NUI Galway Announce 2014 Alumni Award Winners

NUI Galway Announce 2014 Alumni Award Winners-image

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

NUI Galway has announced the winners of the 2014 Alumni Awards to be presented at the 14th annual Alumni Awards Gala Banquet on Saturday, 1 March, 2014 in the Bailey Allen Wing located in Áras na Mac Léinn on campus. The Alumni Awards recognise individual excellence and achievements among the University’s more than 80,000 graduates worldwide. The Awards programme boasts an impressive roll call of 79 outstanding graduates who have gone on to honour their alma mater, including, for example, Michael D. Higgins, Ciarán FitzGerald, Sean O’Rourke, Professor Frank Gannon, Dr Luke Clancy and Gráinne Seoige. After a highly successful sporting year at NUI Galway, this year’s banquet will focus on sport. The winners of the five alumni awards to be presented at Gala 2014: Award for Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies - sponsored by AIB  - Norah Gibbons, Chairperson, Child and Family Agency.  Alumni Award for Business, Public Policy and Law – sponsored by Bank of Ireland   -  Helen Ryan, Former CEO and Non-Executive Director of Creganna-Tactx Medical.  Alumni Award for Engineering and Informatics – sponsored by Bank of Ireland  - Michael McNicholas, CEO, Bord Gáis.  Alumni Award for Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences – sponsored by Medtronic  - Professor Ray Dolan, Professor of Neuropsychology, University College London and Head of the Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience at the Institute of Neurology, London.  Alumni Award for Science – sponsored by Aramark  - Professor Gerald Jennings, Emeritus Professor, School of Physics, NUI Galway and former Director of the Environmental Change Institute, NUI Galway.             Speaking on the announcement of the Awards recipients, President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne said: “Our Alumni Awards programme recognises the many Galway alumni who are leaders in their chosen fields. These awards celebrate the life-long value of an NUI Galway education and recognise individual achievements among the University’s more than 80,000 graduates worldwide. I congratulate each of the Award winners and look forward to welcoming them back to campus for the Gala Banquet in March.” For ticket and booking information contact the Alumni Office on 091 493750 or email Online bookings at   ENDS  

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NUI Galway Joins Intel Parallel Computing Centre Programme to Boost Parallel Application Performance in High Performance

NUI Galway Joins Intel Parallel Computing Centre Programme to Boost Parallel Application Performance in High Performance-image

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Irish Centre for High End Computing (ICHEC) will host the research that has likely applications in materials science, meteorology and data analytics.   NUI Galway and Intel have signed an agreement to jointly conduct research on many core technology in High Performance Computing (HPC) and big data analytics. The research will be carried out at the Irish Centre for High End Computing (ICHEC) in NUI Galway. The new parallel computing centre aims to significantly improve parallelism, scalability and efficiencies of existing High Performance Computing applications.  The agreement to establish the ‘Intel Parallel Computing Centre between NUI Galway and Intel’ was announced by NUI Galway president Dr Jim Browne and Intel vice president and director of Intel Labs Europe, Martin Curley at a ceremony in NUI Galway. NUI Galway President Dr Jim Browne said, “we in NUI Galway are proud of our long association with ICHEC, since its establishment and are very pleased to support their ongoing work. We believe that ICHEC’s mission is vital for Ireland and that its services are very important to academia and industry alike. Today’s signing is a wonderful example of the work of ICHEC. We are delighted to be working with Intel in this way and look forward to our continuing partnership.” Intel will fund the research programme led by director of the ICHEC, Professor JC Desplat. The programme will foster the uptake of current and next generation Intel many core technology, such as the Intel® Xeon Phi™ Coprocessor. “Intel is pleased to expand our Intel® Parallel Computing Centre program by collaborating with National University of Ireland, Galway and ICHEC,” said Intel vice president and director of Intel Labs Europe, Martin Curley. “This new centre creates an opportunity for Intel, NUI Galway and ICHEC to innovate and optimize applications which benefit industry and science in Ireland, Europe, and globally.” Principal investigator Professor JC Desplat said “ICHEC has been chosen for this programme following its track record of excellence in many-core solutions. We are delighted to be part of the development of this exciting new technology. As a country, Ireland excels in the effective use of high-performance computing, and today’s partnership consolidates that standing. The outcome of this ambitious programme will be improved software solutions in areas such as materials science, weather forecasting and data analytics.”       -ENDS-

