Clinical Trial Targets Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome with Cholesterol Drug

Clinical Trial Targets Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome with Cholesterol Drug-image

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

NUI Galway and Queen’s University Belfast are leading a clinical trial to investigate the possibility that statins, a drug commonly used to combat cholesterol, might help patients with acute severe respiratory failure. Some 150 patients have been recruited into the trial, which is being run in collaboration with the Irish Critical Care Trials Group, across multiple intensive care units on the island of Ireland, and in England and Scotland, with a target number of 540 patients. The research is being funded by the Health Research Board, and the Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation programme which is funded by the Medical Research Council and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), with contributions from the CSO in Scotland, NISCHR in Wales and the HSC R&D, Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland, and is managed by the NIHR. When people become critically ill, for various reasons including major surgery or following injury in a road traffic accident, or infections such as H1N1 influenza, their lungs often fail, which is termed ‘Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome’. This condition, which is primarily caused by the body’s immune system response to the injury, is common, can affect any age group, and is often fatal. Furthermore, even after recovery from lung injury, patients subsequently experience a poorer quality of life. Many survivors of this condition are unable to return to work or look after themselves. “Unfortunately, to date there is no effective treatment for this lung injury”, said Professor John Laffey who is Professor of Anaesthesia at NUI Galway and Consultant Anaesthetist at Galway University Hospitals. “We are investigating if the drug simvastatin, commonly used to treat high cholesterol, is safe and effective in the treatment of this lung injury. A unique feature of this study is that it is a study generated from Irish research efforts, and is an Irish-led multi-national study, being conducted across the island of Ireland, and also in intensive care units in England and Scotland.” Professor Laffey continued: “This study builds on a series of studies using simvastatin, including a smaller clinical trial funded by the Health and Social Care Research and Development Division, Public Health Agency for Northern Ireland and REVIVE, carried out by Professor Danny McAuley and his team in the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, who are our partners in this study. These studies offer considerable hope that simvastatin might help sufferers from this devastating disease. The study may take up to five years to complete, but if simvastatin is effective, it would help save the lives of these sufferers, improving the quality of life of survivors and potentially reduce costs, by reducing time spent in intensive care units.” The study team comprises experts in study design based at the HRB Galway Clinical Research Facility and at the Clinical Research Support Centre in the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, as well as senior doctors who work in critical care units, and experts in acute lung injury. Professor Danny McAuley, who is Professor of Intensive Care Medicine at Queen’s University Belfast and Consultant Intensivist at the Royal Victoria Hospital, explained: “We will also take blood samples to measure markers of inflammation which will allow us to determine if simvastatin can reduce the immune response which causes the lung injury. In addition, we will determine how severe the damage to the patients’ lungs is, and how fast they recover.” People will be randomly divided into two groups; one group will be given the active drug and the other a placebo. This design means that any difference in the experience of patients will be due to whether or not they received simvastatin and not to any other difference that could influence the outcome of treatment. Frank Giles, who is Professor of Cancer Therapeutics at NUI Galway, is also Director of the HRB Clinical Research Facility at NUI Galway, which is helping co-ordinate the clinical trial in Ireland: “Participants in this trial are helping address a vital and difficult medical problem. This study is typical of an increasing number of multi-center trials that are possible because of increasing collaboration between Ireland’s HRB-funded Clinical Research Facilities. The studies involve patients with a very broad spectrum of health challenges. The conduct of these studies, which involve our patients and their families, community health-care staff, hospitals, research institutes and industry partners, improves health care and ensures that Ireland continues to make a significant increasing contribution to global medical progress.” ends

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WHO Report Reveals Teenagers Do Not Get a Fair Deal on Health

