St Mary’s College Arklow Student Wins ActionAid National Speech Writing Competition

Helen Ryan from St Mary’s College Arklow has been selected as joint winner at the national ActionAid Student Speech Writing Competition final, alongside Emma Young from Bandon Grammar school in County Cork.

The final competition was held in the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) Dublin. Nine finalists delivered their speeches in front of a panel of judges including ActionAid Board Member and former Broadcaster Rodney Rice; RTE News Journalist Sharon Ní Bheoláin; and White Ribbon Campaign Ambassador Tom Meagher.

Emma and Helen will travel with their teachers to visit Nepal to see ActionAid’s Irish Aid funded women’s rights programme first hand.

“The job of choosing our two winners was no easy task, as the standard was extremely high. All students showed excellent analysis of the challenges faced by ActionAid and other NGOs in developing countries. In the end we felt Emma and Helen had the edge in terms of their understanding of the issues and application to the project.” said judges’ representative Sharon Ní Bheoláin.

Emma and Helen were chosen out of more than 100 students, aged 14 to 17, from 30 schools across the country who entered the competition. There were three speech topics to choose from, which focused on women’s rights, poverty, education and gender based violence. Two other Wicklow students Erin Hirst from St Mary’s College Arklow and Max Kane from Colaiste Chill Mhantain were also chosen for the final.

Irish Aid funds an ActionAid Women’s Rights programme in Kenya, Malawi, Nepal and Vietnam. ActionAid uses this funding to work with vulnerable communities in an effort to end early girl marriage, prevent gender based violence, gain land rights for women and help women and girls receive an education. You can read more at

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