NUI Galway is primarily a place of learning, and it is a shared learning ethos which informs the actions of the University of Sanctuary steering committee. A number of events and undertakings which have sustained that same shared learning ethos lying at the heart of the Sanctuary movement at the university, are as follows; The UoS steering committee has hosted a number of events which have highlighted both International Protection and Traveller-specific topics, based on research carried out by fellow academics at NUI Galway. 

Fáilte Refugees Society Created 2017

The Fáilte Refugees Society was set up on campus in January 2017 in an effort to raise awareness of the global refugee crisis and the need to tackle racism in all its forms, and at every level and context in which it is encountered. The Society’s committee participate annually in the university’s Societies’ Day to garner as much student support as possible, and to bring a message of equality to all. The Society numbers have grown to over 150 members since 2017, is funded by NUI Galway’s University Societies Coordinating Group (USCG), and has vote to constitutionally support the University of Sanctuary campaign at the university. 

Minceirs Whiden Society Created 2019 

The UoS steering committee has supported the creation of the first-ever Traveller-specific Society in Ireland, Minceirs Whiden, and will collaborate with the Society to host future events in raising awareness around Traveller-specific culture, particularly around the annual Traveller Pride Week and the delivery of social inclusion workshops across campus. The Society officially launched on 17th April 2019 with over one hundred members, is also funded by the USCG, and is affiliated with the Galway Traveller Movement.   

Community Education Programme 

The Community Education Suite of programmes that have engaged with Travellers, Refugees and Asylum Seekers over the last 23 years in particular, have included; the Diploma in Community Development Practice; the BA in Community, Youth and Family Studies and the Certificate in Youth Work Practice. Over 120 part-time learners are welcomed annually. 

BA: Community, Youth & Family Studies (Degree) 

Diploma: Community Development Practice (Cert./Diploma) 

Certificate:  Youth Work Practice (Certificate) 

Centre for Irish Studies  

The Centre for Irish Studies promotes a diverse range of migrant research in to both undergraduate and postgraduate teaching at NUI Galway. Two MA students are currently working on migrant literature in Ireland this year; one in the Masters in English & one in the Masters in Irish Studies. Both students are looking at interdisciplinary approaches to This Hostel Life by Melatu Uche Okorie, and other related authors (Roddy Doyle, Eoin Colfer), in terms of critical debates in contemporary Irish literature and society. The Centre for Irish Studies has also collaborated with colleagues in NUI Maynooth to work with the Asylum Archive project. The Centre for Irish Studies will host the Galway Conference of Irish Studies in June, which will have the theme of “home”. As we witness national and international crises of home, the Centre for Irish Studies will examine the question of what it is to dwell. What does it mean to be ‘at home’? How has Irish Studies historically engaged with conceptions of home and how might the discipline deal with changing definitions of home in the future? 

UN World Refugee Day 2017 

On June 20th 2017, the Fáilte Refugees Society collaborated with Amnesty International Galway, the Galway One World Centre, The Galway Anti-Racism Network, AMACH! LGBT+ Galway, and the Galway Integration Consortium to host three events across the city throughout the day, with between 100-150 people in attendance throughout the day. This collaborative process was built upon our collective aspiration to educate the general public on issues which are affecting over 65 million displaced people globally, and to highlight the fundamental human rights espoused in the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Other events organised by the Fáilte Refugees Society included Anti-Racism workshops and pop-up workshops around campus, asking students what they knew about the terms “Direct Provision”, “Asylum Seeker”, “Refugee”, “Migrant”, etc. (pic) 

World Refugee Day 2018 - World Refugee Day Celebrations

The University of Sanctuary steering committee, in collaboration with AMACH! LGBT+ Galway, the Galway & Roscommon Education and Training Board, and the Galway Anti-Racism Network, celebrated World Refugee Day by hosting an award ceremony for participants in AMACH’s cultural identity photography workshop series. Following the award ceremony, participants joined members of the public in making a human “FÁILTE” sign on a local beach, to highlight Galway’s welcome for all! On Saturday, 23rd June, NUI Galway’s science outreach programme Cell EXPLORERS trained two  young members of the local Direct Provision centres in peer demonstration of science experiments. The trainees joined the Cell EXPLORERS team to provide engaging hands on experiment to the young children attending the family day organised with to members of the International Protection community (pics). 

Éire, Land of a Hundred Thousand Welcomes

In December 2017, the UoS steering committee, in collaboration with the Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) and the Alive Student Volunteering Office, facilitated a production of Éire, Land of Hundred Thousand Welcomes which was a critique of Ireland’s Direct Provision system, and written by drama students at the Mount Temple Comprehensive School in Dublin. The play was performed in the O’ Donoghue Theatre on campus, which was almost filled to capacity with over 80 attendees.  The audience comprised university staff & students, as well as local post primary school students. The fact that this play was written by post-primary students themselves (pictured below with Croí Na Gaillimhe representative, Janet Kehelly) truly highlighted that we had a great opportunity to express the message of Sanctuary to the next generation. Clearly, the students of Mount Temple found merit in the usage of Ireland’s famous moniker, as did Tiffy Allen while penning the Places of Sanctuary book. (picture). 

Refugee Awareness Week, February 2018

The Fáilte Refugees Society, in collaboration with the University of Sanctuary steering committee, facilitated a Refugee Awareness Week during the Students’ Union Equality Week (February 19th-22nd, 2018). The Refugee Awareness Week included a panel discussion on the Right to Work and the Right to Education, a table quiz to raise awareness and funds for the Direct Provision residents’ committees in Galway city, a clothing drive and pot-luck dinner for the members of the Direct Provision centres. This year, the Society also celebrated Refugee Awareness Week with a similar lineup of events. 

