Monday, 23 April 2018

Author: Gerard Madden, School of Humanities Opinion: the Bishop of Galway Michael Browne's clerical career reveals much about the Catholic Church's changing influence in 20th century Ireland When considering the skyline of modern Galway, the impressive vista of Galway Cathedral looms large. Completed between 1958 and 1965, the cathedral is the most visible legacy of Michael Browne, the Bishop of Galway from 1937 to 1976. Born in 1895 into a middle-class family in Westport, Co. Mayo, Browne served as Professor of Moral Theology at St. Patrick’s Seminary, Maynooth, before being appointed bishop of the western diocese. He was an important figure in the Irish Catholic hierarchy at a time when the influence of the Catholic Church over state and society in independent Ireland was at its height. His period as bishop witnessed the reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) in which he participated, as well as many changes in Irish society. Yet Browne’s significance inthe Catholic Church’s role in 20th century Irish society is obscured by the popular focus on John Charles McQuaid, the Archbishop of Dublin from 1940 to 1971 While McQuaid’s biographer, John Cooney, described the Archbishop as the "ruler of Catholic Ireland", this ignores the importance of other members of the Irish hierarchy in the period, such as Cardinal D’Alton of Armagh, who was McQuaid’s ecclesiastical senior. Browne’s importance is also shrouded by McQuaid’s long shadow. The downfall of the Mother and Child Scheme in 1951 has often been identified as a clash between the Minister for Health, Dr Noël Browne (no relation of Bishop Browne) and McQuaid. A free health care measure for mothers and children proposed by the Minister for Health, it attracted strong opposition from the Catholic hierarchy, who viewed it as "socialised medicine" and argued that attempts to expand the state’s role in the area of healthcare had the potential to erode clerical control of Catholic hospitals. It eventually led to Noël Browne’s resignation as minister. But the former government minister suggested in his autobiography Against the Tide that his episcopal namesake, Michael Browne, was more important in the Scheme’s eventual failure than McQuaid, implying that Michael Browne had "manipulated" McQuaid "with much skill" into opposing the proposal. Browne was certainly a caustic opponent of the Scheme in his public pronouncements, declaring that it "reminds one of the claims put forward by Hitler and Stalin. These enemies of Christ claimed power over the bodies of their subjects and they exercised that power in their clinics and concentration camps". The bishop was memorably described by Noël Browne in Against the Tide as "a big man, well over six foot tall, his height enhancing the long black soutane with its thousand and one pea-size scarlet buttons". His outspokenness, illustrated by statements such as the one above, was noted as one of his defining characteristics. He earned the popular nickname "Cross Michael", a play on both his outspoken reputation and the traditional practice of bishops to draw a cross before their signatures. He had a deep interest in social issues. Close to Fianna Fáil, he was appointed by Éamon de Valera to chair the Commission of Vocational Organisation, set up by De Valera in 1939 to consider proposals to restructure Irish society by introducing corporatist organisations based on Catholic social principles. Under Browne, the Commission produced several reports in the early 1940s which were ultimately never implemented. In Galway itself, Browne was deeply concerned about public morality, and historian James S. Donnelly has highlighted his frequent condemnations of public drunkenness at the Galway Races and his opposition to members of both sexes bathing together in Salthill as prominent examples in this regard. He oversaw the construction of many new churches in the diocese, Galway Cathedral being the most striking example. In contrast to many of his flock, he was supportive of efforts to provide housing to members of Galway’s travelling community, strongly condemning vigilante attacks on travellers in the Rahoon and Shantalla areas of Galway City in 1969 and 1970. Browne also had a keen interest in international affairs, particularly the global expansion of communism after the second World War. During the early days of the Cold War, he joined Catholics across the world in condemning the house imprisonments of Cardinal József Mindszenty of Hungary and Archbishop Aloysius Stepinac of Yugoslavia by their countries’ respective communist governments. He defended anti-communist crusader Senator Joseph McCarthy and warned Irish Catholics in Britain to avoid the Connolly Association, a left-wing Irish organisation in Britain with communist links. The final years of Browne’s time as bishop were marked by the growth of secular and modernising forces within Irish society. Like his colleague McQuaid, he was unused to the increased questioning the Irish Catholic Church encountered from the 1960s onwards. A few months before his death, Browne, joined by dignitaries including his successor, Bishop Eamon Casey, dined privately with Pope John Paul II on the occasion of the Pope’s 1979 visit to Galway. While his period as bishop is extensively chronicled in his papers held at the Galway Diocesan Archives, Browne is an understudied figure whose clerical career reveals much about the Church’s changing influence over state and society in 20th century Ireland. This article first appeared on the RTÉ Brainstorm platform. Visit here

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Author: John Cox, James Hardiman Library Opinion: it's time to change the current system which generates big profits for publishers and denies free public access to research findings On the surface, publishing science research looks uncomplicated. Researchers make discoveries and communicate their findings in journals, with important breakthroughs summarised in the news media. Communication was the focus of the first journals in 1665. This remained so until after the second World War when a major expansion in scientific research activity and funding was matched by a proliferation of new journals. Until then journals had largely been the preserve of learned societies, but commercial publishers now saw an opportunity for profit. Pergamon Press, spearheaded by the media tycoon Robert Maxwell, was a leader who cultivated prospective authors through lavish hospitality at conferences. This helped to encourage a mindset among researchers that the journal in which one published could be an important consideration. Some journals promoted exclusivity, rejecting many submissions and conferring prestige on the authors they accepted. In 1972, a measure known as the journal impact factor began to be published. This ranked journals according to how often their articles were cited in reference lists by others, bringing them to wider attention as a result. Some journals become more attractive than others as channels through which research would be more widely noticed. Like fashionable nightclubs, they became places to be seen. Researchers need to publish to be successful, so they provide their articles for free and sign away copyright in return for their inclusion in prominent journals Journal publishers were in the right place at the right time. They owned the means by which academic researchers could not only promote their work, but also advance their careers. As research funding began to tighten in the 1980s and 1990s, a greater focus on accountability and performance measurement emerged. Publications, the key currency of research, were scrutinised and the impact factor became a convenient metric for those making decisions to award funding or promotion. Ownership of journals promised even more profitability and marketplace competition resulted in consolidation among the big players. The sale of Pergamon to Elsevier in 1991 was the prime example. Profit looks inevitable when you consider the remarkable business model involved. Researchers need to publish to be successful, so they provide their articles for free and sign away copyright in return for their inclusion in prominent journals. This great giveaway furnishes researchers with "career-defining tokens of prestige" which the current research assessment system values and requires. They even serve for free as journal editors or as members of editorial boards to ensure quality control of what is published. Publishing costs are contained, thanks to freely provided intellectual capital and ease of distribution through digital channels. Perversely, the primary paying customers for publishers are the libraries of the institutions which populate their journals for free. This may be strange for the general reader to believe, but it is true! Scientific journal publishing today is reckoned to generate almost €22 billion in global revenues. Consolidation has created a premier league dominated by a small number of very large companies, with five publishers identified as responsible for over half of all papers published in 2013. Profits are high for the top players: Elsevier’s 2017 figure of over €1 billion represented a profit margin of 36.8 percent, while Informa and Wiley enjoyed similar margins, all higher than Google’s 24 percent. Much of that profit comes from the annual subscriptions publishers charge to libraries. These costs are not controlled by competition as each journal is unique and one title cannot substitute for another. Publishers can set their own prices and journal cost inflation has for decades exceeded average retail price increases. Monopolies often have unhealthy consequences. There are concerns that "impact factor mania" distorts the conduct of scientific research. It is arguedthat preference is given to articles on topics which will attract lots of citations quickly and boost a journal’s impact factor. This can cause important research to be excluded. Negative results may be wastefully replicated because they are not published. Communication of findings can be delayed as authors work through a cycle of rejection by high-impact journals. The impact factor has flaws which may be overlooked by those who rely too much on it for decision-making about grants and careers. Despite this, China, Turkey and South Korea are reportedto have incentivised researchers financially to publish in high-profile journals. The power of publishers has implications too. Their interests seem to have had undue government protection.  A study in 2006 found that just a few journals, led by Nature and Science, published almost a quarter of the most highly cited scientific papers. In addition to controlling journals, some have created concerns about a conflict of interest as they also own tools used to evaluate research quality and impact. Journal prices are high, reducing the purchasing power of libraries in other areas, including book collections. Worst of all, access to research findings is unequal and limited to those who pay or who work in institutions which can afford an annual subscription. The public is therefore denied open access to the research it largely funds. Is there any hope of changing this unsatisfactory situation? At last, this seems to be the case. The internet has always offered the potential for alternative publishing systems to provide open and free access to research papers. The Open Access Movement dates back to 2002 and its influence has increased in recent years. A 2018 analysis finds that at least 28 percent of the world’s scholarly literature is freely and legally available, with a higher figure of 45 percent for 2015 publications. Open access comes in multiple flavours. These include a delayed version, often published by libraries, after the expiry of an embargo period. Another is immediate publication on payment of a processing charge to the publisher. There is a move towards trading annual subscription fees against publisher guarantees of immediate and perpetual open access to the publications created by the buyer. Libraries in the Netherlands, Finland and Germany have been negotiating accordingly for open access. Success will increase the volume of publications freely accessible to the public and move the pricing dynamic from the publisher’s journals to the buyer’s articles. A less palatable form of open access for publishers is represented by illicit sites like Sci-Hubwhich circumvent paywalls to make publications available for free. Such "biblioleak" sites pose a threat to publishers, especially as their coverage has been estimated at 85 percent of paywalled articles. Change is in the air and the time seems ripe to challenge profiteering and paywalls and expect better value and universal open access The European Union has taken the position that all publicly funded scientific papers published in Europe should be freely available by 2020 and the European Commission is currently establishing an open access publishing platform. More than 900 universities and research funders have published open access mandates. Decision makers are being urged to review how they evaluate research and many are signing the Declaration of Research Assessment. This emphasises assessing research on its merits regardless of the journal in which it is published. Researchers are vital to achieving change. They are being mobilised to retain the copyright in their publications, withdraw from journal editorial boards (as in Germany) and to return to scientific values of advancing knowledge and serving society. Change is in the air and the time seems ripe to challenge profiteering and paywalls and expect better value and universal open access. This article first appeared on the RTÉ Brainstorm platform. Visit here

Friday, 13 April 2018

Author: Barry Houlihan, James Hardiman Library Opinion: is George Bernard Shaw still relevant to our times? The instantly recognisable brand of George Bernard Shaw, a figure consciously self-cultivated and reinvented across the globe and through generations, is one of the central questions addressed by Fintan O’Toole in his recent study of Shaw’s life and legacy, Judging Shaw (Royal Irish Academy). It is timely for a new contemporary reassessment of just who GBS was and just why he mattered so much to the international social, political and artistic discourse of his time. But is he still relevant to our time? Is Shaw our contemporary? The answer to this can never be briefly surmised and that is what makes Shaw not just still relevant but perhaps never as important as he is today. His vast body of plays and lengthier prefaces (sometimes longer than the plays themselves) as well as his near endless tracts of writing and public commentary around his commitment to socialism, the eradication of poverty and the search for a society of fairness dominated many of his achievements; from John Bull’s Other Island to Saint Joan and from the Fabian Society to fulfilling the role of one of the world’s foremost public intellectuals. The afterlife of Shaw and our understanding of his legacies are being broadened by access to new archival material. Digital access to photographs, scripts, letters, manuscripts and ephemera at repositories around the globe such as the London School of Economics, the Harry Ransom Centre, The New York Public Library, The British Library and the Hardiman Library at NUI Galway means that, like Shaw’s global identity, the archive of Shaw is also a global entity. After Shaw died in November 1950, Irish audiences were seldom without the opportunity of seeing his plays. However, as a sign of changing tastes and theatrical movements, British playwright John Osborne dismissed GBS in 1977 as an "inept writer of Victorian melodramas". Yet new generations of Irish and British audiences attained new appreciations for Shaw’s theatre in this period through a spate of major revival productions. The ability of GBS’ work to adapt and speak to the globalising and modernising world of the 1960s and succeeding decades allowed new companies and theatres to reinvigorate Shavian theatre in terms of practice and production. At home, the initials and enduring brand of "GBS" was prominently pictured on the programme cover of a Festival of Anglo-Irish Theatre by Druid Theatre Company in Galway in 1977, in the form of a reproduction of the autograph tree at Coole Park, the home of Lady Augusta Gregory. Druid's Garry Hynes also directed Shaw plays Village Wooing and The Fascinating Foundling in 1978 and 1979. Cork-born director Mary O’Malley staged Shaw’s satire on "the Irish Question", John Bull’s Other Island, In Belfast in August 1971, the same week the British "Operation Demetrius" enforced "internment without trial" against Republican suspects. This brought Anglo-Irish relations to a perilous low, while audiences and critics signalled their emphatic approval of the play. Belfast critics commented, seemingly without irony in the backdrop to conflict, that the play has "blown the cobwebs off Shaw" and delighted in the Shaw revival having finally reached Belfast. Siobhan McKenna, the celebrated actor who was dubbed by Brian Friel as being ‘the idea of Ireland’, adapted and starred in Saint Joan. Capitalising on the still relatively recent canonisation of Joan of Arc in May 1920, Shaw brought the newly sainted Joan to the London stage through Sybil Thorndikein 1924. McKenna translated the script into Irish for a production at Galway’s Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe in 1951 and later starred as Joan to critical acclaim on Broadway in 1956. The tragedy of Shaw’s depiction of the trial of the saint-in-making, which traverses themes of myth, legend, conflict, language and identity, is that the play was deemed so necessary to the world in the wake of World War II. The idea of how to commemorate GBS, one of the world’s most well-known and celebrated literary and intellectual figures, after his death in 1950 remained to be seen. Shaw’s image and likeness was recorded, documented and appropriated throughout and after his lifetime. A pioneering photographer who was fascinated by the technology and methods of the medium, Shaw took great care to experiment with capturing his own image for posterity. Varying light, space, location and angle, these images of Shaw have become an archive of the ageing image and body of GBS, a figure as recognisable as his own initials. Shaw had complex opinions about his effigy and legacy. He discarded his birthday by deed poll and avoided celebrating his birth, telling a reporter in Scotland on the occasion of his 60th birthday that he was "not young enough to be really proud of my age and not old enough to have become really popular in England". Shaw rebuffed the idea for a commemorative plaque to be mounted on the house of his birth in Dublin's Synge Street. He said he would strictly only consent to the biographical details he himself submitted and that the plaque "must bear no inscription of opinion as to my merits and demerits and must state only the unquestionable fact that I once lived in this house." Considering his own mortality, Shaw later joked that his ghost would be "enormously amused" if his statue, cast in bronze by the sculptor Paolo Troubetzkoy, would be placed on College Green in Dublin, next to the statues of Oliver Goldsmith or Henry Grattan, figures who were both Trinity College alumni and symbolic of the formal classical education Shaw himself did not receive. Shaw’s wife, Charlotte, took great efforts to ensure that Dublin would "possess a good portrait" of her husband, leaving a portrait by John Collier to the National Gallery during his lifetime. In a filmed interview at his home in Ayot St. Lawrence, Hertfordshire, the 90-year old Shaw delighted at the cameras and those present. "Well, it's very pleasant to have seen you all here. And to think that you are my audience, and all that. Because I'm a born actor, myself. I like an audience. I'm like a child in that respect. Well, goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye all of you." Shaw regaled in having an audience. He never lost his child-like fascination with the world and people and the pursuit of ideas. It is true today that we are all still Shaw’s audience. A new exhibition Judging Shaw, produced by the Royal Irish Academy and NUI Galway will open at The Heyman Centre at Columbia University in New York next week with an event debating the question, Shaw, Our Contemporary? Participants will include Catriona Crowe, Ruth Hegarty, Barry Houlihan, Lucy McDiarmid, Adrian Paterson and Keri Walsh. Fintan O’Toole will deliver the keynote lecture entitled "GBS Versus Ireland: Bernard Shaw and Irish Nationalism." This article first appeared on the RTÉ Brainstorm platform. Visit here  

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Author: Barry Hayes, College of Engineering and Informatics Analysis: the success or failure of the rollout of new meters will depend on the Irish consumer’s willingness to engage with the technology Smart electricity meters will soon be installed in households and businesses across Ireland. The first 250,000 smart meters will be installed in 2019 and a total of 2.3 million meters are due to be in place by 2024. The smart meter rollout is replacing the old mechanical meters with a box of electronics containing sensors which measure and record a building’s total electrical energy consumption. The meters also contain a communications module, which allows this information to be automatically transmitted to the electricity supplier via a mobile network, so no broadband connection is required. This means that estimated electricity bills and manual meter reads by an ESB technician will soon be a thing of the past.   However, all of this comes at a cost and it’s the electricity customer who will foot the bill. As with any part of our electricity network infrastructure, the cost of smart metering will be passed onto the consumer via our electricity bills. Each of us will pay €5.50 per year for 20 years in order to cover the costs of smart metering. The Commission for Energy Regulation smart metering cost-benefit analysis report indicates that these costs are expected to be more than offset by the energy savings resulting from smart metering, with a net economic benefit for the Irish consumer. But are smart meters really necessary? And what have experiences been like in other countries where smart meters have already been rolled out? Smart meters provide us with much more detailed information on our electricity usage and, in theory, greater awareness of energy usage will promote better energy management and energy efficiency in the home. Smart metering also opens up new possibilities for dynamic "time-of-use" energy pricing, where the price of electricity for consumers varies throughout the course of the day. This changing electricity price reflects the actual cost of producing electrical energy at any given time. Electricity is a unique commodity in that it is highly volatile and extremely difficult to store in large quantities. In effect, our electricity needs to be generated in the same instant that it is consumed. Electricity generation is far more expensive and carbon-intensive during times of heaviest demand on the national grid (for example, the evening peak demand on winter days), since dirty fossil fuel "peaking" generator plants need to be ramped up. On the other hand, electricity can be much cheaper to produce from renewable sources on windy days, and when overall system demand is lower. These factors are reflected as price changes in the electricity wholesale market, where huge volumes of electrical energy are traded daily. Greater awareness of energy usage will promote better energy management and energy efficiency in the home With smart meters, small users such as householders will have the opportunity to participate to some degree in the national electricity market. By adjusting their energy consumption to avoid heavy consumption during peak times, consumers will be able to avail of lower electricity prices at times when overall system demand is low and when renewable energy is plentiful. Users can adjust their energy habits in the home manually or with smart building technologies so energy savings can be achieved automatically without the user noticing any impacts. Smart meters were trialled at over 5,000 homes in Ireland in 2009 and 2010, showing a 2.5 percent reduction in overall electricity demand and a peak-time demand reduction of 8.8 percent (full results are available here). Ireland is a relative latecomer to smart metering in the developed world, but experiences from other European countries show total energy savings from smart metering in the range of two to three percent, broadly in line with the results from the Irish smart metering trials. While these headline figures for overall energy savings may not seem very impressive, this can translate into hundreds of millions of euro in savings from deferral of grid infrastructure investments and lower CO2 emissions, particularly if the peak electricity demand can be reduced. There is potential for greater benefits to be achieved in the future, as more small consumers install electric vehicles, smart home technologies and batteries, thereby increasing their ability to "flex" their energy consumption according to electricity prices. However, the last time we tried to introduce smart metering in Ireland (the ill-fated Irish Water project), the result was very little public acceptance, mass protests, aggression towards meter installation teams, and the ultimate abandonment of the entire project. Is electricity smart metering likely to be any different? Other European countries show total energy savings from smart metering in the range of two to three percent  Electricity smart meters may prove to be more publicly-acceptable, since they represent an upgrade of the existing metering technology for a service which customers are already billed for. There are also encouraging signs that the Commission for Energy Regulation have learned from the mistakes of electricity smart meter rollouts in other countries. The smart meter rollout will not be supplier-led (as it was in the UK, for example) which will result in a lower overall cost to Irish consumers and will allow customers to change their electricity suppliers easily after the smart meters are installed. The meter rollout will be phased in such a way that early adopters (consumers who are interested in having a smart meter) will be focused on first, with the aim that they will provide a positive example to others. Consumers with concerns about smart meters can opt-out and keep their "dumb" meter, but will not have access to savings or benefits from the scheme. Ultimately, the success or failure of the electricity smart metering project will depend on the Irish consumer’s willingness to engage with the technology. Smart meters are a critical part of our future energy infrastructure, but regulators face a huge task in persuading the public of the merits of the scheme. This article first appeared on the RTÉ Brainstorm platform. Visit here

