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Students compete for James D Donegan Memorial Prize at first ever virtual Annual UCC School of Law Gala Moot

10 Feb 2021
Clockwise from top left: Mr. Conal Ó’Gadhra, Ms. Dubheasa Ní Cionnach Píc, Mr. Robert Dinan, Ms. Sarahjane O’Shea and James Donegan Jr. (centre).

This year’s highly anticipated Moot competition was held online on Thursday 4 February 2021.

Four Students from the UCC School of Law participated in this year’s Annual Gala Moot incorporating the James D Donegan Memorial Prize.  The students presented and defended legal submissions before The Hon. Ms. Justice Miriam O'Regan of the High Court. An audience of staff and students at the School tuned in live to the remote court proceedings on the day. Professor Mark Poustie, Dean of the School of Law, provided introductory and closing remarks.

Ms. Sarahjane O’Shea and Ms. Dubheasa Ní Cionnach Píc presented the case for the Appellant, while Mr. Robert Dinan and Mr. Conal Ó’Gadhra acted as counsel for the Respondent. Two issues were argued on the day, with the Judge ruling in favour of the Appellant on the first issue but upholding the Court of Appeal’s decision on the second.

The James D. Donegan Memorial Prize for Outstanding Speaker was awarded to Mr. Robert Dinan, with The Hon. Ms. Justice Miriam O'Regan noting in particular Robert’s skills in masterfully presenting his argument despite ultimately not being on the winning side. The Judge also commended Ms. Dubheasa Ní Cionnach Píc on her ability to anticipate the Respondent’s arguments and in addressing key points in advance that might have been adverse points for her client.

The James D. Donegan Memorial Prize is awarded each year to the student who, in the opinion of the judge, is the outstanding speaker at the Moot. This prize is generously donated by S. Donegan & Co. Solicitors based in Cobh, Co. Cork. This year, the prize was awarded by James Donegan Jr., grandson of James D. Donegan and student at UCC School of Law.

Speaking following the Moot, the students said:

Mr. Robert Dinan:

“It was a wonderful experience to take part in the UCC Gala Moot. It was so generous of The Hon. Ms. Justice Miriam O'Regan to adjudicate the event. Many thanks to Ms O'Donovan and Ms Walsh for their help and guidance throughout the year and to S. Donegan & Co. Solicitors for kindly sponsoring the competition."

Ms. Dubheasa Ní Cionnach Píc:

“As an Evening BCL student it was a great honour to have been selected to participate in the Gala Moot before Ms Justice O'Regan. The Law School were fantastic in supporting and preparing us for the event and it has solidified my passion for advocacy and the law."

Ms. Sarahjane O’Shea:

"Taking part in the Gala Moot before Ms Justice O'Regan was amazing, and something which I feel very privileged to have experienced. The event this year was certainly different, however it provided an insight into how versatile and adaptable the legal profession has become over the past year."

Mr. Conal Ó’Gadhra:

“It was such an excellent experience getting to moot at such a high level, with an experienced and incredibly attentive judge. Colette O'Donovan of course made the whole thing possible, and was fantastic over the whole preparation period, while Cara Jane Walsh was extremely helpful in practical preparations from all the way back in September. Having never mooted much before, it was great to be involved, especially at that level with the other excellent finalists.”

Commending all participating students, The Hon. Ms. Justice Miriam O'Regan said:

"I really enjoyed judging this year's Gala Moot. The participants showed an impressive understanding of the law and presented their arguments with clarity and conviction. Well done to all the staff and students involved."

Commenting on the prize-giving, James Donegan Jr. said:

“It was a great experience getting to speak about my grandfather and his career. I was really happy that I could make the presentation after such an impressive event with four superbly made arguments. My grandfather was a practicing solicitor in Cork for over forty years and as a graduate of UCC, it is an honour to award the Gala Moot prize in his name. He was very passionate about the law and would be delighted to see where the legal profession is heading, based on the performances of the four participants in the competition.

The Annual Gala Moot is organised by Ms. Colette O’Donovan from the School of Law. Speaking following the competition, Ms. O’Donovan said:

“It was a pleasure to be involved in the Gala Moot again this year. The standard of diligence and engagement of all of the finalists was inspirational. The unfailing willingness of the Courts Service, the Judiciary and S Donegan & Co. Solicitors to facilitate this annual event provides an invaluable and much appreciated, experience for the students.“



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