NUACHTÁN SAOR IN AISCE VOL. 22 Issue 07. 09 FEB 2021
Student Independent News
WINNER: BEST NEWSPAPER AT THe NATIONAL sTuDeNT MeDIA AWARDs 2019
NUI Galway’s Exam Fee Fiasco Students’ Unions across Ireland put pressure on University following latest controversy. By Neasa Gorrell With everything we’ve gone through this year: a global pandemic, a lung attacking virus, loss of loved one, social isolation, not being able to hug our grandparents, a complete change in how we are taught, a complete change in how we are examined, in lockdown for 18 weeks in total, moving every aspect of our lives online – you would think, and hope, that we could count on our University to show some compassion, right? Well, no, I suppose you might be wrong. NUI Galway has been in the headlines more than once this year, and sometimes, it was not for any good reason. As far back as summer 2020, students and other organisations called for clarity from NUI Galway management on several issues. Most of these issues were focused on accommodation, uncertainty over timetables and the proposed “blended” approach to teaching. Nevertheless, an issue that rose to the forefront, and remained there, was NUI Galway’s approach to the exams procedure and repeat fees. However, commencing this fiasco were the accommodation issues. In June of 2020, RTÉ published a report on the level of uncertainty among students who were raising concerns about applying for accommodation without timetables being provided. At this point, NUI Galway had
issued statements saying they would be taking a “blended approach” to teaching, with classes being provided both online and on-campus. Due to this, they were advising students to find accommodation in Galway. On this, NUI Galway Students’ Union President, Pádraic Toomey, had said, “The main problem is, they’re telling students to get accommodation, without telling them how much they’re going to be on campus, and we’re very worried about in the future that we’re going to have students turn around and say ‘I’m only here for a day, and you told me to get accommodation?’” As we now know, this is precisely one of the many negative situations that transpired throughout this global pandemic. This left many students stuck in private accommodation leases, and families with hundreds of euro in losses, let alone students with aspirations of starting a life outside of the home being let down by the promises NUI Galway proposed. All of this is significant in our understanding of the events that transpired over the past year, as it helps to contextualise students’ frustration. With timetables arriving late, and a move from blended teaching to an online approach for most students; teaching and learning practices with NUI Galway seemed somewhat disorganised during the pandemic. This left students at a disadvantage to their approach to learning.
Why then, when it came to exam season this winter 2021, had NUI Galway decided to take a hard stance against mitigating some of the current exam procedures to allow for leniency? Why are they also refusing to waive the exuberant €295 repeat exam fee, while knowing about the ongoing financial burdens and loses families experienced this year? The charge to sit a repeat exam was an issue that stood to the forefront last summer, with six out of the eight Galway TD’s calling for a review of the fee, and uproar from students alike. In July, Pádraic Toomey told the Irish Examiner: “The students who are sitting these repeat exams aren’t the ones with great broadband, they had to do an exam in awful situations, they might not have had study space or a strong internet connection. And now they have to come up with almost €300 to do a repeat.” Fast forward to December, in the middle of another Lockdown situation, with more exams approaching, and NUI Galway’s stance on their exams procedure stands significantly unchanged. They still contend that the €295 fee is suitable, with one staff member having been recorded as deeming the charge “modest”. Unlike NUI Galway, many universities across Ireland showed an amicable amount of compassion for their students in waiving their repeat fees and mitigating their exams procedures to allow for
Pádraic Toomey, on what needs to change at NUI Galway, and how he can change it. Pages 24 & 25 leniency in grading. Consider University College Cork, who have abolished repeat fees and offered students a chance to re-sit exams that they felt they could have done better in had circumstances been different. Of course, this would not have been achieved without the lobbying of the Students’ Union at UCC, and other universities alike. In fact, Students’ Union leaders from GMIT, UCC, Trinity College Dublin and the Union of Students in Ireland have written to the NUIG President and Vice President to express concern’s over the NUI Galway’s opposition to the introduction of policies aimed at supporting students. Evidently, the issue of NUI Galway’s exam fees and procedures is the site of contestation once again, and likely will remain so until the University acts in favour of the students’ well-being. With uproar from students on social media platforms such as Twitter, it doesn’t seem to be an issue that will disappear anytime soon. NUI Galway students have managed to get the hashtag ‘#RipOffNUIG’ trending online multiple times throughout this academic year, as a form of online activism to draw attention to the issues they are facing. As a result of this, members of the public have taken to donating to the Hardship Fund for students who cannot afford the repeat fee. Continues on page 2
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SIN Vol. 22 Issue 07
Landmark Údarás election breaks ground in gender equality.
Welfare crew lends a hand to isolating students
NUI Galway participates in ground-breaking Green Hydrogen project.
Black Lives Matter – what happens now?
The Students’ Union’s Hump-Day Hoolie is a Roaring Success
Has the government ignored third level students during this pandemic? Let’s hear from those affected…
46th President Joe Biden’s First Week
Mol na Meáin: Doireann Ní Ghlacáin
HEAR ME, the first time I say ‘No’.
Top 3 moving memoirs to get you through the lockdown
The Expanse; The Space-Age Game of Thrones, has hit Amazon Prime
Top 3 Feel-Good Shows for that Lockdown Holiday
The Hill We Climb review
My first Christmas with Corona
Swapping Valentine’s for quarantines: Love and Lockdown
Grief in Level 5
Winter Skincare must-haves
Levy: It’s time to fix it
“Should there be heavier fines for people breaking Covid protocols?”
How to keep your New Year’s Resolution
Cause for cautious optimism as we move further into Covid unknown
Despair for fans as Sigerson and Fitzgibbon fall foul of Covid-19
Reeling SIN the Years: Remembering NUIG’s stunning 2003 Sigerson success 29 Kearns, Kelly and McCormack sign on as Galway United get set for promotion tilt 31
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Find us online:
www.sin.ie EDITOR: Paddy Henry email@example.com LAYOUT: Shannon Reeves SPECIAL THANKS: Ellen O’Donoghue
EDITORIAL Hello everybody, and welcome to 2021, which in truth feels awfully similar to 2020. Who would have thought? The hope that vaccines brought at the end of last year was quickly slashed by gloomy news of new variants and another extended level five lockdown. But luckily for you, SIN Issue seven is here to wipe away the tears and general misery of the last twelve months. Last November, during lockdown number two I said in my editorial that if we could choose any month to be locked down in and confined to our own homes, it would be November. However, when writing that I forgot about how morose the months of January and February are. November now sits third on my list. However, if somebody was to ask how I felt about the current situation a Stephen Donnelly-esque thumbs up emoji would not be the first response that would come to mind! It is important to note the general feeling across the NUI Galway student community is one of negativity and abandonment. Much of those sentiments will be echoed in our pages throughout these thirty-two pages. Those feelings of frustration can easily spill over into other more despairing emotions from time to time, particularly given the circumstances. I am dedicating these couple of paragraphs to those of you who have been hit hardest by the situation Covid-19 has left us in. There are plenty of supports out there, should you require them . As a fee paying student college of NUI Galway you are entitled to access the Health Clinic and Counselling service. Whether you find your-
self locked down in Corrib Village or Cavan Town, you’re paying enough for access to college services, you may as well avail of them. In fairness, Cavan people generally never miss a trick when it comes to getting their money’s worth! Issue seven has plenty inside to inform, entertain and entice. From Students’ Union President Pádraic Toomey giving his views on university autonomy, exam re-sits and levy reform, while Paris Ediagbonya talks the Black Lives Matter movement in our feature pages. Neasa Gorrell, who seems to have written about half of the newspaper this week, tackles the University on their handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. As always, I would like to thank everybody who has contributed to this issue, the circumstances make it tougher than ever to produce a high quality issues every fortnight, but without fail, each and every one of you have stood up to the challenge, and I cannot thank you enough for that. As always if you are interested in writing for the paper this year, it is never too late to get involved, we are always looking for contributors. Our next meeting will take place on Monday 15th of February, which I’m led to believe is the day after a time which may hold significance for some of you. I wouldn’t know myself now to be honest. Finally, if anybody has anything they might want printed, feel free to get in touch with either myself at firstname.lastname@example.org, or any of our great sub editors.
NUI Galway’s Exam Fee Fiasco Continued from page 1 There is also talk on social media about starting a GoFundMe page in support of the students. Aside from that, Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell raised the case of NUI Galway’s students in the Dáil. Further to this, she told SIN; “I’m shocked and appalled at the response from NUIG in this matter. They have refused the two demands of the SU, namely, the waiving of the repeat fees and permission of students to re-sit their exams if they are not happy with the result. Despite Minister Harris saying he would intervene in this matter, it seems as though nothing has been done. We in Sinn Féin have now written to the Minister to find out what actions he took to engage with the University. This isn’t good enough and the Minister needs to come through for the students of NUIG.” In addition, other Students’ Union representatives have also commented on this pressing issue. The Education Officer at UCC, Eimear Curtin who successfully implemented policies that supported students during exam season, as well as getting the repeat fees stated: “UCC, in collaboration with the SU, re-introduced the No Academic Measures we saw in March of 2020, including uncapped and free repeats and the option to re-sit passed modules. Although we in the SU had called for these measures to be introduced before the Christmas break, we nevertheless saw a great degree of relief from students after the announcement. We know that students are more likely to reach for contract cheating services such as essay mills if they are under stress, feel unsupported or think that this is
their only option. In one sense, we will never know exactly how much students are struggling at the moment. In another way, we know exactly how difficult life is, how many additional responsibilities we all face, how financially stretched we all are. With a properly designed assessment, these measures provide space for students to actively engage and be creative with the academic content, as well as the time to put their health and well-being first.” In line with this, NUI Galway Welfare and Equality Officer, Róisín Nic Lochlainn said: “I think it is absolutely unacceptable for any educational institution to be charging almost three hundred euros to repeat an exam when students are already at their breaking point. This will only have a devastating impact on student financial and mental wellbeing. We are living through extraordinary times, which already have students at an academic disadvantage. The decision to charge the fee is completely removed from the reality of students’ daily struggles.” The university has faced immense opposition on their standpoint. And members of the student body have been vocal in their opposition to the decisions made by the university management team. While decisions made by the UMT have been roundly questions, other questions relating to how the University is funded have also been raised in relation to this latest controversy. In an article for RTÉ, NUI Galway University Librarian John Cox noted that severe deficits exist in state funding for universities, noting that state funding per student has was reduced by 50% between 2008 and 2017.
February 09 2021
NEWS EDITORIAL By Conor Brummell Hello everyone, and welcome back to the first issue of SIN for semester two. I hope you all had a lovely Christmas break, and managed to get as much rest as possible! As we head into this semester, do make sure to prioritise yourself, get out walking within your 5km and make sure not to stress out too much. In this issue, Neasa Gorrell has a piece about the situation with fees in NUI Galway, and the fiasco with NUIG’s decision not to reduce the repeat exam fee for those who have to sit exams in the summer. As well as that, Fiona Lee has a report on a NUI Galway PhD Researcher who has been chosen to participate in an expedition to the Antarctic. Caroline Spencer has also reported on the new Green Hydrogen Initiative from NUI Galway, as well as Garbhan Moriarty on what the future holds for Bord na Mona. Paddy Henry has the election results from the Údarás na hOllscoile elections, and along wit Ellen O’Donoghue reports on students facing fines from the University for Covid-19 regulation breaches. Chomh maith leis sin, chuir Eimear Nig Oireachtaigh Doireann Ní Ghlacáin faoi agallamh ina colún. As always if you want to get involved, please do feel free to email email@example.com! We’d only love to hear from you!
FEATURES EDITORIAL By Saoirse Higgins Hi everyone and welcome back to semester two. I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and a happy new year. We had an amazing set of contributors to the features section last semester and I look forward to the same standard of writing this year! So, let’s dive in to Issue 7 of SIN. First off, our regular columnists, Aine Fogarty and Tom Molloy, are back once again to fill us in on their news from the Christmas period. We then delve into our set of features for this week. To start us off, Paris Ediagbonya details racism in Ireland in a wonderfully written piece. Caoimhe Killeen has two pieces this week, the first on a mature student’s perspective on juggling both college and home-schooling. In the second, Caoimhe breaks down the mother and baby home scandal in both the North and here. Niamh Feeney then talks about Joe Biden’s first week in office and speaks to Professor Daniel Carey about his opinion on the effect Biden is having already. Oisín Bradley writes about the very successful Student Union run ‘Hoolie’ and why more students should take part. Lastly, Tom Molloy gathered opinions from several students about how they’ve coped with exams online and what students want the college to do. I hope you enjoy reading the features section this week, and if you have any ideas of your own don’t be afraid to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ARTS AND ENTS EDITORIAL By Alice O’Donnell Hi guys, and welcome to a new year of SIN! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas break. I’m heading back to Galway next week and can’t wait to get back to the
West. Here’s hoping the weather will improve a little! We have lots of reviews in this issue, so if you’re on the hunt for a new book or show, fear not! To start us off, Stephen Holland writes a fascinating review on Jason Hickel’s book Less is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World – an eye - opening account on how the capitalist society that we live in fuels climate change. If you’re looking for something a little less serious, Donagh Broderick writes about Amazon Prime’s hit show, Expanse. Think Game of Thrones, but in space! Niamh Feeney goes through her favourite memories to get you through lockdown, and presents a wide - ranging collection of books, from the inspirational to the eye - opening. Sophia Hadef, similarly, looks at ‘Retro Treasures’, and lets you know what movies, TV shows and books you have to revisit from other eras. We also have a look at the recent US Inauguration. Caroline Spencer presents a fascinating look at Donald Trump’s choice to grant clemency to rappers, including what fuelled his decision, and how morally correct it was. On the subject of the former president, Aicco Sapi has a look at the movement of social medias banning him from their platform – is it censorship or simply regulating? This issue is absolutely jammed packed with some fab articles. A big thank you to everyone who contributed and helped make this section one I’m so proud to present. If you have any interest in writing for SIN, the arts and entertainment section accepts creative writing, reviews and basically anything to do with entertainment. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in getting involved with, for sure shoot me an email at artsentertainment. email@example.com.
Sophia Hadef gives us her view on whether Health officials should have taken a more central role in response to this pandemic, and the longer it goes on the more I think health official have been ignored by the people in charge. Darragh Nolan asks if this year will be better than last year, and if there is any indication that things will improve and considering how badly things have spiralled at the start of the year it seems in my view that this year will be very much the same. Rebecca Von Beaumont writes about the long-term effects of the pandemic and how it will impact upon students and colleges. College students have been totally ignored by the Government and there has been no push to try and improve things for us like there has been for primary and secondary schools. Tara Trevaskis Hoskin writes asking if fines for breaking Covid protocols should be higher in order to and further discourage people from breaking the rules. We have these and a lot more articles for you to enjoy in this issues opinion section. Finally, as always, I would just like to thank all our contributors for making the paper what it is, and if you would like to write an article for the paper or just have any questions you can email me at opinion. firstname.lastname@example.org
SPORTS EDITORIAL By Oisín Bradley Hello one and all, and welcome back to Issue
FASHION & LIFESTYLE EDITORIAL By Anastasia Burton Hello Everyone! I hope you all had a great festive break and are slowly preparing for the beginning of a new semester. Considering the recent Covid-related events it’s completely understandable that no one is having a blast right now, which is why you should read SIN, and find a community within our pages, written by students for students. The theme of Valentine’s Day and love is overrated which is why we focused on how lockdown affected people’s love lives and what movies or shows you can watch to get you through these lonely, cold, cuddle-less nights. You will find many feel-good stories and a personal account of Christmas with Covid from Neasa Gorrell. There is something for everyone within our sections and I, of course, think you should give the Fashion and Lifestyle section a little looksie. As always, remember to stay safe and to stay healthy. Wear your masks, wash your hands and eat your vegetables (the last point is my sad attempt at converting you to vegetarianism). Lots of love Anastasia
OPINION EDITORIAL By Darren Casserly Hello everyone and welcome to the first Issue of SIN for 2021, which so far is looking a lot like 2020. However, as always, this issue of SIN will keep you entertained as we have great articles covering a range of topics in the opinion section. Niamh Casey writes about New Years’ resolutions and how to keep yours even i lockdown.
Seven of SIN! The exams are far in the rear-view mirror, and a new semester with a fresh start is here for us all. With that comes a new issue of the paper, so allow me to walk you through the sports section. Galway United and Galway WFC have once again been busy with bringing new faces onto the books, with new signings aplenty both in the management teams and the playing staff at each club, and we’ll bring you the latest on that front. Unfortunately, the Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cups have been cancelled, a move which will be a huge disappointment to many gaels who planned to pull on the maroon jersey this year and represent the university. In light of this bad news, we decided to reminisce on the good old days, resetting the clock to 2003 to provide an insight into the last time an NUIG side clinched Sigerson success. It’s Six Nations time again, and four men from Connacht have been rewarded for their form with a call-up to the Ireland panel. There has been action aplenty in the top tiers of English football, and as the transfer window has slammed shut, some Galway faces have been indulging in the transfer merry-go-round, which we’ll review as well. Finally, there were many NUI Galway students both past and present included in the All-Star nominees for both football and hurling, and we’ll be examining their red-hot form which sees them included in the prestigious shortlists to list the gongs. That’s the lot from the sports section this week, and once again, happy reading!
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SIN Vol. 22 Issue 07
NUIG Student Sukanya Saikia Selected to Take Part in international Antarctic expedition By Fiona Lee NUI Galway student, Sukanya Saikia is set to travel to Antarctica along with 80 other dedicated climate fighters and environmentalists. They are acting as Climate Force Ambassadors for the upcoming International Antarctic Expedition in November 2021. The expedition, which is being funded by the 2041 Foundation, is to train and inspire young leaders in upto-date climate change, sustainability, and clean energy skills, and to provide a platform to engage in discussion and exchange ideas with world-class climate and sustainability leaders and help build strong collaborations. Sukanya is a PhD student in the discipline of Civil Engineering, and her research investigates the climate change and urbanization impact on wastewater management systems. She could not contain her excitement upon hearing the news that her application had been accepted. “I was jumping so much, and my housemates were very confused! I didn’t tell anybody beforehand because I thought it was a far-off dream. I might not have been selected so I didn’t want to get my hopes up.
“I told my mom and my sister and, without asking me, my mom posted on Facebook about it! She was so happy; I hadn’t told anyone else at that point. The post went viral, in my community back home in India especially, and then the media got involved. It was crazy, I got so much media attention, that has never happened to me in my whole life”. Her passion for climate change came not from an individual, but her home and her upbringing as a child. “I didn’t know the science behind it before, but I was aware of it. I come from Assam in India, where there are a lot of floods, and every year it gets more intense. I have seen people dying, I have known people who have died. It has had an impact on me, so I was always interested in the environmental side of it. “In India, we never waste food, we have to respect it. Indian mothers are very strict about that! If we got a plastic bag, we would save it under the mattress. We have always been like that, but with time people have changed, and plastic has become so much more available. “After studying it, I got to know the scientific side of it, and then I got involved in projects which were climate change related, and obviously I became more and more passionate”.
Her interactions with people on the ground have shaped how she wants to spread her message, not only in academic communities but to the public as well. “For one of the projects I was involved in with the University of Southampton, I got to interact with tea garden workers. They had a lot of field knowledge after years of work, but they didn’t have that scientific knowledge about climate change. They couldn’t relate to it, they’re not literate people. I got to know how much their lives have been affected by it. “That’s when I thought I need to do something more active, not just through research, to make people aware, so they can try to do something about it in their own way. “There’s an attitude that if “you’re studying it, it’s your problem!” so I think that’s the main challenge”. To venture off to Antarctica, Sukanya must raise funds through crowdfunding and sponsorship, “I have been contacting corporates, but I think it’s difficult in Ireland. I’m an international student and I think they prefer Irish students, so they aren’t getting back to me. “I have to pay in instalments. I paid the first one with my savings, but I don’t know what I’ll do for the next one. I asked for an extension and the organisers were supportive of that, but the pressure is still there. The next instalment is around $5,000.
“Everything included is around $50,000. I’m trying to raise it in smaller funds. I’m a student myself so I know the limit of each person. I want to convince people that it’s not just for an individual, it’s for everyone, it’s beyond you and me”. Robert Swan founded the 2041 Foundation and his original expedition to the South Pole was the inspiration for the organisation. Swan has dedicated his life to the preservation of Antarctica through the promotion of recycling, renewable energy, and sustainability to combat the effects of climate change. Their mission is to engage businesses and communities on the climate science, personal leadership, and the promotion of sustainable practices.
Dr Eoghan Clifford, Sukanya’s supervisor and lecturer in Civil Engineering in NUI Galway, said, “This is a great and a very exclusive opportunity for Sukanya. It will allow her to experience first-hand the effects of climate change on the fragile ecosystem of Antarctica. It aligns with her PhD research and will give her a broader perspective on climate change, and I look forward to hearing from Sukanya about her experiences when she comes back”. To find out more about Sukanya’s journey, or to support her with the expedition, visit her GoFundMe page at gf.me/u/zfzq2c
Landmark Údarás election breaks ground in gender equality. Paddy Henry Editor The newly elected Údarás na hOllscoile sat for the first time earlier this month, and broke new ground for the University’s governing authority. Over 5,000 people voted in the three elections in the staff constituency, which included elections to the Academic Staff Panel, the Professional Service Staff Panel, and the Graduate Panel. Representatives on the Údarás sit for a four-year term and are elected by graduates and staff in the University. The Professional Service Staff Panel elected Eric Mortimer, Monica Crump and Sinéad Beacom to the forty-member authority and the Academic Service Staff returned Dr Rachel Hilliard; Dr Anthony Grehan; and Dr Dara Cannon Prior to the election, three Professors were appointed to the Governing Authority, after the number of nominations matched the number of available positions. This saw the elections of Aisling McCluskey, Professor Michal Molcho, and Jim O’Gara to the body. Out of the ten positions filled in the election, the majority of those returned were women. This is perhaps most clearly seen on the graduate panel. During the previous term all four of the positions on the Graduate Panel were held by men, however the most recent election has
returned two women, Nuala Ní Chonghaile and Edel Browne, to the panel. Former graduate panel member Eoin Neylon announced last year that he would not seek re-election to the governing authority to allow for greater diversity on the body stating: “When you look at the graduate panel and look at the four names on it, there’s a John, a Conor, a Ger, and an Eoin and I think that that is a big problem in itself. There is definitely a representation issue there and I just feel myself that rather than being part of that problem that I’d rather be part of the solution and move aside and to promote some alternative younger female candidates.” NUI Galway Secretary for Governance
& Academic Affairs, Caroline Loughnane, spoke of the unpreceded levels of interest in the recent election stating: “We have experienced unprecedented levels of interest in this election from staff and graduates. It is really inspiring to see the range and quality of candidates who are willing to invest their time and energy in shaping the future of the University. She also spoke of the “crucial” role the governing authority will play over the next four years as the university navigates the long-term impact of the Covid-19 pandemic: “There has never been a more important time for effective and agile governance. As universities navigate the uncertain landscape created by the
Covid-19 pandemic and look ahead to impending changes in governance legislation from Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation & Science, Minister Simon Harris, the role of the Governing Authority is crucial in setting the strategic direction for higher education.” Separate elections to return student members to the panel occurred in late January and saw Postgraduate Research Officer, Sebestiaan Bierema elected as the governing authority’s postgraduate representative. Student’s Union Welfare and Equality Officer Róisín Nic Lochlainn was also selected to sit on the body for the first time following a campaign by the
Nuala Ní Chonghaile
Edel Browne. Photo: Julia Dunn
Students’ Union, making her the first Welfare and Equality Officer to sit on the body. President of NUI Galway Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh thanked all those who stood for election and welcomed the new members. “All those who stood for election to the Údarás deserve huge credit for supporting our University’s democracy and raising the profile of the Governing Authority and the important work it does,” “And congratulations to all those who have been successful. The work of the members of the new Údarás in the coming months and years will be crucial as our University implements our strategic plan Shared Vision, Shaped by Values and assesses and supports all the other initiatives and developments that we are pursuing. Ó hÓgartaigh also spoke highly of the experience the new members will bring to the body, and reaffirmed NUI Galway’s commitment to being an institution that serves the public good. “The range of talent, commitment and experience that our graduates, academics and professionals bring to the new Governing Authority will be an enormous asset for our University as we work to ensure the high levels of transparency, accountability and ambition fitting for our university as an institution for the public good.”