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Author: Professor Gary Donohoe, School of Psychology, NUI Galway Opinion: compared to adults, mental health is the single biggest health issue young people face As a researcher and a practicing clinical psychologist, it’s been wonderful to see the increased focus on mental health in the national media. So many different voices and experiences are shaping the narrative – from celebrities like Mariah Carey talking about living with bipolar disorder to Prince Harry talking about the psychological effects of grief. Nationally, individuals from the world of sports have also made important contributions, including Dublin GAA footballer Nicole Owens and Galway hurler Conor Whelan talking about coping with mental health difficulties, either one’s own or those of a family member. As these conversations happen, public understanding of mental health and mental disorders is expanding. Previously, conversations about mental health focused particularly on depression and suicide. Now, other mental health difficulties, including bipolar disorder, OCD, social phobia, borderline personality disorder, and schizophrenia are starting to be included for discussion. What is perhaps still not being discussed enough though is that a majority of these disorders begin in young adulthood. There is good evidence now to show that 75 percent of serious mental health difficulties start between the ages of 15 and 25. Furthermore, by comparison with older adults, for whom mental health is only one among several causes of disability (along with cardiovascular disease, neurological disorders, and cancer), mental health represents THE single biggest health issue young people face. Despite this, young people and their families face enormous problems with accessing appropriate services, not just in Ireland but in other developed countries also. Some of these problems are to do with the developmental stage of the young person. On the one hand, the young man or woman is meant to be on a trajectory towards moving out of home, relying less on parents and more on their peer group. On the other hand, he or she is ill-equipped in terms of life experience to seek help or advocate for themselves. Difficulties with correctly recognising symptoms, and continuing high levels of stigma, compound this problem. However, other problems with accessing services are structural. Mental health services, like most health services, are designated as either child and adolescent services (up to aged 18 years) or adult (from 18 years onwards), creating an enormous sense of discontinuity. It positions young people aged 15 to 25 at the "edges" of both services, rather than as their target group. Many families are appalled by their experience of this gap – there is nothing worse than having a son or daughter in crisis, seeking help, and finding yourself in a waiting room full or 40 and 50 year olds. Other criticisms include an insufficient range of services, the only qualified professional you can be guaranteed to see is a medical professional and, even at that, services are often delivered by junior doctors who change positions every six months. Not a major problem if you’re having your appendix out over a couple of days, but a serious barrier if the mental health care you need is likely to take several months. It positions young people aged 15 to 25 at the "edges" of both services, rather than as their target group Last December, the National Youth Mental Health Task Force commissioned by the Irish government outlined 10 key recommendations designed to tackle the gaps in service provision. These included tackling these issues of accessibility and alignment of youth mental services. It also recommended strengthening the provision of youth mental health services in schools and third level institutions where young people are, rather than just in traditional mental health services, and strengthening community supports more broadly. It also identified the need to improve our knowledge about youth mental health and build a critical mass of researchers in this area, which has been lacking until now. Paralleling this recommendation, the Irish Health Research Board recently committed €1.5 million to fund a consortium of Irish and International researchers to carry out a series of studies tackling key questions about causes, treatments, and the delivery of services in youth mental health. Led by researchers from NUI Galway, UCD and RCSI and partnered by the HSE and JIGSAW, the YOULEAD research will last for five years, and will provide PhD level training to a group of future clinical and academic research leaders in youth mental health. The five key areas being tackled by the YOULEAD programme are: (1) adversity and outcomes – identifying preventable causes of youth mental health difficulties (led by Profs Mary Cannon and David Cotter, RCSI); (2) understanding barriers to treatment – identifying strategies to support parental help-seeking (led by Prof Eilis Hennessy and Dr Caroline Heary, UCD/NUI Galway); (3) improving participation – establishing a framework for youth participation in mental health service development and delivery (led by Dr Padraig MacNeela, NUI Galway); (4) community interventions - evaluating the effectiveness of current community based interventions (led by Prof Barbara Dooley and Dr Aileen O’Reilly, UCD/Jigsaw and (5) online social interventions – evaluate the health benefits of providing online social supports (led by Prof Gary Donohoe, NUI Galway). The questions being tackled do not have simple answers and translating any new knowledge into policy and practice will be challenging. But establishing this research network and training future leaders in youth mental health research represents one of the key steps needed in getting serious about tackling the largest health issue facing our young people. The YOULEAD program will commence in September 2018 and is currently accepting applications from prospective clinical fellows and PhD scholars. This article first appeared on the RTÉ Brainstorm platform.  Visit here

Friday, 20 April 2018

Author: Eva Szegezdi, Apoptosis Research Centre Analysis: many common cancers spread initially to the bone marrow and research is underway to tackle the protection the tissue provides to these cells Cancer therapy should target cancer cells, but is this the most effective approach? New research indicates the need for a much bigger net to tackle not just cancer cells, but the tissue in which they grow. Until recently, cancer research focused on how to eliminate cancer cells and did not consider the surrounding tissue in which the cancer cells grow, known as the cancer’s microenvironment (or niche).  As cancer is caused by damaged DNA creating faulty genes, called oncogenes, it was broadly accepted that inhibiting these oncogenes would kill the cancer cells without causing much collateral damage. Consequently, a tumour has been treated as a separate entity existing and growing in the body, almost with a life of its own. However, there are many indications that this is not the case. For example, we know that when cancers spread, they favour certain tissues to set up home in. The "seed and soil" theory suggests the reason for this is that a cancer cell (the seed) is only able to take root if it finds the right kind of environment (soil). Although this theory was put forward more than a century ago, it is only in the last decade that research into the tumour’s microenvironment has really come to the fore.   When we hear about cancer patients whose disease has unfortunately spread, very often these "secondaries" or "metastases" have spread to the bone. If we consider some of the most common cancers (including breast, prostate, colorectal, pancreatic, kidney, bladder, thyroid etc.), their first choice of destination, if they spread, is the bone marrow. At the same time, leukemia, a cancer that develops in the bone marrow, rarely, if ever, forms metastases. Why is this and what is so habitable about the bone marrow?  To understand this, we must first consider the normal purpose of this tissue. The bone marrow is where our blood cells are produced. Red blood cells carry oxygen to tissues, while white blood cells serve as the immune system providing protection to the body against infections. They are all formed in the bone marrow from blood stem cells (hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells). Blood stem cells can lay dormant in the bone marrow, or multiply and develop into the different blood cells, depending on the need. Interestingly, whether a blood stem cell stays inactive or multiplies is decided by the bone marrow tissue, not by the cell itself. For example, when someone comes down with a cold, a large number of white blood cells are needed to fight the infection so all the white blood cells are released from the bone marrow into the blood to find the bacteria or virus. This "emptying" of white blood cells is detected by the bone marrow microenvironment and leads to the production of activation hormones that tells dormant blood stem cells to multiply and replenish the white blood cell pool. Cancer cells also take advantage of these survival hormones which is probably why they find the bone marrow to be the perfect location to establish a secondary tumour  Besides these activation hormones, the bone marrow produces a constant stream of survival hormones, essential to keeping the blood stem cells alive. These survival hormones are so powerful that if a blood stem cell doesn’t receive these signals, a countdown timer is activated in them that causes them to self-destruct and die within a few days. These survival hormones protect the blood stem cells from dying and also arm them against toxins and stress. Cancer cells of other tissue origin can also take advantage of these survival hormones and this is probably the reason why they often find the bone marrow microenvironment to be the perfect location to establish a secondary tumour or metastasis. Evidence so far for this includes results from a new drug that specifically targets an oncogene (called FLT3) that acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells have. It was noticed in the clinic that this drug has a very short-term effect. Laboratory investigation found that AML cells can be killed when this drug is added. However, when the same AML cells receive the survival signals produced by the bone marrow, they can fully resist the drug and do not die. So when a patient receives this therapy, it appears to work initially as the drug kills the AML cells that are circulating in the blood stream. However, the AML cells hiding in the bone marrow survive and, after treatment, they grow again and the full blown disease returns. Novel therapies are now being designed specifically to tackle the protection the bone marrow provides to cancer cells. One such approach is to coax cancer cells out of the bone marrow and into the blood stream where they are more susceptible to treatments. This can be done as AML cells regularly move between the blood and the bone marrow. A new drug called Plerixafor (currently in phase II clinical trials) has been designed to bring AML cells out of the bone marrow and prevent them from returning. Once the AML cells are in the blood stream where they don’t receive the survival signals, they can be killed with chemotherapeutic drugs. Another approach, which is underway at NUI Galway, is to make the bone marrow more hostile to cancer cells. The research group found that a specific drug changes what hormones bone marrow cells produce. By adding this drug, the bone marrow cells produce hormones that weaken, rather than protect the cancer cells, and thus making them more sensitive to chemotherapy. In the future, drugs that make cancer cells leave the bone marrow or drugs that block the production of survival hormones can be used to sensitise cancer cells to chemotherapeutics. This will make the therapy more effective with the potential to kill all cancer cells and thus preventing the return of the cancer. This article first appeared on the RTÉ Brainstorm platform. Visit here

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Author: Elaine Byrnes, School of Psychology Opinion: it's not enough just to have "The Talk" or leave everything to teachers who may lack training in what is a specialist subject with unique challenges As someone whose research area focusses on sexual behaviour and the communication of consent, I followed the Belfast rape trial closely. It has reiterated for me how tenuous the grasp on understanding consent really is from a behavioural perspective, particularly amongst emerging adults aged between 18 and 29. It has further reiterated my view that education in consent is required at second level as a matter of urgency.  I co-facilitate a sexual health module, being piloted with TY students at the alma-mater of my colleague, Richie Sadlier. This work has strengthened my assertion that our existing approach to sex education in this country is obsolete, inadequate and fails to meet the needs of young people. There is a requirement for review and inevitable change that goes beyond enhancing what exists. Ours is a six week module and we conduct a pre-module survey on week one. The rationale for this is to give us a baseline for the boys' understanding of sexual health. Unsurprisingly to us, it is limited. We also ask what are the three topics they would like to see covered during the module. There is remarkable consistency in this: healthy relationships, consent and contraception.  By a happy coincidence, these are the basic themes that run through the module. They want to understand what consent means in reality and how they can communicate it in relationships Feedback too has been overwhelmingly positive – from the students themselves, their parents and the school. I believe there are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, from the boys perspective, our focus is on the promotion of sexual competence. There are four underpinning principles to the establishment of adolescent sexual competence in anticipation of the circumstances for first intercourse: absence of regret, willingness (not under duress), autonomy of decision (a natural follow on in the relationship, being in love, curiosity), as opposed to non-autonomous (being intoxicated or peer pressure) and reliable use of contraception.  The primary objective of the module is to encourage the boys to explore what positive sexuality means for them and others in a safe, supported environment. Its intention is also to empower them with the skills to actively and affirmatively negotiate these experiences, both for themselves and others, in sexual relationships. I see how conscious the boys are of issues related to consent. They are also acutely aware of related gendered stereotypes, culturally and societally embedded, that are invariably heteronormative, in which males are depicted as predatory and females as passive. They want to understand what consent means in reality and how they can communicate it in relationships. For me, it also involves translating what has become quite a convoluted concept down to basic respect: respect for boundaries, respect for feelings, respect for what the other person wants and needs and what they want and need for themselves. This is crucial to supporting young people in developing healthy and mutually satisfying relationships regardless of gender, sexual orientation or identity. Secondly, from the perspective of parents. While some of the boys recount open communication with their parents on matters related to sex and sexuality, most say it has been confined to "The Talk", an awkward and uncomfortable experience for all involved. This is not unique to South County Dublin! One parent recounted that their son’s participation in the module led to the unexpected and welcome opening of a dialogue at home. I readily understand that there is a certain onus of responsibility on us as parents to facilitate our children’s developing knowledge and education about relationships and sexuality. I am equally understanding of the reality that it will probably take another generation before we have matured societally in Ireland for this to happen in any meaningful way. Indeed, in countries with a more progressive approach to sex education, such as Norway and Finland, children learn through both school and home that sex and sexuality are healthy and normative components of the human experience. Thirdly, from the perspective of the school, there is confidence in and support for the delivery of a module that goes way beyond that of the existing RSE programme. I am still at a loss to understand how a topic such as sexuality is expected to be delivered in the same way as other subjects, by embarrassed teachers who lack training in what is a specialist subject with unique challenges. It is also an unfair burden to expect a Geography, History or English teacher to effectively "moonlight" as a sexual health educator. The very real benefits of a comprehensive, interactive, peer-led programme are currently only available to one year in one, single gender school In my experience, the relationship between us as facilitators and the students is very different to a teacher-student relationship. I readily understand how challenging it is for a teacher, regardless of how engaged and enthusiastic they may be in endeavouring to deliver the existing programme, to seamlessly reassume an authoritative role in the next class of their primary subject. What was at the beginning of our pilot an uncomfortable realisation has now become a source of frustration for Richie and I: the very real benefits of a comprehensive, interactive, peer-led programme are currently only available to one year in one, single gender school. It is only by implementing and ensuring consistent delivery of such a programme in each and every secondary school that we have the opportunity to develop sexual competence and protect the sexual health of young people. This article first appeared on the RTÉ Brainstorm platform. Visit here

