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University Observer







Father Flannery’s writings over the direction of the Catholic Church

Drummer for Biffy Clyro, Ben Johnson, on the risks of a double album

Evan O’Quigley and David Farrell outline the arguments for and against going it alone









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W W W. U N I V E R S I T Y O B S E R V E R . I E

Overhaul of means tested grants proposed for farming families

Egg-throwers to face disciplinary hearing next week



Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn is putting forward proposals to reform the grant system for students with self-employed parents and students from farming backgrounds. Under the new regime, farmers will have their land assessed as well as their income as part of a new means test for grant applications. Farms and other businesses will be asked to value their assets and declare it once their business is worth more than 750,000. The Minister will also ask the cabinet to include other “nonproductive assets” such as savings and shareholdings, above 20,000. This limit is being imposed so as not to exclude parents who have saved to send their children to college. UCD Students’ Union Welfare Officer Mícheál Gallagher said that the scheme is concerning for students, commenting: “I don’t think it’s fair. I question the value of a system that won’t distinguish between assets that are and are not making money.” President of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) John Bryan had similar concerns, stating: “Regardless of whatever thresholds or off-sets are introduced, there is no relation between the value of land and the income derived from it.” Teagasc has calculated that a farm valued at 750,000 will, on average, amass an income of just over 41,000, which is the cut-off point for the normal means tested full maintenance grant of just over 3,000. This is where the threshold derived from. The proposed amended means test will assume an income of 520 from the first 10,000 in asset-value above the threshold, double that for the next 10,000, and triple (at 2,080) for every 10,000 after that. It has been estimated that this new regime, if implemented, could encompass over a third of the country’s working farms. Bryan has indicated that the IFA are “utterly opposed to the use of assets in any calculation of income” and has promised a “vigorous campaign” against the changes. Gallagher believes that this will impede a large number of students from attending third level institutions. He stated: “I think that it may become a barrier to those from farming backgrounds entering higher level education and that Students’ Unions around the country need to work with Irish Farmers’ Association

Three students who protested at the opening of the new Student Centre in November are facing a disciplinary hearing with the Registrar, Professor Mark Rogers, which is due to take place on February 13th. The incident took place in protest of rising registration fees and involved eggs being thrown at the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, who was present to officially open the building. The eggs missed the Taoiseach, however UCD Vice-President for Students Martin Butler was struck. The issue has resurfaced recently due to an email received by three students identified as being involved in the incident, Suzanne Lee, Aidan Roe and Ben McCormack, formally calling them before Professor Rogers. Butler would normally deal with such an issue but due to his personal involvement in the incident, Professor Rogers must take his place. The email was received just before UCD Students’ Union Council took place last Thursday, leading to International Students Co-ordinator Karl Gill putting forward an emergency motion to ask UCDSU to revoke their earlier condemnation of the incident and to support the students in question. An overwhelming majority defeated this motion. Gill says that he is “extremely disappointed” in the lack of support the students involved have received from the Union. He claimed that there is general support for them from outside Council and that most students see the incident as “no big deal”. He believes that the Union’s purpose is to be there to represent and support students “when they need it most” and cited another disciplinary action earlier this year in which he said the Union did get involved. Suzanne Lee, one of those allegedly involved in the incident is of the same belief. She has received letters of support from a number of UCD Faculty members and from International Students’ Unions but does feel that the Union has “made their mind up” about how they are going to deal with the situation. UCD Students’ Union President Rachel Breslin however has responded to the issue by saying that she doesn’t see a situation where the condemnation could be revoked. Though she emphasised that “students are always welcome and entitled to protest”, she felt that there was no choice but to condemn the actions when “it crossed into a purposefully violent act and this was intentionally violent. It was an unnecessary and unwelcome thing to bring a violent act into an event that students had put so much work into.” She maintains: “The student response after has been overwhelmingly in support of the condemnation.” Breslin recognises that the Union has an obligation under the Constitution to represent all students but that they also must “endeavour to maintain a positive relationship with staff”. There have been a number of letters written to the Union asking that Breslin request leniency for these students or that she come out in support of them. However, while she aims to respond to all enquiries on this matter, she says she “must listen to the people [she] works for” after Council approved the Union’s condemnation of the incident.

The “Before I Die” project, launched in the Newman Building last week. Photo: Mícheál Gallagher in lobbying the government to ensure that a fair system is developed.” Gallagher also voiced concerns over the wisdom of implementing such a scheme now, when the SUSI grants fiasco is still not resolved. He feels that Minister Quinn will need to reconsider the scheme, and in particular will need to bear the impact these constant reforms to the grant system, will have on students. He said: “I think that the system needs to be developed carefully, as seen

with the ongoing SUSI fiasco, sudden changes can have a huge human cost for students as they are left relying on emergency funding.” These proposed amendments come after a study by the Higher Education Authority last August that revealed that more than 40% of farmers and more than 50% of self-employed parents are awarded maintenance grants for their children. This compares with 17% of the children of “lower professionals” securing grants.

Minister Quinn has claimed that it is possible for self employed and farming families to manipulate their earnings and their business’ earnings by purchasing machinery and other assets the previous year, to bring them under the grant threshold. He believes that this is the reason for almost twice the number of students from these backgrounds receiving grants over PAYE workers’ children, and that it is necessary to means-test business assets for this reason.

100 stolen from Irish Cancer Society book sale BY KEVIN BEIRNE

The UCDSU second-hand book sale, held in the tunnel between the Newman building and the James Joyce Library, raised approximately 1,170 for the Relay For Life during its run last week. This is in spite of the fact that around 100 was stolen from the till after it had been left temporarily unattended. UCDSU Arts Convenor, Declan Clear, declared the week-long sale a success, despite the 100 theft, which he puts down to a lack of vigilance: “It’s unfortunate, because otherwise it’s been so great; everything’s been so positive. People have been coming up here and

not even taking books, just donating. Some people have come in and bought a book, and said that they gave me too little for it and then gave me more,” says Clear. With reference to the missing 100, Clear explains that it was due to the till being left unattended: “There’s no internet signal [at the location of the sale], and we had the money in a till which doesn’t properly close. There was a piece of paper over all the money saying how much money had come in and out, with ‘Irish Cancer Society’ written on the top of the paper. I walked down to send an email. Two minutes later, I walked back in, and the money

was gone. Paddy [Guiney] was here, so I thought leaving the place was fine, but he had to go lecture addressing. It was just bad timing on my end for leaving,” says Clear. Clear says that he has reported the incident to Campus Services and they reassured him that the search for the culprit was “top priority”. There is also a Garda investigation into the incident, which Clear claims shows just how seriously it is being taken. Concerning the book sale itself, he says the books came from a number of different sources. Donations by lecturers and students were supplemented by the James Joyce Library as well as col-

lecting books that had been left behind in lockers at the end of the previous academic year. When asked why he chose the Relay For Life as the charity, Clear says he was “on Relay For Life last year. This year, I was just involved in the meetings at the start of the year and I thought it was a good cause. For me, I suppose, my mother had cancer when I was younger. The Irish Cancer Society is a great cause. It was between that and Barretstown, but because I’m involved in ArtSoc, and ArtSoc do a lot for Barretstown, I thought about that and in the end I went with the Irish Cancer Society.”




Smurfit Business School 64th in 2013 Financial Times Global MBA Rankings The full-time MBA course at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School has been placed 64th in the 2013 Financial Times Global MBA Rankings. As the only school in Ireland to obtain a place in the rankings, the Smurfit School has maintained its title as Ireland’s leading business school. It rose 22 places in the last year and obtained an average rank of 76th over the past three years. The school achieved a higher ranking than schools such as the University of Western Ontario: Ivey in Canada and University of Washington: Foster in the US. In terms of European schools, the school’s MBA course achieved a ranking of 18th. Dean of the School, Prof. Ciarán O hÓgartaigh, said he was“delighted that, once again, [the] MBA is ranked with the top business schools in the world; the only Irish business school to do so”. O hÓgartaigh knows his school is competing on the world stage to attract the best faculty members and students. He says that “results, such as these, position us firmly amongst the world leaders in business education”

Professor Philip O’Connell appointed Director of UCD Geary Institute Professor Philip O’Connell has been announced as Director of the UCD Geary Institute by the University’s Governing Authority. Professor O’Connell joins UCD from the Economic and Social Research Institute of Ireland where he was Head of Social Research and Director of the European Migration Network in Ireland. The Geary Institute conducts cutting-edge research in economics and social science and is considered to be in the top 5% of economic institutions in the world. According to UCD President, Doctor Hugh Brady: “Professor O’Connell brings valuable leadership experience” to his new role at the Institute. In addition to his tenure as Director of the Institute, Professor O’Connell is currently involved in a number of comparative European research projects. Specialising in labour market research, Professor O’Connell has authored several books on workrelated education and training. His research interests are concentrated in the areas of quality of work and access to employment.

Chieftains’ fiddler Sean Keane to play UCD Student Centre Sean Keane, the original fiddler from the Irish traditional music group the Chieftains, is coming to UCD to play an intimate recital in the new Student Centre. Organised by the UCD Traditional Music Society and the Arts Council, Keane is scheduled to play a lunch-time performance on Wednesday, February 6th. Keane has a strong respect for traditional music and both of his parents were also fiddle players. During his youth, he received classical training from the Dublin School of Music and in the 1960’s Keane became a member of Ceoltoiri Cualann. Keane joined the Chieftains in 1968. They have often been cited for bringing traditional Irish music to the attention of the world. Six-time Grammy Award winners, the Chieftains recently celebrated their 50th anniversary. Keane is also a very well respected solo fiddle player and his album Sean Keane is much admired. In the 1980’s, Keane collaborated with his brother James Keane and Mick Moloney on the album Reel Away the Real World. The recital will be held in meeting rooms five to seven at 1.15pm. Admission is free.

The University Observer |5 February 2013

SU Presidents publicly oppose Universities Act reform BY AOIFE VALENTINE · DEPUTY EDITOR

The Presidents of five of Ireland’s universities’ students’ unions have released a statement opposing the amendments proposed to the Universities Act from 1997. The amendments in question, proposed by Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn, would see the government take control of staff levels and pay. Currently, these matters are dealt with by each university’s own Governing Authority, and they are all accountable to the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee for Expenditure. In the statement, the Presidents of UCD, TCD, DCU, UCC and NUI Galway said that they believed that this is “a knee-jerk and populist reaction to recent expenditure and remuneration controversies” and that while university management teams are all concerned by the proposed amendments which have already been approved by the cabinet, they believe students would also suffer should this bill come into effect. UCD Students’ Union President Rachel Breslin outlined her main concerns for students, should this Bill pass, commenting: “We have to remember that in a university, it’s not like other businesses or organisations, because your main asset walks out the door every evening. The main asset of a university is the staff so this isn’t intervening in some

minor part of the organisation. If university staff felt that their pay or their very employment is under threat then they will feel pressured to design curricula around what the government may want to see. The government could use this Bill to try and follow their strategic objectives which mightn’t be in the interest of overall academic freedom and in the education of the country of their own.” The Presidents also fear that without the Universities maintaining its control over their staff pay and staff levels, it will become very difficult for Irish universities to compete for top academics in a “very competitive sector”. They believe that by introducing this bill as law, “the government are putting the quality of teaching and learning in Ireland at grave risk.” In the statement, they said that the recent intervention by Minister Quinn into the third level sector with the SUSI grant system is just one example of a lack of appreciation by the government of third level operations, stating that “SUSI has failed students and their families and placed a further burden on the sector as a whole.” They plan to continue to oppose this bill as it progresses, and are currently meeting with TDs and highlighting the issues they have with the reforms. Breslin believes it is important for students’ unions to emphasise to these TDs that this isn’t just something universities feel strongly about, but that

UCDSU President Rachel Breslin “students also feel strongly and that it would harm our education and the value of our degrees and the academic experience that we participate in in college.” The management teams of the Universities have been meeting with Minister Quinn and the Irish Universities Association (IUA) to express their own

issues with the amendments. A spokesperson for UCD commented that “A university requires a level of autonomy that enables it to successfully compete in the global education sector. It is worth noting that almost 50% of UCD’s funding derives from non-exchequer sources.”

UCD Arts launches “Before I Die” campaign BY JACK WALSH · CHIEF REPORTER

Last Wednesday, January 30th, saw the unveiling of the “Before I Die” campaign chalkboard in the Newman Building. Organised by the Arts Programme Peer Mentors, the campaign is known globally and consists of a chalkboard with the inscriptions “Before I die I want to...” and spaces for personal messages. Co-organiser Zoe Forde said that the project had the Arts building in mind “because everyone always says Arts has no community spirit”. The global idea came from American artist Candy Chang, who wanted to get people in her flat block communicating. The project is based on a mental

health model with the purpose of helping people to “clarify life, the people [you] want to be with and things [you] want to do”. The idea is that anyone walking by could pick up a piece of chalk, reflect on their lives and share their personal inspirations and goals in a public arena. Though the organisers have the support of UCDSU Welfare Vice-President Mícheál Gallagher, it was a misconception that the project was a Union event. Though Curtis is Welfare Crew Council Co-Ordinator and Forde a Crew Member, it was simple coincidence. Curtis said that it was “initially a team leader project” within the Arts Mentor programme. That structure allowed for the involvement of peer men-

tees and first years who may not have yet been properly involved in anything in UCD. Co-organiser Danielle Curtis says it is based on the thought that if everyone “came together and agreed on their problems then they can solve them.” The project has been promoted on campus and beyond using Thunderclap which involves mobilising at least one hundred people on Twitter and Facebook for a given time. It then sends out an update ‘blast” with the aim of reaching as many people as possible. There was also a video made about the project with the overall focus on online media. Forde says that students have been highly supportive with only a handful of negative comments from the hun-

dreds of students they have dealt with. Staff in the Arts programme office have gotten behind the project by sourcing the necessary materials and putting up an information stand. UCDSU Welfare Vice President Mícheál Gallagher has said that “It was really nice to see our community in UCD putting their hopes and aspirations out there and all of us talking about what we hope to achieve in the public forum”. Forde and Curtis plan to leave the board up for the rest of the semester. They will take a picture of each board as it fills and eventually scrapbook all the boards in video, to showcase the hoped-for success of the project.

Uncertainty over Constitutional Referendum BY KILLIAN WOODS

UCD Students’ Union President Rachel Breslin has postponed the referendum due to take place on February 13th to amend the Students’ Union Constitution, which was introduced last year. There is currently uncertainty over when this referendum will take place however, as while it was due to run alongside the USI Referendum on February 20th and 21st, Breslin is unsure that the SU has had enough time to “make sure we have consulted [students] widely enough to run it”. At the time of going to print, Breslin was in the process of obtaining the approval of UCDSU Council via email to run the constitutional referendum as planned originally. The Students’ Union has until Wednesday February 6th to obtain this approval or the referendum will be postponed. The SU would have to again go through the

process of seeking Council’s approval for it to take place alongside sabbatical elections in early March. The proposed changes to the Constitution were put forward after a review group, consisting of both elected council members and ordinary union members, met three times to discuss solutions to alleviate issues which have “hindered” the Students’ Union this year such as confidentiality clauses for the Welfare and Education Officers, and confusion surrounding the roles of Union Council Representatives (UCRs). With the review group thus far focusing on drafting a new audited constitution, little effort has been committed to informing students about the results such changes could cause, a problem that Breslin acknowledged while stressing the benefits of holding the referendum at the end of February. “I want to make sure that students don’t feel like this is something that is

being sprung on them, an unknown. It’s preferable to run it with the USI referendum so that it doesn’t get caught up in the chaos of sabbatical elections because that can make students sceptical in itself. I would much rather run it with the USI referendum because... this way there would be only two ballot papers which is a lot easier than eight, which it would be if it were run with sabbatical elections,” she explained. Breslin was keen to emphasise that this review only sought to include “minor” amendments, noting a number of issues that had arisen: “Some sections of the constitution and the standing orders just don’t correlate at all on technicality points. The IADB [Independent Appeals and Disciplinary Board] has had a few changes just to the running of elections just to have it a bit clearer because although it hasn’t become a problem this year, it would be something we are worried about over a few years and a few different situations arising.”

Although the posited changes are aimed at helping the day-to-day management of Students’ Union activities, Breslin is wary that such constitutional reviews shouldn’t be an annual undertaking. She commented, saying: “That was the biggest fear in forming the group and why I limited it. This Constitution was a complete document last year; it has a set financial vision. You can’t be reviewing the Constitution every year. It’s better have one year to see how it worked and make the changes that need to be made and then agree that it is a document that is now complete for the next few years.” Although passing the referendum would result in changes to the constitution, only pre-stated modifications that have been circulated to students will be viable for review, with any amendment that would reinstate the position of Entertainments Vice-President not possible in this review.

UCD Societies raise over 1,000 for Student Assistance Fund BY SEAN O’GRADY · DEPUTY NEWS EDITOR

UCD’s Charity Week took place last week with multiple clubs and societies involved in fundraising events. The money raised throughout the week, originally planned to go towards Relay for Life, will now be given to the UCD Student Assistance Fund. David Healy, the Auditor of LGBT, one of the societies involved in raising money explained: “We were more than happy for the money to go there. It was a decision taken by the Societies Council that the funds would go to the Wel-

fare Fund because it is under so much strain.” Auditor of L&H, Daisy Onubogu agreed with the change in charity: “I think the choice was quite a good one, it’s not like if we had given it to any other charity in the world it would have been less good but I like the fact that what we were doing was giving back to the community of UCD and because of that there was a move towards more events that were about giving back in general. “ One of the largest events held was a Charity Date Auction, organised by the LGBT society, involving UCD Society

Auditors and UCDSU Sabbatical Officers being bid on, with the winners of the night receiving tickets to the UCD Ball in May. “At the end of the night we had raised 1100,” Healy explained. “That was the most of any society in UCD for Charity Week. I was very happy with the amount of money raised” In addition to the dating auction, the week as a whole saw good student attendance and offered a chance for others to get involved. “I think it is always hard when there is so much going on, people are so busy with their own things but I think I saw a lot of different people who would not necessarily

always come to those events...We had a lot of people who might not ordinarily attend those events.” Onubogu said. Charity Week was successful in bringing together several societies to collaborate with each other “I think everyone found a way to make it a community thing, I think that was in keeping with the ethos of the whole thing. It was very much an idea of all of us investing in the community and giving back together,” Onubogu said, with Healy adding: “There was a lot of crossover involvement and I was very happy with that.”

