FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE A YEAR ABROAD ST PETERSBURG & MOSCOW TRAVEL SPECIAL 16-17
WHO WILL HEAD THE NEXT SU? ELECTION SPECIAL 4-6
TOMB RAIDER 2012
INTERVIEW WITH THE CREATORS
TRINITY NEWS Est 1953
Prof Green put on the bill for Trinity Ball ‘12 Kate Palmer Editor
THE FIRST act for the Trinity Ball 2012 has been confirmed as hip hop pundit Professor Green – who recently emerged in the charts as one of the UK’s most promising rappers. A ticket to the Ball – famed for being Europe’s largest private party – will set students back €78. But Students’ Union Ents Officer Chris O’Connor says the price tag should not put off would-be partygoers. “It’s not just going to be as good as last year – it’s going to be better,” he boasts. That said, the 2011 line-up will be a tough act to follow – headliners Jessie J, The Streets and Bell X1 signalled a high-profile comeback from former Ball flops (think The Script back in 2009). Professor Green (née Stephen Manderson) is no stranger to Trinity’s legendary soirée – he featured in the early-hour slot of the Pop Tent in 2011’s Ball alongside Jenna Toro, Katy B and Chipmunk. But don’t be put off by his relative Ball obscurity – the Hackneyborn musician’s profile has soared in recent months with the likes of I Need
You Tonight and Before I Die. A record deal with Virgin, collaboration with Lily Allen, No.3 UK-chart album and Hollywood set of teeth later, Green’s profile has soared on a scale that rivals the Irish deficit. “The Trinity Ball was crazy, you lot just fucking have it,” reminisced Green in an interview with TN2 last October. No small compliment from an individual who has seen his fair share of crazy in life: from his father’s suicide, the drugs, to being stabbed in the neck outside a London nightclub. What was an epic party for one performer was a tough gig for less hardened acts – Jessie J infamously tweeted after the 2011 Ball: “I was upset to see so many young people not with it,” much to the delight of an Irish media keen to confirm the Trinity-student-rich-lout stereotype. O’Connor says he is “absolutely delighted” with this year’s big names, and that organising the event is not too stressful: “Everything’s falling together at this point.” Exclusive interviews releasing the full lineup, along with fashion shoots and general Ball hype will be released in Trinity News’ annual Ball Guide – out 20 February.
RAG week raises record funds for Trinity charities and hardship funds in a week of competition
The Trinity News staff team beats the University Times hands down on the pitch, winning 19-7 at the RAG Week charity grudge match. Other events included a Pie Your Sabbats day, Quidditch match, and individual fundraisers to the tune of over €11,000
College charities get €11k in aid Manus Lenihan & Kate Palmer College News Editor & Editor
RAG WEEK witnessed a memorable series of events including three-legged pub crawls, Pie your Sabbats day, Trinity’s first-ever game of Quidditch and the TN vs UT Grudge Match. This year there was an emphasis on online donations using mycharity.ie – the site raised €5,000 from individual fundraising bids alone. Along with money made from sign-up sheets and society efforts – including Players’ Eighties Drinks Reception – the charity drive
raised an estimated €11,000. Chris O’Connor deserves a special mention for raising €898.99 for a merciless programme of piercings, along with agonising videos, which appealed to the sadists on campus. O’Connor put his success down to online publicity – and said he might even keep a few of the piercings. This was the most profitable of the mycharity.ie ventures, though several other efforts raised impressive amounts of money – one of which was the Polar Bear Dip, which raised €200. Organiser Hannah Cogan said it was “absolutely worth it – a
huge thanks to the brave souls who jumped with me!” All proceeds went to St. Vincent de Paul, Amnesty International, Suas, Cancer Soc, the Student Hardship Fund, the Voluntary Tuition Programme and the Student 2 Student society. Students’ Union Welfare Officer Louisa Miller said the event was “really important for the societies involved – the individual fundraisers are a crucial source of funding for these groups. We made around €75 from the Pie Your Sabbats event – not bad going for an hour’s work!”
Redundancies deemed in breach of Croke Park deal IFUT concerned for job security in Trinity Academic staff demand deal is kept to IFUT slams “ill-informed” Fine Gael party Manus Lenihan College News Editor
IN RESPONSE to three compulsory redundancy notices served to Trinity College staff members, the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) has suspended all co-operation with the Croke Park Agreement. IFUT general secretary Mike Jennings said the Labour Court should decide by late March on the three compulsory redundancies in Trinity College. He says the case has “massive ramifications” for the 2010 Croke Park Agreement, in which the Government and public sector unions agreed not to impose public sector layoffs or further cuts in the area. Speaking to Trinity News, Jennings claims that the redundancies are in breach of the Croke Park deal, disputing College’s arguments regarding Contracts of Indefinite Duration (CID) and questions of funding. He also criticised Fine Gael TDs and councillors who have called for the deal to be scrapped. The Government promised no
compulsory redundancies until 2014 in return for productivity increases on the part of public sector workers. The end of the deal would very likely put large-scale industrial action back on the agenda. When asked what the long-term implications of a Labour Court decision in favour of Trinity College might be, Jennings said that IFUT is “pretty confident” that the Labour Court will decide in favour of IFUT. On the other hand, “If it turns out that Croke Park doesn’t give us what it said it would give us, which is job security for our members, you would have to “What Trinity is trying to allege is a complete fiction in law, but would have massive ramifications” ask yourself why anyone would bother staying in it.” Academics are “giving massive productivity” claims Jennings. Academic staff numbers in Ireland have declined by 10-20% since the agreement came into
effect while student numbers have risen to historic levels. The system is only kept going, according to Jennings, because “our members are doing the work of absent colleagues”. Redundancy notices served to the staff in question – two lecturers and a librarian – are justified by the College on the grounds that their wages came from non-core funding. The dispute also revolves around the definition of their contracts. Around 1,100 college staff are regarded as being paid from non-core funding. Jennings said: “Either I work for Trinity or I don’t work for Trinity. What Trinity is trying to allege is a complete fiction in law, but would have massive ramifications – it would mean that no worker would have any job security at all.” Jennings insists the contracts of the terminated staff are permanent: “Right across the world, every academic trade union will tell you if you don’t have security in employment, you don’t have academic freedom. This could be the thin end of the wedge.” A university spokesperson declined to comment on IFUT’s grievances: “The matters that you raised are subject to ongoing Labour Relations Commission proceedings which is the appropriate forum, but which also precludes the College from further comment.”
However, Jennings plays down the role of college management in this dispute: “I have no doubt whatsoever that the Department of Education is pulling the strings behind the scenes,” he said. “It’s very difficult to conduct trade union negotiations with the public sector because the people you’re facing across the table are often powerless, they’re given their marching orders by, for instance, the Department of Education.” Jennings posed a question for the “The issue is subject to an ongoing Labour Relations forum which precludes the College from comment” Department: “Do they stand over Trinity’s breach of [the Croke Park deal] or do they not? If they don’t, I think they should get their fingers out and do something about it.” In recent weeks, a survey found 73% of Fine Gael and Labour councillors want the deal renegotiated or scrapped. Meanwhile, a group of Fine Gael backbenchers including Dublin South TD Olivia Mitchell and Wexford TD Dr. Liam Twomey echoed this call. “Public sector workers have to tackle their leaders,” Twomey said,
“and force them to stop frustrating the process of reform. We can’t afford this any longer.” Mitchell said that: “People have said Croke Park is the price of industrial peace, but it is too high a price.” Trinity News asked Jennings if the compulsory redundancies could be a result of political pressure – in response he hit out at “ill-informed Fine Gaelers”. Jennings elaborated: “Those Fine Gaelers literally do not know what they are talking about. They have no appreciation whatsoever of the extra productivity given. I doubt if a single one of them could have given you the information I have just given you about the number of staff that are down and the number of students that are up.” He urges the Fine Gael backbenchers to “wake up and smell the coffee and see what’s happening in the real world.” The Trinity College branch of Fine Gael refused to comment on Jennings’ statements regarding the party. The three redundancy notices were served in March and December 2011, with another following in January 2012. The Labour Court are due to examine the case on 22 March. A determination usually takes up to six weeks but it is possible the court will fast-track this decision due to its implications for the Croke Park Agreement.
Vol 58 Issue 6 07 February, 2012
2 NEWS WHAT THEY SAID
“I have no doubt the Department of Education is pulling the strings” IFUT general secretary Mike Jennings on redundancy notices to Trinity staff
4,000 The turnout for last weekend’s anti-ACTA protest in Dublin against new copyright laws
€78 The cost of a ticket to this year’s Trinity Ball, which will feature Professor Green among the lineup
The number of Trinity staff who have received redundancy notices, which unions say breach the Croke Park agreement
€3m Figure granted to a group of Trinity researchers in their aim to explore ways to cure inflammatory disease
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David Barrett Josh Roberts John Colthurst Eoin Tierney Manus Lenihan Fiona Ridgway National News Claire Acton Mairead Cremins International News Jack Farrell Nilgiri Pearson News Features Molly RowanHamilton Maya Zakrzewska Business Owen Bennett Paul McAufield Features Evan Musgrave David Babby World Review Aine Pennello Elly Friel Travel Maud Sampson Sophie Fitzgerald Science Anthea Lacchia Stephen Keane Opinion Eoin O’Driscoll Sports Features Kate Rowan Sarah Burns College Sport James Hussey Shane Curtis Printed at The Guardian Print Centre, Longbridge Road, Manchester, M17 1SL. Trinity News is partially funded by a grant from DUPublications Committee. This publication claims no special rights or privileges. Serious complaints should be addressed to: The Editor, Trinity News, 6 Trinity College, Dublin 2. Appeals may be directed to the Press Council of Ireland. Trinity News is a member of the Press Council of Ireland and supports the Office of the Press Ombudsman. This scheme, in addition to defending the freedom of the press, offers readers a quick, fair and free method of dealing with complaints that they may have in relation to articles that appear on our pages. To contact the Office of the Press Ombudsman go to www.pressombudsman.ie
“You will never have as much free time as at uni – use it!”
“Together we can act as a formidable force for good in the world”
“Lose labels like ‘slut’ and the stereotypes that go with them”
“Economics rooted in radical individualism”
Comedian Stephen Merchant gives his advice to students in an interview with Trinity News
German ambassador to Ireland, Dr. Eckhard Lübkemeier speaking at an EU debate held at Trinity College
Sinéad Waldron speaking on behalf of Reclaim the Night debating the proposed Slutwalk
President Michael D. Higgins speaking at the inaugural Trinity Economic Forum
Anti-ACTA protestors hit Dublin precedence over private and corporate interests.” Demonstrations against ACTA have already been held in cities across Europe, including the UK, France, Germany and Poland. The Agreement is a plurilateral bill involving countries including the US (which recently made the headlines with its sister legislation, SOPA), Australia, Japan and the European Union. 21 EU member-states signed the agreement on 26 January – it now needs to be ratified by the European Parliament in order to take effect. However, government insiders are divided in opinion regarding the legislation. EP member for south-west France and a former ACTA supporter, Kader Arif, resigned his post when the EU signed the treaty, condemning it as a threat to online freedom. A Stop SOPA Ireland campaign was launched at the end of last month, and there were 80,105 signatories on a petition to prevent the legislation at the time of going to print. Recently the Minister of State for Research and Innovation, Séan Sherlock, released the text of the bill which, once signed, could allow copyright holders to seek injunctions against anyone they feel is in breach.
Manus Lenihan College News Editor
MEMBERS of Trinity College’s Dublin University Pirate Party were among 4000 people protesting in Dublin on Saturday 4 February against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). A statement from the Society said the bill was a “serious invasion of privacy.” The bill makes internet service providers responsible for any copyrighted material posted on websites – which forces the providers to police their users. Critics also argue that ACTA would provide powerful companies with a legal pretext on which to harass enterprises that represent small-scale competition, or for governments to clamp down on dissent. The international treaty is being implemented in Ireland by Labour TD Seán Sherlock on the grounds that it protects intellectual property. Though nearly 4,000 pledged on Facebook to attend the protest only about a tenth of that number turned out amid persistent rain, a small group setting out from Trinity at 12.30 to join the main rally at the Garden of Remembrance at 1.00. The protestors marched from there to the Dáil on
The protest in Dublin over the weekend against intellectual property legislation attracted around 4,000 people. Photo: Manus Lenihan
Kildare Street chanting “Whose Internet? Our internet!” and “We will blog and we will tweet/ the internet is ours to keep!” DU Pirate Party is a small group that has been active for several years. It is one of many groups inspired by the Swedish PiratParti, founded in
2006 and dedicated to the reform of copyright and patent law, the free sharing of knowledge, data privacy and freedom of information. Trinity College’s pirates state that they are “a society political in nature, driven by the belief that civil liberties and personal freedoms should take
Equality debate votes for Trinity Slutwalk Discussion over holding Slutwalk in College Global movement to end discrimination Reclaim the Night proposed in its stead Vanessa Baker DUGES Committee Member
THE IRISH Feminist Network (IFN) and the Dublin University Gender Equality Society (DUGES) held a debate on 2 February to discuss whether or not a Dublin Slutwalk should be held. Approximately 40 people attended the event at Cassidy’s Hotel. In the end, 20 attendees voted in favour of holding a Slutwalk, 17 voted to hold a Reclaim the Night, and zero voted for neither event. The Feminist Open Forum’s Ailbhe Smyth, chair of the event, said if called on to break a tie, she would have supported Reclaim the Night – a women-only march against sexual violence, without the provocative dress code. Speaking in favour of Slutwalk were Will O’Brien, Equality Officer for the Students’ Union at NUI Galway, and William Dunne of the Dublin University Gender Equality Society. Irish Feminist Network’s Emma Regan and Sinéad Waldron spoke for having Reclaim the Night as an alternative. O’Brien, who organised a Slutwalk in Galway in October, said the event was successful in “promoting the idea that women should be free to express their sexuality in any way they choose without fear of victimisation.” Regan countered that using the word “slut”, even for the purposes of reclaiming the term, involves working within a patriarchal context, when women should be creating their own language to celebrate sexual expres-
sion. The IFN representative said one event to combat sexual violence and promote sexual empowerment would have the adverse effect of drawing links between the two where none exist. Waldron said Slutwalks feed into ideas that encourage women to use their bodies and their sexuality as an asset to get ahead. “Defining yourself as a slut is just feeding into these stereotypes that hamper female sexual empowerment,” she said. “Let’s lose those labels and the stereotypes and connotations that go along with them and let people be free to be who they are.” Dunne disagreed, saying, “I don’t think we can promote full sexual autonomy if we’re still afraid of the “Defining yourself as a slut is just feeding into these stereotypes” Emma Regan, Irish Feminist Network word slut.” NUIG’s O’Brien d e fended the movement, which has been criticised for its use of shock value. “We’re very conservative in this country, and we have been for a long, long time,” he said. “The way to change that is through provocation and engaging people to talk about issues they don’t want to talk about.” The Slutwalk, which began in Toronto in 2011, aims to promote the idea that no woman deserves to be raped, regardless of the context. “We’re asking people to adopt a stereotype and call that liberation,” said Regan.
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German politicians Higgins hosts first discuss EU crisis ever TEF discussion Trinity hosts EU-crisis solution debate Former German VC and ambassador speak Both call for continued EU integration Eoghan Hughes Staff Reporter
THE EU crisis looms large in Trinity College as two German politicians lay out what they believe to be the biggest challenge facing Europe. Both men speaking at Trinity College Dublin were keen to highlight the connection between financial difficulties and political uncertainties. At a public lecture hosted at TCD entitled The End of The European Project? former German Vice-Chancellor (19982005) Joschka Fischer said: “The financial crisis now reflects a political crisis of the eurozone – one that calls into question the very existence of the European project as a whole.” Fischer lays the blame of the economic plunge in the eurozone not on “greedy banks” but on the failure to form a “Common European Government.” He postulates that common policies conceived by the top brass of the EU are pointless without the tools to implement them and a foundation based on “real government, effective parliamentary control, and genuine democratic legitimisation.” A man well-experienced in both financial and political matters, Fischer is a member of the Board of Trustees of the International Crisis Group and of the Executive Board of the European Council on Foreign Relations, someone very much at the centre of the EU and current political thought, and someone who trusts in the ability of summits such as the recent meeting at Brussels to bring about the effective changes needed to stabilise the EU. “The financial crisis now reflects a political crisis of the Eurozone” Dr Joschka Fischer
However, not everyone has as much faith in such summits, including the German Ambassador to Ireland, Dr Eckhard Lübkemeier. Also speaking
at Trinity, this time for the Institute for International Integration Studies (IIIS), Dr Lübkemeier, in his talk Never Waste a Good Crisis – Why Europe Will Prosper, echoed much of the sentiments of Mr Fischer while remaining somewhat sceptical of the summit’s ability to deal with the problem. Remarking flippantly on the number of abortive summits thus far, he said: “If I had to guess I would probably say that there have been more than a dozen. But I did not bother to check the exact number.” Dr Lübkemeier, himself a “conviction European,” “A big EU may not always be beautiful, but big is better” Dr Eckhard Lübkemeier admits that Euro-sceptics who point to the failure of the Euro currency as a common denominator in the Eurozone Crisis are half-right. They show that without a common fiscal and economic policy to “complement the common currency,” it was doomed to fail. Still Dr Lübkemeier maintains that the EU can survive and even thrive in the future if the member states band together, stating, “Big may not always be beautiful, but big is better.” He believes that the EU must remain coherent in a changing world where nations such as China are no longer emerging but fully emerged. Only with the weight of the member states behind it, Lübkemeier holds, can the EU negotiate its way in this new reality, prophesying that: “Together we Europeans are a global heavyweight, together we can stand up for our values. And together we can act as a formidable force for good in the world.” Dr Lübkemeier and Mr Fischer have made drastic statements about their faith that a more politically-unified EU will not only end the economic crisis, but help to forge a new place for Europe in the modern world.
Fionnuala Horrocks- Burns Staff Reporter
THE INAUGURAL Trinity Economic Forum took place across campus last weekend. The event, created and run entirely by students, hosted some of the country’s most influential voices and saw the first address to an academic institution by the new President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins. The two-day event combined theoretical and practical approaches to economics. Co-founders Seán Gill and Gary Finnerty set up the TEF with the aim of “equipping the next generation of young leaders with the skills to create and implement change.” “A fundamental rethink of economics is required,” Gill said. “People want to do things, they just don’t know how.” They created the forum to provide the environment for such action. President Higgins echoed the co-founders’ sentiments in his opening address, criticising the compartmentalising of economic thought. “The time has come to embrace a much more holistic, inclusive and quantitative approach to economic development based on the stakeholder.” Higgins stressed the vital role of young Irish citizens in shaping the country’s future. “You have the opportunity to close the gaps that have been created between morality, ethics, and economics and social policy […] an opportunity to move away from an economy constructed exclusively on self interest and short term needs. “This generation of students have to make their own music […] and directly influence the debate on what kind of economy and indeed what kind of society will follow in the footsteps of the recently expired Celtic Tiger.” The two-day event was open to students from all disciplines at the cost of just €15. Representatives from across the country’s universities attended the sold-out event. One SF Law student who spoke to Trinity News was attracted to the forum because of his interest in Irish economics and the structure of the event. “It’s good to get students talking and presenting ideas like this and to generate interest in the subject,” he said.
