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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University response to US Attacks

University response to US Attacks-image

Thursday, 13 September 2001

Release date: 13 September, 2001 University response to US Attacks NUI, Galway shares pain of US students and staff The impact of recent events in the US has been felt globally. NUI, Galway has implemented a range of measures to help the 400 US staff and students at the campus. Students support services such as counselling and chaplaincy have been intensified and a special Ecumenical Prayer service held to reflect the solidarity and support for the US staff and students, many of whom have been affected by the recent events in New York and Washington. The University has also announced that the annual Gala Banquet scheduled to take place on 6 October, has been postponed as a mark of respect to the victims of this week's terrorist attacks in the United States. "The University has an extensive range of links with many institutions and individuals in the US said Professor Ruth Curtis, Vice-President for Development and External Affairs, NUI, Galway. We have collaborative links with many American third level institutions in areas of research, teaching and student exchange. In addition, many of the University's 40,000 graduates live and work in the United States. The University also has close links with US companies based in Galway and the West region. These important relationships, and our US students and staff on campus highlight how we are all brought into close contact with the terrible events of recent days." According to Professor Curtis the University s "main concern right now is for the 400 US students who have registered at NUI, Galway for their Junior Year Abroad programme. Many of these young people are very upset and far from home and the support which we give them at this time is vital. Student counsellors and chaplains have been inundated and have reacted by setting up a Support Centre with facilities including counselling and medical services and a bank of telephones to enable them speak with their friends and relatives in the US. Taking all those factors into account, it was decided it would be inappropriate to hold a celebratory event, such as the Gala Banquet at this time. The annual Gala Banquet is the social highlight of the University calendar, with distinguished guests travelling from many countries, including the US, to renew old acquaintances, mark developments in the University and celebrate alumni achievement. "We are postponing this event, preparations for which were well advanced, to demonstrate our solidarity with the four hundred US students and staff on campus", said Professor Curtis. The Gala Banquet will now take place on Saturday, 2 March, 2002 in the Radisson SAS Hotel. Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway. Tel. 091 750418. Mobile: 087 2986592

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National Day of Mourning

National Day of Mourning-image

Wednesday, 12 September 2001

Tá lá náisiunta dobhróin fógartha ag an Taoiseach ag éirí as na heachtraí uafáis sna Stáit Aontaithe inné. Dé hAoine, Meán Fómhair 14 an lá atá i gceist, agus tá cinneadh déanta go ndúnfar oifigí uile na hOllscoile an lá sin, agus gcuirfear imeachtaí uile na hOllscoile an lá sin ar ceal. _____________________________ In the light of the declaration by An Taoiseach that Friday, September 14 is to be a national day of mourning arising from the tragic events in the United States yesterday, it has been decided that all offices in the University will be closed on that day, and that all University activities on that day will be cancelled.

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Advocating the Abolition of the Death Penalty World-wide

Advocating the Abolition of the Death Penalty World-wide-image

Monday, 10 September 2001

Release date: 3rd September, 2001 Advocating the Abolition of the Death Penalty World-wide Abolition of the death penalty is very much at the centre of the international human rights agenda, with major diplomatic initiatives being undertaken by the Council of Europe and the European Union. In June 2001, Ireland s constitution was amended to prohibit capital punishment following a successful referendum. Internationally, however, the principal concern remains the extensive use of the death penalty in the United States and China. In fact, there are still 86 countries which continue to use the death penalty. During 2000, at least 1,457 prisoners were executed and 3,058 people were sentenced to death. Leading international specialists on capital punishment will meet in the Ardilaun House Hotel, Galway, September 21-22, for a symposium on abolition of the death penalty, under the auspices of the Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland, Galway, and the Centre de Recherche sur les Droits de l'Homme, Université Panthéon-Assas Paris II. The conclusions of the conference are to be delivered by Senator Robert Badinter, one of France s leading statesmen, who was Minister of Justice in 1981 when France abolished capital punishment. The conference will also be addressed by Professor William A. Schabas, director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights, who is recognised as one of the leading international authorities on capital punishment, particularly in its international legal dimensions. His two books on the subject have been cited by the United States Supreme Court, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, the Supreme Court of Canada, the Supreme Court of the Philippines and numerous appellate courts. Other speakers at the conference include academics, international officials and activists involved in work on the subject, in Europe and North America. This conference forms a centre-piece of the strategy of the Irish Centre for Human Rights in advocating the abolition of the death penalty world-wide. Ends Further details from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway. Tel. 091 750418

