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Monday, 25 November 2002
Release date: 25 November, 2002 NUI GALWAY LEADS THE WAY IN COLLABORATIVE VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS A new research project about to get underway in NUI Galway is aiming to improve the effectiveness of distance education and teleworking. Project leader Dr. Sam Redfern of the Department of Information Technology at NUI Galway, will explore new ways to alleviate the problems often associated with distance learning and remote working. "Feelings of isolation, lack of team unity, lack of consideration of different learning styles and a lack of effective work task co-ordination are frequently cited as the main inhibitors to working and learning remotely," said Dr. Redfern. Studies show that informal communication accounts for more than twice the amount of work-related discussion in the workplace. This social interaction with colleagues allows trust to be established and is the foundation on which effective work practices are built. This social element is missing from the remote environment and often causes the distant worker and learner to feel isolated and socially deprived of contact with other colleagues. Dr Redfern hopes to address these problems through the use of a Collaborative Virtual Environment (CVE). The CVE is an online community or computer-enabled virtual place where distant workers and learners can meet and interact with each other and their peers through the use of technology. CVEs have been in existence since the early 1990s and have up to now mostly been used for military and industrial team training, collaborative design and engineering and multi-player games. "Because CVEs are relatively new, the majority of scholarly work to date has focused on their design and implementation. It is only within the past two or three years that any CVE researchers have begun to look beyond these purely technological issues," said Dr. Redfern. Most of the advancements in IT to date have centred on developments in hardware and software. However, this is about to change as more analysts predict that the most exciting research in IT over the next few years will concentrate on designing spaces for human communication and interaction. This will enhance our ability to understand, analyse and create interaction spaces. The research being carried out by Dr. Redfern and his team will greatly aid this process and places NUI Galway at the forefront of this development work in Ireland. Few studies addressing computer-supported co-operative work and human factors have been published to date. "In addition to investigating a number of specific issues, this project will develop a software platform for more varied and long term research and development into the support of dispersed working using CVEs. The intention is for this to become an area of research excellence based in NUI Galway," said Dr. Redfern. The CVE takes distance learning or remote working a step further by 'humanising' the process to provide the user with a much richer and fulfilling experience. Through the use of technology, the communication between remote workers and learners is greatly improved. This is done by capturing the non-verbal communication or body language of the user, which is not conveyed via distance learning or remote working, at present. It has been widely shown that this type of communication is an essential component of social interaction and without it the person often experiences feelings of isolation or loneliness. Satisfying the need for social interaction stimulates more productive work and learning practices. Some of the technologies, which will be used by Dr. Redfern and his team to capture non-verbal communication, include a gesture scripting system, which allows very high-level control, a facial expression selection tool and a facial pose and expression estimation system using digital image processing and pattern recognition. These technologies are designed to be used in a very a non-intrusive way, in an effort to optimise the communication process and make the experience as life-like as possible. Dr Redfern's research is supported by Enterprise Ireland's Advanced Technologies Research programme. Ends For more information please contact: Máire Mhic Uidhir Press & Information Officer, NUI, Galway Tel: 091-750418 / 087-2986592 E-mail: email@example.com
Monday, 18 November 2002
Release date: 18 November, 2002 CELT PLACES NUI GALWAY AT THE FOREFRONT OF TEACHING NUI, Galway is about to launch a dedicated Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT). CELT has responsibility for training academic staff on teaching skills, implementing widespread use of the latest educational technologies and managing audio-visual services across the university. Bringing all three together, with the aim of improving the overall learning experience for students and the professional skills of staff, is a unique approach in Ireland. CELT will coordinate a wide range of projects, funded from a variety of sources to the tune of EUR1 million. CELT will offer staff the opportunity to acquire postgraduate level qualifications in education as well as providing one-day workshops and conferences on specific topics such as: educational technology, large and small group teaching, student assessment, course design, etc. This new approach to academic staff development is an international trend, which is only recently emerging in Ireland, according to Dr. Iain MacLaren, the Director of CELT. "It is widely acknowledged now that teaching is very demanding. The continuing professional development of staff is central to meeting evolving educational needs," he said. Technology as a vital tool Academic staff development is just one aspect of CELT. The use of technology in education is another important focus. "Technology is a very effective tool in the provision of education, if properly used. It's important to inform staff about how technology can add value to the overall student learning experience," said Dr. MacLaren. One of the early goals of CELT is the establishment of a virtual learning environment (VLE), which will provide support for campus-based and distance learning courses. The VLE will be powered by a number of industry standard technologies and will be available to both students and lecturers as a useful tool for a wide range of functions including course organisation and delivery, facilitating study groups and submitting coursework. One important aspect of the VLE will be ease of use, making it accessible and inviting for users with all levels of IT ability. Forging links CELT will serve as an important medium to facilitate research and development activities in the field of third level education, particularly through the fostering of international links and collaborative projects. Communication technologies such as video-conferencing will greatly aid this and will allow experts in third level institutions from all over the world to share their knowledge. "CELT will put NUI Galway at the forefront of teaching technologies and will allow the university to take part in many international projects and to keep pace with developments in the field," said Dr. MacLaren. Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir Press Officer, NUI, Galway. Tel: 091-750418 Notes to the editor Dr. Iain MacLaren has been newly appointed by NUI Galway. A native of Scotland, he graduated from Edinburgh University in 1983 with an honours degree in Astrophysics and subsequently obtained a PhD in Cosmology from the University of Durham. He has held a number of research and teaching posts. Much of Dr. MacLaren's work in recent years has been in technologies in education and other aspects of teaching and learning. He has been a partner in several major projects funded by the EC and the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council. He has provided staff development courses and workshops at a number of Scottish universities and consulted at various levels in aspects of learning technologies and student learning.
Sunday, 17 November 2002
Release date: 18 November 2002 Open Day at NUI Galway NUI, Galway's annual Open Day will take place on Tuesday 3December from 9.00 a.m., to 3.00 p.m. The event is an ideal opportunity for both second-level and mature students to get information on the academic programmes provided by the University. Academic staff from the University's fifty-two departments will be available at the exhibition stands to answer queries and provide detailed subject and course information. On their arrival at NUI, Galway students are requested to come to the assembly point in the Quadrangle, where they will be given directions to introductory lectures and exhibition areas. Guided tours of the campus will be provided throughout the day. These will include visits to the Clinical Science Institute (Medical School and Centre for Nursing Studies), the Martin Ryan Institute, the Arts Millennium Building, Áras na Gaeilge and the Student Accommodation and Sports Facilities. There will also be laboratory demonstrations in the Departments of Physics and Chemistry. You will have the opportunity to visit the Information Technology Lab. and An Teanglann, the University Applied Languages Centre. 'Students may attend the Open Day unaccompanied by teachers and it is not necessary to book in advance', says Ms. Mary Coyle, Schools Liaison Officer and Open Day Co-ordinator. An Information Session for Guidance Counsellors will also take place at 12.30 p.m. Further information on the Open Day may be obtained from Mary Coyle, at Tel. 091 512102 Ends Issued by: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI Galway. Tel. 091 750418
Sunday, 17 November 2002
Release date: 18 November, 2002 NUI Galway academic honoured for his contribution to the Crystal Industry Professor Michael J. Hynes of the Department of Chemistry in NUI Galway has been awarded the prestigious John Cope Memorial Award for his distinguished contribution to the Crystal Industry in Ireland and Europe. He has had a long association with Galway Irish Crystal. The award was presented recently at the International Crystal Federation (ICF) Technical Exchange Conference hosted by Waterford Crystal in Waterford. Professor Hynes has carried out a number of research projects relating to the lead crystal industry and has been a member of the International Crystal Federation since its inception. He has lectured all over Europe on aspects of health and safety, risk assessment and EU legislation relevant to the crystal industry. A recent project supported by the EU involved studies of the properties of novel glass compositions. Professor Hynes' main field of academic research involves studies of the kinetics and mechanisms of reactions in solution. Recent work has involved studies of the reactions of metal ions, particularly iron and aluminium, with some of the phenolic components present in green tea. The late John Cope after whom the award is named was the Technical Director of the tableware division of Waterford-Wedgwood and a specialist in ceramics or 'keramics' as he preferred to call it. He liked to describe himself as a 'simple potter' but in fact he was a man of great technical knowledge, ingenuity and imagination who also had considerable expertise in legal matters relevant to the Glass and Ceramics Industries. He was a founding member of the ICF, whose interests he represented at the OECD, the European Commission and the European Union. Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI Galway. Tel. 091 750418