The forum brought together some of Ireland’s most influential economists including Dan O’Brien, the Irish Times Economics Editor, and head of the Trinity College Economics Department Professor Philip R Lane. There were also speakers from outside the economic field, such as RTE’s Mark Little and Dr Piero Formica, founder of the International Entrepreneurship Academy, in order to enhance understanding of economics: “to take it outside of the theoretical and into the practical.” “We are not just a talking shop,” TEF co-founder Gill stated. “We have to think, debate and propose ideas and solutions. People need to be taught the basic framework of economics.” Despite the financial challenges facing TEF organisers in setting up the event, Gill noted “the support has been unbelievable.” He hopes to see the forum grow internationally as well as in Ireland with the aim of changing the way we approach economics.
PRESIDENT HIGGINS TEF SPEECH “We know that the present economic morass through which we are struggling didn’t come about by accident. We know it came about because of a failed paradigm of economic policy, undeclared assumptions, skewed values and the growth of a culture where our assets were valued and utilised on purely material considerations. It was a version of economics that was rooted in a radical individualism and a theory of infallible efficient markets, delivered through policies of light — or no — regulation We are all now grappling with the enormous consequences of that failure and must now move forward to a better model — one that will provide a sustainable basis for economic development. We must reject the notion of normative citizens being reduced to the status of disaggregated rational utility maximisers in our theories and policies.”
SU election candidates: video debates Live Twitter feeds and breaking news Trinity blogs and online student deals Trinitynews.ie Editor
YOU’VE HEARD it here first: after endless mind maps, mood boards, spider diagrams and cups of tea the team at Trinity News is proud to announce the re-launch of our website, trinitynews.ie. Crucial to the redesign of the website has been an emphasis on accessibility of content and ease of comment. That’s why when you visit the site you’ll not only have access to news and views around college as and when they happen; but you’ll also be able to comment on them. So if that article about gay rights got you riled, if you don’t agree with that one on internships or if you just want to rant about something you read in the paper hit trinitynews.ie and comment away. Oh, and don’t forget, Trinity News is completely independent so we do not edit or block your comments – what you say is what gets posted. As well as all the top quality student journalism that you find in our print edition, our website will also be home to oodles of unique content. The beauty of our new site, and the team dedicated to updating it, is that you don’t have to wait a full fortnight to find out what’s
07 February, 2012
and David O’Doherty, to international superstars such as Clive Owen and world-famous thinkers like Alain De Botton trinitynews.ie is the home of the interview. Aside from our brilliant news, sports, features, opinion, science and business sections the new website will also hold a myriad of blogs. When it comes to sex, relationship and lifestyle advice our agony aunt Jamie Elder will be on hand to offer her unique blend of factual information and nononsense advice. For those of you with concentration spans shorter than the girls’ skirts at Coppers we have created our Procrastination Station. Here you’ll find videos, articles and online games that will help you whittle away boring hours in the library all of which will
College researchers gain €3m project AN INTERNATIONAL research project involving scientists at Trinity College Dublin has been awarded €3 million in EU funding to explore ways of tackling inflammatory diseases. Scientists from research institutions and universities in Italy, Switzerland, Scotland, Dublin, and Brazil will work together on a new programme to explore ‘novel mechanisms of resolution in inflammation’. TCD biochemistry professor Luke O’Neill will be studying plantderived compounds sourced in the Amazon rainforest on innate immune processes. These immunity mechanisms are important for diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Type 2 diabetes. O’Neill says the tropical plants have been identified by Brazilian scientists who are knowledgeable about herbal remedies used by native peoples in the Amazon.
Song and dance over new music centre AN INAUGURAL concert launching Trinity College Dublin’s Music Composition Centre took place on Saturday, January 21st, 2012. The Music Composition Centre is the latest exciting development in Trinity’s Creative Arts, Technologies and Culture initiative (www.tcd.ie/ catc). The new Music Composition Centre joins Trinity’s recently launched The Lir - The National Academy for Dramatic Art and other well established centres such as the Oscar Wilde Centre for Creative Writing. Commenting on the new centre, Provost Patrick Prendergast said: “Creativity is central to the human spirit. It’s also an economic force. The arts are intrinsic to any strategy for the social and economic regeneration of this country. The new Centre will be a creative forum, drawing on Trinity’s long tradition of music composition to produce the radical composers of tomorrow.” David Barrett
Cancer treatment developed by TCD
happening in college. We’ve spent the last few months interviewing top celebrities and opinion makers from around the world and you can read all of them first online – from comedy legends Stephen Merchant The website features an ‘Agony Uncle’ column and interviews with Alain De Botton and Stephen Merchant
Trinitynews.ie launches multimedia site Josh Roberts
Go online to see video interviews and debates with the SU election candidates
be updated daily. So sit back and relax: we’ll get a 2:2 so you don’t have to! We at Trinity News HQ (a little room above the SU shop) have also cottoned-on to the fact that no-one’s got any money at the moment which is why we’ve teamed-up with the guys at Vavavouch.com to offer unique Dublinwide deals. Accessing a deal couldn’t be easier – simply hit-up our site, cruise the available deals, click on the one you want and print-off the voucher. We’ve made huge progress with the site, but we’ve got even more plans and you can find out the latest developments by following us on Twitter (@Trinity_ News) and by finding us on Facebook. If you want to get involved with our exciting new website just ping an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT TO EXPECT TRINITY NEWS ONLINE Blogs SU elections blog Agony Uncle column Video posts SU candidate video debates Online candidate interviews Exclusive Interviews Alain de Botton Clive Owen Stephen Merchant Breaking News Third level news Society events Archives from 1953 Explore the history of Trinity News and the college online
A TRINITY research team has discovered a new approach to treating cancer. The team, led by Professor Kingston Mills, developed a vaccine treatment and approach to overcome the problems associated with treating cancerous tumours with vaccines. Vaccines work by stimulating the human immune system to produce antibodies to fight disease – this process of active immunity protects the body from future re-infection. In theory the immune system should also be able to protect us from cancer, however, cancer tumours contain an immunosuppressive microenvironment. The new treatment developed at TCD involves the manipulation of the immune response in order to allow the specialist white blood cell, (Killer T), to target the cancer. The research was performed by Senior Postdoctoral Fellow Dr Neil Marshall and two PhD students, Anna-Marie Corcoran and Karen Galvin. Their discovery has been patented and plans to develop the vaccine for clinical use are in motion. Fionnuala Horrocks-Burns
4 ELECTION SPECIAL PRESIDENT
JAMES KELLY sees the role of SU President as the â€œpublic representative of the union, to the government and to the world.â€? The President â€œhas to come from the students as well,â€? and â€œhave a broad base in college.â€? A broad base in college is something Kelly certainly has. Heâ€™s been a Class Rep for four years, last year serving as Deputy Faculty Convenor for the 6-7,000 students in Arts. He believes that the experience of this work is vital to the role of President. The role, he says, is defined as â€œthe chief financial and campaigns officer,â€? and while â€œthatâ€™s a huge part of it,â€? he also stresses that â€œthereâ€™s so much more to it than that.â€? As chair of the History Society this year, Kelly has overseen a huge increase in membership. He says he â€œrebranded it, kind of updated the image and made sure it was more active.â€? He now knows all about â€œdelegation, leadership, dealing with outside clients,â€? and wants to bring that experience into the SU. As to the question of USI affiliation, Kelly says that â€œthere are pros and cons.â€? â€œThey have a seat at the table that weâ€™d never get a seat at,â€? he says, referring to the strong negotiating position held by USI. He makes the point that while TCDSU Presidents have the weight of 16,000 students behind them, USI Presidents represent a quarter of a million. â€œItâ€™s funny,â€? says Kelly, â€œIf you look at the three candidates [for President] weâ€™re all coming from a position, a â€˜no-one wants feesâ€™ background, but then everyone has a different answer.â€? He observes that we already pay the second-highest fees in Europe, that third-level education is underfunded by the Government, and that loan or graduate tax systems are off the agenda. â€œTheyâ€™re not going to get rid of the registration fee,â€? says Kelly, resigned, but he insists that we canâ€™t let what happened in the UK happen here, where fees were hiked to ÂŁ9,000. â€œIâ€™m going to oppose any increase in fees on a personal level,â€? Kelly says, but he will work according to a mandate from students. He thinks part of the problem is that the Government doesnâ€™t appreciate the seriousness of the issue â€“ for TDs â€œitâ€™s just another tax that they can raise,â€? but for students, â€œitâ€™s the most important issue we face.â€? Kelly also promises to work for printing services run by the SU. â€œWe can fix it quicker, weâ€™re responsible for it rather than college.â€? He believes in further promotion of the SU job listing website, which offers â€œshort-term, promo workâ€? and to improve Deals of the Week. A key issue for Kelly is the 24-hour study space. â€œIn exam or essay times, thereâ€™s people sitting on the floors,â€? he says. â€œAt the end of the day itâ€™s an essential service for students.â€? Manus Lenihan
JOHN TIGHE has no doubt as to how he sees the role of SU President: â€œProtecting the students from cutbacks.â€? Tighe objects to the general approach taken by various Studentsâ€™ Unions towards this task, claiming that: â€œThe current SU and the previous one have not been doing enough to try and nullify the effects of the recession on students.â€? As an example of how he sees the attitude of the SU, he cites: â€œThe recent firing of the two lecturers and the librarian,â€? which has caused IFUT to suspend cooperation with the Croke Park deal. â€œThe SU has remained silent on this issue,â€? he says. He also cites the cuts to the postgraduate grants. â€œI know weâ€™re not GSU, but many of the people I would be representing would be going into postgrad courses next year.â€? Further, he stresses the need to look beyond campus in campaigning. â€œMany of the people in the college will be going working in the public sector and civil service,â€? he says. â€œTeaching, Dâ€™Olier street, nursing, midwifery, medical doctors, whatever else. They need to be protected from the austerity measures as well otherwise they will be forced to emigrate... and I just feel that the SU is not doing enough.â€? Tighe seems to stress the idea of undergraduate students working together with others and he proposes a college council made up of students, academics and other staff members which could make administrative decisions as well as having a campaigning role. â€œIn isolation students will not be able to fight the cutbacks but if we link up with Trade Unionists, link up with other workers, it will do a lot of good for the students to combat cutbacks to student services.â€? This ties into the question of USI. â€œThe USI as an organisation, purely as an organisation, is essential for combating austerity measures on a national level,â€? says Tighe. â€œUnfortunately the current regime of power in the USI is more interested in giving themselves pay rises, as they did two weeks ago at the USI special congress.â€? He concedes a certain amount to the current SU President on this point. â€œWhat Ryan Bartlett is saying [in his call for disaffiliation from USI] is that the other presidents donâ€™t have much say in whatâ€™s going on... Studentsâ€™ voices are not heard within the USI.â€? However, Tighe believes the best solution is not disaffiliation: â€œStudents should have more direct link to the USI by being able to vote for the President, Vice-President and other sabbatical officers so that we can hold them accountable for their actions and inactions.â€? Manus Lenihan
RORY DUNNE, JS Immunology student, hopes that he can bring â€œa new approach to Studentsâ€™ Union policy.â€? If elected SU President for 2012-2013, he promises that the SU will be accessible to everyone and will work for students â€œevery day of every week.â€? Noting the success of Ryan Bartlettâ€™s orientation services for students in the beginning of Michaelmas term, he would like to see a year-long expansion of support programmes for students, providing â€œthe services students want as well as need.â€? When asked what inspired him to run, he discussed his involvement with the Accommodation Advisory Service as an advisor, and his â€œvery strong sense that this is the direction the SU should go.â€? An interesting aspect of Dunneâ€™s platform involves working to alleviate the hardship Trinity students face not just in college, but the pressures and difficulties of adjusting to life beyond our degrees. â€œThe jobseekerâ€™s market has radically changed,â€? he told Trinity News, and he worries that the college is not keeping pace. He feels strongly that Trinityâ€™s remit does not begin at Front Arch and end at Westland Row, and hopes to inspire greater cooperation with companies and organisations on a local, national and international scale. With Dublinâ€™s recent status as â€˜City of Science,â€™ and Trinityâ€™s proximity to the National Gallery and museums, Dunne wants to see more practical aspects encouraged across all courses. He believes there is â€œno good reason we shouldnâ€™t have internships open to everyone in college,â€? and feels the Studentsâ€™ Union has a key role to play here. On an international scale, Dunne has also discussed internships abroad with lecturers in the Science Department, and hopes to expand on this. He notes the recent appointment of a Vice-Provost for Global Relations and the principle that â€œour students are our ambassadors.â€? In spite of his aspiration towards â€œmaximising and developing Trinityâ€™s global potential,â€? he also feels his campaign is realistic and pragmatic. â€œAll of my ideas are extremely low cost,â€? which is an important condition for achievement as budgets tighten next year. His views on disaffiliation with the USI are tentative. He notes the excellent service they provide in training Sabbatical Officers, but also that they are at times â€œmore interested in sitting on the floors of Government departments than sitting across a negotiating table.â€? Ultimately, Dunne hopes that if he becomes SU President, he will help Trinity students to graduate not just with a degree, but with an â€œemployable characterâ€? and a greater sense of pride and recognition of this institution. Joseph Williams
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“WE’VE SEEN very definite steps this year to improve communication,” says James Hagan, praising in particular the initiative of the Town Hall meeting. However, he says, “We have to see what went wrong with those and build from them. With the Town Hall meeting the major flaw was that there wasn’t a great turnout.” On the Deal of the Week, he argues that “way more people read the weekly e-mail because the Deal of the Week was in it,” and he wishes to take this principle and implement it with “expansion and sophistication.” Hagan wants to “use the collective power of the SU to buy food in bulk and sell it
on more cheaply,” with the registration process for that service being online. This account would double as an account for commenting on Town Hall Meetings. Hagan, a senior staff writer with University Times, believes that the paper “has done an amazing job of analysing the structures in college.” The deciding factor will be the referendum on USI disaffiliation. He points out that disaffiliation would still provide a certain scope for national campaigning by redirecting what are now subs to the USI into TCDSU campaigns. Manus Lenihan
OWEN SEES “two main problems” with how the SU has conducted communication to date. Firstly, he claims that it is lacking “a basic facet of representative democracy” in that “the students don’t know what the SU are doing and the SU don’t know what the students want.” Bennett recognises much good in Communications this year. He attended the SU Town Hall meeting on fees on 30 November, part of a policy SU Communications Officer Ronan Costello flagged in his campaign last year. Bennett says the meeting was “a great success, even though there was a
low turnout.” He wants to introduce “SU progress reports” into the Students’ Union newspaper detailing what officers have done in the last month. Bennett also promises a Week in Trinity video, covering upcoming events. When asked about how he would approach The University Times, the he stresses that “if I was elected it will be my mandate to ensure it stays editorially independent.” UT plays a valuable role, says Bennett, in that it “can offer a great power check on the SU.” Manus Lenihan
HANNAH COGAN identifies serious problems with the way the SU engages with students. “A lot of the policies we’ve been given so far pretty much reflect only on students who are already engaged with the Students’ Union,” she says. She uses the Deal of the Week as an example: “It is a good contact pointfor the 1,500 students who actually bother to read the SU email, and that is hugely problematic.” This represents only 7-8% of students, she says, a figure that is “actually shocking.” Cogan, a seasoned debater and student journalist, is currently Opinion Editor for The University Times. She calls for the publication of the SU
budget with complete breakdown by officer, rather than “an A4 sheet that says ‘Hey guys, it’s all fine!’ That’s not good enough.” An alternative is to “engage with the administration on a more practical level.” Cogan notes that The University Times has “Gotten better every year” since its inception in 2010, but that improvements can be made, “not least of all: spellchecking it every once in a while!” she laughs. Cogan argues that it is necessary to involve “a broader selection of people” in writing, as well as having writing workshops for first years. Manus Lenihan
job is challenging work. She is seen as “A twenty-year-old who they can talk to about everything. Last night I solved a bullying problem.” She says that her “experience of having someone sitting in front of you” is a vital part of being Welfare Officer. Again, she praises the current mental health awareness campaigns but insists that the SU needs to go further. “We need to tackle it a different way,” she says. “It’s better to prevent than to cure. Go back to the roots. While also raising awareness, you need to tackle why it’s happening in the first place.” Manus Lenihan
AN ELECTED member of the Welfare Committee with a personal background in special needs communications and a “talent for making others feel like it’s going to be okay” all lead Andy Haughey to claim that he “is born for the job” of Welfare Officer. The JS Chemistry student feels confident in his ability to run the Welfare Office should he be elected, citing his background in the Welfare Committee and his skill for “showing people a light in dark times.” Suicide awareness is the main issue for Haughey. “It is a prevailing problem in the college.” He feels that the services offered by the college in
this regard, such as free counselling for students, are largely unknown, stating: “We all get the emails the college sends but most of us will delete them without ever looking”. If elected, Andy promises to remedy this by having Class Representatives remind their classes of the services offered and by advertising student health services more actively throughout the campus. Haughey sees the job of Welfare Officer as “being there” for the students and ensuring that “every single student in this college is enjoying what is supposed to be the college experience.”
PSYCHOLOGY STUDENT Aisling Ní Chonaire has had an active role in college since she came to Trinity and thinks that the role of Welfare is something she could really get her “teeth stuck into.” Ní Chonaire praises the “fantastic achievements” of Welfare Officer Louisa Miller and her predecessors. “I want to ensure that they’re consistently improved and expanded upon.” Awareness is high on her priority list. For Ní Chonaire, it is important to break down the barriers that exist and encourage members of the college community to be active in finding out the information they need. If elected,
she plans to work in association with the ‘Think Big’ project to develop a Welfare App to allow students to access the range of services available with ease. She also intends to erect welfare notice boards around college and capitalise on the space already available on the SU notice boards to make sure that there is welfare content on it all the time. Many students experience difficulties in college, which she notes: “It’s really important for everyone in college, and outside of college as well, to understand that you’re not alone.”
07 February, 2012
Fiona Ridgeway and Manus Lenihan ask students if they think the sabbatical officers have impacted their college life
John, JF Engineering “Fees. Straight up. If they do keep going up, more people are going to drop out”
Sinead, JS Science “The Students’ Union should get more involved”
Catherine, JS Histpol “Probably the fees, like 70% of everyone else, and the wages that sabbatical officers are all given”
WELFARE OFFICER COMMUNICATION is a large part of Emma Walker’s policy for Welfare. While she stresses that the diary, which contains a wealth of information on welfare services, is “a huge part of Trinity,” a closer approach to students would be far more effective. “Relying on students to read the diary and go to workshops is not enough,” she believes. “Person-to-person communication is hugely undervalued at the moment, or just not used enough.” As to her experience for the role, Walker says that her job as a tutor in a boarding school for Spanish students is a “huge part of my campaign.” “I’m in charge of 150 girls,” she says, and her
WHAT ARE THE ISSUES?