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Leading Irish Artists to talk at NUI Galway

Leading Irish Artists to talk at NUI Galway-image

Sunday, 9 September 2001

Release date: Monday, 10 September, 2001 Leading Irish Artists to talk at NUI Galway NUI, Galway will host Talking Through Their Arts, a series of illustrated talks by six major Irish artists between September and December 2001. This initiative follows on from the highly popular Introduction to Contemporary Irish Art series, which the University hosted in Autumn/Winter 2000. The featured artists work in a variety of media including video and new technologies, performance, sculpture, painting etc. and are among the nation's leaders in each of their chosen fields. The general public is once again invited to enjoy these talks which will give voice to the individual creative process and, in so doing, bring to light issues in contemporary Irish art. Each of the artists will survey their own work using slides, discuss their art-making process and share their thoughts on Irish art today. The talks take place fortnightly, on Tuesdays, in the Ó hEocha Theatre, in the Arts Millennium Building, NUI, Galway. Tickets are £3/£2 per session or £15/£10 for a season ticket and are available at the door. The first talk in the series will begin on 25 September. Tuesday 25 September : Nigel Rolfe - Performance Artist Tuesday 9 October : Alanna O'Kelly - Multimedia Artist Tuesday 23 October : Dermot Seymour - Graphic Artist Tuesday 6 November : Gwen O'Dowd - Abstract Painter Tuesday 20 November : Robert Ballagh - Pop Artist / Designer Tuesday 4 December : Eilís O'Connell - Sculptor / Public Art Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway Tel. 091 750418

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NUI Galway hosts 'Maximising Performance in Sport' Conference

NUI Galway hosts 'Maximising Performance in Sport' Conference-image

Thursday, 6 September 2001

Release date: 5 September, 2001 NUI Galway hosts Maximising Performance in Sport Conference Pressure to win at all costs sometimes puts intolerable pressure on those engaged in competitive sport. This is manifested in a variety of ways from excessive training to competing while suffering an injury, to taking banned substances in order to enhance performance. A seminar, which will take place in NUI, Galway on Saturday 15 September, 2000, will address these and other issues relating to the demanding world of competitive sport. Among the guest speakers will be Kenny McMillan, Sports Physiologist with Glasgow Celtic Football Club. He will focus on the role of the Sports Physiologist at a professional football club and will highlight the growing importance of physiology in professional football and the move away from more traditional methods of training and preparation. Mr. McMillan will discuss the main aspects of the Sports Physiologist¹s role, which include fitness assessment, fitness conditioning, monitoring of training workload and intensity, rehabilitation and research. The seminar is being co-ordinated by Dr Aideen Henry who is Sports Medicine Physician and lecturer in Sports and Exercise Physiology at NUI, Galway and by Dr John Newell, Lecturer in Statistics at NUI, Galway. Dr Henry works with the Connaught Rugby Team as Team Doctor. One of the topics Dr. Henry will address is the controversial use of Creatine and the fact that some studies show improvement, particularly in repeat sprint performance in athletes who take high doses of Creatine. However Dr. Henry will present the arguments against Creatine use which include weight gain; potential kidney damage; the threat to endogenous Creatine production; the fact that long-term side effects are not known; and Creatine is not FDA approved. In terms of endogenous Creatine production, Dr. Henry explains that the dose taken by athletes is 20 times the normal dietary intake. It is equivalent to five steaks a day, then the internal Creatine production is switched off. We do not know if this is reversible when Creatine supplementation is stopped. Dr Henry will also discuss problems encountered by girls and women in sport and in particular the Female Athlete Triad. This condition, first defined in 1993, includes disordered eating, amenorrhea (absence of normal periods for more than three consecutive months) and osteoporosis. The cause of female athlete triad stems from the internal and external pressures on girls and young women to achieve and maintain an unrealistically low body weight. Other speakers at the seminar include Mary Walsh, chartered physiotherapist, who has been associated with the Irish Underage International Rugby Team, Irish Hockey Teams and Inter-County and club Hurling and Football teams. She will discuss methods of injury rehabilitation and prevention. Dr Alan Ringland will speak on Psychological Techniques to improve Performance . Dr Ringland is Sports psychologist with Warrington Rugby League Club, the Lawn Tennis Association, the Irish Paralympic Boccia Team and the Cavan Football and Limerick Hurling teams. Maria Keane is a Sports Nutritionist based in Limerick Regional Hospital, will speak on Nutrition for Optimal performance . For registration and further information, please telephone 091 524411, ext. 2761; http://stokes.nuigalway.ie/~jnewell/max Dr. Aideen Henry is available for interview on her conference paper and the programme content. Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway. Tel. 091 750418