Monday, 11 November 2002
Release Date: 11 November, 2002 Developments in Biotechnology Challenge Notions about the Quality of Human Life and the Capacity for Moral Choice Advancements in the biotechnology industry have raised a number of moral concerns about the affects of biotechnology on society including the affects of patenting products in this industry. "Developments in biotechnology offer the choice of deciding what kind of society we want in the future and what kind of life quality. Whether or not the law adequately deals with public concerns about biotechnology is an open question," said Dr. Oliver Mills, lecturer in Commercial Law at NUI, Galway. The 1998 Directive on the Legal Protection of Biotechnological Inventions is the main piece of legislation governing patents in Europe. The need to understand the exact nature of a patent is central to addressing concerns about the patenting of biotech products, according to Dr. Mills. "A patent does not confer ownership. It gives the patentee the right to prevent third parties from exploiting the invention without his consent. It does not give the patent holder the right to commercially exploit the product. For the most part, exploitation is controlled by national regulatory authorities," said Dr. Mills. There is a common misconception amongst many consumers that a patented product is superior. But, this is not the case, as a company can still put a non-patented product on the market. "Therefore denying a patent on the basis of moral concerns would not necessarily be a way of ensuring safety," said Dr. Mills. Traditionally, patent law was regarded primarily as an instrument of economic policy. However, in the context of modern biotechnology the extent to which patent rights should be influenced by broader moral concerns means that the rationale underlying patent law may need to be re-evaluated. Many of these concerns centre around genetic engineering and its affect on human dignity. "Who determines how the technology is to be used and who will derive the benefits are some of the key issues that remain unanswered," said Dr Mills. The main commercial applications of biotechnology to date have been in the domain of healthcare, agriculture and the environment. The hope in relation to healthcare is that diseases such as cystic fibrosis and sickle-cell anaemia, which are caused by single gene deficiencies, will be eradicated using biotechnology. Looking ahead, it is hoped that benefits to the environment will be reaped with the increased use of physiologically altered crops, which could add nutrients to soil and water in drought areas to accelerate growth. Genetically Modified (GM) foods is a major reason why biotechnology in the agricultural/food sectors is so controversial. Much attention has been focused in recent times on the use of biotechnology to genetically modify foods and the affect this will have on the environment. The hope is that farmers can produce better quality and higher yields of product with less reliance on pesticides thereby reducing environmental impact. Genetically modified soya beans, maize, corn, cotton and canola are currently available in the marketplace. Seeds of these products produce plants that don't need protection from insecticides. Other developments include crops fortified with vitamins and minerals. The potential of 'vaccine crops,' which contain genetic material from pathogens that operate as vaccines when eaten, is currently being explored. Viral-resistant rice and frost-tolerant fruit are currently being developed but are not available on the market yet. The 2001 Directive on the Deliberate Release of Genetically Modified Organisms by the European Commission introduces new concepts into the authorisation process ensuring that GM foods are safe for consumption before they are released into the public domain. EU countries have 18 months to implement this legislation. If the promise of biotechnology is to be realised, wide public debate that should inform our decisions about the role of Law in regulating the development and application of the technology is necessary. However, according to Dr. Mills, the real question is "whether such control should be exercised in any significant way by means of moral considerations in the patent system. Where moral considerations do apply is in elucidating concerns to determine what is and what is not acceptable to society. Developing the moral objections to biotechnology could clarify public concerns and how these should be dealt with". Patent law is not designed to regulate biotechnology and any attempt to do so by denying patents on the basis of morality is misplaced. Ends For more information please contact: Máire Mhic Uidhir Press & Information Officer, NUI, Galway Tel: 091-750418 / 087-2986592 Notes to the editor Dr Oliver Mills holds a Science Degree and a Law Degree from University College Cork. He also has a Master of Laws Degree from Cambridge University and a Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh. He has 10 years' experience in the pharmaceutical industry.
Tuesday, 5 November 2002
Release date: 4 November, 2002 NEW TECHNIQUES REVEAL MORE HIDDEN TREASURES ON HILL OF TARA At least 100 new monuments* have been discovered on the Hill of Tara, thanks to the deployment of non-invasive exploratory techniques. Geophyscial survey* allows archaeologists to record the magnetic properties or electrical resistance of the soil, which is permanently altered by human activity, therefore proving that people once inhabited the area. For example, a bonfire or a burial will permanently enhance the magnetism of the soil around it. Similarly, a buried wall will act as a barrier to the movement of electric current passed through the soil and therefore significantly increases its electrical resistance. Mr Conor Newman and Mr Joe Fenwick of the Department of Archaeology at NUI, Galway and the Discovery Programme, which is funded by the Heritage Council, have been researching Tara since 1992. The earliest monuments at Tara date from around 4000 BC. Close to 30 monuments had been recorded prior to the deployment of geophysical survey, which has greatly aided the research process and facilitated the discovery of approximately 100 additional monuments. In three field seasons since 1999, the team at Galway has increased the geophysical survey area on the Hill of Tara by more than 13 hectares, making this by far the most extensive geophysical survey ever undertaken in Ireland. Plans are in place to survey the rest of the state-owned part of Tara in the next few years. A host of new and interesting features have been revealed in the work so far. One of the most spectacular finds is a huge oval enclosure, equivalent to the size of Croke Park (170m North to South), which is believed to date from around 2500 BC. Referred to as a henge (see illustration), it comprises a 4m wide ditch, possibly up to 3m deep, on either side of which are great 2m wide pits. These pits probably held around 300 wooden poles between them. This oval enclosure encircles Ráith na Senad or Rath of the Synods and takes in the whole of the present day churchyard. It also includes a passage tomb known as the mound of the hostages. Like most of the monuments on Tara this is a temple or sacred compound of some sort. A full report on this monument and others found in the course of the survey has just been published in the 6th volume of the Discovery Programme Reports and is available from the Discovery Programme and the Royal Irish Academy. The Discovery Programme has produced a detailed map of all of the monuments on the Hill of Tara using a combination of the geophysical survey finds and topography. The topography map is in digital format, which means it is fully interactive. It can be interrogated and manipulated in order to reveal features that are otherwise barely visible. These techniques have confirmed that many of the monuments built on the Hill of Tara incorporated older monuments into their fabric. This allowed some of the ritual and historical importance associated with the older monument to be included in the new structure. "Every new monument discovered at Tara adds to our understanding of the development of the complex," said Mr Newman. "For the most part, the monument builders of each generation observed, preserved and accommodated all of the older ones in a way that contributed positively and sensitively to the developing authority of Tara as a place apart," he added. Close to half of the State-owned land on the Hill of Tara has been examined using geophysical survey so far and plans are in place to continue with this research and to survey the rest of the hill. However, much concern has arisen lately about the proposed route of the M3 motorway, which if approved, will pass right along the eastern foot of the Hill of Tara, crossing an area intimately connected with the great royal complex. This area also boasts an impressive concentration of archaeological monuments. "It is a reckless dereliction of our role as guardians of our common cultural heritage to drive a motorway through it," said Mr Newman. "If you disassociate a society from its past, it becomes rootless. Tara is a national treasure and a massive tourist attraction for Co. Meath. It should be managed not simply as a hilltop site but rather as a cultural landscape, just has been the case with places like the Boyne Valley," he added. Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI Galway. Tel: 091-750418 Notes to the editor Approximately 95 per cent of the archaeological monuments on Tara are believed to have been used for burial or other ceremonial practices. Monuments vary greatly in size from 4m in diameter to over 300m. Geophysical survey allows underground features to be mapped and analysed and by refining research questions ahead of time can be an important preliminary step to excavation. Excavation cutting can be targeted with precision, making them less of 'shot in the dark'.