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Author: Rebecca Barr, School of Humanities Opinion: there are troubling parallels between historical and contemporary attitudes to rape and sexual assault - and the difficulty of trying such cases in a court of law The nine-week Belfast rape trial has done what decades of sectarian conflict never did and brought the entire country together in an intense debate about law and morality, sympathy and truth. The acquittal of the four young men has intensified, rather than quelled, debate, as women’s bodies and women’s wishes have again become a symbolic battleground for entire visions of society and justice. Irrespective of the outcome, the evidence presented during the trial has been seen as representative of a modern "toxic masculinity" and the grotesque excess of porn culture. But it can also be read as part of a misogynist continuum legible in legal history and literary fiction. For those of us familiar with historical fiction, there are troubling parallels between historical and contemporary attitudes to rape and sexual assault (and the difficulty of trying such cases in a court of law). In 1747, a novel entitled Clarissa, or, The History of a Young Lady by a middle-aged printer named Samuel Richardson, presented a fictional case-study of sexual assault and its repercussions on a young woman. Clarissa is a long read, a detailed account of the lead up to and aftermath of a dimly-described rape. The novel plays off competing subjective versions of events, converging only on the assault, though its meaning is disputed. The female heroine, Clarissa Harlowe, is an exemplary young woman who is pressurised (or hoodwinked) into leaving her parents’ house with an attractive nobleman named Robert Lovelace. His subsequent attempts to seduce her are unsuccessful, thanks to her steadfast and often violent refusals. Clarissa is finally raped, drugged and hysterical, with the assistance of female accomplices. She escapes and precipitately dies, another tragic female heroine in the age of sexual double-binds. She refuses to prosecute, preferring divine justice: "God Almighty would not let me depend for comfort on any but himself", she says. The novel doles out its own form of justice by killing off the now-disconsolate Lovelace. Yet despite the clear intent demonstrated by Lovelace, 18th-century readers were divided. Some felt that Lovelace was too attractive to be wholly bad and that Clarissa’s fatal sorrow was an over-reaction to a natural passion. The author, if no-one else, believed there was a moral message: libertines did not make good husbands and women’s consent mattered. Laughing at rape and rape victims (whether alleged or proven) has a long lineage Modern readers of Clarissa sometimes respond with "the enormous condescension of posterity". This is a sense that the contemporary public sphere is more accommodating of women’s testimonies, certainly more respectful of the seriousness of allegations of rape and sexual assault, believing that the law has evolved to sift subjective accounts and interrogate witness credibility less brutally than before. Yet the Belfast trial shows how close we are to those "unmodified" and cruel forms of public appraisal that underpinned the 18th-century legal system. Reporting for the Irish Independent, Nicola Anderson noted that the spectatorial nature of the open trial led to a reduction in "common decency", where "rape trial day-trippers" treated the proceedings as "a stage production" performed for their entertainment. During much of the plaintiff’s testimony, "scornful laughter rang out in the public gallery", despite the seriousness of the charges. Such forms of humour remodel suffering and shame as a triviality. Laughing at rape and rape victims (whether alleged or proven) has a long lineage. During the 18th century, rape trials were mined as a source for jokes. The Humours of the Old Bailey (1772), an anthology of "comic" trials, advertised the "merry and diverting" rapes included in its pages. The 18th century was inherently skeptical about women’s reliability when discussing sexual activity: articulate accusation and inchoate distress were both judicial liabilities. On the witness stand, then as now, women were open to incredulity, derision, and mockery. As both the Belfast gallery and the 18th-century mob show, nothing disables sympathy and gravity more than laughter.  There are further parallels. Clarissa is written in letters, with both characters giving intimate accounts of events, generating credibility, revealing intentions to their confidants. Richardson’s novel thus harnesses the "to-the-moment" potential of correspondence: the familiar letter was the instant message of the 18th century. The reliability and truthfulness of textual evidence is something the novel explores: what do we mean when we write? How does our audience shape our self in writing? Can  writing reflect our true selves? In the third edition of Clarissa, Richardson added an extra letter, designed to consolidate the moral ugliness of the villain, Lovelace, for readers who persisted in sympathising with him. In it, Lovelace proposes that he and his best male friend embark upon a triple rape: assaulting Clarissa’s best friend Anna, her mother, and a maidservant. This "frolic" – a kind of 18th-century lads’ night out – is an expression of male entitlement. This letter makes Lovelace’s disregard of women and the indiscriminate logic of power underlying sexual violence explicit. He does this because he can and because he revels in his impunity. Lovelace refutes the idea that such an assault would result in imprisonment. Women are unlikely to prosecute, he notes, but he would be delighted if they did. British law "is more merciful in these cases than in any others" and a criminal trial would provide just another stage for exhibiting his prowess. His social prestige and sexual attractiveness will inevitably seduce the audience: "all the women" will favour the defendants and excuse their crimes.  The group texts in the Belfast trial pose similar interpretive questions as those in the novel: how reliable an index to the defendants’ characters are they? The messages exchanged between the defendants in the Belfast trial parallel this fantasy. In both cases, homosocial bonding amplifies misogyny; both correspondences reduce women to objects – stage props that merely confirm the glamour and supremacy of the male participants. Lovelace’s gleeful "what brave fellows! - What fine gentlemen!" is echoed in the smug "why are we all such legends?" of the WhatsApp texts: both revel in their youthful glory. The group texts in the Belfast trial pose similar interpretive questions as those in the novel. How reliable an index to the defendants’ characters are they? As Judge Patricia Smyth advised, "communications of this kind are normally instantaneous and without consideration and may be ill-judged and not representative of character of the sender". As the acquittal shows, the language of sexual degradation is not equivalent to committing a crime. But skeptical readers, like literary critics, can argue that what is written "without consideration" might be evidence of unconscious disposition: interpretive suspicion extends beyond the courtroom. Unlike the law, fiction depends on generating judgement and sympathy, complicating and refusing easy decisions, so that we continue to debate ambiguity while practicing moral discernment. Both Clarissa and the Belfast trial have acted as a kind of touchstone of opinion and both offer us a moment of genuine self-reflection. Novels such as Clarissa illuminate the history of sexual violation and the power dynamics of desire and disavowal at work in our culture. The subjective and historical perspectives they give us show us how badly we have failed to progress. If literature teaches the work of sympathy, we need to start reading now. This article first appeared on the RTÉ Brainstorm platform. Visit here

Monday, 2 April 2018

Author: Enda Dodd, Business Innovation Centre Opinion: to mark World Autism Awareness Day, Enda Dodd talks about the tools which have helped his kids communicate a way out of the isolation of autism For those who have come to know our family around the world, they will tell you that we invest much of our energy in understanding communication. I say this because we believe and live a life immersed in and enriched by this understanding. We are a family who have faced great adversity and ultimately survived. This is a story that relates how we overcame a diagnosis of severe autism where our sons would never learn to communicate. How we transcended this diagnosis through a series of miracles. And mostly, why all this matters. Over the years, much like anyone making their way in the world, my wife Val and I have always had a healthy curiosity for the human condition. But when our children were diagnosed as severely disabled as toddlers, nothing we had experienced up to this time prepared us for what was coming. Autism is a really strange condition to be diagnosed with. It’s a condition where an elementary teacher might say of your child: "he’s very intelligent, but I have no idea how to reach him, he just can’t communicate, he doesn’t fit here, there must be somewhere else for him". Or the local athletics' club confides in you that there are parents who don't like their kids mixing with your less than perfect child, least they might be somehow damaged by the experience. I could write pages on this, but the word most pervading these pages would be "hopeless". Why all this matters We started as anyone might when they receive this kind of news and looked for some uplifting stories of families overcoming autism. There were a few, but they were largely the realm of the wealthy or the lucky on closer examination. Like most, we never had the resources to pay for that rare and unique private school and all that goes with it, like the speech therapy, occupational therapy, social training, rent-a-friend for your 'special' child, to mention but a few. In the US, which has the most autism services, you are talking anything up to $150,000 per year to create the kind of miracles which families like us are looking for.  Recently, our sons Conor and Eoin turned 21, and their story today is of two young men programming full time at a research centre in a leading university. They are contributing their energies to creating the tools and a road map that any family can follow out of the isolation of autism, something they really feel strongly about. Conor and Eoin are making a real difference in the world today, because of who they are, not because of how they were labelled. Today, we and the boys are working with over 400 families around the world, families whose children have started life much as ours did. Children who would never communicate and destined to live their lives in the shadows. Yet through the boys’ efforts and that of an extraordinary support team across the globe, these children will communicate and emerge to take their place in our world. We are only beginning, but the Animated Language Learning (ALL) system has recorded over 50,000 answers to language exercises from children who were often described as unreachable. Their activities on ALL grow language and open up our understanding of their reasoning and use of language, much in the same way that Conor and Eoin did. In this, the support we have received at NUI Galway has been wonderful and has enabled the boys in a truly special way. Our increasing understanding of the ALL data is teaching us how to unlock these children. Indeed, leading NUI Galway researchers in computer science and artificial intelligence are assisting in the mapping of this data while being uniquely supported by the school of education.  What comes next? Our work in this area has led us to conclude that language is a gateway to life. Autistic children emerging with language need to learn how to interact with society, just as society needs to accommodate their differences. As Val constantly says, language is ultimately experiential and is only truly understood in its social use. Our family splits its time between the creation of the ALL language programs and advising parents on how to grow their children in line with their abilities and not society's expectations. Our websitereceives hundreds of thousands of visitors who draw from Enda and Val's blogs on everything from going to the supermarket to dealing with the death of a family member. Our work in this area has led us to conclude that language is a gateway to life Our research center in NUI Galway has attracted the support of Disney, Adobe, Microsoft and Google. I've traveled to Brussels with a view to establish the funding needed to make a real impact in the autism world. NUI Galway is the hub of our endeavour and the spokes reach out around the world. And at the centre of it all are Conor and Eoin, young men who possess an understanding possible only from their unique experiences. Our story will soon become enriched by the academics, teachers, parents and children who are rewriting their futures built on the shoulders of two young men once described as hopeless. Two great communicators who even today are largely non-verbal. This article first appeared on the RTÉ Brainstorm platform. Visit here

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Author: Miriam Haughton, O'Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Opinion: With a new production of the playwright's On Raftery's Hill about to open, how will audiences react to the play this time around? The Abbey Theatre’s decision to produce Irish playwright Marina Carr’swork On Raftery’s Hill is a brave one, as is the decision to direct it by Caitriona McLaughlin. While Carr is internationally acclaimed as a great playwright, On Raftery’s Hill is potentially one of her most difficult pieces for audiences and critics to engage with. It asks uncomfortable questions about how Irish communities operate, resonating with some of the darkest truths of history. Co-produced by the Druid Theatre and Royal Court in 2000, the premiere production toured throughout Ireland, the UK, and the US and reactions were severe. Following the international success of Carr’s Midlands’ Trilogy, expectations were high for the next big play from Ireland’s emerging leading female playwright. Instead, On Raftery’s Hill was met with confusion, shock, resistance and even anger and disgust. Is this Ireland? Is this what we should expect from an Irish play? The underlying implication was that this isn’t in line with the traditional pastoral kitchen sink delights. Indeed, where are those comely maidens dancing at crossroads? On Raftery’s Hill is set in a kitchen on family farmland in rural Ireland but disrupts any nostalgia for cosy Irish homesteads that may be provoked on introduction to this setting. The Raftery home is a broken home and the audience act as witness to intergenerational abuse and despair that is played out in two acts. While the artistic sensibility of Carr’s dramaturgy is most often considered as influenced by Beckettian landscapes, living appears as a nightmare that will not end in this play and resonates more with James Joyce’s infamous dictum on history in Ulysses through his haunted protagonist Stephen Dedalus. The sense of imprisonment is overpowering. There are animal carcasses rotting in the surrounding fields and the living human bodies appear to be rotting inside the house. Four generations of women remain in the house, from the grandmother Shalome to the great-grandaughter Sorrel, and possibly five generations if, as hinted, Sorrel is pregnant by the end of the play and ensuring that the next generation will be as traumatised as this current one. The father Red Raftery, both villain and victim, roams the fields torturing baby animals as he tortures his own young. While those familiar with Carr’s dramaturgy will expect familial tragedy and spectacle of epic proportions, these are usually staged at a clear remove from "reality" by non-realist staging devices, such as the insertion of mythical characters and ghostly goings-on. In much of her work previous to ORH, one can say "yes, this is awful, but it is a play and not real" and often concludes on a note of hope or change. The dramatic action in ORH is more difficult to remain removed from and there is no hope, change or exit for the characters by the end of the play. The trauma is naturalistic, identifiable and clearly resonant of deeply embedded problems in Irish history and society. Specifically, the violence and abuse (sexual, physical, emotional) that is enacted by generations of the Raftery family and facilitated, if not protected, by the wider community, draws tense parallels with the exposure of systemic abuse in the main institutions of modern Irish life, such as within the family, community, school and church. In 2000, these exposures were still ongoing and raw in the national consciousness; will this be less so by 2018? Indeed, one can now add violence and abuse in the workplace to that list. Will this change how audiences and critics engage with this play? One can question why this play is so difficult to stage when popular culture is bursting with regular and often flippant portrayals of violence. Representations of violence have become normalised to varying degrees. Yet the violence and trauma enacted in this play does not provide a simplistic image of victim and perpetrator, followed by the swift rule of law to ensure justice prevails. The rape scene that concludes Act I is written to be performed centrestage, followed by a blackout and lights up on the audience for the interval. The father’s rape of his virginal daughter is chilling and brutal. The naturalistic staging of the rape on the kitchen table (stabbing the kitchen table with a knife to signal penetration) is tense and threatening. The staging of violence, torture, incest, abuse, humiliation, and despair is clear and effective. Following this, there is an interval, and the audience must make polite conversation as they queue at the theatre bar. How does one begin a conversation? As is generally the case, the trauma here is both physical and psychological. While the traumatic act of rape is committed by a single perpetrator in this scene, the crime is protected by the complicit silence staged in the dramatic world. This violation alongside the general familial and cultural complicity speaks to histories of patriarchal social structures that continue to normalise and safeguard domestic abuse that are part of the wider dramatic reality and indeed, clearly resonant with contemporary society. For the Irish audiences attending this play, the community depicted on stage is the one "we" can relate to and the one "we" continue to build. History does not provide a buffer nor protection. The only technique Carr utilises to convey some potential psychological distance between the realist social forces underpinning the narrative and its contextual cultural parameters is the questioning of the evolution of humans from animals, and the potential heredity consequences of this evolution. Carr’s play questions the nature-nurture dialectic. Consistent references to the animal kingdom suggest that the Raftery family relies on this link to defend themselves as nothing but "gorrillas swinging in the trees". This article first appeared on the RTÉ Brainstorm platform. Visit here

Monday, 16 April 2018

Author: Professor Ray Murphy, Irish Centre for Human Rights School of Law Opinion: the clear lesson from the bombing of selected targets in Syria by the United States, France and United Kingdom is that international law counts for little  Once United States president Donald Trump had tweeted his intentions, the bombing of selected targets in Syria was almost inevitable. The use of chemical weapons is prohibited under international law and a flagrant violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The question then arises if the retaliatory attacks launched by the US, France and the United Kingdom can be justified under international law. This is a question of fundamental importance as the alleged violation of international law by the Assad regime is being used as justification for military action.  The law is clear on the use of force and this is reflected in Article 2(4) of the UN Charter which states: "members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of forces against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations". The exceptions to this are self-defence under Article 51 and action approved by the UN Security Council under Chapter VII of the Charter. The Security Council failed to adopt a number of proposed draft resolutions on chemical weapons in Syria as it was rendered impotent by the veto mechanism of a permanent member once again, this time Russia. What can be achieved by military strikes on Syria? It is difficult to assess the damage caused to Assad’s infrastructure, but such a co-ordinated attack and the use of fighter jets means that it was probably substantial. Nevertheless, it is almost impossible to destroy the regime’s capacity to use chemical weapons (chlorine gas is an easily acquired industrial chemical). Destroying Syria’s airforce would have had a greater impact, but would require a prolonged and concerted bombing campaign with the risk of direct confrontation with Russia. The strike on Shayrat airbase in 2017 showed that even more that 50 of these extremely expensive cruise missiles landing on a single airbase was not able to keep it out of operation for more than a few hours. That demonstration of US intent and firepower evidently did little to deter further chemical attacks. US Defense Secretary James Mattis said that more than 100 weapons were launched against three main targets on this occasion. He did not specify how the targets were hit, but stressed that the operation did not pose a danger to civilians. It is ironic that a former general was seen to try to restrain Trump earlier in the week and that the president was reported to be unhappy with the options his own military presented to him. "The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread, and use of chemical weapons. Establishing this deterrent is a vital national security interest of the United States", Trump said. Armed reprisals In effect, the air and missile strikes constituted what international lawyers refer to as an armed reprisal. A reprisal is the use of military force following an incident usually intended to punish, retaliate or to deter further such incidents. None of these examples fit the exception to the prohibition on the use of force contained in the UN Charter. Reprisals need Security Council authorisation to be lawful and the Security Council has never authorised a reprisal and will not do so in the case of Syria. In 1970, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States which stated that the fundamental rights and duties of states included a "duty to refrain from acts of reprisal involving the use of force" against other states. In 1994, the UN International Court of Justice in its advisory opinion on the Legality of Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons declared that armed reprisals in time of peace are unlawful. Similar reasoning has been followed in later cases. The message for Assad and his allies is that he can continue to slaughter his own citizens - just don't use chemical weapons when doing so. The US has played fast and loose with principles of international law when seeking to take military action and resort to the use force outside the framework of the UN Charter. Even Obama linked US military action to national security when he sought Congressional approval for strikes in Syriafollowing the 2013 chemical weapons attacks by the Assad regime (such approval was denied at the time). The UK has sought to justify the action on the basis of humanitarian intervention. This does not stand up to scrutiny and the estimated deaths of half a million Syrians since the conflict began, in addition to the millions displaced, demonstrate the fallacy of this argument. The true motives behind so-called humanitarian interventions in the past were exposed by the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS), set up by the Canadian Government, which at the end of 2001 issued a report entitled The Responsibility to Protect.  Iran has called the attack by the US, France and the UK a "tripartite aggression", in what appears to be a reference to the British, French and Israeli aggression against Egypt during the Suez crisis in 1956 (when the US stepped in to prevent the situation escalating). America has its nuclear and conventional weapons arsenal to rely on to enforce its will and it does not feel that it needs the protection of international law. Ireland and similar countries must always rely on these principles and should not be afraid to speak out when they are violated. The best one can say for now it that the air strikes could have been worse. The attack appeared to be carried out in a manner that sought to avoid direct confrontation with Russia and, according to the US and UK, to prevent civilian casualties. Right now, we just have allegations and counter claims, with the truth somewhere in between. Why Russia opposed an independent investigation and why the investigation under way was not given time to make a preliminary finding before the attack was launched can only be surmised.  The failure to wait for the results of the investigation by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is deeply troubling. The clear lesson is that international law counts for little when it gets in the way of the major powers. The message for Assad and his allies is that he can continue to slaughter his own citizens - just don't use chemical weapons when doing so. This article first appeared on the RTÉ Brainstorm platform. Visit here