February 09 2021
Welfare crew lends a hand to isolating students Paddy Henry As tough as the current situation has been, most of us are lucky enough not to have tested positive for Covid-19. The rising cases of coronavirus have led to an ever-increasing number of students being forced into self-isolation, in an effort to prevent further infection of the virus. While those of us at home may be lucky enough to have neighbours and friends around us to make sure we are kept fed and heated in isolation, for many students who have moved to Galway this year, this is not the case.
Many students, including a large cohort of international students have found themselves in the perilous situation of having to isolate following a Covid-19 diagnosis, without having the support of friends and family to ensure they have access to food. However, thanks to an initiative by Student’ Union Welfare and Equality Officer Róisín Nic Lochlainn, these students will have the opportunity to have food and supplies delivered to their door. Nic Lochlainn spoke of the stress and anxiety facing students who are forced to isolate and said that the delivery scheme is intended
NUIG Welfare Crew taking part in Spanish Arch clean-up in October. Photo: Oisín Bradley
to ease the stress on students who find themselves in this position. “We are aware of how difficult times can be already at the moment without the stress and anxiety of having to self-isolate alone in your room or house worrying about food and delivery costs. To try and ease some of the stress the welfare crew are volunteering to deliver hot meals, food, and any necessities to students who find themselves in this position.” Last year the University came under fire for offering a controversial meal plan in Corrib and Goldcrest Village, which at one point saw students isolating being asked to pay €24 euro for a four-course meal for the duration of their isolation. International students have found themselves particularly vulnerable when isolating and Nic Lochlainn stated the importance of this initiative in helping these students, telling SIN, “International student have been completely abandoned by the University this year. Many of them might not know the cheaper options available to them compared to the food that University accommodation is offering to them if they are isolating. This scheme is aimed at easing stress on all students especially international students, who are here by themselves in a new place and if they need anything at all the SU is here and is happy to help. “ For more details, students can email email@example.com.
NUI Galway team advances understanding of Covid-19 infection process Paris Ediagbonya NUI Galway researchers have uncovered a breakthrough in the understanding of the process in how the Covid-19 virus infects its hosts. The study, lead by researchers operating within the Advanced Glycoscience Research Cluster (AGRC) at NUI Galway, has found a link between protein and carbohydrate molecules in the body and the severity of the infection presented within a person who contracts Covid-19. It was found that in cases where the mutated virus changes its proteins and carbohydrates, it can change the extent of the behaviour of the virus in the body. Researcher Dr Stephen Cunningham explained this phenomenon, stating: “Like all viruses, the
Covid-19 virus also mutates as it goes through its host and multiplies… Some mutations are insignificant with no beneficial or detrimental impact to virus or host, however, some lead to changes in the virus’s proteins and carbohydrates that can alter how the virus interacts with cells during exposure and infection which in turn can determine severity of Covid-19.” The study showed that in the presence of Covid19, our respiratory cells respond by altering the proteins and the carbohydrates on the cell’s surface to accommodate the virus. This was found to be similar to the how the body responds to other viral pathogens. Stokes Professor of Glycosciences, Lokesh Joshi, stated: “All pathogens need the right combination of proteins and carbohydrates to attach to their host and infect.” This interaction between the protein and carbohydrates molecules is known as a ‘molecular handshake’. “The appropriate combination of this ‘molecular handshake’ determines how well all pathogens, including Covid-19, attach to our cells and the severity of the infection,” he continued. It is understood that mutations in this virus can alter the protein and carbohydrate molecules which has an effect on how infectious the mutations of the virus become.
“Mutations cause minor changes in these protein-carbohydrate molecules and can alter the infectivity of the mutants and severity of the disease such as the UK, South African and Brazilian variants,” Professor Joshi added. Researchers in this study managed to identify the protein attached to the respiratory cells and the carbohydrate molecules attached to the virus. The study shows that spike-glycoprotein (S-protein), present in Covid-19 is covered with carbohydrates which responds with and binds to a protein (ACE-2 receptor) on human respiratory cells to start the infection. Dr Anup Mammen Oommen, Postdoctoral researcher, said: “These microscopic proteins and carbohydrates work together like molecular handshakes between the virus and human cells, this communication… is a key event for infection.” This developed understanding that knowledge of the molecular interaction of the virus with respiratory cells is a beneficial step forward toward future research. “The research will also help us gain better insight on how our immune system responds to Covid-19 and the mutations in the virus, such as the variants identified in the UK, South Africa and Brazil. This discovery will lead to more informative biomarkers and identification of therapeutic targets to combat Covid-19 and future pathogenic agent infections,” Professor Joshi stated. The data science approach was used by the AGRC researchers at NUI Galway to conduct the research to provide an insight into how our respiratory cells modify these molecules and to gain a greater understanding of the infection process of Covid-19.
Twenty-four sanctions issued by University for Covid breaches Twenty-Two students and Two staff members reprimanded in Covid crackdown By Ellen O’Donoghue and Paddy Henry Twenty two students were sanctioned by the University for breach of Covid-19 guidelines between the beginning of semester one on September 28th and November 30th, SIN has learned. Through a request made under the Freedom of Information Act, it was revealed that during the during the opening months of semester one, and throughout the Level 5 restrictions implemented on October 20th, a multitude of students faced disciplinary action from the university. Out of these twenty-two students, five sanctions were dismissed with no further action. Seventeen were issued with formal written warnings. Of the seventeen formally reprimanded, four were issued with fines payable to the Hardship Fund amounting to €350. The remaining thirteen were required to issue a total of twenty-one letters of apology. It was not disclosed as to why students had to write more than one letter of apology, or to whom these letters were issued. Furthermore, the document seen by SIN revealed that one student was fined a sum of €50, without having been required to write a letter of apology. The reason behind this was also not disclosed. The University refused to reveal the exact nature of the sanctions imposed upon two staff members throughout the semester. This owed to the fact that only two individuals were involved and publication of details on the matter may result in the sanctions imposed on each individual being easily identifiable. They did, however, say that disciplinary hearings were held, and the appropriate sanctions were imposed. In November, Dean of Students Michelle Millar issued an email to all registered students reminding them of their responsibilities and revealed that several students had already faced sanctions. Student accommodation complexes have also come down hard on residences in breach of Covid-19 measures. Cúirt na Coiribe came under fire late last year for threatening to report students to University authorities if they were judged to be in breach of regulations. Students’ Union President Pádraic Tooomey expressed his opposition to the policy of issuing fines to students describing the move as “discriminatory”: “We don’t support the idea of financial fines, we just don’t think it’s fair.” said Toomey. “We’re just against the idea of fines, they affect students in different ways, not every student can afford a fine in the same way. They are generally discriminatory, so we have been looking at the process of the disciplinary process and the different fines and sanctions that they do have. Earlier in the year it was added that Covid can be part of the rules, but the actual process wasn’t changed so we are not looking at that.” The SU President also encouraged those that have been sanctioned to contact the Union for assistance with the disciplinary process. “We would always recommend that a student brought forward for disciplinary actions should always contact the Students’ Union and a Students’ Union representative can come and represent you during the process, which we always recommend. If students are fined, they can always look at appealing as well, and we can advise a little bit on that.” he said. SIN reached out to Dean of Students Michelle Millar for comment on the matters but did not receive a response at the time of publication.
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SIN Vol. 22 Issue 07
Bog rewetting adds fuel to the fire in debate between turf cutters and environmentalists. Garbhan Moriarty Bord Na Móna, the partially state-run energy board which was established to develop Ireland’s vast bogland into a profitable resource, has recently secured a €108 million state investment. The ‘Peatland Restoration Plan’ will also be boosted by a further €18m from within the company as they seek to meet their target of completely ceasing peatbased energy production on their bogs by 2030. The operation shall see 80,000 acres of the midlands returning to a more natural state as peat cultivation stops, with the hope of a huge increase of biodiversity. Turf was still used in large scale energy production up until December 2020, which saw the closure of all three-remaining peat-burning plants, the Lough Ree plant, on the Longford-Roscommon border, the West Offaly plant, and the Shannonbridge Plant in Offaly near the borders of Galway and Roscommon. Peatlands cover roughly 3% of the world, however their mass accounts for 30% of the world’s carbon storage. Roughly 12 million hectares of Ireland’s landmass is bog so it makes sense that peat has established itself as our nation’s fuel. Peat harvesting has been damaging bogs here since the 15th century when an ancient policy called Turbary enabled the population to cultivate bog for domestic use as turf was either an essential or the
primary source of fuel for heating and cooking. Overfarming of bogland also added to the degradation. However, it was in 1946 with the formation of Bord Na Móna that large-scale mechanised cultivation began, stimulating local economies and reducing the nation’s reliance on imported fuel, whilst also seeing Ireland draining the indigenous fuel source faster and on a larger scale than ever. This became increasingly problematic as scientific research led us to realise carbon is essential to our existence on this planet. Since the industrial revolution we have burned through the previously untouched fossil fuels at an exponential rate. All this carbon had been kept undisturbed in the earth for millions of years, supporting plant and animal life and balancing our global temperature. It holds in the energy that we get from the sun. As it depletes our and every living-thing’s future on this planet becomes more uncertain. Rewetting 80,000 acres of bog is a cause for environmental celebration, however, despite the huge investment and EU-support, the facts and figures do not include an actual detailed plan for how the process will be carried out, as is often the case with lofty initiatives. The ICMSA (Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association) chairperson Denis Drennan made vocal the concerns from private farmers who in midJanuary 2021 demanded more clear information on
the execution. Later in the week IFA president Tim Cullinan said he they had met with Bord na Moná and had received a commitment that the rewetting process would not affect nearby farmland. Farming is hit the hardest in Ireland and across Europe when it comes to new environmental legislation. Food production and farming in general has always required tools and methods that are significant sources of carbon dioxide and other damaging greenhouse gases. The vehicles required are often old, inefficient and heavily used, huge areas of land need to be dug up and deforested, heating, lighting, ventilation and the huge amount of feed required for the animals all contribute. The animals who are reared in these environments then in turn cause the huge release of methane into the environment. Livestock farming alone accounts for 37% of global methane emissions. It in many ways makes sense that the initiatives come down hard on the industry, despite the culpability for the predicament being shared by all EU
NUI Galway participates in groundbreaking Green Hydrogen project. International Project could pave way for efficient carbon reduction methods
lectio E U
NUIG researchers have begun a major green hydrogen project that has the potential to revolutionize green energy measures. Dr Pau Farràs Costa, Dr Rory Monaghan, and Dr Thomas van Rensburg are members of Energy Research Centre at the NUIG’s Ryan Institute. They will be assessing the projects’ impact in the Balearic Islands.
WILL YOU RUN? The Palma Mallorca Shipyard is central to the ground-breaking Green Hydrogen Project. Photo: Majorca Daily Bulletin
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citizens. The bog rewetting scheme could still cause harm despite the IFA’s assurances. Roads important to the farmers in the midlands will almost certainly have to be removed and grown over, and the guarantee of safety to adjacent farms doesn’t seem to come with any detailed, long-term, study-based evidence. However, as with most long-term initiatives Covid-19 has put this on a backburner for the time being. Farmers and environmentalists will remain equally curious about how we will see this ambitious redevelopment shapes Ireland.
The Green Hysland project is currently in operation in Mallorca, Spain, and is co-funded by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking of the European Commission. NUI Galway is a member of the partnership supporting the €50 million project. Green Hysland is expected to last five years. The project aims to deliver 300 tonnes of hydrogen produced from solar energy to the Balearic Islands per year. This will result in the reduction of carbon emissions by 20,000 tonnes by year. With the urgent environmental concerns of today, there has been a concerted effort in finding new way to create sustainable energy. The current Spanish government has affirmed a commitment to finding new ecological policies to fight against climate change.
Dr Pau Farràs, Lecturer in Inorganic Chemistry at NUIG, spoke to SIN about the progress of the project. His hope is that by the end of the project, there will be an efficient way to create sustainable energy through green hydrogen. “The beginning of any new technology is expensive, but with its development its cuts out production costs. We’ve seen this happen with electric cars, for example.” For potential detractors who may describe the use of green hydrogen as too ‘cumbersome’, the response is picture a larger perspective. There needs to be a multi-faceted effort in maintaining green energy measures, to move away from the over-reliance on fossil fuels. “There’s no one single solution of creating sustainable energy.” With similar projects being carried out in the Aran Islands and Valencia, there is a real hope that one day Ireland could be capable of producing an industrial scale of green energy. With island-based focus of Green Hysland, there could be far-reaching results for an island the size of Ireland. Currently there are some positive measures from the Irish state to proffer solutions to moving towards a low-carbon economy. Green Party Councillor for Galway City West, Niall Murphy has welcomed the project for its emphasis on green hydrogen. stating that: “There has been massive funding for windmills on the east coast of Ireland, and soon there will be on the west coast.” He also stressed the importance of the EU subsidies that support green energy measures. Taking on from the earlier point of expensive technologies, subsidies enable the progression of new green energy measures while they are in development. It is critically important for measures such as the roll out of solar panels, which were more costly a decade ago. With the help of subsidies, the cost has of solar panelling has lowered, creating greater accessibility. A similar pattern could happen with the advancement of green hydrogen. Councillor Murphy noted the utility of green hydrogen; “Hydrogen energy can be stored for long periods of time without depreciating.” According to a recent report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), more countries need to prioritize declaring their ambitions for green hydrogen. One of the main barriers to implementing green hydrogen is lack of policies.
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8 F E AT U R E S NUIG Students Give their Opinion on Exam Stress by Tom Molloy. One of the biggest points of contention regarding college life during this pandemic is the question of exams. How are we, as students, expected to be assessed fairly and correctly when it’s impossible to receive our education in a traditional fashion? It’ll be no surprise to anybody then that exam stress is more severe this year as students attempt to navigate their way through online learning. SIN conducted a number of polls on Twitter to attempt to grasp the situation out there. SIN conducted three polls and began by asking, “Did you find exams more stressful this year than previous years?” Of the 153 respondents, almost 80% responded with “Yes” while only 20% responded with “No”. The question of optional exam resits for students this year is a topic which has come up for debate recently. Optional exam resits is the idea that each and every student should have the opportunity to resit exams in the summer regardless of their grade, i.e. resits would be available to those who have passed but feel like they could get a better grade. This seems like an appropriate measure considering how difficult some students are finding adapting to online learning. SIN’s second poll on Twitter asked the question, “Are you in favour of optional exam re-sits?”. Of the 190 respondents, a whopping 91% voted “Yes”. This is a clear indicator of how students are coping with exams. Students are clearly worried that the way in which the University is handling this pandemic may have an effect on their future careers. After all, it is the University’s responsibility to ensure that all students are given the means to reach their full potential. It could be argued that the University’s stance on repeat fees and optional resits does not facilitate this. This is where SIN’s third and final question comes in. SIN asked, “In what way do you think online learning will affect your overall final grade for this year?”. 77% of the 148 respondents believe that online learning will “worsen [their] final grade”. Interestingly, 15% believe online learning will “improve” their final grade with the remaining 8% believing that it will have no effect either way. It is clear that a lot of students out there are struggling with online learning and that is no surprise. However, it is imperative that the University does whatever it can to ensure that any difficulties that students are enduring are not any worse than they should be.
SIN Vol. 22 Issue 07
Black Lives Matter – what happens now? By Paris Ediagbonya From abominable acts of violence, to the persistent prevalence of seemingly innocuous ‘micro-aggressions’, racism permeates every facet of every institution that we can think of. The question that still, unfortunately, stands is: when does it end? And more importantly – how? Black lives still matter… In order for change to happen, conversations about race and racism must persist beyond those who experience the effects of racism. Bashir Otukoya, Lecturer in Law at Griffith College and member of the Action Plan Against Racism for Ireland committee, points out that this is, regrettably, the most common scenario. “Unfortunately, it always ends up with the black person teaching the white person, which shouldn’t be the case.” He emphasises that when working to battle racism, the onus is not on black people to invoke change. Bashir notes that in Ireland, we often fail to acknowledge racism and end up misrepresenting it. “Employers don’t like the word racism they prefer the terms ‘harassment’ or ‘discrimination’; schools will prefer ‘bullying’.” He stresses that “we have to get comfortable talking about race” and to build up a practice of calling out racism to prevent racist incidences from being disregarded. Tamilore Awonusi, Political Science and International Development student at Canada’s Trinity Western University, insists that discourse on racism needs to move towards active plans to tackle this issue. “At some point it feels stagnant because nothing is happening, the conversation is being had but nothing is actually happening.”
“Once we begin talking about these things, we start to see what makes us similar rather than just our differences,” he adds. However, Bashir reiterates that simply disregarding our differences by saying ‘I don’t see colour’ is unhelpful to those experiencing racism. “You have to see colour because with colour comes differences, and with group differences comes power dynamics, majority and minority.” He expresses that failing to understand this only contributes to upholding racist systems in Ireland.
SHARING SPACES Although we are slowly broaching this in some institutions, a lack of representation is still a glaring issue in Irish society. Pierre Yimbog, Social Media and Communica-
that it would be difficult to discern if someone has been appointed based on their merits or just to satisfy this quota. Nevertheless, Bashir still maintains that: “there needs to be a system to allow us to get in”. Similarly, Nana holds that representation is vital to overcoming institutional racism. She says: “The Irish Travelling community are indigenous to this country but lack of representation for them in public spaces has led to their continued discrimination.” However, she hopes that seeing an increased representation, such as the first black presenter on RTÉ, Zainab Bolandale will help inspire next generations to “occupy these spaces, because we have every right to be in those spaces, we’re human beings, we’re Irish”.
EDUCATION Where does change begin? When speaking with Nana Nubi, lecturer at the Institute of Anti-Racism and Black Studies Ireland, she brought up the importance of education and having the Irish curriculum reflect modern Irish society. “That one page on Martin Luther King in the history books and that one other paragraph on Nelson Mandela – there’s no information in the Irish curriculum about Black people’s contribution to society, to life, to the world.” she says. Nana stresses that we seldom learn of anything past the struggles black people have faced historically. “So much rich contribution came from the African continent. We’ve had female warriors, we’ve had female leaders prior to colonisation.” One of Nana’s favourite authors, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, talks about the “danger of a single story”. She says that if we push one side of a story, that becomes a stereotype, and the danger of this is that it becomes the only story available. “That gives people of African descent and their white colleagues this perception that Africans are less than or inferior, this is why it is so important to have a balance within the Irish education system,” she insists. Bashir had a similar take on this, stating: “Talking about difference should start from the crèche.” He explains that talking about differences is a sensitive subject and that the solution to this is to talk about it early, so we can get more comfortable with it.
tions Associate of Black and Irish comments on this saying that we need to normalise seeing Black people in predominantly white spaces. “When it is more normalised to accept that there can be a black lawyer, a black teacher, people will then realise that these professions are not restricted to one race.” He built on this by mentioning that an increased representation in politics is essential in order to reflect contemporary Irish society. “We do need to see increased representation in the Dáil and the Seanad.” “In the last 10 years, there hasn’t been one person of colour in the Dáil.” he adds. When it comes to representation there are certain quotas put in place in institutions to represent different genders and constituencies. The question remains: should there be diversity quotas? Bashir spoke on this, saying: “I welcome any changes that increases representation in these offices, so if it’s diversity quotas that we have to do, then so be it. It’s worked for gender; we have gender quotas so why can’t we do it for race?”. However, there are obvious negatives to diversity quotas, which he later highlights explaining
THE GOVERNMENT In light of the new hate crime legislation being in the works, Pierre expresses that it is important that we don’t rely on this to combat racism. “If it comes to the point where we have to legislate for hate crime, then that means that society has failed.” He continued, saying: “The intervention governments can make is at the schools. Trying to change society’s norms and reactions so that if they have to use hate crime legislation, it’s at the last resort.” Although Irish society seems to be going in the right direction, albeit slowly, a lot still remains to be seen. Nana expressed this sentiment, stating: “The Irish people have been really open to hearing our struggles and hearing solutions. If they will actually stand up and implement it, is something I don’t know and I am waiting to see.” Ultimately her hope for the future is that we create an Ireland where “racists are uncomfortable” and that children are raised in a country where they don’t have to unlearn racism and prejudices, because they won’t be taught in the first place.
February 09 2021
The Students’ Union’s Hump-Day Hoolie is a Roaring Success By Oisín Bradley. The Hump-Day Hoolie was first organised by the Students’ Union in mid-October, as a novel and interactive way for students to meet each other during a semester in which many members of the student body were feeling isolated due to the pandemic. Since then, the weekly event every Wednesday has taken on a life of its own, and for many students, the 7pm Zoom call has become the highlight of their week, when they jump on zoom for a drink and a chat with newfound friends. First year Children’s Studies student Hollie Eve Cullen Dunne is one of the hundreds who attend the Hoolie, having attended the second one in late October. Since then, she hasn’t looked back. “I found out about the Hoolie through the Students’ Union mailer that’s sent out in the e-mails, and I thought it would be a fun thing to go to. I haven’t missed a Wednesday since. “I only knew one girl from my course, Katie,
and both of us decided we’d get tickets to it. She couldn’t go to the first one, so I went myself.” The weekly event’s attendance has skyrocketed in popularity from the first 30-person call on October 21st as the word spread to students, and has become a welcome release from the hectic nature of online learning, per Hollie Eve. “There was about 20-30 people at the first one, which seemed like a decent amount at the time, but it was nowhere near as big as it is now. Now it’s mad, it’s well in the hundreds at this stage.” As a fresher who is still living at home in Wicklow, the avenues for Hollie Eve to meet new friends in her maiden year of university have been few and far between. For many people like her, the Hoolie has been a lifeline. “It’s been a fantastic way to meet people, I don’t know how I would’ve met other people in college and how I would’ve been making friends. My course doesn’t even have many live lectures, so it’s the only way I’ve had a chance to meet students.”
Time is of the Essence - How One Mature Student is Juggling Education, Homeschooling, and Going After her Big Dream. By Caoimhe Killeen “Your years are like days after turning twenty-five, you still have time.” These are the words of Mairead Corrigan, a mature student in her first year studying English, IT and Psychology. Indeed, it would be no exaggeration to say that Covid-19 is slowly chipping away at our formative years in college. But we also forget that first-time students only make up the vast majority and not the entirety of students on campus. There are those who are older, facing challenges such as trying to homeschool children while also logging into Blackboard on time and hand in assignments when due. Mature students are trying to adapt to this semester online like the rest of us. But in many ways, they have adopted a practical outlook to it all. For Mairead, her route back to third-level education was through various Level five and six courses after having her two daughters. She did it all while keeping her goal of becoming a writer in the back of her mind. She views it as the “backup plan for my big dream, and my big dream is that I want to be a writer. Everything has always been linked to publishing a book or a series of books. But you cannot just rely on one book. You need so many other things and you need to put yourself under pressure to make sure that you’re set and that you have something to fall back on.” Outside of her studies, she runs a book podcast called “Raid Reads” with a related Instagram and Tiktok page as well as working as an intern for Galway-based publishing company Tribes Press. Such responsibilities would keep anyone busy during a national lockdown. For the first lockdown last March before starting at NUIG, Mairead was kept busy in terms of her book and business-related projects alongside homeschooling her daughters. Yet, she emphasises that there is no shame for asking for help when feeling overwhelmed. Temporary school closures marked a return to homeschooling for her daughters alongside university. Adding in a second online degree from the Open University in humanities meant her slightly falling behind in terms of the workload. “That’s when I knew I had to bite the bullet, swallow my pride and ask for help” she recalls. “I had to state to lecturers that
I was struggling. Because I wasn’t going to waste how hard I had worked to come here [to NUIG] in the first place and there’s a lot of stress that comes with this work.” Luckily, her lecturers were empathetic as she noted they too were parents like herself in similar situations. “A lot of them are also parents and so they understand the position that I’ve been in and have been very open.” Her own understanding also stems from her family and relatives working in education and seeing how hard they are working during the pandemic. “I know it’s hard for them as well as my sister is a teacher. So, I see her struggles in her trying to teach online and then other parents trying to teach at home like myself.” Returning to college as a mature student during the pandemic has meant Mairead has found it easier to speak up and communicate with lecturers. But she does acknowledge that emailing and communicating with lecturers can be difficult for younger first-time students. “It can be easier said than done and you don’t even realise you were anxious about those sorts of things until you get older” she states. But she also points out that “if you have an exam or assessment that you are not happy with, don’t be afraid to bring it up with them as they’re there for a reason. They want their students to do well.” In fact, she also advises that younger students should ask the right questions for when they do speak up. “I was about a year in the first time before I realised, I was doing college the wrong way and I had to wait another year because I’d gotten the wrong information…you need to find out what the correct answer is, and you keep doing it your whole life, not just in university. Don’t just settle for one answer, always try and see if you can get more answers.” In terms of advice to other mature students juggling parenthood like her, her answer is simple- do not listen to anybody else and ease back into it at your own pace. “You’re under enough pressure and judgement. If you want to turn your life around, you can still manage it even if you have children. You can still wait, focus on what you’re doing now and have that plan in your head.” Such an approach is a reminder for all of us to take a breather in uncertain times such as these and to remember that life will go on after this pandemic has passed.
