NUI Galway is to host a series of online events on Monday 1 March 2021 as part of Traveller Ethnicity Day. Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris T.D., Senator Eileen Flynn, children’s author Richard O’Neill and US-based academic Professor Sharon Gmelch are among those taking part. March 1 2021 marks five years since the Government officially recognised Irish Travellers as an ethnic group. To mark the anniversary, the flag of the Mincéirs Whiden Society, the only university society for Irish Travellers, will fly above the Quad at NUI Galway and a series of films will be shown including a specially produced short documentary Travellers in Higher Education: Building a Sense of Belonging. Other events planned for the day include panel discussions on pathways to education and a career in teaching and what the State’s recognition of Traveller ethnicity has meant for the community. The full schedule of events and how to access them is available at https://www.eventbrite.ie/o/nui-galway-irish-traveller-ethnicity-day-2021-32639303919 Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, President of NUI Galway, said: “Even with the limitations placed on the University because of COVID-19, the events planned for March 1st 2021 are both hugely symbolic and an important showcase and support for the Travelling community. They resonate with our values of openness and respect. “I look forward to taking part on the day. Being able to highlight the opportunities in our University is central to the strategy we are pursuing at NUI Galway of Shared Vision, Shaped by Values. Our community, of which the Travelling community is a part, is proud to see initiatives like this, for the public good.” Imelda Byrne, Head of NUI Galway's Access Centre, said: “We are delighted to celebrate Traveller Ethnicity Day again this year, and to further embed the progress made by the Access Centre in supporting Travellers to access higher education and become a part of NUI Galway community.” Owen Ward, Programme Coordinator in NUI Galway’s Access Centre who is leading the day’s events, said: “We are highlighting the openness of NUI Galway, its commitment to showcasing the rich heritage of the Travelling community and the importance of building bridges between all communities. “NUI Galway are the only university in Ireland to officially celebrate Traveller Ethnicity Day annually through a day long series of events and there is a great commitment to widening the participation of Irish Travellers in third level education. Through a strong collaboration of numerous partners across the NUI Galway community, this event creates the opportunity for all students, including Irish Travellers, to start planning to study and build their sense of belonging at NUI Galway.” Ends
Tuesday, 23 February 2021
NUI Galway academic examines use of software, tech and AI in justice system as part of SFI Public Service Fellowship The rapid development and increased use of software and technology for legal services and in the courts could reduce costs and improve access to justice but deepen the digital divide and strengthen existing biases in the justice system, research from NUI Galway has cautioned. Dr Rónán Kennedy, lecturer in the University’s School of Law, examined the availability and growth of “lawtech” in an advisory paper for the Oireachtas Library & Research Service. Dr Kennedy was awarded a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Public Service Fellowship to carry out the research as part of the Spotlight series, which gives TDs and Senators in-depth briefings on a single policy issue or topic. The research paper “Algorithms, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence in the Irish Legal Services Market”, outlined the pros and cons of increased use of software and technology in the legal sector. Dr Kennedy said: “Lawtech has been part of a wave of change and innovation in the legal services market, globally and in Ireland. It could save consumers and businesses money and time, and be a sector for economic growth. “However, it is not a silver bullet to solve the problem of access to justice. As Artificial Intelligence (AI) is used more by lawyers and courts, it could lead to fairer outcomes or repeat existing biases.” The research paper noted: Lawtech could reduce costs and provide better access to justice by making it easier for lawyers to create standard documents or allowing people to access legal information and advice online, including through automated apps. It could worsen the digital divide in society and solidify existing biases in the legal system, by preventing those without IT skills from accessing legal services or by relying on historical data which is prejudiced. Areas for immediate legislative intervention include expansion of the validity of digital signatures for uses such as wills or legal proceedings, and the admissibility of digital recordings in court. Members of the Oireachtas could consider longer-term policy questions, such as whether AI professions should be regulated or how to manage the use of AI by lawyers and judges. The Oireachtas and Government may need to explore whether some legislation should be “born digital”’ - written both in a human language and computer language from the outset. Dr Kennedy’s research noted that AI software programs may also “learn” to discriminate in ways that are illegal, focusing on characteristics that are proxies for social class, race or gender such as home address or height. “It is unlikely that AI can or will ever replace humans, but it may allow faster, cheaper, and fairer judging. However, if this software is not carefully designed, it could make prejudice even more difficult to remove from the justice system,” he said. Dr Kennedy said: “The paper explores technology which is already bringing about significant transformation in legal practice and in the courts, and may change it radically in the future. “The SFI Public Interest Fellowship provided a very interesting opportunity to learn more about how the Oireachtas operates, the important work of legislators, and how researchers can contribute to the development of policy. “My findings raise important questions that lawmakers and everyone involved in legal services should consider. The pandemic has shown how useful technology can be, but we need to have a debate about how we manage tools like remote court hearings and AI assistants for lawyers and judges to ensure that all of the impacts are positive.” Ends
Monday, 22 February 2021
NUI Galway’s Student Law Society have unveiled their programme of events to mark their 100th Anniversary which takes place from 1-8 March. LawSoc is one of the oldest and pre-eminent societies in Ireland and fosters unity amongst students, providing them with a social outlet. To mark the centenary, the society are hosting a series of virtual events featuring some of the most respected legal minds in the country. The virtual event over the course of the week will feature guests including: The Honourable Mr Justice Frank Clarke, Chief Justice of Ireland, President of the Supreme Court; Dr Tom Courtney, Author of ‘The Law of Companies’, FE1 Company Law Examiner, and NUI Galway Alumnus; and NUI Galway alumni representatives from A&L Goodbody Solicitors; and Frank Greaney,Courts Correspondent for Newstalk/Today FM, multi-award winning Journalist and NUI Galway Alumnus. On Monday, 8 March, LawSoc marks the end of the Centenary celebrations with a Webinar marking ‘International Women’s Day, with guests Michele O’Boyle,2020 President of the Law Society of Ireland; Maura McNally, Chair of the Bar Council of Ireland; andAnne Marie McMahon, Deputy Commissioner of An Garda Síochána. The event will be moderated by NUI Galway law lecturer, Ursula Connolly. Niamh Lynch, Auditor of the Law Society said; “During such unprecedented times for the world over, I am reminded of the words of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, that “so often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune. We are delighted to launching our LawSoc100 Centenary Celebrations. We hope that the celebrations will allow us an opportunity to reflect on the last 100 years of the Law Society, which has grown to become one of the largest societies in NUI Galway, and indeed one of the oldest in the Country. “We also hope that the celebration events will show the adaptability, perseverance and tenacity of the Society in reaching this significant milestone – traits which we aspire to in the present times. The past 100 years have taught us that adaptability and catering to changing times are assets which have become embedded into the values of the Society. Here, at LawSoc, we hope our attempt at embracing persistence throughout these challenging times, will result in good fortune for the society and its members. We stand at such a significant time in history and we intend to reflect that through our recent developments of further expansion into the digital world, examples being from our podcast ‘The Legal Lens with NUI Galway’s Law Society’; to our monthly LawSoc Gazette Newsletters; to these very celebrations. I hope you enjoy the Centenary Celebrations, and that you can join us as we journey the new chapter of our Society’s history.” Patrick McWalter, Vice-Auditor of the Law Society commented: “At the very core of LawSoc’s character is the desire for community, debate, engagement, and kinship – it is for this reason that we are more determined than ever before to ensure that we mark this momentous occasion- given that our community is now physically further apart than ever before. The Law Ball is the highlight of every Law Student’s calendar in NUI GALWAY, and for that reason we will be hosting our online Law Ball – let it never be said that a hidden virus stopped us from marking our Centenary in style. “We, as a society, are honoured to be joined by some of the brightest legal minds in the country for our celebrations, and we know that our members – past and present – will find these events both stimulating and engaging. As we stand at the end point of our first centenary, and as we look towards our next 100 years as a Society, we hope as a Society to proudly carry the baton from the previous ninety-nine committees, and to look towards the hundred years knowing that there is nothing that can weather the desire for citizenship, debate, and most of all, togetherness with our friends, colleagues and members.” President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh commented on the Centenary: “The Society encapsulates what NUI Galway is about – here for our Students, for civic Society, in terms of social justice, human rights and