AISLING NÍ CHONAIRE
Andrew, JS Hist & English “Student fees, hopefully they’re not going to be raised – and protecting the grant”
Aodhan, SS Music “The president is the priority in the election, and probably Ents after that”
Pearse, JF Engineering “Good communication, good representation of the students’ views”
6 ELECTION SPECIAL email@example.com
DAN FERRICK says that the work of Education Officer boils down to organising class reps, committee work and case work. His quick, casual summary conveys the impression that his is not a campaign of bold or out-there policies and promises, but one which displays expertise and experience. He describes committee work as: “Boring and tedious, but very rewarding. It’s all about picking the right moment to talk and picking the right moment to fight your battles.” Ferrick speaks from experience: he has sat on the College Committee, a Faculty Executive, University Council and the council for Undergraduate Studies. “You do need some experience of dealing with that [committee work],” he says, “it’s not reported on, it’s behind the scenes, but it’s vital.” However, Ferrick is proposing several important changes to the operation of the college and the union. The first he mentions is case work, in which students come to the education officer with individual or academic problems. “It’s known that all the officers would stay beyond the office hours, which are nine to five, and when they work outside those hours, it’s not official.” As Education Officer Ferrick would stay “one late night a week, from nine until nine. He wants to “make it official, so that people know they can drop in as opposed to making an appointment.” He’s happy with how class reps have been organised in recent years, noting with
DAVE WHELAN, JS Bess student and presumptive Entertainments Officer for 2012-13 says he is disappointed to be running unopposed. It came as a surprise to many that one of the most hotly-contested positions in recent years only has one applicant. Indeed, the position of Entertainments Officer was often the source of the biggest campaign rivalries – that between Chris O’Connor and Elaine McDaid, for example – so it is unusual to see a one-horse race for the position. But Whelan insists that he won’t breeze through the campaign season. “I’d like to have a bit of opposition, but I’ll still be on my toes,” he declared to Trinity News. A definite insider in the world of Ents, Whelan has been involved in the area on behalf of the JCR, Business and Economics Society and this year as an Ents crew manager within the Students’ Union itself. He considers this an advantage in his campaign, saying that he has managed to build up contacts over the years, along with learning what works and what does not work for students. This, he says, has prepared him to take on an entertainments role full-time. He is an admirer of current Entertainments Officer Chris O’Connor, whom he describes as a “hype machine”. In particular, Whelan praises O’Connor’s ability to “launch a huge brand” in MadHaus, his club night at the Academy, and points to the fact that 500 Freshers’ bands were
satisfaction that numbers of class reps have risen steadily. As to the recurring issue of the Library, Ferrick strikes a cautious but positive note. “It’s very, very tough to say I can improve opening hours. The core grant has just plummeted and it’s going to continue to go down.” But he says that despite this, the 24-hour study space in the Ussher Library can be doubled in size by opening up a second floor. “It’s a cost-effective method of increasing the 24-hour study space, all it requires is a couple of extra barriers, and some very clever camera placing, and stairwell doors locking.” He makes a similar point with his next proposal regarding flexible timetables. “I believe there are enough teaching hours, Monday to Friday, nine to five, to teach 90% of courses, and college should be making sure that lecturers and schools keep to this timetable, so that students know that they have their weekends off so that they know they can apply for part-time jobs.” The Education Officer represents students on several important college committees, and such an environment can be far from inviting for a student: “You can be a little bit humble when you first sit down to a meeting and the Provost is sitting opposite you and everyone’s wearing a robe and you’re like oooo-kay, but you get used to it,” laughs Ferrick. Manus Lenihan
sold online before Freshers’ Week even began last September. To continue the work of this year’s entertainments, he hopes to add a Sophister night to involve students in their final two years of an undergraduate degree, and potentially set up a Trinity-centred version of the Warehouse project, imitating the English DJ-inspired phenomenon, as an “alternative venue”. To complement his Facebook campaign and team of campaigners distributing flyers on campus, a “Pre-Drinks FM” plan is among the candidate’s goals for marketing Ents next year. Whelan also sees this as a way for people to “text in slagging their mates and requesting songs”, making Ents more interactive and accessible. Rather astutely, Whelan notes that “students love free stuff,” and says he would like to see a Groupon-style system of deals set up for Trinity students, with different offers for consecutive weeks – a policy which sounds familiar to the current Deal of the Week. He also hopes to see more people on board next year, in particular those with alternative taste who will give Ents “more diversity”. When asked to sum up his campaign, Whelan said that “one side is innovation, the other side is value,” a tough balance to achieve as budgets tighten for both students and the SU itself. Joseph Williams
How have this year’s sabbatical officers fared? t
Catherine Healy talks to this year’s sabbatical officers to find out how they have found representing Trinity’s 16,000 students
communication efforts with students? I think so. The first Town Hall meeting we did was with the Provost though it involved having to pick people to ask prepared questions. The attendance at the Meeting on Fees was quite modest but those who came made really good contributions which Ryan and Rachel have taken on board.
RYAN BARTLETT LOUISA MILLER Have the past few months fulfilled your expectations of how the job would be?
What has been the most fulfilling part of your job?
You can never be certain of the way things will go with student politics. There were times when I found myself doing things on a national level which I mightn’t have expected. Other than that, working within Trinity has been pretty much what I expected.
When someone goes on to book an appointment with the counseling service and you know they feel like they’ve been listened to. Having someone come into me and say that advice I’ve given has really helped is always nice.
How have you found campaigning?
Is there a reluctance on the part of students to reach out?
I think the way people get involved and engage with our campaigns has changed a lot over the years. We have a lot more debate and analysis than before – people really thinking about issues before they get involved. I’d much rather it that way.
I was at a meeting this morning where I learned that there were about 1,200 appointments with the psychiatrist last year and that nearly 15% college students have used the counseling service. It’s a relief of course that people are using these services, but it’s frightening how many of them are. There’s usually an 8 day wait for counseling and at peak times, someone could be waiting for about 20 days.
Has it been difficult to take that step back from the USI? I think it is useful to have that national body but the way students think about SU politics is different now. We’ve taken a step back from the senior fold but we haven’t stopped engaging with USI or attending meetings. It’s about finding that balance and making a decision that you think best represents the interests of students. RONAN COSTELLO
What sort of problems have you encountered? Finance has been a massive issue. A lot of people have had problems getting their grants and a phenomenal amount of students use our loan system. I hear all types of stories from people of all backgrounds. Four students have passed away in the last few months as well, which was very difficult.
What was University Times’ most popular story this year? How often do people ask you for condoms? The story that gave us the most mileage was the Nick Griffin marathon. That was spread out over two issues so it was pretty significant.
People are constantly coming in, so much so that Rachel and Ryan have them in their office now as well. I have boxes full of them!
ideas. I’m working with a student at the moment on an internship opportunity day. Our challenge now is to ensure facilities and opportunities are there for students and to convince the government to invest in education. Has it been challenging in a way you mightn’t have expected? I had a lot of SU experience coming in which helped. It has been hard work, particularly at the start of the year but the sheer enthusiasm of the people I’ve had the opportunity to work with is incredible. Some of the class reps in particular have been fantastic. I think of people I’ve met during the campaign and in the office and the challenges they face and that keeps me going; you remember why you’re doing this job. Do you have any advice for the incoming Education Officer? Enjoy it as much as you can. Remember why you’re here, particularly when you’re writing up ballots at 3 am. I still get a rush getting to represent students, knowing you have it in your power make a difference in how things work. CHRIS O’CONNOR How have you found running Madhaus? Obviously it’s been our biggest Ents night. Having it on Abbey Street originally was difficult because it’s the opposite end to where everyone would usually go out. We got the numbers in every week despite that anyway. We’ve moved it to the Village now to freshen it up and it’s going really well. Has it been challenging attracting crowds? It can be difficult because there’s already so much on offer. There are more people in the nightclub promotion business now than ever before so the market’s really saturated. It has been made easier by having the position I have. We can reach out to a really big group of people. What’s the biggest perk of your job?
It would be a folly not to have an active website, especially because the paper only comes out every 2 weeks. We’ve got at least 4,000 followers on Facebook now and nearly 14,000 followers on Twitter, which is really positive.
Would it be accurate to say the SU has stepped up its
Definitely. I’ve met so many people this year with innovative
Do you have high hopes for third-level education?
Being able to work with up-and-coming artists. We’ve had really successful Ents nights this year which is great. Getting in for free is also a nice perk! TRINITY NEWS
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visit our website at www.tcd.ie/business 07 February, 2012
8 NATIONAL NEWS firstname.lastname@example.org
Irish ITs consider university merger
IN BRIEF CORK
UCC axes BNP debate UCC’s GOVERNMENT and Politics society has withdrawn its invitation for British National Party (BNP) leader Nick Griffin to speak at the campus. The society auditor, Ben English cited “potential threats to the safety and welfare of students and to the general public” as the key concern. The controversial outspoken far right leader had been invited to speak in UCC in February. Griffin, who has previously faced charges of alleged incitement to hatred had been given the go ahead in December when English told the Journal.ie that having analysed the risks they are happy enough for the that the event to proceed “as it stands”. However, having reviewed their options with Gardaí, the decision for the cancellation was made. Trinity College Dublin also recently withdrew an invite to Nick Griffin and declared that members of his British National Party would not be allowed on campus after widespread student complaints. Alexander O’Neill
ULs students’ union votes to restructure THE UNIVERSITY of Limerick’s Students’ Union and its sabbatical representatives have recommended two major changes to the structure of the Union. These include the removal of the CSO (Campaigns and Services Officer) and the CO (Communications Officer) as sabbatical offices. The proposed changes will be voted on in the upcoming EGM, at which all current UL students are encouraged to attend. The measures aim at reducing the expenditure of the Union, which has been deemed unsustainable. While a financial plan is to be decided upon with the finance controller of the SU, further cuts are necessary however there has been no indication as to where these are likely. Alexander O’Neill
NUIG students’ union officers under fire
UCC SU President Emmet Connolly
A MOTION of censure has been passed against two NUI Galway Students’ Union officers. The censure was brought forward at the SU Executive meeting against against Equality Officer Will O’Brien and An tOifigeach na Gaeilge, Senan Mac Aoidh, as a result of disrespect to the Council Chairperson, Claire Mc Callion. The claims were denied by both parties and O’Brien asserted that the motion “further strengthens divides in the Union.”The motion received eight votes in favour, none against and two abstentions. McCallion defends her actions claiming that she acted within her rights as Chairperson. Described as a disciplinary measure, the SU President Emmet Connolly said that they have all learnt from the affair. Claire Acton
Irish institutes of technology to combine University heads hostile to proposition Mergers to create “deeper engagement” Lauren Godfrey Staff Reporter
ADVANCED DISCUSSIONS are underway for the establishment of a new Irish Technological University. Five Institutes of Technology in the border, midlands and west regions are driving discussions for the creation of the Border Midlands West Technological University (BMWTU). This formation would entail a merger of Athlone Institute of Technology, Dundalk Institute of Technology, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Letterkenny Institute of Technology and the Institute of Technology Sligo creating an institution of 27,000 students. The proposed BMWTU would be the largest higher education institution in the country. Presidents from institutes in the north-west claim that due to their unique collaboration across research and engagement since 1999 this is a natural transition. They hope to create unique joint programmes across campuses. Ciáran Catháin, President of Athlone IT, stressed that this is something new and dynamic adding that they are not trying to recreate the
A merger of 27,000 students including 5,000 from Dundalk IT (above) is planned
“old traditional” university. The focus will be industry-led with concentration on science and technology to maximise opportunities in the international market. In order to meet the expectations of the additional 70,000 students due to take up third-level education by 2020, the collaboration emphasises online learning, video lectures, and professional skills with more facilities for mature students. IT Sligo President, Terri Scott claims that innovative use of technology would underpin
the success of BMWTU. The status of the five institutes will be assessed and an action plan would be put in place to meet outlined criteria. The following step would be an application to the Higher Education Authority for approval. A number of other Irish ITs have proposed similar mergers in recent times. Dublin Institute of Technology, IADT, Institute of Technology Blanchardstown and Institute of Technology Tallaght have expressed similar desires to unite.
Under proposals outlined in the Government’s National Strategy for Higher Education, recommendations have been made for the collaboration of Cork Institute of Technology, the Institute of Technology Tralee and Limerick Institute of Technology to form the Munster Technological University. The Hunt Report published in January 2011 recommended the pursuit of a smaller number of educational institutes of “greater strength” and “critical mass”. After a decade-long battle the south-east and border Institutes of Technology await government credentials due to be published in mid February regarding adapting the institutes of technology in Waterford and Carlow transformed into a technological university in the region. Many of these proposals, however, have met strong hostility. Several university presidents and senior figures of the HEA feel that the current system is already seriously “underfunded”. Presidents of Ireland’s eight universities argue that a new technological university would give rise to additional costs and the fragmentation of research. They believe that in order for the institutes to meet international standards, significant engineering would have to be undertaken. The opposition have warned that by lowering university standards this merger will lower the international reputation of Irish education. This is backed by claims that less than 20% of academic staff in the ITs hold PhDs compared to an of 75% in universities.
UCD holds referendum to decide fee stance Claire Acton National News Editor
UNIVERSITY College Dublin Students’ Union President, Pat de Brún, has announced he intends to put forward a motion to their Students’ Union Council that would call for a referendum regarding the Union’s stance on free education. If passed, the referendum would give UCD students the chance to decide whether to change the Union’s stance in favour of free education or to change it to one in favour of a loan or graduate tax system. De Brún’s reasoning behind the motion was driven by the rising student contribution charge which was increased a further €250 by the government budget 2012. At this time, de Brún began reflecting on what exactly the student movement was achieving by pursuing a free education policy. While praising the numerous campaigns taken place he admitted that ultimately, the contribution charge still increased. He claims that for many UCD students this charge has become unaffordable, asserting that many are reaching “tipping point”. Among the various funding options examined will be a graduate tax, a loan scheme, upfront fees as well as the
UCD students were outspoken in this year’s protest against a hike in third-level fees
current Student Contribution Charge. The UCD branch of Free Education for Everyone (FEE) expressed
indignation in response to de Brún’s announcement. De Brún affirmed: “I one hundred per cent believe in free
education as the best model for thirdlevel funding.” But he recognised: “It’s time we looked at the various different funding options that are on the table.” These sentiments have been reflected in campuses across the Republic of Ireland. Dublin City University’s Students’ Union posed a similar referendum to their student body last December, where they voted overwhelmingly in favour of free fees. The results however were deemed in breach of the Students’ Union constitution and were deemed void. Speaking to Trinity News, University College Cork Students’ Union President Ben Honan commented on murmurings that the USI’s stance on fees will come up for review at this year’s conference. If this were to happen, Honan said, the USI’s stance would change and there would subsequently be a referendum for the Cork campus. USI President Gary Redmond acknowledged the concerns, stating: “In the short term I don’t see fees being abolished because of the fiscal situation that we are in.” Funding cuts have been felt by all universities, with National University of Ireland, Galway suffering from grant cuts the most – 44% of students are on grants – compared to 17% of students attending UCD.
Maynooth study investigates cocaine abuse NUIM researchers uncover reasons for drug addiction Testing 25 addicts found psychological treatments Same method can be used to treat nicotine addiction Claire Acton National News Editor
A GROUNDBREAKING study conducted by researchers from NUI Maynooth offers a breakthrough in the treatment of cocaine addiction. The test, which was invented and developed by the university’s department of psychology, can predict whether a cocaine addict will attend treatment and how successful that treatment will be. The success of the psychological test, known as the Implicit Relational
Assessment Procedure (IRAP), will have significant implications for the treatment of all substance abuse. The study was directed by a team of international psychologists and published in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. NUI Maynooth professor of psychology, Dermot Barnes-Holmes, co-authored the study with an international team that included psychologists from the state psychiatric institute at Columbia University in New York. Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Professor Barnes-Holmes revealed
that he was conducting a similar study among tobacco smokers. The study, conducted at the research centre of the institute, involved a group of 25 cocaine addicts who were enrolled in a six-month outpatient programme. Before treatment began, the participants were given questionnaires which asked them to record their thoughts about cocaine cravings and the consequences of cocaine use. The study tested the relationships between the treatment outcome and the implicit and standard questionnaire assessments. The regular questionnaire failed to predict how well the participants would do in the treatment programme. The psychological test, which measured reaction times to questions
about cocaine, correctly predicted which of the group was likely to turn up for treatment and, if they did, whether their system would be free of the drug. An ordinary questionnaire will not reflect these hidden thoughts because invariably people are not fully aware of them. The IRAP test identified participants’ thoughts, feelings and beliefs that they might wish to conceal or of which they are not consciously aware. Discussing the study, Dermot Barnes-Holmes said: “Our system has far-reaching implications for the treatment of drug addiction.” It is hoped this will have a great impact on the manner in which addicts are treated.
INTERNATIONAL NEWS 9 email@example.com
Students’ role in the Syrian Spring Nilgiri Pearson Deputy International News Editor
ALTHOUGH opposition to the regime of Bashar al-Assad had been growing for a long time, it was a studentled demonstration and the brutal crackdown by government forces which gave rise to Syria’s own bloody parody of the Arab Spring. Over 5,000 individuals are estimated to have lost their lives: pundits may contest the semantics of terms like “civil-war” and “revolution” – but either way, the situation in Syria bares a much greater resemblance to fighting in Libya than comparatively peaceful demonstrations in Egypt’s Tahrir Square. In March 2011, students were arrested for putting up anti-government graffiti in Aleppo. A series of arrests followed and the students were tortured, sparking demonstrations in Damascus. Students, mainly from the southern city of Daraa , staged a protest at Damascus University, one of the first within Syria’s capital, chanting: “The Syrian people are one!” The ensuing clashes with pro-government students and plainclothes policemen left 1 dead. Students have assumed leading
Universities in Syria including Damascus University were focal points for protests
roles within Syria’s opposition parties. They have been at the forefront of protests throughout the country. Unofficial sources and videos show students demonstrating at various campuses - at Yarmouk and Aleppo – at great risk to
themselves. It is incorrect to say that all students oppose the regime. Bashar al-Assad delivered his most defiant denunciation of the revolutionaries from Damascus University. Protests at
Aleppo have been met with violence from government forces as well as progovernment students. This opposition may seem strange to those used to the traditional image of the liberal or left-wing student. Such an impression may be taken for granted given the prominent role of reformist student groups in Egypt or Tunisia. In Syria pro-government and anti-government stances have as much to do with clan loyalties, ethnicity and religion. These divisions have undermined what may be considered traditional student solidarity. Bashar al-Assad is a member of the Alawite clan and this explains the fierce loyalty shown him by some students in Damascus. The Alawites form a small but powerful minority in the majority Shiite country. On the other hand, traditionally disadvantaged classes have benefited from increasing access to education and their presence on university campuses is consequently stronger. In a similar vein the Arab spring has inspired many students to seek greater intellectual and academic freedom in a country known for suppressing academics who fail to tow the government line.