For many students who have had the benefits of the in-college experience, they will have had the opportunity to interact with their peers. However, for freshers, the scope for social interaction has been narrowed, and the hoolie has The charismatic Steve Bennett hosts the weekly been a key cog in their attempts to Zoom get together which has proven to be a lifeline forge friendships. for students during these tough times. “It’s different for many of the students that aren’t freshers; a lot of you all had friends and groups already from being at the start are fun. That’s when the best conversain Galway. But for the rest of us it’s so different. For tions and stuff happens.” example, I’m from Wicklow and I’d barely know anyFor anyone who sees the avalanche of tweets one from around Wicklow in NUIG. about the Hoolie from late Wednesday into the “If I was being honest, I wouldn’t know half of wee hours of Thursday morning, it may seem like my friend group if it wasn’t for the hoolie and the a daunting or intimidating event to join. However, zoom calls I’ve had since.” Hollie Eve reckons that whether it be your first One of the key aspects which makes the Hoolie Hoolie or you’ve been there from the start, the faces what it is, is the flame-haired host Steve Bennett. on your computer screen will be just as friendly. Steve is more well-known for his comedy career, “It can be a bit daunting at first, but if you leave having performed at the Vodafone Comedy Festi- it until joining in the breakout rooms, you’ll love it. val. However, his charisma shines through as the Everyone I’ve met has been really friendly, no-one MC of the Hoolie, and his power to captivate the is mean or judging you because we we’re all in the audience is one which transfers across his roles same boat; we were nervous. It’s just a matter of according to Hollie Eve. going, it’s great fun and good vibes.” “I find Steve really funny in the first few hours. I If you’re interested in joining any of the Humplove the songs he sings at the start, I find them fantastic. Day Hoolies which take place every Wednesday “Also, the random things that happen in the at 7pm, keep an eye on the NUIG Students’ Union break-out rooms after all the games and fun twists social media channels.
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10 F E AT U R E S
SIN Vol. 22 Issue 07
Has the government ignored third level students during this pandemic? Let’s hear from those affected… By Neasa Gorrell It is no understatement to say that the year 2020 was challenging for everyone around the world, and unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be letting up any time soon. No one could have anticipated the spread of a virus to all reaches of the world, let alone Galway. The very notion of a pandemic seems like an implausible, far-fetched, dystopian sci-fi film plot that would do great in cinema upon its release but slowly flop and be forgotten about after a few years, with its only realm of interest being deep in the Sci-Fi section of Netflix. Unfortunately, every person worldwide is now incredibly aware of the life-altering circumstances that have come with the Covid-19 virus. Everyone has suffered in one aspect or another, whether it’s mental health issues from the immense social isolation and loneliness, domestic abuse from being trapped in a toxic environment, loss of income, work and poverty – everyone around the world, and here in Ireland has a validation to their experience, including students. At the peak of the virus in summer 2020, the government was quick to use the student population as a scapegoat for the spread of the virus, and
in doing so, pinned the general public against young people. In some aspects, this was a decisive decision on behalf of the current government – generalising one particular group’s actions and negating their efforts in order to take the populations’ attention away from the government. No third level student in this country, or anywhere around the world, would have ever dreamt that their college experience would include a year of sitting in their rooms at home with their parents, learning from their screens and not being able to see their friends. Older generations always romanticise their college experience and recall them as the ‘best years of their life’, but many have criticised and attacked students online during this pandemic. I know this to be true. After appearing on RTÉ to appeal for the government’s action in aiding mental health services for third level students, the comment section on RTÉ’s Facebook post was full of negative and attacking words from the older generations, rather than words of support or advice. To be truthful, not once have students attempted to negate the experience of any other group in Irish society. In that sense, responding negatively to students’ struggles is unfair and isolating for students who may now feel that they cannot voice their concerns. So, this article is dedicated to hearing
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students, listening to their experience and their thoughts on the government’s actions, or lack thereof, for students during this pandemic. It is important to note, that on a social media poll with 420 responses, 86% of students felt that we have been ignored by the government, 2% feel that we have been heard. While 9% of students felt that we were somewhat ignored, and finally, 3% felt students were somewhat heard.
NUI Galway Student who was on placement during the pandemic “I was on placement from January until July, and so I didn’t qualify for the Covid payment during this time. This was fine while I was on placement as I was lucky to have an income. However, because my contract ended in July and I wasn’t being let go due
Athlone IT Student who took the year out to work “I took my gap year out of college to work and pay off some of my college loans. Because of the pandemic, I was unable to start my job then after I finished my second year, I did not earn any money during the whole of the first lockdown. When I was finally able to work, my hours were much less than I anticipated Students have criticised government inaction during due to the impact of the lockthe pandemic, with many left feeling ignored. down. All of the lockdowns happening have meant that I have not been able to pay off my loans as much to Covid, I could not apply for the Covid payment as I wanted to. This has caused immense stress on and have received no financial assistance since. I my financial and mental well-being. I wish there have friends who were let go from their placements had been more government supports for students in March/April due to Covid, who then received in my situation.” financial aid from the government, yet because I continued to work right through to the peak of NUI Galway Student in financial the pandemic, I don’t qualify. I am now left with no option but to use what little savings I have to difficulty due to housing “I had to pay €300 deposit in April to secure accom- keep myself afloat. It is particularly difficult that modation as advised by NUIG. In the summer, my most of us are also struggling to pay for useless grandmother passed away, and I then had to pay and unnecessary accommodation! The government €4804 moiety, so I had to take a top-up on a loan I should have done more to protect students in my was already trying to pay off from first year. Due to situation.” Covid and family stress, I failed first year and had to repeat the year, so I lost out on SUSI as well. I had NUI Galway Student Nurse been in and out of work and having to pay off a loan struggling through the pandemic and fees. I moved into Cúirt (na Coiribe) on Septem- “The way the government handled our placement ber 14th , stayed there for a maximum of five days, at the start of the pandemic was atrocious. They took all of my belongings out and returned my key gave us contracts as healthcare assistants and with a letter and email, none of which were replied told us we could use that time worked to make to. The only communication I received from this stu- up certain placements, but since then they have dent accommodation was for the second moiety and gone back on their word, and there has been no a fire drill. I think the government should do more to mention of this promise since. They also assured help students with debt as a result of the pandemic.” us that we would be paid for the challenging work this pandemic presented, but once again, went NUI Galway Student originally back on their word and have ignored it until nearly a year later. At the moment, they have suspended from the North of Ireland “As a student generally, and particularly coming our placements, and we hear all of their decisions from the North - I have felt completely invisible to on a last-minute basis. We heard unofficially the government throughout the entire pandemic. tonight that our placement has been suspended There has been no real monetary assistance (the for another week. They’ve had the last two weeks €250 ‘hush money’ was actually just a reimburse- to reach a decision, and they still haven’t officially ment of my student levy). I’ve never heard a Minister contacted us. Honestly, I feel that they are just bidfor Further Education speak about further education ing their time because they have not a clue what in the Dáil less than Simon Harris has. Having only to do with us and we feel completely ignored. moved down to Galway this year, there has been a We have heard nothing about the care assistant huge absence of part-time work, which I feel would arrangement since working last summer under be very hard to juggle with the intensity of online the pretences that this time worked would suffice college as well. While everyone was talking daily in place of our outstanding placements, but as it about whether schools were closing, college students stands, we have at least two weeks to make up were left in a state of limbo - with all my labs being during the summer. We are not allowed to graducancelled for February only in the last few days, long ate without all placements completed. The nurses after I had moved back to Galway after Christmas. who worked under these false pretences feel used So now, I’m sitting in my €450 room watching online as cheap labour during the original height of the pre-recorded classes. Putting aside the lack of finan- pandemic. It is really hard to feel positive continucial support, I don’t think the government realise the ing in our careers when we’re being ignored and mental toll this pandemic is having on students, and taken for granted. How are we to care for others, if they do - they don’t seem to care.” when no one cares for us?”
February 09 2021
46th President Joe Biden’s First Week by Niamh Feeney On Wednesday January 20th 2021, Joe Biden was inaugurated, making him the 46th president of the United States. “We face an attack on our democracy and on truth, a raging virus, growing inequity, the sting of systemic racism, a climate in crisis, America’s role in the world. Any one of these would be enough to challenge us in profound ways, but the fact is we face them all at once, presenting this nation with — one of the gravest responsibilities we had,” Biden said in his inaugural address, standing in the spot where riots occurred in the U.S. Capitol two weeks prior. Kamala Harris was also sworn into office making her the first female vice-president and highest ranking female official in U.S. history. Biden wasted no time in office and has signed over 30 executive orders in his first week of presidency. He commenced on the Wednesday with the signing of a memorandum freezing and delaying the progression of any “midnight regulations” proposed or pending in the final days of Donald Trump’s presidency. It has put a halt on some controversial last-minute regulations, such as the permission of federally funded homeless shelters to exclude transgender people, relaxing the nutritional requirements for school lunches, and regulations making it harder for immigrants to reopen their cases and seek relief. When asked about Biden’s greatest accomplishment in his first week of office, Professor Daniel Carey, director of the Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities and Social Studies at NUI Galway said that “the main accomplishment relates to Covid-19 and the move to implement a proper federal response to the crisis through a series of executive orders. The crisis was grossly mishandled and politicised by President Trump.” Biden has introduced mandates declaring maskwearing and social distancing to be maintained on all federal properties, masks to be worn on public transport, and he has also encouraged mask wearing across America. All these efforts are aimed to tackle the rising Covid-19 cases and deaths, which
Professor Daniel Carey have exceeded 400,000 in the U.S. Throughout Biden’s campaign he vowed to refocus the government’s agenda on climate change. On his first day in the Oval Office, he signed an executive order re-joining the U.S. to the Paris Agreement on climate change. Carey said that Biden has signed several climate executive orders in his first week, including the banning of fossil fuel extraction on public lands, a pledge to double offshore wind-produced energy, limiting methane emissions and revisiting regula-
Mother and Baby Homes — a “dark, difficult and shameful chapter” that is far from over. By Caoimhe Killeen.
tions on vehicle fuel. The orders introduced must be executed quickly to tackle the fast-approaching consequences of climate change, and for the U.S. to reach its carbon neutrality goal by 2050. “It’s a massive undertaking but he’s off to a good start. The appointment of former Secretary of State John Kerry as the Special Envoy on Climate is an important signal and attempt to re-establish international credibility. Biden also wants to turn the huge federal fleet of 640,000 vehicles green, with zero emissions. This is symbolic to an extent, but it will be significant in stimulus to developing manufacturing capacity and wider demand,” Biden signed various executive orders revoking the Trump-era immigration changes that restricted rights of immigrants. He reversed the ruling of Trump’s ban of undocumented immigrants from the U.S. census, signed an executive order revising immigration enforcement policies, and a proclamation to pull funds and pause the construction of the border wall, which separates the U.S. and Mexico. Biden said that “building a massive wall that spans the entire southern border is not a serious policy solution. It is a waste of money that diverts attention from genuine threats to our homeland security,” in a statement released by the White House. Upon review, Biden has achieved a great deal for gender equality in his first week. He started off by banning discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation, and on day six signed the executive order to repeal the 2018 transgender military ban, which prevented transgender people from joining and serving in the military. In a statement released by the White House, they stated that “Biden believes that gender identity should not be a bar to military service, and that America’s strength is found in its diversity”. This reversal is a win for the transgender community who were denied reenlistment and discharged since its introduction in 2018. A move lauded by many human rights groups for lifting the limits on transgender rights and protecting the LGBTQ+ community. When asked which executive order stood out the most to him from Biden’s administration so far, Professor Daniel Carey said “there have been a great many already, more than three dozen to date, so singling out any one is difficult. But I would draw attention to the effort to address endemic racism, starting with the decision to eliminate the use of privately operated criminal detention facilities.” Biden’s order on day seven is set to terminate federal private prison contracts that will tackle the racial inequality in prisons, and the levels of racism across the U.S. “We can deliver racial justice,” Biden said in his inaugural address, and later followed up with a proclamation lifting Trump’s ban on U.S. entry from seven majority-Muslim countries, and an executive order that denounced anti-Asian discrimination and xenophobia.
2021 will already be a year to mark in the history books, as a another dark chapter of the State’s history fully unveils itself. A five-year investigation ended on January 12th with the release of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission Report, a lengthy 2,865-page document which revealed that at least 9,000 children had died in the 18 homes investigated across the country, amounting to 15% of those living in the institutions. Since the report’s release, a fresh wave of national outrage has swept across the country. It has led to a similar commission in Northern Ireland releasing their Mother and Baby Homes report on January 26th . Amongst all the enraged tweets and politicians promises over the report’s release, it is worth looking at what exactly these reports reveal, how a national controversy stemmed right here in Galway five years ago and what exactly is next in ensuring the Government follows through on ensuring closure for survivors. The report focuses on 14 mother and baby homes from 1922 up to their closure in 1998. The homes themselves were Church-run institutions for unmarried women with children. The homes existed due to a societal stigma in Ireland surrounding bearing ‘illegitimate’ children combined with family pressure to enter such institutions. The report noted it was likely that “there were a further 25,000 unmarried mothers and a larger number of children in the county homes which were not investigated…The proportion of Irish unmarried mothers who were admitted to mother and baby homes or county homes in the twentieth century was probably the highest in the world.” The report also noted these high death rates would have been known to local and national authorities at that time and published it officially. In Northern Ireland, their report revealed that 10,640 women and girls were in ten mother and baby homes in the same timeframe as the institutions in the south. 58% of those admitted were women aged 20 and 29 with the main societal factor at play being the Troubles alongside familial pressure. Examples included a Protestant woman being taken to the homes to be protected from the UDA for dating a Catholic male and other young women having associated with British soldiers. While the Troubles were the main factor in the North, the greatest number of admissions in Ireland also occurred during the 1960s and early 1970s, with 80% of those admitted being between the ages of 18 and 29. Such reports would have never been made had it not been for the work of local historian Catherine
Corless. Her research led to the excavations of human remains, which aged from three years old to as young as 35 foetal weeks, in an unmarked mass grave on the site of the former Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam in March 2017. The report found that approximately 978 children died in the Tuam home with most deaths occurring from 1942 to 1947. This prompted an apology from Galway City and County Council. Cllr James Charity stated, “We are deeply sorry that this Council did not do enough to ensure appropriate care, compassion and protection to the mothers and babies who passed through the threshold of the Tuam mother and baby home… this Council failed both mothers and their children at a time when they most needed its support and protection the most.” However, the nation was firmly fixed on apologies on a much grander scale. That of the Taoiseach’s and of the Catholic Church. In an apology on behalf of the State, Taoiseach Micheál Martin described the homes in Dáil Eireann as “a dark, difficult and shameful chapter” in the State’s history. He added “For the women and children who were treated so cruelly we must do what we can, to show our deep remorse, understanding and support.” Minister for Children, Roderic O’Gorman, also addressed the report’s publication stating the institutions were part of a “stifling, oppressive and brutally misogynistic culture” and that for decades “Irish society was defined by its silence…With its publication, we are affirming that their stories and their truth, will be heard, acknowledged and understood.” The Government has begun to develop an action plan to follow the report’s recommendations past their state apology. It includes looking into the possibility of survivors accessing their true birth records, compiling a database of these records, and memorials for those who lost their lives in the homes. The report also recommended financial redress for victims like that of the Magdalene Laundries scheme as well as affirming the right for adopted survivors to access their birth certificates alongside medical information and adoption records, with a referendum for such legislation to accommodate this seeming likely. The most notable apology came from Catholic Archbishop Eamon Martin asking for the forgiveness of survivors asking “How did we so obscure the love and mercy and compassion of Christ which is at the very heart of the Gospel? Shame on us.” Yet, this shame that the Church and successive governments have expressed will ring hollow if no such action is taken, and in the middle of an ongoing public health emergency it could take some time for any such action to be taken.
12 F E ATU R E S
SIN Vol. 22 Issue 07
Mol na Meáin: Doireann Ní Ghlacáin Le Nig Oireachtaigh Le Emer Eimear Nig Oireachtaigh Chuaigh mé i dteagmháil le Doireann Ní Ghlacáin toisc go bhfaca mé ar TG4 í. Chuir sí an Gradam Ceoil i láthair i 2020. Ach ónár lean mé uirthí ar na meáin shóisialta, fuair mé amach go leor rudaí eile fúithi. Mar shampla, is gariníon í de Seán Ó Riada, agus tá PhD sa bhéaloideas á dhéanamh aici le hOÉ Gaillimh faoi láthair. Chomh maith leis sin, is ceoltóir agus amhránaí ar an sean-nós í! Bhí mé lán de cheisteanna nuair a chuir mé glao uirthi. Cé go mbím neirbhíseach ar an bhfón go hiondúil, chuir Doireann ar mo shuaimhneas mé láithreach. Bhí sí chomh hoscailte, gnaíúil, agus cainteach nach raibh aon rogha agam ach a bheith ag gáire agus ag comhrá léi. Nuair a chuir mé ceist uirthi faoi na rudaí go léir atá á dhéanamh aici faoi láthair, bhí sí an-mhacánta – “Ní duine mé go mbím ag suí ar mo thóin!” Thosaigh sí ag obair mar láithreoir teilifíse cultúrtha le TG4 timpeall ar thrí bhliain ó shin, agus tá go leor athruithe feicthe aici ó shin. Le bliain anuas ach go háirithe, mothaíonn sí go bhfuil “fiche duine ag déanamh fiche rud éagsúil le meán na Gaeilge” gach uair a théann sí ar Twitter nó Instagram. Agus tá sé sin iontach le feiceáil, ach is é sin an fhadhb is mó atá aici leis sin ná go “mothaíonn tú an t-am go léir nach bhfuil tú ag déanamh a dhóthain”. Tá an brú
sin i gcónaí ann go bhfuil ort gach rud a “pasteáil ar fud na meáin shóisialta”, agus caithfidh mé a rá go mothaím an brú ceannann céanna, cosúil le go leor daoine óga (fiú i lár paindéime!). Tá sí soiléir go dtagann a suim sa chultúr óna clann. D’fhás sí aníos le ceol traidisiúnta sa teach, agus d’fhás a suim sa bhéaloideas as sin. Cé go bhfuair a seanathair, Seán Ó Riada, bás i 1971, tá aithne ar gach duine in Éirinn air fós. Seinneadh a amhrán ‘Ag Críost an Síol’ ag an Aifreann inar fhreastail Joe Biden air, ar an maidin inar insealbhaigh é. Ní raibh a máthair ach seacht mbliana d’aois nuair a fuair a seanathair bás, agus fuair a seanmháthair bás nuair a bhí a máthair trí bliana déag d’aois. Ach tá meon an-dearfach aici faoi sin – “dá bharr gur bhásaigh Seán chomh hóg, is dócha gur chruthaigh sé caidreamh an-láidir idir na páistí a bhí aige, agus de réir sin, na garpháistí
Ach anois, agus í níos sine, tá a meon athraithe. Tá a fhios againn go léir nuair a fhreastalaíonn tú ar an ollscoil éiríonn tú níos féinmhuiníní, agus ní raibh sé sin difriúil do Doireann. Bhuail sí le cara scoile ag an Oireachtas cúpla bliain ó shin, agus bhí sí lán sásta labhairt ina blas nádúrtha. Is cuid mhór í an Ghaeilge ina saol, agus ina chlann tá “ár gcaidreamh go léir bunaithe timpeall ar chultúr agus teanga na Ghaelainne”. Agus nuair a chuir mé an cheist uirthi faoin rud is fearr léi faoi dhomhain na Gaeilge, bhí a freagra fréamhaithe ina clann freisin. Is é an rud is fearr le Doireann faoin nGaeilge ná go mbíonn sí “socair ann, agus bím ar mo sháimhín só nuair is trí Ghaeilge atá an comhrá”. Má tá tú ag iarraidh na rudaí atá déanta ag Doireann a sheiceáil amach, níl ort ach dul go dtí Seinnteoir TG4. Molaim ach go háirithe ‘Ceol ó na Cliffs’. Craoladh é thar an Nollaig, agus tá ceol iontach ann.
First Year Diary Issue 7 By Aine Fogarty
cháin C h g
go léir agus deirimise i gcónaí gurb é an oidhreacht is fearr gur fhág sé (domsa ar aon chuma) ná go bhfuilimid chomh mór lena chéile, mar chlann.” Bhí mé in éad uirthi, gur fhás sí aníos le Gaeilge mar chuid den ghnáthlá sa bhaile. Ach bhí scéal difriúil aici. Tógadh i mBaile Átha Cliath í, agus bhí sí ag iarraidh a bheith mar chuid den slua ina Gaelscoil agus Gaelcholáiste, cosúil le gach páiste agus déagóir ar dhomhain! Chuir sí blas Bhaile Átha Cliath Theas uirthi féin sa scoil, agus labhair sí go nádúrtha i mblas Chúil Aodha sa bhaile. Is é an fhadhb leis sin ná nach féidir le haon duine na dhá dhomhain sin a scaradh go deo. Tháinig an scéal amach nuair a bhí a mam ag tabhairt síob dona cairde lá amháin, agus chuala sí a hiníon ag labhairt cosúil le Baile Átha Cliathach. Ar ndóigh, bhí mearbhall iomlán ar a máthair, ach lean Doireann ar aghaidh.
AN RACHAIDH TÚ SAN IOMAÍOCHT?
Welcome back everyone to my first year diary. I hope you all had an amazing Christmas and New Year. Christmas flew by way too fast for me and I would love to go back and experience my Christmas dinner again! I have a goal set for myself, maybe you could call it a New Year’s resolution. I’ve never been one for resolutions but this year with all its twists and turns has given me the idea to try it out for the new year ahead. Since all activities have been moved online, I’ve avoided interacting with other students and making more friends. Zoom activities terrify me and I’d like to overcome that so I’ve set myself the goal to participate in more society events and SU events like the Hoolie. Hopefully by publicly announcing my goal it will motivate me to actually go through with it. I will keep you all updated! I have been lucky enough to more or less avoid exams this semester due to Covid-19. Most first year students were given the opportunity to submit assignments in place of your usual exams. Most of my Christmas break has been spent worrying over when my next essay is due and impatiently waiting for the day when all have been submitted. Thankfully I managed to submit them all on time
Final Year Diary Issue 7 by Tom Molloy.
Todhchán na nOifigeach Lánaimseartha ➥Uachtarán ➥Leas-Uachtarán / An tOifigeach Oideachais ➥Leas-Uachtarán / An tOifigeach Leasa agus Comhionannais Osclófar Ainmniúcháin: 10:00 Dé Céadaoin 7 Aibreán 2021 Dúnfar Ainmniúcháin: 17:00 Dé Céadaoin 14 Aibreán 2021 Lá an Toghcháin: Déardaoin an 22 Aibreán 2021 @nuigsu
and I hope to get a semi decent grade. I hope you all did great and will be happy with your results! With the mention of exams, I feel I should mention the exam repeat fee problem students from above years are facing at the moment. NUIG have decided to charge any student that failed an exam €295 to repeat. Even if this exam was an oral exam and would only take five minutes, a student will still be charged that amount. Even though exams take place online and would not cost that much to repeat, NUIG is focusing on its financial interests and ignoring the wellbeing of their students. The #RipOffNuig campaign on Twitter, and the concerns raised by other universities around the country shows how badly NUIG students are being treated. This fee is the equivalent of 10% of a student’s fees to the university and could be put to much more practical use. Many students commute and this money could have been used for travel expenses. Many students also live in accommodation and have food they need to buy. This fee is wildly unnecessary and needs to be removed like most other Universities have done. I would like to end this diary entry by saying I hope everyone had a wonderful break despite the problems you may be facing and to be proud you have made it through semester one of a worrying year. Let’s hope 2021 will be better.