WHO Report Reveals Teenagers Do Not Get a Fair Deal on Health-image

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Widespread inequalities mean that many young people in the WHO European Region and North America are not as healthy as they could be, according to a new report on the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study, published today (Wednesday, 2 May) by the WHO Regional Office for Europe.* The HBSC Ireland study is based in the Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway. “Adolescence is a crucial life stage, when young people lay the foundation for adulthood, whether healthy or otherwise,” said Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe. “This report shows us that the situation across Europe is not fair: health depends on age, gender, geography and family affluence. But it doesn’t have to be that way. This report gives policy-makers an opportunity to act to secure the health of the next generation. Once again, young people have used the opportunity provided by HBSC to speak. It now falls to us – who cherish their aspirations, ambitions, health and well-being – to act.” Dr Saoirse Nic Gabhainn, Principal Investigator for HBSC Ireland of the Health Promotion Research Centre, NUI Galway said: “This data are vital to support young people to be healthy and happy, policy makers and practitoners need to recognise that differences in the context of young people’s lives are important and we need to be sensitive to age, gender and socio-eoncomic differences.” The report gives the results of the 2009/2010 HBSC survey, covering 39 countries and regions across the European Region and North America. The survey collected data from 11-, 13- and 15- year-olds on 60 topics related to their health and well-being, social environments and behaviour. HBSC reports have been issued every four years since 1996. Cross-national differences The latest report reveals important inequalities between countries. For example, rates of overweight and obesity for girls aged 11 range from 20% in Portugal and 30% in the United States of America, to only 5% in Switzerland (18% in Ireland, rank 3rd). Smoking rates, although fairly similar at age 11 (under 1%), differ dramatically across countries by age 15: over 25% in Austria and Lithuania, but 10% in Norway and Portugal (13% in Ireland, rank 30th). This suggests that the socioenvironmental context can be changed to benefit young people’s health. Young people’s experience of school also differs; 89% of 11-year-old girls in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia like school, in contrast to 17% in Croatia (34% in Ireland, ranks 31st). Long term effects of adolesent health Health inequalities emerge or worsen during adolescence, and may translate into lasting inequalities in adulthood if, for example, academic potential is not achieved. Adolescence is clearly a key stage for mental health, especially for girls. Girls’ satisfaction with their lives declines between ages 11 and 15. In Poland and Sweden, this decrease is around 15%, in contrast to 5% for boys (in Ireland the decrease is 12% for girls and 6% for boys, ranking 13th at age 11 and 30th at 15). In addition, health-compromising behaviour increases during the adolescent years. Between ages 11 and 15, the average proportion of young people who report weekly smoking and drinking increases by 17%. Many of these young smokers will continue the habit throughout adulthood. Similarly, early sexual activity is an important marker for poor sexual health in adulthood, as well as other risk behaviour in adolescence. The report reveals that, on average, 26% of 15-year-olds are sexually active (in Ireland 22%, rank 28th). In addition, healthy behaviour, such as eating breakfast and fruit, declines. Gender differences Boys and girls display different patterns of healthy and unhealthy behaviour, particularly at age 15. Although boys are more likely to be involved in fights and bullying at all ages, a 15-year-old boy in Latvia is more than 12 times more likely to be bullied by his peers than a girl in Italy (in Ireland bullying is reported by 4% of 15 year old girls and 10% of 15 year old boys, ranking 27th) . In Armenia, boys are almost five times more likely than girls to have been drunk by age 15. In some Scandinavian countries and the United Kingdom, however, 15-year-old girls are more likely than boys to have been drunk, and to have had sexual intercourse (among 15 year olds in Ireland 28% of girls and 30% of boys have been drunk, ranking 22nd). Further, girls are more concerned about being too fat and to be on a diet, but less likely than boys to be overweight. Overall, around 40% of girls aged 15 report being dissatisfied with their bodies (46% in Ireland, rank 13th), and 22% are on a diet (21% in Ireland, rank 18th), although just 10% are actually overweight or obese (12% in Ireland, rank 11th). Family affluence Unsurprisingly, family affluence is associated with a healthier lifestyle: higher levels of fruit intake, breakfast consumption and physical activity. It is also associated with better communication with parents, greater support from classmates and numbers of close friends, and better mental health (in Ireland only fruit and breakfast consumption are higher among those with higher family affluence). The picture for risk-taking behaviour is more complex. In many countries and regions, family affluence has less influence on patterns of smoking and drinking; other social factors – such as the influence of peers – may be more important. Further, injuries increase with higher family affluence (this holds for Ireland). Protective factors Support from family and classmates protects young people from negative influences; those who report easy communication with their parents are more likely to report positive health outcomes. Having close friends and peer support is also a strong predictor of positive health. The more sources of support, the more likely young people are to report good health. The HBSC report shows that addressing the social determinants of health inequalities in childhood and adolescence can enable young people to maximise their health and well-being, ensuring that these inequalities do not extend into adulthood, with all the potential negative consequences for individuals and society. ENDS

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Mindfulness Goes Online to Help Headache and Migraine Sufferers

