May 2001

Abortion Issue a Red Herring

Abortion Issue a Red Herring-image

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

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Human Rights Expert calls for support for the two 'other' Referendums

Human Rights Expert calls for support for the two 'other' Referendums-image

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

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Ireland's winning industrial formula protects economy against effects of US down

Ireland's winning industrial formula protects economy against effects of US down-image

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

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June 2001

Conferring of Honorary Degrees

Conferring of Honorary Degrees-image

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

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Health Promotion Conference

Health Promotion Conference-image

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

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'New Economy Initiative'

'New Economy Initiative'-image

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

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International Conference on Family Support

International Conference on Family Support-image

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

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July 2001

Water Quality Monitoring Report

Water Quality Monitoring Report-image

Thursday, 26 July 2001

Release date: Tuesday 10 July, 2001 Report recommends New Approaches to Water Quality Monitoring in Western Irish Lakes "The ecological integrity of the flora and fauna in the country's lakes can provide an early warning system for impending problems in lake water quality and when used in conjunction with systematic analyses of water chemistry and monitoring of nutrient inputs, help in the protection of Irish lakes", according to Dr. Kieran McCarthy of NUI, Galway's Department of Zoology and author of a new environmental report. The results of the three-year research programme on six large western lakes (Loughs Carromore, Conn, Cullen, Carra, Mask and Corrib), undertaken by NUI, Galway in partnership with the Central Fisheries Board and Aquafact Ltd, have just been published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Report is entitled, Investigation of Eutrophication Processes in the Littoral Zones of Western Irish Lakes.The report describes research on a variety of aspects of the lakes, including their planktonic algae, submerged plants, aquatic insects, sediments, water circulation and fishes. The studies have shown that though localised signs of pollution were detected in all the water-bodies, and significant enrichment was noted in Loughs Carromore, Conn and Cullen, the lakes of the Corrib catchment have so far escaped the more serious effects of eutrophication that can be noted in most of Ireland's other large lakes. The main conclusions of the report were: Though water quality in the western lakes was generally better than some previous press reports suggested, three of the six lakes studied showed signs of eutrophication and localised signs of enrichment were evident in all of them. Many unique features of the lake ecosystems are being lost (e.g. Arctic Char are now gone from Loughs Conn and Corrib), due to the combined effects of environmental deterioration and the introduction of species not native to the lakes. Conservation of the unique plant and animal communities of the lakes is important and maintaining their ecological integrity can serve to ensure their use for domestic water supply, angling and other recreational purposes. Dr. McCarthy expressed concern that introductions of non-native aquatic invertebrates and fish parasites could adversely affect the many interesting species of aquatic plants and animals that are typical of the lakes. "Studies on these unique elements of the lakes' communities are important and ensuring their survival might be one of the best ways of guarding the lakes against early stages of enrichment and other undesired environmental changes", he said. Welcoming the continuing support shown by local anglers for the University's freshwater research programmes, Dr McCarthy pointed out that the role they played in reporting pollution events and other unwelcome changes to our lakes was a vital one. "The long hours that anglers spend on or near the lakes or their in-flowing streams and rivers, provides them with ideal opportunities to observe fish and wildlife habitat conditions", he said. "However, anglers' contributions to lake water quality monitoring could be extended and more effectively linked to the work of the fishery boards and long-term EPA surveys. Anglers could systematically record localised algal blooms and other visible evidence of fish habitat degradation. They can also be effective environmental guardians by helping to keep out unwanted species introductions". Irish anglers have in recent years been active in preventing the spread of the zebra mussel from the Shannon lakes to the great trout fishing lakes in the West. Ireland's lakes are now home to an increasing variety of alien species, like North American crustaceans and Japanese fish parasites. Some of these species introductions may in time cause unexpected changes in the lake ecosystems, to the detriment of fisheries and maybe even, like the Shannon's zebra mussel invaders, to water quality parameters. The report also indicates that dense coarse-fish populations can affect lake ecology and strongly recommends that the unique fish community of Lough Mask deserves special protection from further fish species introductions. Unfortunately, roach have found their way from Lough Corrib to Lough Mask in the past few years and concern is being expressed about the effects they may have on the currently healthy char stocks there. Also, roach and gradual environmental change may result in the loss of other unusual inhabitants of the deep cool clear waters of the lake. Lough Mask is home to such species as the blind white crustacean, Niphargus kochianus hibernicus, a creature more typical of subterranean waters and not found in any other Irish lake bottoms. Also found in the lake are rare insects, like the non-biting midge Corynocera ambigua, that are thought invaded its waters soon after the retreat of glacial ice sheets over 10,000 years ago. Studying and attempting to protect these interesting lake dwelling invertebrates may, according to Dr. McCarthy help focus attention on the need to guard against even apparently minor changes in the ecology of the lakes. The main recommendations of the report were: Nutrient inputs to the lakes and the variations in chlorophyll levels, and other water quality parameters, should be monitored more systematically. A more comprehensive ecological approach to monitoring the lakes should be adopted, involving new biomonitoring techniques discussed in the report. should be paid to all adverse environmental changes, not simply nutrient enrichment. Avoidance of species introductions to the lakes, including transfers of coarse fish from other parts of Ireland, is important. Research on the unique elements of the flora and fauna of the lakes is recommended as these ecologically sensitive species may provide early warning signs of environmental change not yet affecting more abundant and widespread aquatic plants and animals. This project was part-funded by the European Regional development Fund through the Operational Programme for Environmental Services, 1994-1999. The NUI, Galway research team has recently started a new inter-disciplinary study of Lough Corrib involving co-operation between the University's Departments of Zoology, Botany, Chemistry, Hydrology and Geology, funded by the Higher Education Authority, as part of a major programme of environmental research linked to the establishment on campus of a new Environmental Change Institute. The recent purchase of a new research boat for the Lough Corrib study is, according to Dr Mc Carthy, an indication of the university's commitment to long-term studies of the lakes in the Corrib/ Mask system. "NUI, Galway is uniquely located, among Irish universities, for such limnological research, as its riverside campus is just a few miles down stream from Lough Corrib and research workers can easily travel directly from their laboratories to the lake. Use of the new boat will enable researchers to further develop the new lake monitoring protocols recommended in their report now released by the EPA and to enable young researchers to learn about the intricacies of freshwater ecology on one of Ireland's most beautiful water-bodies", he said. ENDS Tel. 091 750418