Welcome to the seventh edition of my Final Year Diary, and the first of 2021. I’ve got so much to talk about so bear with me. I hope you all had a wonderful and peaceful Christmas. It wasn’t your usual Christmas, but I hope you managed to spend it with the people you wanted as much as that was possible. From a personal point of view, I ventured back home to Athenry on Christmas Eve for a cameo appearance at my family Christmas before making my way back to Limerick on Stephen’s Day. Despite these unprecedented times, the common Christmas tropes were still present. Plenty of mince pies were eaten and plenty of cans of Guinness were drank. It’s comforting to know we are now in a postTrump world. That was four years straight out of bad political B-movie which would result in reviews bemoaning the lack of realism. I was going to say that Trump can save his whinging for Twitter, but he’s been kicked off that too. They could make a new series of The Apprentice, but I think that Trump has burned all of his bridges with actual reality at this stage, never mind reality TV.
Just after the new year, Saoirse and I moved into our new house and we couldn’t be happier. The move also coincided with her starting her internship at the Limerick Leader, so she’s delighted to have her space to work. We’re enjoying adding our little touches to make it feel like ours and it’s so comforting knowing that this is our home until the end of the summer and having all this space to ourselves will really help us with work and college. In other news, I completed my application for my master’s degree this week which is very exciting. If it’s successful, I’ll be spending another two years in NUIG and hopefully we’ll be back on campus when I start. We shouldn’t get our hopes up too much when it comes to life returning to normal this summer, however. We’ve been here before and we were disappointed before. The alarming rise in cases over Christmas was nothing short of shocking and really brought the severity of this pandemic back the forefronts of our thoughts. So, as always, thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts. I wish you all the best for the second semester and hope you stay safe. Talk soon.
February 09 2021
Hear me, the first time I say ‘No’. By Neasa Gorrell Recently, I was in a situation where, despite my refusal of consent, an individual continued to persist and make sexual advances towards me, although I had verbally said ‘No’ almost ten times before removing myself from the situation and going to my bedroom. I had no lock on my door. I was the only other person awake in the house. Yet, saying ‘No’ and removing myself from this individual wasn’t enough of a refusal, this individual continued to try and coerce me into having sex with them. They even followed me to my bedroom door, stood outside cursing, and saying “This is what I came here for; I wouldn’t have come otherwise… what a waste of time.” Excuse me? Listen up. - This is for all the boys, girls, they’s and them’s, the straight, the gay, the anybody and any identity: You do not owe anybody sex.No one is entitled to sex from you. You have the right to say ‘No’. You have the right to be uncomfortable with unsolicited sexual advances, and you sure as hell have the right to stand up for yourself. You are not a sex object. You are so much more than just a body, never forget that. Clearly we, as young Irish people, need to have more of a discussion and awareness about sexual behaviours, misconduct, and consent. How is it that someone, who in their mid-twenties, didn’t take ‘No’ as an answer to their sexual advances the first or second time they asked? How come this person didn’t understand how intimidating it is to follow someone to their room, continuing to ask for sex? How come this person ignored my refusal? Why have I been in so many similar situations, and I’m only twenty-one? As a young woman, I have already had my fair share of unwelcome, sometimes frightening, sexual advances. As a fourteen-year-old, I experienced my first sexual assault. I didn’t fully understand the situation, so I thought it was normal. Unfortunately, as a sixteen-yearold, I became aware of the realities of sex crimes, having been called as a witness to an assault on a friend of mine. I still recall the pain she went through. It is something I will never forget. As an eighteen-year-old, I was working parttime when a middle-aged male customer became obsessive over me, following me around my workplace and watching me incessantly. Even though this behaviour is incredibly intimidating, for the longest time, my employers did nothing; I had
to prove it was happening, which I did. Still, I’m scared to fall asleep some nights from the fear that he has followed me home. As a nineteen-year-old, I was spiked in a nightclub in Galway during my first rag-week. It was my first drink in the club. I stumbled to the bathroom before passing out in the stall for three hours. Not one of my friends had contacted me to see where I had gone. Again, in Galway, as a nineteen-year-old, I had a taxi driver tell me that there were other ways I could pay for the journey than just in cash. He suggested that I solicit myself. As a twenty-year-old, I finally had the courage to leave a toxic and abusive relationship. I won’t play the victim card with this as we were both bad for each other and should have ended the relationship at the first red flags. Although I know I tried, by ignoring my gut, as I’m sure he did too, and enabling this relationship to continue, I cannot place the blame entirely on my partner. We should have known better, but sex education in school doesn’t tend to delve into things such as recognising an unhealthy relationship. Thankfully, after my twenty-first birthday, I received Active Consent training provided by the Students’ Union here at NUI Galway. Since then, I have been confident in my ability to give or refuse consent, and recognise the warning signs in an individuals behaviour towards me. I understand the meaning of consent in its entirety, and this has empowered me as a female, and as a sexually active young person, to move forward knowing what is right and wrong when it comes to consent and sexual behaviours. So, as a twenty-one-year-old, it was shocking and frightening to have my refusal of consent ignored and disregarded multiple times. Yet, I continued to say ‘No’, loud and clear. I even made excuses so as to not hurt this person’s ego, yet they reacted with vulgar language. I removed myself from the proximity of this person and continued to say ‘No’. I wouldn’t have known how to voice my refusal of consent so sternly or how to react had it not been for the training I received. Eventually, after belittling and objectifying me, this person I barely knew finally left me alone. Had I not taken Active Consent training provided by the Students’ Union, I may not have been able to hold my ground as I did. I may not have been as confident to have continued to say ‘No’ and refuse the individual’s persistence. Because of
Listen up. This is for all the boys, girls, theys they’sand andthems, them’s,the thestraight, straight,the they gay, the anybody and any identity; You do not owe anybody sex. No one is entitled to sex from you. You have the right to say ‘No’. You have the right to be uncomfortable with unsolicited sexual advances, and you sure as hell have the right to stand up for yourself. You are not a sex object. You are so much more than just a body, never forget that.
situations like these, which none of us can foresee, all students and young people need to know and understand consent. Take it from me, if you do not understand consent or sexual behaviours, the best thing to do is to research the topics. There are many resources offered online. Talk to someone you know and trust; this can be someone older than
you with more experience and advice on hand. Reach out to your university’s services; there are nurses and councillors who will be happy to assist you. Be aware of the supports available to you with the Students’ Union at your university, and specifically for NUI Galway students, if you are offered Active Consent training, make sure you go!
SHAG WEEK Sexual Health Awareness and Guidance (SHAG) Week 2021 An tSeachtain um Fheasacht agus Threoir ar an tSláinte Ghnéis 2021 Monday 15th February - Friday 19th February Dé Luain an 15 Feabhra - Dé hAoine an 19 Feabhra More information from / Tuilleadh eolais ar fail ó email@example.com
14 A RT S & E NTE RTAIN M EN T
SIN Vol. 22 Issue 07
Regency drama Bridgerton celebrates modern aesthetics and values
Top 3 moving memoirs to get you through the lockdown
By Fiona Lee
By Niamh Feeney
Bridgerton is a regency drama like no other. It has taken the world by storm and it is difficult to escape the conversations and excitement around it. The colour, the drama, the music, the utterly gorgeous cast, all of which seem even more extravagant during a bleak and boring lockdown. Despite the love and applause, there has been talk about whether we should be worried about its apparent disregard to the realities of London life in the 1800’s among the elite. It is a far cry from Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre, but that is what makes it so brilliant. The makers of this series were not afraid to be creative with the source material and ended up with something new and fresh that suited modern times, whilst celebrating the old too. Their decisions were not made in ignorance, they were to embellish and aesthetically please its audience. One cannot deny that they succeeded!
For all the bibliophiles and book lovers out there, here are the top three moving memoirs you need to read this lockdown. If you’ve an unhealthy relationship with Goodreads, then you may have already come across these books. They’re perfect if you’re looking for an authentic glimpse of the world through someone else’s eyes, and if you’re looking to keep book club spicy. Nonfiction narrative allows you to explore the author’s personal knowledge and authentic experience. We empathise, and connect with their emotions of love, hate, pain, and learn life lessons all through a collection of their memories.
The Colour The show’s aesthetic is a work of art. One would usually associate a regency drama to be full of dainty, pale attire, with no colour that would remotely offend the eye. Bridgerton ventured away from this, both in its costumes and general aesthetic. It is incredibly pleasing to the eye and even adds a new layer to the personalities of the characters. The Featheringtons’ bright and cheap gowns clearly place them a rung below the Bridgertons, who are consistently regal and glamourous, whilst also remaining traditional and classy. The blaring, violating, white light in the ballrooms contrast with the dark corners where mischief and scandal take place. It adds taste, texture and intrigue to even the quietest of moments. The show is not bound by tradition and thoroughly takes advantage of our high - definition screens that can show off modern colour better than any old story, where colour was redundant.
The Music It is subtle, and not something everyone noticed immediately, but it’s there. Converting pop songs like Wildest Dreams by Taylor Swift, and bad guy by Billie Eilish, into classical pieces gives us the opportunity to celebrate the new with the old. We have centuries of music to explore in our lives, yet people are insistent that we break songs into eras and abandon them once a new decade breaks. We should, of course, respect older traditions but drawing inspiration and combining the best of modern music with the best of the traditional is a fabulous celebration of global culture and modern creativity. This is not disrespectful, it is mish - mashing centuries of musical works to make something enjoyable for a modern audience.
The Sex The explicit scenes in this series have gathered much talk. Some people love them and get a good thrill out of the tension and pleasure between the couples, whereas others are left utterly uncomfortable and wondering when they can stop averting their eyes. Both reactions are fair; it is not for everyone! However, this is not a Game of Thrones - esque technique just to get people watching. The sex scenes tell a story that needs telling to make the series work; we learn how women are educated and their relationship with sex at that time compared to the very sexually confident men. There is a tale to tell there, and it cannot be told if the shot fades to black every time things get steamy. Daphne’s sexual awakening was momentous, and the way she learned about reproduction was the turning point in her relationship with Simon, first for the worst but ultimately for the better. The first five minutes of the series where we see Anthony and Siena having some fun against a tree set the tone of the show for the audience straight away; this is not a normal regency drama. It does not pretend that no one is having sex. It does not pretend that women do not desire sex, or that they do not somewhat fear it due to a complete lack of education. It does not pretend that attraction does not occur between differing classes, and it does not pretend that homosexual relationships were non - existent at the time. To do such things simply would not suit a modern audience that now celebrates sexual exploration, education, and pleasure.
Beautiful Boy A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff This heart - rending book was published in 2008, and from the beginning Sheff had me captivated and feeling like a fly on the wall. This roller - coaster journey features a collection of Sheff’s memories of his son’s (Nic Sheff) youth and his addiction to methamphetamines. He struggles to come to terms with granting Nic his independence, while also wanting to keep him safe and sheltered. Sheff tells a distressing story of Nic’s mental illness, his struggles with substance abuse, his recoveries followed by relapses, and Nic’s desire for help, all through the eyes of a helpless father. “We deny the severity of our loved one’s problem not because we are naive, but because we can’t know.” Sheff reveals the complexities of parenthood which he finds “both sublime and terrifying” and discloses what he learned about drug addiction, allowing the reader to comprehend the nature of addiction, and altering their outlook on addiction through a physiological perspective. I would recommend this book for anyone interested in learning about addiction, and what it means to be human. There is a movie adaptation based on this book and Nic Sheff’s own memoir, Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines available to watch on Amazon Prime - have the tissues at the ready.
Educated by Tara Westover This episodic memoir tells the story of Tara Westover’s upbringing in an extreme fundamentalist Mormon environment, up in the cold mountains of Idaho. Forbidden to go to school or the use of any governmental systems, Westover was alienated and hidden from other members of
society. This gripping book unravels Westover’s personal journey to educate herself, leaving all she has ever known and loved behind. She prepared on the daily for the apocalypse, alongside receiving the manipulation, physical and emotional abuse from her father, the prophet, and brother Shawn in an extreme patriarchal culture. Through Westover’s meditative narration style, she vividly illustrates the bizarre moments in her life, like when her brother caught on fire working in the hazardous junkyard, receiving third - degree burns that required weeks of care in a hospital. Through her inspiring escape from home, we watch as Westover proves that anything is possible if you have enough faith and determination. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a captivating read. It’s uplifting to watch Tara’s determination to self - educate and find her own voice in a world full of unknowns. “My life was narrated for me by others. Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs.”
The Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward Full of love, loss, and grief, The Men We Reaped vividly depicts the reality of discrimination and systemic racism in the US. Ward narrates a raw personal account of her childhood and family history while unfolding her experience through all the dying. She discloses the death of her younger brother and the four other black men she knew over the span of four - years, all taken by violence, drugs, accidents, and suicide. Ward said that “certain disadvantages breed a certain kind of bad luck,” conveying that unjust treatments and death follows people in poverty and marginalised groups. Her story tells us that these deaths are not random, they are a result of the systematic racism and economic struggles faced by these men because of their race. Ward cuts back and forth in time giving a voice to these men who died too young, with an introspective narrative including descriptors so visceral it will have you present at every moment and connect deeply with the emotions of Ward. A poignant read exploring the realities of racism. Some other honourable nonfiction mentions include Becoming by Michelle Obama, Night by Elie Wiesel, and When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.
Less is More: how degrowth will save The World By Stephen Holland Less Is More is a book by economic anthropologist Jason Hickel. It examines the reality of climate change in the world today and tackles the true root of the problem: Capitalism. This book explains that if we truly wish to overcome the largest issue humanity has ever faced, that there is only one solution and that is degrowth. Capitalism is run on the concept of perpetual economic expansion, but the consequence of this is that it will never be enough. There is no end point to capitalism, there is no moment when giant corporations say, “Okay, that’s enough money, time to restore the amazon”. If we wish to restore the planet and save it from utter destruction, we need to find balance and that balance is diametrically opposed to the values of capitalism. These are the concepts that Hickel outlines in his book, offering statistics and examples that would shock and appal even the most staunchly conservative yuppie. I would recommend this book to absolutely anyone wishing to educate themselves on the climate crisis and what can be done to prevent it. This book is important because it firmly places blame on those who are the root cause of the issue and clearly demonstrates that the only way to change things is if we all come together collectively and say, “no more!”. This book presents consumers as victims of capitalism who have no choice but to unwittingly participate in ecological destruction. While it is important for individuals to try and live a sustainable existence, the average person’s carbon footprint is not even a drop in the ocean, compared to the damage being done by corporations and governments in the name of capitalism. This book shows us that there are alternatives out there, there are different ways we can live in this world without doing harm to it, and the result will be a freer, happier population. If we shift our perceptions from one based around profit to one based on necessity, we can eliminate waste and even reduce the need for gruelling work schedules and pointless stress. Less Is More explains how GDP, the measure through which countries calculate their economic progress, is inherently flawed. It does not
measure happiness or sustainability, it does not measure the millions of hours of unpaid labour such as domestic or care work that keeps our societies going. It merely measures profit for profits sake, without any thought given to the deathly consequences. If an alien were to observe our planet from outer space and was able to see the rationale behind some of the systems that we have in place, they would not be able to comprehend how we have all the information in front of us, but somehow still follow these farcical systems. This book expertly shines a light on these absurdities and leaves you baffled about how it has been allowed to go on like this for so long. Hickel shows us that even though the current system of the world seems unchangeable, it has not always been this way. Before the advent of capitalism there was still exchange. People bought and sold things. People still produced products. However, the philosophy underpinning this was that the product should be useful and not that it must make money regardless of its use or not. One of the most powerful examples in the book shows how even though capitalism is presented to us as the most efficient economic system, it is by design inefficient. Under capitalism things are not built to last. The goal is to keep people buying, and to keep people producing waste. This is good for business but terrible for the environment. The way this is achieved is through something called planned obsolescence. This is when products are designed with the express purpose of being obsolete after a certain pre - determined amount of time. Apple is particularly bad for this, making your IPhone run slower after each update, convincing the consumer that they need a new phone every two to three years. In the USA, approximately 151 million phones are discarded each year, amounting to 17 tonnes of copper waste. This waste is entirely unnecessary, it is built into the design of the product itself. Jason Hickel discusses all these issues and expands on them much further in Less Is More. Whether you are a long - time activist or completely oblivious to the issue of climate change this book will teach you something. The world does not have to be the way it is, people do not have to suffer under capitalism as they do, and the prevalence of ecological destruction and natural disasters that we see increasingly in the world today can be stopped. We must all come together to inform ourselves and demand change. The powers that be may say growth is the only way, but this book shows us that the alternatives are more desirable for everyone. [5/5 stars]
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February 09 2021
The Expanse; The Space-Age Game of Thrones, has hit Amazon Prime By Donagh Broderick Are you hungry for a TV drama with an ensemble cast of complex characters, layered worldbuilding, and fantastical, yet grounded locations? Well Prime Video’s The Expanse is just the show for you. The Expanse is often referred to as the sci - fi Game of Thrones, and for good reason. Based on the series
of novels of the same name by James S.A. Corey, the show is set in the distant future. Humanity has colonised the solar system, but not the stars. Earth and Mars are vying for dominance and control of the belt, while various factions in the outer solar system look for a shot at independence. Season one of The Expanse introduces us to spaceship officer James Holden, former U.N Navy
officer now on the crew of a belter ice hauler as well as an ensemble cast of other characters, from UN politician Chrisjen Avasarala attempting to keep Earth safe by using any dirty trick in the book who suspects someone is attempting to push the major powers into war, and Joe Miller, a jaded belter detective on Ceres tasked with finding a missing billionaire’s daughter who may just be the key to all of this. They all become involved in the mystery, when the ice hauler Canterbury where James is stationed is mysteriously attacked. Holden and a handful of the remaining crew members must work together to survive as they unearth a vast conspiracy involving an alien lifeform that could trigger an all - out war across the solar system. The show places a large emphasis on scientific accuracy, which translates to space combat scenes unlike anything you’ll have seen from other space operas. Without artificial gravity, lasers, or shields ship crews need to use magnetic boots to not float around and risk being spaced as bullets rip through their ship’s armour. Battles can start and end in the outer solar system before other characters even know they happened due to the vast distances involved. People born on different worlds can struggle to adapt
to the gravity of others. The show is helped by a great cast including the likes of Shohreh Aghdashloo as the UN secretary general or Steven Strait as Holden who all take their role seriously and play it straight. The cast is arguably a great example of diversity done right on the small screen and only helps The Expanse feel like a more believable version of the future. Most characters occupy a moral grey area, willing to do questionable things for what they believe is right and you may even find yourself thinking they have a point in what is definitely a more mature sci - fi series than most out there right now. The show also has some of the best world building you will see on TV. Every few episodes we are introduced to a new part of the solar system and the culture that has evolved there. The belters also have their own unique language evolved from an amalgamation of our own. While the CGI of the first two seasons, which were produced by Netflix, may not meet today’s standards it’s still passable and the show is now equipped with a substantial special effects budget, since Amazon acquired the series which is now concluding its fifth season. It’s no exaggeration—The Expanse really is on par with Game of Thrones at its best moments.
Virgin River is a Must Watch By Daniel Falvey Virgin River is an American series on Netflix based on a novel. It has two seasons, the first season premiered in December 2019 and the second season premiered in November 2020, and it has been renewed for a third season later this year. It is set in a very remote town in Northern California named Virgin River, hence the name of the series. The main character is Mel who is a nurse from Los Angeles who has moved to the town. The real reason for why she moved is not known until the episodes progress, however, it is clear that she is hiding something from the very start. She is brought to the town by the mayor, Hope, who is clearly dishonest about her job contract and her accommodation. She meets the local bar owner Jack who instantly takes a shine to her. She then starts working in the surgery with the doctor known as ‘Doc’ or Vernon, who is initially very unhappy with her being around. These are the four main characters in the series. Mel is a kind and caring character, who plays by the rules, but it is clear she has a vulnerable side too. Jack is also a caring character and is fiercely loyal to his community and sees it as his duty to protect his friends and the people of Virgin River. Hope, although kind, is a very nosy character who
tends to eavesdrop and gossip constantly about the other townspeople. Doc at the beginning is very unlikeable and is unnecessarily patronizing and undermining towards Mel, however, he changes his tune and becomes a very likeable and warmhearted character. The series, however, is not all centred on the lives of these four characters, it is based on the lives of many different characters living in the town, where we see romance, crime, murder, friendship, guilt and heartache throughout. I would highly recommend this series as it strikes the perfect balance of romance, crime, drama and sadness, making it a very worthwhile series to watch. I generally tend to not particularly like romantic dramas, however I very much enjoyed this series, and I feel it would be an enjoyable watch for anyone, particularly as it is not too cringey like many shows of this type. The acting throughout the series is also phenomenal, so it is very easy to connect with all the characters. The scenery was also very aesthetically pleasing and comfortable for viewing, as it was very green and lush and had plenty of scenes surrounded by rivers and forests. It also gave the series more originality and authenticity, and it gave a feel of life in rural California. It is definitely a feel good show, and if you give this series a go, even if romantic dramas are not your favourite, I’m sure you will like Virgin River!
Small changes can make a big difference Is beag an ní nach cuidiú é More info from / Tuilleadh eolais ar fail ó firstname.lastname@example.org
16 A RT S & E NTE RTAIN M EN T
The sudden push By Niamh McGee The sun gleamed through the long - panelled windows, allowing the sunlight to delicately brush Florence’s hair. The light illuminated the drawing room in such splendour that the room’s beauty and elegance could not go unnoticed. In - front, stood a white silk couch, with a stunning phoenix sewn into its fabric. This was Florence’s favourite room to write in, with her mother sitting opposite her. “Oh dear, this world is turning into too much of a radicalised place Florence”, her mother commented as she folded her large newspaper and placed it gracefully on the couch. Florence had no urge to respond as she knew discussing politics with her mother was becoming quite a dangerous habit. “I for one do not believe it is such a bad thing.” Florence kept her eyes lowered to her paper, as she feared her mother’s outburst of debate. “Oh, what is it with you young ladies now, demanding, how very unladylike”. Florence’s blood boiled. “Perhaps that is the point mother, ladylike consists of being toured around Dublin and London, to flounce my finest wear like a peacock his feathers. To find some man, who holds not personality nor intellect but title and money. That is supposedly success, to have reached all glory as a woman. To give birth, without perhaps a desire to become a mother, and sit around all day in these big, polished houses. That is not living mother”. Although Florence was ready to stand and leave, she was interrupted. A young maid whose house coat was almost hanging off her burst through the door. Her face was rosy. “What in God’s name”, declared mother. “Pardon me Lady, I am very sorry, but...”. She took some rapid breaths. Mother stood, “well spit it out”. Florence glared. “Sorry Miss, we have an accident it is urgent, your husband is calling for you outside.” Mother turned quickly to glance at Florence with urgency in her eyes. They ran as fast as possible. Through the large gallery, the dining room and through the massive entry door. Sir Richard stood under a high archway outside the main entry, dressed in his finest hunting attire, a green flat cap, a long tweed overcoat, brown slimming trousers covered by tall dark boots. A large array of men similarly dressed stood shadowing him. “Darling, do not fear, but there has been a gruesome accident, we sent for a doctor, but it will take time. She is bleeding heavily, we must provide some aid.” He did not look shocked. “Let me see her.” Florence ran out under the archways. Her father stopped her firmly. “Dear, this is an injury with horrific wounds, I don’t think it is fit for a lady’s eyes.” Florence shook her head and pushed her father aside. “It is Georgina who is injured, she seems to have been accidently shot, by the visiting hunt party.” Richard explained to his wife, both remained rather careless. “Has nobody admitted to having shot her, how ignorant.” Richard looked across to the gathering of men, “No, but we will find them, and exact justice. We must also find her husband, he was on the hunt ahead”. Richard stormed off with his array of men following like a group of petrified sheep. Mother shook her head and peered over the wall to find Florence. She could not be found, mother returned to the house carelessly. Florence followed a gentleman from the hunt, through the Walled Garden. A lady lay propped against a wall. She was dressed in a hunting gown and blazer. “She is still breathing Miss, but the blood is flowing heavily,” the young man explained. “Yes, leave me to this, travel with my father,” Florence ordered boldly. “Erm, are you sure Miss, are you able to...” he murmured. “Yes I bloody well am, go.” Florence shouted as she ripped her coat off placing it over the ladies gushing wound. Her neck had been wounded severely with dark streams of blood cascading over her body. Florence pushed heavily on the wound and the blood flow ceased.