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NUI Galway Study Shows Salmonella Biofilms Resistant to Powerful Disinfectants

NUI Galway Study Shows Salmonella Biofilms Resistant to Powerful Disinfectants-image

Friday, 17 January 2014

Research by Dr Mary Corcoran was prompted by 2012 European Salmonella Agona outbreak resulted in over 160 cases of gastroenteritis in 10 countries.   An NUI Galway researcher has discovered that once Salmonella gets into a food processing facility it is very difficult to remove it. Microbiologist Dr Mary Corcoran attempted to kill Salmonella biofilms on a variety of hard surfaces, using three types of disinfectant. The research, to be published in the Journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology, shows that once Salmonella has established itself for seven days, it was not possible to kill Salmonella using three disinfectants, even by soaking the Salmonella in disinfectant for an hour and a half. The research found that all of the types of Salmonella studied were able to adopt the specialised biofilm lifestyle on all of the surfaces looked at. These included glass, stainless steel, glazed tile, concrete and plastic. It shows that the biofilm of Salmonella gets more dense over time, and becomes more firmly attached to the surface. The findings will serve as a warning to food processors in particular highlighting that once Salmonella gets into a food processing facility and has an opportunity to form a biofilm on surfaces, it is likely to be extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, to kill it. Dr Mary Corcoran said “Food processing facilities must take strict care to keep Salmonella out of the clean areas where cooked foods get further processing and packaged, and ask whether disinfectants that are promoted as killing various types of bacteria are really as effective as claimed.” The research was prompted by the Salmonella outbreak in Europe in which over 160 people in 10 countries developed gastroenteritis from the Salmonella Agona strain of Salmonella. That outbreak was traced to meat from a major food-processing facility.  Dr Corcoran said “it seems that the outbreak entered into the environment in the part of the facility where meat that was already cooked was being handled, and it had survived and contaminated the cooked meat. Interested in finding out that Salmonella might have something special about it that makes it better at surviving in the environment of a food processing facility, we asked was it better at forming a dense biofilm, or was it more resistant to disinfectants than other Salmonella? We discovered it was not.” The three disinfectants used against Salmonella in the research were sodium hypochlorite (household bleach), sodium hydroxide, and benzalkonium chloride. The research shows that a lot of the time, the disinfectant may add very little, if anything, to good cleaning and appropriate food handling practices and that there is a need for more research to define better methods for killing Salmonella biofilm.”   -ENDS-

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Dr Peter Sutherland to deliver 2014 Dr Garret FitzGerald Memorial Lecture at NUI Galway

Dr Peter Sutherland to deliver 2014 Dr Garret FitzGerald Memorial Lecture at NUI Galway-image

