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New Capacity Bill must Respect Human Rights Say Civil Society Organisations
Tuesday, 24 September 2013
New legislation relating to decision-making ability is a welcome improvement on the current 140-year-old law governing capacity, but needs some improvements if it is to adequately protect people’s human rights, a working group of civil society organisations said today (Tuesday, 24 September). The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2013 published in July, is being debated at a public consultation held by the Department of Justice and Equality tomorrow, Thursday, 25 September. Professor Gerard Quinn, Director of the Centre for Disability Law and Policy Centre, NUI Galway, said: “The Bill innovates by introducing ‘assisted decision-making agreements’ which allow people to choose others they trust to help them with making decisions. This is truly ground-breaking and the Government deserves credit for listening to the community and learning from emerging international trends. “More clarifications will be needed to ensure that these agreements are open to anyone to make, legally binding, and must be respected by others so the Bill can transform lives and reach those who really need it”, continued Professor Quinn Fiona Crowley, Research and Legal Manager, Amnesty International Ireland, said: “This Bill contains some important amendments to the law on capacity which could really benefit people with mental health problems. However, it needs to be amended to clarify how this Bill will interact with the Mental Health Act 2001, so that there are no gaps in the human rights protection of people with mental health problems.” Paddy Connolly, CEO Inclusion Ireland said: “The Bill represents an important shift away from ‘best interests’ decision-making towards respect for the will and preferences of persons with disabilities, which is a great improvement. However the legislation must prioritise the provision of supports to help an individual make their own decisions, rather than using assessments of mental capacity as a basis for substitute decision-making, which removes decision-making power from the person with a disability.” Áine Hynes, Irish Mental Health Lawyers Association, said: “We have significant concerns about the scope of powers given to informal decision-makers under the Bill. While it is important to recognise the realities of decisions made on a daily basis by informal carers, the human rights of individuals must also be respected.” Eamon Timmins, Head of Advocacy, Age Action, said: “The law needs to be changed to restrict this kind of informal decision-making, provide safeguards where it does occur, and require that people are given the option of using assisted decision-making agreements instead.” Brian O’Donnell, CEO National Federation of Voluntary Bodies, said: “It is also crucial that the government provides a timeline for the reform of other areas of law affected by legal capacity but exempted from this Bill, for example, the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993 and the Juries Act 1976, among others.” A brief document outlining the group’s proposed reforms can be viewed at: http://nuigalway.ie/cdlp/documents/amendments_to_bill.pdf -Ends-
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NUI Galway Workshop on Cloud Computing Research
Tuesday, 24 September 2013
NUI Galway will host the first Irish Chapter of the Association for Information Systems (IAIS) Workshop on Cloud Computing Research on Friday, 27 September. The workshop, entitled ‘Research and Practice in the Cloud: What is on the Horizon?’ is supported by IAIS, the Irish Software Engineering Research Centre (Lero) and NUI Galway's Whitaker Institute, and is being jointly delivered by NUI Galway and the Cloud Computing Services Innovation Centre at Hewlett-Packard. ‘Research and Practice in the Cloud: What is on the Horizon?’ builds upon NUI Galway, Lero and Hewlett-Packard’s strengths in cloud computing, and will focus on the Irish national agenda for research on cloud computing, bringing together researchers and practitioners across the island of Ireland. NUI Galway’s research on cloud computing has been published in international outlets, and cloud computing has become a core part of a large SFI-funded research team at the University’s J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics. Dr Tom Acton, Lecturer with the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway, and workshop organiser said: “We will be showcasing national research across a range of cloud-specific topics including cloud business models, value, cloud adoption, implementation, and leveraging the cloud for mobile applications. The workshop is a vehicle for capturing what is happening across the country, not only academic research on cloud, but also in terms of industry experiences with delegates attending from Avaya, SourceDogg, Dimension Data, Verizon 1, CloudStrong, Hewlett-Packard, and many more.” -Ends-
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NUI Galway Awarded Research funding of €400,000 for Agri-Food Projects
