National Speech

Writing Competition

About ActionTalks

The ActionTalks 2023 national speech writing competition is now open!

  • Open to all students aged 14-18. Enter by submitting a written speech by Friday 13th of January 2023.
  • Five entrants from each region (Leinster, Munster, and Ulster/Connacht), 15 in total, will be selected for the regional finals. To take part in the regional final, the 15 finalists will be asked to submit a video of themselves reading their speech.
  • Two winners from each region (six in total) will be selected to go forward to the national final and will receive a €50 One4All voucher each
  • National first prize: €500 voucher for the winning student and a €100 voucher for their teacher.

Topics in the ActionTalks Speech Writing Competition

  1. Current efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt are not enough to tackle the speed and scale of climate change, meaning that some losses and damages from climate change are inevitable. Women and children in particular on the front line. Rich countries should pay their fair share for the loss and damage their energy consumption has caused in poorer nations.
  2. Care, both paid and unpaid, while largely a burden for women, is the responsibility of everyone in society and there should be a human right to care. Discuss.
  3. Education is a right for all children. Beyond aid and charity, what are the ways that the Irish government could support children accessing education (for example through tax structures, debt and economic policies)

What we are looking for

Finalists will come up with innovative, well-researched, and creative speeches. They will effectively connect their own unique perspective of growing up in a pandemic to global issues.

The regional finals

The regional finals will take place online in February 2023.

The final

The final will take place in March 2023. Each finalist will be asked to deliver their speeches virtually to a panel of esteemed judges.

About ActionAid

ActionAid works with women and children, as they take the lead in claiming their human rights to build a more just world. Throughout the world, ActionAid works to strengthen the capacity and agency of people living in poverty and exclusion, especially women, to assert their rights. Its Women’s Rights Programme, funded by Irish Aid, Department of Foreign Affairs, works to eliminate violence against women and girls by engaging with women and girls, as well as men and boys. Irish Aid, Department of Foreign Affairs, programmes are funded by Irish citizens and are part of Ireland’s important global role in overcoming poverty and inequality.

Teaching resources

This year we have developed three teaching resources, including a presentation and lesson plan, for each of the three topics. You can access the resources for free by filling out the below form.

The Rules

  1. ActionTalks competition is open to all secondary students aged 14 to 18.
  2. All speeches should be typed with the students name and school at the top of the page and submitted by a teacher on behalf of the student via email to
  3. The speech length should be 600 words approx. and take five minutes to read.
  4. References can be submitted as appendices.
  5. Speeches must be unique, plagiarised speeches will be disqualified.
  6. Each entrant must fill out the following short survey, available here.
  7. By submitting a speech, the student and school are giving permission for the speech and the student and school name and image to be publicised on the ActionAid website and in third party publications. Only finalist speeches will be published.
  8. Deadline for submission is Friday 13th January 2023.

Women’s Rights Programme

ActionAid Ireland’s women’s rights programme, funded by Irish Aid, is being implemented in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Nepal and is focused on ending violence against women and ensuring that women and girls can break the cycle of poverty and violence.

For more information about our Women’s Rights Programme click here.

The 2022 Competition

Jonathan Walsh a student at Christian Brothers College Cork has been chosen as the winner in ActionTalks, which is a national speech writing competition run by ActionAid, open to all students aged 14 to 17 year olds. Jonathan will receive a €500 One4all Voucher, and his teacher, Edward Newman, will receive a €100 One4All voucher.

After being chosen from over 130 entrants, and then winning the regional finals, six students delivered their speeches in historic Woodquay Dublin this week to a panel of expert judges. It was the first in person final of the competition since 2019. Students competing on the day included Anna McSweeney and Jonathan Walsh from Munster, Elle Walsh Giguere and Caoimhe Spain from Leinster, and Aine Gilhooly and Hannah McNally who won the Connacht/Ulster heat of the competition.

All the finalists displayed great skill and clarity in conveying their message across to the audience. However, Jonathan was chosen as the winner, by displaying a great understanding and analysis on the issue of vaccine inequity, delivered with great passion.

Judges on the day were:

  • CEO of AkiDwA, which is a national network of migrant women living in Ireland, Dr Salome Mbugua
  • Former MEP and Lord Mayor of Dublin and current Policy & Advocacy Manager with the Irish Development Education Association Emer Costello
  • Assistant General Secretary with the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland and Board Member with ActionAid Ireland Moira Leydon
  • Programme Coordinator with ActionAid Ireland Erick Onduru from Kenya.


2022 winner Jonathan Walsh pictured with ActionAid Ireland CEO Karol Balfe

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