The University Observer | 5 February 2013


Merger talks escalate between UCD and NCAD BY AOIFE VALENTINE · DEPUTY EDITOR

The National College of Art and Design (NCAD) has entered into talks with University College Dublin about the possibility of the merger of the two colleges. The discussion are expected to continue over the next number of months. A spokesperson for UCD has confirmed that these talks have begun, commenting: “UCD and NCAD have now entered into further talks up to and including the possibility of a merger.” Director of NCAD Declan McGonagle offered similar confirmation, adding that they are “only at the beginning on that discussion and we’re looking at all the implications of it.” These discussions have been initiated following a review of third level education, commissioned by the Higher Education Authority (HEA). The review looked at numerous areas, but proposed that a number of Ireland’s higher education institutions should be consolidated, UCD and NCAD included. This is not the first time that such

a merger has been proposed. In 2006, discussions were held about a merger of UCD and NCAD, with the stipulation that NCAD would be integrated on UCD’s campus. This was met with outrage and protest from staff members and students at NCAD, and the plans were eventually shelved. The current proposals explicitly exclude the possibility of a merged campus. If the merger is approved, NCAD will remain at its current location on Thomas Street in Dublin. Alongside these talks, UCD Students’ Union President Rachel Breslin has begun discussions with NCADSU over the ramifications of a merger for both students’ unions. This came in response to numerous angry posts on NCADSU’s Facebook page, from students who were concerned that NCADSU would be “swallowed up” by UCDSU, should the merger come to fruition, according to Breslin. It is envisioned that the two Unions would remain as separate entities in practical terms, though NCADSU would exist under the UCDSU umbrella. NCADSU would still be pres-

ent on the NCAD campus, and would retain a level of independence. Breslin explained: “They would still keep their ratio of a budget, and their individuality and their ability to be responsible for their own running, accountable to their own officers on their own campus. I think that the structures of the students’ unions and the way they operate are so different that a full merger isn’t desirable from either side, though we could certainly benefit each other.” Both Unions plan to continue talks on the matter, however they have no timeline for when they would formalise their agreement. According to Breslin, this will be dictated by the pace at

which the merger discussion progress at university management level. UCD and NCAD have already formed a collaborative relationship, having entered into an academic alliance two years ago. In September 2011, NCAD ceased being a recognised college of the National University of Ireland and became a recognised college of UCD, meaning that all NCAD degrees are validated by UCD. According to a spokesperson for UCD, NCAD has “retained institutional autonomy throughout the advancement of this alliance” and it has “facilitated collaborations in teaching and research across both institutions”.

UCD fall short of participation rates for students with disabilities BY EMMA SMITH

UCD has fallen below the national standard for participation rates for persons with disabilities, a new survey has revealed. Results of the study published by Association for Higher Education Access & Disability (AHEAD) show that the average rate of students with disabilities across the countries higher education institutions was over 3.5%. UCD lags behind at under 3%, representing just over 700 students. On the whole the results across Ireland’s Higher Education Institutions were positive with the number of students with disabilities doubling in the past six years to almost 8,000 studying across a range of subjects. This

amounts to 4% of the student population, an increase of 15% on the last research done. The report highlighted that UCD were unable to provide breakdown figures for the number of new entrants with disabilities as well as mature students and postgraduates. UCD also failed to provide information on the nature of the disabilities which affect its students or what fields of study they were involved in. Executive Director of AHEAD, Ann Heelan praised the efforts of the Higher Education Sector saying they have been “a real success and [have] resulted in thousands of students with disabilities graduating with the same level of first and second class degrees as their

non-disabled peers”. There has been an eightfold increase in participation numbers in the past 18 years. The most common issues for students were specific learning difficulties followed by physical disabilities, significant on-going illnesses and then mental health conditions. The latter affected 9% of undergraduate students and 13% of post-graduates. Heelan noted however that many students with more significant disabilities such as those who are blind or deaf are still severely under-represented and deemed this unacceptable. The recommendations provided by the research outline the need for further investigation and research by Higher Education Institutions, addi-

tional funding, more part time courses and the re-design of some courses which currently act as a barrier. Heelan said that that current model was “unsustainable economically and ethically” due to its excluding those students with diverse needs. She suggested that a better approach would be a system in which “all course providers consider the diverse needs of all students” from the outset when designing their courses. Heelan believes that courses which integrate technology, implement accessible document policies and deliver their curriculum in a variety of media allow them to meet the needs of a “diverse student population”.

SU Student Centre shop earning 40% more than last year BY FERGUS CARROLL

The new Students’ Union shop outlet in the Student Centre is currently operating with a turnaround 40% higher than that of the now-closed Kiosk for the same period last year. UCDSU President Rachel Breslin has said she sees the relocation of the Union shop in the Student Centre as a positive step forward for the future of the outlets. While she conceded that the new location would probably result in lower footfall than the previous site, Breslin says that students are “going more out of their way” to avail of the new shop and its increased services. The new convenience store now supplies a deli service alongside a coffee station and student essentials such as stationery. After the first full week of trading, the figures are positive and Breslin points to the fact that a “full lunch” can be

bought there as one of the main reasons. To continue this trend it has been a priority to monitor the situation over the next few weeks and be “responsive to what students are asking [for]”. With its close proximity to the Sports Centre, the shop is stocking more health and protein products while there are also plans to expand the deli offering due to its popularity. The Commercial Managers of the shops, Shane Lavin and Michael O’Flynn stated at UCDSU Council last week that the shops have seen a “massive turnaround” and that they “expect business to return to profit this year, which is a significant change”. The accounts from the shops for 2011/2012 revealed losses of 280,000. Despite these predictions of profits by the year’s end, Breslin remains cautious. She noted that as of now there

has not been a “huge change” in turnover but hopes that business will be sustained following the end of term as the Sports Centre and Cinema will remain open all year round. A number of conferences are also scheduled to take place in the new centre. In previous years, shop losses were common during the summer months as there are vastly fewer students on campus. While declining to comment on whether UCDSU Commercial Services Limited would make a profit for the year, she does see it as achievable from next year onwards. She believes that this year will serve as an important learning experience, particularly if profits are not realised, as they will be able to identify exactly what problems the shops are having. Breslin is optimistic for the SU shops in the long run, but maintains that “the pace of change” has to be continued.

The Commercial Managers are seeking now to work on the marketing of the shops, hoping to bring forward a “Your Shops” campaign, emphasising to students that all of the profits from the shops are going back into students and student services. Developments are also planned to bring all the campus shops up to standard. This will include a redevelopment of the Library shop, which Lavin has described as “not fit for purpose”. This is due to take place in June, and it is hoped that a shop will be open in the redeveloped Science Hub in September following work over the summer. The Engineering shop is low on the list of priorities, however it will also be redeveloped as it is currently seen as the “poor relative” of the other shops, according to Lavin.

UCDSU to propose mandate to USI seeking financial review BY YVANNE KENNEDY · NEWS EDITOR

UCD Students’ Union Council carried three motions last Thursday to be brought before the Union of Students in Ireland’s (USI) National Congress, due to take place in late March. The motions, if passed at Congress, would mandate USI to commence a financial review of the organisation; to lobby the government to take a tougher

stance on gang violence; and to investigate the effects of decriminalising narcotics. If the motions pass at Congress, they will become policy for the USI for 2013/2014. For the first time this year, motions to be brought by UCD at Congress were tabled at Union Council as UCD Students’ Union President Rachel Breslin wanted Union Representatives to be “more involved in Congress [and] make

sure that Council are aware of the issues that [the Union] feels are important.” Though the University may be unaffiliated with USI when Congress occurs due to the upcoming Referendum, Breslin feels it will be a useful opportunity to potentially “influence [USI] on some of the issues that might ultimately lead to us reaffiliating, if they were implemented.” The finance motion was prompted by the 120,000 that the Union pays to USI in membership each year. This represents a 5 contribution for every student but Breslin believes that “UCD are not getting a good return from this membership” even though our contribution is the same per head as other institutions. She puts this down to the size of the University and has looked at the model used by the National Union of Students (NUS) in the UK which increased efficiency and decreased national dependence on the financial support of individual Unions which she believes could benefit USI. The idea behind this is that “as part of UCDSU’s necessary review of all expenditure it is prudent for the organisation, if it remains affiliated with USI, to seek a comprehensive review of affiliation fees and USI’s financial strategy. It is equally important that UCD stu-

dents feel that USI represents value for money.” UCD Students’ Union Vice-President for Entertainment Eoin Heffernan proposed the two other USI motions on gun controls and the decriminalisation of narcotics. Noting the steady increase in gun crime and gang-related violence, the first motion mandated USI to lobby the government to take a tougher stance on these two issues “before it spirals out of control”. These will be dealt with as ‘national issues’ rather than USI issues, which are both separate sections of Congress discussions. Due to the “out of date” nature of Irish drug laws, the second mandates USI to “research the possible effects of decriminalization of narcotics in Ireland and to perform a feasibility study on income it could possibly raise through taxes and fines.” Each Students’ Union in Ireland is invited by USI to table five motions at Congress and Breslin “will look at other motions passed throughout the last twelve months to fill two remaining slots”. USI National Congress will take place in Ballinasloe from March 25th-28th.




Bank of Ireland replaces AIB as Campus Bank at DCU AIB has decided to close its campus branch at Dublin City University after a 20 year tenure. It will cease trading on March 22nd. Bank of Ireland will replace AIB to serve the University’s 9,000 full-time students. Bank of Ireland have secured a lease with DCU to open and operate a branch on the university grounds having also secured a contract for the ATMs present on campus. Apart from the payment made for the lease of the campus bank premises, DCU have declined to state whether any further payments have been made. Bank of Ireland has promised to offer “cutting-edge” services at DCU. AIB’s DCU customers will have their service transferred to nearby Santry. In efforts to cut costs, AIB closed 47 of its branches between October and November. A further 13 will close this year.

Trinity Students’ Union to hold abortion preferendum TCDSU is to hold a multiple-choice preferendum on the issue of abortion rights alongside their upcoming sabbatical officer elections next week. The preferendum will give the options of no abortion under any circumstances, abortion under certain circumstances and unrestricted abortion. It also gives the option of keeping the Students’ Union’s current policy of providing information about pregnancy options including abortion, and campaigning for greater education regarding sex and contraception, and increased help for single parents in third-level education. The result of this preferendum will be non-binding as the form of plebiscite involved is not recognised by the Union’s Constitution enacted in 2009, however the results will be presented to a meeting of SU Council on February 19th and will guide how Council will form the Students’ Union’s policy on abortion. The move to form a more comprehensive policy on abortion comes after a Trinity society, Dublin University Gender Equality Society (DUGES), was stopped by the Central Societies Committee (CSC) in late November from advocating a political position in regards abortion, and was forced to pull out of attending a pro-choice rally.

DIT launches China venture on Hainan Island Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) has begun a venture to build business in China through the development of the Hainan International Tourism College (HITC). DIT is currently working with China Aroma Investment Corporation, a Chinese investment group, to develop the college which is part of the central government’s 10-year plan to develop the island as an international tourist destination. In addition to building the school, the investment company will also build a hotel and resort to be operated by a leading chain. This will act as a training facility for up to 5,000 students who, when the facility is fully operational, will be trained in culinary and hospitality programmes. The scheme will have significant attraction for students from both countries says Head of the School of Hospitality Management & Tourism in DIT, Dominic Dillane. Dillane has been a key figure in the development of HITC saying it will “play an important part in attracting students from this region to come to Dublin to study” and vice versa. Hainan is a major tourist destination for Chinese visitors, and it has seen major development as a tourist site in recent years with tourism revenue growing 25% from 2010 to 2011.


The University Observer |5 February 2013

International Week Postponed NEWS IN BRIEF INTERNATIONAL



Cambridge Graduate Union President owes £1,000 in missing earnings The President of Cambridge University’s Graduate Students’ Union (CGU) Arsalan Ghani, has been accused of being involved with the disappearance of £1,000 from the Union’s safe. Ghani has been labelled by fellow members of CGU as being abusive towards his coworkers and attempting to fire other committee members despite not having the authority to do so. A student close to the CGU said of Ghani: “He has no grasp of how to actually be the president. He has a set notion of what it is to be in a position of power. That notion is to bully, intimidate and to refuse to work with a team.” Following a meeting held in September concerning the Unions lack of trust in Ghani, the University discovered that the CGU had been operating in an illegal state, with Ghani being their only trustee. Ghani later ran an international event under the CGU name, with no other members of the CGU being notified. The proceeds were not given to the Union and Ghani has refused to discuss what he had done with them, and so far he has only returned £100.

British Columbia female professors to get pay increase. Every female faculty member of the University of British Columbia (UBC) is getting a 2% pay increase. According to research conducted since 2007, the female professors at UBC earn 2% less than their male counterparts and will now receive an increase retrospective to their wages earned since July 2010. It is not currently known how this will affect the University budget, however it is expected to be significant. The studies taken have found that even when taking into account such things as job rank and title, the pay gap was unexplainable. “Even after you factored in women being at different ranks, and men being at different ranks, and the conclusion arrived at was the 2% difference across the board really could only be explained by gender,” said Gurdeep Parhar, UBC associate vice-president equity. Under Human Rights Law, UBC has an obligation not to discriminate based on gender so the findings could not be ignored; the fact that currently, only 21% of full professors in the college are female also came under scrutiny.

International Week, scheduled to take place last week with several events organised across campus, has been postponed to an unspecified date later in the semester. According to UCDSU International Officer, Karl Gill, International Week was postponed due to “other events falling through.” “There was a number of the cancellations of the events that happened; some of the main events I wanted to organise, there was cancellations and one of the other events I wanted to organise, there was nobody getting back to me,” said Gill. The timing for International Week was planned in September by Gill and UCDSU Campaigns and Communications Officer, Paddy Guiney, and Gill says part of the reason for the cancellations

was because he was unaware that there were already events planned for last week: “[We] didn’t realise that there’d be a series of things happening this week such as Refreshers’ Day, and there was an LGBT Day, so I decided to postpone [International Week].” The decision to postpone was taken on Friday, January 25th, though three events organised by the International Students’ Society and a Russian Society event went ahead as planned. Of the postponed events that were planned for the week, Gill said: “There was supposed to be a lecture from author Gavan Titley about multiculturalism; he was supposed to come in and talk about multiculturalism in universities and the importance of international study. Sport Against Racism, Ireland were coming in to organise the 5-a-side and organise a presentation on the importance of anti-

racism in sport. They were the two main events that couldn’t go ahead. They’re the ones I’m really excited about organising at a later date.” Gill is confident the two main events will happen later in the semester, though no date has been mooted for either event. Though Gill says he plans to reschedule International Week, he also says that he would organise the two main events on separate weeks, if respective schedules don’t allow for the events to take place in the same week: “If I can’t get them to organise them on the same week, I’ll put them in separate week along with other events. The Russian Society in particular are very interested in organising something, as are the French society, and the Irish Language Officer is really excited about doing Irish classes for international students.”

UCDSU International Officer Karl Gill

Seachtain na Gaeilge launched to promote Irish Language in UCD BY EIMEAR REILLY

Organisers of this year’s Seachtain na Gaeilge have a busy week of events planned, promoting the Irish language on campus in UCD. The official launch took place yesterday in the new Student Centre with a presentation from the outside community, including two local Gaelscoileanna along with lecturers, academics and UCD officials. Efforts to raise awareness of Irish on campus will be aided by a permanent art installation in the new Student Centre. Students’ Union Campaigns and Communications Officer, Paddy Guiney says: “The artwork ranges from notable famous people in the Irish language, to scholars, to poets and to people from Irish history”. The Students’ Union Irish Officer,

Gabhán Ó Briain, wants to take a new approach with Seachtain na Gaeilge, so that it has a lasting impact throughout the year: “What we’re trying to do this year, even for the launch, we’re trying to, make it not one big event for the day”. The most high profile guest during the week is Neil Delamere who performs on Tuesday at 7pm in the Astra Hall. Other events organised for during the week include a pubcrawl, Countdown ‘as Gaeilge’ in the Global Lounge, ‘My First Gaeilge’ and the annual UCD v Trinity College football match. Speaking about the week’s events Ó Briain says: “We’ve put some of the big events we do during the year all in one week to try and make the week as banterful as possible, I suppose”. Many of the events during Seachtain

na Gaeilge have been designed to cater for different levels of fluency, including students who don’t speak Irish on a regular basis. Irish classes will be available for beginners and those wanting to brush up on the ‘cúpla focail’. Tea and coffee mornings will also be taking place on campus, offering an informal and relaxed setting in which to speak Irish. Similar to previous years, the ‘No Béarla’ campaign will take place, with t-shirts and wristbands available for 6. This also included free entry into the various events during the week. The change from ‘No Béarla’ hoodies to tshirts was made to cut costs. Unlike previous years no concrete plans have been set in place to donate profits from Seachtain na Gaeilge to a specific charity. Ó Briain says: “The plan was whatever profit was made

from the t-shirts and wristbands to put it to Bóthar. We’ll see how that goes, that was the idea that was thrown about there, as I say nothing has been really finalised with that”. According to Students’ Union Campaigns Officer, Paddy Guiney: “budgets are very different” and “our main aim was to break even with anything.” The cost of Seachtain na Gaeilge is currently divided equally between the Students’ Union and An Cumann Gaelach. As this is one of the largest events run on campus during the year Guiney is hoping for a successful week: “For Seachtain na Gaeilge, we’ve done a lot of planning for it and we’re really looking forward to it and hopefully it’s a very good week. From our point of view for local campaigns, we’re looking to have better quality and less quantity”.

Further delays postpone USI Referendum to week five BY JACK WALSH · CHIEF REPORTER

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) affiliation referendum is set to take place on the 20th and 21st of February, and possibly running till the morning of the 22nd for some of the outlying faculties. The SU had intended to hold the referendum the previous week, on February 13th and 14th, with this move marking the second time this referendum has been postponed. It was originally due to take place in November 2012. In order to run the referendum in week four, the SU had to turn in over 800 signatures of support to the returning office by 5pm on January 30th. There was a complication in this process, with UCDSU Campaigns and Communications Officer Paddy Guiney explaining that he “collected 805 signatures from students, and handed them into the Returning Officer. The following day the Returning Officer officially rejected the signatures, the reason being because of instead of putting

‘Stage’ on the paper, we put ‘Course’ so the signatures were invalid. Our options were to collect another 800 signatures by 11pm that evening. That wasn’t realistic, it was 8pm that night [at that stage].” A further 800 signatures had to be collected in order to run the referendum in week five. The referendum will deal with whether the UCD Students Union (UCDSU) will remain an affiliate of the national student lobbying group. UCDSU President Rachel Breslin stated the importance of the referendum: “When I was running for election, I thought that it was important that students in UCD that hadn’t had a vote on USI in my time... particularly as it has been such a contentious issue over the last 24 months with the various national campaigns and differing views on those.” One of the major talking points of UCDSU’s relationship with the USI is the yearly membership fee, which Breslin says is “such a significant amount of our expenditure; around 110,000120,000 all-in membership every year

goes to the USI, and as a Students’ Union, we are reviewing all other areas of our financial situation. I think it’s important that we review USI and the expenditure that that accounts for.” No official stance will be taken by the UCDSU in terms of the referendum, as Breslin explains: “I’m putting something to a referendum and asking all students. I think it would be an undue influence as the chief spokesperson to give their opinion, so I welcome the discussion and the debate and I think that it will be a really useful process, no matter what the outcome, to hear the different arguments, to see which arguments resonate with students.” Representatives from the student body will take the stance of the yes or no sides, with nominations being considered on Tuesday February 5th. Breslin stated in regard to those chosen to canvas: “They are free to canvas as long as they have permission to be on campus, and they do so in a way that doesn’t interfere with the rulings of the University”.