Monday, 4 November 2002
Release date: 4 November, 2002 Seeking Robinson Crusoe in NUI Galway Tim Severin, the well known author and film-maker, will give a public lecture disproving the notion that Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe was based on the life of Alexander Selkirk. The lecture entitled 'Seeking Robinson Crusoe', will take place at 7.30pm on Friday, 8 November in Room AM200, Arts Millennium Building, NUI Galway. Admission is free and all are welcome. The lecture is part of the Royal Irish Academy's 29th National Research Symposium in Modern Language Studies which takes place on 8th and 9th of November 2002 in NUI Galway. It is the most important annual conference in modern languages in Ireland with 75 speakers from New Zealand, USA, Holland, France, Germany, UK and Ireland taking part. Other keynote speakers include Joep Leerssen, University of Amsterdam and Luigi Monga, Vanderbilt University, US. The symposium is sponsored by DEPFA BANK plc and NUI Galway. The theme of the conference is Travel Literature and some of the topics addressed will include: Italian Correspondents and the Spanish Civil War; A Spanish perspective on Irish independence and Civil War; and Wolfe Tone's Secret Mission to France in 1796. Two exhibitions supplementing the overall theme of the conference will be mounted and a special series of film screenings will be shown over the two days. A selection of material from the Special Collections of the James Hardiman Library will be on view in the foyer of the library, as well as a display of publications on travel in the foyer of the Arts Millennium Building. Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI Galway. Tel. 091 750418
Sunday, 3 November 2002
Release Date: 4 November, 2002 NUI Galway awards Sports Scholarships to top Athletes Sports Scholarships and bursaries valued at €35,000 were awarded today (Monday, 4 November) to NUI Galway elite sports athletes. The awards, which include 12 Scholarships, valued at €2,000 each and 13 Bursaries valued at €1,000 each, of which three are sponsored by Guinness, were presented by Dr. Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh, President of NUI, Galway. This is the sixth year of the Sports Scholarships programme. Dr Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh said that the Sports Scholarships are intended "to offer young sportsmen and sportswomen of exceptional ability and potential, an opportunity to compete at the highest level of their sport, while pursuing an academic programme of study." Mr. Tony Regan, NUI, Galway's Sports and Recreation Officer said that the Sports Scholarship programme has proved to be an outstanding success. "The scholarships are designed to develop individual talent and to maintain the University's sporting tradition", he said. "Among those who have benefited from the scheme since its inception are Éadaoin Ní Challaráin, Olympic athlete; Paul Hession, Irish sprint champion; Declan Meehan, member of the victorious Galway All-Ireland Football team; and Tony Griffin, inter-county All-Ireland hurling star from Ennis, Co. Clare. The winners of the Sports Scholarships for 2002/2003 are: Soccer Kevin Walsh Shrule, Co. Galway Kevin Monahan Tuam, Co. Galway Mens Gaelic Michael Meehan Caltra, Co. Galway Clive Monahan Headford, Co. Galway Ladies Gaelic Clare O'Hara Castlebar, Co. Mayo Hurling Damien Joyce Ballinasloe, Co. Galway Rowing David Mannion Knocknacarra, Galway Paul Giblin Headford Rd., Galway Rugby Martin Glynn Ballinasloe, Co. Galway Mens Athletics David Kelly Cartron View, Sligo Ladies Athletics Catherine Casserly Tuam Road, Castlegar Camogie Caroline Murray Loughrea, Co. Galway Recipients of the Sports Bursaries are: Cycling David Brennan Castlebar, Co. Mayo Athletics Emma O'Doherty Donegal Town, Donegal Baketball Karen O'Sullivan Portlaoise, Co. Laois Mens Gaelic Michael O'Dwyer Ennis, Co. Clare Hurling Tony Óg Regan Rahoon, Galway Tomás O'Donovan Clonlara, Co. Clare John Culkin Abbeyknockmoy, Co. Galway Gerry O'Grady Crusheen, Co. Clare Rowing Robert Cronin Blackrock, Cork Squash Siobhan Parker Rosses Point, Sligo Camogie Lizzie Glennon Four Roads, Co. Roscommon Hockey Caitlin Friel Barna, Co. Galway Soccer Sean Bradshaw Moycullen, Co. Galway Ends Information from:Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI Galway. Tel. 091 750418
Friday, 13 December 2002
Press statement: 12 December, 2002 New Vice-President appointed at NUI Galway At its meeting today (12 December), the Governing Authority of NUI Galway, following nomination by the President, Dr. Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh, in accordance with statutory provisions, appointed Professor Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh as Vice-President for Strategic Initiatives and External Affairs. The appointment is effective from January 1, 2003 on the completion by Professor Ruth Curtis of her term of office on December 31, 2002, as Vice-President for Development and External Affairs. Professor Ó Tuathaigh's appointment is for a four-year term. A historian, Professor Ó Tuathaigh, was Vice-President for Development and External Affairs from 1992-1996. He also served a term of office as Cathaoirleach of Údarás na Gaeltachta from 1996-1999. Professor Ó Tuathaigh's research interests include nineteenth and twentieth century Irish and British history and contemporary European history. President Ó Muircheartaigh thanked Professor Curtis on her outstanding performance in her post for over six years and congratulated Professor Ó Tuathaigh on his appointment. Ends Information from:Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI Galway. Tel. 091 750418
Wednesday, 31 January 2001
Release date: 31 January, 2001 Múscailt 01 – NUI Galway's new Spring Festival NUI, Galway's first Spring Festival, Múscailt (meaning 'to inspire / awaken'), which will take place between 18 and 23 February, 2001, promises an exciting and comprehensive programme of music, dance, art and theatre. Myles Dungan, Presenter of RTÉ s Arts programme, Rattlebag , will officially open the Festival on Sunday 18th February. Dungan will also record a special programme on the Festival in the Galway studio. This new festival on Galway's cultural calendar, will be an annual event and with the imaginative and creative talent of the University s Cultural Societies supporting it, guarantees a programme that is fresh, innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.One of the highlights of the programme is the Peacock Theatre's acclaimed new production of Eden, which begins its national tour at the University's Bank of Ireland Theatre. Emily Cullen, NUI, Galway s Arts Officer and Festival Co-ordinator, is especially pleased that the world premiere of Seoirse Bodley's latest piano composition, News from Donaghbate, which was commissioned by RTÉ, will be performed during the Festival. "Our objective was to put together a high quality programme, catering for the University community and the wider Galway public", said Emily Cullen.NUI, Galway provides a Masters programme in Theatre Studies, directed by Adrian Frazier. Some of the new short plays from students of the programme will be performed during Múscailt 01, as well as drama as Gaeilge from members of An Cumann Drámaíochta. The wave of break-dancing, which swept the world a number of years ago, still lives on in the North of Ireland and the legendary Belfast City Breakers, will present one of their breath-taking performances, followed by a workshop. No Festival would be complete without a number of poetry readings. Emily Cullen has an impressive line-up of established poets and writers, including Tom Kilroy, Mary O'Malley, Louis de Paor, Vincent Woods, Julian Gough, Mike McCormack, Moya Cannon, Ken Bruen and Fred Johnston. The reigning Rose of Tralee, Róisín Egenton, is an accomplished violinist, who will perform in concert at the Festival, as will internationally renowned mezzo soprano, Aylish Kerrigan. On the lighter side of the musical scale, NUI, Galway s English and Music Societies will present Velvet Sessions, a blend of poetry and music. For those with stamina and sturdy ear drums, the Contemporary Bands Competition, Livestock is sure to attract large audiences! "Walter Macken has very close associations with Galway, having lived by Lough Corrib all his life and worked in the Taibhdhearc theatre here", says Emily Cullen. "We are delighted that his son, Fr. WaltervMacken will give a public lecture on the author s life and work, which will be followed by a rehearsed reading of Home is the Hero. "NUI, Galway has a considerable number of works of art, collected over the years and an inaugural public viewing of selected works from the collection, will be on view throughout the festival. "We are determined that Múscailt 01, will become an integral part of Galway s Springtime reawakening. We extend a warm welcome to all, to experience what promises to be a great event in the University s cultural life". Ends Further details from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer. Tel. 091 750418 Emily Cullen, Arts Officer. Tel. 091-512 062
Monday, 29 January 2001
Release date: 29 January, 2001 New Disability Law and Policy Research Unit established in NUI Galway No less than 360,000 Irish citizens and 37 million European citizens are affected by disability. According to official United Nations estimates, 10% of any given population has a disability and the figure rises to about 30% if one takes into account the full range of persons affected by disability, e.g., carers of elderly parents with disability and mothers of children with disability. Over the past decade there has been a profound policy shift in the disability field. The old policy based on paternalism and welfare has given way to a new one based on equal rights and respect for difference. This is of equal significance in the physical and mental disability fields. The shift from welfare to rights, necessitates profound changes in the Irish legal system, in areas as diverse as education, employment, mental health law, transport, building regulations, access to the Information Society, incompetency law, biotechnology and the law. A new independent Research Unit just established in National University of Ireland, Galway will provide a forum and focus for disability related legal and policy research in Ireland. The Disability Law and Policy Research Unit, is the first such centre in the Republic of Ireland and one of the first in Europe. The new research unit is part of the Irish Centre for Human Rights which is based at NUI, Galway and affiliated to the University s Faculty of Law. The Disability Law and Policy Research Unit will investigate the adequacy of existing legislation and promote the drafting of a new Disabilities Bill. International expertise in the Centre will inform contributions in this area. "Ireland is already bound by a complex web of international legal instruments which bear either directly or indirectly on the disability issue", says Professor Gerard Quinn, Convenor of the new Centre. "International law provides a strong stimulus to the disability rights movement. Advances in European Union law are especially important in this context because they have a direct and potentially positive effect on Irish law and Policy. The Centre will therefore use international and comparative benchmarks to scrutinise the adequacy of the Irish law reform process in the field of disability. This has not been systematically done to date with the result that Irish policy has been deprived of the very best insights from similar systems of law", says Professor Quinn. Professor Quinn also emphasises the international role he envisages for the Disability Law and Policy Research Unit, pointing out that Ireland contributes positively to the elaboration of international law through its growing involvement in organisations such as the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the European Union. "It is vitally important that Irish policy makers should be kept as fully informed as possible about the role they can play in advancing the disability agenda at an international and regional level", he says. "The Centre will be proactive in the debate within the United Nations on the need for a UN Convention on the rights of people with disabilities, while also advocating immediate implementation of the Article 13 TEU (Treaty on European Union) Non- Discrimination Directive. The Disability Unit will use the best comparative insights from both the United States and from the EU and indeed the Council of Europe. At least two of its members have worked on disability law for the European Commission and Professor Quinn has done a considerable amount of work on US law and policy. The Centre will host a public lecture on Thursday, 15th March by Professor Carol Doherty-Rasnic, Virginia Commonwealth University, USA entitled, The Americans with Disabilities Act - an update on recent US Supreme Court Decisions . The Centre will also shortly initiate a major research project on comparative disability law with sister Units in universities in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Professor Quinn is available for interview on the work of the Research Centre and on Disability-related issues. Ends Further details from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway. Tel. 091-750418 Professor Gerard Quinn. Tel 091-524411, Ext. 3014