Thursday, 26 September 2013
Two new projects, partnerships between NUI Galway and Teagasc have been funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s (DAFM) Research Stimulus Fund (RSF). The funding is part of grant awards in excess of €6 million for research projects being undertaken, on a collaborative basis, by researchers from Institutions across the island of Ireland, which was recently announced by Simon Coveney T.D., Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The ‘Joint Ventures to Enhance the Demographic Profile and Socio-Economic Sustainability of Irish Farming’ (Join-to-Farm) project aims to explore how a broader range of joint farming ventures, have potential to enhance the sustainability of Irish agriculture. These ventures help different stakeholders to work together. The project involves social scientists: Dr Áine Macken-Walsh, Project Leader, Teagasc; Dr Kevin Heanue, Teagasc; Dr Anne Byrne, School of Political Science and Sociology, NUI Galway; and Professor Michael Ward and Dr Olive McCarthy of UCC. The second project, ‘Understanding and Facilitating Farmers Adoption of Technologies’ (Agile-Tech), seeks to develop an understanding of how technology is used by farmers, in the first place, and then on an ongoing basis. The project involves social scientists: Dr Kevin Heanue, Project Leader, Teagasc; Dr Áine Macken-Walsh, Teagasc; Ann Lyons, Community Knowledge Initiative, NUI, Galway; Mary O’Reilly-de Brún, Centre for Participatory Strategies; and Tomás de Brún, Centre for Participatory Strategies. Dr Anne Byrne, School of Political Science and Sociology, NUI Galway, said: “Collaborative scholarship and innovative, inclusive research methodologies enhance not only our understanding of how complex ideas, practices and processes intersect, but crucially stack the odds in favour of good outcomes for those who are at the heart of the projects – farmers.” -Ends-
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Environmentalist Tony Juniper, speaking at the RIA, details the increasing financial cost of ignoring nature
Thursday, 26 September 2013
Royal Irish Academy (RIA) lecture jointly organised by NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute, EPA and the Environmental Sciences Association of Ireland. Environmentalist and author Tony Juniper, speaking at the Royal Irish Academy, has said that environmental protection is not a luxury that can be put to one side in recessionary times. In contrast, Tony Juniper argues that rather than the view that conservation and pollution controls stunt growth and competitiveness, the reverse is the case. Wealth and economic growth are utterly dependent on Nature’s essential services. Tony Juniper was speaking at the Royal Irish Academy (RIA), an event jointly organised by the Ryan Institute for Environmental Marine and Energy research at NUI Galway, the Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Environmental Sciences Association of Ireland (ESAI). Nature’s key role in economic activity is often only apparent when it’s removed. The economic contribution of bees to commercial fruit pollination is only now fully understood as species of bees disappear. Fresh water, a fundamental need, can be sourced, in sufficient quantities by working with natural systems Tony Juniper argues. The replenishment and supply of clean freshwater can often be achieved at a lower cost than highly engineered approaches. Professor Colin Brown, Director of the Ryan Institute for Environment, Marine and Energy at NUI Galway says “The services that nature provides us, like clean water, clean air, fertile soil and food, are crucial for the well-being of humans and represent an astronomical economic value. Typically the loss of biodiversity costs about 3% of GDP which for the EU means about €450 billion - year after year after year. Tony Juniper is one of the most eloquent advocates of the need to tackle the inadequacy of existing economic thinking to tackle this problem.” Tony Juniper cites examples where Healthy Nature can also help control the spread of disease. A study looking into the outbreak of West Nile Virus in the United States in 2002 found that the uneven distribution of cases was linked to wild bird diversity. Where there were greater numbers of wild birds less people caught the disease. Mosquitos that spread the West Nile Virus nasty virus among people prefer to feed on the blood of birds. Where there are fewer birds, they turn to other animals to get a meal, including people. As Ireland works to recover from serious recession, Tony Juniper says it is critical to recognise the direct economic value that is provided by natural systems. Wetlands help reduce flood risk; woodlands absorb carbon dioxide; bees pollinate crops, green spaces improve health and beautiful places attract tourism. These examples and many other natural services make a massive contribution to the economies of places. Indeed for Ireland, it has been estimated that these ‘ecosystem services’ are worth €2.6 billion per year Despite the mounting evidence that protecting Nature is of huge economic value, it is still portrayed as a brake on short-term economic growth. Many people accept the idea that the depletion of natural resources, high greenhouse gas emissions and disappearing animals and plants are the acceptable price of progress. In his talk on 25th September, Tony Juniper challenges these views and demonstrates how healthy environments make vast contributions to economic growth. -Ends-