Laptop repair and bike schemes launch after repeated delays

Australian college students in $28 billion debt


Due to the taking out of several government loans over the past 20 years, Australia’s university students now owe tax payers $28 billion. The loans have been taken out to cover the expensive costs of tuition and a report released states that $6 billion worth of the sum is unlikely to be paid back, and this number is increasing annually. Australia’s loan scheme allows students to take money from the government under the premise that they will pay it back as a set percentage of their annual income, rising with their income. However, if the graduate was unable to reach the income minimum for surcharge, or if the student emigrated, they would escape the debt and the tax would not apply. The government has now introduced a ‘demand-driven’ system where universities can admit as many students as they like to help disadvantaged students and also to combat falling international student figures. This however has had the effect of increasing the govern-

UCD Students’ Union Campaigns and Communications Officer Paddy Guiney has launched his planned for bike package scheme and laptop repair service, after a number of delays and setbacks. Both aim to reduce the cost of these essentials for students. The bike deal, run in conjunction with Belfield Bike Shop, is offering students a new bike for 175. For that, the student gets the use of the bike for a semester and gets half of that cost returned to them at the end of the year. For an additional 20, a light and lock are included. Guiney says the scheme is going “brilliantly”, with 40 bikes sold since the beginning of the semester. He expects demand for new bikes to drop off during the semester, and intends to counteract this by selling bike and car repair kits. There is the possibility of also introducing a second hand bike scheme if targets are met with the package deal. Guiney hopes to begin advertising acceptance of second hand bikes around weeks four or five. The Students’ Union will sell the bikes on behalf of students

for a 10% cut of the profit. If these schemes prove a success, he plans to implement a bike rental scheme for September 2013, similar to those seen in the UK, operating on a fixed price of 50 per semester. There will be further negotiations with Michael Rafter of UCD Buildings and Services on incorporating bikes that have been abandoned on campus into the scheme, which would be a “bonus” for Guiney. Guiney has also joined forces with Netsoc to start a laptop repair service. Students pay 30 plus the cost of any hardware, if it is needed, which “is a lot cheaper than anything on the high street” according to Guiney. They will ensure any hardware needed is the “cheapest, most affordable” available. There is a “no fix, no charge” policy also. Half of the weekly intake will go to the Students’ Union, while the other half will be commission for the NetSoc members carrying out the repairs. For software issues, three to five working days are required for repairs, while hardware problems will take five to ten. Students will be notified of the problem with their laptop once it is determined, and again when their laptop

is ready for collection. The service operates from the James Joyce Library Tunnel. Long term, Guiney would eventually like to see a move into the sale of laptops at a reduced rate for students in UCD, and to also use the service to

help Computer Science students to gain some practical experience. Guiney is “delighted” with these launches and hopes they will remain for the foreseeable future.

The University Observer | 5 February 2013

Observer Comment



head to head:

Should UCD disaffiliate from USI?

by david farrell



he Union of Students in Ireland (USI) was founded in 1959 to promote and protect the rights of Irish students. It has over its history fought the Irish government and other bodies on issues of equality and social justice. Yet these achievements lie in the distant past. Since then, the once rebellious, cantankerous and domineering USI has become dull, obedient and largely ineffective. The very notion that it is a ‘representative’ body is farcical. If you were to ask a few friends who the current president of USI is, it’s likely very few could think of the name, except perhaps “the lad who got arrested in the Dáil”. This is even despite the fact that he was a UCD student. This can hardly be the height of ambition for USI; to gain acclaim for an arrest on breaking Dáil standing orders. Yet this is the one thing John Logue is known for and little else. This is not to criticise Logue or the office board, but rather the method of their election and the organisation itself. Those seeking office face not the students, but Students’ Union Council, with no direct mandate or contact with those they purport to represent. This, coupled with the organisation’s lack of presence or even mention on campus, makes them a largely irrelevant institution to the average student. The only real mention one finds of them is during election time or when they organise a week long ‘Congress’ to decide upon their plans for the year, with hundreds of delegates coming together courtesy of USI. These ‘debates’ and ‘elections’ are that in name only, with the hard decisions having been made beforehand. The delegates merely vote as they’re told with the decisions already made at a local level. Yet the show continues. This is only an extension of the culture that has become rampant in Students’ Union politics. The belief that to represent students we must follow after the ‘big boys’ and like them, they must wear suits, have big conferences and make

“The financial drain to UCDSU in USI affiliation fees is absurd, with about one sixth of the Union’s budget committed to USI” important speeches. It then looks like a feeder school for the big leagues. Ignoring the principles upon which USI was founded, it should be firmly rooted within the campuses of Ireland, with regular students articulating the real concerns and hardships on our terms. Not some bastardised attempt at sounding official. In his manifesto and his speeches John Logue decried the increasingly repetitive series of marches engaged upon by USI, he wasn’t too far wrong in the idea that they were losing their effect. He called for a more concerted and professional attempt at lobbying the powers that be. While acknowledging one key problem, it has served to further remove USI from sight and sound of the regular student, moving it from the very special position as an upstart student movement to a dreary, dull and ineffective lobbying board. This lobbying board though has been almost entirely useless. Since free education was introduced in 1998, USI have presided over a period of huge growth in the registration fee. Something which started off as around a £90 charge for registration has ballooned into a 3000 barrier to entry, on their watch. Coupled with negligible decreases in grant payments as social welfare and pensions went up, students were left behind by the giveaways of the Celtic Tiger. Not only that we’re now getting the worst of it on the way down too, with the SUSI fiasco just the tip of the iceberg. These changes were hardly introduced without some outcry from USI, but on the face of it, those cries haven’t made the blindest bit of difference. Unless someone within USI has something new in his bag of tricks, it will be doomed to further failure. Their poking, prodding, screaming and shouting hasn’t worked. Students’ Unions are all far from perfect and in dire need of an overhaul. The financial drain to UCDSU in USI affiliation fees is absurd, with about one sixth of the Union’s budget committed to USI for their ‘myriad’ of activities. When faced with such a financial crisis surely UCDSU can go without forking over large portions of its budget to such an inept institution. Maybe our ‘local’ students’ unions could represent us on the national stage without the need to appoint ‘presidents’ and ‘vice-presidents’. Why can’t they amongst themselves come to decisions on how to further our goals without the bureaucracy and expense, at least then we can question those decisions and can see those responsible discharging their duty, without the relative anonymity of a national office. Surely, such an open agreement could be reached that could see a rotating ‘chairmanship’ jointly held by a ‘big’ and ‘small’ institution seeing priorities more firmly enacted with closer collaboration between universities and unions without the awkward guy in the middle that is USI. While USI is part of a larger problem, by disaffiliating ourselves from it UCD can start out on the road to reform and set the wheels of change in motion. Those making the case for staying with the USI will point to their past achievements and probably sell you some long-winded plan. Too long have those in need suffered while USI has sought to get a broad consensus or waited on the government. USI is not fit for purpose and we should move on and call for a new approach to addressing the grievances we bear. Perhaps one that better involves the students would be a good start.

With students gearing up to vote on whether UCDSU should stay affiliated with USI, Evan O’Quigley and David Farrell outline the arguments for and against going it alone.

No E

by evan o’quigley

very year in the SU Presidential elections there’s always one candidate running on a platform of leaving USI. It seems to be the new radical belief among students that leaving USI would solve all of our woes and problems. There are some reasons why leaving the organisation could indeed benefit the college and the money that would be saved is one which is most often spoken about. It is questionable whether in fact the money that would be saved by leaving the USI would actually do any good. It must be clear at this point to all students that the UCDSU aren’t exactly accounting geniuses. While the current SU, in fairness, have made considerable efforts, and have been partly successful, in ridding of some of the 1 million in debt they were left by previous dodgy administrations, are we to believe in general that students are the most trustworthy of managing our money? What would we get as students that would be so great after leaving the USI? It should also be noted that while there are some serious problems with USI, there are positive aspects. Their constant campaigning for equality rights for women and LGBT students is to be admired, along with promoting labour rights for students who work part-time and offering support to mature students. The USI are a great disappointment. The only news about them anyone paid the slightest bit of attention to is John Logue’s arrest for standing in the Dail; for the heinous crime of standing. Oh, what a revolutionary man he is indeed. Leon Trotsky he is not. While Logue publicly backs the USI position supporting free fees, it is clear he has no personal ambition to support this policy. After the students of Ireland voted last year to keep supporting the ‘free fees’ scheme last year Logue responded by stating: “The position of our Union is clear. Education is a right, not a privilege; we will work with our members for the maintenance of Free-Fees. I look forward to the work ahead and look forward to working with you to bring the strength of our argument to the people and to government.”

“While there are some serious problems with USI, there are positive aspects” However, Logue revealed in a Hot Press interview back in August (long after the preferendum) that he personally favoured a graduate tax scheme for students, bringing on him the ire of many student and youth groups such as Labour Youth, who issued a press release condemning the remarks. At the time Seamus Reynolds, the President of Maynooth SU referred to his comments as ‘baffling’, considering the results of the preferendum and the mandate of the USI to favour Free-Fees. Logue responded to the controversy by saying ‘the logical answer’ is to follow the mandate. Well, that’s some great enthusiasm! USI needs a leader who is following the mandate of the students of Ireland, not based on ‘logic’ but based on actual principals. The solution to the problem we have therefore should not be to leave the USI but rather a change in leadership. The current platform of students having little say in what actually goes on, with representatives from SUs voting instead with little consultation, and the politics of it being entirely consensus based rather than following the views of the students most concerned is unhelpful in combating the issues that students face, and major reform must be undertaken to strengthen student power through the USI, not without it. Without some kind of national group holding together the students of all colleges, students will find themselves increasingly powerless. Granted, it’s likely at this rate the government will ultimately screw us one way or another, but it does not require that we take it sitting down. The increasing dismantling of the welfare state in favour of destructive austerity by both the previous and current governments has undoubtedly made life more difficult for students. With increased registration fees, grants and services cut, along with the total eradication of postgraduate grants, the situation is not at all good. It is clear the USI have not been effective enough in dealing with these issues, but throwing the baby out with the bathwater is not the solution to any problem. The baby in this case being the USI, the bathwater (the part we should get rid of) is the apathetic career-minded future dwellers of Leinster House that have been the only ones interested in joining the USI. Trying to prove that they can make the ‘tough decisions’ like the government claim they’re doing whenever they impose a new austerity budget (tough decisions would be maybe pointing fingers at the people who actually caused the recession). USI needs, instead, leadership of those who are genuinely concerned about student issues, not about a large salary, considerable pension and benefits along with political power that comes with being active within the USI. It’s for this reason that most USI presidents tend to be ‘insider’ types and hardly represent students’ belief in education equality. It is no surprise that many of our high-ranking politicians, including the current Tánaiste, made it through the ranks at USI before going on politically at the national level. There is without a doubt, many major structural problems within the USI. Focusing too much on realpolitik and keeping up appearances, giving the effect of caring for students, while really allowing the powers that be to get away with daylight murder. The answer however, is not to get rid of them, but rather for a revolution in student politics. If the USI aren’t along for the ride on this potential revolution, they very well might destroy themselves in the process, and it will be up to the students of UCD to decide that when they vote.



The University Observer |5 February 2013

Political disengagement With Irish students seemingly more apathetic toward politics than ever before, Pat de Brún considers some of the factors behind this trend and the evolving role of students’ unions


hey say that as you get older, you steadily become more right-wing. Part of the reasoning behind this truism is the traditional stereotype of students as a heavily politicised, radical and left-leaning sector of society; a group who are not afraid to fight for their rights and to tackle social injustice around the world. Certainly, that was the case in years gone by and most of us will have heard anecdotes about radical student activism in the sixties and seventies. These were times where the average student not only took an interest in areas affecting their own education, but also a much broader range of social issues. For the majority of students in Ireland today however, this image no longer rings true. Nowadays, only a very small percentage of Irish students would consider themselves as politically active. Even stirring interest among the student body regarding struggles as fundamentally personal as grants and fees presents a serious challenge. In times of severe austerity, with budget cuts seriously affecting all sectors of society, it would be fair to assume that this would be a time when students would be most likely to engage and to organise. The reality is, however, that for the most part this has not happened. The sad truth is that we belong to a generation that has been massively depoliticised. Some would argue that students’ unions (SUs) have a role to play in engaging students with political activity. The SUs of yesteryear were undoubtedly much more radical institutions than they are today. They campaigned on issues of social justice and international human rights much more frequently than they do now. These students’ unions were however also characterised by party-political con-

trol, endless infighting and a perceived disconnect from the issues genuinely affecting their student membership. It was expected that one political party would run them or another and this eventually led to dissatisfaction among the student body. The result of this dissatisfaction in turn meant that the SUs morphed from primarily being campaign-driven to more service-driven, with most campaigning being reserved for issues of particular educational relevance to students. Today, it is seen as electoral suicide for SU candidates to nail themselves to a particular political flag. Those that do rarely get elected, and the minority who do are likely to be accused throughout the year of either furthering party interests or just plain old political careerism. The day-to-day focuses of most modern SUs are student welfare, educational issues and entertainment. This is not a criticism of students’ unions, but rather an observation of how they have changed to meet the demands and interests of the membership over time. Whether the depoliticisation of students led to this change, or vice-versa, is something of a chicken and egg argument. Modern SUs are stuck between the ‘rock’ of remaining depoliticised, and the ‘hard place’ of being more radical, which would only serve to further detach them from their membership. The most fundamental goal of an SU is to represent the views of a majority of students, and it has no choice but to stick to that principle, even if it means spending less time and resources on the traditional campaigning associated with SUs. Additionally, the highly sensitive nature of some of the work of the SU, such as welfare services, means that if the organisation is seen as too radical, it risks scaring off some students in need, who may have otherwise

Photo: Mícheál Gallagher come forward for help. Leaving the role of SUs aside, the bigger question remains unanswered. Why is it that so many students in Ireland have lost interest in politics? To a certain extent it is valid to say that the Irish as a whole are relatively politically disengaged. Our voter turnout in national elections and referenda is low, and we are notoriously reluctant to take to the streets in meaningful protest. Regardless of this observation however, we should still expect students to be among the most politicised of all sectors in society and that is certainly not the case. Both farmers and pensioners, for example, are both much more politically engaged as a whole than we are. So what is it that is depoliticising our generation? A huge factor is many people’s sense of a real lack of choice. Right now in Ireland, the three main political parties (Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil) are very difficult to distinguish from one another in terms of their actions in government. The only significant party that isn’t firmly in the middle of the political spectrum is Sinn Féin, whose republican agenda alienates many would-be supporters. Finally there are the parties under the United Left Alliance banner; the type of par-

The Iran question With US-Iranian relations still on a knife-edge, Shane Hannon examines whether sanctions to prevent a nuke are necessary to prevent war or if they will simply add to the trouble in the Middle-East


ran has always been a country full with people who respect the United States of America. However, gradually the relationship between the two is growing sour as further sanctions have been placed in the middle-eastern country. These sanctions are America’s way of dissuading the Iranians from continuing with their nuclear program, but so far signs of deterring haven’t been that noticeable. The Iranians of course have again and again reiterated that their uranium enrichment program has only peaceful aims. The Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has repeatedly claimed that this program has only scientific motives. In a January 2006 conference in Tehran, only five months after he was elected to office, Ahmadinejad argued that a nation with “culture, logic and civilisation” would not need nuclear weapons. And yet it is hard to believe that a man who issued an order to keep UN inspectors from freely visiting the nation’s nuclear facilities and viewing their designs, has nothing to hide. The Iran question was inevitably a key topic in the recent U.S. Presidential election, with both Obama and Romney having strikingly different takes on the matter. Throughout his ultimately successful campaign for re-election, Obama tried to simply reassure the American people on the subject, saying at one rally: “We shouldn’t be afraid. You know, Iran spend one hundredth of what we spend on the military. If Iran ever posed a serious threat to us, they wouldn’t stand a chance.” Yet Mitt Romney described Iran as Obama’s “greatest failing” in his time as President, claiming he didn’t do “what was necessary to get Iran to be dissuaded from their nuclear folly.” The staunch Republican is very much

pro- military action against Iran if necessary, stating in the election campaign that: “It’s worth putting in place crippling sanctions” against them first to see what the reaction will be.

Obama isn’t one to let Iran dictate matters, however. Nine years ago during his 2004 Senate campaign he stated that he hadn’t ruled out military action against Iran, rather stating that force

ties that would have traditionally garnered huge support from the student body. Today, these parties are seen as even more disconnected from students than those in the centre, and there is a widely held view that instead of offering credible solutions, they are purely parties of protest against whatever the government is doing. There is a real lack of a firm rightleft divide in Irish politics. This bipolar system has been the traditional basis for political argument and discourse throughout modern history. With that in mind, it is hardly surprising that students are so disengaged. In Ireland, rather than choosing a party because of a particular school of political thought, the differentiation comes down to an incoherent set of individual policies. It could be argued that the burden of responsibility here has to fall upon those on the Left. The Right is already an established force in Irish politics, and in order to improve political discourse in the country, there is a need for a strong, principled and coherent Left, that will offer genuine alternatives. Recently, both Labour’s readiness to enter into coalition with Fine Gael, and their subsequent support of right-wing economic and taxation policies, have cost them much of their credibility as a left-wing

alternative. This will only serve to turn even more young people off politics, although it is somewhat refreshing see UCD Labour opposing the party’s actions in government. Just why exactly this process of political disengagement has occurred is one question with a hundred potential answers. It remains the choice of each individual to either engage with politics or to ignore it, but if young people ignore politics, we can be certain that politics will ignore young people, too. Regardless of whether it’s right or left, engagement of any sort can only benefit us as individuals as well as society. University is the perfect environment in which to develop political opinions, offering us the freedom to flirt with various different schools of thought before we have such ‘real-world’ constraints as a particular career, which can serve to make our minds up for us. Going through college offers us a wealth of experiences and in many ways shapes the friendships and values that we carry with us for the rest of our lives. Almost as important however is the formation of our opinions and political beliefs, and we should genuinely fear for a future where this no longer occurs.

would only be a last resort. Also, speaking to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in March 2007, Obama pointed out that the U.S. “should take no option, including military action, off the table.” This policy was further highlighted on January 24th by Obama’s nominee for Secretary of State, John Kerry. Kerry was adamant that the US will “do what we must,” to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, even as he signalled that diplomacy remains a viable option with Tehran. Even with all the tension that exists between the US and Iran, there is hidden beneath the surface a certain amount of respect between the two.

ple. The 56 year-old has always had far out views on certain issues, and there has been much controversy in the past with regard to his human rights record. He is an outspoken critic of the US, the UK, and Israel, even going so far as to refuse to recognize the latter as a legitimate state. He has also denied that the Holocaust ever occurred, and in September 2010 at the 65th session of the UN General Assembly he claimed that most people believed the US government were behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks and later called for an enquiry. His speech triggered a mass walkout, while Barack Obama described the claims as “inexcusable”, “offensive”, and “hateful.” With such a controversial leader, it is no doubt understandable that attempts by America at diplomacy with Iran haven’t always been easy. Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations recently wrote in the New York Times that “the level of mistrust is simply too high to facilitate comprehensive settlements.” It is clear that many believe diplomacy will simply not work, and that a violent response is regrettably inevitable. Time is running out for something to be done. Barack Obama is the President under whose tenure Osama bin Laden was finally killed, and this is another key moment where swift and decisive action is needed. Secretary of State-elect John Kerry stated recently that: “Our policy is not containment. It is prevention, and the clock is ticking on our efforts to secure responsible compliance.” One thing is for certain, a nuclear war must be avoided at all costs. The Americans know this and this is why they are so interested in Iran’s nuclear program. But avoiding any kind of war would be the ideal outcome, and this will only happen if Iran proves somehow its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. Trita Parsi, author of ‘A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran’ has said that: “It is only when we fully realize the cost of failure that we will muster the will and patience to overcome the obstacles on the road to peace.” Let’s hope the cost of failure, war, never rears its ugly head, and that the road to peace is a short and smooth one.