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Opinion: research shows that the development of empathy is essential to healthy social and emotional functioning By Pat Dolan and Cillian Murphy, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre This year, we mark 50th anniversary of the horrific assassinations of Dr Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy. In the six months prior to his death, Kennedy had said that he discovered what it meant to empathise and this came directly from his witnessing the poverty of, and prejudice towards, African Americans in the deep south of America. He said he had "walked in their shoes" and it had a very deep effect on him personally, leading him to become a stronger campaigner for civil rights.  Regardless of any view of him or the Kennedy family dynasty, what is key is the fact that by seeing and understanding the experiences of those who were oppressed he "self discovered" empathy. Interestingly, many years later, former US President Barack Obama has also referred to "empathy deficit" as a major problem in the US.  Fifty years on since the deaths of King and Kennedy, it may be timely to bring about a similar epiphany here in Ireland on the importance of empathy - and particularly so through our school systems. For many young people who experience harm in their lives that seriously impairs their mental health and capacity to cope (sometimes on a daily basis), they need specific adults and peers who empathise and care for them.  Thankfully for many young people, going to school is not a threat or a negative experience. But those who are being bullied very often because they are seen as different, don't fit in in some way or merely are just targeted may well experience school as a prison of living hell. Whereas a young person’s home and community outside of school was previously a shelter and a source of respite, being singled out by harmful messages with the use of smart phones and social apps can follow you everywhere. This has led young people to desperation, self-harm and, sadly for some, to suicide. So how can we counteract this? In terms of its social benefits, research evidence affirms that the development of empathy is essential to healthy social and emotional functioning. Across a range of disciplines, research has conclusively shown that the presence of empathy is related to positive academic, social, psychological, and personal developmental outcomes. Where levels of empathy are compromised, studies have found an increased propensity to engage in anti-social behaviour, such as bullying, aggression and offending behaviour. Other evidence suggests that lower social empathy appears to be associated with higher levels of interpersonal and psychological difficulties. Importantly, a significant body of research shows that social empathy and social connectedness promote greater life satisfaction and self-confidence among adolescents, as well as greater resilience to mental health problems. Research has also highlighted the importance of empathy as a deterrent to engagement in anti-social acts and as an enabler of pro-social behaviours. At a more basic level, there are four compelling arguments for empathy education in school systems. Firstly we now know from neuroscience that empathy is not a "fixed given" at birth nor is it "static", but can actually be grown or activated in the brain particularly during adolescence – so you can learn to empathise. Secondly, there is also growing evidence that if you learn empathy in school, you actually do better academically, so empathy learning can help you get better grades. But the two remaining arguments are perhaps the most compelling ones. By enabling social empathy education, you can reduce rates of hatred and instances of physical attack and mental harm targeted by youth to peers. You are therefore more likely to have a set of active youth who will intervene for and on behalf of those who are being victimised or excluded.  Finally, we raise our children not just for our families but also for the wider benefit of civic society so having young people who demonstrate active empathy to others is in everyone’s interest. But we have to take this seriously: just as we send our children to school to learn maths, English or geography, we should treat their learning of empathy in a similar way. Current research at the UNESCO Child and Family Centre at NUI Galway, with strong support from young people, is focusing on gaining new knowledge on the nature of empathy among Irish youth. Furthermore, through its Youth As Researchers Programme, the Centre has developed a curriculum for schools currently at a pilot stage in eight secondary schools and have advanced a community youth programme version in collaboration with Foróige. Importantly, the curriculum looks at how the arts (music drama literature) can be utilised by youth themselves as empathy builders. This all bodes well and particularly so with the new area of learning called wellbeing, which is now part of the junior cycle curriculum. While it is good and important to have wellbeing education (caring for ourselves), it needs to be enhanced with additional empathy education (caring for each other). The world is changing very fast and our education systems have to catch up. We believe social empathy is now a crucial global issue that needs further discussion and attention in our society. Active social empathy is about understanding, valuing and respecting other people, but it is also about taking action to help others and promote positive social change. The active presence of empathy which can be taught in schools as well as modelled in families and supported in local communities is key to preventing bullying, tackling racism, promoting compassion, and improving social connectedness. This is in all our interests now and into the future Prof Pat Dolan is UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement at the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway. Cillian Murphy is an actor and patron of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway This article first appeared on the RTÉ Brainstorm platform. Visit here  

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

EIL Intercultural Learning is delighted to announce the launch by Minister of State for the Diaspora & International Development, Ciarán Cannon TD, of the Global Citizen Award website, mentor video and participant handbook on Tuesday, 3 April at a special ceremony at NUI Galway. The new Global Citizen Award website captures the actions of returned international volunteers who are raising awareness of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and a wide range of global social justice issues affecting communities all around Ireland. The website is also a development education resource that gives an insight to international volunteer’s reflections on their overseas experience and their continued engagement upon return to Ireland.   “These resources will work towards strengthening individual's understanding of global justice issues and highlight the work being done by returned international volunteers to raise awareness of global issues in communities all over Ireland,” said Global Citizen Award Coordinator, Áine Ní Éalaí. The Global Citizen Award mentor training video utilizes animation and interviews with award mentors to give new mentors an overview and guidance on how best to support people through the Award journey. The event also marks the award of four travel scholarships to NUI Galway undergraduate students to participate in the EIL Intercultural Learning placement programme in Asia and Latin America for summer 218. Vivienne O’Kelly, Co. Sligo, Alina Ostrowska, Ballina, Co. Mayo, Aidan O’Sullivan-Ryan, New Ross, Co. Wexford, Cliona Langley, Arran Islands, Co Galway, will receive training and preparation and engage in community projects in Ireland and aboard as part of the scholarship. Member of the Global Citizen Award adjudication panel and Volunteer Coordinator at NUI Galway, Lorraine Tansey said, “At NUI Galway we recognise the diversity of Galway and embrace building the next generation of global citizens that can bridge local and international intercultural experiences through enabling student participation in national awards and scholarship opportunities.” EIL Intercultural Learning is an Irish not for profit organisation which provides intercultural learning opportunities through study abroad, volunteer abroad, language training, travel awards, group educational programmes, and other cultural immersion activities for about 2,000 people each year. The Global Citizen Award, initiated by EIL Intercultural Learning, aims to mobilise returned international volunteers, to inspire members of the Irish public, and to become more active global citizens by increasing their understanding of global issues. It is sponsored by Irish Aid and supported by our partner organisations. The award is recognised by Comhlámh and Irish Development Education Association. EIL Intercultural Learning and the Global Citizen Award are excited about the new opportunities these elements offer to Award participants, Global Citizen Award Alumni and the wider development education sector. For more information please see www.globalcitizenaward.ie  . -Ends-

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

The J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics at NUI Galway, in collaboration with the 30% Club, is delighted to offer a scholarship for its Executive MBA programme. Globally, the 30% Club is establishing partnerships with a number of business schools to rectify the under-representation of women pursuing post-graduate management education by offering scholarships aimed at women. This scholarship is valued at €13,850 in total for the MBA programme which equates to 50% of the fees (fees are €27,700 over the two years). Closing date for receipt of applications for the coming academic year, including 500 word essay is Friday, 15 June, 2018. Professor Anne Scott, Vice President for Equality and Diversity at NUI Galway said: “We see this scholarship as important in encouraging and equipping talented, experienced women to set their sights on senior leadership roles, to inform and shape the direction of Irish businesses – for the benefit of business and society.” The Association of MBAs (AMBA) has accredited NUI Galway’s Executive MBA as academically rigorous and challenging real-world business education with industry engagement and global learning. With over 45 years of experience in MBA provision, the NUI Galway MBA programme prepares its graduates for accelerated career progression through the acquisition of knowledge, skills and confidence necessary for success in strategic management and senior leadership roles. Professor Breda Sweeney, J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics at NUI Galway said: “The Executive MBA programme can transform career opportunities for aspiring female executives by equipping graduates with important leadership skills, business insight and a network of talented executives from diverse professional backgrounds. The success of our Executive MBA in this regard is evident from the achievements of our alumni.” Launched in January 2015, the 30% Club Ireland’s goal is to achieve better gender balance at all levels in leading Irish businesses and aims to develop a diverse pool of talent for all businesses through the efforts of its members who are committed to better gender balance at all levels of their organisations. The initiative is complementary to individual company efforts and existing networking groups, adding to these through collaboration and the visible commitment of senior business leaders. Galway businesswoman Sandra Divilly fought off tough competition to win last year’s 30% Club Scholarship for the NUI Galway Executive MBA programme. The judging panel noted that while most applicants had enormous career potential and would have been worthy recipients, ultimately the award could be made to only one individual. Reacting to the announcement, Ms Divilly commented: “I am greatly honoured to be chosen to receive the 30% Club Scholarship for an Executive MBA at NUI Galway. The 30% Club is an inspiring initiative to address global gender imbalance issues in organisations. I commend NUI Galway for joining the list of successful universities across the world that support and drive the 30% Club goals. Having graduated from NUI Galway in 1996 with a degree in Industrial Engineering and Information Systems, I have since enjoyed a varied and challenging career in private industry and as a self-employed businesswoman. I am very grateful to NUI Galway and the 30% Club for providing me with this exciting opportunity to undertake the Executive MBA.” Bríd Horan, Steering Committee member, on behalf of the 30% Club said: “We greatly appreciate NUI Galway’s generous support for this valuable scholarship which encourages women to invest in their career development through executive education.” For more information on the 30% Club or scholarship application process, contact Mairead McKeon, Executive MBA Programme Administrator at mairead.mckeon@nuigalway.ie  or visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/business-public-policy-law/cairnes/courses/mba/. -Ends-

Monday, 30 April 2018

NUI Galway’s The Testostertones choir were presented with the ‘National Male Voice Choir’ award at the recent Cork International Choral Festival. The Testostertones are a male voice ensemble formed in 2003 in NUI Galway by Peter Mannion. The group is comprised of students, erasmus students, staff and alumni members. Last year The Testostertones won at the Sligo Choral Festival (Male Voice Category) and followed this up with the Early Music category at the Limerick Choral Festival in March, becoming the first male voice choir to win that section.  Peter Mannion, Director of The Testostertones and NUI Galway graduate, said: “The Testostertones are pushing the boundaries of what is considered male voice music and giving an exciting alternative to the traditional male voice choir sound and ensemble. Winning the national title at Cork this year comes after some wonderful festival performances all over Ireland where the lads in singing such a non-traditional repertoire have added to the choral art form in Ireland. It is wonderful for us to represent the University in winning this major competition and was made more special by the make-up of the group which included staff, students and alumni.” Founded in 1954 the Cork International Choral Festival is held annually over the five days. The Festival, which is the oldest in Cork and one of Europe’s most prestigious Choral Festivals, included gala concerts, schools concerts, national and international competitions, workshops and free outdoor performances. -Ends-

Monday, 30 April 2018

  Three NUI Galway researchers have been awarded funding for their projects, which will contribute to the advancement of research in the areas of energy, environment and health.   Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation, John Halligan TD, announced an investment of €13.7 million in funding for 22 early career researchers with three NUI Galway researchers being awarded almost €1.5 million in total for their projects.      The funding was awarded through Science Foundation Ireland’s ‘Career Development Award Programme’, which supports Ireland’s research talent pipeline by funding excellent researchers still in the early stages of their scientific career.   The three NUI Galway researchers awarded funding are:   Dr Sharon Glynn from the Lambe Institute for Translational Research at NUI Galway. Her research project aims to identify new ways of preventing and treating high grade aggressive breast and prostate cancer. Her project will focus on how ancient HERV-K viruses hidden in our DNA interact with iNOS, an enzyme involved in wound healing and immune regulation, and lead to the development of aggressive breast and prostate cancer. These cancers can be difficult to treat and cause up to 1,100 Irish deaths yearly. By better understanding how HERV-K and iNOS drive cancer, Dr Glynn will have the potential to identify new ways to prevent and treat these cancers. She will also investigate if whether HERV-K blood biomarkers can improve upon current testing for prostate cancer as currently only 40% of men with elevated PSA are found to have prostate cancer.   Dr Dara Stanley from Botany and Plant Science in the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway. Her research project will study the effect of climate change and pesticide on pollinators and the sustainable growth of our crops. Bees, and other pollinators, are crucial for the production of at least 30% of our food. Global bee declines have led to concerns over the sustained crop production, with a number of potential causes highlighted. Little research has connected these causes of decline with the delivery of pollination services to crops. In this project Dr Stanley will combine field observations, lab manipulations and predictive modelling to address key knowledge gaps in how climate change and pesticide use can affect crop pollination, and predict how climate change and pesticide use may affect the sustainable pollination of our crops in the future.   Dr Gavin Collins from the College of Science and the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway. His research investigates the microorganisms that are used to convert wastes to biofuels. Most bacteria require trace concentrations of metals, and special, proprietary blends of metals are actively dosed into the biotechnologies used for waste treatment in order to improve microbial activity and biofuels production. However, little is known about the microbiology of metal-microbe interactions. Dr Collins’s project will pursue fundamental Microbiology to explore the influence of trace-metals on the activity of individual microbial species, as well as on more complex groups, or biofilms, of microbes. He will also work with industrial partners to develop diagnostic tools, which may be used by biotechnology operators to optimise trace-metals dosing strategies.   Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice President for Research at NUI Galway, said: “I welcome Science Foundation Ireland and the government’s commitment to supporting talented researchers in the early stages of their scientific career through this Ireland’s Career Development Award Programme. I would like to congratulate our three exceptional individuals at NUI Galway who are part of this announcement and look forward to the potential outcomes from their innovative research in advancing solutions to improve human health and sustain our planet.”   Announcing the awards, Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation, John Halligan TD said: “The awards demonstrate the impressive cutting-edge research taking place in the universities across Ireland. The Science Foundation Ireland’s Career Development Awardees are the future leaders of research and innovation in Ireland. Through their promising work, they will continue to shape our research community, and generate positive impacts at a national and global scale. I believe that the important projects receiving funding today will advance Ireland’s economy and society, and further solidify its reputation as a world-leader in scientific advancements.”   -Ends-  

Thursday, 19 April 2018

NUI Galway’s Moore Institute will host the second annual international Digital Cultures conference entitled, ‘Transient Topographies: Space and Interface in Digital Literature and Art’ taking place on 20-21 April. The two-day conference will focus on the ways in which we experience the spaces of the digital age. In particular, it explores the points of encounter between humans, machines and natural environments such as: screens, mobile networks, and data clouds. The contributors will focus on different topics ranging from sonic, visual and audiovisual aesthetics, virtual environments, ecological challenges, and various forms of critical interrogation of new media platforms. Conference organiser, Dr Anne Karhio of the Moore Institute at NUI Galway, said: “This two-day event at NUI Galway brings together scholars and artists from all over the world to consider our relationship with the rapidly evolving contemporary media and technological environment. The participants will explore the various interfaces between actual and virtual worlds, and the spaces where these encounters take place. The talks and creative works also address important questions regarding the increasingly blurring boundaries between humans, technology and the natural world.” Conference speakers and artists include: Søren Bro Pold, University of Aarhus has published widely on digital and media aesthetics and electronic literature. R. Carpenter, University of Plymouth, is a Canadian-born artist and academic based in Devon. She is a multi-award winner, including the CBC Quebec Writing Competition and the QWF Carte Blanche Quebec Award. Alinta Krauth, Queensland University of Technology is an Australian digital artist and interaction designer. Her practices include projection art, interactive art, sound art, and electronic literature, and the inherent connections between these fields. Jason Nelson, Griffith University, Australia is an internationally renowned digital poet, whose work has been exhibited widely in galleries and journals. His projects have featured around the globe at various events on digital literature and art, and he has won a number of awards, including the Paris Biennale Media Poetry Prize. Professor Daniel Carey, Director of the Moore Institute at NUI Galway, said: “The digital era has created new opportunities for creative expression, combining poetry and narrative with sound and video, layering data with language and imagery. This conference explores these new modes of practice at the forefront of creativity.” The conference is funded by the Irish Research Council and the European Commission via Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, and the Moore Institute at NUI Galway. The conference will take place on 20-21 April in the Moore Institute, Hardiman Research Building, NUI Galway. For conference information, visit: https://transienttopographies.wordpress.com/ or contact conference organiser Anne Karhio at anne.karhio@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Rise and demise of Scotland's last ice fields reveals the conflicting impact of abrupt climate change Results from a major study carried out by scientists from NUI Galway and the University of Maine have indicated that the physical impact of abrupt climate change in Britain and Ireland and maritime Europe may be markedly different from previous perceptions of these events. The study was published today (26 April 2018) in the international journal, Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology. These findings raise the possibility that future weakening of warm ocean currents in the North Atlantic, which some fear will arise due to global warming and melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet, will result in a return to a highly seasonal climate in Britain and Ireland and maritime Europe, with warmer summers and colder winters. The study investigated how abrupt climate changes such as high-magnitude shifts in average climate has impacted maritime Europe at the close of the last ice age. The ice age is often thought of as something that happened gradually over very long periods, yet previous studies indicate that this is not the case. Existing climate records show that after the peak of the last ice age, 20,000 years ago, warming of the atmosphere and ocean to modern Holocene (current ‘interglacial’ warm period) levels was not gradual and smooth but dynamic, interrupted by rapid returns in as little as a few years to decades, to very cold climates lasting centuries to millennia, which means it was a very bumpy ride for Earth’s climate out of the ice age. The most recent abrupt climate event is called the ‘Younger Dryas’ and occurred between 12,900 and 11,600 years ago, prior to the onset of our current warm Holocene climate 11,000 years ago. Ice core records from Greenland and palaeoecologic records from throughout Europe are traditionally interpreted as showing the Younger Dryas as a 1300-year period of severe cooling and permafrost in the North Atlantic region, potentially caused by the weakening of warm ocean currents, such as the Gulf Stream, that transport tropical heat to Europe. Lead author of the study, Dr Gordon Bromley from the School of Geography and Archaeology at NUI Galway, said: “We used radiocarbon dating of marine shell remains to determine when the last glaciers existed in Scotland, what we call a ‘glacial event’. There’s a lot of geologic evidence of these former glaciers, including deposits of rubble bulldozed up by the ice but their age has not been well established. Instead, it has largely been assumed that these glaciers existed during the cold Younger Dryas period, since other climate records give the impression that it was a cold time. To establish the true age of the glaciers we dated shells that were already dead or had been killed as the glaciers advanced into the fjords and shovelled up seafloor sediments. “Our new radiocarbon data crucially shows that the glaciers existed before the Younger Dryas and that they were melting rapidly and disappeared during that period. As this doesn’t fit with the traditional notion of the Younger Dryas as a uniformly cold event, we found that despite the cold winters, summers had to be warm as it is the intensity of the summer melt season that dictates glacier ‘health’. This finding is controversial and if we are correct, it helps rewrite our understanding of how abrupt climate change impacts our maritime region, both in the past and potentially into the future.” Findings from the data collected This new data collected in Scotland by the scientists, challenges the idea that the Younger Dryas was an abrupt return to a glacial (ice age) climate in the North Atlantic, by showing that the last glaciers there were actually decaying rapidly during that period. They interpreted this meltdown as reflecting atmospheric warming and found that the Younger Dryas was actually characterised by extreme seasonality. This means that although winters in Britain and Ireland were extremely cold, summers were a lot warmer than previously thought, a situation that is 180° from today’s highly maritime climate in this part of the world (mild winters and cool summers). As it is crucial to establish how past abrupt climate change was manifested here in order to prepare for future disturbances, these findings reshape scientific understanding of how the weakening of warm currents in the North Atlantic might impact Ireland’s climate. Findings from the study The shells ended up inside the glacial deposits, where the scientists found them, and provide a maximum age for the glacier advance. Similarly, to determine when the glacial event was over and the ice had melted, they dated a shell and also vegetation that was the first organic matter to colonise the newly ice-free landscape. This data provided a minimum age for the glacier advance. Shells were collected by Dr Bromley from NUI Galway and Professor Harold Borns from the University of Maine at sites on the west coast of Scotland where glacial moraines have been eroded by the sea, rivers, or lakes, affording them access to the shells. Despite being as much as 14,000 years old, the shells were extremely well preserved and some even retained the fragile periostracum (outermost layer of the shell) and membranes joining the valves. Others have been crushed by the weight of ice as the last glaciers bulldozed the seafloor. While all of these shell species are still in existence in the North Atlantic, many are extinct in Scotland where ocean temperatures are too warm. To read the full study in Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology, visit: https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/2018PA003341  -Ends-