“Can you hear me Miss”. No response. Florence rocked uneasily as she tried to comprehend the severity of the situation. “The doctor will be here soon”, she repeated to the unresponsive body. Florence tried to remove the lady’s overcoat to further prop her up. In doing so she caught a thread in the lady’s necklace. It was a delicate chain, with a dainty crescent moon dangling at the end. Florence was instantly taken aback as she recognised this necklace. She used to wear this piece. It was given to her by Henry, her former partner, who she was due to marry, but due to her family disapproval they were separated. Henry was older than Florence, but with such a similar mind and soul they were a perfect match. Nobody else had ever understood her free - spirited radical mind. Her mind wandered into a pit of anxiety which consumed her mind and body causing her to feel ill. She breathed heavily rapidly rocking back and forth. She remembered how Henry had given this to her, the night he had asked her to marry him. “You must be Henry’s wife,” she sighed. She didn’t know what to feel and stared at the grass as the entire world seemed to have briefly stopped. She remembered how Henry too was heartbroken that their marriage was not approved, but that his parents had arranged him to marry another. This must be her. Her heart began to ache. Her thoughts were interrupted as the click clack of horse’s hooves were heard. Florence turned expecting to see the doctor’s carriage. Instead, two men leaped off the horse, one sprinting towards Florence. As he got closer, she recognised him, it was Henry. Her heart felt thrills of joy to be replaced with the bitter taste of reality. He skidded towards Florence, breathing heavily. “She is okay, I’ve stopped the flow”. Henry looked shocked to see Florence, their eyes briefly locked, but his attention was focused on the fallen body. “Thank God, and thank you Florence, the doctor is following us”. Florence put every grain of energy into a false smile. Seeing Henry in this way killed her internally. Florence still had her hand firmly pressed against the wound when the doctor arrived. She explained the situation as he took notes. He lifted her hand to examine the wound. “This is severe, if the compression is lifted for even a few brief seconds, she could bleed out”. “The gentleman and I must rush to carry down the stretcher, just keep the compression”. The doctor and Henry rushed to the carriage. The lady’s eyes remained closed, her stomach rising and falling gently. Florence felt such waves of jealousy and anger rush over her body all at once, powerfully. She gazed as both men ran to the carriage to retrieve the stretcher. They were halfway there as the garden walls could not allow space for the carriages entrance. She glanced back at the lady whose life was now in her hands. In a sudden haste, Florence raised the blood sodden compress. She took a second to glance as the body suddenly trembled, a river of blood pulsed from her throat. Florence stood and turned. She ran like never before. Through the garden, looking back to see the body move further away. The men would return soon, but reality had not entered her mind. She ran until the garden itself was a small bush in the distance, she was hidden by the walls. She arrived at the stone bridge which covered the lake surrounding the house. When she stopped to lean on the bridge, she suddenly realised what she had done, with her own selfishness, that
SIN Vol. 22 Issue 07
CREATIVE CORNER there was little hope the doctor had reached her in time. She closed her eyes and rested against the stone wall. Minutes later she was awoken with the sound of footsteps behind her. Her heart began to beat intensely. She didn’t dare turn. It got closer and closer as the feet grinded into the gravel. They paused for a brief second. “She is dead Florence, my wife is dead.” Florence refused to face Henry. “I am ever so sorry Henry, I cannot explain, I..”. She was interrupted. “I am not angry now, I am heartbroken.” Florence turned “so you did love her.” Henry sighed “No, it was arranged, she was closer in age and wealthier, my parents approved.” Florence raised her eyebrow, “what makes your heart break then?” Henry leaned over the bridge beside her. “She was carrying our child, we were not certain, but it is likely”. Florence began to apologise again but was interrupted. “I cannot do this Florence, live this false life which is forced upon me. I do not want to father and own big, elegant homes.” Florence stared. “I have felt this way since we parted, but I often sense life is so pointless, I cannot escape this regardless of how much money and power I have.” Henry stood closer to the bridge and began lifting himself to sit on the wall edge. “Henry are you mad?” Florence shouted. “Quite frankly I am,” he laughed as he edged closer. “Henry you mustn’t, I am here, we can escape.” Henry faced the water as Florence anxiously stood behind. “I must, please do not make this harder, this is my only way to leave this ghastly pre - created life.” Somehow Florence took an understanding to this statement. “Come near me, I don’t want to leave alone, please, talk to me before I jump.” Florence at once sat near him, her heart beating fast. “Think of us Henry, what life could have become.” Henry nodded and edged closer, he touched her hand, but a centimetre was holding him to the wall. Florence closed her eyes; she could not watch. Her mind tried its strongest to accept what had become. She remained with her eyes closed, knowing Henry was right beside her about to end his own life. The bridge was high, and the fall alone would be enough to kill any man. She breathed slowly. Suddenly there was an excruciating sound of a body plunging into water, so quickly and so loudly. The splash briefly interrupted the waves of the river, which quickly lapsed back to their continuous rhythm. There was no scream, no struggle, but a heavy splash and thud as the body smashed against the rock laden bed. And Henry looked down to see the body float away, slowly sitting back up, to take himself Photo by Michele off the wall… Seghieri on Unsplash
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February 09 2021
Top 3 Feel-Good Shows for that Lockdown Holiday By Niamh Feeney Level 5 lockdown for the holidays wasn’t ideal and reminiscing on last year’s break was not helping to beat the lockdown blues. The laughs with my friends over Zoom weren’t the same and I found myself in need of a distraction from all the Covid-19 news. There was only so many games of Twenty-Five I could play with my family and so many daily walks down the bothairín that I could manage before I reached my final destination of boredom. I watched my mind drift and started to think about that one time I did something majorly embarrassing (well to me at least). I needed a distraction and quick. Naturally enough I did what anyone would do when in the need of a pick-me-up, I turned to a good ol’ friend of mine, Netflix. If you are in dire need of a distraction or just want to de-stress, then kick back and relax with a cup of tea and some rich tea biscuits and check out these feel-good shows that helped cure my lockdown boredom. The key to relaxation was to sway from my usual guilty pleasure, emotionally heavy murder mysteries and thriller shows, so I switched it up with these casual, comical, and light-hearted pick-me-ups and they provided me with a world of laughs. The first series I binged within three days, was Chewing Gum, and it was just what the doctor ordered. Created, written, and starring the comical and gifted Michaela Coel, this underrated sitcom had me cracking up and hooked at the opening scene with the eccentric Tracey Gordon. Tracey was raised in a restrictive religious house and the show
follows her discovery of who she is and her place in the society. Most memorable for its hilarious dialogues, wildest sex situations, and Coel’s boundlessly expressive face, this had me entertained and smiling for days, I really wished there were more seasons. Spoiler alert: Special guests include Stormzy. If you loved Dear White People and Atypical, then you will adore Chewing Gum. Big Mouth was up next and was great for keeping my spirits up. As a devoted fan of Rick and Morty this was the perfect show for me. What’s not hilariously relatable to prepubescent kids coming to terms with their sexuality and their budding secondary sexual characteristics? All in the form of quirky cartoons and hairy hormone monsters. I can’t help but love Andrew Glouberman’s faithful Hormone Monster, Maurice, for his grotesque yet hilarious dialogue encouraging Andrew to make the most embarrassing, yet relatable mistakes. Scenes that are so cringeworthy I couldn’t help but squeeze my eyes shut, cringe and cackle at every decision Andrew made in this coming-of-age story. If it’s not your cup of tea then at least tune in for the iconic theme song, “Changes” by Charles
Bradley. At roughly 25 minutes an episode it was the perfect recipe to take my mind off the constant Covid-19 news and give my attention span a rest. Saving the holy grail for last, it wouldn’t be right to exclude Derry Girls from this mix. An iconic uplifting classic that will never get old no matter how many times I binge watch it. I can always count on the adventures of Erin, Clare, Orla, Michelle and James to get me out of any slump. The lighted-hearted series, set in the backdrops of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, Derry Girls creator, Lisa McGee, uses hilarious slurs and generalisations to depict the conflict between the Catholic and Protestant kids. Plenty of bitching, laughs and troublesome situations were just the distractions I needed. Fortunately, season three is soon set to be in the works after being delayed in 2020, fingers crossed we get a new season before 2021’s out! Striving to stay optimistic isn’t easy all the time, and the future does seem daunting. Losing yourself in a good TV show in a world of laughter was a great distraction for me during the break. If you haven’t watched any of these shows before you can find them on Netflix or Amazon Prime (which students can get a free 6-month trial, so don’t forget to make use!), they may be just what you need.
By Sophia Hadef A lockdown? Again? No worries. It is a difficult time, and an uncertain future lies ahead. But there are many things to do to help us have a great time at home and feel better about the situation. Why not rediscover some retro treasures? Music is a great way to relax. You can dance, you can close your eyes and rest, as so many genres can help you to turn off from the world. Looking for songs that will make you feel dynamic? ABBA have great tunes for a happy moment. ABBA, the Swedish Europop group was among the most commercially successful bands in pop music history. Listen to ‘Dancing Queen’, ‘Take a Chance On Me’, ‘Mamma Mia’ and ‘Lay All Your Love On Me’ and the dance floor will invite itself into your room. If you prefer classic songs from the 60s, one of my favourite bands, The Doors, will make you have a pleasant and psychedelic moment. I love listening to Jim Morrison’s
voice when I’m studying or reading. It is relaxing, ethereal and has a dreamy touch that we all need these days. Escaping the daily routine with music is very good for your mental health. There is lots of data that proves that listening to music can help soothe you in situations where you might feel anxious or depressed. Series and movies are also there to help you to turn off your mind for a few hours. One interesting recommendation is Desperate Housewives! It is not an old series, but it is considered a retro one because of its past success. And I can assure you that following the lives of Gabrielle, Lynette, Bree and Susan will make you addicted to it. It is funny, dramatic, and full of family secrets that we all love watching on the screen. Want to spend a cosy time with a hot chocolate and a good old series? Gilmore Girls is the perfect fit. The
mother-daughter dramedy is here to cheer you up anytime. Not in a mood for a series but a movie instead? I always thought that old films in black and white have something relaxing about them. I would recommend watching An American in Paris (1951) with Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron singing, dancing and looking just fabulous. Lawrence of Arabia (1962) is a classic that we all need to watch. It’s a live-action adventure with talented actors. Do you miss visiting museums? You can find great documentaries online or watch art biopics . Lust For Life (1956) is a brilliant film about Vincent van Gogh’s life. It’s beautiful, and you will learn a lot about the tormented artist. There are great retro documentaries that you can watch at home such as Beat City (1963), a journey from London to Liverpool documenting the 1960’s music scene. With this list, you have everything you need to cheer up and bring culture and art to this gloomy start of 2021. As a book lover, I also have to recommend a classic, a retro-treasure from France, Arsene Lupin, Gentlemen Thief by Maurice Leblanc. It’s a fascinating story about a French aristocrat, who is charming, mischievous and incredibly smart. Arsene Lupin is also a new series on Netflix that you can watch after reading the book.
November Limerick Competition Winner By Gabriel Baños Gómez A deciduous tooth I have lost To the sweetest of apples e’er known Was it worth? I reflect As I bite yet again And then count with my tongue one alone
December ‘I am’ Competition All I am By Loy Sery
First place winner
All I am is a voice, left too long in someone’s throat, now setting myself free. All I am, in the morning light, is a sunrise, soon standing in the dark, rising from the horizon. I am South, Indian Ocean, and tropical Island; a place, spicy food and lava blood. I am mountains full of trees, waterfalls joining rivers, the landscape that I see, and that I keep in my heart. If you ask, I am the one always running in dreams, then, finding myself flying. I am the one that jumps from wonders to truth, and hope to promise, meeting the sun as it shines. I am worth the rain, worth life, worth of being, and to those I love, all I am I give.
Celestial Champagne Second place winner By Tara O’Malley I am holding a glass of starlight in the middle of a midnight room, its gaseous glow dances on marble floors, bounces off the glimmering skin of people sipping stolen gold, no heed given to celestial points tattooing tongues with constellations, coating palates in heavens’ taste, the sky’s forbidden nectar. I am tossing a glass of starlight into the depths of a midnight sky, it glitters freely, a breath of smoke against a pool of endless night; as soon as the vapour fades, a sight reveals itself to all – a silver Polaris winking in delight, and with a knowing smile, I raise an empty toast to Ursa Minor.
Home By Roseanne Fahey
Third place winner
I am from antiques. From broken bookcases to dressers with no handles. I am from the two-story on the street with two front steps, a rustic gate, a house that’s always cold. I am bluebells, beloved by my mother, although I am allergic. I am from cousins on Christmas Eve and barely reaching five feet tall. From Pauline and Pat, though it’s just Pat now. I am from spouses, who choose to stay in different rooms, different houses, different countries, different continents. From “stop feeling sorry for yourself” and “you’re my favourite child”. Weekly morning mass, until mum got cancer, and hospital wards with bars on the windows. I am from Tullamore and Cahersiveen, chicken goujons and chicken curry, and my sister saying the only thing she knows about me is that I’m obsessed with chicken. Pink lipstick on my mother’s corpse. My sister’s face in six photo frames, and my face in one. I am from furniture that I didn’t choose, and the family that said they wished one of us had died instead.
18 A RT S & E NTE RTAIN M EN T
The Hill We Climb review By Alice O’Donnell Who could’ve predicted that the most talked about person at the US Presidential Inauguration would not be Joe Biden or Kamala Harris, or even Bernie’s mittens? Instead, the title goes to Amanda Gorman.
I’m sure Amanda Gorman was well - known in poetry circles, but on the world’s stage she was a newcomer; an unknown woman who stood alone and performed her poem in front of 33.8 million people. After months, if not years of uncertainty, of pandemics and storms and riots, the 22 - year old stood at the podium as a breath of fresh air. Her youthful figure, combined with her outfit of bright, block colours hinted at better days to come. That this was the turning point of an era; an era of colour that shed the darkness that had plagued it. What perhaps made The Hill We Climb such an impactful poem was that Gorman did not shy away from the issues which have plagued America, but rather embraced them. “Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.” Gorman has also been praised for the contemporary nature of the poem. Only two weeks prior the Capitol building had been stormed by Trump supporters, an action which shocked and horrified not just the nation but the world. “We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation, rather than share it. Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded.” The topical nature of The Hill We Climb served to highlight the importance of her words. What was especially commendable was how she managed to juggle a sense of unity with justice. While heavily encouraging the movement of “lay[ing] down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another”, Gorman also gently reminds Americans that wrongs must be accounted for, with lines such as “It’s the past we step into and how we repair it”, and “We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace, and the norms and notions of what ‘just’ is isn’t always justice.” While the poem itself is unquestionably evocative, there is power in Gorman’s presentation. Just like the caged bird ring she wore in honour of Maya Angelou, her hands danced in the air like feathers of a wing. Her soft yet strong voice carried through the air, captivating not just her fellow citizens, but citizens of the world. What is especially poignant is in interviews she has said that throughout her early life she suffered from speech impediments. President Biden himself struggled with a stutter for decades. On Wednesday January,20th the world was shown there is no limit to what a person may become, or what they can achieve. The Hill We Climb captured the zeitgeist of recent years; that although every country has dark days, it does not mean that every country is hopeless. Gorman’s poem showed that to truly appreciate a nation one must embrace its troubled history and faults as well as its successes. Her poem ended on a note of optimism, promising that “The new dawn balloons as we free it. For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”
SIN Vol. 22 Issue 07
Donald J Trump, the president impeached by Twitter. Is it censorship or deplatforming? By Aicco Sapi Donald Trump will surely be remembered as the President who did most of his governing on Twitter. The former US president certainly did not shy away from the spotlight. If anything, he welcomed it. His zealousness went as far as him holding the record for the most tweets tweeted in a day, a staggering 200 tweets/retweets on June 05, 2020. His lengthy tweet sessions didn’t leave much to the imagination, anyone in his vicinity could end up being a target of his rampage. There is truly no denying that social media platforms played an integral role prior to and during Trump’s reign as president. Some would even go as far as to say Facebook elected the 45th president of the United States. However, as always, all good things must come to an end. And for Trump, social media governing came to an end on January 6th 2021, when he incited a mob of his dedicated followers to infiltrate the US Capitol. Twitter took the lead by putting his account under temporary lock for 12 hours, which was later extended to a suspension. Facebook followed by closing his account indefinitely, which caused a spill over effect on other social platforms, including Spotify, Twitch, Shopify, Pinterest, and many more. This cause of action roused questions on whether social platforms were infringing on free speech and the censorship of opposing views. Although we know Trump to be one of the infamous social media antagonists, the aforementioned questions still hold merit when it comes to how all these companies will approach and deal with the online content of not only influential figures but also everyday people in the future. For many of his supporters, such as White House spokesman Judd Deere, Trump’s speech is viewed
Pardon? By Caroline Spencer It has been an interesting week to be a rap fan. The progression of social movements over the last decade, most importantly Black Lives Matter (BLM), has led to conversations within the rap and hip - hop community about how to speak on racial injustice while maintaining a public platform as an entertainer and an artist. To simplify the deeply complex structures that uphold racism would do a disservice to this ongoing conversation. One person who prefers to simplify complex problems is former president Donald Trump. Never a proponent for any kind of justice that doesn’t directly service his needs, Trump has done the performative over the substantial. In the tradition of an outgoing administration Trump has pardoned and commuted prisoner sentences. Several rap-
as critical and necessary to share, therefore the shutting down of his accounts is seen as a move by big tech companies and the left to silence the true patriots of the country. Furthermore, a number of conservatives have called out the legitimacy of the social platforms community guidelines and policies. References were made of controversial figures who are still able to keep their social platforms, even after sharing content that could be seen as violating such guidelines. For instance, the supreme leader of Iran who has made violent threats towards other countries through Twitter and a number of Chinese officials who have partaken in spreading fallacies about the pandemic. On the other hand, some have criticized the social platforms for acting a little bit too late. Many berated the social media companies for allowing misinformation and malfeasance to be spread for so long. One Senator even went as far as to say that companies such as Facebook and Twitter collaborated with Trump in assaulting democracy. This is certainly not the first time that tech companies have come under fire for not flagging or stopping the spread of factitious information on their platforms. In 2018, CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, faced the US congress in regard to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where a political consulting and strategic communication firm was able to access the private information of more than 50 million Facebook users and run targeted pro - Brexit and pro - Trump ads to them. There have also been several follow - ups on how the spread of fake news is dealt with by Facebook and Twitter, seeing as they hadn’t yet employed any fact - checking tags. The topic of censorship and free speech, for this particular instance, has struck some polarizing views, however, it would not be fair to boil it down to such a
conclusion. For starters, all the aforementioned platforms had allowed Trump to participate in slander and the spread of false information without any major repercussions for a long period of time. Furthermore, this is not the first time that influential figures with radical content have been banned from social platforms - it’s called deplatforming. Deplatforming is the act of removing harmful speakers or speech from venues that are used to spread such information. In 2016, Milo Yiannopoulos, a far - right extremist, was caught rationalizing paedophilia. After that his social media accounts were shut down. The same thing happened to numerous ISIS sympathizer accounts on Twitter and Facebook. Whilst conservatives make some reasonable points, it is difficult to ignore the magnitude of what the former US president had cajoled within his supporters. Nevertheless, I find the reaction of social platforms towards Trump to be justified, as he did repeatedly breach their community guidelines. Moreover, such actions of deplatforming are needed in order to prevent violent breakouts, that are most of the times instigated through social media, from happening. The right to free speech cannot be used to protect violence.
pers have been pardoned. It could be suggested that their pardon is a barely concealed rebuttal to the accusations of racism that have dogged Trump. This is because Trump has a solid past of racist comments and actions. In the 1970’s, he was sued by the city of New York for refusing to lease out homes to African American families. In the Central Park Jogger case of the early 90’s, he called for the death penalty of the five innocent boys who were wrongfully accused of assaulting a jogger. Four of the boys were African American and the other a Latino. His first presidential campaign speech denigrated Mexican people as “rapists” and “murderers”. While in office he told four female congresswomen of colour, all US citizens, to “go back home”, not so much a racist dog - whistle than a bullhorn. In his last days in office, rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black were pardoned and released from prison. Lil Wayne was initially convicted for weapons possession; Kodak Black was convicted for falsifying information used to attain firearms. (Kodak Black still faces criminal sexual misconduct charges in another case.) Why have these men been released while so many people languish in prison for lesser crimes? The United States private prison industry effectively has its own economy. The War on Drugs, with the attendant mandatory minimums and three strikes measures, has made many people serve long sentences for non - violent drug offences. These measures disproportionately affect the African American population. A mitigating factor in how the prison industrial complex replicates itself is
poverty. Urban towns and cities are massively underfunded in terms of education, healthcare, and governmental infrastructure. What the rappers who received clemency have in common is their wealth and fame. Their music and lyrics celebrate the rich lifestyle they have attained, in the light of their disadvantaged upbringing. Lil Wayne is the prime example of this. He was born to a young, poor mother. His stepfather was murdered when Wayne was 14, leaving his family devastated both emotionally and financially. Wayne found his fame and fortune in rap, being signed by Birdman to Cash Money Records at only 12. Within that same year, Wayne accidentally shot himself with a gun. The police officer called to the scene swiftly brought him to the hospital. Wayne refers to this incident when explaining in interviews why he does not fully support BLM. Leaving beside the fact that a cop bringing an injured child to safety should be the norm and not a novelty Wayne’s support for police may explain the photo - op he had with Trump in late 2020. The photo, showing the two men smiling and giving the thumbs up sign, was not received well by the hip - hop community or Wayne’s fans. More than one person jokingly wondered if Wayne was buttering Trump up for a pardon. Soon the answer was clear. Trump caters for sycophants and the wealthy. In this photo - op, Wayne was both. As long as wealth is used as a bargaining chip over racism, facetious actions such as a thumbs up photo will occur over concrete forms of deconstructing systematic oppression.
Sexual Health Awareness and Guidance (SHAG) Week 2021 An tSeachtain um Fheasacht agus Threoir ar an tSláinte Ghnéis 2021
Sex Toy Bingo / Biongó Bréagán Gnéis 19:30 Friday 19th February / Dé hAoine an 19 Feabhra Loads of prizes and all attendees will get a discount code to use at Sex Siopa, Ireland's Sex Positive Toy Boutique Tickets via Eventbrite • All donations go to the SU Charities More information from / Tuilleadh eolais ar fail ó email@example.com
NUIGalwayStudentsUnion www.su.nuigalway.ie @nuigsu
20 FA SH I O N & L I F EST Y L E
SIN Vol. 22 Issue 07
My first Christmas with Corona When playing board games with your family gives you more than what you had bargained for… By Neasa Gorrell Having spent the guts of the first semester trapped in a private lease in Galway City, I was only too glad to cancel it early and have it end on Christmas Eve. My mother and sister came down the weekend before the 24th to help me move out of my apartment, and we had a few lovely meals in some fine restaurants around Galway, such as McGettigans, and Lime Asian Fusion Restaurant. I had not seen my family in so long except through FaceTime or social media, and I had spent all six weeks of Lockdown two with only one other housemate for company. So, for obvious reasons, I was ecstatic to go home and see my family and my dogs. My little brother had been studying in Poland and had returned home a few weeks before, so it was all a very exciting time. At this point, cafes, pubs and restaurants had reopened. From social media, it seemed that most of the population back at home in Donegal were making the most of it and going out every night. I found it peculiar that it wasn’t just the young people who had been socialising again, but the elderly too. Surely enough, I had heard stories of local pubs having lock-ins and letting groups bounce from table to table, as well as not making people spend the nine euro on the food either. These stories were bizarre to me, especially since I had come from Galway, where all of us gave our best efforts to follow the restrictions. I really wasn’t prepared for what Donegal had in store for me.