Thursday, 25 January 2001
Release date: 25 January, 2001 Historic University building gets facelift One of Galway's oldest and most attractive buildings, the Gate Lodge at the main entrance to NUI, Galway has been closed for a number of months so that major refurbishment could be carried out. Dating from the early 1800s, this unique building initially accommodated a gatekeeper and his family. Originally the University entrance featured large gates, flanked by pedestrian side-gates, all of which were all locked at night. Following the removal of the gates in 1968, the University's security staff were located in the building. The Gate Lodge has now got a new lease of life as a result of the refurbishment work and will accommodate Galway University Foundation and the Alumni Office staff. The purpose of Galway University Foundation, which has just launched its first Annual Report, is to advance the strategic priorities and academic objectives of NUI, Galway. Under the direction of an international independent Board, the Foundation's primary function is to generate financial support for the University's programmes and activities. The Annual Report shows the Foundation's success in attracting funding - more than £7 million was secured in the year ending 30th June 2000. "We are very pleased with the results to date", says Joe McKenna, Director of Development. "However, as the University is about to commence the second phase of capital development, the work of the Foundation will be intensified in the coming months to support that development. "A broad programme of outreach to graduates is continuing, led by Betsy Kilkenny, Alumni Co-ordinator. The latest edition of 'Cois Coiribe' has just been published and mailed to 40,000 graduates worldwide. The magazine's editor, Liz McConnell says that the magazine is a very special way for NUI, Galway graduates to keep in touch with their alma mater and be informed of the many exciting development taking place on campus." Ends Further details from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway. Tel. 091 750418
Thursday, 18 January 2001
Release date: 18 January, 2001 NUI Galway and BioResearch Ireland contribute to new publication on Diagnostics A new textbook entitled Immunoassays: A Practical Approach, published by Oxford University Press and edited by Professor Jim Gosling, Department of Biochemistry, NUI Galway, was launched in the University today (18 January). Immunoassays are (indirectly) mentioned in the news nearly every day. Headlines such as Older cattle must be tested for BSE before their meat can be consumed ; The number of people infected with HIV is rising: Women given anti-D will be tested for hepatitis-C , are commonplace. All these tests are immunoassays and they involve the use of specific antibodies to detect the proteins being measured. Pregnancy tests and a huge variety of tests used in hospital laboratories to detect heart attacks, to monitor cancer treatments and to diagnose disease, are also immunoassays. NUI Galway and the National Diagnostic Centre of Bioresearch Ireland, have been leaders in the development and application of immunoassays for the last 25 years. The publication of this book, which has many chapters authored or co-authored by staff from the NDC, is an important milestone. Galway contributors include Dr. Marian Kane, Mr Tony Forde, Mr Peter O'Fegan and Dr. Wajdi Abdul-Ahad. Immunoassays is the first practical manual designed to help any biologist develop an immunoassay in any common format for any suitable analyte. It is highly recommended both for researchers new to immunoassays and those who are seeking an updated source guide. The mix of background information, step by step protocols, and strong practical advice for achieving success, will prove invaluable to any life scientist who chooses to use immunoassays in either a research environment or for routine testing. Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway. Tel. 091 750418
Tuesday, 9 January 2001
Release date: 9 January, 2001 NUI Galway scientist honoured for his work in Atmospheric Science Professor S. Gerard Jennings was conferred recently with the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa (Honorary Doctorate) by the University of G" teborg, Sweden. This honorary degree was awarded in recognition of the world-recognised research achievements of Professor Jennings in the field of Atmospheric Science, which embraces aerosol and cloud physics; and climate and environmental change. At the ceremony, an honorary degree was also conferred on Dr. Arvid Carlsson, the winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2000. Professor S. Gerard Jennings directs the Atmospheric Research Group, in the Department of Physics at NUI, Galway. He, in collaboration with departmental colleagues has been instrumental in establishing and operating the world renowned Atmospheric Research Station at Mace Head, near Carna, Co. Galway. The station s location on the west coast provides an ideal platform for the study of properties of atmospheric aerosol particles. It is now recognised that aerosols (microscopic airborne particles) can give rise to cooling and thus counteract warming of the earth's surface due to increasing concentration of greenhouse gases. Aerosol particles vary considerably, both spatially and temporally and in the context of understanding changes in climate, the study of aerosol particles is assuming new and critical importance. Professor Jennings is also involved in research with the recently-established Environmental Change Institute at NUI, Galway. Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway. Tel. 091 750418
Tuesday, 27 February 2001
Release date: 27 February, 2001 NUI Galway Scientists Investigate the Problem of Premature Births Approximately 5-10% of all babies born in Ireland are pre-term deliveries and in the Galway area the exact incidence is 6-7%, according to work published by the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at NUI, Galway. Premature babies require long periods of hospitalisation in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and experience problems in relation to ventilation, infection, nutrition and overall development. It is known that these babies suffer high incidence of complications in childhood including chest complications, hearing and visual defects, developmental delay and cerebral palsy. Professor John Morrison at the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, NUI, Galway together with Dr. Terry Smith of the National Diagnostics Centre, NUI, Galway have initiated and set up novel research with the aims of primarily outlining causes of premature labour at the gene expression level, and secondly developing new methods of treatment for pre-term labour. This research has identified novel genes, which are switched on and apparently up-regulated at the time of human labour. Further evaluation of this gene expression will help to explain the cascade of events that lead to women going into labour early. In addition, this research has demonstrated that compounds related to this gene expression may be used in the treatment of pre-term labour. This research, which is unique in Ireland, involves taking a minute biopsy from the muscle of the womb (called the myometrium) at Caesarean section, which is a strictly regulated procedure that is approved by the Ethics Committee at University College Hospital Galway. Tissue collection takes place in the hospital and the molecular and physiological research is carried out in the Clinical Science Institute (NUI, Galway Medical School) and in the National Diagnostic Centre on campus. This research is being funded by the HEA, the Health Research Board and the NUI, Galway Millennium Research Fund. Professor John Morrison is available for interview on this subject. ENDS Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway. Tel: 091-750418
Wednesday, 21 February 2001
Release date: 21 February, 2001 New Registrar appointed in NUI Galway Professor Jim Browne has been appointed Registrar of NUI, Galway. A former Dean of Engineering and Director of CIMRU (Computer Integrated Manufacturing Research Unit), Professor Browne commences his four-year term of office at a time of rapid growth and development in NUI, Galway. New buildings, which have come on stream as part of a £45m capital development plan, have greatly improved facilities for the university s students, now numbering more than 11,000. One of Professor Browne s priorities is the implementation of improved policies and strategies to encourage excellence in teaching and research. "With the rapid developments in tele-computing and multimedia, new flexible learning models are now possible and desirable", says Professor Browne. " A well-resourced university- wide initiative to develop ICT (Information and Communications Technology) enabled teaching and learning for all students, will facilitate part-time and mature students in particular." The traditional role of a university is to advance knowledge through research and scholarship. In recent years however, its role in providing skilled graduates for a knowledge-based economy has also been emphasised. Pressing social and community objectives, such as the provision of systems to accommodate second chance education and mature students must also be met. "Against this background of change and growth", says Professor Browne "the Registrar must provide academic leadership to the academic community and ensure the primacy of the academic mission in the life of NUI, Galway." Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer Tel. 091 750418
Monday, 19 February 2001