how we maintain good society more generally. The Law Society encapsulates values of respect for each other, excellence, openness and sustainability. The 100th Anniversary is significant in that the Society has sustained the student traditions over the years – a place I remember as one of oratory and welcome. The Law Society starts a new century now, and in doing so we recognise the importance of law in Society, especially for those most vulnerable in Society who very often need the protection of law.” All events take place online, and registration is essential. Registration is first come first served via Eventbrite. Students are also invited to the Virtual Law Ball, on Friday, 5 March. For more information see NUI Galway Law Society Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn pages. Events include: The Honourable Mr Justice Frank Clarke Chief Justice of Ireland, President of the Supreme Court Monday, 1 March, 5-6pm Free Registration: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/141820399633 Dr Tom Courtney Author of ‘The Law of Companies’, FE1 Company Law Examiner, NUI Galway Alumnus. “The Conflicting Interests of Company Directors” Tuesday, 2 March, 5-6pm Free Registration : https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/141723000309 A&L Goodbody Solicitors, Dublin Brian O'Malley, Partner; Bríd Nic Suibhne, Senior Associate, Employment; Eugenée Mulhern, Senior Adviser, Corporate and M&A; Eoghan Kenny, Senior Manager, Data Projects Back to the Future: How an International Law Firm has evolved over 100 years, and is preparing for the next 100. Wednesday, 3 March, 5-6pm Free Registration: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/141854820587 Frank Greaney, Courts Correspondent for Newstalk/Today FM, multi-award winning Journalist and NUI Galway Alumnus. “Media and the Law” Thursday, 4 March, 5-6pm Registration: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/141727036381 The Roaring 20’s, at a distance – The Virtual LawSoc Law Ball featuring cocktail making demonstrations, Comedian and MC Tom O’Mahony from Damo & Ivor, Republic of Telly and Irish Pictorial Weekly, Spot Prizes and lots more. Friday, 5 March, 7-9pm Tickets €10 from SocsBox website, (redeemable against your cocktail ingredients). https://cutt.ly/Ck4G4AA Women in Law : “Celebrating International Women’s Day” Michele O’Boyle 2020 President of the Law Society of Ireland, Maura McNally (Chair of the Bar Council of Ireland) and Anne Marie McMahon, Deputy Commissioner of An Garda Síochána Moderated by Ursula Connolly, School of Law, NUI Galway. Monday, 8 March 2020, 5-6pm Registration coming https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/NUI Galway-lawsoc-celebrates-international-womens-day-tickets-142226387955 -Ends-.
Monday, 22 February 2021
Feedback will help bring about change in Higher Education institutes GMIT and NUI Galway have issued a joint call urging third-level students in the west to take part in studentsurvey.ie, the findings of which will be used to further improve their institutes. Students can take part online by going to studentsurvey.ie from today Monday 22 February until Sunday 14 March. The survey, now in its ninth year, is open to all first year and final year undergraduate students, as well as students on taught and research postgraduate programmes. Questions relate to students’ experiences of higher education, including their academic, personal, and social development, as well as focusing on student engagement such as the learning experience, interaction with faculty and support services and activities. By taking part in the online survey and sharing their experiences, students can have a real impact and help bring about change in their higher education institution. Feedback from the annual survey has informed recent initiatives like the new Student Information Hub and Graduate Mentor scheme in GMIT. In NUI Galway, student feedback has led to the roll out of the CÉIM academic peer support programme, plans for the redevelopment of the library as a Learning Commons and improved pathways for accessing education by building on the University of Sanctuary designation. Last year, 44,707 students in 26 higher education institutions took part in the survey and almost 40% of eligible students in GMIT and NUI Galway participated. Aedín Ó hEocha, Assistant Registrar at GMIT, says: “In previous surveys, GMIT students have consistently rated the quality of their interactions with staff and the effectiveness of teaching highly. Feedback from students is especially important given the changes that COVID has brought to Higher Education over the last 12 months. It is more important now than ever before that students let us know what we are doing well, and where we could improve.” Professor Michelle Millar, Dean of Students at NUI Galway, says: “NUI Galway had the highest level of student engagement of any university in last year’s survey and almost nine out of 10 of our students said they would choose us again. It is testament to the value that our University community places on high standards and of giving people a voice, particularly our students. We want to maintain these high levels of engagement and satisfaction and learn from our students’ experiences, particularly the impact of Covid-19 and digital learning on student life and education.” ENDS