8.7% decline in UK university applications Decline in 7,000 British applications compared to 2011 Believed to be due to trebling of fees to £9,000 a year UK students being encouraged to study abroad Clodagh Rice Staff Reporter
ON MONDAY, Ucas published official figures stating that the number of UK university applicants has fallen by 8.7%, a striking contrast after last year’s record-high. The introduction of substantial UK fees earlier this year means the drop is by no means unexpected but interestingly this does not appear to be the sole cause of the decline. Notably, in the past year there has been a larger decrease in applicants from middle-class backgrounds, who are not eligible for loans and grants available, than those from “disadvantaged” backgrounds. Age appears to be central to the decline, with a 3.6% decrease in 18
year old applicants largely due to demographic changes such as a 1.4% reduction in the cohort size. The largest drop in applicants - a colossal 12% - was found among mature students aged 25 and above. Given that loans are only available for first-degree students; it is a particularly costly time to consider returning to university. International figures help mask the severity of the problem, given the 13.7% increase in Non-EU and overseas applicants. The introduction of £9,000 a year fees by many English universities has severely impacted their own demand with a 9.9% decrease in the number of English students applying to university. Other regions of the UK have attempted to dampen the effects of such large fees. In Scotland
for example, demand was down by a mere 1.5% thanks to their free tuition scheme for Scottish students. Similarly, much smaller decreases of 1.9% and 4% were seen in Wales and Northern Ireland respectively, where they favour home students. Sally Hunt, General Secretary of the University and College Union told The Telegraph “We cannot afford a system that puts people off university if we are to compete in the modern world. Other countries are encouraging their best and brightest to get on, not putting up punitive barriers.” The absence of competition could be detrimental in the long-run and this year has already seen a massive increase in applications to private universities. The demand for places at University of Buckingham, the largest private university in the UK, has doubled in the last year. Despite this decline, competition remains intense with 50,000 more applications to universities than
Battleground shifts to Egypt’s universities Fred Rasmussen Staff Reporter
A YEAR has passed since the revolution began and Egypt has been mourning those martyrs who helped start the revolution that ended the 32-year rule of Hosni Mubarak. However, the revolution is not complete and people have taken to the streets to keep the revolution alive. The current wave of demonstrations are being led by university students who have been streaming to Cairo from across the country – a sign of the importance of the revolution to the country’s educated. The significance of this must not be lost, as it has become clear that the hopes of the revolution rest upon the shoulders of Egypt’s emerging generation. Iman Ezzeldin, a female professor of Arts at Ain Shams University, says that: “As professors – through our relationship with the student – we have been able to help them change and engage more with the revolution.” Universities have facilitated the development of a generation that will guide the revolution through its next critical phases. Egypt is entering a period of great uncertainty with doubts surrounding the willingness of the Military Council to hand over power and the lack of progress made towards democracy since the fall of Mubarak.
07 February, 2012
there are available places, as well as significant cuts in government grants. Libby Hackett, Director of University Alliance, has said that “We must not forget there will still be thousands of young people who will be unable to find a place at university this summer and will join the growing number who are unemployed.” Given current high unemployment levels, the consequences of this fall in applications is particularly worrying. However, there are many who remain optimistic, Universities UK’s Chief Executive told The Guardian, “the dip is far less dramatic than many were initially predicting.” This dramatic fall in figures remains an increase in the long run, seeing a rise of 3% since 2009. Therefore it appears as if the rise in tuition fees has had a divisive impact and that potential students have not been entirely deterred by higher fees, seeing their future education as a worthy investment.
In the 12 months since the revolution began, the gap between people’s hopes and the actual results are obvious to many. Part of the anger is due to the fear that the head of the Military Council, Field Marshal Tantawi, is unwilling to handover power to the people. For many, Tantawi has simply replaced Mubarak as the next dictator, which is an understandable reaction seeing as the military supported the rule of Mubarak for so many years. The military were responsible for shooting at protesters a year ago. As argued by a Cairo tour guide by the name of Hamdy: “Those that, like Mubarak, ordered such shootings – they remain in power instead of being behind bars.” Clearly, after the killing of two protesters following the horrific scenes during an Egyptian football match, people do not feel that they are reaping the rewards for all the blood spilt by their fellow citizens. However, the current wave of demonstrations gripping the country are unprecedented, and marks something unique and historically significant. People are taking to the streets in an attempt to keep the revolution alive. In other ways, the current wave of demonstrations are defining democracy and politics in a new way. Universities are fostering this new generation of Egyptians, instilling in them democratic values.
IN BRIEF UNITED STATES
Seven students injured in college residence fire
One student had to jump from the roof
SEVEN STUDENTS at Boston University were injured last week after a fire at a rented off-campus house in the Allston area of the city. One male student is in a critical condition after leaping from the roof of the house in an attempt to escape the flames. Seven other students, who jumped from the first and second floors, escaped with only minor injuries. The fire occurred at 7 am and despite 60 fire-fighters attempting to deal with the flames, the severity of the incident meant that the building could not be saved and is likely to be demolished. This fire comes days after two Marist College students and their friend died in an apartment fire in New York. The names of the students have not been disclosed. Jack Farrell
‘Uni Lad’ website is forced to clear up act
The apology on the Uni Lad website
THE POPULAR “lads” website, Uni Lad, renowned for its lad banter is to undergo massive changes after mass outrage over the publishing of an article entitled Sexual Mathematics that “condones rape”. James Street, a student at Plymouth University, is to undergo disciplinary action by the university due to his involvement in the site, in the wake of comments made about how rape is often unreported and how attackers should shout “surprise”. The site’s tagline reads: “Are you a LAD? Are you at University? Answered yes to both? Then you’re a Uni Lad. We have all the banter you need to succeed at university!” Alex Partridge, creator of the site, maintains that he did not intend for the content of the site to degenerate as it has and that he was simply responsible for making technical changes to the site. Partridge went on to say that massive changes would now happen to Uni Lad’s editorial policy. The site is currently down and will be launched again “in a few weeks.” The site published an online apology: “It appears that some of the content previously published on this site has caused some distress. The content in question was uncalled for and should in no way have been published, and we can assure you it will never happen again. Any grief this may have caused you, we apologise for. We took things too far. Any flippant comments that may have been said during discussions, I also apologise for, it will not happen again. We are certainly going to be cleaning up our act on unilad.com. We do appreciate where you are coming from with your points, hence forth, an immediate change in material.” Jack Farrell
10 NEWS FEATURES firstname.lastname@example.org
Why fork out for branded drugs? Maya Zakrzewska-Pim sheds light on the costs facing the Government due to branded drugs
T “Offering customers the choice between brand and generic medicines would not only save the Dept of Health money, but the taxpayer too and encourage competition”
he Department of Health is attempting to reduce its medication spending – including on Viagra, which cost €500,000 more in 2010 than in 2009. The simplest way to solve the issue would be to use cheaper generic medications instead of the more expensive brand ones. Pharmacists should not have a problem issuing these, or at least giving the patient a choice between generic and brand products – but unfortunately this is not the case. Frequently, GPs prescribe brand medications, meaning neither pharmacist nor patient have a choice, as pharmacists must issue the particular drug listed on the prescription. Were they to prescribe the drug by its chemical rather than brand name (Valium, for instance, is the brand name, while Diazepan is the chemical term – both have the same chemical properties and effects), the savings would be considerable. Generic medicines are the alternative to brand names, and are readily available in places like Tesco. Many of these are produced in Ireland, and so purchasing them would support local jobs and companies. There is no difference in standard between the two – only the cost. Why? Because drug companies spend millions developing new drugs, new medicines, and the onus for this expenditure is on the customer. Generic companies, on the other hand, lack the initial research and development costs of the originator company, and so their products are cheaper. Branded medications cost as much as 60% more than generic products as a result. Offering customers such a choice would not only save the Department of Health money, but the taxpayer too, and encourage competition in the pharmaceutical market. As the situation stands, branded products are the most heavily advertised, and this
Akash Sikka Staff Reporter
Patients pay through the nose for branded prescription drugs unnecesarily
in turn inspires confidence in patients. For this scheme to be successful, of course, “Tests would have to be carried out to ensure that the different types are perfect substitutes for each other”, observed Paul Gorecki, researcher for the Economic and Social Research Institute. At the moment, pharmaceuticals account for 17.5% of public health expenditure, which is 14% more than in 2000. Even though attempts to cut costs have been made, for instance by the decline of pharmacy markups, this has not been enough. Ireland has higher prescribing rates than numerous other European countries, which explains the vast amount of money the government spends on medicine. Medical schemes themselves are also growing more expensive. Some companies, such as medical insurer Quinn Healthcare, have announced yet another increase in prices blamed on the Government’s repeated increases to the health insurance levy, as well as alterations to the tax-relief
system which covers health insurance. Many patients are also unaware of the pharmacy markups – the amount of money added to what the pharmacy pays for the drug. Some say there should be public notices available with such information. Dental surgeries already are obligated to post prices, a system that has been extended to pharmacies in Ontario in Canada. The Department of Health has admitted it would support such legislation, but would not implement it forcefully, leaving this as a matter of choice to the pharmacy regulator. Darragh O’Loughlin, spokesman for pharmacists, has argued that no other sector is obligated to publicise markups and that it would be unfairly intrusive to expect this solely of pharmacies. Whether or not costs will be reduced or patients will be made more aware of their choices, and of what exactly they are paying so much for, remains to be seen. As it stands, there is no mention of generic medicines available, nor of on the mark-up.
WORLD FOCUS FRANCE
Exacting justice for silicon implant scandal Maud Sampson discusses the PIP implant scandal and its effect on cosmetic surgery
he Founder of the Poly Implant Prosthese, JeanClaude Mas, was arrested last week. PIP, the French company behind substandard silicon used in breast implants sold across the world, has been at the centereof the public health scandal that has shocked the cosmetic surgery world. Last month it emerged that the company knowingly manufactured implants from industrial-grade silicone – also used in mattresses – to cut costs. Around 300,000 PIP implants were sold to women in over 65 countries after receiving the CE European conformity mark. Jean-Claude Mas admitted in a police interview last year that he hid the fact the company was using cheap, industrial silicon from certification agencies. He claims he had manage to deceive safety inspectors for 13 years. The company was the third biggest global supplier of implants, but in March 2010 was closed down after a tip-off to inspectors who found it to be using non-approved silicone gel in its implants. The French government swiftly banned PIP implants, and advised 30,000 women to have them removed. No evidence of an increased risk of toxicity has been found, but the death from cancer of a French women with PIP implants in December sparked fears that the silicone could be linked to the disease. Most recent health reports have found no medical connection. Not all countries have followed France’s advice. The 1,500 Irish women with PIP implants were told by the Irish Medicines Board there is no evi-
dence of health risks associated with PIP implants. Mas insists that the implants pose no health threats. He went on to attack the French government for offering to pay for the removal of PIP implants because it put women through a “surgery risk”. He had nothing to say to women facing surgery for their removal and claims victims filed complaints “to make money”. As expected, his comments have caused outrage among affected women, with many feeling that they have a ticking time-bomb inside them. 2,700 French women have filed complaints against Mas. It is easy to cast him as the only villain, and to make him a scapegoat for a wider social issue. But this scandal begs the question – why is it that these cheap implants were so popular in the first place and used in over 65 countries? It is simply down to demand. Breast augmentations are desired not just by rich WAGs and celebrities, but increasingly by the less well-off normal woman. Mas made the dreams of many women a sudden reality through his creation of a cut price implant. The demand that Mas catered to is too often attributed to the pressures of the celebrity culture and media frenzy of society today that distorts female perception of body image. However cosmetic surgery companies are just as much to blame as the media. These companies sell plastic surgery as not just a physical alteration but a mental betterment. For example, the Harley Medical Group implore women to “Find your inner confidence” through their sur-
Ireland’s online expansion
The scandal shocked cosmetic surgeons and left women concerned for their health
gery, whilst a beaming young woman on the Transform website holds a placard reading: “I’ve just had my breasts done but the biggest change you’ll see is on my face.” What message does this send to women? Inner confidence can only be achieved through looking outwardly good. This is a total contradiction in itself. Mas was undeniably in the wrong. However Mas and PIP are only one link in a chain that takes the silicone implant from the manufacturing plant to the operation theatre. After American health inspectors in 2000 warned the company that its saline implants, (not the silicone ones at the centre of the scandal), were “adulterated” and substandard, why was there no disciplinary action taken by French health authorities against the company, or more rigorous checks undergone on all their products? Perhaps this disgrace-
ful catastrophe could have been averted. And why were plastic surgeons not suspicious of a silicone gel sold to them at such a split cost of the other available implants? Surely as trained medical professionals alarm bells should have been ringing when only one company could produce implants at such a comparatively cheap price. Charged with “unintentional homicide” hours after his arrest, Mas was released on bail of €100,000, and banned from leaving France. His future seems uncertain, but with no direct link between mortality and disease and the PIP silicone, it seems unlikely he will be jailed. If there is one good thing to come of this scandal, let us hope that eyes have been opened to the serious implications of aesthetic cosmetic surgery once and for all. Stitching silicone into a healthy breast is just asking for trouble.
IN JANUARY 2012, Deloitte released a report commissioned by Facebook, measuring the company’s economic impact in Europe. The report divided Facebook’s economic impact into two parts; narrow effects (day to day activities in Europe, employee wages etc.) and broad effects (the company’s third party economic effect such as business advertising, boosting demand for technology etc). Deloitte found that a combination of Facebook’s narrow and broad effects amounted to a staggering economic impact of €15.3 billion and perhaps more significantly, the creation of almost 232,000 jobs. Now of course all of these 232,000 people are not employees of Facebook, but rather their jobs have been created by opportunities that Facebook provides in a broader economic and social sense, a point Deloitte alludes to in their report: “Internet based businesses, such as Facebook, are able to enable broader economic activity across a series of economic agents even though they have a small physical footprint.” This broader economic activity most accurately refers to the increase in brand value that Facebook is able to uniquely provide through its advertising capabilities.
“Facebook’s stake in Ireland resulted in a timely €400m boost for the economy set to expand by the end of the year” This in turn generates interest and loyalty for particular businesses. As a platform, Facebook is particularly beneficial for small businesses that are able to garner interest in their products and services on the social network without the traditionally stifling advertising costs. These benefits are highlighted by Deloitte’s estimation that over 110,000 jobs were created by this increased business participation. Facebook’s expansion has particular significance for Ireland with news that the organisation is looking to expand its Dublin offices by more than double, cementing its status as the Californian company’s European headquarters. The firm’s current offices in Hanover Quay occupy 5,000sqm of space, and reports suggest that the company is looking to expand to as much as 11,500sqm, allowing it to greatly increase its employee capacity from the current 400 mark. Deloitte revealed that over three quarters of Facebook’s narrow economic contribution was concentrated in Ireland, resulting in a timely €400m boost for the Irish economy. This boost will only increase as Facebook looks to expand its offices by the end of the year, with Bank of Ireland’s former headquarters on Baggot Street suggested as a potential new residence. The increase in office space will lead to an inevitable increase in employee numbers and the company is already advertising for 60 positions in its Dublin offices amidst reports of a “significant recruitment drive.” Facebook’s expansion follows that of Google, which itself doubled its office capacity last year, purchasing the Montevetro building in Dublin’s Grand Canal dock area. LinkedIn is also known to have 100 employees nearby whilst it has been reported that Twitter is also looking to open an office in the area. It seems that the reduced office rental prices in a depressed Dublin market is attracting the world economy’s largest internet organisations, resulting in vast direct and indirect benefits to Ireland’s economy.
FOCUS ON THE IRISH MARKET
Are bond markets Ireland’s great escape? Paul McAufield analyses the proposed return to bond markets by the Minister for Finance, which could provide long-term public and private expenditure funding. Could this be Ireland’s austerity escape plan?
B “This can be seen as a strategic manoeuvre by the Irish government to reduce its funding requirements for 2014 when it hopes to exit the bailout programme”
ond markets are back, according to a June 2011 announcement by the Minister for Finance in the Dáil. Surprisingly, in advance of Michael Noonan’s predictions, the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) has already “put its toes in the market” to test the water’s temperature. Even more surprisingly, the water has proven to be warm indeed. Private investors bought Irish government bonds for the first time since September 2010, purchasing approximately €3.5bn worth of three-year debt. These were offered at an interest rate of 5.15% to investors holding €11.8bn of outstanding bonds maturing in February 2015. This resulted in initial gains of between 2% to 6.27% in many Irish businesses, such as AIB, Aer Lingus and Smurfit Kappa Group. This can also be seen as a strategic manoeuvre by the Irish Government to reduce its funding requirements for January 2014 when it hopes to exit the bailout programme. Our return to economic growth, ability to meet deficit reduction targets and relative political stability have impressed investors and international observers. Irish resilience and capacity to endure significant cuts in public spending and increases in taxation have had impressive results, with yields on five-year bonds falling below 6% for the first time since the bailout. This is all the more remarkable considering that in July 2011 this rate stood at 18%. Such a sale, according to the NTMA,
showed there was an “appetite” for Irish bonds which they contend will “support plans for a phased re-entry to long-term debt markets.” The agency expects to continue to tap the bond markets in the coming months as part of its phased re-entry strategy. Echoing this new found confidence, Dermot O’Leary of Goodbody Stockbrokers said: “The sentiment towards Ireland has shifted since independent stress tests were conducted last year,” something which has encouraged investors to take the view that “Ireland has the best chance of emerging from the crisis.” Similarly, a spokesperson for the European Commission said that the results of this auction were “encouraging, as it shows increasing confidence among investors in the strong commitment of the Irish authorities to redress the situation and fully implement the EU-IMF programme.” All going to plan, Ireland will be the first of the three economies which received bailouts from the EU-IMF to fully re-enter the bond markets. This successful first foray into the international bond markets and the steady half-year decline in yields on Irish government debt supports this plan. However, much of this is built upon confidence – the fact that the take-up was largely driven by Irish banks, effectively making it a domestic affair, does dilute the positive implications. Furthermore, significant challenges still remain.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny hopes a return to bond markets will end EU bailout terms
Austerity is having an adverse impact on growth with predictions for Ireland being cut to 0.5% from 1% for 2012. Getting this balance between growth and austerity right is essential, especially when Ireland’s debt amounts to more than 100% of GDP. Despite these domestic challenges, more worrying still is the threat of contagion. With further tumult surrounding Greece’s likelihood of default and with Portugal’s creditdefault swaps rising to record levels, Ireland could be dragged down with
them. As the only other Eurozone country in an IMF bailout programme, the bond markets could lose confidence in Ireland and turn against us in a similar fashion. If Portugal does default, the risk of which is currently at 70%, and follows a Greek template, the loss in confidence in Ireland’s ability to repay its debts would send yields rocketing. This would deny Ireland re-entry to the bond markets. If this does occur Ireland’s future is out of its hands; however, this remains to be seen.