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

NUI Galway to host leading intercultural theatre companies to share experiences of their work with ethnic minorities to form future collaborative projects across European borders NUI Galway Drama and Theatre Studies lecturer, Dr Charlotte McIvor will host a public panel on ‘Theatre as Intercultural Dialogue? Migration, Interculturalism and Theatre in Europe Today’ with practitioners from four of Europe’s leading intercultural theatre companies. The panel of theatre practitioners will engage in ongoing debates about migration, minority representation and cultural diversity in the European Union and beyond. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is currently reporting the highest number ever on record of displaced people worldwide at more than 65 million. How does the work of theatre companies who directly engage contemporary and historical experiences of ethnic minorities with recent or family backgrounds of migration help challenge and complicate understandings of European belonging? How might these companies’ theatrical experimentation generate strategies for intercultural dialogue capable of moving beyond the theatre? Is theatre the catalyst for intercultural dialogue that might be needed now? The event forms part of Dr McIvor’s ongoing research on the relationship between migration, interculturalism and theatre in Ireland and beyond. Speaking about the event Dr McIvor from the O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance at NUI Galway, says: “This line-up of speakers represents a wealth of national and international best practice in this area. I am bringing this group together to facilitate sharing of experiences and hopefully catalyse plans for future collaborative projects across European borders. “It is my belief that creative work that addresses experiences of migration not only in its immediate aftermath needs to be supported more consistently and actively in Ireland given the racial and ethnic diversity of our national population, many of whom come from backgrounds of migration. I hope this event might inspire new practice not only from the gathered speakers, but those who might be sitting in the audience or hear about the event and didn’t think that there actually is a place in the Irish theatre and arts industry for their voices and their stories.” Featured speakers from four leading international theatre companies include; Haider Al-Timini and Bart Cappelle, Kloppend Hert, Belgium, Suman Bhuchar, Tamasha Productions, UK, Maud Hendricks and Bernie O’Reilly, Outlandish Theatre Platform, Republic of Ireland and Andrea Montgomery, Terra Nova Productions, Northern Ireland. The event will take place in the Human Biology Building, NUI Galway beside the Bailey Allen Hall on Friday, 27 April from 2pm-4pm. For more information contact Dr Charlotte McIvor at charlotte.mcivor@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Architects of the European Union peace programmes in Northern Ireland will come together at NUI Galway for the first time in 20 years to reflect on the role the EU played in the Northern Ireland peace process. They will be joined by academic experts for a unique symposium at the University on Friday 27 April, to discuss the EU’s role in the peace process, the future of the Good Friday Agreement, and the Irish border in the shadow of Brexit. The symposium will discuss the challenges posed by Brexit 20 years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, at a time when EU involvement in the Peace Process and cross-border relations in Ireland is at the centre of public debate. Symposium speakers include: Mr Carlo Trojan, former secretary general of the European Commission and head of the 1994 Northern Ireland Task Force. Mr Hugh Logue, former EU Commission official. In 1994 he, along with two colleagues, was asked by President Jacques Delors to consult all parties in Northern Ireland. Their recommendations became the blueprint for the first EU PEACE Programme. Ms Jane Morrice, former head of the EU Commission Office Northern Ireland. She was involved in the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and was a member of the Standing Orders Committee, which set the initial rules governing Assembly procedures post-devolution. Mr Colm Larkin, senior official of the EU Commission from 1974-2004 and special advisor in the Office of First and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland from 1998-2001. Andy Pollak, founding Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh. Tom Arnold, current chair of the All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit and former chairman of the Irish Times and member of the Royal Irish Academy. Dr Katy Hayward, School of Sociology, QUB and Dr Mary C Murphy, Department of Government, UCC. Dr Giada Laganà, Dr Brendan Flynn and Dr Niall Ó Dochartaigh, School of Political Science and Sociology, NUI Galway. Event organiser, Dr Giada Laganà from the School of Political Science and Sociology at NUI Galway, said: “This is a unique occasion to learn that the role of the EU in the Northern Ireland peace process has been much more significant and much more positive than is often recognised.” The event will be opened by Noel Dorr, former secretary general of the Department of Foreign Affairs and former Irish Ambassador to the United Nations and the United Kingdom. Professor Alan Ahearne, Director of the Whitaker Institute, will make closing remarks. This unique and innovative event is organised by the Conflict, Humanitarianism and Security Research Cluster of the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway, in partnership with the Moore Institute and supported by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Academic Association for contemporary European Studies. The symposium will take place in the O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance, NUI Galway on Friday, 27 April from 9am to 5.30pm. The event is free and advance registration is essential at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-european-union-and-the-northern-ireland-peace-process-tickets-42754005381 -Ends-

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

A new lecture series at the College of Arts, Social Sciences, and Celtic Studies at NUI Galway will continue with Professor of Clinical Psychology Brian McGuire, on Thursday, 3 May at 1pm. In his talk, Professor McGuire will describe the growing use of internet-based psychological therapies in helping people with chronic health conditions. He will describe research being carried out on campus to help people with conditions such as chronic muscular pain and chronic headache, chronic fatigue following cancer, multiple sclerosis and other chronic conditions. The talk will describe the potential benefits of these therapies as well some of the challenges in making them more widely available. Dr Seán Crosson, Vice-Dean in the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to continue this new lecture series which provides a great opportunity for the University to make the general public more aware of the world-leading innovative research being undertaken in the college.” Upcoming speakers in the New Professors’ Inaugural lecture series include: Professor Niamh Reilly, School of Political Science & Sociology, on Thursday, 21 June An tOllamh Tadhg Ó hIfearnáin, Roinn na Gaeilge, on Thursday, 4 October. -Ends-

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

NUI Galway is holding the third annual conference that looks at Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) in healthcare research focusing on the theme, ‘Every Voice Matters’ this year. The event takes place on Wednesday, 25 April at the Institute for Lifecourse and Society. A number of disease areas will be covered at the conference, including a particular focus on how mental health service users have contributed to the many different studies over the last twenty years and have become strong advocates for bringing about change in our mental health services. Dr Austin O’Carroll will talk about his experiences working as a GP with people living at the margins in inner-city Dublin, and another presentation will look at the use of video as a way of hearing the voice of marginalised people. Professor Sean Dinneen, consultant endocrinologist and leader of the PPI Ignite @ NUI Galway programme, is currently drawing on the lived experience of a group of young adults with diabetes to help plan a major research study aimed at redesigning how diabetes care is delivered to young adults with diabetes. Professor Sean Dineen from NUI Galway, says: “Involving patients in your research from the very start makes perfect sense as who knows better what matters most, what needs to be addressed, than the people living with a condition. The PPI Ignite @ NUI Galway programme aims to help both researchers and patients and the public to understand why Public and Patient Involvement matters, and aims to develop a research ethos where patients can become equal partners in the research process. Patients want to help make a difference, to bring about change and this programme will help bring it about.” One of the participants at the conference, Wendy Costello, will describe her journey to getting involved in research. When Wendy’s daughter Niamh was three years old, she was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), a rare disease affecting over 1,000 children in Ireland. Wendy is a founding member of ICAN, a national support network for children with JIA and their families. Wendy says: “A parent at a recent ICAN meeting said that while doctors may have studied JIA they have not lived with it, and this is why parents and patients are needed as partners in research, our voice is a crucial piece of the puzzle.” The PPI Ignite @ NUI Galway programme will be officially launched at the conference. Funded by the Health Research Board the programme aims to bring about a culture change in how healthcare research is conducted across the University by working in partnership with patients and the public at all stages of the research. The programme will provide training and support to both the public and researchers. The conference is organised by the HRB Primary Care Clinical Trials Network Ireland, a collaborative group of researchers conducting clinical trials through general practice and primary care. Professor Andrew Murphy, Director of the Network at NUI Galway, said: “The public always offer unique, invaluable insights that help shape our research and we need to listen to them.” The conference takes place in the Institute for Lifecourse and Society at NUI Galway on Wednesday 25 April from 10am-3.40pm. Registration is essential and for more information, visit: https://primarycaretrials.ie/news/ or email info@primarycaretrials.ie or edel.murphy@nuigalway.ie and 091 495743.  -Ends-

Monday, 23 April 2018

  €486.2 million total direct sales of cultural and creative produce from the west of Ireland in 2016 5,000 companies employ 13,000 people in creative industries in the west of Ireland App, gaming, and new media industries reported double the sales to their craft and cultural counterparts The School of Geography and Archaeology and the Whitaker Institute in NUI Galway, was part of a recent conference that highlighted key outcomes from the a creative momentum project where analysis of, and supports for the creative sector in the Arts, Crafts, Design, Media and Technology industries, were discussed. The three year project, led by the Western Development Commission (WDC) sought to shine a light on the important role that culture and creativity can play in the development of some of Europe’s most rural regions. The project team presented resources and toolkits useful to creative entrepreneurs that will help internationalise and develop their business. A panel discussion debated ‘creativity on the periphery’ addressing both the challenges and opportunities linked to working in the creative industries sector in Europe’s Northern Edge. The NUI Galway team is one of the partner organisations of a creative momentum, where the project was implemented by the School of Geography and Archaeology and the Whitaker Institute. An economic and social impact analysis of the west of Ireland creative sector was carried out as part of the project. The team found total direct sales of craft, cultural and creative produce amounted to over €486 million in 2016, while average company sales differed across the sub-sectors. Close to 5,000 companies employ nearly 13,000 people in this sector in the west of Ireland. The creative industries (app development, gaming, and new media) reported average sales close to twice that of their craft (artistic/heritage laden goods) and cultural (theatre, music, film) counterparts. The report also identified a range of wider socio-economic contributions from the creative sector in the west of Ireland. Dr Patrick Collins, lead researcher of the project at NUI Galway, said: “These figures help prove how culture and creativity can be seen as vital resources. Encouragingly, they point to a bright future, but these are often one person operations and micro enterprises that need support and recognition. We also identified how a vibrant creative sector has many impacts beyond the economic, they help build communities and are vital to the identity of the place we live in.” NUI Galway also developed the ‘Creative Business Model Toolkit’ as part of the project. The Toolkit provides information resources and tools for creative entrepreneurs to better understand how to develop and refine their business model. It explores what a business model is and its importance to creative businesses and draws on real world examples of creative businesses to illustrate issues. The toolkit aims to help creative entrepreneurs build a business that is more sustainable and competitive. a creative momentum is a three year (2015-2018), €2 million transnational project co-funded by the EU Interreg Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme. The project has focused on the development of the creative industries sector in regions across Europe’s Northern Edge. To read the full Economic Impact report of the project, visit:  http://mycreativeedge.eu/app/uploads/2018/02/west-ireland-eia-report-web-final_rev-compressed.pdf To read the Creative Model Business Toolkit, visit: https://mycreativeedge.eu/app/uploads/2017/05/acmp_2018_bm_toolkit_web.pdf -Ends-

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Minister of State for Higher Education, recently formally launched the St. Angela’s Strand of the “Access to Post-Primary Teaching (APT) Project” at St. Angela’s College, Sligo. The APT Project is a three-year joint initiative between St. Angela’s College and the National University of Ireland Galway, which aims to recruit and support individuals from under-represented socioeconomic groups in their initial teacher education programmes. This project, which targets students at the school, further education, undergraduate, and post-graduate levels, is spearheaded by Dr Eileen Kelly-Blakeney of St. Angela’s College, and Dr Elaine Keane and Dr Manuela Heinz of NUI Galway. The APT Project at St. Angela’s specifically focuses on recruiting students with a Further Education QQI/FET qualification to their second-level teacher education programmes and is conducted in cooperation with five Further Education providers in the Border-Midlands-Western (BMW) Region: Sligo College of Further Education, Castlebar College of Further Education, Monaghan Institute, Errigal College, and Cavan Institute. During the next two years, the Project hopes to create additional partnerships with more Further Education providers in the region. Students who transition into the teacher education programme will all study Home Economics, in addition to one elective subject of their choosing, either Irish, Biology, or Religious Education. Students are also provided with a €1000 equipment bursary on entry to Year One, and a €500 School Placement grant each of their five years of study. Additionally, students receive faculty mentoring, peer support, academic writing, and subject specific guidance over the course of their studies. In attendance at Monday’s launch were the President of St. Angela’s, Dr Anne Taheny, staff and students from the College, local government officials, representatives from each of the five partner Further Education providers, colleagues from NUI-Galway, and associates from the Irish Teaching Council. In her speech, Minister O’Connor noted the significance of direct-entry routes, such as the APT Project, which ultimately aim to increase access to third level studies, while also acknowledging the great achievements made by students in the Further Education sector. As the minister explained that the APT Project, “will also help support the achievement of national policy objectives to broaden opportunities for graduates from further education to progress on to higher education.” Additionally, she also remarked on the important role that teachers play in the lives of young people, and she projected that “Teacher training centres, teachers and school leaders will continue to play a pivotal role in helping children to achieve their potential.” Dr Anne Taheny, President of St. Angela’s referred to the College’s long standing commitment to equal opportunity and to widening access and participation in Higher Education in association with NUI, Galway. This is demonstrated through the provision of an Access Foundation Programme, an Access Schools Programme, entry routes for mature students and entry through the HEAR and DARE Schemes. Speaking at the launch, Dr. Taheny noted:  "This new direct entry route from Further Education into our Initial Teacher Education Programme through the Access to Post-Primary Project is an exciting addition and much welcomed progression route for students in the Further Education Sector." This project supports the diversification of the Irish teaching body in Ireland and recognises the positive contributions that teachers from underrepresented groups make to classrooms throughout the country each day. For more information on the APT Project, or to learn more about St. Angela’s initial teacher education programmes, please see the College website at: http://www.stangelas.nuigalway.ie. Additionally, interested individuals can contact the post-doctoral researcher for the APT Project, Dr Andrea Lynch at 087 1129868. -Ends-

Thursday, 19 April 2018

NUI Galway Societies were presented with three awards at the recent Board of Irish College Societies (BICS) National Awards. For the third year in a row, the University was awarded the Best Society Award. The Musical Society (GUMS) won Best Society after an event packed year and a very successful production in the Black Box of The Producers. Dramsoc won Best Poster for their poster advertising their production Deirdre + Naoise and Energy Society won Best Publicity Campaign for the 2018 Galway Energy Summit. Also nominated for BICS awards included: Anime and Manga's Akumakon for Best Event and their Best Fresher Nominee Aoife O'Shaughnessy; Sláinte Society for Best Society (Charity/Civic) and their Best Individual Nominee Sally Cahill; International Student Society (ISS) for Most Improved; Best Buddies Society for Best Photo; and Physics Society for Best Video. Riona Hughes, Societies Officer at NUI Galway, said: “The Societies have had a great year and the accolades at the National BICS Awards are a testament to their excellence. From GUMS high profile production to Akumakon celebrating patronage from the Japanese Embassy, all of our societies have made their mark on the society calendar.” BICS is a national organisation dedicated to providing a forum for the societies in Ireland’s universities, Colleges and Institutes of Education. The Board is responsible for the promotion of interest in the activities of Irish college societies and of contact and co-operation between them. The Awards recognise the huge effort made by the many individuals who run student societies across Ireland, and are a means to celebrate the importance and value that societies contribute to college life. For more information about BICS Awards visit http://bics.ie/. -Ends-

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Campus competition in medtech demonstration design Blackstone LaunchPad recently partnered with on-campus medtech titans, BioInnovate Ireland, Translational Medical Device (TMD) Lab, Health Innovation Hub and BioExel at NUI Galway, to challenge its undergraduate and postgraduate students to add their expertise and creativity to a growing innovation ecosystem across campus. The Medtech Innovation Design and Startup (MIDAS) competition is a one-day event where multidisciplinary student teams from across the NUI Galway campus worked together to tackle a major challenge in the medtech space. Teams were comprised of students from various disciplines – ranging from business to engineering to medicine to the life sciences – and attended interactive sessions and workshops delivered by domain experts. Six teams worked together to identify a potential solution to an unmet medical need using the Stanford Biodesign innovation process, and designed a prototype and created a business model for their device.  Based on their observations from a real clinical procedure, teams were asked to identify a needs statement related to this procedure and then brainstorm potential solutions. With their solution in mind, teams then developed a business model using the lean startup canvas and ultimately, pitched their venture to a panel of experts including: Mike Wiebolt, Blackstone, New York; Helen Ryan, Medtech angel investor; Dr Liz McGloughlin, BioInnovate Alumna; and Brian Carey, Bank of Ireland. Winning the competition and the recipients of the €2,000 prize fund were students Kemi Awoponle, Katie Gilligan, Cillian Thompson, Brian O’Reilly, and Manmaya Panda. The team presented a novel way to increase the shelf-life of blood bags in order to reduce the number of expired units that are binned each year. Natalie Walsh, Executive Director of Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway, said: “This event showcased the high calibre of students that we have at NUI Galway. Seeing individuals come together to form high-performing teams within the day has been incredible. The ideas presented were well-researched and have potential within the medtech space. We are delighted to have such high calibre mentors, partners and judges spend time with our students today. It is a real endorsement for our programme and exemplifies how students can form part of this critical ecosystem in the West of Ireland.  This event was designed and led by one of our fantastic students Joshua Chao who works as a venture coach with the LaunchPad programme. He is an amazing ambassador for our programme and a real champion for student-led innovation and entrepreneurship at the University.” The success of the MIDAS competition has come on the back of a very productive few months for Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway. The programme now supports over 5,000 students on-campus and in March 2018, the Blackstone LaunchPad global network announced a partnership with Techstars. Techstars will provide current Blackstone LaunchPad participants with access to their network of over 10,000 mentors, founders and investors; signature events; and world-renowned content and startup services. In the last 10 years, more than 1,000 Techstars portfolio companies have collectively raised over $4.4 billion in total funding, and are now valued at $11.4 billion. Blackstone LaunchPad is part of a portfolio of innovative programmes at NUI Galway supported by the Galway University Foundation; other programmes include BioInnovate, BioExel, EXPLORE, and TechInnovate. -Ends-