Release date: 19 February, 2001 How bad is the air we breathe? New Environmental Study to investigate latest levels The dramatic increase in the volume of traffic, regularly causing gridlock on our city streets, is not simply a cause of frustration but also a health hazard. There are other air pollutants however, and although traffic is an important source, its contribution to air pollution levels is not yet quantified for Irish cities. A major three-year survey headed by Professor Gerard Jennings of the Air Quality Technology Centre, Department of Experimental Physics at NUI, Galway will investigate the impact of various factors, including transport on air quality. The project, funded to amount £411,000, is part of the Environmental Research Programme 2000-2006 of the National Development Plan, which is beingimplemented by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). "The main objective of the research will be to determine the principal sources of particulate matter (PM) emitted to urban air, by obtaining the chemical composition of the air pollution particles", says Professor Jennings. Primary sources such as road traffic and industry and secondary sources, resulting from chemical reaction of vehicle exhaust gases, will be identified. Urban pollution also comes from rural sources. "Air pollution knows no boundaries," warns Professor Jennings, "so it is important to obtain the contribution of trans-boundary air pollution to urban levels." "Time is running out for us to put our house in order in this regard," says Professor Jennings. "Compliance must to be reached by 2005 with stringent air quality standards for aerosol particulate levels, laid down by the European Union. These standards are measured in terms of mass concentration of particles smaller than 10 micrometres in diameter, so called PM10 Five sampling sites will be used in the Study, with two sampling locations in Dublin City (College Street and the Civic Offices, Dublin Corporation) and one in Cork City. A rural site in County Galway (near Ballinasloe) and a coastal site on the east coast will also be used. It is hoped to identify areas vulnerable to exceedances of PM limits and to understand the causes of these exceedances and their potential impact on air quality and health- related issues. Where exceedances do occur, it will be necessary to introduce measures in order to reduce emissions of PM10 substances, so as to secure compliance limits set by the European Union. Professor Jennings has already carried out a ground-breaking study in partnership with Dublin Corporation and TMS Environment Ltd., at six Dublin City sites over a thirteen-month period from January 1996 to January 1997. He says that, "the role of pollutant aerosol particles takes on extra significance because of the linkage of PM10 and PM2.5 (particles less than 2.5 micrometres in size) with human health. A strong association has been found between morbidity rates and increased PM levels, as shown for example by several studies in US cities". A consortium of partners, co-ordinated by Prof. S. Gerard Jennings, will participate in this new Study. They include: University of Birmingham, Division of Environmental Health (Prof. R.M. Harrison, Dr. A.G. Allen); Dublin Corporation - Atmospheric Pollution and Environment Unit (Ms Evelyn Wright), and University College Cork, Department of Chemistry (Prof. John Sodeau, Dr.John Wenger), in collaboration with Cork Corporation (Edmond Barry). Professor Jennings is available for interview on this Study Ends For further details: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway. Tel. 091-750418
Monday, 12 February 2001
Release date: 12 February, 2001 NUI Galway scientists develop rapid test for potentially paralysing infection When people complain of suffering from a tummy bug, it might be just a mild infection, which is easily treated leaving no after effects. Alternatively, they could be among the increasing number of sufferers in this country, who have contracted a form of gastroenteritis, which may lead to paralysis. Scientists at NUI, Galway have developed a rapid test to detect strains of Campylobacter jejuni (C. jejuni), the commonest cause of gastroenteritis worldwide, with the potential to cause a rare neurological complication, known as Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS). "There are increasing concerns at the level of illness caused by C. jejuni infection, which now exceeds the combined total of enteritis cases caused by Salmonella, E. coli, and Shigella", says Dr. Anthony Moran of NUI, Galway s Department of Microbiology, who has done extensive research in this area. "Although numbers of sufferers in this country are on the increase, there is limited public awareness of the condition, which if not diagnosed and treated correctly, can have catastrophic consequences for the patient". In total, 2085 cases of laboratory-confirmed C. jejuni enteritis were reported in 1999 in Ireland. In the UK and US, where there is significant public awareness of the condition, C. jejuni is regarded as a major contributor to employee absenteeism. It is estimated that 2 million working days per year are lost in the UK due to gastroenteritis caused by C. jejuni. Furthermore, there is an estimated annual incidence of C. jejuni-associated enteritis of between 2-10 million cases in the USA alone, and the condition costs in the region of $1.3-6.2 billion US dollars per annum. Symptoms of C. jejuni infection usually include diarrhoea, fever, nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps, which are often severe enough to mimic appendicitis. Enteritis most often results from consumption of untreated milk or water, or via consumption of undercooked poultry meat. Patients with C. jejuni enteritis usually recover within a few days but in a small proportion of cases, a rare neurological disorder, known as Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) develops 7-10 days after the onset of enteritis symptoms. According to Dr. Martina Prendergast, a member of Dr. Moran s research team, "the disease affects about 1-2/100,000 of the population per year, translating into 40-50 potential new Irish GBS cases each year". Significantly, Dr. Moran says that, "GBS has replaced polio as the leading cause of infectious paralytic disease. Moreover, he adds that, "when added to the cost of C. jejuni enteritis, treatment costs for GBS add up to a further $2 billion US dollars to the economic impact of C. jejuni infection in the USA each year". Although it affects both sexes of any age, GBS affects men more commonly than women by a ratio of 1.5:1, and the incidence increases with age. Symptoms of GBS begin with a tingling or a pins and needles feeling in the toes and tips of fingers, which rapidly progresses to include the whole of the limbs. Weakness and numbness progress to a paralysis, which may involve respiratory muscles. Months can elapse before the patient s recovery begins. Substantial improvement occurs within the next 3-12 months in the majority of cases, but 20% of GBS patients are left with a residual disability and about 5% of patients die. In most cases of GBS, a link with C. jejuni infection is suspected. The rapid test to detect C. jejuni strains that the research team of Dr. Anthony Moran and Dr. Martina Prendergast of the Department of Microbiology in NUI, Galway have developed, eliminates the need to grow large quantities of organism and substantially reduces the time needed for strain characterisation. "Hundreds of strains can be screened quickly and cheaply, and the test could be routinely used in hospital laboratories to detect potential disease-causing strains", says Dr. Moran. The research team is also investigating safety issues in the development of a C. jejuni vaccine. The work is funded as part of a three-year on-going project by the Irish Health Research Board. Dr. Anthony Moran is available for interview on the details of his research. Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer. Tel. 091 750418
Tuesday, 6 February 2001
Release date: 6 February, 2001 NUI Galway Graduate appointed Cardinal Pope John Paul has announced the appointment of seven more Cardinals, among them the Franciscan Archbishop of Durban (Republic of South Africa), Wilfrid Napier. Wilfrid Napier was born in Matatiele, South Africa, in 1941 and grew up amid the injustices brought about by the apartheid regime of the country at that time. His family knew the Franciscans from Ireland, who ministered in the area and Wilfrid came to this country, where he joined the Order at their Novitiate in Killarney. He went on to study in the Faculty of Arts at NUI, Galway, where he took a B.A. degree in Latin and English, graduating in 1964. He excelled at sports - and is still prone to using sporting metaphors when preaching. Having been professed in St Anthony s College, Galway in 1964, he went to the Irish Franciscan College at Leuven, Belgium, where in succession he took degrees in Philosophy and in Theology. He then returned to his native South Africa, where he has progressed to the highest ranks of the Catholic Church. He became Bishop of Kokstad, his native diocese, in 1981, at the age of forty. He served a term as President of the South African Bishop s conference, and was frequently its spokesman. In 1992, he was appointed Archbishop of Durban. As a distinguished alumnus of the University, Archbishop Napier was conferred with an Honorary Doctor of Laws in NUI, Galway on June 26th 1995. Ends Information From: Máire Mhic Uidhir. Press Officer, NUI, Galway. Tel. 091 750418
Wednesday, 21 March 2001
Release date: 21 March, 2001 Three NUI Galway Researchers Honoured for Excellence in Erosion and Sediment Control Three National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI, Galway) researchers have been honoured for excellence in natural resource conservation and environmental protection. The researchers measured the amount of erosion resulting from sheep grazing peat hillsides in western Ireland. Rain can wash sediment from such erosion into streams, threatening water quality and spawning grounds of wild Atlantic salmon. John Mulqueen, of Teagasc, who is based in the University and Michael Rodgers and Niall Marren, of NUI, Galway s Civil Engineering Department, describe their findings in a technical paper, Erosion of Hill Peat in Western Ireland. Their paper has received the 2001 Most Distinguished Technical Paper Award, from the International Erosion Control Association (IECA). Dr. Michael Rodgers accepted the award on behalf of all three researchers during formal ceremonies at the recent 2001 IECA conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, Nearly 2000 erosion control professionals from around the world attended the conference. The award is made to a scientific paper that contributes most to advancing erosion control knowledge and also recognises concise, clear technical writing, which presents innovative solutions to erosion control problems. The NUI, Galway research, the first of its kind involving peat hillsides, was prompted by concerns that increased stocking rates of sheep could accelerate erosion. Grazing by more sheep could remove too much soil-protecting vegetation and increased foot treading on paths could loosen the peat soils, leaving them more vulnerable to the erosive impact of raindrops and to runoff. The two-year field study involved an 8-hectare Leenane subcatchment of the Erriff River on a Teagasc research farm at Glendavock townland (Co. Mayo). Many slopes on the farm have gradients of 9% to 18%. Average annual rainfall, about 2,500 mm, is among the highest in Ireland. In addition to the field studies at Leenane, the researchers conducted laboratory tests on undisturbed slabs of peat from Leenane and three other sites at Maam, Croagh Patrick and Newport at the Environmental Engineering and Soil Mechanics Laboratories at NUI, Galway. In the laboratory tests the researchers varied the slope and simulated the type of soil disturbance caused by sheep traffic. They found that annual peat sediment losses at the Leenane hill farm averaged 278 kg per hectare with a stocking rate of 0.9 Scottish Blackface ewes per hectare. In the laboratory trials, the virgin peats at Leenane and Maam were very resistant to erosion, while virgin peats from both Newport and Croagh Patrick were erodible. According to the researchers, this study suggests that overstocking, primarily through excessive sheep traffic damaging the peat and weathering of shallow peat, increases the likelihood of erosion. Removal of vegetation, per se, by grazing has less impact on erosion because of the strength of the peat's fibrous top layer.For hill peat farming, the sustainable sheep-stocking rate depends on the proportion and strategic use of greenland available. Under the management system at Leenane, this stocking rate is 0.9 ewes per hectare. To reduce erosion, sheep access areas and corridors should be changed from time to time. If heavily treaded with little vegetation, these areas should be fenced off to allow for recovery of the peat surface and re-establishment of vegetation. The research was financed, in part, by European Union Structural Funding through Teagasc. The IECA, founded in 1972, is a non-profit professional organisation, with members in 56 countries around the world who are dedicated to minimising accelerated soil erosion. This is the tenth year of the annual IECA Environmental Excellence Awards programme. Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway. Tel. 091 750418