Mindfulness Goes Online to Help Headache and Migraine Sufferers-image

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway is currently recruiting people with chronic or recurrent daily headaches to take part in an online pain management programme. The study offers individuals with chronic daily headache the opportunity to avail of six online sessions of mindfulness training tailored specifically for headache pain by Dr Jonathan Egan, Lecturer in Clinical Psychology, NUI Galway. The sessions, which are free of charge, will focus on active self-management, instruction in a range of relaxation techniques, coping skills and cognitive behavioural therapy techniques (CBT) to help identify negative thinking and coping patterns. The overall technique being used is known as a mindfulness-based pain management programme, and it is hoped mindfulness training may offer some relief to people with recurrent headache. Unlike other chronic pain patients, people suffering chronic or recurrent headache are an under-researched population. Prevalence rates indicate 12-15% of the Irish population suffer from migraine alone. The disability and productivity lost as a result of severe headache can be significant. The online programme is part of a research project being carried out at NUI Galway by Angeline Traynor who is the principal researcher: “We know that a combination of psychological and mindfulness techniques are beneficial, particularly for people managing chronic or recurrent pain. Our intention is to see whether this approach can also work for people with chronic headache pain. This online setting is particularly fitting for individuals with chronic headache as it may be accessed at their convenience for the purpose of prevention, and management. The programme layout is modular to ensure ease of use and time efficiency for busy individuals who would like to log on and receive additional support in managing their pain.” The researchers are specifically interested in hearing from people who have chronic daily headache (CDH), defined as chronic head pain which occurs on 15 or more days per month over a period of three to four months and this includes tension-type headache, migraine and medication overuse headache.   Dr Egan said: “Many people find that the combination of cognitive and relaxation therapies which are offered in this headache management programme enable them to take back control of their lives and engage more in daily activities with the knowledge they have the tools necessary to better manage their pain. This project is hoping to establish if mindfulness training may be delivered effectively in an online format to help these individuals. The programme is designed to be accessible to all people who have a computer. Patients can continue with their normal treatments while also taking part in the study. GPs, physiotherapists, friends and family are encouraged to refer interested individuals to participate. For further information, please contact Angeline Traynor, at, 0860378562, or go to -ends-

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Irish Fiddler to Present Second Martin Reilly Lecture

Irish Fiddler to Present Second Martin Reilly Lecture-image

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Fiddle player, teacher and researcher, Dr Máire O’Keeffe, will deliver the second lecture in the Martin Reilly Lecture Series. Organised by Comhrá Ceoil, the Music and Dance Studies at the NUI Galway Centre for Irish Studies, the lecture will take place on Thursday, 17 May.  This series is dedicated to Martin Reilly, the celebrated East Galway uilleann piper, who left a rich musical legacy to generations of pipers.  The lecture series gives an opportunity for researcher-practitioners in Irish traditional music and dance to present their research in a public forum. The lectures are illustrated with musical examples, and insights from the practitioner’s perspective. Galway and the West of Ireland has long been an important centre of traditional dance, music and song and this lecture series reflects the increasing interest in the study of these traditions. Originally from Tralee, Co. Kerry, Dr O’Keeffe has many different musical interests including the fiddle traditions of Ireland, Scotland, Shetland, and Cape Breton, as well as the music of Galicia in North West Spain. The title of her talk is ‘Journey into Tradition: The Irish Button Accordion’, and it is the culmination of extensive research that traces the development of the button accordion within the Irish music tradition. It considers some of the key factors in the evolution of the button accordion in Ireland and some of the players who have contributed to an identifiably Irish style of playing. The lecture will take place at 6.30pm in the Galway City Library. All are invited to attend and admission is free. For more information on the Martin Reilly lecture series visit!/pages/Martin-Reilly-Lecture-Series/289147347801522 or email ENDS

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Antarctic Octopus Points to New Evidence of Ice-Sheet Collapse