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

CÚRAM at NUI Galway with Galway C ity Arts Office Launch ‘AFTERIMAGE’ Community Art-Science Exhibition CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway together with the Galway City Arts Office, have launched a new Community Art-Science exhibition in the Westside community in Galway City. By award winning art duo, Cleary Connolly (Anne Cleary and Denis Connolly), ‘AFTERIMAGE’, shows portraits of 19 people who live or work in the Westside of Galway, and reveals the remarkable diversity of contemporary Irish society. The exhibit, now permanently housed in the Westside Resource Centre, consists of 19 portraits, each composed of a black and white portrait accompanied by a colour negative mapping. Each portrait is set against a background of images drawn from science and research, which are highly aesthetic images that warrant a second look to decipher their content. Each participant is a researcher, either in real life or in their imagination, and so while the CÚRAM researchers appear against images drawn from their own work, the local community are set against images referring to their preferred area of research, in response to the question; “If you were a researcher what would you research?” Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM at NUI Galway, said: “We aim to inspire and engage all communities with current and cutting edge research that’s happening here in Ireland. Unfortunately chronic illness such as diabetes, Parkinson’s and heart disease are familiar to most Irish communities and it’s important that we provide opportunities for people to find out more about our work in finding solutions to these illnesses and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. That can be through the work of filmmakers, teachers or artists such as Cleary Connolly who use the research as inspiration and break barriers to provide another ‘way in’ to the world of science.” Commenting on the project, artist Anne Cleary, said: “We were really interested in CÚRAM’s work on corneal implants and also in advanced biomimicry. Our work is all about perception, how people see the world, how they adapt. We were privileged to work with such a diverse and interesting group of people from the Westside community and have been greatly inspired by all of the participants and their ideas.” Participants who featured in the project include Suriya, originally from India. If she was a researcher her main area of research interest would be genetics, in particular stem cells and stem cell treatments, which she thinks have the potential to treat an enormous range of diseases and conditions that plague millions of people around the world. Mary, originally from Roscommon and now living in Westside, became interested in the effects of salt intake on the body, having participated in a sodium clinical trial at University Hospital Galway. Francis, who currently lives in Galway having returned from overseas, works in social care, youth, community and social services. He is interested in exploring the metaphor of “all persons as scientists” and would like to see science used more to understand issues that really affect us personally and societally. Precious is originally from Zimbabwe and would like to learn more about the environment, soil improvement and agriculture. She is also interested in the Natural Sciences, and is particularly interested in research at CÚRAM related to developing medical adhesives derived from marine life. According to James Harrold, Arts Officer, Galway City Council, the project has very successfully brought the worlds of art and science together. “I am delighted to see how positive an experience this has been for all involved and we look forward to deepening connections between these communities in the coming year.” James Coyne, CEO of Westside Resource Centre and Community Partner on the project says that the Westside community is a strong and vibrant one with its own annual community Arts Festival. “It has been hugely rewarding to be part of the process and bring different parts of the community together. I think we have all learned something new and it’s definitely created a great deal of curiosity about the research that’s happening right here on our doorstep” he says. CÚRAM’s public engagement programme, which incorporates artist in residence projects, supports the Science Foundation Ireland objective of having the most scientifically informed and engaged public.  It has a strong focus on empowering diverse communities with knowledge and providing new ways for people to engage and interact with its cutting edge research. The exhibit is now installed at the Westside Resource Centre. The project team will be showing the exhibit at various events around the country throughout the year.   For more information on the artists and their work please visit www.connolly-cleary.com Cleary and Connolly’s work is supported by the Arts Council of Ireland. To view ‘AFTERIMAGE’ by Cleary Connolly, visit: https://youtu.be/_p-Qg3koPCA To view videos from the Art-Science Exhibition launch, see links below: Claire Riordan, CÚRAM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4U2Wen6beZM Abhay Pandit, CÚRAM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4Z05BFxcLQ James Harrold, Galway City Council: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-mK0mF2JgU James Coyne, Westside Resource Centre: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhXHRwY4Mw4 Andrea Fitzpatrick, CÚRAM and Denis Connolly, Cleary Connolly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUqdMTduMww -Ends-

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

The Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway will host its Annual Research Day on Thursday, 19 April in the Hardiman Research Building. Professor Edgar Morgenroth from DCU Business School will give a keynote address at 12pm on ‘The Economics of Spatial Planning’. The population of Ireland is projected to increase by one million in 2040 and the Whitaker Research Day will address issues on: How best should government encourage growth in second-tier cities such as Galway to rebalance the country’s economic activity and reduce the pressure on the greater Dublin area? What can be done about the challenges of urban sprawl, congestion and long commutes into our cities? How should we address depopulation in areas of the West of Ireland? Speaking in advance of the Research Day, Professor Alan Ahearne, Director of the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway, said: “The Irish economy has experienced a remarkable recovery over recent years, but current trends in patterns of regional growth are not sustainable. Greater, smarter investment is needed in smaller cities such as Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford to narrow the gap between Dublin and the rest of the country. We need to invest in infrastructure, in new technologies, and, above all, in the skills and talent of our people.” In his former role at the Economic and Social Research Institute, Professor Edgar Morgenroth helped advise on the framework for Project Ireland 2040, the government’s recently launched strategy for Ireland’s development up to 2040, which includes €116 billion in investment spending over the next decade. The Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway is named after the late Dr T.K. Whitaker, widely recognised for setting Ireland’s economy on a path of internationalisation and modernisation. Throughout his illustrious career, Dr Whitaker demonstrated and implemented innovative ideas and approaches to challenges and issues facing our economy and society. The Whitaker Institute has adopted a similarly innovative, multidisciplinary and transformative approach in its research on challenges facing business and society in Ireland today and internationally.   The event will take place in Seminar Rooms G010 and G011, Ground Floor, Hardiman Research Building, NUI Galway on Thursday 19 April.   Attendance is free. For registration and to download the full schedule, visit: http://whitakerinstitute.ie/event/whitaker-institute-research-day-2018/  -Ends-

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

University hosts two days of events to mark the legacy of Michael Maurice O’Shaughnessy A public lecture and the launch of a new mini documentary on NUI Galway graduate and former city engineer of San Francisco, Michael Maurice O’Shaughnessy will form part of two days of activities marking his legacy on 24-25 of April.  NUI Galway and the University of California Berkeley both hold archives relating to O’Shaughnessy and a public lecture by Theresa Salazar, University of California Berkeley, will highlight the Limerick native’s legacy in San Francisco. O’Shaughnessy emigrated to California in 1885, a year after graduating from then Queen’s College Galway. He embarked on a prolific civil engineering career in California and Hawaii. In 1912, he was appointed the City Engineer of San Francisco, a city still being reconstructed after the devastating earthquake and fire of 1906. He served as City Engineer until 1932, and oversaw the construction of the municipal rail system, upgraded the city’s water and sewer systems, and he carried out feasibility work on the San Francisco Bay Bridges, including the Golden Gate and San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridges. His archive was donated to NUI Galway by Bernadette O’Shaughnessy, whose late husband was a grand-nephew of Michael O’Shaughnessy. The library collection is publicly available in digital format, including O’Shaughnessy’s unpublished memoir, Engineering Experiences: From Honolulu to Hetch Hetchy. Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, President of NUI Galway, said: “The O’Shaughnessy archive at NUI Galway is a real treasure in its own right but it also builds on the University’s connections with the University of California Berkeley. It opens up opportunities to collaborate on connecting the archives at both universities and stimulating global awareness of O’Shaughnessy’s achievements. Our University’s focus is on reaching out to the world and for the world with our work, and this digital archive means that people from Belmullet to Berkeley to Beijing can learn about the man involved in engineering some of America’s most iconic projects.” Theresa Salazar, is curator of the Western Americana Collection at the Bancroft Library in University of California, Berkeley which holds a major collection of archival material donated by O’Shaughnessy’s daughter, Elizabeth, in 1992.  Salazar will give a public lecture about the O’Shaughnessy archive and other collections of Irish interest at the Bancroft Library on Tuesday, 24 April in Room G010, Hardiman Research Building, at 4pm. Please register at: https://tinyurl.com/y8w5c2eq  University Librarian at NUI Galway, John Cox, commented: “Michael O’Shaughnessy continues to be recognised as a major figure in San Francisco and the visit of Theresa Salazar is particularly welcome in promoting digital innovation to present his legacy engagingly.” A hugely popular exhibition that celebrates the acquisition of the personal archive of O’Shaughnessy will be on permanent display in the Alice Perry Engineering building at NUI Galway. The exhibition, entitled ‘Michael Maurice O’Shaughnessy (1864-1934): Engineering the Promised Land’, was co-curated by Eamonn Cannon, Aisling Keane and Dr Jamie Goggins. The exhibition tells the story of O'Shaughnessy's career, with selected extracts from his memoir. It inspired the creation of a short documentary, which will be shown in public for the first time at 9:30am on the 25 April in the Alice Perry Engineering building, NUI Galway. Please register at: https://tinyurl.com/yb2rjfqv   According to Dr Jamie Goggins, who with Eamonn Cannon, directed the documentary: “We have such a rich engineering history in Ireland. Michael O’Shaughnessy is one of the many great engineers to hail from Ireland that have had huge impact around the world by harnessing their innovation and creativity to be both practical and inspirational, creating infrastructure that has allowed societies to prosper. We are hoping that our short documentary will act as a catalyst for a greater acknowledgement of the global societal impact of such great engineers and scientists which will in turn inspire the next generation.” ENDS

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

The Centre for Irish Studies, NUI Galway, has announced the appointment of Tomás Ó Neachtain as Sean-Nós Singer-in-Residence in 2018. Born and raised in Coilleach, An Spidéal, Tomás is part of a family which has a long and rich tradition of sean-nós singing. It is from his father, Tomás, that he heard and learned most of his singing, and indeed his father had learned from his father before him. Though he briefly spent time in England as a young married man, it is in Coilleach that Tomás and his wife Nancy have reared their own family. His son Seosamh, a renowned sean-nós dancer and musician, was appointed as the first Sean-nós Dancer in Residence at the Centre for Irish Studies in 2009. Tomás’s distinct, clear, sweet vocal style echoes the singing he heard in his youth. His repertoire is wide and varied, but he particularly favours big songs such as ‘An Droighneán Donn’, ‘Tomás Bán Mac Aogáin’ and ‘An Chaora Ghlas’. Tomás gives singing workshops and is two-time winner of Corn Uí Riada in 1980 and 1981. During his time as artist-in-residence, Tomás will deliver a series of workshops at NUI Galway and will contribute to the expanding Sean-Nós Archive Collection. The workshops are free and open to the public and take place in the autumn and spring of 2018-19. This project is funded by Ealaín na Gaeltachta, Údarás na Gaeltachta and An Chomhairle Ealaíon in association with the Centre for Irish Studies at NUI Galway. Further information is available from Samantha Williams, The Centre for Irish Studies, NUI Galway, at 091 492051 or samantha.williams@nuigalway.ie. -Ends- Tomás Ó Neachtain Ceaptha mar Amhránaí Cónaitheach ag OÉ Gaillimh Tá sé fógartha ag Ionad an Léinn Éireannaigh, OÉ Gaillimh, go bhfuil Tomás Ó Neachtain ceaptha mar Amhránaí Cónaitheach Sean-nóis i mbliana. Rugadh agus tógadh Tomás i gCoilleach, sa Spidéal. Chaith sé seal i Sasana mar fhear óg, ach is sa Choilleach a thóg sé féin is a bhean chéile Nancy a gclann: Tomás, Eoghan, Máire, Seán agus Seosamh, an rinceoir. Bhí an teach inar tógadh Tomás lán d’amhránaíocht agus thug sé leis go leor amhrán óna athair, Tomás, a shealbhaigh an traidisiún áirithe sin óna athair féin. Tá cúigear deirfiúir ag Tomás, ach is eisean an t-aon duine amháin den gclann a chuaigh leis na hamhráin. Dar ndóigh, ceapadh a mhac Seosamh mar Rinceoir Cónaitheach Sean-nóis in Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh sa bhliain 2009, an chéad duine riamh ar bronnadh an gradam sin air. Nuair a chasann Tomás amhrán, cloistear guth ard binn glan agus stíl a athar ann. Is breá le Tomás na hamhráin throma a chanadh: ‘An Droighneán Donn’, ‘Tomás Bán Mac Aogáin’ agus ‘An Chaora Ghlas’, amhráin a tháinig anuas ó ghlúin go glúin ag muintir  Neachtain. Tugann Tomás ceardlann ó am go ham, agus bhuaigh sé Corn Uí Riada dhá uair, i 1980 agus 1981. Beidh sraith ceardlann á múineadh ag Tomás san Ollscoil sa bhFómhar agus arís san Earrach agus beidh a chuid amhrán á dtaifeadadh aige don gcartlann sean-nóis atá á bailiú ag Ionad an Léinn Éireannaigh. Is iad Ealaín na Gaeltachta, Údarás na Gaeltachta, An Chomhairle Ealaíon agus Ionad an Léinn Éireannaigh, OÉ Gaillimh, a mhaoiníonn an tionscnamh seo. Tuilleadh eolais ó Samantha Williams ag 091 492051 nó samantha.williams@nuigalway.ie. -Críoch-

Monday, 16 April 2018

NUI Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh recently presented over 950 student volunteers the ALIVE Certificate for Volunteering. The ceremony was attended by Galway City Mayor, Councillor Pearce Flannery. NUI Galway students have volunteered with a variety of local and national organisations throughout the year including Conservation Volunteers Galway, Galway Autism Partnership, Galway Civil Defence, and Croí to name a few. Volunteers have also brought experiments to Galway schools through a wide range of science outreach workshops and participated in reading and mentoring through school homework clubs. Ceremony guest, Robert Farrell, Head of Direct in Aviva which employs more than 350 people in Galway, said: “Caring more for the communities in which we live, is part of our DNA in Aviva Ireland. We carefully encourage the instinctive generosity of our employees, encouraging them to give of their time, skills and passion to their local communities. To facilitate this, we give them three days paid leave to volunteer for their local charities and we match the funds they raise for local causes. We commend the work of NUI Galway in promoting volunteerism amongst the student body.” ALIVE is the student volunteering programme at NUI Galway and students are awarded Certificates to acknowledge their contribution to campus programmes and local and international community volunteering. The ceremony is an annual event to encourage volunteering and to thank all the community partners for hosting student volunteers. This year the ALIVE programme worked with higher education institutions across Ireland to successfully launch StudentVolunteer.ie a national platform to match students to non-profits. This year’s event is to highlight corporate social responsibility as employee’s growth and development through volunteering advance leadership skills and team building. Lorraine Tansey, Student Volunteer Coordinator at NUI Galway, said:  “As future professionals, students are well placed to learn how volunteerism in their future is an opportunity company’s embrace.” Annelise Garrison, NUI Galway student who volunteers with the Irish Cancer Society Charity Shop and the Galway Pride Festival, said: “By volunteering, I helped create a safe place for people to be themselves and celebrate their diversity.” Darragh Doyle, NUI Galway student with Enable Ireland learned about sustainable fundraising and said, “We need volunteering to help raise the much needed funds so that these important services can continue. We also need awareness for the extent of the work that Enable Ireland provide.” -Ends-

Monday, 16 April 2018

NUI Galway’s School of Law will host a half-day conference on Tuesday, 17 April, focusing on the theme of ‘Homelessness, the housing crisis and socio-economic rights’. The conference will take place in the Hardiman Building, NUI Galway, from 2.30pm-5.15pm. The conference will bring together academic and civil society voices concerning legal and policy responses to the homelessness and housing crises. Confirmed speakers include: Niamh Randall, Simon Communities; Padraic Kenna, NUI Galway; Thomas Murray, An Cosán; and Martin O’Connor, COPE Galway. Conference organiser, Dr Eoin Daly from NUI Galway’s School of Law, said: “This conference will bring together voices from both academia and civil society concerning what is arguably the most pressing social crisis in Ireland at present.” The conference is held in assocation with the Masters in Public Law programme at NUI Galway. Further information is here: https://bit.ly/2JGLLfy or contact Dr Eoin Daly at eoin.daly@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Friday, 13 April 2018

The awards are designed to give students the opportunity to increase employability skills NUI Galway’s inaugural Employability Award Ceremony was held today and 56 students were presented with their Award Certificate by the University President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh.  The NUI Galway Employability Award is a recognition of learning and skills developed through work experience and extra-curricular activities. Each event and workshop is carefully selected and co-ordinated to provide students with the opportunity to enhance their skills and employability. Josephine Walsh, Head of the Career Development Centre at NUI Galway, said: “The award programme was designed by the Career Development Centre to increase students’ employability skills, empower them to make successful transitions towards fulfilling careers and equip them with a framework for lifelong career management.” Employer partners have indicated that students’ confidence and their ability to articulate skills developed through the award will make recruitment of NUI Galway graduates more attractive. This award encourages students to participate fully in university life, gain work experience and develop employability skills.  This NUI Galway Employability Award will help you stand out from the crowd in the employer’s job market. Students must complete five elements: Employability Workshops, Work Experience, Career Events, Skills workshops and Reflective Assessment. Employers were central in the design and development of the award structure with Darragh Colgan, VP Research & Development and Process Development, Boston Scientific commenting: “The NUI Galway Employability Award gives students the opportunity to develop their leadership and employability skills through self-reflecting on their extra-curricular roles and experiences. By completing this award students are giving themselves a competitive advantage in the graduate job market.” Emer Joyce, Director of Tax, EY added: “At EY we put a very high value on graduates gaining the ability to self-reflect on their strengths and accomplishments. The NUI Galway Employability Award gives students the opportunity & confidence to articulate these experiences prior to their first graduate interviews.” Students from across all disciplines participated in the Award programme and have reported excellent outcomes. Vincent McBrien, a second year Drama, Theatre & Performance student who completed the award said: “I have gained many personal benefits that will help me in my career journey. As a result of completing the award I am more confident in myself and my work and have a new found motivation which will allow me to step up to every new opportunity that comes my way.” While Siobhan Cullen, a third year Earth and Ocean student, said: “I believe that I have gained a more competent approach to choosing and securing a career through participating in the Employability Award Programme. Through an elevated sense of self-awareness, I can move forward and plan for the future with confidence.” The NUI Galway Employability Award contributes to a number of other student awards, including the internationally recognised ALIVE award for Volunteering, and will be available for all students to participate in from September 2019. -Ends-