Monday, 12 March 2001
Release date: 12 March, 2001 Ultra-fast laser facility puts Galway Centre at thecutting edge of Technology The National Centre for Laser Applications (NCLA) NUI, Galway has just opened a new state-of-the-art laser processing facility. The new laboratory is built around a femto-second laser system, supplied by Clark MXR of the US. This is only one of four similar systems installed in laboratories around Europe and places the NCLA at the forefront of the new science of ultra-fast laser processing of materials. "This new laser will allow us to provide this cutting-edge technology to Irish companies for the first time", according to Dr Gerard O Connor, manager of the NCLA. "The first industrial research project based on this new technology has just been agreed between the NCLA and a leading global manufacturer of micro-components." The NCLA is Ireland s centre of excellence in laser technology, working closely with Irish industry on the development of new production tools and techniques based on laser and optical systems. Laser technology is successfully employed in a large number of industries, from drilling and cutting of engineering materials, to precision marking and welding of advanced polymers. "Lasers are also a key enabling technology in the automation of high precision industrial processes, " explains Dr. O Connor. "Many Irish companies, both indigenous and multi-national, in sectors ranging from electronics to medical devices, benefit significantly from the improved product quality, greater efficiency and higher throughput, which laser tooling can provide". The medical device manufacturing sector is one of the most active in the uptake of laser technology and the NCLA provides much support in terms of research and development services to this sector and runs a successful conference each year for this industry. Galway is now acknowledged as the European Centre for medical device manufacturing, with many thousands employed in companies such as Boston Scientific and Medtronic AVE. Femto-second lasers are an exciting new technology in the field of materials processing applications. "The technology is based on the generation of a stream of extremely short, high intensity light pulses, each lasting for only a few hundred femto-seconds. (A femto-second is equal to 10-15 of a second, or a million-billionth of a second!)," explains Dr. O Connor. "The key benefits of such ultra-short pulses lie in their ability to deposit energy into materials in a very short time interval, offering significant advantages over conventional laser sources in high-precision applications such as micro-machining, micro-drilling and ultra-precise cutting." Materials processing with femto-second lasers is also largely independent of the optical properties of the material, which opens up the possibility of processing transparent materials like glasses and highly reflective and conductive materials such as aluminium and copper which have traditionally been unsuitable for laser machining. "Femto-second lasers are facilitating 21st century advances in science and technology, enabling the machining of the smallest precision features in biological and man-made materials," according to Dr. Jonathan Magee, a senior engineer at the NCLA. As the energy is transferred from the laser beam into the material, the temperature of the material rises rapidly above its boiling point, where it vapourises. This process is called ablation. "With conventional laser processing techniques, the heat is conducted quickly away from the absorption region before ablation occurs, leading to melting of the material over a larger area. This results in a lower precision and quality of the laser processed parts," says Dr. Magee. The femtosecond system located at NUI, Galway consists of three laser sources in a single table-top system. These lasers are referred to as the semiconductor seed laser, the YAG pump laser and the titanium-sapphire amplifier laser. The system will deliver up to one thousand ultra-short pulses per second and the duration of the pulse can be varied from 180 to 1000 femtoseconds. "This is an exciting development for the NCLA and we look forward to giving many Irish companies the opportunity to develop new products and processes using this new facility" says Dr. O Connor. Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, Tel. 091 750418
Friday, 6 April 2001
Release date: 6 April, 2001 Presentation of Scoláireachtaí na nGéanna Fiáine in NUI, Galway GAELOILIÚINT, the Council for Life-long Gaelic Learning, have presented six Scholarships to students of the Higher Diploma in Education as Gaeilge, in NUI, Galway today (Friday 6 April, 2001). The scholarships have been presented in memory and in honour of Ireland s Wild Geese i.e. the citizens of Ireland who, although they may have had to exile abroad, always strove to further the Irish cause, a tradition which exists to this day. The scholarships, valued at £600 each, were presented by Doctor Dónall Ó Baoill, Professor of Irish Studies in Queen s University, Belfast and Chairperson of GAELOILIÚINT. Each recipient will donate £100 of the scholarship to the Gaelscoil of their choice. The ceremony took place in Áras na Gaeilge, NUI, Galway today at 2.30 p.m. The recipients of the scholarships are: Adrian Ó Brádaigh, Offaly Máire Bríd Breathnach, Ros Muc, Co. Galway Yvonne Ní Chomnraí, Tuam, Co. Galway Fiona Ní Chualáin, Carna, Co. Galway Mícheál Ó Mealláin, Newcastle, Galway Gráinne Máire Ní Fhlannabhra, Grattan Park, Galway This year s scholarships are named after Irish Ambassadors, some famous, some not, some living, some who have passed away, all pillars of Irish citizenship be it abroad or at home, with little or no recognition or thanks. Their endeavours furthered the Irish language, culture, politics and community: Douglas Hyde, scholar and politician, founder of the Gaelic League and first Irish President Anne Devlin, A Dubliner who spent many years of her life, especially during the Famine, helping to clothe and feed the poor and downtrodden Peig Sayers, a noble and exemplary lady who needs no introduction Michael & Pearl Flannery, based in New York - they too espoused the cause of the poor George Harrison, also worked out of New York as an active Irish Socialist. George remains a close friend of Nelson Mandela Terry Callaghan, now also in New York, Terry was personal Secretary to the late Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich. She continues to work quietly and diligently for the Irish language and people. "All these Wild Geese have, during their lifetime displayed an unusually high degree of diligence and vision through their personal and public work" states Dr. Dónall Ó Baoill. "They provided guidance and moral leadership to the community around them in a quiet steadfast way by the very example they gave. I have absolutely no doubt that such pioneers continue to come through our Irish Universities today, such as the young recipients of our scholarships, who will, in due course, achieve still greater things for our language and people" ENDS Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway Tel: 091-750418
Monday, 2 April 2001
Release date: 2 April, 2001 Demands of Out-Of-Hours Care seriously restrict Family and Social Life of Rural GPs - NUI Galway Study General practitioners in rural Ireland express grave concerns about their lack of time off and complain that the large proportion of time committed to out-of-hours care greatly infringes on their social and family life. A qualitative study on the experiences of rural general practitioners of the provision of out-of-hours care, conducted by the Departments of General Practice and Psychology at NUI, Galway, has just been published in the British Journal of General Practice, the world s premier academic general practice journal. The study was carried out by Mrs. Nuala Cuddy (Health Psychologist, currently working as researcher in the Department of General Practice at NUI, Galway), under the supervision of Ms Anne Marie Keane (Lecturer at the Department of Psychology at NUI, Galway;) and Professor Andrew Murphy (Professor of General Practice at NUI, Galway). This is the first comprehensive research to qualitatively explore the attitudes of rural general practitioners to out-of-hours work. Although general practitioners expressed general satisfaction with their work, including the satisfaction they experienced from helping to make people better and providing comfort for the terminally ill in a small rural community, Nuala Cuddy reports that the demands of out-of-hours care is one of most stressful aspects of their job. "While they accept that it s part of the service they provide, the GPs believe there s far too much of it, and it places unreasonable restrictions on both themselves and their families", she said. Closely linked with restrictions was the irritation general practitioners experienced by what some described as constant interruptions and unrealistic patients expectations of their doctor. "Patients calling to their door and sleep interruptions were viewed as particularly stressful", said Nuala Cuddy. "Older general practitioners found these especially trying." She went on to say that one general practitioner remarked, 'They know I m off, but people think I am just there at home and it s only me… they don t realise there are another thousand people who think it is only me'!The researchers point out that 'a persistent theme throughout the research was the negative impact out-of-hours care provision could have on family life. Many male participants, in particular, expressed concern for having to leave so many household and family responsibilities to their spouses. Nuala Cuddy noted that 'being on call not only restricted them in their own lives, but also greatly restricted their spouses as they could not pursue any social or occupational activity outside the home in the evenings. One spouse remarked, ''My husband couldn't mind the children if I wanted to go to a night class when he is on call… he couldn't even mind them while I go to Mass ! Most general practitioners had difficulty in getting locums. Nuala Cuddy notes that they felt that locums were not interested in coming to rural areas because of the isolation, the work intensity, the larger catchment areas and the smaller volume of private patients' fees compared to urban practices. According to one GP: "Locums just don t want to come to the rural areas; they want the soft pickings of the cities and the towns.' Providing accommodation for locums in some rural areas also proved very difficult. Consequently, GPs and their families were obliged to leave their own homes in order to accommodate locums!. They strongly resented this and viewed it as an enormous infringement on their privacy and family life.In terms of coping with out-of-hours care provision and its consequences, all general practitioners felt that patient education was of paramount importance; however it is sometimes difficult to implement this in a small community. As one general practitioner said: It s so much hassle sometimes trying to educate people. It is often easier to say give me the form and I ll sign it"! Professor Murphy and Ms Keane emphasise that 'the findings of this and other similar studies suggest the need for both individual orientated (e.g., patient education and stress management approaches) and organisational responses (e.g. central provision of regular locum coverage to rural practitioners).' Fundamental organisational changes in the delivery of out-of-hours care, including general practice co-operatives, have recently occurred in the United Kingdom, Denmark and Finland. The first such co-operative was established in Ireland in 1999, with most health board areas now either implementing or organising them. This study describes very clearly why this is happening. It also emphasises why rural general practitioners, in particular, must be included in such initiatives. Nuala Cuddy is available for interview on the findings of her research. Ends Information From: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway.