“Our policy is not containment. It is prevention, and the clock is ticking on our efforts to secure responsible compliance.” secretary of state-elect john kerry

Sanctions have had little effect on Iran’s nuclear program

In a recent statement on the subject of Iran, Obama pointed out that in the past, even with all the difficulties, mutual respect has existed - albeit a shaky respect. He noted that the U.S. do not interfere in internal affairs of Iran, that they have always condemned terrorist attacks on Iran, they recognise Iran’s international right to peaceful nuclear power, and they also met their request for assistance in meeting the medical needs of its people. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has not always been the most likeable world leader for Obama or the American peo-

The University Observer | 5 February 2013


European disunion


ritish Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent announcement that he plans to renegotiate the terms of the UK’s involvement in the European Union is less than surprising considering Britain’s long-standing ambivalence towards EU involvement in British affairs. In fact, as a direct result to the eurozone crisis, Britain’s scepticism has only increased with one commentator even coining the term “europhobia” to describe the overwhelming apprehensive attitude of the British public. Ireland on the other hand, has only become increasingly embedded in the European Union over the past decade, fuelled in no small part by our decision to adopt the single euro currency. Yet we have never had a stronger relationship with our neighbouring state of Great Britain. Britain’s departure from the EU could cause major implications, both economically and socially for our Emerald Isle and may even demand a choice when it comes to our nation’s loyalty. With a momentous 1 billion flowing between the Irish and British economies each week, trade between our two nations is of the utmost importance to our already struggling economy. As mentioned in the document “Towards an Irish Foreign Policy for Britain” issued by The Institute of International and European Affairs, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Prime Minister David Cameron issued “a joint statement that sets out a programme of work to reinforce the British-Irish relationship” with particular emphasis on the importance of trade relations in order to “accelerate economic recovery” for both Ireland and Britain. However, despite indicating that this programme is to take place over the next ten years, if Britain leave the EU, Irish-Anglo trade can only deteriorate. Considering Ireland will remain a member of the EU it will be unable to make a trade agreement with Britain separate from that negotiated by the European Union. Therefore, it seems

With the possibility of the UK leaving the EU, Laura Woulfe examines whether Ireland should tighten connections with Great Britain or proceed with further European integration

“For more than a century Irish people searching for work and new opportunities have been graced with the freedom to live in Britain as well as Ireland, yet if Britain leave the EU, it is possible that new restrictions will be established between member and nonmember countries.” likely that Ireland would be forced to consider the ex-communicated Britain as a separate trade market and would be required to pay increased trade tariffs. Implications on the trade of goods between Ireland and Britain will certainly be a huge concern for our country’s leaders, yet for our nation’s students and recent college graduates the biggest impact may indeed be curtailed travel between the two countries. For more than a century Irish people searching for work and new opportunities have been graced with the freedom to live in Britain as well as Ireland, yet if Britain leave the EU, it is possible that new restrictions will be established between member and non-member countries. Yet, the strongest connection between our two nations may also be the cause of the most drastic complications if the British public decide to turn away from the EU. The peace in Northern Ireland remains very unstable and any shift in the relationship between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland is likely to lead to unrest. Not only could it cause a repeat of the Troubles,

any recent developments in an all-Ireland Electricity Market could be eradicated, or at least any further progression is likely to be hindered. As it currently stands, any break in the connection between Ireland and Britain could have drastic consequences and therefore it appears to be vital for our country’s future that we maintain a close connection with our neighbouring state. It seems plausible that if Britain decide to depart from the European Union that they would endeavour to establish tighter connections with America. Ireland, if it was independent from the EU, would be able to maintain current trade systems with Britain while also increasing its ties with the world’s current superpower. The possibility of Ireland developing as its own independent state however seems unlikely when considering this hypothesis. In fact, as stated by the IIEA: “Ireland’s commitment to European integration runs deeper than

Death of a Superhacktivist As the tragic death of Aaron Swartz brings the debate of freedom of information into the fore, Enrique Anarte Lazo takes a closer look at the issues relating to hacking and ‘hacktivism’


here is a moment, immediately before life becomes no longer worth living, when the world appears to slow down and all its myriad details suddenly become brightly, achingly apparent”, wrote Aaron Swartz, on his personal website in January 2007. Six years after that, on January 11th, the computer genius took his own life in his Brooklyn apartment. He was being prosecuted by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and City of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the police, as well as having been arrested and accused of illegally downloading millions of documents from the online research group JSTOR with the intent of making them freely available. Swartz believed that these articles from academic journals should be made openly available to the public, free of charge. This computer programmer, political organiser and internet activist had long been involved in the struggle for the freedom of information and played a leading role in the “hacktivist” circles. He developed the RSS web feed format and the popular site Reddit, cofounded Demand Progress, lead the internet citizen movement against SOPA and collaborated in the activist site,, among other accomplishments. If convicted he could have faced a 35-year sentence for the 13 felony charges he had been accused of, even though he never released any of the JSTOR articles. Now Aaron Swartz is gone and his demise has revived the debate of freedom of information in the USA and all over the world. Other names from similar cases come back to the media: Jonathan James, Tarek Mehanna and Jeffey Sterlin to name a few. As with many others, Aaron considered that academic inquiry is founded on the free exchange of ideas and, arguing


that since most of the journals’ authors do not get paid for the articles they write, these articles should therefore be freely available to the civil society in order to contribute to its development and progress. His family, friends and admirers are holding the authorities responsible for Aaron’s suicide. They cannot understand their “prosecutorial overreach” and their heedless procedure knowing that he had long suffered from depression. Several advocates for the freedom of information, from politicians, journalists, professors to full-time activists have since risen their voices in newspapers, blogs, television shows and radio programs to criticize the authorities’ performance and the unfairness of some laws governing computer crime. Although this controversy is not new, Aaron Swartz’s case gives new strength to the movement that claims a reform of this laws that criminalize all sorts of actions that do not seem like they should be crime. Aaron’s aim when he downloaded all those JSTOR articles was not personal profit, but to provide internet users with quality information. Could that really be considered as a criminal act of civil disobedience? One of the first things students learn in history, politics or media studies courses is that freedom of information is one of the basis of democratic societies. One might think that the internet and the new social media are reinforcing this freedom and, especially, the participation of civil society, but sometimes it seems completely the opposite. China, Russia and many Arab dictatorships may be a good example of how the government can and does exercise censorship on the web, but our western societies are not as we think, a bastion of democratic transparency. Under the category of “classified information”,

our governments hide from citizens all kinds of data, from political corruption evidence to police or military abuse. How is this supposed to fit in our free, democratic system? Some people think that Swartz was not prosecuted for what he did, but because of what he represented. He was suspected to have collaborated with WikiLeaks, and so he could have become a collateral victim of the American government’s crusade against the organisation. As was stated by the blog ThinkProgress, he would have faced a harder punishment than what most murderers, bank robbers and child pornographers get on average if he had lived to be convicted of the charges

trade.” When Ireland joined the EU in 1973, the country was liberated from its overwhelming economic and political dependence on the UK. Membership of the European Community (EC) transformed Ireland’s relationship with the UK by constraining Britain’s ability to exercise its sovereignty to Ireland’s economic disadvantage and by making the two states equal members”. If Ireland left the EU and aligned itself with the UK, it may leave the country increasingly dependent on our former oppressor. In contrast, as an equal member of the EU, Ireland is given the confidence to develop independently. Over the last four decades the European Union has been monumental in making Ireland the country it is today, and despite the current economic downturn, this is a country considerably more developed than Ireland in the seventies. As noted by the Irish Times: “40 years ago, no woman could get married and keep her job in the

against him. His only crime was downloading millions of documents, while never actually making them public. So, what is the reason why American authorities went on with this exacerbated prosecution? One might think that there is more behind Aaron Swartz’s case than just a simple struggle for copyrights protection. One might think that he was involved in something more serious. As an advocate for WikiLeaks he was not precisely well-considered by the government, but rather someone that should be put under close surveillance. Unfortunately, the debate that these cases suggest is too complicated to be simplified to a game between the goodies and the villains. Sometimes even both parts may be partially right. In the name of security and protection of private data some people might get an excessive power over information, breaking some of our basic democratic principle. In the name of freedom of information, “hacktivism” might go too far on its way to combat a non-collaborative government. Whatever the solution to this problem may be, it is not acceptable any

public service or a bank. The removal of the marriage bar in 1973, a condition of our membership, was one of the first major results of the EU’s equality legislation.” In more recent years, Ireland’s adoption of the single euro currency has left the country more attractive to foreign investors and indeed for students, as the “EU will have most resonance in the Erasmus programme, through which thousands of Irish students have been able to study abroad”. As a nation, we can only hope that an agreement can be established between the European Union and Great Britain which will allow Britain to remain a member of the EU under its required terms or at least that Britain will remain a member of the EU market. If, however, Britain leaves the EU completely, the only route for Ireland may be to engage further with fellow EU members and leave our comfy alliance with Britain behind.

“Whatever the solution to this problem may be, it is not acceptable any more that tragedies like that of Aaron Swartz keep on taking place in our society” more that tragedies like that of Aaron Swartz keep on taking place in our society. After his death, JSTOR has opened up access to its journals for individuals who register. At the end, his aim was accomplished, but the price he had to pay was too high. Internet activists will nevertheless remember him, and his family already created a memorial site for him, which says: “He used his prodigious skills as a programmer and technologist not to enrich himself but to make the Internet and the world a fairer, better place.”

Aaron Swartz


The University Observer |5 February 2013

The University Observer | 5 February 2013

Observer Features Causing a stir



With Father Flannery’s writings over the direction of the Catholic Church provoking intimidation from the Catholic hierarchy, Isobel Fergus speaks to him about the censure


ather Tony Flannery has caused tension in the Catholic Church after making headlines all over the world over his disagreements with the Vatican. Agree or disagree, his views have brought to life the divide in the church between liberals and conservatives on key teachings. The topics that have caused the most controversy are sexual teaching, the ordination of women and homosexuality. Recently there has been controversy over what Father Flannery believes about the origins of the priesthood and the Eucharist. “I think the main thing that drew attention to him was that he had said that he didn’t think the priesthood was founded by Christ, that it was a group somewhere down the line, and that would be a very central issue,” says Petra Conroy from Catholic Comment. Father Flannery took to the Association of Catholic Priests’ website to clarify his beliefs on this, stating: “I believe and accept that the Eucharist was given to us by Christ himself. I believe and accept that the call to Priesthood, indeed to all our Church’s ministries, comes from God through Jesus Christ.” There has also been speculation about whether he is actually facing excommunication with the Irish Catholic newspaper saying the Vatican said there was “no question” of this. However, looking at quotes of the letter from the Vatican, it could be interpreted that he

could ultimately face excommunication though it’s not stated in plain terms. Father Flannery has been writing for the Redemptorist magazine Reality for the past 15 years, often writing very frank articles. So why in February it suddenly became a big issue for the Vatican is quite baffling. In February, Father Flannery was told to come to Rome immediately. “I was presented with two documents; one was a page with four quotations from different articles that I had written in Reality over the years and then a second page was a list of sanctions and that began a period of about 4-5 months of negotiations; never direct negotiations with me and the Vatican because they never spoke to me but all the time through the head of the Redemptorists,” says Father Flannery. He joined the Church when he was just 17 and has served as a priest ever since. It is hard to believe that at 66, the institution that he had devoted his life to would not talk to him directly. In June, after giving a statement covering the issues, Father Flannery was allowed back to minister. This was only until September, when a further document came looking for four further inserts into the statement. “That’s where the real problem began because they brought in new issues that hadn’t been in it before, issues around the ordination of women and issues around church sexual teaching and they proved to be the breaking point,” says Father Flannery What Father Flannery has tried to

“What Father Flannery has tried to emphasise is that he knows that change will not happen over night but he is aiming for open discussion to feature more prominently in the church”

Social Drought

emphasise is that he knows that change will not happen over night but he is aiming for open discussion to feature more prominently in the church. According to Conroy: “There will always be a place for discussion in the Church, but there are central issue that are beyond discussion, at some point you have to say, well, what does it mean to be a Catholic if absolutely everything is up for grabs?” Father Flannery grew up in the Church of the Second Vatican, which he describes as one of openness. With secularisation more prominent around the world, it would be fair to think the Vatican might be eager to modernise the Church in relation to some teachings. However, the modern church has seemed to move in exactly the opposite direction. The current Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor have held very conservative views on many issues. According to Father Flannery “what they are trying to do is bring the Church back to a 19th century type church. It cannot possibly succeed; it will inevitably collapse.” It is becoming common that the traditionalists in the church are becoming younger and younger. Father Flannery states: “One of the strange anomalies of it all is that the liberals in the church are

Father Flannery my generation and the conservatives are the young crowd. There is only a handful of people becoming priests any more but those that are becoming priests are extraordinarily conservative.” As one of the founders of the Association of Catholic Priests, this could be one of the main reasons why the Vatican is keen to make an example of him. The Association of Catholic Priests is known to be a progressive body and was founded to deal with many of the crises in Catholicism but has not received much support from church hierarchies. “In November, when the AGM of the Association of Catholic Priests was coming up I was put under what’s called a form of precept of obedience not to attend it. Now, in religious life terms, it doesn’t come heavier but I went to the meeting because the As-

sociation of Catholic Priests is an independent body and if I didn’t go to the meeting, I would have been feeding a basic principle that the Vatican had the authority to decide who belongs to the Association and who doesn’t.” By going to this meeting however, Father Flannery further compromised his position in the church. The future is unclear for Father Flannery but as a keen writer, he intends one day to write a book about the ordeal. One thing is for sure he is not going to take this lying down. “As long as I’m alive and healthy, I will try to be in whatever way I can to be a thorn on the side of the Vatican. One way or another I’m going to be outside of the system clearly when you’re outside of the system you have a much freer voice,“ says Father Flannery.

With the Student Club still on an uncertain hiatus, Dominic Gallagher looks at the effects the bar closures are having on both students and societies and socialise after our meetings... It is very difficult for us now to find a place to socialise after meetings. As the biggest political society on campus, the bar was an integral part of our bonding and welcoming new members into Fianna Fáil... Without the bar, we have to trek all the way down to O’Shea’s in Clonskeagh. We want to socialise on campus, and keep the society visible and present on campus. However without the bar, this proves more difficult, though manageable.” UCD Young Fine Gael Chair Lorcan Nyhan found similar problems when it came to getting first years involved, commenting: “It was tougher than last year with the new members, it took a lot more work.” The lack of a Student Bar has “affected our society because, last year after every meeting we went for pints. [Now] we are very isolated and we have nowhere to bring new members; there has been nothing in fairness.” Though Nyhan highlights the difficulties the society has had this year, he sympathised with first years and the Students’ Union. “Incoming first years have been hugely affected... It’s tougher to meet new people and make friends. [Eoin Heffernan] is in a straitjacket; UCD and the college authorities have done nothing, they haven’t been cooperative with the Students’ Union which is unfair.” Stokes highlighted the effect the lack of a bar has had on International Students and the society. “We can’t offer as many events and activities on campus; the bar was great for integrating with

Irish students. A lot of international students are surprised there isn’t a bar.” While the SU seem to be working tirelessly for students, they appear to be stuck. Students’ Union President Rachel Breslin isn’t sure why this is the case ,but muses that perhaps it’s down to the Union having “less staff and money”. TradSoc Auditor D i a r m u i d Hickey however believes that UCD don’t have time for the Students’ Union as they know that “there is a perception that the SU is a lame duck, and corrupt.” B r e s l i n explained the Students’ Union’s achievements are being lost in the furore over the Bar. She commented: “The SU is trying to recover, however we haven’t delivered a bar or a venue this year, and no doubt that will overshadow the Union’s work.” It’s perhaps fair to say that Heffernan was dealt a poisoned deck of cards this year, and “it has been hard to get that buzz on campus.” While the Students’ Union remain in constant negotiation with the University over the matter, students are less concerned with the politics of it all, and more concerned with having the bar back open on campus. While this remains one of the Union’s main priorities at the moment, Breslin believes that it is achievable, and is hopeful that students will see the bar open its doors this semester. She concluded: “I believe we will be in the bar by the end of the year, and that will show a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.”

“The younger years have had a big loss, it has affected their college experience... Colleges around the country have a bar, however we have one less string in the bow for UCD students” International Students Society Events Officer Stephen Stokes


he UCD student bars used to be a place of great social interaction, for the odd pint (or two) between lectures, a good dinner and a place to meet new people. Those who knew and loved the bar note that the UCD experience has taken a huge hit since its closure, taking a number of societies down with it. UCD, while huge, concrete and isolated before, has descended into a living graveyard. Kevin Barry Cumann Chairperson Greg Moroney commented that “huge numbers of first years that joined UCD Ógra Fianna Fáil this year have commented on the lack of a place to congregate and socialise.” The International Students Society Events Officer Stephen Stokes also expressed his concern on the lack of a

student bar on campus. “The younger years have had a big loss, it has affected their college experience... Colleges around the country have a bar, however we have one less string in the bow for UCD students.” It is clear that the UCD experience has been forever damaged for UCD’s 2012/13 first years and other students, who have missed out on a whole side of UCD life. Students’ Union Entertainments Officer Eoin Heffernan commented saying: “It is pretty disappointing the bar is gone; it was the number one spot in UCD whether it was for food, a pint or a

game of pool. For everyone in first year this year, there is no hub to meet new people, make new friends and get settled into UCD... Student Advisors have commented on the s t u d e n t experience b e i n g affected.” More than just a social venue for casual drinks a m o n g friends, the closure of the bar hascaused many headaches for UCD’s societies. Moroney indicated that: “As we have such a big number of members, the bar was very useful and accessible for us to hold events,

“There is a perception that the SU is a lame duck, and corrupt” TradSoc Auditor Diarmuid Hickey



The University Observer |5 February 2013

Blowing hot and cold With Irish bogs nearing the end of their production potential, Sean Finnan looks at the alternative uses being explored by governments both side of the Irish Sea


wo weeks ago, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte signed a Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of the Irish government with members of the British government. The Memorandum deals with a promise to construct wind farms across the midlands in order to generate electricity that will be exported to Britain, through undersea cables from Ireland to Wales. Kenneth Matthews, CEO of Irish Wind Energy Association spoke of the benefits that the deal could have for Ireland: “Up to 30,000 indigenous jobs could be created countrywide, coupled with investments of over 18 million by 2020 if the and Senior Fellow at UCD Earth Institute spoke to the University Observer on the employment possibilities of the bilateral agreement: “An impressive range of job types will be supported, but many of these are associated with the manufacturing phase, and also most require high skills. It will be important for the midlands to be able to meet as many of the skill requirements as possible locally, so that these more high paying jobs don’t leak to Dublin and elsewhere.” However, according to a European Commission and International Labour Office’s 2011 report entitled “Investment in renewable energy generates jobs”, the biggest problem they identify

required enablers along with this agreement are put in place.” It is clear that alternative uses will have to be found for the midlands bogs with peat reserves approaching zero. Traditionally, the midlands peat bogs would have been a major employment centre for locals, but will the conversion of many bogs to wind farms have the positive impact on jobs that such advocates are declaring? With the current recession creating a type of jobless vacuum in the midlands especially, the numbers of jobs being speculated for this project is akin to a lottery win. However, apart from the initial construction phase, much of the jobs will be high skilled with the numbers needed to run the farms a fraction of that need for the bog lands. Frank Convery, Chair of Publicpol-

is the lack of a skilled workforce. With wind power, 0.27 jobs are created in the operating and maintenance stage for every megawatt of energy produced. This is compared to the 0.74 jobs created at the same stage during peat production. There is a 36% difference in employment levels meaning that based on such figures, over a third of jobs will be lost in regular, full-time jobs in operation and maintenance. Even in the construction phase of the wind farms, which will see a high amount of temporary jobs created, requirements will be for a medium to high skilled work force; a situation that may once again see locals lose out. Bord na Mona recently commenced the construction of a signifigant wind energy project in Mount Luas, County Offaly. The 115 million investment

“As the bogs across the midlands are generally windless, the turbines will be among the highest built in the world, rising over 200 meters in order to catch enough wind energy”

will see 28 advanced technology turbines and provide ecofriendly electricity for 45,000 Irish households. The Memorandum of Agreement will however see the energy created by the new wind farms being directly exported to the UK market. Only last October, the British Minister for Energy John Hayes stated that his government would no longer have wind turbines in the British countryside. Instead, the wind energy will be sourced from the midlands. However, it will not UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey and Pat Rabbitte TD be the government developing such wind farms but private companies, raising controversy on this Island, but if this “Putting up the largest turbines in the the question again of where the major scheme in the Midlands proves a suc- world without consultation - I think it benefits for such a project will accrue. cess, it could be the grassroots of a new is ludicrous, to be honest.” Richard Tol, Professor of Economics alternative energy industry here. Local Politician Deputy Penrose, has described the scheme as “crazy”, As the bogs across the midlands are published a Private Members Bill last stating that: “From an Irish perspective this is not selling the family silver; this is giving it away. There is no money staying in Ireland that I can see… But from a British perspective this is a good deal.” A number of companies including generally windless, the turbines will be November at the behest of the LakeUS based Clean Energy, Oriel Wind- among the highest built in the world, lands Wind Information Group, which farms based in Ireland, global renew- rising over 200 meters in order to catch is seeking to bring in a number of conable energy developer Element Power enough wind to create energy. Natu- cerns raised by locals. It remains to be and Mainstream Renewable Power rally, their height is a cause for concern seen whether the government will take headed by Airtricity founder Eddie for local residents. “People don’t actu- the concerns of residents into considO’Conner are all seeking to benefit from ally understand the scale of them,” said eration considering the long-winded the agreement. Privatising the State’s Andrew Duncan, spokesman for the fiasco that has engulfed Shell for the natural resources has always provoked Lakelands Wind Information Group. past eight years.