Thursday, 16 January 2014

 ‘European Integration and the Taming of Nationalism’ is theme of lecture with a response by Professor Gerard Quinn, NUI Galway School of Law The 2014 Dr Garret FitzGerald Memorial Lecture will be given by Dr Peter Sutherland and hosted at NUI Galway by NUI Chancellor Dr Maurice Manning and President of NUI Galway Dr Jim Browne. Dr Sutherland will speak on the topic of ‘European Integration and the Taming of Nationalism’ and Prof. Gerard Quinn, School of Law, NUI Galway will respond. Dr Peter Sutherland is Chairman of the London School of Economics and the UN Special Representative for Migration and Development. He served as European Commissioner between 1985 and 1988, having been appointed as Ireland’s Attorney General by Dr Garret FitzGerald in 1981. NUI Chancellor Dr Maurice Manning said 'Nothing delighted Dr Garret FitzGerald more than public discourse and the articulation and defence of ideas. In seeking to honour him, the Senate of the National University of Ireland thought it appropriate to initiate an annual series of lectures in his memory.   This year’s lecture by Peter Sutherland is on a topic that Garret would have found of great interest'.  NUI Galway President Dr Jim Browne said “The Dr Garret FitzGerald Memorial Lecture commemorates one of Ireland’s leading statesman and a former Chancellor of NUI.  We in NUI Galway are honoured to host the 2014 Memorial Lecture and look forward to welcoming Dr Peter Sutherland, a close and long standing friend of Dr FitzGerald, to campus for what promises to be a fascinating and stimulating address.” Professor Gerard Quinn, NUI Galway School of Law, will respond to Dr Sutherland’s view on ‘European Integration and the Taming of Nationalism’. The lecture will be held in the Aula Maxima at 6pm on Friday, 31 January 2014 and is open to the public, who can register at   Advanced booking is essential as places are limited. The Dr Garret FitzGerald Memorial Lecture is held annually by the National University of Ireland at constituent colleges. A former Taoiseach, Dr Garret FitzGerald was Chancellor of the NUI between 1997 and 2009, and had previously served as a member of the Senate of the University from 1972 until 1997. -ends-

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NUI Galway-IITA-Irish Aid research collaboration helps develop vitamin-A rich maize to combat micronutrient malnutrition

NUI Galway-IITA-Irish Aid research collaboration helps develop vitamin-A rich maize to combat micronutrient malnutrition-image

Monday, 20 January 2014

Up to 500,000 children in developing countries go blind each year due to Vitamin A deficiency The NUI Galway Plant and AgriBiosciences Research Centre (PABC) has been closely working with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) on the development of more nutritious and higher yielding crops for smallholder farmers in Africa since 2009. The NUI Galway – IITA research has now been published in the international scientific journal BMC Plant Biology. Vitamin A deficiency in the diets of the poor is currently a global health problem affecting millions of people in Africa and other regions of the world.  Vitamin A deficiency retards growth, increases risk of disease, and can cause reproductive disorders. IITA, Irish Aid and NUI Galway are engaged with the international Harvest Plus initiative of the CGIAR and national agricultural research systems to develop and disseminate new varieties of staple crops (e.g. maize, sweet potato, beans) that contain higher levels of essential micronutrients such as vitamin A, iron and zinc.  Up to 500,000 children in developing countries go blind each year due to vitamin A deficiency, with over half of these children dying within a year of becoming blind. For instance, in Malawi 73% of children currently do not have enough Vitamin A in their diets.  The high prevalence of vitamin A deficiency amongst mothers and children (particularly during the first 1000 days of life) perpetuates cycles of poverty. A key aim is develop even more improved maize varieties which have sufficiently high levels of vitamin A to impact on human health and which are high yielding under African growing conditions. Working closely with Prof. Charles Spillane (NUI Galway) and Dr. Abebe Menkir (IITA), a PhD student and maize breeder Girum Azmach has been conducting research between NUI Galway and IITA on development of vitamin A rich maize varieties for African smallholder farmers and growing conditions.   Working within IITA’s maize breeding program, Girum has identified combinations of naturally-occurring genes in maize lines that result in major increases of the level of vitamin A in the types of maize varieties that are grown by farmers and consumed by poorer households in Sub-Saharan Africa.   Girum has been able to screen and identify maize lines within the IITA breeding program that recorded as high as 17 microgram per each gram of a dry maize kernel. This concentration of provitamin A is much higher than that of commonly grown maize cultivars, which is mostly less than 2 micrograms per each gram of dry maize kernel. This means that IITA and other maize breeding programs in Africa now have access to lines that have levels of provitamin A that are necessary for biofortified maize varieties to reduce the levels of vitamin A deficiency amongst the poor in Sub Saharan Africa. The identification of these gene combinations and high vitamin A maize lines now allows IITA and national research programs to better develop vitamin A biofortified tropical maize varieties adapted to growing conditions and consumer preferences in Africa. IITA in collaboration with national partners in Nigeria has released the first generation of two pro-vitamin A rich hybrids and two open-pollinated varieties. An open-pollinated variety with intermediate level of pro-vitamin A was also released in Ghana in 2012. Seeds of the released pro-vitamin A rich open-pollinated maize varieties have been sent to Liberia, Mali, and Sierra Leone for testing, multiplication and deployment with the support from HarvestPlus and AGRA. The high vitamin A lines identified by Girum will be provided to national breeding programs in countries such as Ethiopia, Uganda, Sierra Leone and Liberia for use to develop their own vitamin A rich varieties for smallholder farmers and the rural poor. Overall, the development of staple crops with improved micronutrient composition and content for African smallholders is set to contribute to both improving smallholder agriculture and prevention of maternal and child undernutrition in Africa. -ends-