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October 2001

Irish Centre for Human Rights to lead major EU-China Human Rights Project

Irish Centre for Human Rights to lead major EU-China Human Rights Project-image

Wednesday, 31 October 2001

Release date: 31 October 2001 Irish Centre for Human Rights to lead major EU-China Human Rights Project Human Rights abuses in China have long been a matter of international concern but there was a perception that world opinion was a matter of indifference to the Chinese authorities. In recent years however, China has opened up considerably to the outside world and with that openness comes a recognition of the necessity to address and improve the country's human rights record. The Irish Centre for Human Rights, which is based in NUI, Galway will coordinate a €1.5 million three-year project, financed by the European Commission, to promote the ratification and implementation of the international human rights covenants in China. The programme involves fifteen European human rights centres, one from each member state, and the same number of Chinese institutions. A wide range of human rights issues will be addressed, including capital punishment, torture, the right to education, labour standards and the right to a fair trial. The working languages of the project are English, French and Chinese. "In the last few years China has shown increasing willingness to accept the role of International human rights monitoring mechanisms," says Professor William Schabas, director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights. "Consequently, it has ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and is preparing to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It is essential however, that China's commitments go beyond simply formalistic gestures and that they be given substance. The idea behind the EU-China project is that European human rights specialists can contribute to the process of human rights monitoring in China by adding their expertise," he said. A series of academic seminars, as well as exchanges and internships, are at the core of the project. The initial seminar will be held in Galway, at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, where the project secretariat will be located on a permanent basis. Themes of the seminars are to be determined by the network steering committee, which is composed of the Irish Centre for Human Rights, the University of Paris II, the University of Essex, the University of Milan and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Aside from the seminars there is an important component in the training of Chinese human rights practitioners and this will include lawyers, academics and government officials in various aspects of human rights law and practice. Professor Schabas acknowledges that China's concern about International Human Rights standards can be understood in the context of the country's desire to be a full player in international affairs, including the development of economic links and cultural manifestations such as the Olympic Games 2008. "There is now an openness within China to international human rights that everybody who is familiar with the situation has noticed," says Professor Schabas, who visited Beijing last May as part of developing the current project. "It was very clear that debate evolves very, very rapidly in China on the subject of human rights," he says. "Everybody agreed that the kind of discussions and the level of exchange we had in May could not have taken place two or three years ago. Circumstances are more welcoming to this kind of activity than they have been at any time in the past," he said. "This is the first major research grant obtained by the Irish Centre for Human Rights since its inauguration in February 2000," said Professor William Schabas. "We are honoured to have been given such responsibility in this important field, and look forward to our role as a focal point for EU initiatives with respect to human rights in China." Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI Galway. Tel. 091 750418 Note on Professor William A. Schabas: Professor Schabas was named to NUI Galway's new professorship in human rights law in 1999 and is the Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights, which was launched in 2000. He is an internationally-recognised scholar in the field of human rights. He publishes and lectures throughout the world on a wide range of human rights issues. His seminal publications include: The Abolition of the Death Penalty in International Law (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1997) and Genocide in International Law (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2000). His expertise is regularly solicited by international human rights non-governmental organisations, on whose behalf he has conducted missions in Africa, Asia and South America. He has quite specific expertise in the following areas: genocide, minority rights, humanitarian intervention, human rights during armed conflict, abolition of capital punishment, the right to a fair trial, the history of human rights.

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