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Serious Decline in Eel Stocks

Serious Decline in Eel Stocks-image

Thursday, 26 July 2001

Release date: 17 July, 2001 NUI, Galway Research Shows Serious Decline in Eel Stocks In Ireland over 1,000 tonnes of eels, valued at £5 million, are captured annually. Most are exported to the continent, in particular to Holland and Germany, where eel is more of a delicacy than salmon and priced accordingly. The eel is generally regarded as a typical member of the fish communities that inhabit Ireland s lakes and rivers. Frequently, scientific surveys have shown it to be among the more abundant species present in lowland river reaches and coastal streams. Indeed, in some isolated western Irish streams, like several on Clare Island, Co. Mayo, it may be the only fish species present. Ease of natural recruitment to Ireland s inland waters by juvenile eels is thought to be a major factor in the success of the species here. Young eels that travelled thousands of miles across the Atlantic on the Gulf Stream current from spawning grounds in the Sargasso Sea, have in the past migrated into Ireland s rivers in spring and early summer each year in large numbers. However, the situation is deteriorating and according to Dr Kieran McCarthy, of NUI Galway s Department of Zoology, a steady decline has been recorded in the quantities of elvers (young eels), entering Irish rivers. The River Shannon eel stock has experienced a steady decline in natural recruitment over the past three decades. The numbers of juvenile eels trapped at Ardnacrusha for stocking the Shannon lakes, has dropped from a peak of almost 7 tonnes in 1979, to an average of less than half a tonne in the past decade. Similarly, the numbers captured leaving the river as mature silver eels, migrating to their spawning area in the Sargasso Sea, has declined from an average of 28 tonnes per year in the 1980s and early 1990s to an average of 10 tonnes since the mid 1990s. Although natural recruitment of juveniles to the river is the principal cause of the decline, other threats to the species include water quality problems and the spread of oriental eel parasites, accidentally introduced in recent years. The serious decline in juvenile eel numbers has also been observed elsewhere in Europe and the eel fisheries of countries from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean area are being seriously affected. According to Dr McCarthy, "the available evidence suggests that the decline in juvenile eel populations arriving in European coastal zones is due to climatic effects on ocean currents. The Gulf stream, to which Ireland owes its mild climate, is also very important in marine ecology. Declines in eel, Atlantic salmon and other migratory fish, may be due to the changes in oceanic circulation patterns caused by global warming". Having arrived safely in Ireland s rivers, eels often encounter many obstacles, which prevent them reaching lakes where most of the eel fishing takes place. Dr. McCarthy suggests that in order to facilitate their up-river journey, eel ladders should be installed at obstacles in rivers, which would help the eels on their way just as special fish passes in many Irish rivers, enable salmon to move upstream. Irish eel researchers and fishery managers have played a pioneering role in the development of eel stock monitoring protocols and stock enhancement measures. At present, most of the eels caught in Ireland are from the intensively managed Lough Neagh fishery. It has been calculated that the productivity of our eel fisheries could be doubled or trebled, through scientifically managed stocking programmes. However, this will not be possible if the overall European stocks of eels are not conserved. Sustainable exploitation of eel fisheries requires development of an international management plan. At a meeting in NUI, Galway last week, scientists from Sweden, Germany, Belgium, France, and Portugal discussed with eel researchers from Galway and Northern Ireland, the possible ways in which this goal might be reached. They called on national government agencies, including the Department of Marine and Natural Resources, to encourage the EU to provide on-going support for research on eels. ENDS Tel: 091-750418