“Up to 30,000 indigenous jobs could be created countrywide, coupled with investments of over 18 million by 2020 if the required enablers along with this agreement are put in place.”

Newman Fund have you a great idea for an event on campus? why not try the Newman Fund for funding? The Newman Fund is a sum of money arising from that part of the Student Registration Charge which the university allocates to support organised student activities. It is designed to fund activities which are organised by individuals or groups, other than the recognised clubs and societies in the University, whose aim is to improve student life on campus. Any individual or group of students may apply for financial support for their project. The Newman Fund is administered by a committee of the Student Consultative Forum

Already this year, the Fund has provided support for: The UCD Fashion Show A conference organized by PhD Law students A Res. Sports Blitz Belfield FM A reception for postgrad Engineering students in Newstead

Applications are now invited for grants from the Fund for the current session. There is no standard format for applications but they should include full details of the applicants, the use to which any funds granted will be put and detailed costings. Applications for support in this session must be submitted by November 1st at 5.30pm to: Elizabeth Cronin, Student Consultative Forum, Student Centre, UCD or email to:

The University Observer | 5 February 2013



occurring. Enforcement plays a very important role in encouraging compliance with Road Traffic Legislation… especially the introduction of the Penalty Points scheme. Finally evaluation… includes the work of both the RSA and HAS, [who] provide a framework with targets, milestones and allocation of responsibility to ensure that we are moving in the right direction,” says Kavanagh. According to Healy-Rae, it is the isolation of the elderly and the increasing levels of depression that have given cause to the implementation of drinkdriving permits. However, it is a wellknown fact that alcohol is a depressant. Rather than alleviating any mental health problems a person may be struggling with, it will only increase them. Improving road safety is an individual task, and one which everyone must make a valiant effort to participate in.

According to Kavanagh, this can be done by recognising hazards, and creating time and space. “You can take effective action by considering changes to your position, your speed and your communication options… Create time and space. You can create time by looking further ahead and reducing your speed. You can create space by keeping well back from the vehicle in front, as well as positioning to improve your view.” Our figure for road deaths in relation to other EU countries is continuing to improve because of the effort every individual chooses to make when driving. It is important to be aware of everything around you, and focus solely on the task of driving safely. Kavanagh concluded: “Recognising hazards is important when you consider that the most common phrase after a collision is ‘I didn’t see him.’”

ence student from China, found the Orientation Week helpful and practical: “We did a city walk around Dublin and they took us to Ikea to buy some things. Also, [there were] lectures to tell you what you need to do to get buses and things like that.” Students were also welcomed at the airport and were given assistance with their transportation to UCD. The International Student Society (ISS) plays a huge role in ensuring that international students get to make the most out of their time in Ireland and helps them to integrate with other students. Choy, a second year Drama and Political Science student, is also a member of the ISS committee: “We organise trips to like Galway, Cork and Belfast, just like around the country. And like last semester they were great and that’s why I decided to join the committee. They had a whole bunch of little nights. Like we had this one last semester, a Girl’s Night where they had free pizza and icebreakers and you meet so many new people. It’s pretty awesome… It was kind of an accident, how I joined. They had a movie night and if you came early, they had a surprise. The surprise was being on the committee! It was good, like I totally don’t regret and it was a good movie too, The Wind that Shakes the Barley.” When asked what they thought

dalough and the Cliffs of Moher and I think they’re very beautiful. They’re the places I like the most.” One thing all three students had in common was their presupposi-

Over the Limit As Kerry County Council seeks to legalise drink-driving, Nicole Casey examines our fall in road fatalities, and how we can continue the trend


oad safety has become an issue of utmost importance in Ireland. Fatalities involving motor vehicles have reached a record low in recent years, namely due to the actions undertaken by the Irish Government to curb drink-driving and speeding. The introduction of random breath testing, as well as the highly effective penalty points system, has meant that death tolls on Irish roads have seen a consistent decrease in the last four years. However, a recent motion passed by Kerry’s County Council members to allow rural drivers to drive over the legal alcohol-blood level threatens to derail the progress the Irish government have worked so hard to achieve. The motion, put forward by controversial councillor Danny Healy-Rae, looks to give Gardai permission to issue permits to people living in isolated areas, allowing them to drive after consuming alcohol over and above the legal limit. When asked to explain the motivation behind his controversial motion, Healy-Rae explained that a relaxed policy towards rural drink driving would combat depression and isolation, which he claims has become rife in rural areas, especially among the older generation. He commented on the issue, saying: “A lot of these people are living in isolated rural areas where there’s no public transport of any kind, and they end up at home looking at the four walls, night in and night out, because they don’t want to take the risk of losing their licence.” The motion was passed at a Council meeting by five votes to three. It is believed that seven councillors abstained while 12 were absent when the vote was taken. Controversially, the five

who voted in favour are all publicans, former publicans or connected to the pub trade. The council will now ask Ireland’s Minister for Justice to relax the current law on drink driving. Minister for Justice Alan Shatter, however, has rejected this idea completely, stating: “There is no question of this government, or indeed I don’t believe any future government, facilitating individuals drinking in excess of the blood alcohol limits.” Blood-alcohol limits were reduced in October 2011, bringing Irish law into line with European levels. The previous law, which allowed drivers 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, was one of the highest in the world. Now, the limit is only 50mg for most drivers, which equates to roughly less than a single pint of beer. Learner, novice, and professional drivers in Ireland are now

“Recognising hazards is important when you consider that the most common phrase after a collision is ‘I didn’t see him…’” limited to a maximum of 20mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. The decline in fatalities on Irish roads has had many positive impacts for the economy, including an increase in tourism. European families looking to travel abroad are more likely to choose Ireland as a holiday destination now we

have a higher safety ranking and fewer road deaths. However, allowing rural drivers permission to drive under the influence of alcohol would only hinder this newfound safety status Ireland has achieved. However, Managing Director for Drive Risk Down, Mike Kavanagh, claims that our high levels of road safety did not occur overnight: “Unfortunately there is no silver bullet when it comes to improving road safety. There are four key elements which have influenced road safety performance; education, engineering, enforcement and evaluation. Education has played its part through the running of awareness campaigns on television, in schools as well guidance for employers. Engineering has influenced improvements in car design to include a range of safety features which play an active role in reducing the possibility of a collision

Welcome to Ireland With over 5,000 international students in UCD, Toluse Akinlabi got talking to them to gain an insight into what they really think of Ireland’s Global University


bout one out of every five students in UCD is an international student, with over 100 nationalities represented in this university. But what makes UCD, and moreover Ireland, so appealing? For Jennifer Choy, an American, it was because of her family’s links to Ireland: “I have family here, ancestors from my mom’s side.” For others, it simply seemed to be a prudent choice for a study year abroad. Chananel Gibson is on exchange here from the University of Nottingham, but

is originally from Trinidad and Tobago: “Well as part of my degree in Nottingham…I’m supposed to spend one year abroad and Ireland was one of the options. I thought Ireland was a good option because it was English speaking and it was also on the Erasmus program, which is a good one to be on.” Moving to a new country can be pretty daunting, but UCD’s International Orientation Program aims to help international students settle into the University and also into Ireland. Yue Sun, a final year Computer Sci-

“I think people here love to drink more than people in China… I think pubs are the main thing here”

“I definitely, no offence, thought they would drink a lot more, like all the time”

“The ISS plays a huge role in ensuring international students get the most out of their time in Ireland”

about UCD, the students were all very positive in their replies. Choy had this to say: “It’s just a nice campus and has modern facilities. It’s like a giant straight line which is super easy. And it’s such a pretty campus and when it’s raining, you know, it’s nice to have shelter.” Unsurprisingly, Ireland’s natural beauty is also admired by the students. Yue’s favourite thing about Ireland is its fascinating environment: “I travelled to some places like Glen-

“I thought it would be very rainy with lots of hills and cows” tions of Ireland. Gibson had the image of a wet, agricultural landscape: “I thought it would be very rainy with lots of hills and cows.” Yue also had the same expectations of Ireland: “Before I got here I knew there was going to be a lot of rain and it was the same as I thought.” It comes as no surprise, then, that the one aspect of Ireland that they weren’t happy with was the weather. Gibson put it frankly: “I dislike the weather; I think everyone would say that. It’s always cold… and it’s dreary and that’s kind of off-putting.” Choy also expected a multitude of red heads with incomprehensible accents, but she was disappointed: “I thought they’re accents would be stronger, but it’s not as strong as I would’ve expected. I mean unless you’re from Cork.” She also doesn’t agree with the stereotype that the Irish are excessively drunk: “[They’re drunk] the regular amount. They just like to let loose. I definitely, no offence, thought they would drink a lot more, like all the time. Like a lot of them do that, but they also balance work.” On the other hand, Yue believes that there is a strong pub culture in Ireland: “I think people here love to drink more than people in China… I think pubs are the main thing here… But I think it’s quite expensive so I don’t go very often.” Opinions about alcohol consumption aside, all three students agree that Ireland is a great place to study. Gibson has even been so impressed by the Emerald Isle that she would finish her degree here, if given the option, saying “I think I prefer Ireland to England.” Not even the rain can dampen Ireland’s irresistible charm but it seems to bring the greyness of the campus to life.



The University Observer |5 February 2013

Observer Science

The Big Barnes Theory: Mind Over Matter

As the world is increasingly digitised, Ethan Troy Barnes explores the possibility of uploading the human brain


he annals of medicine and fiction are littered with tales of out-of-body experiences, where the individual’s consciousness is said to have temporarily departed its corporeal vessel and gazed down from some ethereal plane at the soulless corpse from which it came. Real as they may seem to some people, such experiences are likely related to something called a hypnagogic hallucination, where the individual straddles the gap between sleep and wakefulness and experiences very vivid dreamlike experiences projected onto their surroundings. However, with the science of ‘mind uploading’, the transfer of human consciousness to a computer system, hard at work trying to free the psyche of its mortal shackles, the mind leaving the body may become a reality sooner than we think. The idea is simple enough in theory: scan a person’s entire nervous system, head to toe, to a very high level of accuracy, i.e. right down to the neurotransmitter receptor level. Then build an electrical circuit from the resulting brain map, analogous to the kind you used to make in Junior Cert science with wires, resistors and light bulbs, except infinitely more complex. Provide the resulting brain-computer with sensory inputs (e.g. video cameras and microphones) and a means of communicating back (e.g. speakers, monitors) et voila: your very own human brain in digital form. Initially, the artificial mind would

take up a lot of space, be very expensive to build, and likely be limited to a virtual environment such as that of a video game. Eventually, however, if Moore’s Law keeps to its word for the next few centuries, computer technology may be powerful enough that we can cram an entire human consciousness onto something the size of a microchip. By that stage we may even be able to fashion surrogate bodies for our digital minds, allowing the individual to interact with the real world like any living human. All this may seem a bit extreme, and even a little scary. However, the benefits of such technology are impressive. The first, and most obvious, application for a brain that’s no longer restricted to a human body is immortality. When a terminally ill patient or elderly individual is at the end of their life, their consciousness could simply be transferred at the moment of death to the digital plane. This has obvious ethical implications regarding the sanctity of human life, not to mention the added strain on resources that would result from a person never dying, although it could be argued that a digital existence would be far more efficient than an organic one. More compelling than that, however, are the improvements that may be made when converting to a digital consciousness. Chief among these is the fact that electrical signals travel at 300 million metres per second, this being extremely fast compared to the paltry 150 metres per second that the fastest nerve impulses are capable of travel-

ling at. This would produce an impressive speed up in thought processing power, but without any increase in intelligence. Put simply, digital minds would think at a faster rate than biological ones. For a digital mind functioning at this accelerated rate, about two million times faster than usual, time in the world around them would appear to flow slower than normal and a year of subjective time might be experienced in about half a minute of real time. Exploiting the technology for commercial gain, a digital consciousness could also conceivably be copied a number of times, so that a single individual’s knowledge and expertise could be made available to more clients simultaneously and be used to earn more money. With mind uploading technology likely to be very expensive initially, this could have profound social effects, with only those rich enough being able to obtain the technology and becoming richer still as a result, widening any existing class divides. Converting your consciousness to a digital format also makes it much easier to get around. A digital signal can be sent at the speed of light, across great distances, particularly interstellar distances, travel times across which would normally outlast a human lifespan. On a more philosophical level, the transfer or copying of consciousness does raise manifold existential questions. If your consciousness is copied, which one is the original? Which one

owns your house or your car? Which one is going out with your boyfriend? There’s also the danger that, by transferring to a digital format, you are opening your mind up to being manipulated in any number of ways. What if a hacker compels your digital consciousness to transfer all your funds into their account? What if someone wipes the hard drive you’re stored in? What if your consciousness simply gets lost in the digital ether? Of course, all of these can happen in real life too, there are real life thieves and murderers, however there is a sense giving up control that comes with uploading your mind to a computer. So, when can we expect to be swapping our flesh and blood brains for a steel cerebrum? Well, the Blue Brain project has already constructed a vir-

tual model of a portion of rat neocortex back in 2006, and the current aim is to reverse engineer a working digital model of human consciousness using a Blue Gene Supercomputer. While there’s a serious amount of legwork involved in perfectly scanning and recreating a human brain, the project’s director Henry Markham remarked recently “it is not impossible to build a human brain and we can do it in 10 years.” Promises of immortality via mind uploading must inevitably be met with scepticism, however, who wants to live forever if it means losing their humanity? At the very least, though, research in this area will vastly improve our understanding of neuroscience and should shed invaluable light on the nature of human consciousness.

Research in Brief by Michael O’Sullivan

Acceleration of Andean Glacier melt is reportedly faster than recorded history

UCD and Trinity to collaborate on 1 billion carbon study BY BRONAGH CARVILL

University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin have been declared participants in the EU-funded Future and Emerging Technologies Graphene Project. This project involves the study of graphene, a form of carbon discovered by scientists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, and for which they were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010. Director of the UCD Centre for BioNano Interactions Professor Kenneth Dawson’s centre was chosen for this “huge project” as it is the European Centre for Nanosafety. Professor Dawson’s team will be investigating the “biological interactions” associated with this unique material. He explained that these investigations will have two main applications: “Scientifically what we are dealing with is how cells and tissues and so forth interact with graphene, and those two broad application potentials. One is that graphene seems an incredibly interesting material from the point of view of electronics and informa-

tion processing. It can be printed, for example, like in a laser printer, and stuff. So one very interesting question is whether we can learn how to talk to cells via graphene, or allow cells to talk to us via graphene. Allowing cells to talk to us via graphene is a simple way of discussing diagnostics, for example. So if the cell is sick, then it could tell us by it growing on the graphene, and that’s a diagnostic device concept.” The other main application which Professor Dawson’s team will be looking at is making sure graphene is “safe for general use.” Professor Dawson is keen to point out that, though are collaborating on this project, that the UCD and Trinity branches are working “in completely different domains”. Dawson explained: “Trinity is not involved in anything biological. They’re investigating more the preparation of the materials” through their Centre for Nanostructures and Nanodevices. Dawson says “graphene seems an incredibly interesting material from the point of view of electronics and information processing”. Its particular

properties mean that graphene is suitable for the production of transparent touch screens, light panels, satellites and even airplanes. Most importantly, graphene may be used as a “diagnostic device concept”. If this technology developed, blood cells could be analysed in a way that has the potential to change modern medicine. The two universities will receive funding worth more than 1 billion over the next three years. Coleman describes graphene as “one of the most exciting materials of our lifetime”, while the EU has likened the scale of this project to the moon-landing programme in the 1960s. The Minister of State for Research, Seán Sherlock TD, said that the involvement of Irish researchers in this flagship project is evidence of the “tremendous esteem” in which they are held internationally with Dawson remarking that it’s wonderful that two Irish universities constitute such a major element of Europe’s first project in this area.

Andean glaciers are retreating at what is being called an “unprecedented” rate according to a new study. Each year, the melt water from the glaciers provides a source of fresh water for tens of millions of South Americans, but the glaciers are now treating at the fastest rate in 300 years. An average temperature spike of 0.7 degrees Celsius over the past 70 years is being blamed for the majority of the damage. “Glacier retreat in the tropical Andes over the last three decades is unprecedented,” said Antoine Rabatel, the lead author of the study and a scientist with the Laboratory for Glaciology and Environmental Geophysics in Grenoble, France. The problem is so bad that scientists are worried that the glaciers will simply cease to exist at lower altitudes, effectively wiping out many communities only source of water. The Chacaltaya glacier in the Bolivian Andes, once a ski resort, has already disappeared completely, according to some scientists.