International Conference The Rights of Migrants and Refugees: Exploring the role of Courts and Tribunals - May 2018

The Irish Centre for Human Rights hosted an international conference on the theme of “The Rights of Migrants and Refugees: Exploring the role of Courts and Tribunals”. The event brought together practitioners, academics, students and policy makers working in the field of migration and asylum law and policy. The keynote address was delivered by Judge Paulo Pinto de Albuquerque of the European Court of Human Rights. Guest speakers included Hilkka Becker (International Protection Appeals Tribunal), Kathryn Cronin (Garden Court Chambers), Raza Husain QC (Matrix Chambers), Catherine Meredith (Doughty Street Chambers), Colin Smith B.L., as well as Professor Siobhán Mullally and Ciara Smyth (National University of Ireland Galway) and Doctoral Candidates Stefano Angeleri and Noemi Magugliani of the Irish Centre for Human Rights. 

Migration and Asylum Process Seminar - June 2018

The University of Sanctuary steering committee hosted a Migration and Asylum Process guest speaker event on Wednesday, June 13th, 2018 which was funded by the EDICC Grant. Guest speakers included Dr Kathy Reilly (NUI Galway), who presented findings from a longitudinal study on access to education, and impacts upon migrant students; Suzanne McKane (Galway City Partnership’s Bridge Project), who provided information on the asylum process in Ireland, and how the Irish Government alters application parameters regularly; and Jacqueline Phiri (NUI Galway student), who spoke about her personal experiences of residing in Direct Provision in Galway City. The event was well attended, with approximately forty attendees comprising a broad cross-section of Galway’s population. 

Bespoke English Language Courses for International Protection Applicants 2018/19

In June & July 2018, the University of Sanctuary steering committee hosted a two-week English language course for eighty International Protection Applicants residing in the local Direct Provision Centres. This served to open the university campus to those in Direct Provision and to provide information to those wishing to pursue education at NUI Galway. This was funded by the Access Programmes Office in 2018 and will be funded by the Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) in June 2019.  

Film Premier of Through Our Eyes 2018

In Oct 2018, as part of the 8x8 Festival with the STAND organisation and Global Week on campus, the Fáilte Refugees Society screened Through Our Eyes to an audience of between 20-30 students. Through Our Eyes is a film about Syrian refugees made by BAFTA award-winning director Samir Mehanovic, who is a Muslim refugee. Following the screening, Samir joined in the discussion through video conference for a Q&A session. 

Barriers to Diversity in Ireland’s Education System 2018 

The University of Sanctuary steering committee hosted a “Barriers to Diversity in Ireland’s Education System” guest speaker event on Friday, November 30th, 2018. The event was well attended, with 15-20 attendees, and speakers included Dr Elaine Keane (NUI Galway), who spoke about a severe lack of diversity amongst 2nd level Education teaching staff; Catherine Cooney (GRETB) who addressed issues facing Irish Travellers within the education system, and Owen Mac An Bhaird (NUI Galway Student), who spoke about his personal experiences of our education system as an Irish Traveller (Funded by the CKI) (pics) 

Module Contemporary Issues in Human Rights Protection, January 2019

During the second semester of the academic year 2018/2019, students of the second year of the Bachelor of Arts with Human Rights have been taught a module on Contemporary Issues in Human Rights Protection, in which a large section was dedicated to exploring and understanding issues related to migrants and refugees. This module included lectures on international migration law, migration in the European Union as well as case-studies, amongst which Ireland was included. 

New Academic Programme LLM in International Migration and Refugee Law and Policy 2019

February 2019 - The Irish Centre for Human Rights launched the LLM in International Migration and Refugee Law and Policy. Ms Gráinne O'Hara, Head of the Department of International Protection at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), gave the keynote address and also spoke of the need for highly qualified postgraduates in the area of migration and forced displacement, both at the policy level and in the field: “At a time when human mobility, and forced displacement in particular, is to the forefront of so many highly charged political discussions, the value of academic discipline on the distinct but related issues of migration and refugee flight comes into its own.” The LLM in International Migration and Refugee Law will commence in September, 2019 and is the only course of its kind on offer in an Irish university. The core-teaching programme is supplemented with an exciting programme of guest seminars, workshops and conferences engaging with leading experts and practitioners in the field of refugee protection, human trafficking, international migration, human rights law and public policy. 

NUI Galway’s Inaugural Sanctuary in Politics Course 

This year will see NUI Galway’s inaugural Sanctuary in Politics course taking place on campus as part of our efforts to become a designated University of Sanctuary. The four-week Sanctuary in Politics course will take place on each Saturday of June (from 8th-29th), and will be open to participants from both the Traveller and International Protection communities who have an interest in gaining an understanding of discrimination in Ireland, (re)presentation in the media, the Irish political system, and campaigning in general. As this is a pilot project, numbers will be capped at 20 participants, and we have commenced advertising for participants already. 

Participants of the unaccredited course will gain an understanding of the weekly topics in the mornings, and form the audience for a panel discussion in the afternoons. Panellists will be invited from the political, media, voluntary and advocacy sectors, depending upon the topics being covered on the respective day.  

The panel discussions will focus on the various elements of our Community of Sanctuary framework and will cover the following seven topics: 1) Employment, 2) Housing, 3) Health, 4) Justice & Human Rights, 5) Language and Education, 6) Arts and Culture, and 7) Sport. Panellists will be invited to introduce themselves, and to speak for between 15-20 minutes about their work. We will then take questions from the floor. Panellists can focus on some or all of the above topics, facilitating the discussion to develop organically as the conversation evolves.