Europe Direct Soapbox Competition 2021
"Lies, damned lies and statistics"
– establishing the truth is impossible in today’s world of misinformation, disinformation and propaganda.
Congratulations to Eimear Nic Dhonnchadha and April Bracken who were named National Winners in the ‘16 and under category’ and the ‘17 and over category’ respectively at this year’s final of the Europe Direct Soapbox Competition on 9th December. The speakers passionately and meticulously put forward their arguments on the motion “Lies, damned lies and statistics” - establishing the truth is impossible in today’s world of misinformation, disinformation and propaganda.
Eimear Nic Dhonnchadha’s schoolmate from Scoil Chuimsitheach Chiaráin in Carraroe, Eoin Ó Lupáin, was named Highly Commended in the ‘17 and over’ category, while Alfie Barron from Sligo Grammar School was named Highly Commended in the ‘16 and under’ category.
Twelve contestants were selected from regional events hosted by the Europe Direct centres to compete in the national final for the substantial overall prize in both categories of a trip to Brussels and visit to the European Parliament sponsored by MEP Maria Walsh, €1,000 sponsored by the European Commission Representation in Ireland, and of course the title of National Europe Direct Soapbox Winner 2021.
Ms Barbara Nolan, Head of the European Commission Representation in Ireland opened the Soapbox Final and said:
“The EU is working hard to tackle the spread of online disinformation and misinformation to ensure the protection of European values and democratic systems. The spread of both disinformation and misinformation can have a range of consequences, such as threatening our democracies, polarising debates, and putting the health, security and environment of EU citizens at risk.”
This public speaking competition was the culmination of months of lively debates throughout the network of seven Europe Direct centres based in public libraries across Ireland. Echoing its Hyde Park London origins, the soapbox is the perfect way to showcase our proud tradition of public speaking and has proved a popular forum for the country’s budding and practiced public speakers as over 80 contestants battled it out for a place at the national final.
Colette Byrne, Kilkenny County Council Chief Executive on behalf of the public library sector said:
“Public libraries are proud to once again support the Europe Direct Soapbox Competition through the seven Europe Direct centres based in public libraries around the country. Public speaking is an important skill for both young people and adults which empowers them to exercise their voice on fundamental democratic issues. The issues of misinformation and disinformation which this year’s competition explores, are becoming ever more important. Libraries have a vital role in serving as centres of trusted information and facilitating informed debate at local and national level. It is especially inspiring to see young people taking on the issue of misinformation with such eloquence and even recommending potential solutions to the challenges we face as a society.”