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Free Introduction to Computer Courses Resume in NUI Galway

Free Introduction to Computer Courses Resume in NUI Galway-image

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

NUI Click and Connect introduction to computer classes will resume again in NUI Galway on the week beginning 27 January. These classes, which are free to learners, have to date trained over 500 people in basic computing skills. Running for two-hours a week, four weeks in a row, the classes are aimed at those with little or no computer experience. The classes will cover topics such as introduction to the internet, online shopping and booking tickets, setting up and managing email, and using the computer in conjunction with a digital camera. Many of the class participants have never used a computer before, and the classes are run in a relaxed and fun way to encourage confidence in the “new surfers”. Student volunteers support the learners to practice their new skills in the college’s computer labs. Classes are small with a maximum of 12 people and there is usually one-to-one support from the student volunteers. Each learner is a given a supporting booklet with simple instructions so that they can practice their skills outside class times if they wish. All those who complete the course receive a certificate of attendance. Pat Byrne, Manager of Click and Connect and a lecturer with the discipline of Information Technology in NUI Galway, is delighted with the feedback received from those who have completed the programme. “Many of our learners have been older people who are finding that using the internet is opening up a whole new world to them. They are able access services easily and use email and Skype to communicate with friends and family both at home and overseas. Our learners are also delighted to be able to compare prices and shop online, and follow their hobbies too. Whether they are looking for a job or searching for a new recipe, access to the internet makes their life so much easier. Everyone can pick up these basic skills and our classes provide a supportive environment in which to do so”. The classes are funded by a small grant from the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, and are offered free to participants. For further information and to book a place on one of the classes, call 087 0571967 or 091 493332. -Ends-

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NUI Galway Hosts Ireland’s Only Harry Potter Convention

NUI Galway Hosts Ireland’s Only Harry Potter Convention-image

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

NUI Galway’s Harry Potter Society will hold a three day convention dedicated to Harry Potter fans. PotterFest Galway will take place from 31 January to 2 February in the Bailey Allen hall at NUI Galway.  PotterFest is Ireland’s only Harry Potter convention and over 200 fans attended last year’s event. The event will offer a taste of Hogwarts in potions, astrology or defence against the dark arts classes. In the opening ceremony on Friday fans will be sorted into their houses and compete in games for the auror or deatheater teams. On Sunday there will be a chance to try out muggle quidditch and to watch a couple of matches. A fun-filled weekend is in store with talks from speakers from ‘Magic is Might’, Jennifer Trieu and Grainne O’Brien. There will be writing and cosplay (with Mez's Masquerade) workshops, an artist’s alley and a trader’s hall where artwork and merchandise can be purchased. There will be also a games room and other events. All proceeds from the event will be donated to charity. More information is available at, facebook, twitter, and tumblr, or email Weekend tickets cost €15, and a day ticket is €10, with Friday only being free entry.  The NUI Galway Harry Potter Society is not associated with JK Rowling or Warner Brothers in any way. It’s a society created to show members’ appreciation and love for the Harry Potter series that played such a large part members’ childhoods. The Society has comedy Potter showings; table quizzes weekly competitions, Quiddich tournaments, book discussions, a Sorting Ceremony and so much more -Ends-

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New Druid Academy to train future theatre-makers at NUI Galway