I went out for two meals in the run-up to Christmas with my small group of friends and family. There was no more than four of us at the table each time, and generally, we kept to ourselves. Noticeably, and to our surprise, both places we ate in had almost no Covid social-distancing restrictions in place. As a result of this, many people in my hometown and county caught the virus, my family included. Like most families, we had been sat around our table sharing a cheese platter, having drinks and playing board games. On this particular evening, we had been rivalling against each other in the game of Monopoly, and it got heated as it usually would. Amidst the raised voices telling someone to hurry up and roll the dice, or someone else asking ‘Whose go is it?’, we were able to distinguish the sound of a small cough coming from someone sat at the table. A few days later, this family member fell very ill, yet, I still had to share a bathroom with them, and our rooms were near to one another. With that said, only a few days after this sibling tested positive, so did I, followed by my mother and finally, my two youngest siblings were also positive. At first,
there was anger and fear of not knowing how this virus may attack us, but we had to realise that the virus doesn’t pick and choose its victims. It merely latches onto any viable surface and attacks, so we stopped playing the blame game as it was pointless. Before I had received my positive result, I knew that I too was sick. I could feel it in my gut – that instinct – it told me that I was not ok, that I needed rest and to keep warm. The worst symptoms I had were a severe headache and light sensitivity. I spent an entire day lying in bed in complete darkness as I couldn’t move much without my head hurting. Other than that, I only had a tickly cough that became somewhat chesty at night, and I had a slightly sore throat and runny nose. The symptoms were pretty much the same for the rest of my family. None of us got it bad, thank god. So, we commenced our Christmas activities of board games and movies by the fire once again and waited for our isolation dates to end. It was a good bonding time for my family, as we had not been altogether in several months, and in this instance, we had no choice but to stay together, so it was better that we all got along.
Before I had received my positive result, I knew that I too was sick. I could feel it in my gut – that instinct – it told me that I was not ok, that I needed rest and to keep warm.
As I had spent many days in bed with low energy and light sensitivity, the University kindly gave me extensions on my final assignments, which meant that once I had recuperated fully, I would have the capacity to write good essays at an academic standard. While recovering, I thought it would be good to start running again, like I had done months before, when I was last home. Running again helped improve my breathing and lung capacity, although I have noticed that I now become very congested when running , which makes it more difficult. I hope with time, I will be able to run and breathe normally again. All of my family has recovered now and gone back to our daily activities. As we are in a Lockdown once again, we are still relatively close and spending a lot of time together, which is nice. I found it funny that after spending all of 2020 avoiding the virus, we rang in the New Year as Covid-positive – what a great start to 2021! Either way, I’m hoping that’s our first and last Christmas with Covid!
Things I will do when normality is back By Sophia Hadef First and for sure, I will just rediscover County Galway. We live in such a beautiful county that I won’t feel the need to go further at the beginning of a back to normal life. Kinvara, Barna, Spiddal and Clifden are places I’m dreaming about since the start of this pandemic. But even just being able to enjoy Galway City’s life, its delicious restaurants, its fantastic views full of life will make me happy. When life is normal again, I will, without a doubt, visit other Irish counties. I would love to go to Cork and Dublin but also visit County Donegal and basically every gem place on this beautiful island of ours. I would love to travel the world with my partner and our daughter, to go to my home-country France again, to walk in Paris and just enjoy the nice free feeling of being able to travel and hang around everywhere we
want. It feels so special and precious nowadays that I’m wondering when it would be fully possible. I would love to go to Morocco, to visit the Sahara and learn about their beautiful culture and taste their specialities. Travel the world would be one of my main targets. But, to be honest, the main things I miss terribly are the simple things. To be able to go to the cinema and theatre, to go to the museum and stay hours learning about cultures and art. To go to concerts and festivals, to just have those very human moments back would be magical. Our lives considerably changed in 2020, and I hope we will all be careful to be able to make it happen again. To have our freedom back as it’s so important for
our evolution and happiness. I want to see people smile and dance again, and I want to see children happier and able to make birthday parties again, to do activities and live their childhood normally. I want our government to make the right choices, I want them to think about the people and their feelings. I want the vaccine to be safe and available for everyone who wants it. Our freedom, our normal lives will be back, but we have to be patient. So let’s make it possible, wear a mask, keep your distance and take care of yourself in these difficult times. Let’s recharge our batteries fully before normality is back, so we will enjoy it the best we can, as a celebration of life, a celebration to our freedom.
February 09 2021
SWAPPING VALENTINE’S FOR QUARANTINES:
Love and Lockdown: What we’ve learned from Rona Romance By Ellen O’Regan This past year we swapped dating for distancing, flirting at the bar for flattening the curve, and Valentine’s for quarantines. Lockdown and love are just two worlds that don’t really get along. I’m not speaking for the couples here, although I’m sure you’ve had your share of challenges throughout the pandemic. Whether you were a fledgeling pair violently thrust into living together with no relief from the outside world, or found yourself suddenly doing long distance down the road from each other, if you’ve survived this long there’s not much that could rumble you. But this goes out to my fellow singletons. It’s been rough. When government guidelines on pandemic dating include thorough handwashing before and after sex, “remote sexual activity” and only kissing people in your own household, it really puts a dampener on hopes of a ‘rona romance. But what have we learned? What drops of wisdom can we draw from this dating drought? Breakups during lockdown were incredibly lonely, without friends to rally around you or distractions from yourself. But honestly, perhaps it was for the best to be spared the inevitable drunken
tears on the shoulders of strangers in the nightclub bathroom, or regrettable phone calls and texts on the way home. Or even more regrettable rebounds. There’s a lot to be said for total disconnect from the world to give yourself time to heal, without the pressure to get back out there before you’re really ready. An honourable mention has to be a dedication to the admirable few who braved a socially distant dating scene. Getting frostbite holding a takeaway coffee on outdoor walks, rapid restaurant dates in 105 minutes or less, or even zoom wining and dining. As weird as it has been navigating it all, there might just be some upsides. Inevitably, dating has had to be taken slow. People are spending a lot more time talking and actually getting to know each other before going further - straight into the DM’s, no kissing. Having to have the “Covid talk” about where you both stand on meeting in real life is a great way to find out if your values align. Plus, Facetime Tinder dates from the comfort of your own home really alleviate the “this might be a serial killer” jitters. Then there were those like myself, too paranoid to widen their bubble to anyone new, who pretty much assumed the lifestyle of a celibate hermit. Doomsday pandemic worries wormed their way in and left no room for even a thought of meeting someone. And that’s absolutely fine too. Because you know who we
Cheap and easy Recipes By Anastasia Burton Food is love; food is life. Being a student during a pandemic is costly and hungry. From watching yummy Tiktok cooking challenges to gawking at JustEat, only two clicks away. We know damn well that takeaway are a hit or miss and a large blow to your wallet if done often so why not check out a few healthy and easy recipes you can follow that won’t break the bank? Sounds too good to be true right? I mean if you can boil an egg, you’ll be fine. Starting off strong with homemade tacos, delicious and amazing and cheap!
4. Chop the vegetables and add to the mince. 5. Add cheese as you like. 6. Once the cheese is nice and stringy and the mince is a nice colour you can start plating.
7. Crush up Doritos and add either inside the mince or add full chips inside the taco either underneath or on top of the mince. 8. Voila! Enjoy.
TOTAL COST OF MEAL: 15.80. SERVINGS: 8.
did date this year? Ourselves. A lot of long months remembering what hobbies we used to have, what we like to read, and who we actually are when all the noise of life suddenly stopped. It was a great time to figure out who you are as an individual, without nagging family over Christmas asking where the girlfriend or boyfriend is, or well-meaning friends eager to set you up. A free pass to just be single and not be interrogated about it.
This Valentine’s Day I’ll probably be enjoying a nice date with myself, wiser than ever before thanks to my year of self-reflection and growth. And I’ll probably have a bottle of wine. And then once I’ve got that half-done I’ll definitely be putting on a rom-com. And from there it’s a steep fall from self-righteous singledom and back to serial swiping on Tinder for the night. Sure look, there’s always next year.
For Dessert, Cheesecake in a cup: INGREDIENTS: • 4 digestive biscuits/ rich tea biscuit • 100g cream cheese • 100ml double cream
• Icing sugar • Vanilla extract • Strawberries (Or other fruits)
INGREDIENTS: • 450-500g of mince • 250g of shredded cheese • 2 red onions • 1 red pepper
• 1 pack of Doritos (Cheesy or hot) • Sauce (optional) • Spices(optional) • Taco shells/ wraps
STEPS: 1. Crush up the biscuits into crumbs. 2. Whisk the sugar with cream cheese and a drop or two of vanilla extract.
3. Once the mixture is nice and fluffy empty the contents into glasses.
STEPS: 1. Heat the pan and wait till it’s hot before emptying the mince inside.
2. You can use any oil you like to fry the mince in. 3. Brown the mince in the pan (you can add sauce during this step if you like).
4. Add cut up strawberries on top of the mixture. 5. Create two layers of the same pattern, mixture, fruit, mixture fruit.
6. Refrigerate for a couple of hours. 7. Enjoy! TOTAL COST: 6-EURO. SERVINGS: 4. I hope you try these out and have a lovely meal that is not only cheap, but also delicious. Don’t forget to take lots of pictures and post online because everyone knows you haven’t really had a meal until you’ve taken a picture of it!
Clinic Buail Isteach do Mhic Léinn Lánfhásta 10:00-12:00 Tuesday/Dé Mairt • 14:00-16:00 Thursday/Déardaoin More information from/Tuilleadh eolais ar fáil ó: firstname.lastname@example.org
22 FA SH IO N & L I F EST Y L E
SIN Vol. 22 Issue 07
Grief in Level 5 Niamh Mc Gee
We are all aware of the additional challenges Level 5 lockdown has posed, to our physical, emotional and mental health. Although most facilities and outlets are closed, and most social opportunities are completely eliminated from our lives, life still somehow carries on. The ebb and flow of life has not ceased as much of our routine has. A natural element of this process is death. Although Covid 19 has claimed over four thousand lives on the island of Ireland, deaths due to other illnesses, mental health issues, accidents and injuries have still continued. Grief during any period of our life, and in any situation, is extremely hard under normal circumstances. During Level 5, or any lockdown for that matter, it is even more challenging. This is particularly difficult for younger people, such as students, who perhaps have not experienced much grief in their adult life, and to deal with a death in lockdown for the first time, can be excruciating. Personally, I lost one of my closest friends to terminal cancer in November 2020. Before I had to face grief itself, the shock of such news, and the inability to accept it, is what seriously posed a challenge in the midst of a lockdown. In such times, many people face an existential crisis, and pose questions on life, faith, belief and find it difficult to grapple with the idea that there is any form of hope on the horizon. I experienced this myself, and it was one of the most isolating periods of my life. At times I felt hopeless, or that I did not have much of a purpose or reason to live, when things like this could happen. I also started to view life as something with much more negatives than positives, and whether or not this continuous cycle of ups and downs was something I could handle. Company is extremely important in such times, whether that be friends, family, a partner, or a colleague, people need people when facing such life changing news. For me, this was the first time I majorly felt effected by lockdown. I had to face this almost unbelievable news, practically alone, at least in the physical sense. It is fair and only realistic to say that many young adults who have moved back to their family home, face difficult relationships with parents. Although family naturally are emphatic, for many this simply isn’t enough support emotionally for them. Tech-
nology can come as a blessing, it gave me a chance to regularly connect and contact friends, to talk things out, to gain support, and also to access distractions such as Spotify and Netflix, where my mind could be eased away from the impending fear of losing a friend, and not being aware of when. For somebody who is a natural worrier, and suffers from pangs of anxiety, this uncertainty was extremely difficult to comprehend. Usually, in times of emotional distress, I went straight to friends, go for a coffee, hang out, play football, or I’d take some me-time and head to the gym where I felt I could almost physically burn off anger or worry! All of a sudden I was facing the most upset and anger I probably had ever felt, without being able to do any of these things, with nowhere and no one to reach to physically. College classes continued, and I started to truly appreciate them, as they gave me something to focus on daily. Although my friend had been told she would have eight months at least, she ended up only having eight weeks. She passed in mid-November, with the country still in Level 5. Under these restrictions, only 15 people were allowed attend the funeral, and it was recommended always, for family members only to attend. This is completely understandable, and most people do have 15 relatives between parents, cousins and in-laws. But to accept that you, as a friend, will not be able to attend the funeral of your closest friend, is something that without doubt causes serious upset, grief, anxiety and anger. On one hand you fully understand the regulations and care for the safety of their family, but on the other hand it seems life has thrown you a seriously unfair and unacceptable challenge. In my case, the ‘wake’ was held in a funeral home, and thankfully the public could walk in briefly to sympathize and say goodbye to their loved one. I was truly grateful for this, if this wasn’t an option, my grief would’ve been much more painful and I would probably be in denial. Due to most funeral homes being fairly confined, and most Irish wakes drawing large numbers, there was a system in place where I could enter in a small group, stay for a few minutes and then leave as another group enters. It reminded me of a ticketing system to be honest! The staff of course were extremely respectful and having to direct mourners around in such a situation could not be easy. It was all carried out very respectful but you couldn’t have helped not feeling somewhat rushed. Naturally enough when grieving at a wake or funeral, we tend to automatically shake hands and hug other
mourners. Although there is no ‘rule’ against this, and people of course are empathetic, you could clearly tell that a lot of people were still wary of keeping their distance. Many, like me, were simply left awkwardly standing near a relative, not really knowing where to place my body and feeling like an out-of-place statue! There is something about social distancing at such events that feels inhumane and that causes us to fight bitterly against our natural instinct. The next few days, I was probably living off little sleep but lots of adrenaline. I had no appetite and no motive to do anything whatsoever. Thoughts of my friend, memories of what we did together and a grievance of the future plans we had no longer being fulfilled, flooded my head for weeks, and still do. This of course is a natural response to any grief. All I wanted to do was meet my friends, go out for the day, get a nice dinner or coffee, go see a film, play some football, head to the gym, but I couldn’t do most of these and it left me with so much pent-up anger and grief. Lockdown is lonesome, I am usually the introverted private type, so for me there was a stark difference between being alone and being lonely. But this time around, I was without doubt lonely and could not find ways to distract myself or cope through these intense continuous emotions. Alongside the grief itself, a massive spike in anxiety arrived. This is common for many, and can spark intense fears and worries of presuming things in life will continue to go wrong, or that you will lose others in your life, through some means. These fears and the anxiety that came with it is still something I’m facing daily and is very hard to overcome when you spend most of the day under full lockdown in a house. Presumed negative scenarios are often replaying in your mind, to an extreme extent. This can be very overwhelming. To contain all these overwhelming emotions, fears, memories and thoughts to the restricts of your house, your 5km and basically to yourself is completely unnatural. Thankfully there are services available online, that we can use any day to help processes such feelings and difficulties. For anyone going through a similar situation, or facing any challenge which effects them emotionally, I would advise that you use mental health online services. Outlets such as Jigsaw. ie or Text 50808 allow a safe anonymous space to discuss your mental health and issue. Calling the Samaritans on 116123 can also be an amazing way to find a listening non- judgmental ear in a time of severe distress, and can cause serious relief, whatever the issue. These services are extremely useful, and I seriously recommended anyone to use them, even if you consider your issue ‘not too serious’, it is always worth reaching out!
Mental Health Column By Ellen O’Donoghue Ah, here we are again, back in lockdown. Love that for us. It is like a never ending cycle, isn’t it? Hopefully, just hopefully, this will be the last time, and we will get a pint, or even just a trip to Penneys, soon. I hope that everybody had a nice and safe Christmas. I, for one, went a bit mad a few of the nights (following guidelines of course - I’m allowed to drink rosé in the sitting room, I hope), and had a fairly sore head for most of the festivities. It was great craic to be fair. As we go into a new semester, semester number two of this ‘short term’ new normal that seems to be lasting forever, I’m actually about to start my last ever semester in my undergrad course. It’s crazy to think about. I’m only 21 years old and here I am about to be shoved into the big bad world? It’s a no from me. It’s scary, this whole life is scary; between the pandemic, university, finishing university, friends, family, and life. To be honest, it’s really easy to get overwhelmed, and I’ve felt it too. I find saying three simple words to myself every so often helps with the overwhelming feelings. Just three words, that can alternate from time to time, depending on how you’re feeling and what you need to hear. My favourites are: ‘You got this.’ ‘It gets better.’ ‘This will end.’ ‘Nobody is perfect.’ ‘Happiness is hope.’ ‘It’s nearly over.’ ‘It’s worth it.’ It’s so cringe to read, and I know that, but I also find myself looking at the stack of 30-odd novels I’m expected to read for my English modules this semester and subconsciously repeating, ‘you got this, you got this, you got this, you got this’ to myself (even though I definitely don’t ‘got this’). And do you know what? It works. Sometimes you have to squash the inner saboteur. Train your subconscious to say those little positive affirmations to yourself instead of the more negative phrases you may find yourself being told by your brain. Really and truly I’m not actually sure if any of that makes sense, but as the wise tarot readers of TikTok say, take what resonates and leave the rest (and please don’t judge me if it doesnt make sense). Life is hard for everyone right now, and sometimes that is not what you want to hear, but we are all in the same sinking boat. However, just because there’s a hole in the boat that is causing it to sink, does not mean that it will. The hole could be patched up before you know it and hopefully then, we’ll all go back to plain sailing. I’m done with this semester and it hasn’t even started yet, but as a friend pointed out to me earlier today, as bad as things are right now, we are going into semester 8 of 8, when we genuinely did not expect to finish our degree at any point up until now. We are doing it and we have made it, and we will do it because we got this and we are class and so are you. Even if you get bad results from time to time because you are stressed over life at home, or do not have adequate study space at home, or because of the pandemic, or because you are sad, or even just because you are struggling ‘just because’. And that is okay. Because you got this. And I got this. And we got this. Happy semester two everybody; I hope it goes okay. And if it is not going okay, then there are places and people who want to help. As always, if you want to chat or have any ideas for this column, DM me on twitter @ellenodee123. And thanks for reading today’s existential crisis that I like to mask as a column. — Your resident mess.
February 09 2021
Budgeting advice By Anastasia Burton Well, well, well… Look at you. Broke, hungry, and slightly tempted by a Chinese takeaway. Sorry, sometimes my inner monologues transfer to my pages. Now where were we? Oh yes, budgeting advice! Let’s face it, we are all finding moths in our pockets and wallets after the festive season. The short three weeks we had in 2020 before the latest lockdown was the biggest economic boom since March. We all missed going into a store and actually looking and feeling the items we want to buy. It was great being able to buy overpriced coffee and sit INSIDE the cafe. Sometimes something like a pandemic must hit us to make us realise how good we had it. But my job is not to justify your spending habits, my job is to get you back on track with your money! Firstly, create a makeshift ledger and view your spending for the month of January compared to December. If you see that your spending is higher than your income, or slightly below your income, we have a problem. It is very easy to stay in the red after the holidays when you are mentally still enjoying Christmas songs and munching on leftovers from the fancy dinner. In order to decrease your spending, you will need to say no to certain things you love for the sake of being able to afford them in the future. For example, no takeaway February will help you save money on overpriced food which sometimes costs as much as a week’s grocery shop. Avoid takeaway or decrease it to once a week. You will notice a large difference in your balance once you realise that eating the food at home isn’t so bad and isn’t as expensive. You could also partake in sustainable living for a period of a couple of months or even the whole year. Sustainability is a big thing right now and rightfully so, we need to stop buying and hoarding items that are not essential to help decrease our waste but also save our coin. Decrease your clothes and accessories shopping. Avoid buying unnecessary rags when you could save that money instead and afford better things in the future. Don’t think about the right here, right now, think okay I’m here, but I want to be there. Living life at the moment and spoiling yourself is completely fine, but you must know what you can afford to spend and when. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching you would be looking for gifts right? Why not create a pact with your Valentine to, rather than buy each other useless gifts, go grocery shopping and buy all the munchies. Maybe get Disney+? Get gifts that are needed or long-lasting, something the person truly needs or wants. Don’t overspend without a necessity. Don’t buy a lot of small gifts, more often than not they end up costing more. Buy one big gift that would be within your budget and will make the other person happy. Remember we are all living in a pandemic, nobody is going to judge you for not splurging on gifts.
NÓS MAIRE ACHTÁLA
Winter Skincare must-haves By: Ewelina Szybinska Tight skin and chapped lips, welcome winter! Taking care of your skin becomes that little bit more awkward and difficult during the winter months. Many of us can experience constant skin irritation including redness. Acne may also seem to be worse during this cold season. Why does our skin look worse in winter? There are many reasons for this. The dramatic temperature difference as we leave the indoors. It’s no secret that our skin protective barrier will come across harsh winds. Furthermore, we can’t exclude other factors such as our diet and lack of sleep. Although, the environmental factors cannot be fully avoided, there are solutions waiting!
Acne appears worse If your skin breaks out from time to time during the warmer seasons and you suddenly find yourself breaking out more during winter, do not panic. It is quite common. Our skin tries to protect itself from the cold winds and low temperatures. In doing so, it makes a lot of sense, that oil production increases. More oil? Yes, and that can be a small challenge to those with oily skin to begin with. It is all about good exfoliation, however cleaning your face too often can strip the protective barrier and cause more damage than good. You may wonder what is the recommended routine? This is where things become a little unclear. Every dermatologist will agree that routines will vary from person to person. There is no one solution that will work for all. Now, after reading many reviews and trying out products myself, I may have found a hidden gem regarding cleansing. You may have heard of the brand The Inkey List. It quickly became a competitor to The Ordinary, which I have been using for over a year now. I decided to see whether The Inkey List would live up to my expectations that I usually have from my The Ordinary skincare products. To my surprise, I have swapped my routine and it may be for the better.
The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Cleanser: The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Cleanser helps to manage oil production and can be safely used in the both the morning and the evening, the product carefully penetrates through the skin to remove any dirt and successfully unclogs pores. If you are more prone to congestion, salicylic acid will become your best friend. I then follow up with The Inkey List 15% Vitamin C and EGF Serum. The serum is bottled in a 30ml pump bottle which makes the application effortless. The formula once applied, immediately tightens the skin pores. It is recommended to leave the product to soak in for ten minutes before continuing with other products. Within one week of daily use in the a.m. and in the p.m., any dark blemishes begin to fade into your skin.
Irritation and redness Winter will put your skin through a difficult battle against harsh winds. Often resulting in increasing redness and irritation. Cold temperatures easily dehydrate your skin, leaving the skin unprotected. Those who are prone to redness, might experience further flaring up. It is important to keep in mind that our favourite spicy food choices as well as alcohol can further contribute. Vitamin C is the magic healer. The Inkey List 15% Vitamin C and EGF Serum further helps to minimize redness during wintertime. It can also combat hyperpigmentation. Ensure you choose a Vitamin C product that will be safe to use alongside other preferred serums. Although it is easy to assume that sunlight rays only affect our skin during the summertime, it is
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important to note that levels of UVA are affecting us all year round. Yes, you still need to use SPF. In order to protect your skin from aging, darkening of blemishes as well as irritation and redness, include at least an SPF 30 in your routine. My go-to CeraVe, AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion with Sunscreen, SPF 30, is an ideal base before makeup application as the microfine zinc oxide present in the formula ensures the SPF dries with a clear finish. The fragrance-free product will help void irritation. Importantly, it is non-comedogenic, meaning it will not clog pores. Try look out for this also in your daily moisturizers.
Chapped Lips We are all guilty of licking our lips in the cold! To provide a simple explanation, saliva contains digestive enzymes. Once those meet the lipid barrier, it will begin to encourage dryness which can worsen and, in many cases, lead to eczema. Always carry around an effective lip treatment balm with you. Choices become endless; however, your favourite lip balm might be causing more harm than good. Avoid balms that contain hyaluronic acid and glycerin. According to dermatologists, those ingredients can promote irritation and lip sensitivity. What should you look for in a lip balm? Petrolatum as well as beeswax and shea butter are excellent for preventing dehydration. The ingredients ideally succeed in lip protection and repairment. Extra moisture will come from ingredients such as coconut or jojoba oil. Bioderma atoderm lip moisturizing stick is a balm created by a French pharmaceutical company Bioderma. Not only does it nourish the lips, but it further provides strengthening benefits. It works for me due to its hypoallergenic advantage. This balm contains shea butter and golden seaweed extract, which further promotes hydration. There is a natural raspberry flavouring to it, which may not suit some.
24 OPI NI O N
SIN Vol. 22 Issue 07
LEVY: IT’S TIME TO FIX IT Pádraic Toomey President, NUI Galway Students’ Union
you’re on SUSI, you have to pay the €224 levy as SUSI doesn’t even cover it.
Do students get a say in it? What is the levy? The levy is the additional charge you pay after your fees. For an EU undergrad that would be anything after the €3000 fee. It pays for different things in different 3rd level institutions. From capital building projects, clubs & health units for example.