Friday, 13 April 2018

First time winners and recognition of continuous contribution The NUI Galway Society Awards took place in Galway recently. The night was a celebration of the enormous contribution the over 1000 committee members of 120 societies make to campus life. The night exhibited the impact the societies have on the wider community and their contribution to our multicultural city. NUI Galway Sláinte Society walked away with the award ‘Civic and Charity Society’ as well as ‘Best Individual’ presented to their auditor Sally Cahill from Co. Wicklow, a third year medical student. The society won the award for Best Event at the BICS National Society Awards in 2017 for their Teddy Bear Hospital event where up to 200 medical and science students diagnose and treat the teddy bears and in the process, they hope to help children, ranging in age from 3-8 years, feel more comfortable around doctors and hospitals. Ríona Hughes, NUI Galway Society Officer, said: “NUI Galway Societies raised almost a quarter of a million euro for charity last year.  The societies work towards creating a supportive, engaging experience for our students and with 15,560 student members their reach is powerful and their positive message is clear.” The Best Buddies Society work with Ability West won ‘Best Photo’. The Drama Society won ‘Best Poster’ for their Deirdre and Naoise production which took place during Theatre Week when they open the campus and invited Galway to enjoy a week of Theatre.  Among the winners on the night were the Musical Society (GUMS) who won ‘Best Society: (Academic, Cultural and Social Society)’. The Society run a very successful outreach programme with secondary schools and host an award ceremony for them in May each year.  This year for the first time in NUI Galway society history that the musical made a profit!  The international flavour of societies was clear in the ‘Most Improved Society’ award going to the International Student Society and best ‘New Society’ went to The Fáilte Refugees Society. The Energy Summit 2018 hosted by the Energy Society was a huge event on campus with industry and academics looking at the future of energy in Ireland won Best Publicity campaign. Other winners on the evening were the African Caribbean Society, The India Society, Pakistani Society and Islamic Society.  -Ends-

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, has been elected to the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) College of Fellows. Election to the AIMBE College of Fellows is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to a medical and biological engineer. The honour comes in recognition of Professor Pandit’s contributions to establishing a national centre which will develop transformative device-based solutions to treat global chronic diseases. AIMBE is a non-profit organisation headquartered in Washington, representing the most accomplished individuals in the fields of medical and biological engineering. Professor Pandit built a critical mass of biomaterial expertise in Ireland through the establishment of the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials, a strategic cluster that developed implantable materials for cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and soft tissue repair. Building on this critical mass of expertise, he now leads CÚRAM, based at NUI Galway. CÚRAM brings together 510 researchers with expertise in biomaterials, biomechanics, regenerative medicine, glycobiology, drug delivery and medical implant design, in addition to 27 industry partners. Commenting on his election to the College of Fellows, Professor Pandit said: “I am delighted and honoured to be recognised by such an esteemed group. Our goal at CÚRAM is to radically improve quality of life for patients with chronic illness and through our work here I look forward to contributing to AIMBE’s critical mission of advancing excellence and advocating for the fields of medical and biological engineering.” Professor Pandit has already been inducted as an International Fellow in Biomaterials Science and Engineering and a Fellow of the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society, the first Irish academic to receive both of these honours. Professor Pandit has co-ordinated four EU projects worth over €14 million and is a Senior Associate Editor of Biomaterials and an Executive Editorial Board member for Tissue Engineering journals. He has also developed an education and public engagement programme at CÚRAM to create innovative ways for communities to engage with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects, and to increase the visibility of Irish research in the biomedical engineering field, both nationally and internationally. The goal of the programme is to build and maintain strong relationships with key community partners to bring outputs to under-represented and under-engaged communities to increase diversity of researchers within the field. Professor Pandit joins the prestigious AIMBE group of medical and biological engineers that includes Nobel Laureates, Presidential Medal of Science winners and members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. The organisation brings together academia, industry, government, and scientific societies into a highly influential community in medical and biological engineering. -Ends-

Thursday, 12 April 2018

NUI Galway will shortly be recruiting for its Access Course for 2018/19 for young adults and mature students who have potential for third level but whom, for various reasons, may not achieve the necessary Leaving Certificate results for entry to NUI Galway. The successful applicant would be someone who, despite unemployment or lack of formal education, sees a third level qualification as a way to improve their skills and advance their career. The programme is specifically designed for young adults and mature students who have a real desire to study at third-level but whose education and economic circumstances may have prevented them from achieving this goal.  This programme is also suitable for students with disabilities, whose education has been affected by long-term absence. The main aim of the course is to bring the students to a stage where they can successfully enter a third level institution and on entry, can fully participate and benefit from the time they spend as a student. Two Information sessions will run on Tuesday, 17 April at the following locations: The Glasshouse Hotel, Sligo between 2-4pm Room IT 250, IT Building, NUI Galway between 6-8pm If you are interested in the NUI Galway Access Course and wish to attend our Information Session, please register at www.nuigalway.ie/access/publicevents/ Online applications for Access Courses will be accepted until Friday, 27 April, 2018. For further information, please contact: access@nuigalway.ie or 091-493553 and you can also find us on: www.facebook.com/NUIGaccess -Ends-

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

The HRB Primary Care Clinical Trials Network Ireland, based at NUI Galway, is working with researchers in Oxford University on the MERMAIDS Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI) study. It is part of a Europe-wide study across eight countries, which aims to recruit a total of 2,000 participants. The results of this study will help to improve the prevention, treatment and care of patients with these infections. Acute respiratory infections such as colds, influenza and pneumonia affect millions of people globally each year. The majority of cases are mild, but some people become very ill and are admitted to hospital for treatment. HRB Primary Care Clinical Trials Network Ireland Director, Professor Andrew Murphy at NUI Galway, said: “It is very important that primary care patients in Ireland are given the opportunity to contribute to significant international studies. We are delighted to see our Network practices exceeding the national recruitment target, and agreeing to continue recruitment in order to contribute to the European target.” Recruitment in Galway is taking place in Galway University Hospital, GalviaWest Medical Centre in Westside, the Kingston Medical Centre in Knocknacarra, and in County Clare at Ballyvaughan Medical Centre. The willingness of Irish patients and staff to participate in this important study in what is the busiest time of the year in primary care highlights the interest among the Irish public in contributing to answering important healthcare questions.  The MERMAIDS-ARI study is funded by the European Commission’s FP7 Programme, under a programme set up to support research organisations to undertake research into the care and treatment of emerging infections and to improve European preparedness of these infections. For more information about the study, contact Martha Killilea, HRB Primary Care Clinical Trials Network, in NUI Galway at martha.killilea@nuigalway.ie or 091-495308. -Ends-

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Dr Claire Conway, lecturer in Biomedical Engineering and Principal Investigator in the Biomechanics Research Centre at NUI Galway, has been awarded $20,000 funding from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to collaborate on exploring how to enable innovative device and therapeutic design for cardiac disease. Dr Conway will collaborate with MIT Principal Investigator, Assistant Professor Ellen Roche. The funding was awarded to initiate a collaborative exchange between the two emerging investigators and their respective research groups. Professor Roche won international acclaim in 2017 during her time as a researcher in NUI Galway, for her work in creating a soft robotic sleeve to help patients with heart failure live with much better quality of life while waiting for a heart transplant, thanks to a sleeve placed around the affected organ. Dr Conway’s research has been motivated by failure analysis of coronary stents, in particular stent fracture which increases the risk of blood clots forming or arterial blockages reforming. Using computational modelling, she is developing 3D virtual models of the beating heart to better understand how this dynamic motion affects cardiac device design. Professor Roche’s research investigates the design, building, and testing of cardiac devices, including soft robotic techniques, and the melding of mechanical and biological therapeutics for improved therapeutic regimens. Through this exchange both scientists will combine their expertise to conduct rigorous and comprehensive evaluation of cardiac devices. Speaking about the funding award, Dr Claire Conway from the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to advance cardiac device design and I am thrilled to be working with Professor Roche on this MISTI funded exchange. I believe both groups will benefit from the knowledge and experience gained and I look forward to this being a fruitful collaboration.” Professor Ellen Roche from MIT, added: “I’m delighted to be involved with Dr Conway and others from the Discipline of Biomedical Engineering on this project. The awarded MISTI funds will enable fluid exchange of knowledge and people between NUI Galway and MIT that will output strong research, exploiting the expertise of both groups and enhancing ongoing inter-institutional collaboration.” The exchange program will enable Dr Conway and Professor Roche to deliver workshops on their work at MIT, exploring how to enable innovative device and therapeutic design for cardiac disease. In turn a workshop at NUI Galway on cardiac medical device design, novel manufacturing and prototyping methods, bench-top modelling and testing will also be delivered. The funds will also support visits of two MIT graduate students to visit Dr Conway in Ireland for five weeks and allow two NUI Galway graduate students to visit Professor Roche in MIT for five weeks. The funds will enable existing collaboration to flourish and the fluid transition of students and faculty will generate new ideas in the cardiac devices. -Ends-

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Report calls for policy change to enable persons with disabilities the opportunity to direct their own services and live independently A report published by the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway, calling for policy change to enable persons with disabilities the opportunity to have greater choice and control over their service provision, was recently launched by Senator John Dolan at the Disability Federation of Ireland. The report, presented by Dr Eilionóir Flynn, Director of the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway, is entitled ‘Independent Living: An Evaluation of the Áiseanna Tacaíochta model of Direct Payments’. The research, carried out by Professor Gerard Quinn and Dr Sinéad Keogh from NUI Galway, examines if direct payments, where individuals with disabilities purchase services and direct their own care, creates a better quality of life than that of the traditional model of service provision, at no extra cost. Professor Gerard Quinn from NUI Galway, comments: “The past number of years have seen a global shift from a welfare system, which has treated persons with disabilities as dependent, passive recipients of ‘care’, towards a growing recognition of the need for a new approach that enables persons with disabilities to assume an active role in the society in which they live. This has been mirrored in Ireland by the growing demand by the Irish disability community for control and choice over how they wish to live their lives and the services they use.” The report reaffirms the findings of international literature that point to considerable benefits for users of direct payments, arising from greater flexibility, choice, independence, continuity of support and the customising of support packages. It also highlights the need for a policy change in Ireland in relation to how services are delivered for persons with disabilities’ and emphasises the need for a change to the current model of service provision in Ireland. Key findings from the report: The Direct Payments model of service provision, facilitated by Áiseanna Tacaíochta, places persons with disabilities at the centre of the decision-making process, recognises their strengths and preferences and gives them the confidence, support and means to shape the way in which their care is provided by transferring choice and control over funding decisions to them and allowing them to identify their unique individual needs. Not only does the Direct Payments model of individualised funding offer more clarity and transparency as to how public funds are spent but the Direct Payments model demonstrates cost savings and cost efficiencies. The report estimates that eighteen people achieved cost savings of approximately €136,000 in one year by directing their own services, such as hiring their own personal assistants and taking on the administrative burden that comes with running their own companies. The report makes four key recommendations: The need for the Direct Payments model and other models of individualised funding to receive further funding and support from the Government. The importance of the requirement of a single assessment tool to evaluate individuals’ resource allocations based on individual goals, the impact of disability, family circumstances and living arrangements. The transformation of the disability service provision model to permit persons with disabilities to more easily move their service provision from one Community Healthcare Organisation to another. Individualised funding budgets being extended to the purchase of equipment, aids, and other goods and services that relate to the healthcare needs of the individual following an assessment. Commenting on the results from the report, María Soleded Cisternas Reyes, United Nations Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility, said: “This report shows that without a doubt, direct payments, as a model of service provision, works to give independence back to persons with disabilities. Being in control of one’s services enhances well-being and empowers individuals. Direct Payments is a step in the right direct for service provision in Ireland. Professor Theresia Degener, Chair of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Professor of Law and Disability Studies (Protestant University of Applied Sciences, RWL, Germany), said: “This report comes timely just before Ireland will ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In our General Comment No 5 the CRPD Committee has emphasized that direct payment is key to realizing the human right to independent living. This excellent evaluation of ÁT Model of direct payment will help the Irish government to fulfill its duties under Article 19 CRPD.” Mairead McGuinness MEP, First Vice-President of the European Parliament, said: “The positive evaluation of the direct payments model should come as no surprise, as giving people control over their lives is central to giving people the chance of a better quality of life. This report is hard evidence that giving disabled people a say in their level of care and support enhances and empowers, the current model of supplying what services we think disabled people should have is less effective in meeting their needs and enhancing their wellbeing. As a model of care, it deserves support and wider implementation.” To read the full report, visit: https://www.nuigalway.ie/centre-disability-law-policy/research/publications/ -Ends-

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

A research project led by NUI Galway has established that companion robots can have a positive impact on older people living with dementia. Such is the impact of this research, it has been featured in a new European Commission study analysing the impact on society of EU-funded research and innovation in technology for active and healthy ageing. The MARIO project is among 25 projects credited, and the only one in Ireland, with having had the most influence in Europe over the last 11 years. The project is also being featured across Europe this week on the EuroNews TV channel’s Futuris science programme. Welcoming the listing among the top 25 projects, Professor Dympna Casey from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at NUI Galway, and MARIO project coordinator, explained: “Loneliness is a key public health concern across many age groups and especially for older people with dementia. We know that social health and social connectedness are important to the quality of life of people with dementia. Human companionship is the best way of promoting social health but the reality is that our health care services do not have the resources to provide this service. So we devised MARIO to be there for people living with dementia.” To develop the companion robot for people with dementia, NUI Galway put together a consortium of experts from the health care sector, robotics industry and dementia groups. This led to the three year EU Horizon 2020 MARIO project (Managing Active and Healthy Aging with the use of Caring Service Robots), funded by the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. The project involved five EU countries and a team of up to 40 people, and has just reached completion.   A key feature of the project was the user-led design in that the robot was developed with and for people with dementia. The result was MARIO, a 4.5 foot white robot with large animated eyes who can be activated by voice or by a touchscreen which he carries. This allows people with dementia to access the newspapers, listen to their favourite songs, provide reminders of upcoming events, store family photos and connect with their friends and families. Pilot testing of the MARIO robot was carried out with people with dementia and caregivers at three sites in Ireland, the UK and Italy for a period of over 12 months. Professor Casey added: “MARIO was an ambitious project from the beginning. We managed to combine an array of expertise through pan-European partnerships. We brought together expertise in robotics, semantic data analytics, artificial intelligence and interactive touchscreen technology, as well as healthcare and nursing knowledge. However, the most critical element were the older people with dementia and their caregivers, who welcomed MARIO into their lives and allowed us, through their insights and knowledge, to make MARIO into the success he has become.” According to a European Commission review of MARIO: “Providing adequate care to the elderly is essential to ensure that Europe’s senior citizens are able to spend their later years living a healthy, happy and independent life. But without support, many face loneliness, a lack of mobility and exercise, and forgetfulness on a daily basis. However, with the use of modern technology and particularly the development of robotic solutions, Europe’s elderly population can feel young again and lead a much safer and richer life.” The European Commission study considered the key achievements from ICT for Health research projects funded under FP7, the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP) and Horizon 2020. In doing so it provides a useful consolidated insight across the ‘technology for active and healthy ageing’ portfolio. Ageing poses one of the biggest economic and social challenges for this century. It is estimated that by 2025, more than 20% of Europeans will be 65 or over, and by 2060, one in three Europeans will be aged 65 or over. Furthermore, the ratio of working people to the ‘inactive’ others will shift from 4 to 1 today to 2 to 1 by 2060. To read the European Commission study, Top 25 influential ICT for Active and Healthy Ageing projects, logon to: https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/top-25-influential-ict-active-and-healthy-ageing-projects To watch MARIO on EuroNews, visit: http://www.euronews.com/2018/04/06/me-and-mario-robots-that-care -Ends-

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

NUI Galway and The Royal Irish Academy, in association with the Heyman Center, Columbia University, New York, will host a Judging Shaw Day, featuring a roundtable discussion entitled, ‘Shaw, Our Contemporary?’ a keynote lecture by Fintan O’Toole and a Judging Shaw Exhibition, on Monday 16 April at Columbia University. George Bernard Shaw was the most famous Irishman in the world for much of his life – yet, for many, the prodigious nature and quality of his output is forgotten. As well as being a prolific writer and polymath, he was one of the first global celebrities who carefully created and managed his personal brand of ‘GBS’. With his passionate interest in social justice and poverty, in human rights, in public discourse and in entertainment, he was a man with much to say to our times. This event will include discussion with academics, archivists and a publisher who will debate the relevance of Shaw today, on the stage, in the classroom and in print. Speakers at the roundtable discussion: Catriona Crowe (Chair), Member of the Royal Irish Academy Adrian Paterson, Lecturer in English, NUI Galway Ruth Hegarty,Managing Editor, Royal Irish Academy Barry Houlihan, Archivist, NUI Galway Lucy McDiarmid, Professor, Montclair State University Keri Walsh, Associate Professor, Fordham University Keynote Lecture: GBS versus Ireland: Bernard Shaw and Irish Nationalism Fintan O’Toole will explore Shaw’s ambivalent relationship with Ireland and Irish nationalism. George Bernard Shaw described Irish nationalist fervour in 1913 as “a burning fire shut up in the bones, a pain, a protest against shame and defeat, a morbid condition which a healthy man must shake off if he is to keep sane”. The only cure was national independence. Shaw always remained a paradoxical nationalist, arguing simultaneously that Irish freedom would do no good in itself and that it must be gained in order for the Irish to be able to think about other things. Author of a new book, Judging Shaw, Fintan O’Toole is a columnist and literary editor with The Irish Times and a Leonard L. Milberg lecturer in Irish Letters at Princeton University. He has written books on Irish history, politics, society and culture. He has been awarded the European Press Prize 2017 and the Orwell Prize for Journalism 2017. The lecture will be followed by a reception to launch the Judging Shaw exhibition co-curated by Ruth Hegarty, Barry Houlihan, Fintan O’Toole and Jeff Wilson. This event is part of the Judging Shaw program to mark the publication of Judging Shaw by Fintan O’Toole, published by the Royal Irish Academy. Professor Daniel Carey, Director of the Moore Institute at NUI Galway, said: “Shaw continues to intrigue, decades after the end of his long life. He still speaks to us, partly as a figure intent on social justice in his plays and criticism, by turns knowing and naïve, yet fully engaged in a world of contested relationships and political conflict.” Ruth Hegarty, Managing Editor of the Royal Irish Academy, said: “I am delighted to take the Shaw Day Festival to the US. Shaw punctures our tendency towards groupthink and encourages us to be sceptical of our sources. The publication of Judging Shaw allows readers to ‘judge’ Shaw for themselves by reading his own words in letters, manuscripts and plays guided by the author Fintan O’Toole. I look forward to debating Shaw at Columbia.” The event is organised by NUI Galway, the Consulate General of Ireland, New York, the Royal Irish Academy and The Heyman Center for the Humanities, Columbia University. The Judging Shaw event will take place in the Butler Library, Columbia University, New York on Monday, 16 April from 4pm to 7.30pm. The Judging Shaw Exhibition will run at the Heyman Center for the Humanities for the month of April. For more information and to register, visit: http://heymancenter.org/events/judging-shawa-roundtable-and-keynote/ and https://www.ria.ie/research-projects/judging-shaw -Ends-