Investors “like” record €100bn Facebook flotation Sam Quirke on the much talked about social media flotation that will see the biggest tech IPO the business world has witnessed
f Facebook’s S-1 filing passes all the hurdles of the regulators, it will be well on its way to Zuckerberg choosing what ticker Facebook will trade under, and on what exchange. In the couple of months between Thursday’s filing and when Facebook debuts (Groupon took five months, LinkedIn took four), Zuckerberg and his comrades will be trekking from city to city talking to potential investors.
“There are high hopes that Facebook will put the bulls back on technology’s currently stagnant tail” Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the underwriters, will accompany them, each vying for the coveted lead left-hand spot on the offering document. What would have been the reactions in the dorm room in 2003 after Zuckerberg and friends set up a site to rate female students at Harvard if you told them the idea would grow to be worth $100bn? This is the figure being estimated as the initial valuation. The latest count gives Facebook 800 million users, with 14% of the world’s population logging on once a month. Never before have companies had this kind of opportunity to reach such numbers of people and to tailor their advertising in relation to a person’s interests or “likes”. This is where Facebook’s value is being drawn from – it is an advertiser’s dream. Facebook overtook Yahoo! last year in terms of online advertising revenues, with the
07 February, 2012
former now leading that pack with 16.3% of the market. Aside from the multibillion dollar market of online advertising, companies are now using Facebook to see how their products and services are being viewed. It is almost unthinkable for a business not to have an online presence on the website, such is the value of seeing the world’s opinion of you or your products. How Zuckerberg takes to the role of CEO of a public company will be interesting. He has surrounded himself with a highly regarded team of several ex-Google employees (many brought along by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO), and of course a fine number of intelligent college drop-outs like himself. With Wall Street breathing down his neck constantly to turn out profit and grow earnings, he’ll have to stand on his own feet and keep the long term horizon in sight. So far he has maintained control, safeguarding it with several contracts signed with venture capitalists, and it is clearly implied that he will never be replaced by an “adult” chief executive. Given the high number of tech stocks trading at cheap valuations today, there are high hopes that Facebook will put the bulls back on tech’s currently stagnant trail, much like Google did in 2004 in the wake of the dotcom crash. Google stock has grown 582% in those eight years. The momentum expected to appear behind Facebook when it goes public has speculators salivating. It is ironic that Bebo is on its last legs, a site that many readers will have had their first social networking experience with, while Facebook, the “other girl” so many of us transgressed on Bebo with, is on the cusp of the biggest tech IPO in history.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg unveiled $5m flotation stock market plans last Thursday, confirming worldwide rumours
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12 WORLD REVIEW
Waging against Putin, a brave man’s game Eoin O’Driscoll takes you through the ins and outs of Russia’s presidential elections
he US is not the only major global power facing a presidential election in 2012; its erstwhile Cold War opponent Russia will be going to the polls on 4 March. However, little is likely to change as Vladimir Putin looks set to return to power after a hiatus of four constitutionally mandated years out of the presidential office. Putin has never been far from the levers of power. It was Dmitry Medvedev, a close associate of Putin, who took his seat in the Kremlin. Many, especially in the West, viewed Medvedev as little more than Putin’s puppet, keeping the presidential office warm for his return. Since the former secret serviceman, one of the feared siloviki, emerged as prime minister in 1999, he has exerted a vice-like grip on Russian politics and society. Putin first became president in 2000 after Yeltsin’s unexpected retirement. He quickly developed a reputation as a hard man, suffering few fools. He raged against oligarchs such as Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev, and took no prisoners when dealing with separatist movements, as evidenced by his actions in Chechnya. Four years after becoming president, Putin was re-elected with 71% of the vote. His popularity has been maintained at levels outrageously high for a “democratically elected” leader. In many ways Russia since 2000 has been Putin’s Russia. Under Putin, Russia regained the sense of pride it lost under the economic mismanagement of Yeltsin and his headlong lunge towards the free market and Westernisation. It rejected the Western interpretation of the Soviet era and started to look back upon the era of Lenin, Stalin, and Khrushchev with a sense of nostalgia. While acknowledging the many evils of its communist past, Putin’s Russia also likes to point back to the achievements
in industry and education, and Russia’s status as one of the two global superpowers. It is no coincidence that the only public figure with popularity ratings comparable to Putin’s during his premiership has been Josef Stalin.
“There was little division between state and society and Putin was the face of both” Russia has exerted an independent foreign policy, especially after a failed post-9/11 alliance with George Bush’s America. It has established an iron grip on what it terms its “near abroad”. The Yeltsin era (and early eras of Putin’s premiership) were characterised by: the Westernisation of Eastern European states; EU and NATO expansion; and the overthrow of Russian sympathetic authoritarian administrations by popular movements in the Rose revolutions. Putin’s Russia has been most unaccepting of moves westwards by its neighbours. It is as a strong man, capable of ensuring a strong Russia, that Putin will hope to be re-elected. Current polls put his support between 45% and 52%, as opposed to Gennady Zyuganov, his main opponent, who has garnered only 11% support. However, chinks are beginning to show in his once impervious armour. Putin’s party may have re-emerged as the largest party in the December Duma elections but they received just a plurality of the popular vote and a bare governing majority, instead of the domineering 65% of the vote and 70% of the seats they received in the 2007 elections. Just last Thursday, Putin embarrassingly had to concede that he was likely to face a run-off opponent in the upcoming presidential election (which would mean that he failed to receive over 50% of the vote in the
10,000 protestors condemned election fraud at a rally in St. Petersburg in December 2011. Photograph: AP
first round). Last time, he managed to get over 70% of the vote. Most readers familiar with democracies such as Ireland, the UK and the United States would not think much of this. However, for Putin it is a big deal. Putin’s governance has always been based on the total domination of Russian politics and society. Opposition press was suppressed.
“Putin is not the domineering force he once was. Chinks are beginning to show in his once impervious armour” Oligarchs who grew too powerful were turfed into jail. Putin’s face was plastered all over popular news media. There was little division between state and society and Putin was the
face of both. This domineering style of governance required the total acquiescence of all other branches of government and the discrediting of opposition. However, the opposition has been legitimated through a popular election despite many cries of foul play to their disadvantage. Now there are 92 Communist Party parliamentarians, 64 representatives of A Just Russia in the Duma Party and a further 56 Liberals. All of these are legitimate voices of opposition that the Kremlin will find hard to silence. It is much harder to jail an opponent as a subversive if he sits in the federal legislature. Putin’s Russia is weakening. It was affected terribly by the economic crisis of 2008 and faces interminable demographic problems. Ethnic Russian populations are declining rapidly while minority populations are surging. The linked rise in separatist movements is no surprise. Russia is no unitary state. It is the collection of many willing and unwilling states under the umbrella government of the
Kremlin, the final vestige of the USSR. The reduction in Putin’s strength may be minor by Western standards but it robs him of his all-powerful persona and prevents the continuation of the current domineering form of governance. It could be enough to push a fragile Russia teetering over the brink. Sadly, as bad as Putin is, the alternative is not much better. The Communist Party are the most popular alternative to Putin’s United Russia and Zyuganov, its leader, openly called for the re-Stalinisation of Russia in 2010 in an open letter to President Medvedev. There is no strong, progressive, popular alternative to Putin’s Russia. In any case, Putin is almost certain to reassume the presidency and little will immediately be different. However, his weakened position could lead to concessions being made to the opposition and a loosening of press restrictions. A liberalisation of Russia could well be the outcome of all this, but for now we can only wait and see.
It’s either Brussels’ way or the highway Kris Wilson sends out a warning message to the democratic sovereign states of Europe
n 31 October last, George Papandreou publicly announced his government’s plans to hold a referendum on the terms of the Eurozone bailout that the European Union was giving his country. When Brussels got news of this, its reaction was far from positive. Opinion polls at the time indicated that the majority of Greeks opposed the €130bn bailout and a referendum seemed to many to be a reasonable proposition for something which would place a great deal of financial stress and constraints on a country whose political culture is very hostile to any sort of austerity measures. Greece was told in no uncertain terms that a referendum was not going to happen. Due to political pressure from all sides, Papandreou resigned. His replacement was Lucas Papademos, a former vice president of the European Central Bank, who has never actually run
“How would the Irish population face the rule of, however temporarily, a proEuropean economist who has never been elected to office?” publicly for election. While it is understandable that it would be in the EU’s interest to rush through a Greek bail-
out to keep the European economy as a whole safe, the decision might well not be the best one for Greece itself. There is strong political desire to force a more aggressive bondholder haircut and see a great deal more of a Keynesian ethos to government expenditure. However, strong economic restructuring reforms are on the way, which, while perhaps prudent, are incredibly unpopular. In Italy, the infamous Silvio Berlusconi’s replacement as both prime minister and economic minister, Mario Monti, has a background as a European Commissioner and a founding member of the European integration think-tank, the Spinelli Group. He has never contested a public election. Arguably these appointments are what is in the best interests of both Greek and Italian governments. As both leaders still have to put motions before parliaments and maintain majorities, they are still democratically accountable. Papademos, himself a highly skilled individual, is a Harvardeducated intellectual and a senior fellow of the Centre for Financial Studies in the University of Frankfurt. He has made it clear that the lifespan of his government will be short, and has asked for the participation of the leaders of the parties that are in coalition. Monti, known by the affectionate nickname of “Super Mario”, is popular in much of the industrialised north of Italy and is likely to make sensible economic decisions to the benefit of the Italian economy. Both, however, have vocal oppositions and have been the subject of large-scale protests.
These appointments raise a difficult political problem. Is it necessary to suspend democratic processes in order to weather the financial storms that wrack our continent? Consider such a scenario unfolding in Ireland: the Irish economy on the verge of collapse; Enda Kenny, losing legitimacy in the eyes of
“Are our national politics lurching into a new kind of power structure? Brussels and possibly his parliamentary majority, facing a series of further bailouts. Would the Irish electorate accept a denial of snap elections or a referendum? How would the population face the rule of – however temporarily – a pro-European economist who has never been elected to office? What kind of political fallouts would follow? The December budget that was passed through Dáil Eireann had to also be ratified by the German Bundestag. This republic was founded on the concept of a total divorce from foreign interference from all apparatus of government, direct or indirect, political or economic. The idea that a foreign parliament would have the power to vote against a budget submitted by the Dáil would have been totally unacceptable. The new fiscal treaty proposed in Europe was specifically worded in order to minimise the prospect of an Irish referendum and is yet another example of the EU attempting to avoid being electorally accountable. This clause provides that the new fiscal treaty does not have to be constitutionally enshrined but, instead, be put through parliament. This means that future
governments could, in theory, rescind such legislation; but, it would be almost politically impossible to do so, as the current Fine Gael government found out after running for election on a platform of bondholder haircuts. Brussels’ language has become tense and frustrated, directed towards countries bending the financial rules with increasing exasperation. Gerry Adams has come under criticism from Enda Kenny for allegations that a top European official stated that the treaty was worded in such a fashion to ensure that the Attorney General would be unable to find legal grounds to allow a referendum. This comes in the aftermath of a massively offensive claim from Leo Varadkar that the electorate was not capable of understanding the intricacies of the treaty well enough to make an informed decision on the referendum. It is this kind of condescending language that is often used to address any kind of opposition to EU policy. Yet at a fundamental level there are deep structural flaws to European democracy. There is no electoral contest for political leadership at a European level or for the basic direction of EU policy. Even the process of electing national politicians or members of the European Parliament are not contests on the direction of EU policy. It is impossible in Ireland to find a mainstream political party with a eurosceptic outlook. European elections are generally held to be second-order national contests that are fought by national parties on the performance of their own government, with lower turnouts than national elections. At no point are the electorate asked to chose between rival candidates for executive officials at a European level or to chose
between rival policy agendas. Even referenda on EU treaties are few and far between outside of Ireland, and the problem with these are that they are only on isolated issues. The return of a vote against such referenda are usually not accepted, and countries are asked again (as happened with Nice and Lisbon), if at all – as happened with the grizzly act of necromancy that was the conversion of the European Constitution to Lisbon treaty.
“There is no electoral contest for political leadership at a European level or for the basic direction of EU policy” Are our national politics lurching into a new kind of power structure? Recent years have undeniably seen fewer democratic decisions on overarching legislative frameworks regarding immigration, the economy, environmental law and many other areas. With technocratic governments in power, austerity measures are being strictly enforced from Brussels. The presidents of the European Parliament, European Council and European Commission – Martin Schulz, Herman Van Rompuy and José Manuel Barroso respectively – all achieved their positions without a Europe-wide vote, and these positions have a great impact on national politics in increasingly large numbers of countries. How integrated are we going to become in the next 20 years? More collective integration will come at the cost of individual integrity.
Beginner’s guide to Boko Haram Elly Friel reports on the rise of Nigeria’s little-known terrorist group responsible for the country’s Christmas Day attacks
“Choosing churches as targets for attack plays on the historic division between Muslim north and Christian south, rubbing salt on decades-old religious wounds”
little over a year ago, the name Boko Haram meant nothing to the vast majority of people, even within Africa. Since then the group have been making global headlines, but for all the wrong reasons. Portrayed as a frighteningly active yet super-secret Islamic sect intent on massacring the Christian population of Nigeria and toppling the democratic institutions of the most populous nation in Africa, they have gone from regional troublemakers to an international security threat. But few seem to know where they came from, what they want and how to deal with them. Boko Haram is the nickname of a group whose official name translates from Arabic as “The People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad”. The shorter version is Hausa language for “Western education is forbidden”. Mohammed Yusuf, an early leader of the group, called on Muslims to oust, by force if necessary, Nigeria’s secular administration in favour of an Islamic state. His fiery rhetoric caught the attention of local authorities, concerned about swelling ranks of followers and rumours of weapon stockpiles. Yet it wasn’t until the summer of 2009, when a minor police confrontation sparked a violent uprising, that the extent of the Boko Haram network was uncovered. Following a decade of tension and threats, Yusuf unleashed his forces onto a prison in Borno state, and progressed to attack police barracks and government offices, igniting clashes across five states in the north of the country that lasted several days. Federal officials responded quickly with swift, on-street executions of suspected insurgents. The conflict resulted in the deaths of over 1,000 rebels and civilians. Among their number was Yusuf, whose death in police custody stirred a storm of controversy. In the wake of the fighting, Boko Haram was banned by the state of Nigeria. Dramatically depleted in numbers, members retreated underground. Yet just over a year later, a surge of violence once again took hold in the north of the country, where the Muslim population predominates. Christmas Eve 2010 witnessed churches bombed in Jos
Churchgoers evacuate St Theresa’s Catholic Church which was bombed by Boko Haram on Christmas Day 2011
in central Nigeria, a flashpoint with a reputation for flares in violence between Christians and Muslims. Prior to elections in April of last year, rebels bombed party headquarters and targeted office workers in assassination attempts. In spite of this, they remained relatively unknown outside West Africa until a suicide car bomb at the United Nations in Abuja killed 21 officials and brought Boko Haram to the world’s attention in August 2011. Most recently, more violent bombings of Christians on Christmas Day 2011 were followed up with a spate of co-ordinated bombings in Nigeria’s second largest city of Kano late last month, killing 185 civilians. This latest round of violence has stoked fears that a long-simmering divide in the oil-rich nation could spiral into a sectarian civil war,
The group also confirmed responsibility for attacks on the television network centre in Maiduguri
07 February, 2012
and has jolted embattled President Goodluck Jonathan into action. The failure of federal troops deployed to deal with the situation has provoked community elders on both sides of the religious divide to call for negotiations with Boko Haram as the only way forward. But figuring out what the elusive group want is no easy task. Verifiable demands have not been forthcoming, meaning speculation about the true aims of the militants has been rife across the nation. The choice of churches as targets for attack has to be viewed as playing on the historic division between Muslim north and Christian south, rubbing salt on decades-old religious wounds. Many commentators are increasingly suspicious of external support, given the increasing frequency of attacks, not to mention the growing sophistication in methods used. Reports from US authorities have cited the Algerian wing of al-Qaeda and Somalia’s militant al-Shabaab insurgents as possible accomplices, which effectively means the emergence of a new front in the international war on terror and more headaches for security officials. The Nigerian administration, though keen to allay the fears of its population, is also eager to secure lucrative funding as a frontline ally in the global fight against terrorism, and so has encouraged such explanations. Yet the aforementioned community elders are of a different opinion. While not denying religious fundamentalism in the north, they see the internationally-buttressed, ferociously active Islamist extremist group mainly as an imaginary invention of the government. To them, Boko Haram is one actor among a shady franchise of criminal opportunists, black-market operators and disenchanted political players. Although Mohammed Yusuf supported the foundation of an Islamic state in Nigeria, his main concern was local politics in his native Borno state, and many dignitaries in the region claim that Boko Haram’s ambitions don’t extend much beyond this. A video posted by the group’s current leader in January gave the impression that the group is motivated by revenge for the government’s crackdown. The obvious question seems to be
how to deal with the threat of Boko Haram. The government, however, doesn’t appear to have an answer. President Jonathan, a Christian, is unpopular in the Muslim north and recent actions have done nothing to improve his reputation for southern bias. While Christians appeal for an increased military clampdown, Muslims appeal to Jonathan to demonstrate his nationwide credentials by finding solutions to the deep-rooted poverty, neglect and marginalization they say lie at the heart of widespread northern unease. A successful solution might integrate both of these positions yet, thus far, actions seem to have taken on the former course. Following the advice of senior security officials, large parts of the north have been declared in a state of emergency, with a massive 20% of the 2012 federal budget allocated to security spending alone. There is anxiety that unleashing armed forces in large-scale operations is making matters much worse, where government troops are viewed by locals as unwelcome occupiers. What northerners seem to really want is a share in the oil revenue they see as flowing primarily into the pockets of their southern countrymen, while three in every four Muslims live below the poverty line. This feeling of marginalization has stirred political disgruntlement, which extremists feed on. Regardless of whether Boko Haram are a veritable military threat produced by global Islamic extremism, the Jonathan administration must address growing discontent in the north and provide an outlet for the expression of Islamic aspirations within the framework of a stable Nigeria. If the militants are to be defeated, a vehicle to allow economically disadvantaged parts of the population access to governance structures needs to be devised, even if this means suffering some short-term opposition from Christian quarters. What is clear is that short-sighted reactionary moves by the government will play into the hands of Boko Haram, whatever its true aims are. Instead, authorities must look further down the line and seek to remedy longstanding grievances.