Floating University Explores Marine Science in Galway
Friday, 27 September 2013
Students from the floating university programme, “Semester at Sea”, visited Galway last weekend on a collaborative marine science field-trip led by NUI Galway and the Strategic Marine Alliance for Research and Training (SMART). Over 570 students from 20 different countries were aboard the MV Explorer which docked in Dublin on Friday. The vessel previously visited Galway in 2012 after a trans-Atlantic voyage in which marine science students from NUI Galway participated. The field-trip was led by NUI Galway oceanographer Dr Rachel Cave and investigated submarine groundwater flow in County Clare and East Galway. According to Professor Rob Young, professor of marine biology and oceanography for Semester at Sea, and professor of marine science at Coastal Carolina University, “Collaborative programmes such as the one between SMART/NUI Galway and Semester at Sea give students the opportunity to see ongoing research projects in action while promoting inter-cultural understanding.” “Through the SMART partnership programme, and the Marine Institute’s research vessel funding programme, Ireland has very much become a leader in practical offshore training in marine science and technology. Developing collaborative marine initiatives with international programmes such as “Semester at Sea” helps us to cement this” Dr Rachel Cave of the Earth and Ocean Science Department stated. This voyage marks the 50th Anniversary of the “Semester at Sea” programme which has trained over 60,000 students since its inception in 1963. The Autumn voyage will visit 13 countries including South Africa, Brazil and Cuba. Semester at Sea plans to return to Ireland in Summer and Autumn of 2014. ENDS
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International Civic and Social Innovation Leader to Address NUI Galway
Friday, 27 September 2013
NUI Galway’s Community Knowledge Initiative will host US entrepreneur and innovator, Sonal Shah for a keynote address on Thursday, 3 October. The event, which is open to the public, will take place from 11am-12.30pm in the Siobhan McKenna Theatre, Arts Millennium Building on campus. Sonal has worked in government, business and the non-profit sectors. Until recently she was the Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the first White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation focused on investing in and scaling innovative models, leveraging technology, opening information in the social sector to solve some of the nation’s toughest challenges. Before joining the White House, Sonal led Google’s global development initiatives for its philanthropy, Google.org, focusing on leveraging technology and information to help the world’s poor. Prior to Google, she was a Vice-President at Goldman Sachs, Inc. where she worked with the Chairman and CEO in developing and managing the firm’s environmental strategy. Sonal also has started and managed non-profits. She is the co-founder of an international non-profit, Indicorps, which offers fellowships for the Indian diaspora around the world to work on development projects in India. The fellowship invests in and builds the leadership of the diaspora to be able to solve problems even in the toughest of circumstances. Shah also helped set up the Center for Global Development, the leading development think tank in Washington DC, where she managed the daily operations and developed the policy and advocacy programs for the Center. Lorraine McIlrath, Community Knowledge Initiative, says, “NUI Galway and the CKI are delighted to host Sonal and learn from her vast experiences of social innovation. Sonal has been an inspiration through her role with the Obama Administration and through private enterprises such as Google and will offer a fantastic opportunity for us to grapple with innovation in times of crisis. The Community Knowledge Initiative is committed to fostering community-university partnerships that aim to promote the principles and practices of civic engagement and democracy. Engaging with Sonal will strengthen our work.” As part of this address, Sonal will talk about her pathway into a career in social innovation, what social innovation means to her and how to imbue within young people a sense of themselves as civic and social innovators. For further information see http://www.nuigalway.ie/cki or contact Lorraine McIlrath Lorraine.firstname.lastname@example.org. -Ends-
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1/5 of Irish parents have used the internet to search for mental health information to help children in the last month
Friday, 27 September 2013