Wednesday, 30 May 2001
Release date: 30 May, 2001 Abortion Issue a Red Herring in International Criminal Court Debate Opponents of the referendum authorising Ireland to ratify the Statute of the International Criminal Court are misinformed about the content of the treaty when they suggest it may jeopardise Irish law concerning abortion, says Professor William A. Schabas, Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights, which is based at National University of Ireland, Galway. "The Court is empowered to prosecute "forced pregnancy" as a crime against humanity", explained Professor Schabas. The term is further defined as "the unlawful confinement of a woman forcibly made pregnant, with the intent of affecting the ethnic composition of any population or carrying out other grave violations of international law". Those drafting the Statute had in mind atrocities committed in concentration camps in the former Yugoslavia. The provision represents a consensus that resulted from negotiations involving several states with a particular interest in the abortion question, including the Holy See, Ireland and Malta, noted Professor Schabas. During the referendum debate, adversaries of the Statute have suggested that the provision might be used to attack countries like Ireland where access to abortion is strictly controlled. But out of respect for the sensibilities of countries like Ireland, the Statute of the International Criminal Court also declares: "This definition shall not in any way be interpreted as affecting national laws relating to pregnancy." "The referendum challenge based on the abortion question is ill-informed and simply wrong," said Professor Schabas. Professor Schabas is an internationally-recognized expert on the International Criminal Court and was a delegate to the 1998 Rome Conference at which the Statute of the Court was adopted. Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway
Monday, 28 May 2001
Release date: 28 May, 2001 Human Rights Expert calls for support for the two other Referendums While most attention has been paid to the ratification of the Treaty of Nice on 7th June, two other referendums will also take place on that day. These provide for a constitutional amendment approving of the International Criminal Court and prohibiting introduction of the death penalty. "These two referendums, which raise very important human rights concerns, appear to have been marginalised by public debate about the Nice Treaty", said Professor William A. Schabas, director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights. Professor Schabas explained that the Centre, located at National University of Ireland, Galway, is concerned that public opinion be properly sensitised to the importance of the abolition of capital punishment and support for the International Criminal Court. "Ireland appears to be the first country in the world to have such a referendum on capital punishment", said Professor Schabas. "Although capital punishment has been abolished in Ireland for many years, the constitutional referendum will prevent capricious legislators from reintroducing it", he explained. The recent debate in the Oireachtas on the death penalty referendum indicated virtual unanimity. Only one TD spoke in favour of capital punishment, but his arguments were antiquated and out of step with the current debate. He insisted on the death penalty's alleged deterrent value. But virtually all experts now agree that compared with detention in prison, capital punishment offers no measurable additional deterrent value."The deterrence thesis has been abandoned even by capital punishment's fervent advocates in the United States", noted Professor Schabas. A recent poll shows that even the American public no longer believes in deterrence. "If the public doesn't believe it deters, then who exactly is being deterred?" he asked.Internationally, the recent success of abolitionism has been dramatic. In 1989, Amnesty International published figures showing 100 states still retained the death penalty while 80 had abolished it in one form or another. This year, the Secretary-General of the United Nations reported that 123 states have abolished capital punishment, and only 70 still use it. "Within the past decade, Russia dropped capital punishment as a condition for joining the Council of Europe and South Africa eliminated it by judgement of its new Constitutional Court. Only last week the Ukraine abolished capital punishment", added Professor Schabas. "Abolitionism also now prevails in Latin America and much of Africa". "A successful Irish referendum on capital punishment will have international repercussions," said Professor Schabas. "It will testify to evolving public opinion in a mature, progressive society. It may also give a friendly nudge to the Americans, who are doing a lot of soul-searching on the question right now." "But if Ireland is in the forefront on the death penalty, it is seriously dragging its heals with respect to the International Criminal Court", said Professor Schabas. Already, thirty-two countries have ratified the Rome Statute, which will come into force with the sixtieth ratification, likely to take place within the next twelve months. "Although Irish diplomats have been very supportive of the Court", said Professor Schabas, "it has taken three years since adoption of the Rome Statute for the referendum to be held. Assuming it is successful, Ireland will still need to adopt legislation to permit co-operation with the Court before it can ratify the Statute. "It is extremely important that implementing legislation be adopted without delay. Otherwise Ireland will not be one of the original parties when the Court is established, and will not be able to nominate a judge", Professor Schabas warned. The Irish Centre for Human Rights, at the National University of Ireland, Galway, is engaged in teaching, research and advocacy relating to human rights within Ireland and internationally. Professor is available for interview on both referendums. End For more information:Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway. Tel. 091 750418
Tuesday, 15 May 2001
Release date: 15 May 2001 Ireland's winning industrial formula protects economy against effects of US downturn Fears that the Celtic Tiger economy will be severely affected by the downturn in the US economy are unfounded according to research carried out in NUI, Galway and just published by the OECD. Irish Government policy of creating 'clusters' of similar type industries and embedding foreign firms within the local economy has proved to be a winning formula in the development and sustainability of Ireland's extraordinary economic metamorphosis,' says Professor Roy Green of the Department of Management at NUI, Galway and leader of the research team. The research project is entitled, Boundaryless Cluster: Information and Communications Technology in Ireland.What has happened in Galway in the 1990s, according to Professor Green, is a microcosm of the success of Ireland as a whole in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector, as well as healthcare, financial services and pharmaceuticals. The emergence of a powerful software sector in Galway in the wake of the Digital closure of 1993, resulted from a combination of measures to attract foreign investment and build local supply chains into a 'boundaryless' cluster. 'This regional cluster is boundaryless in the sense that its global character defies traditional stereotypes of domestic rivalry and collaboration,' explains Professor Green. There are at present sixty ICT companies in the Galway region. "Although Ireland is not completely protected against market conditions, the integration of investors within local clusters, the emphasis on linkages within research and educational institutions and the shift of firms higher up the value chain, all militate against closure or relocation", says Professor Green. The main findings of Professor Green's research include the following: The globalised nature of Irish ICT, the influence of the multinational sector and the niche operations of indigenous firms suggest the need for a new, more outward-looking approach to the advent of the "boundaryless" cluster. The presence of at least one large ICT operation provides a useful catalyst and focus for cluster development. This presence affords the opportunity to build local capacity in new technologies and skills both within the operation itself and more widely in the emerging cluster through outsourcing, vertical supply chains and ultimately, horizontal inter-firm linkages. The development of the regional skills base is cumulative and parallels the scale and sophistication of the industry cluster, whose growth patterns are themselves path dependent. The Galway experience suggests that appropriate regional business support structures are the final major local ingredient in successful cluster development. Without such structures, skilled personnel would be unemployed or underemployed, or alternatively would emigrate. Enterprise Ireland's role in developing an indigenous, entrepreneur-driven technology sector has been complimented with a newly-announced commitment to create 'clusters of new knowledge-intensive enterprises in regional centres'. The instrument of intervention will be a series of technology hubs known as "Webworks", whose task will be to 'generate a critical mass of high potential start-ups in the regions – companies that are high R&D and export performers. The first Webworks Facility is to be established in Galway. The sustainability of the ICT cluster will derive from constant innovation, which in turn must be based on leading-edge research and research training. Professor Green says that the cluster dynamic is supplied in the case of Irish regions by 'a unique mix of inter-firm collaboration, interaction and rivalry, by the development and constant replenishment of common pools of skilled labour, by the localised support of research and educational institutions, by the commitment of local business organisations and unions and by the strategies of national and regional development agencies'.Professor Green is available for interview on his research Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway. Tel. 091-750418
Friday, 29 June 2001
Release date: Friday, 29 June, 2001 Conferring of Honorary Degrees at NUI, Galway NUI, Galway has honoured five people who have made remarkable and very distinctive contributions to contemporary Ireland and whose interests and achievements are reflected in the life and work of the university. Honorary degrees were conferred on the following at 3.30 p.m., today (Friday 30 June) Noel Dorr, Former Secretary-General, Department of Foreign Affairs. (Degree of Doctor of Laws) As one of the most outstanding civil servants in the history of this state, Noel Dorr has had a long and distinguished career in the Department of Foreign Affairs. He has held the following positions: Permanent Representative to UN, New York 1980; Irish Representative on UN Security Council 1981-1982 (and President of the Security Council in April 1981and August 1982); Ambassador of Ireland London 1983-1987, and Secretary General, Department of Foreign Affairs, Dublin, 1987 until his retirement in 1995. The esteem in which he was held is reflected in the roles accorded to him both at home and abroad – in negotiating the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1995, in the drafting of EU Treaties, and as Government representative on the Carlson committee on the reform of the United Nations. Seán Ó Mórdha, Film maker (Degree of Doctor of Literature) His many documentaries of Irish writers including James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde, Seán Ó Riada, Séamus Heaney, John McGahern and Thomas Kinsella, have established themselves as milestones of modern Irish cultural history. His most recent television series, Seven Ages, traces the history of the Irish State from its foundation in 1921 to the late 1980s. In honouring him today, the National University of Ireland is recognising not only his individual talents, but also paying tribute to the ethos and ideal of public service broadcasting which underlie so much of Seán Ó Mórdha's remarkable corpus of achievement both within RTÉ and as an independent producer. Derek Mahon, Poet. (Degree of Doctor of Literature) Derek Mahon is widely regarded as a poet whose work constitutes the highest and most enduring aesthetic achievement of contemporary Irish writing. In the judgement of The New Yorker magazine, Mahon's poems exhibit 'astonishing excellence'. His fellow poet, Eamonn Grennan describes Mahon's styles as 'wry, speculative, eloquent, debonair'. Many of his poems are epistles, verse letters addressed to an intimate community of readers. Yet, this poetry is never merely personal: it is, instead, full of voices from older traditions that Mahon catches in a modern glare. He has also authored a number of translated works and has been the recipient of many prestigious literary awards. Angela Barone, Lecturer and Author (Degree of Doctor of Literature In 1987 she was appointed Director of the Italian Institute in Dublin and Cultural Attaché to the Italian Embassy, positions she served with exemplary distinction until her retirement in 1994. Her task was to promote Italian language and culture in Ireland, in co-operation with universities, schools, teachers of Italian and the Department of Education. She has made an incisive cross-cultural contribution during her time in this country. Dr. Barone also developed her deep interest in Irish by learning the language and has translated the work of many Irish authors from both Irish and English to Italian. Professor Cherif Bassiouni, Writer and Jurist (Degree of Doctor of Laws In the wake of the Balkan conflict in 1992, the UN Security Council set up a Commission of Experts to investigate war crimes. Cherif Bassiouni took over the direction of the Commission, which paved the way for the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. His work more than any other single person is credited with the creation of the International Criminal Court. Cherif Bassiouni has been a professor of law at DePaul University, in Chicago and is author of many books in the fields of international human rights and international criminal law. Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway. Tel. 091-750418
