A report from 2020–2021 Auditor of the LSDSI
Recent Barrister–at–Law Graduate Neasa O’Callaghan BL reports on her activities of the academic and legal year 2020–2021 as the Auditor of the Law Students’ Debating Society of Ireland.
Last November, I was fortunate to be elected the Auditor of the Law Students’ Debating Society of Ireland by my classmates at King’s Inns. Having studied on the Diploma in Legal Studies, I was well aware of the history of King’s Inns, especially as not one but two of my diploma classmates, Fiona O’Malley and Conor Rock, had held the position before me. So I quickly contacted both of them for advice when I got the good news.
Christmas Carol Service
Last year, our first event was the annual Christmas Carol Service, organised to support the Capuchin Day Centre. This event is usually held in a packed Dining Hall, with mince pies and mulled wine for guests; in 2020, we had to think a bit more creatively to make it a reality during Covid–19 restrictions. So instead of hosting a live event, we rehearsed and pre–recorded the Carol Service in a single evening and later broadcast it via YouTube. The choir was led by Barrister–at–Law student Joe Bradley and was recorded live at the Newman University Church on St. Stephen’s Green. It featured more than ten singers, three readers, a harpist and a pianist, who generously volunteered their time. While we could not gather in King’s Inns, it was a special treat to have the beautiful Newman University Church to ourselves for the rehearsals and recording. It was lovely to relax then and watch the recording over the Christmas break and see the positive feedback. The Carol Service ultimately raised €2,050 in donations for the Capuchin Day Centre, and I would like to thank all those who contributed to its production or donated to it.
After Christmas, King’s Inns hosted events online via Zoom for students. The first event was ‘Meet the Devils’, a discussion with first, second–year, and third–year devils who had embarked on their careers at the Bar. They shared their experiences, tips for securing a Master, and expectations when starting in the Law Library. In spring, King’s Inns hosted a debating and public speaking workshop for students, offering feedback and advice on improving. They also hosted a debate on the motion, ‘This House would trade Freedom for Safety’, a topic that had firmly placed itself in the public consciousness due to the ongoing Covid–19 restrictions.
In early June, I delivered my Inaugural Address on the topic of ‘Beyond Reasonable Doubt – The Decline of the Irish Jury System’ via Zoom. The Hon. Mr Justice Barton, former Judge of the High Court, chaired the event, and Dr Niamh Howlin, Associate Professor at UCD, responded. My address reviewed the role of juries in our legal system, the increasing restrictions on that role, and suggested possibilities for reform.
Now that I have graduated and been called to Bar, a new Auditor will soon be elected to head the LSDSI for the coming academic year. I look forward to returning to Henrietta Street, meeting the 192nd Auditor in person, and hearing the plans for the year ahead.