Pyramid selling: not a Bosnian hoax Thomas O’Brien recounts his experience with Bosnia & Herzegovina’s hotly debated site
f you Google “Bosnian Pyramids”, one of the first search options that will appear will be “Bosnian Pyramids hoax”. However, if you look past this, you will discover links to Visoko, a region one hour’s drive from Sarajevo in Bosnia. Here there are 5 pyramidal hills, beneath which are structures that are possibly the largest and oldest pyramids in the world. Before you scoff at this, please remember that the Egyptians never copy-righted the pyramid shape and that pyramids can be found in at least eleven countries across the globe, from Mexico to Indonesia. The reason that I am writing this is that there is a non-profit foundation set up to excavate these sites in Bosnia and they are organising, for the third year running, a summer camp for international volunteers who are interested in helping to uncover the truth about these structures. I attended last summer and since I cannot make it again this summer, I wanted to raise awareness of it and to hopefully persuade some new volunteers to attend.
“It doesn’t help that the director of the foundation dresses like Indiana Jones minus the bull whip” I am not an archaeologist (and I had no interest in being one), but I saw the volunteering camp as an opportunity to try archaeology, to see Bosnia, meet new people and to be involved in something historic. As well as this, the fact that I could say to people that I was going digging up pyramids in Bosnia whenever they asked what my plans for the summer were really appealed to my sense of humour. It was a good enough reason as any. During my two weeks there, we were given bed and board in a hotel in return for six hours volunteering a
day, six days a week. The weather was beautiful, the company was great and the local cuisine (outside of the hotel) was cheap and very tasty. The set-up seems to appeal to many New-Age groups, keen on exploring, among other phenomena, alien sightings, sun-gazing and spiritual auras in the region. Not all of the volunteers who arrive in Visoko are convinced by the verity of these pyramids. It doesn’t help that the director of the foundation, Dr. Osmanagic, dresses like Indiana Jones (minus the bull whip). I’m not an archaeologist, or a geologist, but I am a very rational person, and I was convinced by what I saw. There are stone terraces that cannot be natural, not with the perfectly cut, repeating stone patterns. There are kilometres of tunnel systems in the valley surrounded by the pyramids that are currently being excavated. On one of the pyramids, there are massive smooth slabs of what appear to be poured concrete with right-angles all set at the same angle. One of the things that I did learn in Visoko is that in schools, children are being taught that the Egyptian pyramids are tombs. However, this may not be true – more and more people are realising just how little we know about the pyramids. No evidence of bodies has been found in the oldest Egyptian pyramids (and curiously the largest, and most geometrically perfect of the Egyptian pyramids). It is believed that later Egyptian pyramids (in which bodies have been found) were attempts to copy their older counterparts. The earliest Egyptian pyramids may actually have been generators for electricity, large scale Baghdad batteries. It is believed that the pyramids in Visoko may have had a similar purpose. There are two debates surrounding the pyramids in Visoko. The first, I’ve already alluded to, is whether or not they are genuine. The second debate is whether or not these sites should be excavated at all. If these are genuine sites, then they will be the greatest
The Bosnian pyramid project aims to dig up the history of a little known archaeological site, and anyone can participate
archaeological finds in the 21st century in Europe, if not in the world. However, Visoko is quite a poor region and the foundation doesn’t receive a lot of funding, so these pyramids are seen as a major revenue generator by everyone. A lot of the excavations are geared towards tourism and not just solely for scientific discovery (an early excavation
“There are kilometres of tunnel systems in the valley surrounded by the pyramids that are currently being investigated” used a JCB), but exposing these sites to the Bosnian winters results in a lot of irreparable damage. Sufficient funding to excavate these sites in a less intrusive and less damaging method remains nonexistent at present. I arrived for the first shift of the summer, and so for the first week,
A nosy endeavour David Babby explores the mystical and idiosyncratic world of piercing etiquette
O “I can understand cool-piercing-lady might be fed up with coarse lad-types asking which ear or eyebrow is the “gay one” with the express intention of saving their hard-man reputation”
n a particularly grey, drizzly Saturday morning, my friend set off to get her nose pierced. The decision had been made the night before amidst several other similarly serious lifestyle alterations. The money had been counted out. Support had been garnered. After much intense discussion, the prettier nostril was identified and noted. I was a bit late and arrived just as my friend was being lead in to a back room. The woman in charge of her had a good few piercings, which was reassuring, and there was a crumpled bag of Meanies in the bin which showed that this was a fun place to work. “So,” I said, leaning against the door, “Which nostril is the gay nostril?” To be honest, I thought I’d been post-gay hilarious, but piercing lady was not much impressed. “There is none,” she said drily and reached for her marker. What I had not realised at the time was that my friend’s sister had already asked the same question before I’d got there, and got a considerably terser response along the lines of: “That is ignorance. There is no gay nostril. If you are gay, your whole nose is gay. Having one side of your nose pierced does not mean a lesbian is suddenly going to mow you down in the street.” I’d like to briefly dwell on the first part of that statement: “There is no gay nostril. If you are gay, your whole nose is gay.” This just isn’t true. Surely
the nose is the least sexual part of the whole body (possibly after elbows). I can understand that cool-piercing-lady might be a bit fed up with coarse lad-types asking which ear or eyebrow is the gay one with the express intention of saving their hard man reputation. But what if my friend had wanted a piercing specifically to get mowed down by lesbians? To deny the link between piercings and sexuality is silly and unconvincing. I don’t just call to my defence the nudie girls plastered with tattoos and bristling with imaginative piercings who bend and wink from the magazines under the counter in that very salon – but the general idea behind piercings, at least in their purpose as social markers. I don’t mean to demean the act here, nor to lend it too much significance – my friend just wanted to get her nose pierced all of a sudden – but it is at least one of the reasons people do it. Mr X is alternative but nobody knows – he’ll get a piercing to show he is. Ms X likes women and wants to shout it from the rooftops – maybe she wants to get the “gay side” pierced. My friend, for aesthetic reasons, got her left nostril pierced. This, in Ireland at least, is the straight side. As far as I know, it applies to all facial piercings: ears, eyebrows, sides of the lip. Perhaps if anyone is looking at the piercings below your chin, it is safe to say they have already successfully ascertained your sexuality. Everybody knows the left-side rule. I can remember a boy at school who got his right eyebrow pierced and
we were just improving the access to the various sites for tourists and for removing protective coverings that had been placed to protect the sites form the harsh winter. For the second week, we were excavating one of the corners of the largest pyramid. Anyone who is familiar with the work of archaeologists will tell you that it involves a lot of trowels and brushes, and that it is very slow. In Bosnia, this is not the case. Because there is not any artefact layer (the layer that contains bone, pottery pieces, debris, and so on) we are able to go straight to the structure layer using shovels and picks – avoiding the meticulous process of dusting our way down through the structure. While the landscape of the country still bears many scars from the Balkan Wars, Bosnia itself is beautiful – it has an expanse of unspoiled forestry and friendly locals. In addition to this, Sarajevo itself is undergoing major redevelopment, and provides an excellent city base for exploring the region. Visoko is reachable by a one hour
everyone called him Pepes – the name of the gay bar in Derry at the time – until he took it out. The other week, a male friend was moaning about the sheep-like bubble-gum gay decorum of his boyfriend, the crowning offence being that his right ear was pierced. I went to two other piercing places in the city centre and asked three questions: how much is it to get a simple ear piercing, which side is the gay side, and if people asked that question often. A straight-talking chap at a stall offering silver hoops or studs for €6 said “right” without blinking, and said if he wasn’t asked, he would ask himself. At a salon that doubles as a tattoo parlour a stone’s throw away, earrings start at €15 and the man behind the counter is at pains to stress that this is no longer a thing. “Maybe ten years ago people asked this.” So nobody asks anymore? “Very rarely. Sometimes. Two or three a year.” A thought occurs to me: “Are people more likely to ask if they want to identify as gay?” “I don’t know,” he replies, “I don’t ask them.” “Well which side do they get done after asking?” He forgets. He’s a mind of information, though – says the right-side-is-the-gay-side malarkey started in San Francisco (where else?); and the rules differ all over the place – it’s the reverse in Edinburgh, for instance. He is as reliable as the internet, which offers much conflicting advice, but at least confirms two facts – that the rules do indeed differ, and that it is still a subject of some anxiety. People who pierce people are not the kind to give a shit about sexuality. The ones I talked to who don’t like the right-side-gay-side decree don’t like it because, for the most part, they consider it a bit naff. This is a funny
bus-ride from the capital. To do it on the cheap like I did, you can fly Ryanair from Dublin to Zadar, Croatia, and then bus it through Croatia and into Bosnia. While volunteering was free last year, the organisation may now charge a small fee for the opportunity due to
“The landscape of the country still bears scars from the Balkan Wars, but Bosnia itself is beautiful – it has an expanse of unspoiled forestry” the swelling popularity of the camps. More information is available at piramidasunca.ba. If you want to try something a little different this summer, and engage in a fascinating and fiery cultural debate, look no further than the great pyramids of Visoko!
“A thought occurs to me – are people more likely to ask if they want to be identified as gay? The piercing expert says no” word to come to mind here, due to its etymology – it’s a term assimilated from British underground gay slang Polari. It originally meant boring or hetero-
sexual – but it is the only one I can use here. The politics of facial piercing
INTERVIEW STEPHEN MERCHANT
A west country comedian at large
Josh Roberts talks to actor and comedian Stephen Merchant, best-known for his role as a bumbling agent in Extras and, most recently, as himself in Life’s Too Short. We want to know what’s next for Bristol’s famous comedy export
was in this club with these people born in 1990”, says Stephen Merchant on his sell-out Hello Ladies tour, “and I realised that I was the only person in this club who’s ever watched porn on VHS.” “Nowadays”, he continues, “they’ve got everything – girl on girl, man on girl, girl on toaster, whatever you’re into.” The tour, which has garnered huge critical acclaim, is packed full of gags like this: self-conscious, self-effacing and dare I say (at the risk of sounding like a tosser) relatively post-modern. It’s his first stand-up tour since 1997 and why, I wonder, is he bothering? After all, with writing and acting credits on some of the biggest comedy shows of all time (The Office, Extras, An Idiot Abroad, The Ricky Gervais Show and the list goes on) and an estimated wealth of £35 million, he surely doesn’t need the money. Maybe he’s trying to make a point, trying to prove that Gervais isn’t the only one able to make a huge success of going solo. This too, however, also seems unlikely. Yes, he does reference Gervais (“you know who”) throughout his routine; but at no point do you get the feeling he’d rather be in his writing partner’s shoes. A recent interview with Time Out confirms this: “You know the idea that if you boil some water and throw a frog in, it will leap around until it’s dead?” he says. “But if you put it in there and heat the water gently the frog slowly boils alive and doesn’t really notice it happen? That’s how I feel. Like Ricky was thrown in the water and I’ve slowly been boiled alive.”
“I usually have a quick beer, sign some autographs, try and find somewhere to eat and fall asleep watching whatever is on TV”
Who was his earliest comedic influence? “My dad. He’d do silly things. You know, if he was getting out of the shower, he’d be mucking around – he’d pull his underpants too tight and walk funny.” After narrowly missing out on a place at Cambridge (the plan had been to follow his hero John Cleese into the famous Footlights), he accepted an offer from Warwick University where he immersed himself in university life – he wrote for the newspaper, tried his hand on the radio and “perhaps most importantly” he “took a comedy sketch show to the Edinburgh Festival.” “I had a great time at University,” he says of Warwick. “Obviously I drank and partied and so on, but I was also very productive. I would say to any student: you will never have as much free time and opportunity as when you’re at uni so get off your arse and do something!” Graduating with a 2:1, Merchant began embarking on a career in comedy. The early routines saw an act based around an embittered West
“Merchant is the perfect antidote to a comedy climate in which DVD sales and O2 spots go to those who trade in outrage” Country comedian who wrongly considered himself a big star. The receptions were mixed (some nights he recalls “died on its arse”) and the deconstructed nature of his material was restricting – “you realise you’ve actually worked your way into a corner, because once you’ve deconstructed it, what can you do?” Instead of toiling around the club circuit with a show that was both a hit and a flop in the same week, Merchant headed for London. And it was here, in 1997, that radio station XFM offered him a job as
assistant to the then “Head of Speech”, namely one Ricky Gervais. The pair instantly hit it off and when Merchant needed help with a short film for a BBC production course he had enrolled on, Gervais got the call. Thus was born Seedy Boss or, as the world would later come to know it, The Office. Initially the show received varied reviews, it seemed people didn’t ‘get it’ and as a result it was nearly cancelled. However, as one critic put it at the time: “Once you had invested enough in it and you’ve grown to know the characters there can be no turning back, The Office will become a comedy classic.” And it did. Indeed, with three BAFTAs, three British Comedy Awards, two EMMYs, two Golden Globes, DVD sales figures in the multimillions and worldwide syndication, The Office is one of the biggest comedy shows of all time. Next for Merchant came the similarly outrageously successful Extras (cue more BAFTAs, EMMYs, Globes and oodles more dosh) as well as the podcasts with Gervais and Karl Pilkington (“head like a fucking orange”) which have been downloaded over 300 million times. Since then he’s written dwarf comedy Life’s Too Short and acted in films alongside comedy giants like Owen Wilson. However, despite this international success, fame and fortune, Merchant somehow remains a down-to-earth, easy going, all round nice bloke. In his post-gig routine, for example, we find none of the coke-fuelled, three-ina-bed romps you might expect from a star of his calibre – “I usually have a quick beer, sign some autographs, try and find somewhere to eat and fall asleep watching whatever is on TV (normally The Big Bang Theory).” His ‘tour essentials’ (“a laptop, DVDs, vitamin supplements, comfortable trousers, prostitutes”) are, hookers aside, also pretty vanilla. And he says he has no time for reading ego-massaging reviews. “They [reviews] are of no use to me,” he says. “If I took them seriously I’d believe their praise and get complacent or believe their criticism and lose my nerve.”
Interestingly, Merchant’s own comedy tastes reflect the slightly neurotic but equally ‘average Joe’ persona that he embodies both on and off stage. “Woody Allen is my all-time favourite comedian,” he reflects. “His would-be intellectual nebbish who wishes he was a ladies’ man is one of the best comic creations ever.” In terms of stand-up, Merchant reserves
“I would say to any student: you will never have as much free time and opportunity as when you are at uni so get off your arse and do something!” special praise for Louis CK: “He is quite simply the best stand-up in the world right now. Check him out on YouTube if you haven’t seen him.” Given all this, his quietly selfmocking material, his hardly wild lifestyle and his admiration for the desperately hopeless Woody Allen you could be forgiven for seeing Merchant as a little ‘straight’, a little ‘un-edgy’. When writing, for example, he is keen to ensure that jokes can be justified morally. “Nothing should be off limits per se,” he contends, “but that doesn’t mean I find every subject funny. We all have our own tastes.” In this sense, Merchant is the perfect antidote to a comedy climate in which DVD sales and spots at the 02 go to those who trade in outrage and their own celebrity (Brand, Sheen et al). Yes, at one point in the show he uses one of his BAFTAs as a prop for a baby; but he does so with a big wink to the audience. You almost get the feeling that he doesn’t just not believe his own hype; it’s more that he doesn’t know it actually exists. Perhaps this is the reason why, in his own words: “Audiences are generally very nice.” Whatever it is, with this tour, it works. Steven Merchant’s debut stand-up DVD, “Hello Ladies... Live!” is on sale now.
The actual reason for embarking on his 50-date tour is then a genuine affection for stand-up itself: “I started doing it again because I wanted to challenge myself, to step out of my comfort zone, as they say on The X Factor.” Does he prefer writing a stand-up show I ask? “TV and films are the most fulfilling to write but they are very time consuming. Stand-up is exciting because it’s just you, it’s raw and direct and there is nowhere to hide.” Born in Bristol in 1974, to a nurse mother and an insurance representative father, Merchant’s childhood is similar to many successful comedians – laughter at home, Merchant and Gervais first teamed up on The Office and have remained a comedy double-act since – now Stephen’s on a solo stand-up mission shyness at school.