New Druid Academy to train future theatre-makers at NUI Galway-image

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

In a unique development for Drama and Theatre teaching in Ireland, Druid Theatre Company and NUI Galway today launched a new Druid Academy, as part of a 10 year partnership between the two organisations. Part of the Centre for Theatre and Performance at NUI Galway, the Druid Academy covers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in Drama, Theatre Studies and Performing Arts, as well as PhD research opportunities.  The Druid Academy will provide training in drama that meets best international practice while also embedding the values associated with Druid Theatre into the teaching curriculum. Borne out of a vision of Galway as a location for the creation of excellent theatre, teaching in the Druid Academy will follow the Druid approach, focusing on ensemble as a mode of performance, rigorous critical analysis of theatre, by both practitioners and audiences, and an awareness of the importance of audience, in a variety of locations: locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. Speaking at the launch of the Druid Academy, Professor Patrick Lonergan, Head of Drama and Theatre Studies at NUI Galway, said: “The Druid Academy allows us to bring the best of the University together with the best of the Irish theatre world. Druid have for many years showed that Galway can be a wonderful place to create theatre – and that it can be an ideal base to bring new Irish drama to audiences all over the world. By working with Druid, we will be able to foster new generations of theatre-makers and playwrights, who will change the way we produce drama in Galway, Ireland, and the world”. Led by Tony Award-winning Director, Dr Garry Hynes, Druid staff will work alongside NUI Galway's Drama and Theatre scholars to provide world-class training in directing, design, playwriting, and many other areas of theatre studies. In a partnership that will see close integration between Druid staff and NUI Galway Drama scholars, Dr Garry Hynes takes up the role of Adjunct Professor at NUI Galway, with Drama students benefitting from regular workshops and master classes with the renowned Theatre Director. The Druid Academy will also feature other Druid staff including the  Druid Director-in-Residence, Thomas Conway. Thomas, a practising professional director and dramaturge, will have particular responsibility for developing the performance elements of the Druid Academy. The Druid Director-in-Residence will play a key role in building relationships between Druid staff and NUI Galway Drama and theatre students and in developing the practice and performance aspects of the Drama curriculum. The Academy will also lead to the development of new courses, including three new MA programmes. These are in Irish Drama, Writing for Theatre, and Theatre Practice and Production. NUI Galway also offers a part-time MA in Drama and Theatre Studies, and has two very popular undergraduate Drama programmes. Students of the Druid Academy will gain a unique insight into the world of professional theatre when they get the opportunity to stage an annual professional-standard production, directed by the Druid Director-in-Residence.  Artistic Director of Druid, Dr Garry Hynes, said: “This is a very significant relationship not just for Druid but for Irish Theatre generally. I am really looking forward to working with my colleagues both in Druid and NUI Galway in seeing this relationship flourish". The relationship between NUI Galway and Druid is a long and fruitful one. The company was founded on campus in 1975 by graduates Marie Mullen, Garry Hynes and the late Mick Lally. Through the years the two organisations have collaborated at various times including notably the housing of the Druid archive at the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway and the establishment of a playwriting award in memory of the late Jerome Hynes who was General Manager of Druid at a formative stage in the company's development. The three founders, as well as being graduates, have all been awarded Honorary Degrees by the University. Three years ago that relationship was formalised into a strategic partnership that saw Druid and NUI Galway join forces to train the next generation of theatre-makers. Today that partnership moves on to a new level with the announcement of the Druid Academy. Commenting at the launch, President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, said: “The development of Drama and Theatre Studies represents a natural fit for NUI Galway given the vibrant theatre world in Galway. Our Drama and Theatre offering has gone from strength to strength thanks to a unique collaboration with world-class theatre-makers like Druid.  The Druid Academy represents the culmination of a long and fruitful partnership between Druid and NUI Galway and provides our students with unique access to some of Ireland’s leading theatre-makers”. Students interested in finding out more about programmes in the Druid Academy should visit: Ends

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New Book Explores the Evolution and Behaviour of Economies

