access to the UN through UK. Being bound to UK, she said, will force the Stormont to listen to our views and this will lead to far more benefits for the people. Mrs O’Callaghan questioned to what extent is it right to impose our standards and to reply to this, Esme cited human rights. In summary, she believed that direct rule will ensure the whole of the UK moves forward together in a positive way.
Max Wou-Smith (Collingwood and Nelson) continued the case for the opposition. He said his speech would explain why direct rule will mess up power balance. Mr Johnson said this problem would be alleviated under the definition to which Max replied ‘ok’. Direct rule, he claimed, will insight conflict and violence and Brexit will also affect the relationship between the two Irelands as it will severely limit movement and create tension. Max clearly leant from his previous mistake and denied Mr Johnson’s POI. He questioned maybe we should just do a ‘Donald Trump’ and build a wall, but he believed this would on add fuel to the fire. In the end, he said all answers of Direct Rule will only lead to the troubles.
It was then time for the Floor Debate. It was opened by Tom Ponsonby (Collingwood and Nelson) who questioned why we should decide what is the greater good for Northern Ireland. Oliver Jennings (Blake) didn’t appreciate Max’s reference to Donald Trump and Billy Amas purely asked, ‘what about the homeless?’ which confused everyone in the audience. Baily Hyslop (Blake) made two impressive points both against the proposition and asked why we couldn’t just merge the two Irelands. Other points were made by Tilly Arulampalam, Tom Paddon and Megan Aslet-Clark and Ms Batten.
Mr Johnson (President of the Society) closed the case for the proposition singled out poor Baily for his agenda against his side. He claimed that all opposition’s arguments were demonstrably incorrect. More controversially he questioned how many homophobic crimes will Miss Batten allow while we wait for the DUP to evolve their ideas? She clearly wasn’t very happy about this and made it clear in her POI which was so long that was cut off. Inevitably this caused a fracture in the Classics department that will take a while to fix. He said that because the opposition to provide a better alternative, the proposition won the debate.
Louis Gibson (St Vincent and Nelson) closed the case for the opposition and overviewed the points raised by his side. He thanked Miss Batten for her constant involvement and asked the opposition how direct rule will help if the Stormont fails to cooperate. Things were going well for Louis up until this point, but they took a turn for the worst after he took a POI from Tilly who asked him to address her floor question. Louis seemed to struggle at this as he could not find the response Mrs O’Callaghan had written for him so just ignored Tilly completely. He then told Rupert to shut up and took any POI given to him, even after the final gavel bang. The debate descended into complete chaos and the amount of debating etiquettes that were overlooked would’ve brought Mr Christmas to tears!
The chair managed to regain control in time for the floor vote. Due to typical RHS technical issues and the IT department at home, voting resorted to the traditional methods. In total, there were 23 ayes, 44 noes and 8 abstentions, giving the opposition a clear majority in this highly entertaining debate.