Wednesday, 20 June 2001
Release date: 20 June, 2001 NUI, Galway Health Promotion Conference to address issues of Social Capital The Department of Health Promotion, National University of Ireland, Galway in association with the Western, North Western and Mid-Western Health Boards will host a Conference on Health Promotion and Social Capital, on Thursday and Friday, 28 and 29 June, 2001 at the National University of Ireland, Galway. One of the current concepts creating interest among health promoters is social capital. The concept of social capital is based on the assumption that communities with good communication networks and supports, as well as a positive cultural identity, will enhance both individual and community well-being and hence promote health. However, like all new concepts there remains questions and paradoxes to be explored. The Conference programme will include Plenary Sessions which will feature keynote speakers from Ireland, United States and Germany looking at accounts of social capital: the mixed health effects of personal communities and voluntary groups, health and inequalities, social exchange and health, and a proposed sociological framework. Tom Healy, Department of Education and Science, Ireland will open the forum with an exploration of the concept of social capital and related concepts. He will go on to consider the findings, focusing on health and personal well being impacts of a recently completed international survey on social capital which he undertook at the OECD. The second keynote speaker is Professor Stephen Kunitz from the Department of Community and Preventive Medicine, University of Rochester, New York. His paper will focus on the use of the concept of social capital in the fields of public health and health promotion. He will argue that empirical data suggests that social capital has mixed effects, sometimes associated with improvements in health and at other times with diminished health. Professor Brian Nolan and Dr. Richard Layte, ESRI (Economic and Social Research Institute), will present a joint paper on Health Inequalities in Ireland. They will summarise what is known about the overall extent of health inequalities in Ireland, highlight the serious gaps in our knowledge, set out the agenda for research to fill those gaps and discuss key issues in framing a policy response. Professor Johannes Siegrist, Department of Medical Sociology, University of Dusseldorf, Germany will deliver a paper on "Social differentials of adult morbidity: the role of effort-reward imbalances at work", which will focus on exposure to a stressful psychosocial environment as one of several explanations of social differentials of morbidity in adult life. He will look at place, social exchange and health and discuss the health policy implications and scientific challenges from demonstrated results. The Symposium will present progress of work undertaken to-date by The HRB Research Unit on Health Status and Health Gain, which was established at the Centre for Health Promotion Studies in NUI, Galway. Professor Cecily Kelleher will present an overview of Health and Social Gain in Ireland, while Professor Andrew Murphy, Department of General Practice, NUI, Galway will focus on Primary Care: Urban and Rural comparisons. Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway. Tel. 091 750418
Wednesday, 13 June 2001
Release date: 13 June, 2001 Breakthrough for Communities of the West - University President accepts Taoiseach's challenge on Social Capital The President of National University of Ireland, Galway, Dr. Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh today (Wednesday, 13 June) announced a major breakthrough in University support for the local communities of the West of Ireland. Entitled the New Economy Initiative , NUI, Galway in partnership with Kiltimagh community in Co. Mayo, is proposing a radically new approach to address the challenges of isolation, decline and disadvantage, increasingly prevalent not just in rural but also in urban communities. Dr. Ó Muircheartaigh explained that the initiative is a two-way process with communities, to generate and disseminate knowledge and support in order to improve the quality of life for all. "What is unique about the new approach and why it will succeed" he said, " is that it will bring mutual benefits. Both NUI, Galway and Kiltimagh will gain through Experiential Learning Programmes, as students and staff engage voluntarily with communities, business and the public sector." Internationally, there is widespread concern with a break down in community values in developed countries and unacceptable levels of isolation, loneliness and social disintegration, to which Ireland is not immune. The Taoiseach recently spoke of the importance of building social capital and putting "communities at the centre of our debates". Dr. Ó Muircheartaigh said that NUI, Galway is accepting the Taoiseach's challenge and will develop and implement social capital systems. President Ó Muircheartaigh explained that like all great innovations, social capital is essentially simple and pragmatic. It makes it worth people s time to be mutually supportive. "Like financial capital, it operates a banking system and rewards people through time-credits. A bank of knowledge, skills, experience and general help is built up in a community from which people participating can withdraw." There are now more than 1000 social capital initiatives worldwide in the USA, Japan and the UK.The President stressed the importance of community spirit, defining it as the sense of belonging to a locality and expressed through mutual support. "Mutual support and cohesion is a major competitive advantage over the pursuit of individualism and the anonymity characteristic of many large urban settlements", he said. "It follows that new social capital systems, which promote mutual support, harnessing the extraordinary power of computers, e-commerce and the Internet, can build social and economic strengths and individual well-being. President Ó Muircheartaigh announced a major developmental strategy estimated to cost £7.9 million over 5 years for which the University is seeking support. This includes: - A Social Capital Banking System at NUI, Galway - Experiential Learning and Accreditation - Grants to local communities for Social Capital Banks - A Chair in New Economics endowed in perpetuity - Building an Outreach Campus in Kiltimagh - Doctoral and Post Doctoral Fellowships and Library Acquisitions. Welcoming the announcement of the New Economy Initiative, Mr Brian Mooney, Chairman, IRD Kiltimagh said: "This provides an exciting and practical approach to the problems facing communities in decline. The four strands of the Initiative shall serve to give a new impetus and importance to the role of communities in deciding their own futures in association with State Agencies and Local Authorities. The overall Initiative should also help overcome the decline in volunteering, exacerbated in part by the Celtic Tiger. This is particularly timely in this, 'The Year of the Volunteer'. The benefits to Community and Rural Development will be manifold. The New Economy Initiative will provide an engine not only for the community sector to pursue their ambitions but also to the State Agencies who will now have a vehicle to work through in each local area, thereby making their role all the more impacting and efficient . "He particularly praised the President and Staff of NUI, Galway whose "dedication and vision of service to the community has been exemplary and visionary throughout the evolution of the project. As a result of the New Economy Initiative, I hope that communities, throughout Ireland, rural and urban, grasp the opportunity to develop into sustainable entities, attractive to the younger generations and that the curse of emigration that we had come to accept, will be banished forever" he concluded. Ends For further details: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Office, NUI, Galway Tel. 091 750418
Wednesday, 6 June 2001
Release date: 6 June, 2001 International Conference highlights the benefits of Supporting Parents in helping troubled children New evidence that direct support to parents is a key ingredient in helping children who are experiencing problems, will be presented at the first International Conference on Family Support Evaluation to be held in Ireland. The two-day conference, which will take place in NUI, Galway tomorrow and Friday (7 and 8 June), will be officially opened by Mary Banotti, MEP. One of the keynote speakers, Dr Kieran McKeown, will deliver a paper on the evaluation of the Irish National Springboard Family Support Programme, a nation-wide set of 15 community based family support projects. Dr. McKeown says that "preventive community based programmes are not just beneficial to the children who attend but also act as a strong source of support to parents". His evaluation report will demonstrate how the Springboard Projects work with children, adolescents and parents, who are experiencing or are likely to experience personal difficulties such as financial problems, early school leaving, parenting problems, and young people with challenging behaviours. Dr McKeown emphasises the importance of early intervention and professionals as key sources of support to families. Speakers from the EU, South Africa, USA and the UK will all echo the importance of more comprehensive research into what works for families in adversity. Dr. Heather Weiss, of the Harvard Family Research Project will speak on Principles of Family Support Evaluation , while Professor Marian Jacobs of South Africa s Child Health Unit, will speak on Making Evaluation central to Building Family Support Provision The conference is particularly timely for the Western Health Board in that Family Support has become a central part of its services, with the number of Family Support projects growing from two in 1995 to twenty two in 2001. Commitment to family support has also been included in the Board s forthcoming strategic plan for children and families. The conference is jointly organised by the Western Health Board; National University of Ireland, Galway; and Family Support Evaluation Network International. "If there is to be a real shift in government policy toward preventative, family support approaches, it will require a commitment to evaluation of all such projects and programmes, said John Canavan, NUI Galway . "Policy change requires strong evidence - this conference is about the means of generating the evidence". "In order to help families and to lessen the cost of expensive forms of care for children, not alone is there a need for more family support services, but also clearer research into how best to support families in ways that make a difference for them," said Pat Dolan, Western Health Board. "This conference is a forum for discovering ways in which best practice in working with children and families can be identified and validated," he said. More than 250 delegates, including a wide range of professionals who work with families, policy makers, researchers and evaluators in Ireland and abroad, are expected to attend the conference. Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway. Tel. 091 750418 Miriam Stack, Director of Communications, Western Health Board. Tel. 091 775474