Law Society awards Wexford student second place in inaugural National Gráinne O’Neill Memorial Legal Essay Competition

The Law Society of Ireland has announced the winners of the inaugural National Gráinne O’Neill Memorial Legal Essay Competition, with Transition Year student Saorla McDonagh Sharkey, St Vincent’s Secondary School, Dundalk, Louth, taking the top prize. The announcement was made at an event at the Law Society, Dublin on 23 March 2023.

The competition received over 80 essays from 38 schools across 14 different counties. Each student submitted a 1,500-word essay examining the topic, “The law and social media: striking a balance between freedom of expression and responsible usage.”

Hari Chandana Parimkayala, Loreto Secondary School, Wexford, was awarded second place in the competition, while Isabelle Vasiliu, Presentation Secondary School, Wexford was also among the 32 finalists that attended the event in Dublin.

Chairperson of the Law Society’s Education Committee, Richard Hammond SC, said, “This competition aims to encourage young people to engage with the law and consider their own legal rights, how the law impacts society. This competition aims to inspire students’ learning and develop their creativity in an engaging way. We were delighted to welcome our student finalists, their parents, guardians, and teachers, to the home of the Law Society of Ireland at Blackhall Place to celebrate their achievements.”

Saorla’s essay was selected as the top entry and won a €1000 prize, trophy and shield for her school. The judges commended Saorla for her essay’s ‘unique approach’ as she ‘carefully put a spotlight on social justice issues to enhance the critical debate of the competing rights.’

Commenting on her win, Saorla said, “I am delighted to be awarded first prize at the Gráinne O’Neill essay competition. It’s very special that I could attend the event with my parents. The competition opened my eyes further to the world of law and the balance of legal rights and it has definitely inspired me to consider a career in law.

“I would like to thank my teachers, especially Mr Thompson for encouraging me always in English and Mr Henry my TY Coordinator. I am proud to represent my Secondary school St Vincent’s Dundalk.”

Michael Kerley of De La Salle College, Dundalk, Co. Louth was awarded third place. Four merit certificates were awarded to Huriyah Baqer of Loreto Secondary School, Balbriggan, Dublin; Carys Hudner of Moville Community College, Donegal; Saoirse Reilly of The High School, Dublin; and Eimear McCarthy of Coláiste na Toirbhirte, Bandon, Cork.

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