Monday, 9 April 2018

A €9 million energy sustainability project, known as GenComm, delivered by NUI Galway and ten European partners has launched the first of its White Papers on Smart Hydrogen. Hydrogen (H2) can be used as a renewable energy storage medium and an energy carrier. This allows the reduction of wind and solar intermittency and enables the energy to be used elsewhere as and when required. In transport, hydrogen can reduce emissions and improve air quality at the same time. In heating, hydrogen can be used as a low carbon fuel source replacing fossil fuels. Today however, 95% of all hydrogen is produced from fossil resources. GenComm will produce Smart H2, a renewable and low-emission alternative to fossil fuels, with low impact on natural resources throughout its entire life cycle. Dr Rory Monaghan from the College of Engineering and Informatics and Ryan Institute for Marine, Environmental and Energy Research at NUI Galway, said: “The White Paper aims to inform stakeholders in the energy industry and local communities about the potential for hydrogen to address issues of intermittency, curtailment, profitability and energy security in renewable energy networks. Hydrogen is increasingly viewed as a practical way to store electricity and give it new uses, such as in transportation.” Denis Naughten TD, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, said: “Communities that are resilient in the face of climate change and the insecurities of international energy supply chains are key priorities of EU and national policies. Enabling communities across Europe to store and use their renewable energy resources in innovative and beneficial ways is the objective of GenComm. I welcome this project and the empowering effect it will have on our communities.” NUI Galway will play a key role in the GenComm project, managing a work package that will look at the long term effects of the project. The main output of the project is a hydrogen-based energy model. The research team will adapt this model to create an online tool to support Smart H2 investment decisions, allowing communities to plan and implement their own hydrogen-based energy systems. Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, President of NUI Galway, said: “I’d like to congratulate all those involved in the GenComm project. The scope of this project and the size of the award are testament to the strength and innovative nature of the project and the high calibre of partner organisations. Together with our partners, NUI Galway is proud to be involved in leading this research which seeks to deliver hydrogen-based solutions that will help address energy sustainability challenges to communities across North-West Europe. Ultimately this project will bring important benefits to society by enabling cleaner and smarter energy sources, which will protect our planet and support a greener environment.” Paul McCormack, GenComm Programme Manager and Innovation Manager at Belfast Met, added: “The GenComm project will address the energy sustainability challenges of North-West European communities through the implementation of smart hydrogen-based energy matrixes. The use of SMART H2 as an energy carrier can mitigate these challenges by helping match energy demand with renewable energy supply, while enabling flexibility between the mixed uses of renewable energy. The partners in the GenComm project are working to overcome these challenges through the creation of technical and economic models, and an investment decision support tool that can technically and financially optimise the production and commercialisation of SMART H2.” The GenComm project is funded through the Interreg North West Europe Programme. For more information on GENCOMM, visit: http://www.nweurope.eu/projects/project-search/gencomm-generating-energy-secure-communities/ -Ends-

Friday, 6 April 2018

An NUI Galway researcher has received funding for a Collaborative Research Fellowship in Italy for the LINCS (Language Interaction and New Communities in a Multilingual Society) project, which will look at language, the migrant experience, and cultural identity. Due to its geographical position, Italy is centrally involved in addressing the movement of people from their home countries. This difficult, contentious and often emotional process will be at the heart of the research. It will investigate not only the language experience of migrants in Europe such as language learning, translation and interpreting, but also the visibility and invisibility of their experience across cultural and geographical borders. The project will be developed at NUI Galway by Dr Andrea Ciribuco, a postdoctoral fellow under the mentorship of Dr Anne O’Connor from the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. Dr Ciribuco and Dr O’Connor also collaborated on the recent Irish Research Council-funded, New Foundations project entitled, ‘My Story-My Words: Language and Migration’, which looked at the linguistic landscape in Ireland in 2017, using the words of migrants to describe their experiences in a changing and multilingual context. As part of the LINCS project, Dr Ciribuco will spend two of the three years of his fellowship in the field in Italy, working with Italian Non-Government Organisation (NGO) Tamat, which is active since 1995 supporting sustainable development, social enterprise, food security, gender empowerment and global citizenship. The aim of the project is to achieve a better understanding of the links between language, cultural background, and how individuals present themselves in a new culture. This knowledge will be used to inform and promote language practices and policies that will ultimately result in more inclusive societies. Dr Ciribuco will meet with NGOs, institutions, cultural associations and migrant artists, exploring from different perspectives questions such as; how much is a person’s cultural identity shaped by the languages that he or she speaks? How do migrants adapt to communicate their identity in a new country? What is lost in translation? What place does art and literature occupy in intercultural dialogue? In the third and final year of the project, Dr Ciribuco will return to NUI Galway, where the knowledge acquired from his two years of field work in Italy will be used to create collaborations and exchanges of knowledge with Irish organisations. The project will be of particular interest to NGOs, local and European institutions as well as scholars, while creating awareness of the ways in which we can remove linguistic obstacles to communication in a multicultural, multilingual Europe. This is the first time NUI Galway has been awarded a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions COFUND Collaborative Research Fellowship for a Responsive and Innovative Europe (CAROLINE) with the Irish Research Council.  -Ends-

Friday, 6 April 2018

An NUI Galway study on blockchain has been presented at the Whitaker Ideas Forum workshop on campus entitled, ‘The adoption of Blockchain in Ireland: Examining the influence of organisational factors’. The study investigates the organisational factors that influenced Irish companies in their decisions to adopt blockchain. The study, which was conducted in conjunction with the Blockchain Association of Ireland, investigated the organisational factors that influenced Irish companies in their decisions to adopt blockchain. The emergence of blockchain as a trend in the information technology sector has attracted considerable attention from practitioners, academics, researchers and national development authorities. Blockchain in its simplest form is a shared database system which allows users in a peer-to-peer network to verify and store records. Blockchain represents a new way to access and trust data communicated over the internet. Lead author of the study, Dr Trevor Clohessy at NUI Galway, said: “Instead of keeping data centralised in a traditional ledger, these new digital systems use independent computers, often referred to as ‘nodes’, to record, synchronise and share individual transactions in their respective electronic ledgers. Blockchain is a digital ledger which allows for the brokering of trust on a decentralised peer-to-peer network. Blockchain transactions can include the exchange of data such as personal identification records, and assets such as tokens and digital currency.” The study, which was led by Dr Clohessy and Dr Thomas Acton from the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway, identified several patterns. It found that top management support and organisational readiness are enablers for blockchain, and that large companies are more likely to adopt blockchain than small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The research explains these findings by examining the nature of blockchain and the characteristics of Ireland as a developed technological country. Organisational readiness will require the availability of: Employees with the requisite blockchain IT knowledge and skills Financial resources within the IT budget for adopting blockchain Infrastructure on which blockchain applications can be built Dr Clohessy added: “We are excited to present the results of a seminal piece of research that we have conducted on blockchain organisational readiness here in Ireland. Blockchain is often portrayed as a black box technology which is mostly associated with cryptocurrencies and financial institutions. However, our research indicates that blockchain is a much more versatile beast that provides adopters with advantages such as anonymity, immutability (transactions that are permanent and cannot be altered), transparency, security and fast transactions. “We expect blockchain will significantly transform the traditional business operations of organisations across a multitude of industries such as health, food, financial and Government sectors in Ireland over the next five years. However, we have also identified a number of barriers which organisations will have to overcome such as the need for them to view blockchain as a separate entity to cryptocurrencies, a lack of technology workers who possess the requisite blockchain skills and competencies, and a lack of university level blockchain courses encompassing a number of core competencies identified in the study.” The J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics is currently exploring various possibilities to address the gap in the lack of university level blockchain courses such as creating executive blockchain workshops. Dr Clohessy has also introduced blockchain as a topic for students within the modules for MSc Business Analytics and MSc Information Systems Management. A more detailed industry report and several academic studies on blockchain are currently in progress. For more information about the Blockchain Association of Ireland, visit: https://www.blockchainireland.org/ -Ends-

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Professor Abhay Pandit and his research team at CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, have just published their research into a potential new treatment for lower back pain in the prestigious journal Science Advances. The research team developed a biomaterial-based therapy that can be adapted to an injectable system, which is preferable to surgical intervention. Lower back pain is the second leading cause of disability worldwide and a common reason for lost work days. Over 48% of Europeans and 80% of US citizens experience lower back pain due to degenerative intervertebral discs (IVDs) at some point in their lives, with associated healthcare expenditure estimated at over $100 billion dollars annually in the US and €5.34 billion in Ireland alone. The prevalence of back pain is set to increase substantially in the coming years due to our ageing population. Degeneration of the intervertebral disc results in the compression of the spinal nerves and adjacent vertebrae. Recently, as an alternative to the current conservative treatment or surgical interventions for lower back pain, which are non-regenerative in nature, researchers have started to investigate whether regeneration of the inflamed disc is possible. In the clinic, a substance called hyaluronan (also known as hyaluronic acid) has been shown to facilitate long-term functional improvements by reducing inflammation and pain in a number of clinical conditions, including osteoarthritis surgeries. Hyaluronan is a structural component of tissues in the body, providing strength, lubrication and hydration within the cell’s environment. It also regulates cell movement and behaviour making it an important, active molecule for cell communication. Lead author of the study, Professor Abhay Pandit from CÚRAM at NUI Galway, said: “The mechanisms by which hyaluronan targets inflammatory pain in disc degeneration had never been assessed. Our research focused on assessing whether a hyaluronan hydrogel has the ability to reduce inflammatory pain and promote disc repair. The results now suggest that it does indeed have a potential therapeutic application for the treatment of back pain associated with disc degeneration.” Implantation of the hyaluronan hydrogel alleviates pain by favourably modulating cellular processes, suggesting promise as a potential therapy in the treatment of back pain. Professor Pandit added: “The hyaluronan formulation we have developed can be adapted to an injectable system which is far preferable to surgical intervention in these cases. We are delighted to see this research being acknowledged in a top journal like Science Advances. Our aim at CÚRAM is to radically improve quality of life for patients suffering from chronic illness and this research takes us a step forward toward to doing just that for sufferers of disc degeneration and lower back pain.” Interest in this technology has already been expressed by CÚRAM’s industry partners and has resulted in further collaborative work in this area. The multidisciplinary research team working on this project included Professor Abhay Pandit, Professor Peter Dockery, Professor David Finn and Dr Michelle Kilcoyne, with researchers Dr Isma Liza Mohd Isa and Dr Sunny Abbah, based at NUI Galway, as well as Dr Daisuke Sakai from the Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Tokai University School of Medicine in Kanagawa, Japan. To read the full study in Science Advances, visit: http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/4/4/eaaq0597 -Ends-

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Public Lecture by Professor Gerry Mac Ruairc: “Caution: Children at School, Perspectives on Learning, Leaders and Learners, Imperatives for Inclusive Schools.” The College of Arts, Social Sciences, and Celtic Studies at NUI Galway, New Professors’ Inaugural Lecture series will continue with Professor Gerry Mac Ruairc, the Established Professor of Education and Head of the School of Education. The Public Lecture will be hosted in the Moore Institute on Tuesday, 10 April at 5.30pm. The lecture is designed to be of interest to educators and parents. Professor Mac Ruairc will address elements in our current school system with a view to identifying ways in which schools can become more inclusive, nurturing spaces for all learners irrespective of class, gender, ability, culture, sexuality or the intersectional interconnected nature of these social categorisations. In doing this, Professor Mac Ruairc will outline a number of articles that represent issues or dilemmas within the Irish education system. These articles draw on personal and professional experiences. Some are autobiographical, based on experience as a student, a teacher, a school inspector and more recently a researcher and teacher educator; others are based on media interpretations of aspects of the school system more broadly. The lecture will also focus on exploring ways in which many of the issues identified can be explored differently, and explore ways that change the learning experience of children and young people in school. Explaining how schools can work with diversity and difference and by problematizing the ways in which exclusionary practices succeed in schools, it is possible to identify a number of ways forward. Dr Seán Crosson, Vice-Dean (Research, Reputation and Impact), College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies at NUI Galway said: "We are delighted to continue the New Professor's Inaugural Lecture series. The series provides a great opportunity for the College of Arts, Social Sciences, and Celtic Studies at NUI Galway to introduce to the general public and academics across the University new professorial appointments and to foreground the world-leading innovative research being undertaken in the college. The lectures will run on a monthly basis throughout the calendar year in the Moore Institute and all are welcome to attend." Subsequent speakers in the series will include: Professor Brian McGuire, School of Psychology on Thursday, 3 May Professor Niamh Reilly, School of Political Science & Sociology on Thursday, 21 June An tOllamh Tadhg Ó hIfearnáin,  Roinn na Gaeilge on Thursday, 4 October -Ends-

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

NUI Galway recently held the Fourth Undergraduate Research Conference which focused on a wide range of research topics including technology, transportation, environment, disability, law, advances in medicine and tourism. The 2018 Undergraduate Research Conference focused on engaging students and staff in a collaborative multidisciplinary research environment promoting vital research skills in presentation and communication. Conference organiser, Lorraine Tansey, Institute for Lifecourse and Society, said: “The multi-disciplinary space is an important opportunity for our students who learn their specific course content in silos. At the conference students are getting a feel for what life will be like as alumni, working, volunteering and being in a world where we need work together from across the subject boundaries to tackle real life problems.” Students from across all disciplines participated and spoke and shared with students. Keynote speaker, Áine Gallagher from ‘Bright Club’ shared how comedy and research can combine to engage non-specialists with a variety of topic areas.  Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway supports undergraduate engagement: “Undergraduate research is the pedagogy for the 21st century – all students should learn through inquiry and research. The ecology of a university depends on a deep and abiding understanding that inquiry, investigation and discovery are at the heart of the university. Research plays a very big role in identifying opportunities and solving problems that our society and planet faces.” Professor Joshi, added: “As a research-led university, undergraduate students are a vital part of the research community and we are delighted to nurture their enthusiasm for research through a variety of student programmes. Students are gaining valuable research skills like communication, presentation, and teamwork as they share in small groups and hear from keynote speakers.”  The conference is funded by the Research Office and ALIVE, NUI Galway’s student volunteering programme and directly run, created and imagined by students. To learn more: www.nuigalway.ie/undergrad-research -Ends-

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Dochtúireacht Oinigh le bronnadh ar Mhéara Chicago Ag searmanas in OÉ Gaillimh Dé Máirt, an 3 Aibreán, bronnfar Céim Oinigh ar Rahm Emanuel, Méara Chicago agus iarCheann Foirne sa Teach Bán le linn rialtas Obama. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an tOllamh Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, agus é ag labhairt roimh an searmanas: “Tá cathracha na Gaillimhe agus Chicago nasctha le chéile mar Chomhchathracha le breis is aon bhliain is fiche. Ó shin i leith, tá caidreamh láidir agus dinimiciúil forbartha, a bhfuil buntáistí sóisialta, cultúrtha, oideachasúla agus eacnamaíochta mar thoradh air, rud a léiríonn na naisc phearsanta agus ghairmiúla ar fad idir an dá chathair iontacha seo. Agus onóir á tabhairt againn don Mhéara Emanuel, tugaimid le tuiscint an méid a bhfuil luach againn air mar Ollscoil.  Ní hamháin go n-aithnímid na naisc a cheanglaíonn Gaillimh agus Chicago inár ról mar Ollscoil na Gaillimhe ach dírímid aird chomh maith ar thábhacht na seirbhíse poiblí, ar thábhacht gníomhú go háitiúil le tionchar domhanda, agus tábhacht an daonlathais, an tearmainn agus na saoirse – sa domhan agus don domhan.” Is é Rahm Emanuel an 55ú méara ar Chicago. Chinntigh sé gur glacadh le buiséid ina raibh leasuithe agus infheistíochtaí chun todhchaí airgeadais Chicago a dhaingniú. Rinne sé roinnt leasuithe oideachais a achtú lena n-áirítear fad a chur leis an lá agus leis an mbliain scoile, naíscoil uilíoch lae a chruthú agus chinntigh sé go raibh Chicago ar an gcéad mhórchathair sa tír a chuir oideachas saor in aisce ar fáil i gcoláistí pobail do gach dalta meánscoile a bhaineann B ar an meán, nó os a chionn amach. Faoi stiúir an Mhéara Emanuel, bhí Chicago chun tosaigh ag cur leasuithe eacnamaíochta i bhfeidhm rud a mheall níos mó cuideachtaí agus infheistíocht dhíreach iasachta. Tá athchóiriú infreastruchtúir ar fiú $8 mbilliún ar bun in Chicago faoi láthair chun bóithre, iarnróid agus rúidbhealaí na cathrach a neartú. Sular ceapadh ina Mhéara é, bhí sé ina Cheann Foirne sa Teach Bán le linn rialtas Obama agus chaith sé trí théarma i dTeach na nIonadaithe sna Stáit Aontaithe ag déanamh ionadaíochta ar 5ú Toghcheantar Chicago. Sular toghadh chuig an gComhdháil é, ba bhall tábhachtach é de Theach Bán Clinton ó 1993 go 1998, agus rinneadh comhairleoir sinsearach polasaí agus straitéise don Uachtarán de. Bhain sé céim amach in Sarah Lawrence College sa bhliain 1981 agus bhain sé céim mháistreachta amach san óráidíocht agus cumarsáid ó  Northwestern University. Agus Céim Dhochtúireachta le Dlíthe (honoris causa) bronnta ar an Méara Emanuel beidh sé anois i measc céimithe oinigh eile mór le rá a tháinig roimhe cosúil le Nelson Mandela, Hilary Clinton, Cyril Ramaphosa, Enya, Anjelica Huston, agus Margaret Atwood. -Críoch-


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