07 February, 2012
Musings on Moscow Patrick Ryan Contributing Writer
hat image does the mention of Russia initially conjure? Communism, vodka, Russian dolls, organised crime, bears, Kalashnikovs and mail-order brides. Recently, allegations (well founded) of ballot fixing, mass protests against the current regime, and the soaring popularity of krokodil, a home-made substitute for heroin which gradually turns the skin scaly, causing flesh to rot and fall off in chunks, are the main issues that have caught the eye of the Western media. Add to this the countless YouTube gems portraying drunks (including officers of the law) trying to fulfil a variety of day-to-day tasks in total alcoholic stupor, and we have a rather peculiar portrait – a mixture of the comically-absurd and the downright terrifying in a country with over 140 million people spanning nine different time zones. Having recently spent a year studying in Moscow, I am not, you may be surprised to read, about to try to dismiss this stereotype. It has a basis, in fact. The Russians are an odd lot – Churchill described their country as “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma” – but this is part of the capital’s charm and excitement. Since the fall of the USSR in 1991, Moscow has evolved into a cosmopolitan metropolis like no other, with an endless number of options to tickle the fancy of even the most adventurous of travellers. The Muscovites have a saying: “Here, anything is possible”. This is perhaps best embodied in the strange paradoxes of quotidian life. On the one hand, people often seem cold, dismissive, suspicious of you and generally unhelpful – as is often the
you think you need. This city has traffic jams like no other. With an unofficial population of close to 20 million and hundreds of thousands of unregistered vehicles, Moscow is literally bursting at the seams. The most efficient way to travel is the Metro – a single ticket costs visited; seeing the waxy, pale corpse case in capital cities. Yet they can also about 60 cent. However if you do not of Vladimir Lenin, preserved in his be disarmingly friendly. speak Russian it can be difficult at eerily-lit mausoleum on the majestic A pair of fellow Trinity students first, since there is little written in Red Square, is a macabre treat. went out for a walk and a beer English and all announcements are in Other attractions are tailored to one evening and (don’t ask me Russian only. more specific tastes. Prime examples how) stumbled across an Alice in The language barrier is the main include the Museum of Car Theft Wonderland-themed wedding party. difficulty that foreigners encounter (less exciting than it sounds) and the They were greeted by the Mad Hatter, in Moscow. In the city centre, most Yurii Kuklachev Cat Theatre (just as who gave them appropriate costumes. restaurants offer menus in both exciting as it sounds). After an evening propping up the free languages, and there is information in On the nightlife front, Moscow bar, Tweedledum and Tweedledee English available at major attractions offers an eclectic scene, with invited them to a “cinema party”. This such as galleries. something for every mood and consisted of a large number of young Although the demand for the price-range. There are places people watching famous adverts on English language in Russia is very like Kruzhka, a chain of beer the big screen for about half an hour, high (native speakers can expect to restaurants, where you can have then going into another room for a make around €35 an hour or more a meal and five pints (or ten shots) “party break”, where they swigged from teaching it), this is yet to fully for €10. vodka and danced to techno. This was translate into a large number of people At the other end of the scale, the pattern for the evening. Bizarre, who speak it well. This can lead to at clubs like Pacha and Posh but true. problems with simpler things like Moscow is in so many ways a city of Friends you can asking for directions. On the other rub shoulders contrasts and extremes. Blazing hot in hand, the locals make valiant efforts with the beautiful summer and bitterly cold in winter, it in broken English, even if you speak is home to the most millionaires of any and damned Russian. of Moscow’s city in the world, while abject poverty Moscow is not a city for the faintnouveauis glaringly evident in the countless hearted — expect to be surprised, riche babushkas selling knitted socks on shocked and bewildered if you visit. élite, suburban street corners. It offers an endless range of things to These extremities come as a real do and places to see, and the strange culture shock for Westerners, and cultural meeting of east and west, old many find it hard to get used to. and new, communism and capitalism, However, it is also the reason can be found nowhere else. behind why there is something It is best to visit in spring, for everyone in this city. when the weather is mild and There are over 500 its numerous parks are in full museums, theatres bloom. This is when it is most and galleries to pleasant to simply walk around get lost in; a year and take in the peculiar mixture is not enough to of unmistakeable, age-old Slavonic take in the rich heritage of Russian churches like St Basil’s Cathedral society and history and monolithic Soviet that Moscow offers. structures like Moscow State Some attractions are University, which are often unmissable: I am found side by side. not a ballet fan, but Moscow can was left awestruck guarantee you one thing by the grace of — an adventure, and the Bolshoi on second, an experience both occasions I like no other. St Basil’s Cathedral located in Moscow’s infamous Red Square marks the centre of the city and hub of its historic growth where a cocktail will set you back somewhere in the region of €20 – if you manage to get in past the strict “face-control”, that is. Favourites among foreigners include Propaganda, a gay-friendly club that offers a mixed bag of electro, house and indie, and Papa’s Place, whose famous Monday night countdown allows you to get up to four cocktails for about €6. There are countless other club nights and gig venues offering everything from reggae and hip-hop to nineties European trance. Food is especially varied, but can prove problematic. While Moscow, unsurprisingly, has more than its fair share of restaurants offering haute cuisine at outlandish prices, finding good food and decent service for a reasonable amount can be difficult. One place, a little pricey but certainly worth a visit, is Mari Vanna. This kitsch little restaurant, with antique décor in the style of an old Russian home, serves a variety of tasty national Russian dishes accompanied by house specialities like horseradish vodka. Sushi, Georgian and Armenian food are also good, affordable options. Getting around Moscow is very cheap, but if you take a taxi, it is wise to leave more time than
Moscow: Mystifying and (slightly) morose Kate Walsh is studying on an exchange at the Gorky Institute of Literature in Moscow. She shares why the city dubbed “London on steroids” is having such a profound effect 1. THE METRO THIS legacy bequeathed to Muscovites by the Soviets is a triumph. Cheaper than most museums, grander, and larger than all art galleries, the Moscow Metro is a delight. Eight million people are treated daily to its grandeur and finesse. Splendour abounds in the marble, chandeliers, and façades. Stations bear the name of Russian history, culture and science. Dostoyevskaya station depicts scenes from Crime & Punishment and The Idiot. Mendeleyevskaya station has light fittings representing the molecular model of various elements in homage to the famous scientist. The Futurist design of Mayakovskaya station - thought the most beautiful of all - is a tribute to its namesake, Vladimir Mayakovsky.
2. THE NOVODEVICHY CEMETERY MORE than 27,000 interments of Russian authors, playwrights, poets, musicians, ballerinas, scientists, and actors lie in this cemetery. Premier Vladimir Putin attended the great cellist Rostropovich’s funeral here in 2007, which was significant both culturally and historically. While Rostropovich lived a self-imposed exile, protesting the cultural restrictions imposed by the Soviet Unioion, v Putin had worked for the KGB, endorsing the censorship Rostropovich so abhorred. The cemetery exudes an aura of culture, and its survival throughout the Soviet Period is a testament to the triumph and longevity of Russian arts.
3. LENIN’S MAUSOLEUM
5. THE (HIGH) STUDENT LIFE
IS THERE anything epitomising the Soviet Era and paradox of modern Russia more than this colossal tomb set in the heart of Moscow? As I stood queuing to see the corpse of Vladimir Lenin, tired and wet, I felt a perverse sensation and questioned my motives for seeing him. Was it a tourist attraction, or did Russians remember him nostalgically as a beacon of their past? Regardless, day after day since 1924 (except
IF ANYONE knows how to embellish their speech, it’s the Russians. The leather trenchcoat-clad posse in college seem even more prone to doing so than any of the other Muscovites I’ve met. My smile is not merely “nice”, but “would enchant the world”, according to one classmate. Despite their penchant for nineteenth century literature, and emulating its turn of phrase, my fellow students never deviate far from their bureaucratic identity. In one Sociology seminar, the lecturer asked the class what defines a person. The unanimous, unequivocal response was “documents.” It is not just how Russian’s speak that is changing. Small talk no longer consists of the mundane, “How’s life?” but rather, “What’s your favourite gallery in Europe?” It’s all a bit daunting, and a sure way to an intellectual, cultural and linguistic inferiority complex.
SINCE Imperial times, Russians have always had a fondness for high culture. This is most evident in their impressive export of writers and musicians, but is also tangible on street level. If they play piano, they are maestros; if they dance, they are ballerinas; if they paint, they are artists. All my classmates are either self-professed poets or philosophers. The student is a cherished member of society – a future beacon of culture and intellect. As a result, student tickets for the Tretyakov State Gallery, The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, The Bolshoi Theatre and Tchaikovsky’s Conservatoire, cost a tiny of fraction of full price, and are sometimes even free. Kandinsky, Chagall, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Serov, and many others, have never been so accessible in such a grand setting. Mirabile Visu.
Mondays and Fridays, when the body’s “treated”), people have filed in. No cameras or talking; the silence walking past the graves of familiar and forgotten Soviet villains or heroes, was unnerving – a feeling abetted by the larger-than-usual police presence. Many headstones, like Stalin’s, were laden with fresh flowers. The casket itself seemed far too ornate for a man who heralded “common ownership”. Looking inside at that face and those hands, already immortalised in propaganda posters, it felt surreal, poignant, and truly Russian.
St Petersburg: City of the Tsars Clare Droney on the fascinating paradox of European-Russian architecture in the former Russian capital of St Petersburg
ocated just twenty miles from the border with Finland, St Petersburg is truly on the threshold of Europe. Distinctly Russian churches and cathedrals stand sideby-side with European style buildings, as the city’s founder, Tsar Peter the Great, was greatly influenced by European architecture. Today, while there are an increasing number of western shops, they are hidden behind the antique façades of the buildings which house them. The balance between east and west, between history and modernism, between Russian traditionalism and western liberalism, is visible throughout St Petersburg in the city’s architecture and mentality. On the outskirts of St Petersburg ominous high-rise apartment blocks fill the skyline, revealing the scars of a
not-so-distant past. Moving closer to the city centre in one of St Petersburg’s many paradoxes, a very different style of architecture meets the eye. The city is home to numerous spectacular palaces, renowned for their remarkable scale, lavish design and extravagant décor. Most notable is the Winter Palace, former residence of the Russian Tsars. The striking green and white Baroque exterior sits in majesty on the embankment of the Neva River. The opposite side of the Palace dominates Palace Square, at the heart of St Petersburg. The Winter Palace now houses one of the world’s largest art collections, The State Hermitage. With over ten kilometres of corridors of art, a guided tour of the highlights is the best option. A short walk from Palace Square is Nevsky Prospekt; the ChampsÉlysées of St Petersburg. The 4.5
The Winter Palace, formerly resided by the Russian Tsars, is a place of beauty
kilometre street is lined with beautiful buildings, as well as the city’s main shops and businesses. The street is a great starting point as many of St Petersburg’s most famous buildings
are within walking distance. In a seemingly ordinary sidestreet off Nevsky Prospekt sits the Church of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood. Echoing Moscow’s St Basil’s
Cathedral, the colourful onion domes and the ornate exterior look almost fairy tale-like to the western tourist. Inside, the walls are entirely covered with colourful mosaics. This distinctly Russian church, built on the site of Tsar Alexander II’s assassination, took over twenty years to construct. Many of St Petersburg’s historical and cultural highlights are located in the city centre, such as St Isaac’s Cathedral, the Mariinsky Theatre and the Peter and Paul Fortress. If the palaces of the city aren’t enough, many of the summer residences of the Czars are a short distance from St Petersburg. These palaces, such as those at Peterhof and Tsarskoye Selo, are on a far grander scale in terms of size and splendour than many of their European counterparts. During the dreamlike atmosphere in the early hours of the morning, when the sun lowers in the sky for only a few short hours, I cannot help but think that while a visit to St Petersburg does dispel many western misconceptions, this city will always have an element of enigma.
A glimpse of high society, and the Mafia Samuel Marriott shares his experience of working in St Petersburg, being mistaken for a politician, and getting to know the locals
rofessor of History, and Russia expert Orlando Figes described St Petersburg as “Peter the Great’s vast, almost utopian project of social engineering.” A city erected from a swamp, its only foundations are the bones of the slaves and Swedish POWs who constructed Russia’s window through to Europe in 1703. Three centuries later, with the notion of a Grand Tour narrowed to the common gap year, I stepped off the plane with my old friend Sasha at Pulkovo airport amid freezing February winds. My time in Russia can be summarised by means of polarised extremes. Not least, the tedious and expensive process of acquiring a Russian visa, which revealed a telling aspect of the country’s bureaucracy – every pocket needs lining. At risk of sounding typically English, the weather brought new meaning to the term pathetic fallacy. As the seasons changed, so did my experiences.
“Acquiring a visa revealed a telling aspect of the country’s bureaucracy – every pocket needs lining” In midwinter the temperature languished at -30°c and anything short of long johns and a balaclava full of forbade the possibility of going outdoors. That said, indoors for us was an apartment on Millionaya Ulitsa (Millionaire’s Street); at one end stood the Winter Palace. At the other end lay the Field of Mars, the imperial military parade ground, now memorial to the revolutionary dead with its everburning flame commemorating the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Through the northwest facing windows was the River Neva (at that point frozen solid), who has frequently escaped her banks to challenge the hubris of her captors. Beyond the dazzling golden spires of the Peter and Paul Cathedral, built as a naval fortress to repel the once mighty Swedish Empire, lies one side of the city, its skyline punctuated with industrial chimneys heaving plumes of black smoke across the vast sky. We had been blessed with residence in the old city, the very centre, where
07 February, 2012
everything around you seemed a throwback to some sort of opulent fairy tale. In the words of Alexander Herzen, Petropolis “differs from all other European towns by being like them all” – and indeed one would walk along the Moika canal and swear it was Amsterdam, Paris, or even Rome. I commenced my time in St Petersburg with a language course (a bribe in itself to warrant a further student visa invitation later in the year) and Sasha, who had spent the first six years of his life in the same apartment we now inhabited, started a course at the world famous Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatoire (which educated Tchaikovsky). Each day began by trudging through the snow, averting our eyes from those of the shaven-headed gopniki who lined the streets or the militsiya, who would extort money from you before even considering their duty as lawenforcers. Some mornings, I’d witness the sad phenomenon the Russians call “snow drops” – unfortunate scapegraces who had passed out inebriated in the freezing night and never woken up. And people think Ireland has a drinking problem. We would spend the evenings reminiscing over the comforts we’d left behind at home in Dumskaya, a row of small, smoky night clubs just off Nevsky Prospekt. The nights were wild and ecstatic; you never knew if the Slavic beauty who had just taken your hand was for real or whether her pimp was eyeing you from the corner, hedging his bets. The drinks flowed freely until the early hours when the Metro reopened and the roaring-drunk masses would spill onto the streets to fight over vague doctrines of honour and brotherhood.
“You never knew if the Slavic beauty who had just taken your hand was for real or whether her pimp was eyeing you from the corner” The Russians were intimidating people, with little knowledge of English and an intense suspicion of strangers, especially foreign ones. This lent itself to the initial sense of alienation. What I discovered, however, is that
discovered a playground for the rich, where people lived by an unwritten code and criminals dined with the law. When summer arrived, we had both grown in confidence – linguistically, professionally and socially. We came to know friends who took us all over town, though we quickly realised that there was not much for us outside the city centre. We were soon on the beach on Petropavlovsk, visiting Catherine the Great’s marvellous Summer Palace in Pushkin and the gilded fountains at Peterhof. Life was good and we were disgruntledly counting down the remaining days.
Sam sitting on the Field of Mars with students Sasha and Anton the Bolurusian
once you befriend a Russian, you are basically family. We had to be careful, since two young men from the West living in the nicest part of town drew a lot of attention. It was in the music students of the Conservatory that we found trustworthy company. With Sasha’s free pass into the concert halls of the academy, we would watch performances by the next generation of virtuosos. On those grand staircases we mingled with the unrivalled beauty and discipline of ballerinas and balalaika players alike, just listening in admiration; verbal communication was almost unnecessary. Of this impressive troop, a Belarusian kontrabassist took to us, becoming our friend and guide to the city and the Russian way of thinking. Spring was the only real period of moderation we spent in Russia. The weather got better and we started to gain confidence, visiting the Hermitage as often as possible, the Russian Museum and even the Kunstkamera – a museum of zoology filled with grotesque examples of biological anomalies to dispel superstition among the peasant caste. After months of waiting, my documents were approved and I began working two jobs: for the expat newspaper The St Petersburg Times and an exclusive education consultancy. Both added a completely different dimension to our life in the city. We joined the one percent; the world of oligarchs, seedy politicians and semi-alcoholic expats addicted to the lawlessness which prevailed. For the consultancy I would wear a suit, drawing curiosity from everyone on my way to work – only
politicians wear suits. I dealt with administration and interviewing new tutors. Sometimes, a large SUV with blacked-out windows would arrive bearing children for their weekly dose of English, preparing them for British public school, a world apart from the one outside. Very occasionally, the same SUV would drive me out of the city to one of the McMansions which littered the city
“The shaven-headed gopniki who lined the streets would extort money from you before considering their duty as law-enforcers” limits, where I was ushered in simply to read stories in English. At the newspaper, I worked alongside a thrilling group of expats, turned somewhat cynical by the occupation in which their Oxbridge Russian degrees had landed them. Their most pronounced complaint was that in Russia you either play the game or you fall by the wayside – resistance can prove fatal. In the office I proofread and sub-edited pages of bad English until I earned my first restaurant review. The lavishness of some of these establishments was beyond me; row upon row of Lamborghinis and Aston Martins guarded by a bodyguard each, food so expensive it was probably illegal and women so beautiful they must have been paid for. Integrated into the expat community we had
“Wearing a suit drew curiosity on my way to work – only politicians wear suits” Through the Belarusian, we met wandering hippie-types who worshipped Alexander Shulgin (the creator of Ecstasy) and insisted on living in our flat for days on end. Through others we met members of the Mafia (at least they claimed to be, tattoos notwithstanding) or Vori V Zakonye, who didn’t gel with the hippies. We threw parties attended by industry moguls and their lackeys, supermodels and exhibition curators. Due to our northerly location, come June the Beli Nochi (White Nights) set in where the sun would dip below the horizon for twenty minutes at most before rising once again. You’d find yourself taking a sunny stroll in the park in the middle of the night. We even found romance, though it quickly became evident that the objective was not love and we were too young to be bringing back Russian brides; perhaps one day. However, all this wonder was unsustainable; first the body clock went, the alienation returned and finally one’s sense of reality was severely tested. If we hadn’t have left soon after, who knows what could have resulted. With reflection; St Petersburg is one of the most surreal places I have ever been. The affluence of the architecture derived from the original vision of a European Russia is completely at odds with the condition of the people, who for the most part just want to get away. Of course, I would recommend a visit if you haven’t been – it is a perfect tourist destination. In coming years, Russia will be blown wide open and de facto democracy will triumph, so hurry if you want to sense the fading backwardness that makes it so special.
18 OPINION PROFILE THE EUROPEAN UNION
Europe or bust? Michael Ward reflects on the dream for a united Europe that emerged from the ashes of WWII. Has this ideal now become a necessity?
I “The tragedy of the thirst for integration was ultimately the establishment of a common currency for a sub-union of nations that evidently couldn’t sustain it”
t started with a dream, born out of ruin and despair. After the devastation of World War Two, Europe was united by a desire to prevent yet another war from ever again ravaging the continent. Extreme nationalism seemed to have taken a fatal blow. The time seemed optimal for cooperation instead of competition. The European Union of the 21st century is the result of such a dream. Nevertheless, recent economic events have exposed some fatal flaws in the nature of the EU. The crisis which is being experienced throughout the world is being exacerbated in Europe by the Union’s political and structural deficiencies. Undoubtedly, the EU of the 21st century is not what the signatories of the Treaty of Rome ever wanted or anticipated. It is an abnormal polity that has devalued sovereignty in the blind pursuit of a vague dream. As a result, integration is no longer a policy; it is a necessity in order to avert financial turmoil. Today, the starry-eyed dreams of europhiles all over the continent are being seriously questioned. The story of the EU has been one of constant change and reform. Rightly evaluating that the root of all wars was economic, the common market aimed to institutionalise peace. However, laden with this indefinite ambition, the EU has been an institutional mess since its inception as the Economic Community in 1957. Plagued by the constant need to reform itself, it has never found a suitable equilibrium. Enthusiasm for its vague ideals constantly prevailed, however. No finish line has ever been laid down for its development, and the boulder of integration has only ever been rolling in one direction (though its speed may have varied at different points). All calls for moderation have eventually been dismissed as euroscepticism, as though committing to Europe was an
issue of morality – and any suggestion otherwise was the preserve of extreme nationalism. Europe was built by leaders with the experience of war fresh in their minds. Most of the main European leaders, up until at least the midnineties, had all lived through major conflict. Unfortunately, their social vision prevented a proper anticipation of economic and political realities. Original talk of a mere free-trade area in Europe was replaced by the ideal of a common market. As a complete common market between diverse sovereign states is arguably impossible, a pooling of sovereignty was required. Thus the idea of a political union kicked off. Continuous enlargement without properly enforced criteria was encouraged with a condescending view to sharing the Utopia that was expected to occur. With enlargement came the expansion of qualified majority voting, the streamlining of EU decision making and the explosion of bureaucracy. The need to oversee this development saw the empowerment of the European Court of Justice – a supreme court-type institution that has no historical or societal foundation yet has granted itself the power to apply laws directly to citizens and to overrule member states. The tragedy of this thirst for integration was ultimately the establishment of a common currency for a sub-union of nations that evidently couldn’t sustain it. There was no guarantee of fiscal discipline, nor coordination of budgetary policy. Furthermore it is evident that there was a lax attitude to economic criteria for certain euro members such as Greece. The dream of an ever more united Europe dominated over all sensibilities. Now this common currency is threatening our financial security. To save it will require further integration, however, this time there is no choice in the matter. Evidently the EU is a closely-knit conglomeration of very different countries. Those who project the idea of a common European identity can only do so by comparing the EU to far flung places such as China and the US
and remarking that their values are different to ours, therefore our values must be similar to each other. The fact remains that there is no distinct European identity above and beyond shared values brought about by globalisation in general. The nations of Europe are all extremely diverse, each with their own shared history, social outlook and sense of nationhood. In this manner, the EU is an unnatural entity. There is no common linkage and polls of whether people feel European have always shown negative responses dominant. The values of free trade, human rights and democracy are western values in general, not simply specific to Europe. Nowadays, memories of World War Two are faint, and politicians are motivated by different factors. National interest trumps any notion of common good in EU decision-making. More and more, the EU is becoming a servant of domestic political agendas. However, the tradition of continuous widening and deepening continues apace, though perhaps with its fundamental reasoning unsure. The perceived domination of the Merkozy duo in EU decision making demonstrates this, with Germany seeking to amend fiscal rules to protect its own economy and France seeking to promote its influence for electoral reasons. The periphery is dependent on the centre for funding, and is thus content to blame it for all necessary austerity programs. At the same time, the extreme right has been gathering at the political fringes since the nineties
and has already made its presence felt in several member-state governments such as Austria and Denmark, whilst occupying powerful parliamentary positions in Italy, Sweden and Finland. The irony of years of unrelenting integration is that it has fundamentally weakened Europe. We are now faced with the possibility of fiscal union or bust. The choice is either committing to budgetary centralisation or seeing our economic system fall apart. To put it dramatically – there is no longer any going back. The irrefutable fact is that to ensure the collapse of the euro is avoided there needs to be centralisation of budgetary powers. The markets have dropped any pretence of faith in the EU as it is presently structured. The euro itself is on the line, and tighter budgetary centralisation is seen as necessary to protect it. This indicates that there is no longer any aspect of national sovereignty that is not under EU influence. Due to years of irrational and optimistic integration policies, the rolling boulder can no longer be turned without incurring financial collapse. In this manner, EU integration is now not a choice at all. It is a sad necessity. The nations of the eurozone are locked into this trajectory simply because no person of influence shouted stop many years ago. All this is occurring at a point when EU unity of purpose is at its lowest ebb ever. The future does not bode well.