How much is it at NUI Galway? At NUI Galway, the levy is the €224. Most undergrads pay €3000 in fees, but the bit after that is the levy. Yet even if
Students get all the say in the matter. The levy gets its backing from the Higher Education Authority with the line: “All universities have indicated that they charge additional levies to students. In all cases, thes charges have been agreed with the student body via referendum. The charges in each university are detailed below.” The important part being that they have to be “agreed with the student body via referendum”.
What does the €224 pay for? Currently it is broken up into the following: • €25.14 Students’ Union • €19.28 Societies • €19.28 Clubs • €17.23 Áras na Mac Léinn levy • €18.46 Health Unit levy • €4.92 Flirt FM • €19.69 Student Projects Fund • €100 University Sports Centre
Why are we paying for these things? This is a good question. Why is it not included in the €3000? Why is it a different price in different places? Even the likes of the health unit, NUI Galway is the only place in the country where the health unit is paid for by an extra charge.
Why not launch a referendum to drop it to €0?
Anyone could. Tomorrow morning if someone started collecting signatures, they could launch a referendum to drop the levy to €0. Whether it would pass via referendum would be hard to know. Many different parts of the institution like Clubs, Societies & the Students’ Union rely on the funding from the levy. It would be unlikely that the university would now give money to all of these departments. Students could suffer in the end, but we do have to remember that there’s a massive benefit to the university with these parts of college. It attracts students to NUI Galway. You’re more likely to go somewhere and stay in college if you can make friends with the likes of clubs and societies. Yet, it could lead to the Students’ Union losing its independence by being able to be pressured by the university. “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you” would come into play and the students would be the one to suffer with representation becoming a pawn that could be controlled by the university. Am I saying they would do that? No, but why give them the opportunity?
What are the problems with it? We can break them down into three separate issues:
1. €100 Sports Centre What is it? This part of the levy is the main issue students have.
Students get all the say in the matter. The levy gets its backing from the Higher Education Authority with the line: “All universities have indicated that they charge additional levies to students. In all cases, thes charges have been agreed with the student body via referendum. The charges in each university are detailed below.” The important part being that they have to be “agreed with the student body via referendum”.
Tribal Politics: Autonomy of third level educational institutions Pádraic Toomey
1. Repeat fees
President, NUI Galway Students’ Union
Repeat fees dominated the talk of NUI Galway press for some time. Students who had to repeat were to pay €295 to complete a repeat exam. For the pandemic, the likes of UCC, Trinity, Maynooth University & DCU to name a few waived the fee recognising that students could be repeating because the conditions were not ideal. Students were thrown into an online world of learning, with many not having desks, reliable Wi-Fi or even a quiet space. Students were literally doing exams on their beds. A unified approach would have been welcomed by the government here, and when asked on multiple occasions, the government said they had no power because of institutional autonomy.
What is institutional autonomy? This is how universities, institutes of technology & universities of technology are governed. For the sake of this article, we will be focusing on NUI Galway. Their governing body is called Úduras na hOllscoile. It is made up of 40 governors from university management, staff, students, external bodies and local councillors.
That sounds great, what’s the problem? In theory it can be, but there is one issue that arises all too often. Who do they answer to? You may be thinking surely the Department of Higher Education & Skills, with it’s own minister Simon Harris should be over this with some help from the Higher Education Authority. Well sadly, that’s not the case.
Has there been a problem or are we making something out of nothing? The pandemic for all its detriment to society and life did expose a lot of parts of society and how they don’t actually work. Here are just some of the issues that came to light:
2. Closure of campus For level 5, we were promised by the government that they would protect the vulnerable, who don’t have anywhere to go. Simon Harris knows that “access to libraries and other onsite study space for those students who do not otherwise have suitable facilities” is very important. With the cases of Covid soaring, it made sense for public bodies to further close to protect everyone. What didn’t make sense was how each institution could do it however they liked. Some kept their libraries and other study spaces open, while others closed it all. NUI Galway being the first to close it all. I am not on NPHET but the president of Maynooth University is and they kept open study spaces. It just seems bizarre that a minister dedicated to higher
education would be powerless and can’t get public bodies to do the same thing as each other.
3. Resitting exams The latest part of this madness would be how students in Trinity & UCC will be able re-sit any exams passed or failed for free. While NUI Galway will give you the honour of paying them €295 to do a repeat exam if you fail, if you pass, you’re out of luck. How will the graduates of NUI Galway compete with a student from UCC or Trinity who could do the exam twice even if they passed and just get the higher result? We aren’t saying that Trinity & UCC shouldn’t have done this, it’s great! It recognises the issues with online learning and how situations can arise. This should have been done unilaterally across 3rd level but it wasn’t, thus creating an unfair playing field.
What do we need to do? We need to reform third level and how it is governed. We don’t have to get rid of governance committees of institutions, but they shouldn’t have more power than the department or the minister on certain issues. We need oversight and the elected representatives of this country to have a say in education because it no longer finishes at 2nd level. I hope it can be resolved soon because it’s the only way that the game of hot potato that the department, the HEA & institutions play where they blame each other and nothing gets done finishes for once and for all.
Agreed to in 2006, students voted in favour of building the Sports Centre also known as the Kingfisher which is the private company that rents it. The costs seemed to be a moving figure for a while but rests at €17 million with our current documents.
Have we not paid this off yet with millions collected each year? Around €20.7 million has been paid so far. I assume alarm bells are now ringing in your head as to why the cost of the building is lower than the amount paid, and we are still paying. According to NUI Galway, students are to pay interest on the cost. They believe you owe somewhere around €27.2 million.
Why are we paying interest on a building owned by NUI Galway? Did they get a loan from someone? They decided that all their loans are subject to a “notional” 5% interest rate. On a side note, to get 5% on an investment like this would be madness anyways. If you went to the bank, would they offer you 5% to keep your money in a savings account? No, never! They did when the Students’ Union came after the levy, and decided to lower the interest they were going to charge students that students never agreed to in the first place. Madness? Yes. To add to this, they didn’t get a loan for the construction either, it was a loan from themselves to themselves which is a long way of saying they paid for it with the money they had in reserve. So they will have a building they will own, collect money from students for to pay for the building and then charge rent to the likes of Kingfisher to rent it. The deal for the university couldn’t be sweeter, nor could it be worse for students. It is worth mentioning that students don’t get free access to the gym and swimming pool with this either. Even if they did, the Kingfisher would not be able to have the capacity to do so at all! So, you are paying for a building that you may never use, and if you do go to use it, it can cost you €250 after you pay €100 per year towards the construction cost.
2. €17.23 Áras na Mac Léinn fund This fund is actually the most confusing out of all of them because we have so little information on it. It’s meant to fund the operating costs of Áras na Mac Léinn but it’s odd that we pay for the lighting and heating for one particular building on campus and nowhere else. It would also be unreasonable to believe that the hundreds of thousands of euros this collects are needed to keep the building running. We have no idea what this money goes towards. We are trying to find out but currently it’s a mystery, so it should be reduced to the bare minimum.
3. €19.69 Student Projects Fund Isn’t this really good for getting projects completed and new initiatives? Yes, some great things have come out of it. Some great things were even denied from it firstly like CÉIM. It’s hard to say that it’s fair for students to be paying this. If the university wanted to get better and start new projects, then it should keep it and fund it. It could be a really great fund but so could a “Saving the Puppies Fund” where students pay into a fund that literally saves puppies, no one is going to say that you shouldn’t save puppies but should we all be basically taxed to do it?
What’s going to happen? The Students’ Union are mandated by council to reduce the levy. The plan would be a referendum taking place this year to reduce it, where students will have to vote if they want to pay less.
February 09 2021
The Spiel of “Should there be heavier fines for Repeat Fees people breaking Covid protocols?” By Tara Trevaskis Hoskin
Pádraic Toomey President, NUI Galway Students’ Union
Why was it an issue? During the first week of the current Students’ Union term in July, the issue of repeat fees emerged. Much like every issue, it started by raising it with university management. Before our term, it had been sought several times with the indication that the fees wouldn’t be charged. We believed that NUI Galway would be like nearly every other institution in the country and waive repeat fees. This wasn’t the case and they planned on charging them. Repeat fees were unfairly charged to the unlucky few who did find themselves doing repeat exams. Many of these unfortunate students found themselves for the first time having to deal with learning online, studying without a desk or reliable Wi-Fi, or even so much as a quiet room. Students were literally completing exams while on their bed. To be expected to do the same as any other year was cruel.
What was done? By the 2nd week of July, #RipOffNUIG was launched. Using a stereotypical greedy monopoly man as the image for the campaign. It had started by appealing to the public to help sway university management to show compassion when it came to repeats. Questioning how it was fair that most had waived the fee and those in NUIG still had to pay. What made it worse was the fact that the University were charging the single highest repeat exam in the country. Nowhere else would charge €295 for one repeat exam, pandemic or not. The fee was too high to begin with and now it was being charged, despite the fact that the resits wouldn’t incorporate the cost of an exam hall, invigilators or materials.
What was the outcome? After being raised in the Dáil on multiple occasions, the government line of “Autonomy” was peddled. What this means is that they have no power when it comes to third level institutions. Is this right? That’s an article in itself. So, the highest place the Students’ Union can raise an issue is with the governing body of an institution, also known as Údurás na hOllscoile. The Students’ Union had 2 seats on this body out of the 40. We raised the issue with the members, who did not favour a universal refund, but rather a refund granted to students who were the most disadvantaged.
Was that a good outcome? Yes, it’s good that vulnerable people on the special rate of SUSI and students who get financial aid will be able to get the refund but it completely misses the point. Every student experienced the pandemic. Many students were repeating, not because they hadn’t studied, but because the conditions made it next to impossible for many. If you have no desk, no Wi-Fi, no access to campus or quiet space then how could they expect to pass easily? These students were forgotten.
How are things now? The fight has started to begin again. With both Trinity & UCC coming out to offer free repeats and resits to all students. Meaning if you passed or failed you can do the exam again to do better. How can our students be expected to compete in the workforce when they graduate? The grades difference will not make it easy. It’s not too late to change, I just hope NUI Galway realise they can do the right thing and be compassionate.
Over the past month, Ireland has seen the worst surge in Covid-19 cases since the first confirmed case in the Republic on the 29th of February of last year. This understandably has raised great concern about how the pandemic is being handled here and the need for stricter regulations surrounding the Coronavirus. This leads to the question; should there be heavier fines for people breaking Covid protocols? With cases still rising and stories of people flocking to sunny destinations the obvious answer would be yes, we should do everything to deter people from engaging in this kind of behaviour. However, making rash decisions based on high emotions could lead to much more serious implications. I do not believe introducing heavier fines will deter rich people from continuing to holiday or ‘anti-maskers’ to end their gatherings. I do believe that introducing heavier fines could significantly worsen the financial situation of already struggling people, set a precedent for who is and who is not punished for breaking guidelines, and not deal with the root of the problem of people not adhering to Covid protocol. In my opinion, if the only penalty for committing an offense is a fine, then this is only a penalty for people who cannot afford it. Due to the pandemic, Ireland’s unemployment rate increased to over 20% in 2020, and although this has fluctuated depending on lockdowns, this has undeniably affected people’s financial
situation. Many people are depending solely on the pandemic unemployment payment to feed their families, pay rent or mortgages as well as maintaining their household. By introducing hefty fines for people who have broken Covid regulations you are furthering their descent into poverty. From a moral perspective, this is wrong, as a poor person having to pay this fine is suffering much more than someone with more financial stability who has broken the same rule and pays the same sum. Even from a purely economic perspective, it does not make sense for the government to impose further financial burdens on people. This may cause them to rely on social welfare for longer, not be able to pay their mortgages or meet their children’s basic needs, all of these things in the long-term would require more financial support from the state. Covid-19 has further widened the gap between rich and poor globally. Jeff Bezos is on track to become a trillionaire by 2026, while the World Bank predicted in 2020 that Covid-19 will place 71 million people into extreme poverty. By using fines as the main deterrent not to breach Covid guidelines we would be promoting the distinction between the wealthy and the poor. It creates an attitude of one rule for them and another for everyone else. As seen with Golfgate; despite the resignations and apologies, your position in Irish society can influence how the law treats you. As a country, this is something
we should be working to move away from, by encouraging larger fines it would be something we accepted. Someone who has a lot of money does not see losing a small percentage of it as a reason not to do it, whereas for someone with no money the risk is infinitely higher. We should not encourage this disparity between rich and poor, we should not only criminalize people who cannot afford a fine. Conspiracy theories and misinformation has been rampant during this pandemic. This has caused ‘anti-maskers’ to host large gatherings with no regard for social distancing or any other Covid-19 regulations. I do not believe that introducing large fines addresses the root of this issue and therefore it would not end the problem. If more money and time were invested into monitoring online forums where this information is spread, educating people about the dangers of conspiracy theories, and persecuting people who organize such demonstrations, we would be more likely to encourage people to adhere to Covid-19 regulations. Although fining them may be a short-term deterrent it does not deal with the real problem at hand and thus the problem will continue. In conclusion, I do not believe there should be heavier fines for people found to be breaching Covid-19 regulations as it could have detrimental financial impacts on people, it punishes poor people more so than the wealthy and it does not deal with one of the root problems of people breaching guidelines.
Should the pandemic response have been handled by health experts instead of politicians? By Sophia Hadef What a difficult start of the year. Starting with a Level 5 lockdown, most of the shops are closed, no sitting in cafes and restaurants, the schools are closed and five kilometres is the maximum distance you can walk or run around your home. You need to stay at home, to go outside only for essential purposes and you cannot have any visitors to your home. All those restrictions are all considerably essential for this Covid situation. What if those restrictions had been applied all throughout December and during Christmas? What if the government had listened to the NPHET, to Tony Holohan’s warnings? Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly recently maintained that the Government didn’t go against NPHET’s advice over Christmas. It is very interesting to analyse politicians claims after a month of events. We clearly all remember that most shops, most restaurants and inter-county travel were allowed in December. We all have the clear memory of a Christmas week full of last minute restrictions happening just before New Year’s Eve. Whether we agreed or not, we all knew that meeting friends and family over the Christmas period was a risk to our health, a danger that could bring the virus into our homes and where we ourselves could then spread it over the spread it over the weeks that
followed. This was especially true considering lots of people present no symptoms and as a result, will never get tested. Schools were supposed to re open on the 6th of January, and letting Christmas happen, with all the people travelling throughout Europe and between our counties, was a recipe for disaster. We all miss our families and friends. Covid-19 has put a threat over our head for almost a year now. But we also all want to survive, to be able to live normally again, to meet each other without a single restriction. December’s events clearly showed the inability of the government to deal with this pandemic. Tony Holohan is an Irish public health physician who has been the Chief Medical Officer of Ireland since May 2008. And despite his repetitive warnings, despite his background as a Deputy Chief Medical Officer and studies from a medical school (he graduated with a Masters in Public Health in 1996),
the main figures of the government rarely take advice from this specialist. What about Stephen Donnelly? Our Minister for Health has a background as a management consultant with a degree in mechanical engineering and a masters in international development which includes health-related courses. This doesn’t make him a specialist in health, certainly not in comparison to a doctor or a health expert like Tony Holohan. It is interesting to notice that many government figures represent a domain they never studied, a field they serve just by knowing other politicians and got an important role without any requirements. It is risky to elect such major roles for a country without any background or selection conditions. We see it every day, to get a job, we all need to prove a background in certain areas, and it is becoming more and more common to get a job because we are specialised in the particular area of work that we applied for. Why is this principle not applied to such big figures as government ministers? Why are they elected mostly for their parties and acquaintance rather than their specialisations in the field they want to represent and work for? I think the answer has never been more clear, this pandemic would have been better handled by health experts instead of incompetent figures abusing their authority without proper knowledge of their sector.
26 O PI NI O N How to keep your New Year’s Resolution By Niamh Casey 2021 has already seen a year’s worth of events take place, and yet it still manages to drag on. January can seem like a neverending month at the best of times, and even more so in the current circumstances. The days of asking people how they are doing have passed, as the expected answer has become “ah you know, getting on with it”; an attitude which, for better or for worse, is gradually being accepted by most. With the right approach however, this attitude is not as woeful as it might appear, and the key is being able to cut yourself some slack. Without sounding overly optimistic, the key in getting through hard times is by not pushing yourself past your limits, remind yourself that you’re doing a good job as it is. The New Year is usually the time that people set either unrealistic or unspecific goals for themselves to try to meet, inevitably falling short. It’s a fact that less than 8% of people stick to their resolutions, which leaves an overwhelming amount of people feeling bad and giving themselves a hard time for not meeting their goals. Looking at this fact alone, it’s undeniable to say that new year’s resolutions don’t really work, the reason for which being that most resolutions made are unrealistic. People often give up once they don’t see results after a couple of days, or they realise the task at hand is harder than it first seemed. Consistency is key when trying to make lifestyle changes, and if you feel like you’re not meeting your own standards, maybe try lowering them. There is no shame in adjusting a goal to make it more achievable, you’re doing this for yourself, not to impress others. Another big reason people fail to meet their resolutions is because they set goals that are too broad. ‘Exercise’, ‘eat healthy’ and ‘read more’ are too vague, it’ll be easier to follow through with your intentions. Set specific challenges for yourself like learning how to cook a specific meal or two from scratch or work out twice a week. Tailor your objectives to suit your schedule and your current skill level. You’re bound to fail if you make a plan without having an idea or means of how to carry it out, and again you’re only left feeling like you failed. This year is certainly not the year to be putting unnecessary pressure on yourself. Set personal goals that are attainable and possible to achieve and stick with it. This way the results you’re seeking will sneak up on you before you know it. All this being said however, if you don’t feel like setting resolutions or objectives for yourself this year, do not feel bad for not doing so. The point of new year’s resolutions is to feel accomplished and good about yourself, and if you’re not feeling either, then don’t force yourself to continue. The best way to approach this year is by allowing time to do things that make you happy and help keep your mind at ease, be it exercising, binge watching shows or getting artistic. If you must set only one goal, let it be do more of what you love.
SIN Vol. 22 Issue 07
Holocaust Remembrance: Questioning the ‘New Normal’ is the Only Way to Ensure ‘Never Again’ By Simeon Burke Wednesday, the 27th of January, was Holocaust Remembrance Day and as usual, the German parliament held a special Holocaust Remembrance Day service to mark the solemn occasion. This year, as part of the ceremony, Charlotte Knobloch, Holocaust survivor and former head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, made a speech to the German Parliament describing her experience of the Holocaust. Painting a vivid picture of what it was like to grow up as a Jew in Munich in the 1930’s, Knobloch spoke of the harrowing ordeals undergone by her and her family during the Nazi regime including “decrees, prohibitions, and denigrations” which made everyday life “unbearable”. She talked about going out to play one afternoon to the courtyard across the street where boys and girls would often meet and finding the gate locked. To her dismay, she was told “Jewish children are not allowed to play here!” Knobloch’s grandmother was killed and her father arrested, however, her life was saved by the family housekeeper who took her to live in the Franconian countryside until the war was over. Her story mirrors that of so many others who, like her, endured the horrors of Nazi hatred. Happily, she survived. Yet six million others were not so fortunate, and their fate is a poignant reminder of the unthinkable atrocities that can take place in any country and in any age when vigilance dwindles, and government power becomes absolute. The principle of ‘Never Again’ has always been and should always be the overarching concern when it comes to Holocaust Remembrance. But it is far easier to rattle that principle off the tip of the tongue than it is to engage with it in an honest and forthright manner. ‘Never Again’ means asking serious and sometimes difficult questions about the society in which we live. It means looking around at the current state-of-affairs and asking ourselves whether the seeds of another similar atrocity could be being sown surreptitiously before our eyes. It means opening up our minds to the possibility that we could be making the same terrible mistakes and falling into the same deep pit the German people did during that dark and shameful period in their nation’s history. This isn’t an easy task. But it is our solemn responsibility. In 2021, it seems quite clear that Holocaust Remembrance ought to involve looking critically at the ‘new normal’ that has developed in our country and examining it through the lens of the lessons learned from Nazi Germany. After all, if ‘Never Again’ is to truly be the principle underpinning our remembrance, then surely measuring up the recent changes in our world to the dark marker of the Nazi period is necessary. Surely, investigating similarities between our
own society and the one Knobloch experienced as a child is called for. In her speech to the German parliament, Knobloch spoke of the “fear” that characterized life in Nazi Germany. She spoke of the walk to school being a “gauntlet full of slogans” and of life only taking place “at home” with Jews being “forbidden to leave the house”. She explained how eventually there was “no longer any privacy” with “men in
long coats” invading the house and helping themselves to the Jews’ possessions. Whatever one believes about the justification for Covid-19 restrictions, it must be acknowledged that ominous parallels exist between the society described by Knobloch and the one foisted upon us for the past eleven months. Fear-mongering. state-crafted slogans droning from the media paid for with tax-payers money. Confinement to one’s house. The rapid expansion of police powers. Increasing conversation in the corridors of power regarding the suspension of privacy rights. And that’s just to name a few. Perhaps the most undeniable parallel is the intolerance for any line of thought on Covid-19 that does not square with the caprices of NPHET. Over the last eleven months, we have seen doctors, lawmakers, business owners and a myriad of others targeted for speaking candidly on the greatest loss of freedoms in their lifetime. A brave few presumed that, at least, the right to disagree was still sacrosanct. How wrong they were. Dr Martin Feely, the clinal director of the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group, is an example of the same, forced out of his job within a week after speaking out
against NPHET. It seems very much a replay of history when one considers that one of the Nazis’ first legal adventures was to pass the Reichstag Fire Edict in 1933 which inaugurated “restrictions on personal liberty” including the right to “free expression of opinion”. Across the water in the UK, the BBC recently reported on the arrest of a nurse who tried to remove her 97-year-old mother from a care home before lockdown began. It was claimed that every attempt to meet the mother had been “met with inflexibility” by the home. It is also significant that on the same day Knobloch gave her speech to the German parliament, a young man walking down a street in the English village of Dorridge was arrested and bundled into the back of a police vehicle for refusing to tell a police officer his name. Footage of the incident, which later received almost 2 million views on Twitter, showed the man telling the police officer that he lived locally and was on his way to work. The officer called him an “idiot” and arrested him citing “coronavirus legislation” as the reason. The West Midlands Police were later forced to make an apology, yet the unfortunate scenario is not an isolated event. These situations illustrate the emerging similarity between our society today and the Nazi one we claim to abhor. Knobloch hit headlines all around the world when she spoke out against anti-lockdown protestors and said that comparing coronavirus restrictions to the policies of the Nazis was inappropriate. Yet, questions need to be asked about the parallels between Hitler’s fascist state and the developing ‘new normal’ in our own time. A culture of fear has developed of late in which politicians are silent and NPHET supreme. The people are told to obey while the ‘experts’ make the decisions. Is it justifiable for members of An Garda Síochána to pass their time standing in the middle of the road asking people where they are going and why? Is it equitable for shop owners who have invested their whole lives into carrying on their family tradition to be ordered by the government to close because they are not deemed ‘essential’? Is it acceptable for so many of our elderly to be locked away in the wards of hospitals and care homes across the country completely at the mercy of the HSE? Nazism took control of Germany because people didn’t ask questions. It wreaked havoc across Europe because people were afraid to step out from the crowd and speak up. It cost millions of lives because citizens towed the line and failed to hold their government to account. T h i s y e a r, a s w e remember the millions who tragically lost their lives in the Holocaust, we need to do the difficult thing. We need to apply history to the present. The questions must be asked. The answers must be demanded. Otherwise, the ‘Never’ will fall out of ‘Never Again’.
February 09 2021
Cause for cautious optimism as we move further into Covid unknown By Darragh Nolan It’s been a tough year. After a horrific 2020, it pains me to say that again just over a month into its evil twin, 2021. The Covid-19 death toll has crept over 3,000 and worldwide cases of the virus have surged past 100 million. It’s hard to gauge whether this year will be better than the last. We had moments of respite in 2020. January and February were the final months of normalcy. The more open summer months weren’t the worst considering what we went through before and since. Up to now 2021 has been lived entirely under restrictions. Level 5 will remain until at least March 5th and even if we don’t exit it then, we’ll still be
working from home, staying apart, and wearing our masks. We are in the midst of the unknown. There is no expiry date for the pandemic. At times it can feel like this is never-ending. It’s coming up on a full calendar year since Ireland’s Covid Judgement Day. On March 12th , 2020, the first semblance of restrictions came in and since then we’ve been coming in and out of periods of restrictions in rollercoaster-like fashion. This isn’t the new normal anymore. It’s just normal. My mother mentioned recently that one thing that had made lockdown life harder of late was the loss of the “novelty” of it. I agree, insofar as such hardship can hold “novelty”.