Geo-engineering firm accused of illegally polluting oceans Russ George, an American businessman and entrepreneur, was recently caught illegally spreading 100 tonnes of iron sulphate into the Pacific Ocean. George, who is the CEO of the geoengineering firm Planktos Inc. and provided testimony to the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming in 2007, performed the act as a geoengineering experiment of sorts. The aim was to promote algae growth in the ocean which would, in turn, absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

This is but one of the many ideas that have been put forward as methods of reducing atmospheric greenhouse gas levels by supporters of geoengineering. Other proposed methods include using bio-energy with carbon capture and storage for future use and the alreadywidely implemented strategy of tree planting. Geoengineering is a controversial subject however as many are against tampering with the environment and others claim that by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere we are not stopping the problem of it being released in the first place. Moratoriums exist to prevent such experiments and so it is alleged that George’s actions violated the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the London convention on the dumping of wastes at sea.

Patent application filed for “At-home Stomach pump” which aims to promote weight-loss A new patent has been published detailing a pump that is designed to suck out food 20 minutes after you eat a meal as a way to fight obesity. The pump was created by Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway, and Aspire Bariatrics as a ‘healthy way’ for people to lose weight without having to radically change their diet. This procedure is supposedly far less invasive than many other gastric bypass surgeries that are available to the public. It was described as a small, 1cm incision over the patient’s stomach, with a tube that is secured both within the stomach and on the surface of the skin with a skin port. Around 20 minutes after the food is ingested, the patient can open the skin port and the slightly-digested food can be extracted. The pump is currently in the human trials stage of testing, and the results are looking promising. However, many obesity experts are opposing the device, arguing that it fails to address the causes of obesity.


The University Observer | 5 February 2013

Observer Opinion Generation de-patriation

The FirstYear Experience: Wake up

Irish emigrant workers should be prepared for some hostility if they return post recession, writes Killian Woods


part from “Do you have a Tesco club card?” and “Would you like to upgrade your meal to large for an extra fifty cent?” the most common question I get asked these days usually revolves around the big black shaped hole in my future labelled ‘Post College’. My answer to that question is, for the most part, the textbook response that any 22-year-old prospect-less student would say: “Well, I feel pretty unemployable at the moment in the supposed area of expertise I’ve been studying for the last four years. So, clearly my only option is delve further into negative equity-ville and spend my way out of my problem with further education.” At first having that question fired at me by my relatives, friends, and Facebook friends alike bothered me, but I’ve been desensitised. Still, each time I’m asked “What are you going to do after college?”, the question seems gradually more and more rhetorical each time. Rhetorical to the sense that sometimes in my head the question sounds like an assault on my life decisions: “Well, you’ve really screwed up your prospects this time, haven’t you?” No matter, the option to leave the country is always there. That daunting but assured route that nearly guarantees a comfortable way of life away from these shores. Maybe even somewhere where the sun doesn’t bring the heat with it when it goes to bed every night. It appears to be such an easy opportunity that is readily available, which means it’s no surprise Irish people spanning all age groups are upping and leaving for a chance to seek out some sense of stability. It is tough to deal with putting thousands of kilometres between yourself and those who matter deeply to you, but we should hold back the tears and wistfully bid them adieu. Then, when they arrive home on a cold wet evening in June, we should have the kettle whistling, turf on the fire, and a one-page synopsis of what they’ve missed on Fair City, while welcoming them with open arms. That description of a cosy environment is all in contrast to the grim reality painted by a Facebook page that garnered significant attention last month. Ireland Abandoners managed to provoke a frenzied response from Irish ex-pats community, informing them that they are “NOT WELCOME HOME” in big red bland font. The premise of the page, which does not represent my view, does have a point however. If people who left during the economic plight expect to be welcomed home with open arms in 10 or 20 years time, they may want to roll for a reality check. For instance, many of the emigrants that left for Australasia and Britain in the 1980s and returned back to Ireland during the Celtic Tiger years noted that they received mixed reactions from friends and cohorts upon their return. And I doubt our generation will be all that forgiving given the same circumstances. The sentiments of the Facebook page such as, “Take down your tricolours, you are not worthy of flying them and are not welcome back so

stay where you are because the Irishness is better off without you!” are a bit harshly worded. I wouldn’t be so quick to criticise anyone who left the country during these times. It is tough to leave your home, especially when the decision is forced upon you by economic reasons. Our generation, however, does lack a sense of drive and desire to explore. A characteristic that has plagued previous generations who decided it was too much bother to leave a comfort zone powered purely by the love of Irish Mammies. Although, when previous generations have been forced to emigrate, it has done nothing but ingratiated Ireland to the international community, cementing our status as an endearing country full of hard working people. Irish workers helped build New York into one of the greatest cities the world, laid the train tracks in Argentina, and were the driving force behind the development of Australia and New Zealand. They don’t love Ireland for its Guinness and leprechauns; they love us. Unlike the Irish emigrants that flooded the Facebook page with inappropriate hate-filled comments, I can understand exactly why a segment of Irish society would be angered if the twenty-somethings eventually came home to roost. A lot of these people leave, sneering at the government that they were left no other options, but the truth is that there still are jobs. The situation is that many Irish people think they shouldn’t have to lower themselves to fulfil the jobs available in the services industry. Fundamentally, I don’t agree with the page because I believe that those who have left are serving as invaluable ambassadors worldwide for Ireland and will benefit from the priceless experience of being immersed in different cultures. I’ve experience what it is like to live abroad and for the most part, Irish people I’ve met are applying themselves very well and are sought after to fill jobs in areas such as construction and agriculture. Even if the page doesn’t represent your view, that doesn’t make their opinion wrong. It garnered significant positive, and negative, responses and warrants acknowledgement because it does embody a sense of resentment harboured by some people towards Irish emigrant workers. “Basically you have all left now, many of you hope to return one day when things pick up, when the economic climate changes to suit you, well, guess who is changing it? The people that stayed behind we will not allow you to reap the benefit of the crops that we are sowing now!” The comment is akin to a quote from Emmet Kirwan in the viral video that appeared over Christmas called Just Saying, where he said: “I’m just saying you might get sick of the wet weeks, wet socks, the wet jeans, wet funerals, the wet streets. It’s all getting a little harder to justify. And it’s too late to be screaming ‘We Are Your Friends’ at heads in a gaff you’ve never been before and you’ll never be again. As Sydney and London swallow your mates. Any craic? No, youse fucked off.” And he’s right, they did.


“I really wish the media would stop telling me that I, placed in the category of ‘all women’, care about my future wedding day more than any other day”

“When they arrive home on a cold wet evening in June, we should have the kettle whistling, turf on the fire, and a one-page synopsis of what they’ve missed on Fair City, while welcoming them with open arms.”


While still strenuously avoiding adulthood, Lucy Montague Moffat gives us her secrets to imaginary success

don’t know whether I can blame a habit of listening to Christina Milian’s ode to self love ‘Say I’ too many times or if I am actually just one of those people who can be categorised as ambitious, but I have always assumed I would be successful. In what field or career this success would play out has always been irrelevant. I have never imagined the activity I will be doing to such triumph that people throw money and awards at me. It’s like the blurred face of my future husband in wedding dreams; present and correct but not fully formed. Actually, I’m taking a moment to state that I do not have any wedding dreams. I never have had and hopefully never will, even when I am really planning a future wedding. I find it difficult to bestow my personal respect for ‘normal women’ who fantasise about their dream day, crying when they walk by the Oxfam wedding dress sale and somehow knowing a shitload about diamonds without having ever entered a jewellers. I firmly believe that people who care that much about their wedding day have very little else in life, such as a personality or self esteem. I really wish the media would stop telling me that I, placed in the category of ‘all women’, care about my future wedding day more than any other day, and have been caring about it since I was a young child. I would just like to clarify that I have not once put my pillow case on my head pretending it was a veil, I have never visited an old castle, looked around breathlessly and whispered “This is where I want to get married!” and have never or will never cry when in the vicinity of a women wearing a big white dress. No one should care about weddings anymore; there are much more important things in life, like Children’s Hospital on Adult Swim, Eddie Rockets home delivery and Rob Delaney’s Twitter. So I decided from a young age that I was not going to be a failure, which isn’t that unusual. No parent has ever asked their child: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” to receive the answer: “One of those overweight people you see on documentaries about extreme hoarders.” Everyone wants to be something good. But what happens when we aren’t that young any more? Most of my friends and I are facing mid-twenties and it suddenly feels to me like I am running out of time. Lots of the people I know are now in their careers, or just at the beginnings of their path to their lifetime job, and this seemed to happen overnight. One minute I was living in Greece working in bars, my only worry being the unnerving shaking I was getting in my hands from drinking alcohol every day, and the next I am visiting my friend in London who has an office job that she hopes to move up in, a long term boyfriend and an unrecognisable sensibleness coming off her like perfume. I feel like her teenage niece with a backpack full of books, blisters on my feet from bad shoes and an unnerving sense of confusion about when all this growing up happened. I have been quite delusional my whole life. I now accept it as one of my personality traits.

Although for years I ignored it, as any proper delusionist would. For instance, a few years ago I put on a bit of weight due to drinking my way through working summers abroad and so went to a Weight Watchers meeting. At the time I had no idea that I had put on weight, I was going to the meeting to accompany my friend because she always had funny stories about the leaders and I wanted to join in. While in the queue to be weighed I convinced myself that they were going to turn me down for being too light. I was deluded enough to think that I was going to stand on the scale and instantly be dragged into a ambulance, which would take me to the nearest eating disorder clinic where they would beg me to put on weight as I was ‘wasting away’. So when I proudly stood on the scale and the disappointingly unamusing leader told me I was “a few pounds away from overweight” I was flabbergasted, emphasis on flab. The main thing I have been delusional about in my life though is that I am going to ‘make it’ one day. What I am going to make hasn’t become apparent, which might be the main reason that it hasn’t been made yet, The main way I would like to succeed would be the easy way. I have never imagined any really hard work being involved. I read in a magazine on a plane to England when I was 12 that lots of model scouts hang around train stations in London to find potential stars. So I decided that even though I was short and not photogenic at all that I was definitely going to be spotted, and spent the family holiday striding around train stations, putting on the free lipgloss I had got in the magazine and trying to make fierce eye contact with everyone who passed by. That’s why when I sent a radio script into a BBC competition for the first time before Christmas I was positive that this was it. My successful life was about to come true, and I just had to wait until the end of January. I spent Christmas living a sort of half-life. In reality I was working ridiculous hours selling over priced clothes to ungrateful, stressed shoppers, but in my head I was going to meetings in the BBC, I was picking up awards for my latest sitcom on BBC4, I was marrying Bo Burnham (I don’t know how I met him, maybe he was hanging around at BBC studios one day, for a talkshow maybe, and then BAM). I got punched in the gut with reality when I received an email a few days ago telling me that my script had not won. In a few sentences all my dreams were blown to pieces like an atomic bomb filled with human faeces. Maybe it is time for me to face reality and stop thinking that everything is going to be handed to me on a silver platter, Ferrero Rocher style. Maybe it is time for me to finally stop being delusional. No, I think I just haven’t been spending enough time in London train stations. I would like to clarify for the record that I wasn’t imagining me and Bo Burnham’s wedding, like the cake or the flowers or Shania Twain singing ‘You’re Still The One’ as I walk down the aisle. In my dreams he was just automatically my husband. No wedding dreaming occurred or will ever occur. Thank you.


The University Observer |5 February 2013

Observer OpEd editor @

With debate still roaring over UCD’s decision to abolish passing by compensation, Philippa White believes that it is only the first step in establishing a better kind of student


his is a wonderful time of year. Despite the miserable weather, post-holiday depression and unavoidable poverty, these first few weeks back after Christmas are exciting times on campus. Essay deadlines remain as distant as the stars, introductory lectures for new subjects are as challenging as watching Made In Chelsea and ‘M’,’C’ and ‘Q’ are just three little consonants that have not yet assembled, formed an axis of evil and started to provoke terror among the unsuspecting student body. Indeed, this is the time of the academic year when you have the time and freedom to take up a sport, finally write an article for the university paper, catch up on some reading or simply go out and socialise with your friends. After all, college life is about much more than book-learning and attaining a well-rounded education involves venturing further afield than the library. As most of us know, however, this period of being free in the academic year is as transient as a romance in Coppers. Fleeting, like the wind, it abandons us at the first reference to ominous-sounding things like group presentations and projects, essays, midterms and that three-lettered rogue I previously mentioned. Tragically, with the shift towards continuous assessment, rather than end-of-year exams in universities in Ireland, the amount of time the student gets for things other than study for an exam or some form of evaluation, is becoming less and less. Not only is continuous assessment robbing many of us students of a holistic college experience but it is impacting on the way we are learning our subjects and not necessarily for the better. Before I go any further, I must point out that I have no problem with challenging students and rigorously testing someone’s understanding of their college subject is obviously crucial and always will be. However, rigorous assessment is different from continuous assessment. The amount of continuous assessment varies from faculty to faculty but as a general trend, it appears to be becoming more important in the third level setting. Some see this as a step in the right direction and do so for multiple reasons, such as it “takes the pressure off” students at the end of the year and keeps them “up-todate with coursework” throughout the term. Unfortunately, the wisdom behind these claims is shadier than a Lance Armstrong autobiography.

From my own personal experience in my course in Medicine, where it is not uncommon to have a midterm exam almost every week for the better part of October and November, continuous assessment has been the bane of my existence and that of my classmates for the last few years. It remains to be seen if it has in fact deepened our understanding of the coursework. With the constant threat of an exam on the horizon, we are doing well if we can cram enough information into the short-term memory just in time to spew it out onto an EDPAC sheet with a fraction of sanity still intact. By the time the midterms are over, the hangover from the cramming bender of the previous six weeks has barely worn off by the time the panic sets in for the end-ofsemester exams. The greatest problem relating to continuous assessment is that it does not facilitate reflective learning. As assessments are so integral and so frequent to assessment-led learning, the focus shifts from educating oneself in a natural, stimulating and enjoyable way to one that involves learning what is most likely to come up in the exam and this learning is, more often than not, done in a rushed, panicked and indeed immature way. You cannot digest information when you are on a constant treadmill of exams, essays and reports. There is simply no time. The result of all of this is that students are left with a shallow understanding of their subject matter. Lots of little pieces of information have been learnt but there has been no time or space to connect the dots and see the bigger picture. Although many, including and often in particular students themselves, are quick to criticise the idea of having end-of-year exams instead of continuous assessment, the merits of such a system are in fact very obvious. Firstly, students would have more time to learn their subjects. Between the months of September and May, with the few weeks of Christmas holidays included, students would have infinitely more time to read, learn, ref lect and even discuss their subjects with fellow students. I am not suggesting that the corridors and seating areas of UCD would instantly resemble a scene from Dead Poets’ Society, but there is a greater likelihood that students would exchange their ideas and discuss their subjects with one another as they would not be constantly alone in the library, cramming for next week’s presentation or exam. Another reason why end-of-year exams would be a better option re-

Eggstra, Eggstra, read all about it.

Lee, which ended abruptly because as a scholar of student politics, Talleyrand knows anyone who has any talent has no business discussing US*Sigh. Regardless, John “Ken doll” Logue is so smooth in the nether region he doesn’t have the balls to rebut. It seems for the sap-battical officers, the new not doing your job is now funnily enough, doing things that aren’t your job at all. Eoin “Gangsta” Heffernan has followed in the footsteps of Paddy “Lacey 2.0” Guiney of taking responsibilities beyond his remit by mandating USBye to do away with guns, while with the same breath legalise drugs. Don’t rest easy thinking no one can see your motivations, Eoin “Red Tops” Heffernan. Talleyrand can see through your plan like a hole in Mícheál “Plan B” Gallagher’s free condoms. No dealer wants to get iced by someone while he’s trying to divvy out small bags of plant material. And since you received that democratic bitch slap from Rachel “Knope bullshit” Breslin in relation to saving the Ents hot seat, all Talleyrand can do is wish you well in your new life of crime. Meanwhile, everything is coming up Brendan “Brings teabags to college” Lacey this year. First he launched his Robot Bullying campaign and now a motion was put before council to reduce the price of hot water on campus. Never again will Mr. I Wasn’t There be embarrassed that he can’t afford to pay 50 cent

It is that horrid time of year when any supercilious individual can squeeze their name into a headline. A perfect obtuse illustration exemplified in Karl “Egg on his face” Gill begging council to support his goonies Suzanne “Yolko Ono” Lee, Ben “Hard boiled” McCormack and Aidan “Eggcellent shot” Roe as get a first-hand show trial experience. Karl “Eggstremely disappointed” Gill’s rousing speech preaching “an ouef is an ouef” and begging council to make an “eggception” by throwing their support behind his friends didn’t scramble any backing. The minutes of council read, Karl “Humpty Dumpty” Gill asked for the floor, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall, all the Welfairies and all the Ents men, couldn’t support him because he’s a commie red. Truthfully, Talleyrand hates talking about Karl “The Last Eggbender” Gill and the rest of his goonies, it is eggcruciating and eggsausting. John “JLOgue” Logue will hope to steal all KG’s thunder as the US “End Is Nigh” referendumb draws near. Johnny “From the block” will need to be peerless if he is to stifle the misanthropic belligerence of failed LawSoc auditor candidate Chris “Peewee debater” Lee. A war of words erupted between the most handsome man in student politics and Chris “Can’t debate in real life”

lates to plagiarism and cheating. This is probably more relevant for students studying Arts and Humanities as they tend to be dealing with essays as a way of assessment more so than others. If a student has several weeks to write an essay that is worth a certain percentage for a subject, not only do they run the risk of spending a disproportionate amount of time writing the essay and neglecting other equally important topics in the subject, but they also have the opportunity to seek out help in writing it. This help could range from a lawyer father who has plenty of opinions for their child’s tort essay, to internet sites that outsource your coursework to some teenage genius in China. Continuous assessment is not good for students in the long-run. All it succeeds in doing is lowering the bar for academic standards in the university. It encourages students to rote-learn,

for hot water in Brava. Regrettably, life involves peaks and troughs, and Cagey Lacey will hit rock bottom when he announces through the medium of Facebook his intention to run for SU President and his entire gaggle of Facebook friends think he’s been fraped. For once, Talleyrand is stumped to find fault with Paddy “Lacey 2.0 isn’t a compliment” Guiney. Fulfilling the role of the skin-tight jeaned hero secondary school anti-bullying deserves, but not the one it needs right now, Paddy “The cape-less evader” Guiney was particularly cunning last week. Apparently the Union’s Guine-pig was busy collecting signatures to force through a referendumb, leaving him little time to be inept at his job, one would think. In a consistent turn of events, poor Paddy “Easily offended by nicknames” Guiney conspired against himself yet again to do his job wrong. Talleyrand cannot fathom how anyone could collect names, student numbers and stage numbers wrong, but trusts Paddy “I got 800 signatures, but none in stage one” found a way. Unfortunately he was forced to collect all those signatures again, but don’t fret; he got the knack of forging them after number 400. Talleyho! Talleyrand

cram and break their subjects down into small “manageable” pieces. Ultimately this translates into students having a very shallow understanding of our subjects, and an unexciting and spoon-fed approach towards learning. Moreover, it does not leave room for developing a passion for the subject matter, or indeed for education in general. Certainly, after I finish all my midterms or end-of-semester exams, I have no burning desire to learn more about medicine, I just have a desire to burn stuff, mostly my medicine books. It has long been believed by many in the academic world that college is becoming less challenging for students. With things like grade inflation, passing by compensation and you guessed it, continuous assessment, it is hard not to see how we students have become accustomed to being spoon-fed and how livid we can

get when this system is threatened. This was never more obvious that the reaction from students to the announcement that passing by compensation is to be abolished next year. What is the point of university if students are only becoming masters in the art of sitting exams? Where does one learn how to reflect on subjects extensively and deeply analyse ideas and create some new ones of their own? With the current system of continuous assessment, none of these skills can be learnt. As a result, many students leave college with little academic development from the time they entered college three or four years ago. Continuous assessment is ensuring that many graduates are leaving college with a piece of paper saying they have a degree, and little else. Except of course, a headache and in my case, a pile of singed medical books.