New Book Explores the Evolution and Behaviour of Economies-image

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway will launch a new book, Econophysics and Physical Economics, on Thursday, 23 January at 2pm in the Cairnes Building on campus. The event will include a special talk with the authors, Professors Peter Richmond, Stefan Hutzler and Jurgen Mimkes. An understanding of the behaviour of financial assets and the evolution of economies has never been as important as today and Econophysics and Physical Economics looks at these complex systems from the perspective of the physicist. So called 'econophysics' and its application to finance has made great strides in recent years. For more than a decade, physicists have used the methods and tools based on statistical physics to analyse the complexities of not just natural systems but also financial and economic systems. The research was also stimulated by the ready availability of large data sets in the realm of financial markets. As a result new insights into the nature of financial market fluctuations and other inherent complex dynamics associated with the financial markets were being discovered. This stimulating research program has in turn led to novel approaches to economic theory informed by empirical observations and physical ideas, and continues to articulate an alternative framework for analysing economic systems. Authors Professors Peter Richmond and Stefan Hutzler of Trinity College Dublin and Professor Jurgen Mimkes, retired Professor of Physics at the University of Paderborn, Germany highlight and discuss these novel approaches in the new book, published by Oxford University Press. According to Dr Srinivas Raghavendra of the JE Cairnes School of Business and Economics and the Whitaker Institute, “The ongoing economic crisis has severely challenged the current dominant economic model that informs policy. I think a serious attempt to go beyond the established conventional framework has become an urgent necessity of our times. In this respect, Econophysics offers one such alternative framework to think outside the conventional mode and it would be to our benefit that we engage with it and critically examine what it offers.” For more information on the event please visit or call 091 495971. -Ends-

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The Galway Platform on Human Rights in Irish Foreign Policy, facilitated by NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Human Rights

The Galway Platform on Human Rights in Irish Foreign Policy, facilitated by NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Human Rights -image

Friday, 24 January 2014

The Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway has brought together 23 of Ireland’s leading human rights groups to adopt a common vision for human rights in Irish Foreign Policy. The Galway Platform on Human Rights in Irish Foreign Policy sets out the basic human rights standards and practices by which Ireland should be held to account in its dealings with other countries, as well as in its activities at EU and UN levels. The Galway Platform contains 47 specific observations and proposals to government in the context of the current consultation on a review of Irish Foreign Policy being undertaken by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. These are realistic and measured recommendations intended to ensure that Ireland holds true to the human rights commitments that it has freely entered into. The protection of human rights is integral to Ireland’s foreign policy and Ireland now has the opportunity to significantly enhance its capacity to promote and protect human rights worldwide as well as at home. The recommendations also emphasise the need for human rights to be mainstreamed across every aspect of foreign policy. For instance, the Galway Platform states that, “it would be unacceptable for the State to undertake any action that is inconsistent with the human rights standards by which it is held to account.” Professor Michael O’Flaherty, Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway said, “We are delighted that so many important human rights groups were able to come to Galway and agree on this wide-ranging road map for human rights in Irish Foreign Policy. Although the government is already getting a lot right when it comes to the promotion of human rights internationally, no one would dispute that it can do so much more. The Irish Centre for Human Rights and the other signatories are putting the Galway Platform recommendations to government so that Ireland can be an international champion of human rights to make us proud.” The Galway Platform has been signed by: Amnesty International Ireland, Centre for Criminal Justice and Human Rights at University College Cork, Centre for Disability Law & Policy at National University of Ireland, Galway, Children's Rights Alliance, Community Workers’ Co-operative, Department of Applied Social Studies, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC), Front Line Defenders, Gay & Lesbian Equality Network, Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway, Irish Council for Civil Liberties, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Irish Penal Reform Trust, Irish Refugee Council, Liberia Solidarity Group, National Assembly of the Baha’is of Ireland, National Women's Council of Ireland, Northern Ireland Human Rights Consortium, Pavee Point, Social Justice Ireland, Trocaire, University College Dublin, Human Rights Network and Women’s Human Rights Alliance. -ends-

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