While vaccines give hope, some remnants of the pandemic like social distancing may be here for the long term
How will Covid-19 effect college in the long term?
Many of us have adjusted. Students are coping, as much as one can cope under the stress of maintaining something resembling a life amidst a pandemic. We continue working as the walls seemingly fall down around us. Although we may be better equipped for the dayto-day of life under lockdown, that experience comes at a price. The public is becoming increasingly fed-up with this way of living. So-called “Covid-fatigue” is setting in, so much so that the European Union is calling on member states to vaccinate their populations as quickly as possible in order to avoid it taking hold. Some will understandably see no way out of this calamity. Others may have wistful notions of a summer abroad. Both outlooks are too extreme one way or another. But hope is the best thing we can clutch on to at the moment so long as it’s accompanied by a healthy dose of realism. Everyone is tired. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. But there is a much brighter side to the bleak reality we find ourselves trapped in. Covid19 vaccinations are being administered the world over. Countries like New Zealand have shown us that there is a route out of the pandemic, even if the one we take is vastly different. Restrictions are working and case numbers continue to fall. Well over 300,000 people on the island
of Ireland having received a vaccine dose. In time that number will be high enough that the government and NPHET begin to plot a course out of the mess we’re in for good. There’s no use clinging on to thoughts of a grand re-opening after March 5th when Level 5 restrictions are set to expire. We may have to rule out another year of summer plans. For now we wait as the effort we make today promises a better tomorrow. I won’t make any predictions as to when we’ll get back to something resembling normality. One of the many lessons this pandemic has taught us is that nothing in life is guaranteed. We could well be reuniting face-to-face come September. There is also a possibility we’ll have to continue with college through our computer screens. My mind keeps drifting back to an NUIG Confessions tweet from around the time of the first lockdown last spring. The sentiment was that by Christmas 2020, we’d all be back together again reminiscing over the distant memory of the pandemic. A wayward guess to say the least. Not only is the pandemic not in the rear-view yet, but it’s still firmly visible down the road for a long while yet. There is reason to be hopeful. We will get there. The question of when that will be is one the virus, our leaders and society have yet to answer.
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Covid and Lockdowns – Students in Continued Crisis By Rebecca Von Beaumont If you had asked me what college life would entail two years ago, I would have answered the same as everybody else: parties on a Tuesday night, labs on a Thursday morning, deciding which lectures were so full of people they could do with a cheeky skip, working at the weekends to fill the cupboards on the weekdays. Through tales and promises passed down through generations we built a mental frame of our college life to be. Through them, we really identified the three building blocks of college life: the academic side, the social side, and the financial side. The same question now applies to circle out the huge problems we are facing as students. These problems, I find, are often downplayed by use of comparison, and dampened in an effort to ‘get on with things.’ The issue here is that they should not be downplayed. Arguably the most important element of going to college is the academic purpose. For the majority of modules undertaken in NUI Galway and other third level institutions in Ireland, lectures are no longer held in a lecture hall but via video link. This simple switch cuts out many levels of learning help, from discussing with fellow students to directly asking your lecturer a question and having them see your response. The current way of learning does not suit everyone. After all, there are lots that opt for a degree achieved solely online, but those of us in a third level institution such as NUIG did not and have also paid accordingly. The quality of education nationwide has been largely infringed upon, and it seems to me that this will continue into the long term, quite probably leading to weaker learning on the whole, and eventually fewer traditional third level enrollments. Thus, we are brought onto the financial side of obtaining your college degree, which is the focus for many people, particularly now. With unemployment
on the rise, students who would have had the financial backing of their parents are now finding themselves coming up short financially. It can only be assumed that this will carry on and perhaps even worsen with the strain of longer and harsher lockdowns. Added to this are the inconsistent and unstable jobs in the hospitality sectors which many students would work in part-time. Such income is now unstable at best. Struggles with sourcing and renting accommodation are now coupled with the unpredictability of on-campus learning and social activities and leads to deposit and rent losses for all of those involved. More people may withdraw from the market as renting becomes a less than ideal option. Lastly, a vital part of everyone’s life regardless of age, is the social and personal aspect. Humans are social creatures who need family, friends, and even acquaintances. College was one of the main places to expand your social circles, from sport and events to just attending the lectures themselves. In college life void of this, people are stripped of opportunities to get that much needed human contact. Of all the aspects of college life, this is perhaps the one that will sting the most going forward, as socialization is reduced to a bare minimum and those just starting out on adulthood have virtually no opportunity to grow socially. The future impact of this, which can already be heavily felt, is simply an unhappier people. With these elements considered, we are heading for a problematic future, with many struggling to stay afloat amid financial and academic difficulties, and further dragged down by the weight of unavoidable loneliness. While this can be considered a bleak view, I would say it is one that is realistic, and unfortunately strays far away from the rosy ideals many of us had growing up. If you ask me what college life will be like in the future, I would tell you that I hope it’s nothing like it is today.
Flourless Vegan Cookies Makes approx 20
INGREDIENTS Coconut Oil (Cold) Caster Sugar Brown Sugar Coconut Milk Vanilla Essences Ground Almonds Baking Powder Chopped Almonds Vegan Chocolate
QUANTITY 125 grams 100 grams 150 grams 125 millilitres 1 teaspoon 300 grams 1 teaspoon 100 grams 150 grams
EQUIPMENT NEEDED Electric Mixer Bowl Baking Tray Small Baking Tray Large Measuring Jug Spatula Rubber/Silicone Baking Paper Spoon Dessert/Soup Fridge/Freezer Oven Weighting Scales
METHOD • Place Coconut Oil (Cold), Caster Sugar & Brown Sugar in bowl in whisk until combined. Add Coconut Milk with Vanilla Essences and whisk until smooth. • Tip in Ground Almonds and Baking Powder and mix. • Once all is combined to a thick batter consistence tip in Chopped Almonds & Vegan Chocolate Chips and whisk until mixed. • Line the Baking Tray Small with Baking Paper, using the Spatula and Spoon measure out 20 balls of cookie dough approx 50 grams each. • Cover the cookie dough with another sheet of Baking Paper and place in freezer for about 2 hours or in fridge for 5/6 hours or over night until cookie dough is nice and firm. • Preheat the oven to 160°c. • Line Baking Tray Large with Baking Paper and place cookie dough on the tray with about 4 centimeter between each cookie dough ball. • Bake in the oven for approx 15/16 minutes turning the tray once. • Cookies are ready once light golden colour and soft in the middle. • Take out of the oven and leave to cool. TIP Cookie dough can be made in advance and frozen in an airtight container or zip lock bag. When needed take out and cook.
SIN Vol. 22 Issue 07
NUI Galway feature heavily in All Stars nomination list Oisín Bradley Sports Editor There have been many NUI Galway students, both past and present, listed among the 2020 GAA Gaelic Football and Hurling All-Star nominees. In all, seven NUIG men were nominated for the
hurling All-Stars, with two current students also being nominated for young footballer of the year by the judiciary committee. Both Tommy Conroy and Oisín Mullin had exceptional campaigns in the Green and Red of Mayo as the Connacht kingpins secured their 47th provincial crown, and their fine form has seen them
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scoop up two of the three nominations alongside fellow county man Eoghan McLaughlin. Tommy Conroy’s imperious scoring form saw him nominated for the prestigious honour. Conroy repaid manager James Horan’s faith in the youngster on his Championship debut vs Leitrim, scoring a goal as the men from the Yew county ran rampant. From there, he scored in every game as Mayo surged to the All-Ireland final. His impressive form broke the hearts of Galway late last year, scoring three points in the provincial decider in Pearse Stadium. While Oisín Mullin may not have had any impact on the scoreboard in his maiden SFC campaign, his role as a dependable member of a functioning defence could not be understated. Mullin was a key cog at the back, and put in a resoundingly positive performance vs Con O’Callaghan in
the All-Ireland final. Such a strong and impressive campaign also saw the Kilmaine man nominated for the Young Sportsperson of the Year Award. Of the seven hurlers from the Galway panel nominated to pick up an award this season, six of them are NUI Galway affiliates, the most notable of which is Conor Whelan. Whelan was one of Galway’s more prolific scorers alongside Joe Canning in the Championship campaign this season, notching 0-10 across the 4 games including 0-3 in the All-Ireland semi-final defeat at the hands of eventual champions Limerick. Another man who scored 0-3 in that encounter was Brian Concannon, who was in a similar vein of form all season. Concannon’s 1-4 in the Leinster semi-final lit the touchpaper for the 24-year-old Killimordaly man, who went on to score 2-8 in total over the course of the championship. Both men were part of NUI Galway’s most recent Fitzgibbon Cup panel in 2019. Among the other nominees, we had NUIG affiliates Daithi Burke, Aidan Harte, Padraic Mannion and Cathal Mannion. The latter is someone who was deadly accurate in front of goals with the sliotar, putting 1-7 on the scoreboard in 2020.
Despair for fans as Sigerson and Fitzgibbon fall foul of Covid-19 By Oisín Bradley The Gaelic Athletic Association have confirmed the cancellation of all third level Gaelic Games competitions for the 2020/21 Academic Year The move to cancel all university competition, which encompasses the Sigerson and Fitzgibbon cups, as well as all Fresher gaelic football and hurling competitions for the season, will likely come as a blow to many students in both NUI Galway and further afield, who see representing their university in these competitions as an intrinsic part of their college experience. “The committee had been hopeful of staging a comprehensive programme of games, including the Sigerson & Fitzgibbon Cups, but given the current
landscape in the country and the public health difficulties, this will not be possible,” confirmed the GAA Higher Education Committee in a statement in mid-January. The prospects of the competition taking place in the 2021/22 academic year are considered to be quite optimistic, however, as the Higher Education GAA Committee have not completely abandoned the notions of these competitions being staged in October as originally planned. In a statement, the committee’s chair Michael Hyland expressed optimism that both the main and Fresher competitions could take place next year as planned. “There is a lot of uncertainty about when games will recommence at club and county level and what the calendar will look like in 2021 but as the situation becomes clearer, we will work with the clubs, colleges, development officers and all stakeholders to try and find ways to mitigate against the effects of our students not having had any games this academic year and we are really looking forward to a return to play in October. “We are looking forward staging second year competitions for this year’s Freshers which we hope will take place in the first Semester of the 2021/2022 academic year. “Finally, I would like to wish all our players well for the studies in the year and would like to wish all those involved in our sector the very best and good health as we get through Covid-19.” This mean’s that NUIG’s chances of re-capturing the Sigerson ad Fitzgibbon Cups will have to continue for at least another season. Their drought of success in these flagship competitions has gone on since 2010, when the Fitzgibbon Cup side triumphed over WIT in Salthill to claim their tenth title.
February 09 2021
Galway footballers abroad; Shaughnessy seals Rochdale move, Horgan’s Wycombe woes continue By Oisín Bradley After a busy Christmas period and a turbulent January in the top tiers of English football, league tables are well and truly starting to take shape in what has been a bizarre season with even stranger results across the footballing pyramid. Here, we’re going to be casting an eye over how some of our local talents have fared, including two men who have made moves in the January transfer market in recent weeks.
Greg Cunningham – Preston North End: Cunningham was given a slim slither of game time by now-ex Cardiff City boss Neil Harris in December, both as a late substitute in a 3-2 home win over Birmingham, as well as playing the full 90 minutes in a 2-0 loss to fellow Welsh side Swansea City. That would be the last game he played for the Bluebirds, as he was benched for the next two games against Brentford and Wycombe Wanderers, before being dropped from the match-day panel entirely for games vs Norwich, Queens Park Rangers and Barnsley. Former Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy has since sent Cunningham on loan to Preston North End, and the Galwegian has already made his debut in his second spell at Deepdale, coming on in the 78th minute of a 1-0 loss on the road to Sheffield Wednesday. Preston North End sit in eleventh place in the
Championship, five places higher than Cunningham’s parent club Cardiff City, and six points off the promotion play-off places.
Conor Shaughnessy – Rochdale AFC: Conor Shaughnessy has found it difficult to make an impact at Elland Road for Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United, having not made an appearance for the senior team in well over two years. Late in the day, Shaughnessy made the switch to Rochdale, where he will be playing under Cork native Brian Barry Murphy at the Spotland Stadium, and alongside fellow Irishmen Gavin Bazanu and Paul McShane. Rochdale are currently embroiled in a relegation battle and sit 18th in League One, a mere three points off the drop zone.
It has without doubt been a trying campaign for Horgan’s Wycombe Wanderers, who are currently rooted to the foot of the Championship and 12 points off safety. That being said, Horgan has been a staple of the side, playing in seven matches in succession for the Chairboys, including the full 90 minutes in a 2-1 home win over Cardiff City as well as well as the full game in a 1-1 draw with Queens’ Park Rangers at Adams Park. Horgan was dropped from the squad for Wycombe’s FA Cup defeat to Tottenham Hotspur
Remembering NUIG’s stunning 2003 Sigerson success A star-studded NUI Galway side produced a crowning performance as they swept to a three-point win over UCD to claim their 22nd Sigerson Cup crown and end their eleven-year drought. It was a game which will be remembered for the imperious performance of Caltra man Michael Meehan. On the day, he made Pairc Ui Rinn his stage from corner forward, scoring 1-4 and dictating the pace, as well as scoring two superb side-line balls. UCD, who boasted the talismanic Alan Brogan among their ranks, took control of the game in the opening 35 minutes with Liam O Heineachain opening the scoring, and come the half-time whistle, were heading in three points to the good with the scoreboard reading 0-6 to 0-3 points at the changeover. However, Saint Michaels and Donegal man Colm Anthony McFadden and Spiddal’s Brendan Colleran combined to raise the white flag twice and leave the bare minimum between the side’s only minutes into Act Two. Moments later, two iconic scores from Meehan, who bisected the posts with unerring accuracy from either sideline to swing the pendulum the way of the men from the banks of the Corrib. Then came the goal which was mired in controversy. A long free from around thirty metres out from the right boot of Meehan dropped in and around the square, and by the time UCD net-minder Gerry
Ryan Manning – Swansea City: Like Cunningham, Ryan Manning is another Galway native who has found game time hard to come by in Wales in the 2020/21 League campaign. Manning has played three times in the last eleven games for the Swans, with mixed results. In mid-December, he was a half-time substitute in a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Derby County, replacing Jake Bidwell.
Daryl Horgan – Wycombe Wanderers:
REELING SIN THE YEARS By Oisín Bradley
and didn’t feature for the beleaguered outfit in their 7-2 away defeat to Brentford but made his return to the panel on the bench as the Wanderers managed a goalless draw vs Birmingham City.
McGill claimed the ball it was adjudged to have been over the line by the umpires prior to him being bundled into his net by Clare man Rory Donnelly. The awarding of the goal by the man in the middle sparked furious protests as he was surrounded by UCD players making their feelings known, but ultimately the green flag was raised and the goal was given to open the advantage to five. While the men from Belfield opened the game well and seemed in the driving seat with ten minutes to go until half-time, their star power faded, and they couldn’t raise the white flag again for another 30 minutes. In contrast, the hunger and desire from NUI Galway was growing as the game went on, and one would suspect that even without their fortuitous three-pointer given the impetus of their play. Come full-time it would be the men in maroon who were three points to the good, with the iconic trophy heading West rather than East for 2003. NUI GALWAY: David Morris (Galway); Clive Monaghan (Galway), Richie Murray (Galway), Dara Blake (Clare); Dermot Costello (Mayo), John Donoghue (Meath), Carl O’Neill (Sligo); Barry Cullinane (Galway), Lorcán Colleran (Galway); Brendán Colleran (Galway) (0-1), Matthew Clancy (Galway) (0-1), Rory Donnelly (Clare); Michael Meehan (Galway) (1-4, 1-2f, 0-2s-l), Micheál Keane (Mayo), Colm McFadden (Donegal) (0-2). SUBS: J Rafter for O’Neill (54’), G Flanagan for Cullinane (58’). REFEREE: J Bannon (Longford)
Ryan Manning at Galway United, prior to his move across the water
In the first game of 2021, Manning played 85 minutes as Steve Cooper’s men ran out 2-1 winners over Watford, as well as making a last-minute appearance as Swansea drew one a piece with Brentford on home turf. Swansea City are well in the hunt for the Championship title, sitting third in the table, one point behind Brentford and five off the top with a game in hand.
Aaron Connolly – Brighton and Hove Albion: Brighton and Hove Albion are a side who have turned their fortunes around considerably in 2021, only recording a solitary loss since the turn of the year. While Aaron Connolly has not quite played the role he would’ve hoped for, he and his team-mates will likely be pleased with their run of form in the new year. Connolly was in from the off for the Seagull’s first Premier League game of the season vs Wolverhampton Wanderers, and was the scorer of the opening goal, turning in Leandro Trossard’s cross first-time to edge his side into the lead, before being subbed off at the changeover. Since then, Connolly has been a late substitute in Brighton’s remarkable narrow victories over ‘Big Six’ clubs Tottenham and Liverpool respectively, as they continue to put considerable daylight between themselves and the bottom three on the Premier League table.
Coconut butternut squash soup with grilled halloumi cheese
INGREDIENTS: 1 butternut squash peeled and cut for pieces 1 can of coconut milk Chopped half onion 2 garlic cloves 1 tablespoon coconut oil 100ml chicken or veggie stock Halloumi cheese Toasted mix seeds Black pepper, cayenne, salt Garlic bread Step 1 On medium heat fry onion, garlic and butternut squash with coconut oil for 5 min. Step 2 Add 1 can of coconut milk and 100ml chicken/veggie stock and boil for 20 min on low heat. Step 3 Blend soup and add salt, pepper, cayenne to taste. Step 4 On dryer pan grill 2 slices of halloumi cheese until golden Step 5 Sprinkle soup with roasted mix seeds, warm halloumi cheese and some garlic bread.
e g n e l l Cha
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February 09 2021
Kearns, Kelly and Galway WFC shake up McCormack sign on their coaching set up as Galway United get ahead of new season. set for promotion tilt Oisín Bradley
By Oisín Bradley Galway United have started 2021 in a similar manner to how they saw out 2020, with an influx of new faces in and around the squad for the SSE Airtricity League First Division season. In total, three new players have been added to John Caulfield’s panel in preparation for the new campaign, with the most recent man to put pen to paper being ex-Derry City, Shamrock Rovers and Cork City man Conor McCormack.
McCormack is someone who Caulfield will likely look to to add a sense of experience and professionalism to the dressing room. 30-year-old McCormack had been on the books at Manchester United in his early days, and also has plenty of medals in his back pocket, boasting two League of Ireland Premier Division medals from his time at Cork City and Shamrock Rovers, as well as 12 other trophies. McCormack and Caulfield have previous history, having both been at Cork City between 2017 and 2019, and per the wily midfielder, they’ll be hoping to replicate their success in Turners Cross on the banks of the Corrib. “John is a great manager, you can see what he did with Cork City, we had great success there together. I spent three years playing under him down there, now John’s come to Galway United, and hopefully we can replicate that success here.”
McCormack is no stranger to the rigours of Irish football, although this will be his first stint in the second division of Irish football. The 30-year-old departs the Brandywell with 282 First Division appearances since 2011, and will hoping to add to that as the men in maroon target a place in the top flight in 2022. Caulfield will be looking to tap into this astute footballing brain as he builds a promising squad for the season. “Conor has got great leadership qualities, he’s a top player on the park and with the young squad that we have, I think he’s a perfect fit to come into what we’re trying to build at the club,” Caulfield said as he lauded the new man. “Conor is someone that our young players can look up to, because he’s a thorough professional. We’re really excited to have him at the club.” Another fresh face who lends a dearth of experience to the Tribesmen’s cause is Conor Kearns. Kearns may be a youngster in goalkeeping terms, but having previously landed the First Division title with UCD in 2018, he’ll be looking to lift the trophy once again for the Terryland outfit. Christmas Eve saw the return of Colin Kelly to Eamonn Deacy park for a second stint at the club. The teenager had a brief spell at Dalymount Park with the Bohemians Under-19s, and will be looking to impress the United fans and make a more lasting impact having gained more experience away from the town of the tribes. It hasn’t just been the playing staff that have seen an influx of new faces, as there have been additions to the coaching ticket also. Lisa Fallon links up with John Caulfield once more having returned from London, where she was head coach at the London City Lionesses, while the club’s former Under-17 manager Gary O’Connor makes the step up to the senior backroom team.
It’s been change aplenty in the management structure at Galway WFC as they gear up for an exciting 2021 campaign, with Dave Bell joining Billy Clery’s coaching staff for the upcoming SSE Airtricity Women’s National League season. Bell is a man with plenty of experience in women’s football, and will be looking his guile and know-how around the training pitch and match-day squad can make a huge difference as Galway WFC look to break into the upper echelons of the FAI WNL. Bell’s time in the game spans over thirty years, having most recently managed Shelbourne Ladies to successive second-place league finishes, as well as an WNL Cup crown in 2019. Galway WFC boss Clery will hope to tap into such a depth of wisdom as his side build on last season’s fifthplace finish, having lost all their games in the second phase of the league last season. In the inaugural FAI Women’s Under-19 National League, Emer Flatley will be taking the reins as head coach of the club’s new Under-19
side. Flatley, a former Ireland underage international, will be looking to guide the team to success in the maiden year of the league, for a club she spent time representing in her playing career. Flatley will be familiar with the death of young talent at her disposal that having worked with many of the side’s key players as Under-17’s coach. Among the talented crop is last season’s Senior Player’s Player of the Year Shauna Brennan. Robbie Barrett will be joining Flatley in the coaching set-up, having previously coached at Annaghdown club Corrib Celtic. Rounding off the ticket as assistant manager is Alan Faulkner, the assistant manager, having coached Limerick club Aisling Annacotty as well as being in the dugout for the Desmond League Gaynor Cup team. The club will be looking forward to the resumption of SSE Airtricity Women’s National League action in mid to late March, a sense of excitement which has been heightened by the release of the fixtures on Monday.
PASSIONATE ABOUT THE
Six Nations: Four Connacht players named in Farrell’s provisional squad. By Oisín Bradley Four Connacht players feature in Andy Farrell’s 36 man 6 Nations squad, which looks to secure Ireland’s first title since 2018. The Men in Green kicked off their campaign with a frustrating loss to Wales at the Principality Stadium on Sunday. The Connacht Man likely to see the most competitive action is Bundee Aki, who was sitting on 30 Ireland caps prior to the kicking off of the 2021 campaign. The live-wire centre has been an intrinsic part of the Ireland setup since Joe Schmidt first called him into the fold in 2017 for the Autumn Internationals, and has been a key cog in the Ireland side. Also included in the squad is lock Ultan Dillane, who will be looking to build on his 17 caps. This Six Nations campaign will mark five years since his first game in an Ireland jersey, when he came on against England in the 2016 edition of the tournament. Quinn Roux is only one cap behind Dillane, with sixteen to his name, having madehis debut against his native South Africa in 2016 The former Leinster man has been plying his trade in the West for six seasons and has become a fan favourite at the Sportsground.
Dave Heffernan will be looking to make his mark on the international stage, having received five caps so far. Heffernan, an NUI Galway graduate, has made his mark in this Connacht side, but has struggled to translate his wealth of experience with his province onto the international stage thus far. Heffernan started for Connacht at the Sportsground in their 24-20 defeat at the hands of Welsh side Ospreys in recent weeks. The hosts raced into a 17-5 lead before the break in Galway, however an inspirational performance from Welshman Rhys Webb, who has been omitted from Wales’ Six Nations squad, completely turned the tables and saw Ospreys heading home with the victory in tow, making their record an impressive six wins from seven. Bundee Aki was amongst the replacements for Connacht on the day, however his dearth of experience was powerless to stop a rampant Ospreys side, who move to 3rd in Conference A, while Connacht remain 2nd in Conference B, with some ways to go to catch Munster in top spot. Former NUI Galway student Jack Carty will feel aggrieved to have been left out of Andy Farrell’s squad. Carty has been in impressive form of late and helped his Connacht side to a crucial win over the Dragons in Wales last weekend.
Join the SU Irish Language Committee Help run and plan campaigns to promote the Irish Language at NUI Galway including Seachtain na Gaeilge. Learn new skills, improve your Irish, make new friends and share your love of Irish. Meetings will be through Irish but all levels are welcome.
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Issue 7 of SIN