The University Observer | 5 February 2013


Observer Editorial

Quotes of the Fortnight

editor @

“The thing is, when you come down to it, students don’t want to protest. They want to see LMFAO and eat sandwiches. If the Union is to represent the students’ interests, they are doing it with 1.40 Insomnia coffee”


n anticipation of the referendum on whether UCD Students’ Union should disaffiliate from the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), several articles in this issue debated the purpose and value of students’ unions, both regional and national. The Head to Head on page five brings up issues of effectiveness, cost and representation, while former UCDSU President Pat de Brún’s piece on political engagement in the student community comments on the change Irish students’ unions have undergone in the last few decades, from ideology based protesters, to a student service provider. More and more students in UCD, including our own SU Officers, are questioning the purpose of the USI. Founded in 1959, the USI was designed to give students a united voice throughout the country. Its aim was to bring the political grievances of students and individual students’ unions to a wider audience by presenting a single message. The individual students’ unions also filled this ideological role, primarily discussing politics and organising demonstrations and protests to attempt political change. In 2013, things are different. As de Brún explained, outing yourself as belonging to a political party is incredibly damaging to ones sabbatical election

campaign. Almost no officers or class reps have a declared preference for a party, and shy away from expressing an opinion publicly on a non-student related issue to avoid any possible unpopular opinions and to maximise their appeal. The fashion in UCD today is for non-political politics. While this may seem like an oxymoron, in practise it works very well. Though having studied politics in UCD and as a wannabe journalist I am clearly interested in politics as a whole, I do not subscribe to any particular party or viewpoint. I have dabbled in political activism, and attended meetings for almost every political party in Ireland from the Socialist Party to Fine Gael, but none have appealed. This is possibly due to my preference to sit in the sidelines and snark rather than participate, but the vast majority of students are similarly politically unattached, either through disillusionment at the current existing parties or simply through disinterest. All students however, must be represented by the Union. So this is where the shift has come from. To try and involve more people, and to try and get more votes, each year has seen the ideology of the candidates downplayed to non-existence. To prevent alienation in office, other than the annual anti-fees parade, activities are limited to non-controversial things


such as raising money for charity, gigs, financial assistance and shops. And this has been a good move. The thing is, when you come down to it, students don’t want to protest. They want to see LMFAO and eat sandwiches. If the Union is to represent the students’ interests, they are doing it with 1.40 Insomnia coffee. The problem for USI is that they don’t fit into this new way of doing things. Students are demanding services, not ideas, and a central group relying entirely on the money regional unions give them has absolutely no ability to provide anything practical. During the debates on their value, the USI focus primarily what they provide to regional college unions such as rep training and Pink Day training, but for 120,000 the SU could easily do this themselves and have enough left over to get Tony Blair to serve them Ferrero Roche. When UCDSU are forcing staff to take pay cuts, it’s very hard to justify such a sum. Leaving USI seems like a distinct possibility at the moment unless John Logue pulls something amazing out of his tattered union bag, and if UCDSU disaffiliates, it’s difficult to see how USI could continue in anything like it’s current setup. Should we leave, therefore, I think our SU should take this as a sign to acknowledge their change in

to the


Dear Editor

Dear Editor,

It was a huge disappointment to read in the last issue of the current problems the UCD Ball is facing, as it is yet another sign that the social life of UCD is on life-support. Within a few years we have gone from a vibrant campus with two bars, regular gigs and events and an annual festival to a bleak prohibitionlike culture where there is nothing but the library and debates for amusement. While the university must obviously make academics its priority, things have decayed culturally on campus to the point where I would no longer recommend this university to those applying. The fun and friendship building opportunities I had in my first year here have vanished. UCD has lost its soul.

I was disgusted last week at the news that passing by compensation was to be abolished, not at your reporting or even at the change itself, but at the reaction from my fellow students. The level of anger and complaints issued at the fact that you can no longer fail a module and pass anyway has been bizarre, and speaks terribly at the laziness of UCD students. Maybe they should spend less time whinging and more time in the library, Yours etc, Paul O’Reilly 3rd Year Arts

purpose, and accept that they no longer function like a union in any sense. What we have instead is a government, and a fairly effective one at that. While there is no defined difference between a union and a government, I believe the main difference is that of influence verses resources. A union’s job is to try to lobby and persuade governments to implement conditions favourable to its members. The SU do attempt this, but rarely to any effect. What they do have however are their own large resources. When the problem of SUSI arose this year, students’ unions around the country howled at the government to fix it. This could never have much impact because despite what many believe about the government, the SUSI fiasco was not out of malevolence, it was out of incompetence. They didn’t want SUSI to break any more than we did, and they were trying to fix it as best they could (grossly inadequate as it was) with or without student complaint. What did help the situation was the allocation of resources by the Welfare Office to financially assist students effected. While the national government was helpless, our local student government stepped into the breach. This is the true strength of a Students’ Union, and it has nothing to do with politics.

Clarifications & Corrections It is the policy of the University Observer to rectify any errors as soon as they arise.

Letters should be sent by email to or by mail to The Editor, The University Observer, UCD Student Centre, Belfield, Dublin 4

Queries and clarifications can be addressed to

“I’m not mandated to run campaigns” Paddy Guiney misunderstanding everything

“Eggs have been thrown at politicians for years.” Karl Gill on legitimate protesting

“Stepping outside of our comfort zone is probably stepping into our comfort zone” Everything Everthing explaining their music

“What’s the fucking story in here? Did youse rob an SVP coffee morning or something?” Eoin Heffernan questioning the University Observer’s biscuit stash

“It was kind of an accident, how I joined. They had a movie night and if you came early, they had a surprise. The surprise was being on the committee!” Jennifer Choy on the International Student Society’s recruitment policy

Yours sincerely, A Depressed Final Year

Editor Emer Sugrue


University Observer Volume XIX Issue VIII Telephone: (01) 716 3835/3837 Email:

The University Observer is printed at Webprint Concepts Limited Mahon Retail Park Cork Ireland

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Science & Health Editor Emily Longworth Irish Editor Charlotte Ní Eatún Sports Editor Kevin Beirne Chief Writers Lucy Montague Moffatt Ethan Troy-Barnes Jack Walsh Killian Woods

Staff Writers Bronagh Carvill Shane Hannon Michael O’Sullivan Contributors Toluse Akinlabi Fergus Carroll Pat de Brún David Farrell Isobel Fergus Dominic Gallagher Sarah Killeen Claudine Murphy Sylvester Phelan Robert Ranson Eimear Reilly Emma Smith Talleyrand Philippa White Donal Woods Laura Woulfe

Chief Photographer Caoimhe McDonnell Special Thanks Eilis O’Brien Dominic Martella Giselle Jiang Deirdre Carr Dominic, Grace, Charlie, Jason, Aifric and all the Student Centre Staff Tony, Laura and all the Webprint staff Very Special Thanks Balazs Pete and all the robots at NetSoc, Teresa Alonso Cortes, Dave Connolly, Rob Lowney, Killian Woods.



The University Observer |5 February 2013

The University Observer | 5 February 2013



Head to Head: Can the IRFU keep the best Irish players in Ireland?

In light of Jonathan Sexton’s refusal to sign a new contract with Leinster, Shane Hannon and Killian Woods debate whether or not the IRFU can compete with the superior finances of the French game

Adieu to Irish Rugby? Au Contraire!

The IRFU can't compete with French rugby

by Shane Hannon


einster and Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton recently announced that he will leave Leinster when his current contract expires at the end of the season. This revelation has left many wondering whether rugby in Ireland will now face the greatest challenge in its history: a fight to hold on to its best players. But it is just fearmongering to say that the floodgates will open, as the IRFU will still be fully capable of holding onto its finest athletes In reality, Irish rugby could never compete financially with clubs in France. Sexton will earn an estimated 1.5million over two years at Top 14 side Racing Metro, figures IRFU chief Phillip Brown has argued are “quite simply, not within our orbit.” The money available to French teams is far more than Leinster, Munster, Ulster and Connacht have at their disposal. Toulouse, for example have an annual budget of over 30million; more than all four Irish provinces combined. Even considering the money he will be earning, Sexton’s decision can’t have been an easy one. Leinster coach Joe Schmidt has said: “The offer he has received is exceptional, even by French standards, but I know that it was still a tough decision for him.” In the past, the IRFU have proved successful when it came to holding onto the country’s star players, and that will undoubtedly continue to be the case. Brian O’Driscoll and Jamie Heaslip have both previously rejected contract offers from French clubs, so it is clear the desire is there for the best of the best to stay where they are, regardless of financial temptations. Irish rugby legend Tony Ward stated in a recent article that “Sexton’s decision to go challenges the entire structure upon which the game here has been based in the professional era.” But, in reality, the Irish model has been the envy of the other Six Nations sides. In recent years, the amount of players from England, Wales and Scotland that have moved on to Top 14 rugby has vastly increased; Wales star and 2009 Lion Jamie Roberts will almost certainly be playing at first-centre outside Sexton at Racing next season. The Irish game has been left relatively unscathed, and Sexton’s move shouldn’t be seen as the beginning of the end. As Ward commented on the Sexton saga, “For Irish rugby it’s inconvenient rather than the end of an era.” Some are worried that if Sexton’s move is a success, more will do likewise and seek more financial reward for the time and effort they put into the sport, but moving to France has other implications which may put many Irish players off the idea. For internationals, travelling longdistance to and from training and Six

Nations/Autumn internationals (not to mention the quadrennial World Cup) may be seen as an inconvenience. Then there is of course the language barrier and the effort of settling into a new country with cultures and customs, that is different to home. The lure of money cannot be ignored, and the likes of Sexton shouldn’t be vilified for wanting to leave themselves financially better off for when the time comes to retire from the game. More and more rugby players are studying degrees in their earlytwenties, so not all are thinking solely about their pocket. Having the chance to win major honours with your home province is the stuff dreams are made of, as three-time Heineken Cup winner Sexton knows all about. Rugby-wise, moving to France doesn’t make all that much sense. Economically strong points are made to go abroad, but for competitive rugby Ireland is as good as anywhere. The statistics simply do not lie: five of the last seven Heineken Cups have been won by an Irish province, with the 2012 final an all-Irish affair. Rugby in Ireland has arguably never been stronger than it is at the moment. Although Leinster failed to make this year’s Heineken Cup quarter-finals, all great teams are allowed a dip in form. The talent on the pitch is so strong at the minute in Ireland that it is inevitable that French Top 14 and English Premiership sides were going to target them. Six Nations Chief Executive John Feehan said on Newstalk’s Down to Business recently that “Ultimately, you’ve got these French clubs with big sugar daddies who can write huge cheques.” But there are other incentives as discussed which make plying your trade in Ireland an attractive option, and Tommy Bowe is an excellent example of this. The Monaghan man joined the Ospreys in 2008 and went on to have a very successful spell there. While the lure of rugby abroad obviously led him to Wales, in March of 2012 he confirmed he would be returning to his native Ulster for the 2012/13 season. His importance to the Ulster cause was outlined when he scored two tries on his return against the Cardiff Blues. Bowe is an example of how a player can go abroad and experience rugby elsewhere, and then return to Ireland. Perhaps Sexton’s days of playing for Leinster are not completely over, and that one day he may return to play on his original turf. Newspaper headlines the day after Sexton’s announcement included ‘First trickle to France could turn into a flood’ and ‘Limping Leinster in limbo.’ However, the reality is that, despite not being able to pay the same wages, Irish clubs can and will compete with French clubs in the future. Vive l’Irlande!

by Killian Woods


he IRFU is fully committed, together with the provinces, to maintaining its programme of nurturing and retaining Irish rugby talent” was the closing sentence of the statement drafted by the IRFU’s chief executive, Philip Browne, in reaction to Jonathan Sexton’s decision not to sign the contract offer that was tabled to keep the Leinster out-half in Ireland. Overall, the IRFU’s reaction thus far has been typical of an organisation whose modus operandi is to preserve the state of Irish rugby and ensure its continued advancement. It is a textbook response of a chief executive that needs to be observed as striving to retain the key assets of the organisation; namely, Jonathan Sexton. Browne’s statement admitted that they could not match the financial incentives of other parties vying for Sexton’s signature, but he managed to convey that they were still in the fight right until the end. Sexton’s decision to leave Ireland has raised questions over the clout that the IRFU possess when entering contract negotiations with players these days and whether they have an ability to compete with the financial benefits that French clubs can offer. Competing with French Top 14 clubs for the services of players encompasses a variety of different variables. Leverage in such a situation can be influenced by many variations, of which weighted importance is principally down to the ambitions of the player in question. These variables could simply involve the money on offer, the opportunity to win trophies, or possibly be even as fickle as the desire for more average hours of sunlight in winter. It is unequivocally apparent that the IRFU cannot compete with the wage packages being put forward by the financially loaded clubs such as Toulon, Clermont Auvergne, and notorious Parisian based suitors of Sexton, Racing Metro. In any incident, and especially in this particular case, it must be considered that more is at play than merely the amount of zeros on a payslip. By the time the fixtures for the French Top 14 2013/14 get underway, Sexton will be 28-years-old. Like any adult entering their late twenties, he probably has an ambition to explore. Judging by his approach to professional sport, Sexton is a very competitive person that strives to test himself. Competitiveness in this sense is a characteristic that would transcend his approach to rugby and influence his decisions that would drive him to try a new culture and a new way of life, a better life. A lot of Irish players would benefit from such an ambitious move. Many of the players plying their trade in Ireland are stuck in a comfort zone that could be holding them back from developing into all-round better players.

“In any incident, and especially in this particular case, it must be considered that more is at play than merely the amount of zeros on a payslip.”

“The lure of money cannot be ignored, and the likes of Sexton shouldn’t be vilified for wanting to leave themselves financially better off.”

Even if players are chasing a higher income, they should not be begrudged that either. Echoing the sentiments of Matt Williams in The Irish Times, it would be amiss of us as Irish rugby supporters to hiss at or renounce the rights of Sexton, or any player, to seek out the highest pay on offer for their services and, most importantly, deny them the right to develop as people. Sexton is subjectively the best flyhalf in Europe at the moment, odds on to be the first choice to wear the Lions number ten jersey this summer, and is entering the prime years of his career. This will most likely be the best contract he will ever be offered, with any contract after this point accounting for a decrease in his capacity to perform at the peak of his abilities. Rugby is a short career that doesn’t offer the option for a player to sit back on their laurels once they hang up their boots. It is a demanding lifestyle and career choice that offers limited financial rewards considering the likelihood those players may suffer from posttraumatic injuries for the rest of their lives due to their exertions in rugby. This is why loyalty is not a factor that warrants recognition in this matter. Sexton, like Brian O’Driscoll in 2005 who flirted with the opportunity to join Biarritz Olympique, owes the Irish rugby fans nothing and has the right to maximise his earning potential while he can. So, with the argument being can the IRFU challenge the increasing prestige of French clubs, the real question that should be posed is, should Irish rugby fight for their players? Ultimately, there is no financial structure in place that is sustainable and suitable to challenge the significant financial rewards being offered in France. Any move to match the extent of their offers would be imprudent and place the union’s fiscal future in jeopardy. In this instance, the IRFU’s actions speak louder than words and prove their dedication to the current wage structure in place. It is still unclear whether the IRFU are facing an exodus or if the headhunt of Sexton is an isolated incident. The out-half is a highly coveted player that warrants a premium price, but will French clubs feel Rob Kearney merits a similar substantial offer? The IRFU were unable to compete with the financial leverage of French clubs for Europe’s finest out-half, but the price in the market for a loosehead prop like Cian Healy, who penned a new three-year deal, would be significantly lower and within the union’s remit. However, this incessant need for “retaining Irish rugby talent” may not be the best way forward. The Sexton experiment will hopefully prove that you can only nurture a player to a certain extent and that to realise their full potential, Irish players need to spread their wings.



The University Observer |5 February 2013

NHL comes in from the cold as lockout ends Jack Walsh looks at how the lockout has affected the early stages of the NHL season


layoff is always going to be a talking point within professional sports. What has been improved, reinvented and transformed by the masters can be withered by injury, distractions and questions in motivation. So it is with the 2012/13 season that has been fragmented by the lockout. A crisis that has cost the National Hockey League an astonishing 510 regular season games, in essence over 40% of the season. Relief was the buzzword trickling through ice hockey circles, as many of the teams in the six divisions have pressed forward with wild intention, treating each game like it were a playoff one. Pent up frustration due to months of either inactivity or playing in European leagues has clearly motivated the players, no more so than those of the Chicago Blackhawks. Chicago lead the Central division, and are the overall leader by a single point. In their winning encounters, the Seahawks have averaged over three goals a game, with Patrick Kane leading the team in points, goals and assists. While the team haven’t entirely dominated any opponent, they broke the myth of the defending champions, the L.A. Kings, by grinding out a 5-2

“Points have come from unusual places for this baby-faced St. Louis side, with defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and winger Vladimir Tarasenk hitting home”

win in the season opener. Netminder Corey Crawford is proving to still be an effective element to the team, stopping 34 of 36 shots against St. Louis. Challengers to Chicago are the aforementioned, and indeed frenetic, St Louis Blues. As the youngest team in the NHL, the Blues have begun to put everything into place and under the tutelage of the 2012 coach of the year Ken Hitchcock, are almost a carbon copy of the 2008/09 team who reached the playoffs. A perfect example of the Blues’ threat is in their 6-0 demolition of the Detroit Redwings in the season opener. Points have come from unusual places for this baby-faced St. Louis side, with defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and winger Vladimir Tarasenk hitting home. The team’s defence is arguably its strongest quality, with two shutouts recorded in their first seven games. In the Atlantic District, a very interesting New Jersey Devils team are in direct competition with their local rivals, the New York Islanders. The strength of the particular district is shown by the inclusion of a Pittsburgh Penguins team reunited with former player of the year, and current captain, Sidney Crosby, who in himself will prove to be an interesting story to follow. New Jersey are one of the few defence-heavy teams to have found success in these early stages, ranking second in the league with 1.8 goals allowed per game. Their penalty-killing unit has been proficient, killing 87% of the power-play chances of other teams. In terms of offense, the production of Patrick Elias and Ilya Kovalchuk could be the key, should the team advance to the playoffs. Meanwhile, in the Western Conference, San Jose have established themselves as an early force in the Pacific division after crashing out of last year’s playoffs. Yet, when looking at their roster, age has become a primary factor

for concern for this team, as this may be the last chance for Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle to win a cup. That being said, San Jose has the most aggressive offense in the league, as they boast three of the top five league leaders in points during a spell in which the Sharks have not lost a game. In their first five encounters, Thomas Greiss and Antti Niemi have combined for a .944 save percentage, showcasing a strong defensive game too. The Sharks are expected to glide through the Pacific region, as they have the past two years out of three. Despite strong performances in the regular season, this San Jose team has sadly never lived up to expectations come playoff time. Perhaps a shorter season will prove to be of an advantage for the Californian outfit. In stark contrast, last year’s Stan-

ley Cup champions, the Los Angeles Kings, are suffering from post-lockout hangover, as they sit in the middle of in the Pacific standings. L.A have showed an improvement after a 0-2 start, with wins coming over the faltering Vancouver Canucks and Phoenix Coyotes. The recovery of Jonathan Quick in goal (surgery on his back meant he would have missed the first three months of the season, had it started on time) has so far proved slow, as the MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs has looked uneasy and out of depth, leaving many to wonder if he was rushed back prematurely. Back in the east, the Boston Bruins, full of opportunity and talent, have already proved themselves worthy against the New York Rangers and the Carolina Lightning, and are standing atop the Northeast division. Captain Zdeno Chara has two goals and five

“San Jose has the most aggressive offense in the league, as they boast three of the top five league leaders in points”

“New Jersey are one of the few defenceheavy teams to have found success in these early stages” points, with a plus-three plus/minus rating. The team’s leading centre, David Krejci, has proved himself to be an effective and aggressive playmaker in a team that is guilty of somewhat questionable power-play tactics. Although, the team’s MVP so far would have to be goalkeeper Tuuka Rask, who has stepped up to the standard of Tim Thomas in making one hundred and seven saves in four games. Months of inactivity have paved the way for the last few weeks, and it has been refreshing to see such a pace delivered by the upper echelons of the sport. The lockout has been prevalent for some, yet most are merely relishing the opportunity to perform in what is promising to be a short and sweet sea-

The University Observer | 5 February 2013



“Galatasaray pulled off two of the more ambitious signings of the transfer window by bringing in Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder”

by kevin beirne

Rugby UCD RFC leapfrogged the Buccaneers into third place in Division 1B of the Ulster Bank League on Saturday after recording an impressive 26-3 away win over Bruff in Limerick. The win means Collidge now trail second-placed Dublin University (aka Trinity College) by two points, with only one game remaining before they face off in Belfield on Friday, February 22nd. Tries from Barry Daly, Conor Gilsenan, Danny Kenny, Jordan Coghlan gave UCD a winning bonus point, their fifth of the season. UCD now lead the league in bonus points, with five try-scoring bonus points to go along with two losing ones. Conversions from James Thornton (2) and Niall Earls helped to show UCD’s dominance on the scoreboard. Collidge’s next game is against the undefeated league leaders Ballynahinch, in Ballymacarn Park, on Saturday February 16th. The last time the two faced off, in October, UCD fell to a 24-13 defeat at home.