Minister Fitzgerald launches conference and highlights benefits of new technologies The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald TD, yesterday (Thursday, 26 September) opened the Technology for Well-Being International Conference, which examines the role of technology in supporting young people’s mental health and well-being. New research launched at the conference revealed thatover two thirds of Irish parents (70%) would look for help on the internet if their child was going through a tough time. In addition, over one fifth (22%) of parents used the internet to search for mental health information in the past month alone. ReachOut.com, which provides online support for young people’s mental health and well-being, partnered with the National Office for Suicide Prevention to host this international conference attended by delegates from the health, education and technology sectors. These findings are from the ‘Bridging the Digital Disconnect’ research carried out by the Health Promotion Research Centre, NUI Galway and Inspire Ireland, the organisation behind ReachOut.com. The research project is part-funded by the Australian Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre and explores parents’ views on using technology to promote young people’s mental health. “This is the first study to be carried out in Ireland on parents’ views concerning the use of technologies to support young people’s mental health. The findings will be used to inform the development of a resource to bridge the digital gap between parents and young people and to support parents in harnessing the potential of technologies for promoting young people’s mental health and wellbeing” says Professor Margaret Barry, principal investigator of the study with Dr Aleisha Clarke of the Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway. Speaking at the conference today, Minister Fitzgerald welcomed the new research and commended ReachOut.com and the Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway on their work which she said “aides a better understanding on the role of parent and technology in youth mental.” The Minister added: “Too often media discourse on new technologies and social media focuses on negative aspects such as cyber-bullying and other online threat. But we must also focus on the opportunities which websites, such as ReachOut.com, offer in terms of providing an accessible portal to young people on key issues such as positive mental health.” As part of the fieldwork, parents reviewed the ReachOut.com site and expressed a desire for the development of a website with similar content for parents. Parents also repeatedly spoke about the need for information on the use of social networking sites and issues around young people’s safety and well-being online. Speaking about the results, ReachOut.com CEO Elaine Geraghty said: “We really welcome this research as an endorsement from parents of the importance of technology in all of our lives. If we’re serious about supporting young people we need to be where they are, providing mental health information in the first place they look for it, which is online. That is what we do every day at ReachOut.com.” Gerry Raleigh, Director of the National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP), said: “The National Office for Suicide Prevention is delighted to support this conference and recognises the importance of technology to connect with those experiencing tough times. NOSP will continue to invest in partners who deliver safe and evidence-based information and supports that contributes to positive mental health and well-being. In addition to providing online resources such as Yourmentalhealth.ie and Letsomeoneknow.ie, NOSP has invested in various online projects and initiatives including ReachOut.com.” The ReachOut.com Technology for Well-Being International Conference addressed these concerns in order to open a national conversation on the positive role technology can play for both parents and young people, in supporting mental health.” To view the report click: Bridging the digital disconnect Ends
NUI Galway Graduate Jobs Fair
Monday, 30 September 2013
Major organisations from business, industry and voluntary sector will feature at the annual NUI Galway Graduate Jobs Fair on Tuesday, 8 October from 12.30 - 4pm in the Bailey Allen Hall. This free event will showcase graduate employment opportunities for students and graduates from all disciplines, with a diverse number of fields such as accountancy, IT, law, science, retail, consultancy and many other sectors represented. Visitors to the event can attend spend the afternoon networking with Ireland’s leading graduate recruiters. Major local employers such as Creganna, Medtronic, Cisco, Sourcedogg, and SAP will attend, in addition to international companies including Accenture, Abbott, KPMG and Lidl. John Hannon, Head of NUI Galway’s Career Development Centre, said: “Demand for NUI Galway graduates remains high, reflecting on their excellent employability status. There will also be an opportunity to get information on postgraduate programmes available in NUI Galway.” Event organiser, Emma Goode, has some advice for those attending the Fair: “Don’t forget your main objective on the day is to secure your first graduate job. Plan in advance - know what employers are attending and the type of opportunities they have available. Many graduate employers now recruit graduates from all academic disciplines so don’t be misled by an organisation’s name – they may have the perfect graduate opportunity for you! Bring along an up-to-date CV, have it reviewed at the CV Clinic and get feedback on how to package and sell all your experiences to date. Arrive with a ‘can do’ attitude and be prepared to network!” Details on exhibitors is available from www.nuigalway.ie/careers -Ends-