Antarctic Octopus Points to New Evidence of Ice-Sheet Collapse-image

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Scientists have found that genetic information on the Antarctic octopus supports studies indicating that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet could have collapsed during its history, possibly as recently as 200,000 years ago.   The team, which included scientists from NUI Galway, Liverpool University in the UK and La Trobe University in Australia, found that the octopuses from Ross and Weddell Seas, which are now separated by the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, are genetically almost identical. This finding suggests that these two regions may have once been connected and may contribute to recent studies demonstrating the potential impact that increasing global temperatures could have on the changing Antarctica environment. Genes from more than 450 Turquet’s octopuses, collected from species in the Southern Ocean that surrounds Antarctica, were analysed to shed new light on how animals disperse across the varied ocean landscape.  Adult Turquet’s octopuses tend to live in one place and only move to escape predators, leading scientists to believe that creatures from areas either side of Antarctica would be genetically different. Dr Louise Allcock from the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, explained: “A previous study has shown evidence that the Ross and Weddell Seas could have been connected. We wanted to investigate whether there was any genetic information that could tell us what the past environment could have been like, and this octopus species, with its large populations around the region and limited movements, was an ideal species to use for this. “The fact that we found more similarities than we did differences supports the theory that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet could have collapsed in the past.  It also provides further evidence that scientists should continue to raise awareness about the impact of climate change on Antarctica today.” The research has been published in the prestigious journal Molecular Ecology. Dr Phill Watts, from Liverpool University’s Institute of Integrative Biology, explains: “We looked at information gathered by the Census of Antarctic Marine Life, which allowed us to examine genetic data on a scale that had not been done before in this area of the world.   We expected to find a marked difference between Turquet’s octopuses living in different regions of the ocean, particularly between areas that are currently separated by approximately 10,000km of sea.  These creatures don’t like to travel and so breeding between the populations in the Ross and Weddell Seas would have been highly unusual. “We found, however, that they were genetically similar, suggesting that at some point in their past these populations would have been in contact with each other, perhaps at a time when the oceans were connected and not separated by the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.  These findings agree with climate models indicating repeated periods in history when the climate was warmer, which would have released water from the ice and increased the sea levels, allowing dispersal of creatures between the Ross and Weddell Seas.” Data on octopuses from other parts of Antarctica, not separated by this particular ice sheet, support the theory that the creatures are genetically different. They found that the depth of the ocean and its currents limited the movement of the octopus in certain areas, as would have been expected for those living on either side of the West Antarctic Ice sheet. This added further evidence that at some point in recent history this particular ice sheet might have collapsed.  The research is supported by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the collaborative scheme for systematic research (CoSyst). -ends-

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Free Lunchtime Film Screenings at NUI Galway to Celebrate Ageing

Free Lunchtime Film Screenings at NUI Galway to Celebrate Ageing-image

Thursday, 10 May 2012

The inaugural ‘Reel Lives Film Festival’, organised by The Irish Centre for Social Gerontology (ICSG) at NUI Galway, is offering free lunchtime screenings of films celebrating ageing across the lifecourse from 21-25 May as part of the Bealtaine Festival. Alison Herbert, ICSG PhD student and event organiser, said: “We age from the day we are born, so to celebrate ageing is to celebrate life itself. Ageing is not just old age; ageing is a part of and relevant to all of us, and film is an ideal genre to get the message across that ageing is to be celebrated.” To help celebrate ageing, the ICSG will screen the following films: Venus - a comedy/drama examining inter-generationality, starring Peter O’Toole, Leslie Phillips and Vanessa Redgrave. This 2006 filmwas nominated for an Oscar, BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild and a Golden Globe. The Savages: multi-award-winning 2007 comedy/drama, starring Phillip Seymore-Hoffman and Laura Linney. The Straight Story: multi-award-winning David Lynch 1999 film, starring Richard Farnsworth and Sissy Spacek. Harold and Maude – a Golden Globe nominated 1971 Hal Ashby comedy/romance celebrating inter-generationality. A cult classic starring Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort. About Schmidt – Golden Globe winning 2002 comedy/drama starring Jack Nicholson and Kathy Bates. The Man Who Planted Trees: Academy-winning short French-Canadian 1988 animation (L’homme qui plantait des arbres), narrated by Christopher Plummer and a tribute to the animator Frédérick Back. The lunchtime screenings, open to everyone, begin each day at 1pm in lecture hall IT125, of the IT Building on NUI Galway’s campus.  Each film will be followed by a short panel and audience discussion.  All films, with the exception of The Man Who Planted Trees, loaned by film-maker Pat Comer, are sponsored by Screenclick, Dublin. Parking is available on campus to non-NUI Galway personnel within pay and display areas.  The venue has all facilities available to hand; including cafés, restrooms, and a lift is available for easy access. Further information is available from 091 495461 or visit -ENDS-

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Minister to Address Forum on Children’s Rights at NUI Galway