UCD Marian once again let a first-half lead slip away as they fell to their seventh Superleague defeat in a row against Moycullen on Saturday. Marian have not won a game in the league since they beat Killester at home in November, only to lose to the same team a week later. Marian held a 39-38 advantage at halftime, but were outscored by thirteen points in the second half against fellow strugglers Moycullen. The loss means that Marian are now bottom of the table, three points behind both Moycullen and Dublin Inter, their two most recent opponents, despite playing a game more than both sides. The 78 points scored represented Marian’s second highest total of the season. Marian must now look forward to two games in three days this week, as they face DCU Saints away on Thursday night, before hosting UCC Demons on Saturday, having already lost to both sides twice this season.


The UCD Elite Swim Team competed at the Swedish Grand Prix 1 in Uppsala, Sweden last week. Lisa Comerford picked up gold in the Women’s 800m Freestyle. Her win club-record time was 0.79 seconds better than her closest rival, Sweden’s Josefine Hippi. Comerford set further club records in both the 200m and 400m Freestyles. Aisling Cooney then set a club record in the Women’s 50m Freestyle in her heat, only to break that record in the final. Shauna O’Brien set a club record in the Women’s 100m Butterfly, an event in which she is the Irish National Champion. She also set a club record in the 50m Butterfly, as she finished third overall. Both Cooney and O’Brien also broke the club record for the 100m Freestyle. Back home, the UCD Swim Team won the Colleges and Universities Sports Association of Ireland League in Galway, having already built up a comfortable lead from the first event in UCD.


The Badger: The Badger talks about deadline day deals and the American dream

Heavyweights come out for the knockout rounds Robert Ranson breaks down each of the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League Celtic V Juventus Celtic will be delighted to have held on to star striker Gary Hooper after rejecting repeated overtures from Norwich, who failed to lure him south of the border. Hooper will be crucial to Celtic’s chances of progression as they seek to replicate their infamous victory over Barcelona. The Hoops must get a result at Parkhead if they are to harbour any hopes of progression, as Turin is a notoriously difficult place to travel to. Juventus’ midfield of Vidal, Pirlo and Marchisio should control the game and their attacking wingbacks have the potential to overload Celtic’s midfield. In contrast to Celtic, the Serie A side lack a reliable, clinical finisher. Seeking to rectify this, they have signed Fernando Llorente on a pre-contract agreement, but he will not arrive until the summer. Until then, they must rely on football’s perennial nomad, Nicolas Anelka, to provide their goals as Giovinco, Matri, Vucinic and Quagliarella have failed to fully convince this season. Valencia V PSG David Beckham’s arrival in Paris will undoubtedly increase the interest in this match, although the celebrity quasi-footballer is unlikely to displace Motta, Pastore or Matuidi from a solid PSG midfield and as such, he should have little bearing on this tie. Much will depend on the frustratingly inconsistent Zlatan Ibrahimovic; who ranges from the sublime to the maddening over the course of any given game. The Mestalla is never an easy place to go, and Valencia will be confident of getting a result there. Whilst their financial problems have seen an exodus of star individuals, such as Juan Mata, David Villa and David Silva over the last few years, this is still a strong Valencia side. Real Madrid V Manchester United The most high profile tie of the round sees Mourinho pitted against Ferguson once again in what is likely to be a close, tactical affair. Stopping the returning Ronaldo seems of paramount importance for the English side, and Ferguson may seek to replicate the tactics recently used to nullify the threat of Gareth Bale. Against Tottenham, Phil Jones was deployed in a deep midfield position, with instructions to protect Rafael, and a similar tactic may prove effective here. Expect United to play on the counter and to seek to exploit Madrid down the flanks as their fullbacks tend to be vulnerable defensively. This tie could well come down to which team handles the occasion better, as both Old Trafford and the Santiago Bernabéu are iconic, sometimes overwhelming, places for any player

“Kieran Gibbs’ injury has Arsenal fans fearing the presence of Andre Santos on the team sheet for the visit of Bayern”

to play. Whichever travelling team can better negotiate the emotional cauldron waiting for them should emerge victorious. Shakhtar Donetsk V Borussia Dortmund This is the dark horse for tie of the round, as Dortmund and Donetsk both possess a number of fluid and exciting attacking players. Willian’s exit to Anzhi Makhachkala has considerably weakened Donetsk, but they can still rely on the fluid interplay between Mkhitaryan, Douglas Costa and Fernandinho. Dortmund, on the other hand, are no slouches themselves, as they can field Blaszczykowski, Götze and Reus behind the prolific Lewandowski. This sets up an intriguing encounter which is unlikely to be short of goals and will undoubtedly delight the neutral. Porto V Málaga This is perhaps the least anticipated of the upcoming ties, but should be an entertaining encounter between two sides performing well domestically and known for their fluid, attacking style of play. Jackson Martinez is the star man for Porto, having scored 15 goals in 16 league games this season. Málaga’s financial problems have

“The Hoops must get a result at Parkhead if they are to harbour any hopes of progression, as Turin is a notoriously difficult place to travel to”

continued, which is why they lost defender Nacho Monreal to Arsenal, but still possess enough quality to trouble Porto. In particular, young Spaniard Izco is a class above what is in the Portuguese Superliga. Arsenal V Bayern Munich Kieran Gibbs’ injury has Arsenal fans fearing the presence of Andre Santos on the team sheet for the visit of Bayern. Rather than let the woeful Brazilian face Robben or Ribery, Wenger may shift Vermaelen to fullback and seek to play a narrow defence as Chelsea did in the final last year. Bayern’s wingers tend to be inverted and seek to cut inside and support Gomez, so this tactic may prove especially effective at stifling the Germans. Alas, Arsenal’s inconsistency and general defensive incompetence, along with Bayern’s strong domestic form, makes the Bavarians favourites, even at the Emirates. Much will rely on whether Arsenal’s trio of Arteta, Wilshire and Cazorla can control the game or whether they will be overpowered by Schweinsteiger, Martinez and Kroos, in what will be a fascinating central midfield contest. AC Milan V Barcelona Recent signing Mario Balotelli is cuptied, having performed for Manchester City earlier in the competition. Thus, Milan will have to rely on the same group of players who scraped qualification from Group C with the lowest points tally of any remaining clubs, minus the departed Alexandre Pato. Tito Villanova’s side are deservedly favourites to progress at the expense of Milan team undergoing a transitional period. These two clubs produced stimulating contests in last year’s competition, so, although Milan’s personnel have changed somewhat since, it remains one to watch. Galatasaray V Schalke Galatasaray pulled off two of the more ambitious signings of the transfer window by bringing in Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder to bolster their squad. Both are former Champions League winners and will add physicality and creativity to Galatasaray’s attack, which had previously relied on the hapless Milan Baros. The window was rather less positive for Schalke, as they lost influential midfielder Lewis Holtby to Tottenham, although the signing of Raffael may prove an astute replacement. Winger Michel Bastos was brought in from Lyon to provide opportunities for the prolific Klass-Jan Huntelaar. It’s too difficult to confidently say if Schalke’s unbeaten status in the competition will prevail over Galatasaray’s impressive signings.


o once again the most magical day of the year for any football fan has come to pass. Well, one of the most magical days, anyway. Really it’s not all that magical when you think about it. In fact, the January transfer deadline day isn’t even the most special transfer deadline day out there. It is the summer window’s younger, less cool brother. There were some big moves in the window, although The Badger struggles to think that any of the Premier League teams will be overwhelmingly happy with their progress. Chelsea and Liverpool seem to be the biggest winners, but when signing Daniel Sturridge is considered a “win”, you know it was a slow month. The team that most impressed the The Badger in terms of initiative and ambition was Galatasaray. The Badger isn’t so sure that Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder are heading to Turkey for “footballing reasons”, as they probably claimed. The Badger likes to think that Turkish club Bursaspor were trying to emulate their rivals by trying to sign Rio Ferdinand, only to get the wrong brother. The Badger thinks this would be a fitting metaphor for how the January transfer window feels for most clubs. In particular, Arsenal fans must be over the moon with their club’s decision to only sign one player, which they were forced to make after Kieran “little niggle” Gibbs suffered an injury that means he will be out injured for three to six weeks. The Gooners were loud and proud over Twitter at the start of the New Year, claiming that their side had made a £30 million bid for a mystery player. Call The Badger a cynic, but it seems more likely that a multi-millionaire footballer would give his entire wage packet to charity. Meanwhile, in the sport of pretending to like American football, The Badger has been made aware of the fact that the Super Bowl took place over the weekend. The Badger enjoys the timehonoured tradition of eating unhealthy amounts of food in order to celebrate the fact that overweight ‘athletes’ are allowed on the field at the same time as actually athletic people. Only in America, eh? So The Badger welcomes Super Bowl XVLIXVILSIM, as it means six month’s freedom from hearing about a glorified rip-off of rugby in safety equipment.

OSbserver P O R T



The University Observer |5 February 2013

UCD’s true colours show through as they dismiss Trinity UCD 2-11 - Trinity College 1-5


CD fought hard to secure a win in the first round of the 2013 Sigerson Cup against Trinity College, in spite of miserable conditions. Trinity were outclassed in the second half and eventually collapsed under the pressure of the UCD onslaught, yet they never completely gave up, making this game a great watch and a great start to the Sigerson Cup. UCD came into Tuesday night’s Sigerson Cup opener as the outright favourites. Despite the this tag, it was clear that UCD could not simply breeze to victory in the face of a determined Trinity team and bitter, stormy conditions. To say the weather was not ideal for a first match, and Trinity’s first match in the Sigerson Cup in eight years, is a massive understatement. The teams did not only have to compete with each other, but gale force winds and a waterlogged pitch. Trinity tried their best to overcome the odds and get an unlikely victory away from home, but they were ultimately thwarted by a superior side that were better equipped to adapt to the stormy conditions that plagued the game from start to finish. It is of no surprise that the team attacking with the wind was the team that was generally on top. Although, it was not just the wind that influenced the play; as a number of promising attacks quickly lost all momentum following a slip by a player on a particularly damaged part of the waterlogged pitch during a run. Trinity were greatly aided by the wind

in the first half, making it difficult for UCD to counter attack as any long passes were essentially useless. The home side were left to rely on short hand passes in order to counter any of Trinity’s attacks. Realistically, the Trinity players just had to move the ball past the half way line in order to have an opportunity to kick a point, and yet the visiting midfield had trouble taking advantage of this, as they only scored one point out of at least four attempts from these positions in the first half. After a trinity of misses by the away team, UCD mounted a counter attack that resulted in the first point of the game for UCD. Mayo’s Kevin McLoughlin performed well in midfield throughout, while Niall Murray and Niall Kilroy attacked well, keeping UCD in touch in the first half, and scoring excellently in the second. The UCD defence of Seán Murray and Dónal Keoghan must also get a mention for their valiant displays, in spite of a continued barrage of Trinity shots at goal, although they were guilty of allowing Darragh Daly to slip past them and sail the ball over the hands of the UCD goalkeeper. This goal gave Trinity hope that they could solidify a lead by half time and have a cushion going in to the second half, in which they would have to face the wind that had favoured them so heavily in the opening half. Some ill-discipline on the UCD side gave Trinity another goal opportunity just before the half time, but unfortunately for the visitors they again failed to capitalise

and score what should have been an easy goal. Trinity were also not able to fully use the advantage given to them by the wind, and the teams went in level at the half, 0-6 to 1-3. UCD came alive in the second half, especially after a kick by Paul Cahillane weaved through the hands of the Trinity defence, giving the home team their first goal of the game. UCD were now able to push on and assert their dominance with a multitude of points. With the wind no longer behind them, Trinity found it difficult to get out of their half. By the 40 minute mark, UCD had established a strong lead, which was further improved when Donie Kingston blasted the ball into the back of the Trinity net. UCD never let up the pressure right up to the end, leaving them with a comfortable victory over a less experienced Trinity team and giving them a good start to their campaign. UCD are hoping to end a dry spell of 17 years in this particular tournament. Despite being the all-time leaders in terms of Sigerson Cup wins, UCD still have a bit of work to do if they want to lift this year’s trophy. A convincing victory, and in a Colours game too, is a good step in building the confidence necessary to win the competition. Meanwhile, for Trinity, it is back to the gym and back to the drawing board in order to try work out a way to improve the skills of their players, especially in terms of accuracy and possession retention. It is a UCD side that is not wanting for talent, as it boasts stars such as Rory O’Connor and Kevin McLaughlin. It is easy to see that this is the best team that UCD have had in the last number of years. If they improve their discipline and ball retention, there’s no reason this UCD team can’t go all the way.

Photographer: Emily Longworth

by Dónal Woods

UCD lay down a marker in Cup opener UCD 2-13 - LIT 0-11


Photographer: Martin Lawless

CD got their Fitzgibbon Cup campaign off to a dream start after they disposed easily with Limerick IT at home last Thursday. Two early second half goals helped UCD secure the win and possibly set them on the way to winning their first Fitzgibbon Cup since 2001. UCD trail behind UCC in the alltime table for the trophy, with UCC’s 41 wins comfortably leaving them clear of UCD’s 30, although UCD are well ahead of third place NUIG, who have won the trophy ten times. Despite their historical dominance, UCD have not won the biggest prize in college hurling for 12 years. In fact, their opponents on Thursday, LIT, have won it more recently, having hoisted the famous trophy as recently as 2007. UCD were forced to pull out of the Walsh Cup following the postponement of their game against Dublin, as it clashed with Thursday’s encounter. If this was not a sign of how seriously UCD are taking the Fitzgibbon Cup this year, then the clinical nature of their defeat of LIT surely was. The early stages of the game were very close, with both sides exchanging points as LIT played with the wind in the first half. It only took ten minutes for the first goal opportunity, as LIT almost capitalised on a smart long ball. Five minutes later, UCD had their own chance to score the game’s first goal, as Cathal Kenny drove forward powerfully and forced a goalmouth scramble, but LIT somehow cleared to safety. A few minutes later, Jack Guiney forced an impressive save from LIT’s Andrew Fahey to keep the scores close. To this point, LIT had dominated the midfield. Their short passing game was causing UCD plenty of problems,

as they had numerous chances in scoring positions. Unfortunately for the visiting side, their shooting accuracy left a lot to be desired, as they recorded seven wides in the first half alone. UCD, who were without the injured trio of Kilkennymen; Walter Walsh, Cillian Buckley and John Tennyson, elected to play the long-ball game, as they faced in to a heavy wind. They were happy to rely on their forwards to take whatever chances came their way, as their supply was somewhat limited. Around half way through the first half, either by design or due to a lack of discipline, LIT abandoned their short passing game in favour of a long-ball approach. This effectively took away the midfield, the one area in which LIT were on top. The UCD defence was stifling, often forcing LIT players to take speculative shots while off-balance, while the attack looked slick, despite wasting one or two good chances. The LIT defence was having a hard time getting near the man on the ball, as evidenced by the fact it took 29 minutes for UCD to earn their first foul in a scoring position, while was cooly slotted over by Captain Noel McGrath. The half time whistle immediately followed the point, and UCD left the field the happier side, as they lead by 0-8 to 0-7. Knowing they had the advantage of the wind for the rest of the game, UCD were clearly confident of a win. This confidence was quickly justified, as UCD dominated the opening minutes of the second half. Only four minutes into the half, Michael Brennan scored his only points of the game as he forced a shot into the back of the LIT net. The goal broke the spirit of the visiting side, as they failed to register an-

other point in the 15 minutes that followed the first goal. During this time, UCD put up another 1-3 as the game faded out of reach for the Limerick side. UCD’s second goal came after manof-the-match Jack Guiney took advantage of a long puc-out from fellow Wexford-native Brian Murphy and powered his shot past the visiting goalkeeper. The goal was sandwiched either side of points by Paddy Murphy and Domhnall Fox, as UCD scored 1-2 in the space of three minutes. UCD, taking full advantage of the wind, further showed their superiority as McGrath made a point from his own half. A quick point from LIT in reply saw them chasing a 2-11 0-10 deficit with only ten minutes remaining. It was clear that points were not enough to overturn the score and so the away side were forced to forgo some easy attempts at points in favour of searching for a goal. Unfortunately for them, the home side were clearly fired up to play the full 60 minutes. Dead-ball specialist Gary Guilfoyle was denied by a brave UCD defence as he tried to smash the ball into the top left corner of the UCD goal. Two minutes later, Guilfoyle was denied again in almost a carbon-copy of his first shot. LIT then wasted a perfect opportunity to claw something back as the ball whizzed across the UCD goal, around six yards out. A lack of support play meant that no one who could reach out a hurl and turn the ball in was there for the visitors. UCD put up two more impressive points through James Gannon and Ross Kelly to kill the game off once and for all, while Sean Collins pulled a point back for the losing side as time expired. UCD look set to progress from their group now, with a trip to DCU on Thursday not expected to challenge them too much. If they win the group, as expected, UCD will face the runnerup of Group D, which contains University of Limerick (the tournament favourites), St. Patrick’s/Mater Dei and DIT.

University Observer - Volume XIX - Issue 8  
University Observer - Volume XIX - Issue 8