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Maths Week 2013 at NUI Galway
Monday, 30 September 2013
NUI Galway’s School of Mathematics, Statistics and Applied Mathematics at NUI Galway will host a number of events as part of Maths Week Ireland from 12-20 October. Aimed at secondary and primary schools, to promote appreciation, understanding and awareness of maths in society. On Thursday, 17 October, Doug Buchanan will give lively maths challenge workshops to primary and secondary school audiences at NUI Galway. Doug is a recently retired maths teacher, who during his career became an expert at hosting conferences for maths, ICT and his internationally-recognised maths team challenges. He travels all over Ireland and the UK, inspiring and entertaining teachers and students alike with his shows. The School of Maths will also dispatch lecturers and postgraduate students to schools in Galway for talks and workhops. On Thursday, 17 October, the School will launch and host a nationwide maths competition, PRISM (PRoblem solving for Irish Second level Mathematics). NUI Galway’s School of Maths actively promotes appreciation of mathematics by devising school workshops, hosting schools classes through its TY Friday initiative, and enabling pupils to participate in competitions such as Maths enrichment course, Mathematical Contest in Modelling, Challenge Maths competition, Irish Mathematical Olympiad, the national Applied Mathematics Table Quiz contest, and the Team Math competition (with Finals taking place in Galway this Spring.) The University’s maths students also help educate and inspire pupils through the School’s Undergraduate Ambassador Scheme. The University also actively participates in local, national and online events such as the BT Young Scientist exhibition, the Galway Science and Technology forum, ‘I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here’ discussions, and the CERN Accelerating Science exhibition. Booking is essential as places are limited. For further information contact Dr Tim Downing at email@example.com. For other events taking place across the country during Maths Week visit www.mathsweek.ie. -Ends-
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CodeNinja is back!
Monday, 30 September 2013
CodeNinja - an app competition for third-level students in Galway - is back on Galway’s college campuses and is gearing up to give students the skills and knowledge required to create their own apps. CodeNinja is open to teams from NUI Galway and GMIT who want to build an innovative web or mobile app, with prizes to be awarded to the top entries in February 2014. The competition has been designed by local businesses and academics to train and encourage students to be creative in the cultivation of their own technology ideas. Students will be encouraged to build web and mobile applications, and will be given a number of tutorials and workshops along the way. Clodagh Barry, CodeNinja organiser says “CodeNinja represents a unique opportunity for students from any discipline to innovate at the leading edge of app technology. Multidisciplinary teams of students can learn new skills, network with the technology entrepreneurs and academic experts, with a view to fostering a culture of creativity and excitement as well as adding value to their curriculum vitae”. Galway technology entrepreneurs like Mic FitzGerald from OnePageCRM and Paul Killoran from ExOrdo have supported the CodeNinja initiative, agreeing that this is an opportunity which sows more seeds to build on the blossoming tech startup culture that exists in Galway, whilst building links between Galway’s tech scene and its third-level colleges. Organiser Dr John Breslin of NUI Galway says: “CodeNinja is a collaborative effort where our colleges and industry partners are connecting to share a combined skillset and knowledge to meet the demands of the on-campus population. “The app economy is credited with having created nearly 800,000 jobs in the EU according to a recent study from ACT 4 Apps. We had quite a successful outcome from previous CodeNinja events with competition winners finding employment with local app companies and also achieving recognition through subsequent global app competitions.” More information available at http://codeninja.ie/ -ends-
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