Minister to Address Forum on Children’s Rights at NUI Galway-image

Thursday, 10 May 2012

A New Era in Child Protection The UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway will today (Thursday, 10 May) host a forum on Children’s Rights.  The event will feature a keynote address: A New Era in Child Protection delivered by Frances Fitzgerald, TD and Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. The holding of a referendum in relation to the rights of children under the constitution is one of the key commitments made by the Government in relation to children and young people and is expected to be held in 2012.       Minister Frances Fitzgerald said: “The Government and I are committed to a comprehensive programme of reforms aimed at improving the lives of Ireland’s children and strengthening children’s rights. However no single change will be as momentous as that to our constitution. If we want to address the historic lack of focus on children; if we want to truly create a new era for child protection; if we want to really give effect to children’s rights, while recognizing the importance of the family, then we can do it by amending the constitution.” Professor Pat Dolan, UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement, NUI Galway and Professor Alan Smith, UNESCO Chair in Education for Pluralism, Human Rights and Democracy, University of Ulster will deliver an independent Commentary outlining the need for greater recognition of the rights of the child in Ireland and the inter-play between the rights of the child and rights of parents.  According to NUI Galway’s Professor Dolan: “Our perspective is simple, what is good for children, is good for their parents and ultimately to the benefit of civic society.  We believe that incorporating a commitment to children’s rights in the constitution would build a stronger culture of protecting children in Irish society and is in keeping with international obligations.” The Forum will be moderated by Carl O’Brien, Chief Reporter at the Irish Times and will include a Question and Answer session from the audience.   The Minister will also launch a new book by Professor Pat Dolan and Bernardine Brady of the Child and Family Research Centre A Guide to Youth Mentoring: Providing Effective Social Support. The UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre is committed to strengthening the rights of children and young people.  Ireland is emerging from a period in which some children, whether in the care of the State or of their families were not provided with adequate protection and support.  Providing greater recognition of the rights of the child through stronger constitutional recognition has the potential to embed children’s rights principles and standards into all decision-making by public bodies and inform the practice of those working with children.  An independent report completed by the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre in conjunction with the Galway City Partnership and St Vincent de Paul will also be officially launched by the Minister today. The NUI Galway report titled ‘Making a Difference, An Independent Evaluation of the Incredible Years Programme in Pre-Schools in Galway City’ evaluated the impact of the Incredible Years Programme on the children during their period in the pre-school and tracked the children as they entered primary school.  The report outlines particularly significant changes in the children behaviour and makes strong recommendations relating to pre-school education inIreland.   ENDS

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American Students Selected as NUI Galway Ambassadors

American Students Selected as NUI Galway Ambassadors-image

Thursday, 10 May 2012

(l-r): Secretary General, Seán O Foghlú; Siobhan Allaeddini from California representing NUI Galway; and Gill Roe, Manager Education in Ireland. Siobhan Allaeddini and Siobhan Keenan have been selected as Student Ambassadors for NUI Galway. A new initiative by Education in Ireland, the Student Ambassador Programme is aimed at raising awareness of the quality of Irish degree and Study Abroad programmes, while also assisting and encouraging interested students as they embark on their applications. Californian Siobhan Allaeddini is a second year Arts student at NUI Galway, while Siobhan Keenan, from New Jersey, is in her second year of a Commerce degree at the University. Ireland is the ninth most popular destination in the world for American students because of its worldwide reputation for high quality education and for offering the warmest of welcomes to students from all over the world. The current batch of Student Ambassadors come from 16 States in the US and represent all seven Irish universities. Throughout the academic year, the Student Ambassadors share their experience and insights of life as a student in Ireland through blogs, articles and video posts, connecting prospective American students and their families with those already studying in Ireland. When these students return home they will from time to time work with Education in Ireland and the Irish universities at promotional events in their area. Education in Ireland is a government initiative aimed at promoting Irish higher education and English language schools overseas.  To check out the blog and learn more about Education in Ireland’s outreach to US high schools and universities, please visit or Education in Ireland USA on Facebook. -ENDS-

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NUI Galway Students Selected for Washington Ireland Program 2012