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September 2001

Tánaiste opens £9.5 million IT Building at NUI Galway

Tánaiste opens £9.5 million IT Building at NUI Galway-image

Wednesday, 19 September 2001

Release date: 19 September, 2001 IT Expert emphasises the continuing need for skilled workforce Tánaiste opens £9.5 million IT Building at NUI Galway "Although the IT industry is undoubtedly experiencing difficulties at present, we should not be deflected from creating a highly skilled workforce to take advantage of the economic recovery that will follow the current temporary downturn." That is the strong message from Professor Gerry Lyons, Director of the School of IT in NUI, Galway. Professor Lyons was speaking at the opening of a £9.5 million IT building, which An Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Harney TD, officially opened at the University today (Wednesday, 19 September). Opening the facility the Tánaiste said "Investment in skills and the promotion of close links between third level institutions and industry is central to Ireland s strategy to weather the current downturn in the IT industry". "The experience of Galway shows clearly the effectiveness of this approach. Following the closure of Digital it was the availability of skilled people and the willingness of the education sector to work closely with business that led to the regeneration of the high tech sector in Galway and the creation of the vibrant City that we see today. This investment will ensure that this positive development is sustained into the future," the Tánaiste added. The horrific terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in New York was not only a human tragedy of enormous proportions but also a body-blow to the American, and by extension the global economy. "However, given the robust, resilient nature of the US business sector, recovery will probably take place much quicker than we can at present forecast", says Professor Lyons. He predicts that further contraction will indeed take place throughout this year, followed by gradual recovery in ICT (Information and Communications Technology) consumer and investor confidence in 2002. Recovery will continue thereafter as excess inventory is replaced with a more market-balanced supply-demand capacity and the rate of innovation increases again. "The IT industry has a high "clockspeed", i.e. a shorter expansion/contraction cycle than most traditional industries", says Professor Lyons. "These are indeed dark days in the aftermath of the US attacks. However, as recovery resumes, it will bring with it a new wave of innovation and Ireland must be in a position to participate in those developments. A reduction in demand for third-level IT programmes this year is short-sighted in Professor Lyons's view. "It takes four years to produce an IT graduate and there is still a supply shortfall in the numbers of these graduates, who do after all not work exclusively in the ICT sector. Their skills are required across all industries, business and public services – in any human or economic activity that relies on computing and communications technology". Professor Lyons also urges development of an indigenous IT sector. "Ireland has a world-wide reputation as a leader in the ICT industry", he says. "However, we must promote more indigenous innovation and creation of ICT businesses that can scale-up to play on an international platform". Israel for instance, which is comparable in size to Ireland, has nearly as many companies listed on NASDAQ as Europe does. Ireland is no longer a low labour cost economy and high volume labour intensive manufacturing operations will increasingly move to Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. Ireland is already becoming established as a post-industrial, information intensive, high-cost, high-skilled economy, much like Switzerland or Sweden. "The only sustainable raw material for such an economy is a highly educated, technologically advanced workforce", says Professor Lyons. "This means not just primary degree graduates in IT, Engineering and Science, but an increasing investment in fourth level graduates - specialists who have completed postgraduate degrees and developed research skills to fuel the indigenous product development industry." Dr. Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh, President of NUI, Galway said that the new IT Building was a "vote of confidence in the future of IT in Ireland. This sector has brought tremendous success and prosperity to this country in recent years", he said. "It is important that we provide the most modern facilities to enable our students acquire the skills and training required to meet the technological challenges presented in the new millennium." The new building is a major element of the University s £45 million capital development programme, which was launched in 1998. Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway Tel. 091-750418

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