NUI Galway Students Selected for Washington Ireland Program 2012-image

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Two NUI Galway students, Annita Brady and John Campion, are among a select group of 30 candidate’s chosen to participate in the 2012 Washington Ireland Program (WIP). Each year, the successful candidates, who have shown a commitment to service and a track record of leadership, take part in an eight-week internship program in Washington DC. The programme aims to help the students to develop skills through work experience, educational opportunity, and hands-on citizenship both at home and in the US. A native of Drung, Co. Cavan, Annita Brady is a Postgraduate Diploma in Education student at NUI Galway. In 2011 she received an MA in Military History and Strategic Studies in NUI Maynooth. During her four years at NUI Maynooth, Annita played an active role in The Friends of Raphael’s Society as Chairperson for two years and now currently volunteers with the Galway Traveller Movement assisting with homework clubs. John Campion, a third-year Medical student from Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny, is currently on clinical placement in Montpellier, France. At NUI Galway, he has instigated a special study module in Applied Adolescent Mental Health Promotion and is Founding President of NUI Galway Friends of Médecins Sans Frontières, who participated in the Rotaract Italy Roundtrip for Cultural Understanding in 2011. John has undertaken studies in French, Italian, Irish Sign Language, Arabic and Gaeilge and has previously worked with the Centre for Talented Youth, Ireland, as Instructor in Medicine and as Assistant Residential Coordinator. Commenting on the internship, John said: “I’m really looking forward to working in Washington. Several of its hospitals and research facilities are at the cutting edge of medical innovation; making breakthroughs that have a huge impact on diagnosis and treatment of illness globally, including here in Ireland. On top of that, this summer, the White House is determined, in the face of strong Republican opposition, to push ahead with implementing Obamacare, which aims to improve Americans’ access to healthcare services. For me, WIP will provide great insight into high-level experimental medicine and healthcare policy-making.” The WIP students are required to commit to a minimum of 30 hours of public service before their placement in Washington DC, and are encouraged to take on a new community service project. While in Washington DC the students will complete an extensive leadership curriculum with their peers – developing their leadership skills and learning from the leadership experiences of those in Global leadership positions. Students will also complete an individual internship. The program is supported by both Governments and the universities in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The internships include placements on Capitol Hill, government agencies and the private sector.  Previous students have interned in the offices of then US Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, former Presidential Candidate Senator McCain, at the Headquarters of the World Bank and at CNN. For more information visit -ENDS-

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Symposium on Complaints to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child

Symposium on Complaints to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child-image

Friday, 11 May 2012

International experts on children’s rights will gather at NUI Galway on Monday, 14 May, for a symposium on a new UN protocol to strengthen the rights of children. In December, the UN General Assembly approved a Third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure, which will allow for individual children to submit complaints regarding specific violations of their rights under the Convention. The Convention was the last of the major UN human rights treaties to adopt such a mechanism and the Protocol is a major achievement for the protection of children’s rights. The event is being hosted by the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway.  According to the Centre’s Professor Ray Murphy: “Access to justice for children has traditionally proven challenging due to the invisibility of children, children’s lack of maturity and experience, as well as conflicts between children’s interests and those of adults. Cases taken by children have been rare and are overwhelming heard from the perspective of parents, as it is they who most frequently take the relevant cases.” The different needs of children have also been lost in the complaints mechanisms of the mainstream human rights instruments. The Committee on the Rights of the Child will hear cases with the guiding principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in mind- the right to be heard, the best interest principle, non-discrimination and the right to life survival and development.” It is thought the new protocol will have wide-ranging implications for custodial issues, child slavery, education rights and discrimination issues. The Symposium, ‘Complaints to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child – Opportunities for Ireland’, will hear from a number of speakers with experience in the field of children’s rights including Dr Maria Herczog, Member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child; Veronica Yates, Child Rights International Network; Dr Geoffrey Shannon, Special Rapporteur to the Irish Government on Child Protection; Tanya Ward, Chief Executive, Children’s Rights Alliance; Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International and Dr Aoife Daly, University of Essex. Speakers will provide a variety of perspectives on the nature of the Protocol and the opportunities which it provides across the spectrum of children’s rights- in the areas of child protection, economic as well as civil and political rights. Professor Murphy added: “Ensuring widespread ratification of the Third Optional Protocol will be a challenge. This symposium aims to consider the relevance of the Protocol and opportunities for Ireland to lead in the ratification process. It aims to raise awareness of the Protocol amongst non-governmental organisations, academics and Government, and will culminate in a Call for Ratification of the Protocol which attendees are welcome to sign if they so wish. It is expected that this symposium will be just one part of a number of activities around the Protocol, raising awareness and encouraging ratification.” -ends-

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