The real race to watch in the US is legislative David Barrett says the race to watch is in the US Senate, where the Democrat majority is in real danger of being victim to a GOP coup
orget the soap opera that is the Republican presidential contest. The US Senate is where the really interesting contest will be in 2012 as the result is on a knife-edge. At the minute the split in the senate is 53 democrats (effectively - there are two independents that ally with them) to 47 Republicans with 21 Democrats, ten Republicans and both independents facing re-election in 2012.
“The open seat in North Dakota has been incredibly democratic since the 1980s due to Kent Conrad’s popularity” The Democrats have a tough road ahead of them to retain their majority. They can very easily “win” the senate elections and lose their majority. This particular crop of democrats have not experienced hardship for a very long time. When they last came up in 2006 the Democrats took out six GOP seats (including the loathsome Rick
Santorum in Pennsylvania), which was on top of a net gain of six in 2000 as well (marked by sitting GOP senator John Ashcroft losing his Missouri seat to a dead candidate). Predictably, the list of GOP targets is much longer than the Democratic list. Top of the GOP list is the open seat in North Dakota, which has been democratic (incredibly) since the 1980s due to Kent Conrad’s personal popularity. Without Conrad it is very hard to see the Democrats winning it, however good a candidate the democrats put up (their candidate is actually excellent, but that will not be enough). The same can be said of the open seat in Nebraska, which reflects the fact that the US corn-belt is hardly a bastion of US liberalism at the best of times. Assuming those two go down, that leaves a 51-49 split. Two sitting democratic senators – Jon Tester in Montana and Claire McCaskill in Missouri – are polling dead heats with their hypothetical opposition. This is very bad news for them. Both were elected by the skin of their teeth in 2006 and after six years should have established themselves. What they have established is solidly liberal credentials. Great news if
they represented California, not Republican-leaning states that were virtually the only states targeted by Obama that he failed to win. They have had six years to build recognition, and polls at this stage are really just approval ratings for incumbents. Methinks, barring a Lazarus style recovery or a campaign as downright nasty as that fought by Harry Reid in 2010, they are finished. Fortunately for the Democrats, one Republican seat is in mortal danger – Scott Brown in Massachusetts – who is best known for taking the “Ted Kennedy” seat, who is not just polling even with his opposition but behind them. This is likely to be the biggest contest in 2012. Brown is positioning himself as moderate (read sane) Romney style Republican while the Democrat is Elizabeth Warren, the self-described “mother” of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Massachusetts
“The US Senate is where the really interesting contest will be in 2012 as the result is on a knife-edge” is a large, heavily Democratic, state and Brown is a hero of sorts to the rapidly retreating Tea Partiers – in order to retain credibility they need to hold their biggest prize of 2010. However with
“The biggest contest is likely to be for Scott Brown’s seat in Massachusetts – who is polling behind his opposition” Obama likely to sweep Massachusetts I think the US senate can bid goodbye to Brown. Good riddance. Three other states look like toss ups, two Democrats held (open seats in Virginia and Wisconsin) and one Republican (Senator Heller in Nevada). Based on all candidates involved appearing as carbon clones of their national parties (although one, Tammy Baldwin, the democrat in Wisconsin, would be the first openly gay senator in US history if elected) I think whichever party wins the presidency will sweep all three. There are some other seats that may appear on the radar if primaries get interesting, such as Maine (where hugely popular Republican incumbent and noted advocate of a sane political dialogue Olympia Snowe may not be conservative enough for the tea party), Hawaii (where a nasty democratic primary is brewing, and the excellent Republican former governor of the state is waiting to take on the battered and bruised winner) and New Mexico (where both parties are
being forced to their extremes) but for now I think they can be ignored. The same can be said of several democrats in swing states with high approval ratings, such as Nelson in Florida, Casey in Pennsylvania and Klobuchar in Minnesota, who Michele Bachmann decided not to run against. This is a real shame as it would have meant we would be rid of her for good. They all seem to have risen above their party. If Obama faces a landslide defeat they may go, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. This is where the real power battle lies. If the Democrats win they will almost certainly block most of Romney’s policies if he wins, and vice versa. If you care about policy as well as electoral drama this is the election to watch. SENATE NET-TALLY Republican Gains North Dakota Nebraska Montana Missouri (4) Democrat Gains Massachussets (4) Toss-ups Nevada Virginia Wisconsin (3) Senate Composition Republicans – 49 Democrats – 48 Toss-ups – 3 TRINITY NEWS
Like it or not, the abortion debate is over Tom Kelly examines the legal position of abortion in Ireland, which is so vague that it is almost non-existent
n this wintry economic climate many college students might glance about the job market and ponder how well they will look in a McDonald’s uniform. But I have a suggestion for the budding entrepreneurs; open an abortion clinic. This might seem strange because it is generally assumed abortions are illegal in this country. I would submit that this is incorrect for the following reasons. The current law governing abortions is vague and in many circumstances nonexistent. In 1982 the pro-life activists won a victory in passing the 8th Amendment to the Constitution, Article 40.3.3, a provision that acknowledges the right to life of the unborn. However, it contains certain qualifications that will help your fledgling abortion clinic get off the ground.
“The Supreme Court stated the right to life of the mother was in jeapordy due to the fact Ms X was suicidal” The provision itself guarantees in its laws to respect “as far as practicable”,
vindicate and defend the unborn’s right to life but it must do this “with due regard to the right to life of the mother”. Therefore it would seem that if a pregnancy places the mother’s life at risk, the rights of the mother are pitted against the unborn. A court would have to decide whose rights will prevail. The Supreme Court did decide this in the X case in 1992. This involved a fourteen year old rape victim who became pregnant and whose parents informed the Gardai that she would be travelling to the UK to obtain an abortion. The Attorney General prevented her from doing so as he claimed it would be illegal because of Article 40.3.3. The Supreme Court disagreed in stating the right to life of the mother was in jeopardy due to the fact Ms X was suicidal because of the pregnancy. The rights of the mother therefore take precedence over the unborn in Irish law. However whether Ms X could have had the abortion in Ireland was not raised as an issue, so the law remains silent on it. As well as this her right to travel freely was another factor in the decision, not applicable obviously to abortions carried out within the State. Information related to abortion services in Britain is legally permitted to be distributed also but this could be
Pro-life supporters in Ireland, along with the Church, have kept abortion illegal
due to freedom of expression and the right to form economic relationships, again not applicable to abortions carried out in this country. The lack of any explicit law governing abortion services in the country was made clear by a recent European Court of Human Rights case taken against Ireland. The Court found that the lack of any law in this area violated the individual’s rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the right to private and family life. This shows there is insufficient law governing abortion in the State. The only law is Article 40.3.3 and that has been severely hollowed out by the X case and the subsequent European Court of Human
rights cases. The most recent Court of Human Rights case last year prompted the government to set up an expert working group to ascertain what their options are. The subsequent report is expected in six months. It is difficult to see how their conclusion could call
“The ECHR found that the lack of any abortion law violated the individual’s rights” for anything other than legislation legalising abortion for women whose pregnancy poses a substantial risk to their life. This conforms to Article
40.3.3 which was designed to prevent Irish citizens procuring abortions, save for the direst circumstances. This provision has appeared powerless in practice to achieving its goal and would also appear powerless to block any legislation allowing abortions within the State. As well as this it fulfils our obligations under the ECHR. Either that or the government introduces legislation banning abortions in the country outright but because of the X case and the right to life of the mother this would appear to violate the constitutional rights of the mother. So, why wait six months? If there is no law regulating it and it is almost certainly legal, some plucky entrepreneurial student could cash in on what is an enormously lucrative business (it is estimated that in 2010 4,402 women travelled to Britain for an abortion) by getting in the door first. Instead of making women whose lives are at risk feel like fugitives, provide the service here. If put to a popular election, as it has been many times before, it is likely that a (slim) majority would reject the legalisation of abortion but this does not render abortion illegal. Banning it outright has never been voted on. Popular opinion does not make an issue illegal, if put to a vote the vast majority will vote not to pay taxes. In these difficult economic times it is heart-warming to think that all the money being spent on abortion in Britain will inevitably be brought back here. Like it or not, the debate seems to be over.
Proposals for Junior Certificate reform are reactionary Simon Carey says politicians should not squander the opportunity for exam reform
he current proposals for Junior Certificate reform, which come into effect in September 2014, are, on paper, a wonderful opportunity for a proper, all embracing debate on Irish education in the post primary sector. However, they are, in reality “reactionary”, the cursed trait of post primary education since the 1960s. This we saw best exemplified in 1966 with Minister for Education Donagh O’ Malley’s free post primary education, announced to the surprise of all in Dún Laoghaire; a reaction to the landmark OECD Investment in Education Report 1965 which decried Ireland’s twenty years behind her western European cousins in providing free post primary education for all. The announcement was made without any consultation with schools, the Unions or even the Department of Finance. The funding itself was provided in drips over the next decade. without planning, nor clarity of approach. In fact, many commentaries now view this policy as essential to economic needs as opposed to social obligation.
Likewise this proposal is reactionary in the context of educational cuts of €430 million from 2014 to 2015. Disastrous PISA report findings in 2002 saw Ireland slump into fifteenth position from sixth in Europe for literacy and numeracy. The reforms, Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn proposes, will involve Junior Certificate students from 2017 sitting exams in only eight subjects as opposed to eleven as at present. A welcome departure, one may think. However, the Department of Education and Skills, from this
“With funding ten times higher in the sciences than humanities, there will be pressure to ensure the former is included” juncture, states it is up to individual schools to decide which subjects will be examined and which subjects will not. The three core subjects of
Gaeilge, English and Maths will still be examined, leaving five for schools to choose. This is where the politics and dynamics within schools come into play – who decides this? With Government funding ten times higher in the sciences than the humanities, one suspects that there will be pressure on schools to ensure that Science is included. Additionally, with the matriculation requirements of a foreign language required by five of the State’s seven Universities, one suspects likewise that foreign languages will have a case. That leaves a list of over fifteen other subjects to compete for one of three coveted “exam” status places. Additionally, one needs to ask, does this therefore require curricular and syllabi changes for the new exam and consequently, non-exam subjects? All of these questions have thus far not been answered and schools are left in limbo. Everybody who has been educated in Ireland acknowledges the need for change in the Junior Certificate programme. However, what this mechanism or the end product should be cannot be agreed upon. Certainly, the drive to reform education, in the current dire economic situation we find ourselves in, is the catalyst. PISA results of 2009 were jumped
on by elements within the media as evidence of slippage in Irish education in the 2000s. This occured despite the arrival of children from non-Irish, English-speaking backgrounds (now representing ten percent of our primary school population and eight percent of our post primary population) as measured by the 2009 OECD Migrant Review in Education Report . At a time of cuts in the numbers of Resource and English Language Support (ELS) teachers’ allocations since 2010, the PISA results – a crude device in measuring students’ literacy and numeracy capability – is partly a reason for this perceived need to reform. A second context is the drive for less exam focus and more emphasis placed on continuous assessment for students. This has many advantages but many teachers, myself included, doubt its legitimacy as we see with certain projects in Leaving and Junior Certificate whereby the teacher is required to “guide” the students, in some cases, do it, for students. This leads to a problem additionally, who marks these papers, the individual teacher themselves? This is a massive cultural change to the Irish Education system and yet again, there is no debate on it. If the teacher unions question it, the media immediately say teachers
oppose. This is not the case. I for one welcome debate, welcome change and reform, because it is all about ensuring our students prosper within the wonderment that is knowledge. However, if “change” is forced without discussion, it will fail. There is no discussion, these measures are being rolled out. The last economic recession that Ireland endured, 1984 to 1991, heralded a dramatic change in our approach to education. It led to the 1993 Green paper
“Less exam focus and more continuous assessment has advantages but lacks legitimacy” on Education, the 1995 White paper on Education and the legislative milestone that is the 1998 Education Act. In this context, Transition Year was born and incepted in 1994; a phenomenal success. It is time we replicate this but let us not do it so hastily, as we are currently doing with the new Junior Certificate programme. Otherwise, in ten years time, we will need to go back to the drawing board all over again.
The burning of the British Embassy in Dublin, 1972
he British Embassy in Dublin was once to be conveniently found at 39 Merrion Square East, still one of Dublin’s most tranquil spaces, not far fom the birthplace of the Iron Duke himself at 24 Upper Merrion Street. That was until 2 February 1972 when it was besieged and burnt to the ground in the wake of Bloody Sunday in Derry by an angry crowd, some filled with righteous indignation, others consumed by the hatred for the British that has been a constant factor in Irish political life since the failure of Home Rule and the partition of Ireland. If we wish to understand the necessity of Irish neutrality during the Second World
07 February, 2012
A VIEW FROM NEW SQUARE
War and the vindictive treatment of soldiers returning home to Ireland after the defeat of Nazi Germany we shall do so only by confronting the reality of that hatred (understandable in itself if self-defeating). It is in the light of these emotions that we may come to appreciate the greatness of Éamon de Valera in containing them throughout the Emergency. Memories of this traumatic event are seldom absent from my mind for a reason that will become clear. I was living at the time in Proby Square, Blackrock, with my young (sadly former) English wife, Janet, then a Junior Lecturer in the Department of French. She had just completed her thesis on Pascal and La Rochefoucauld
and was at the beginning of what ought to have been a brilliant academic career. We expected trouble that day and kept our own counsel as best we could (as we frequently did), but we did not expect the embassy itself to have been left undefended. The fact that it was (and rightly so, as most seemed to agree) told us more than we wished to know about the hatred of the British, and more particularly of the English, in Dublin. A few days later we got our precious academic books together and took them back to Central Lydbrook for safekeeping at my sister’s home. Unfortunately I dropped my Lewis and Short Latin Dictionary in the Lydbrook mud when taking it into the house. Every time I look up a Latin
word (not infrequently) I see the pages wrinkled and stained by mud and I think of the burning of the embassy. We came back to Dublin ready to run for it if necessary. It was an experience that deeply unsettled my wife (a gentle lady). In the end it was the undoing of her academic career (a matter of lasting regret to me). We have moved on a long way since those dark days. But many have paid a price much greater than I and my family in doing so. For the sake of all those who have suffered on this island since 2 February 1972 there can be no turning back from the path of peace and reconciliation on which we have set ourselves. email@example.com
20 EDITORIAL HEAD TO HEAD: IRISH NEUTRALITY IN WWII
TRINITY NEWS Est 1953 towards some revival of the collegiate spirit, which modern conditions tend to discourage
SABBATICALS MATTER – THEIR PAY PROVES IT AS ELECTION season is upon us once more – the networking, flyering, debates and disputes – start in earnest this week. For the candidates, friends will be momentarily made and rivalries wrought for longer. For the rest of Trinity, the campaign period signals anything from a mild annoyance to the political highlight of the college year – especially for those who face working with the sabbaticals from September. Previous election results show that the former group prevails – the turnout never commands more than 25% of the student body. This is not exclusive to Trinity – UCD voters constitute just over 25% of its students, with NUIG languishing at the bottom at just 17% turnout. Why is this the case? A Trinity News vox populi shows that the average student feels sabbatical officers have not got a great enough power to significantly affect their college lives. Indeed, the recent de-politicisation of the Students’ Union – marked by a willingness to compromise on the fees issue and reluctance to toe the hyperbolic USI line – is testament to the real influence of the Union sabbaticals. The officers are in a position to compromise on, not to dictate, college policy. They are there to represent what they conceive the student opinion to be – not to enforce it. And even in this they do not always succeed, as opinion is bound to be divided among the 16,000 student body. This has caused many students to question the need for this level of Union representation. Supporting five full-time officers, along with the other Students’ Union expenses (€9,200 class representative training, for example) does not come cheap. This is especially true for students who, despite footing the bill, feel little connection or loyalty towards the Students’ Union. Call it a clique or ivory tower – for many, House 6 goings-on have little impact on their everyday lives. Yet a complete lack of a Students’ Union would make student interests highly vulnerable. While a college like the University of Limerick proves that a national union of students is superfluous to representing their interests, this is no mandate to forego representation at university level. It is important for a union to dedicate itself to represent its students’ interests at board meetings and other decision-making forums – in short, to make the student voice heard. While some may argue that this does not warrant a nine to five position, the imperative for representation remains. Furthermore, mechanisms for supporting student wellbeing are crucial to those facing difficulty in this university. While Trinity does admirable work supporting students in dire straits, the Union provides a more like-minded approach to welfare and hardship which is a crucial resource to those most vulnerable in the college community. Back to the elections – while turnout might be low, the onus is on those who do vote to create a Union which embraces the above ideals. The very fact that they receive such healthy renumeration (despite assurances that they are paid “less than the minimum wage,” this is a great deal more than many graduates will receive in the coming months, without the bonus of accommodation), is testament to their importance in Trinity. The days ahead for all eleven candidates will be a hard slog – but the chance to represent 16,000 of their peers is arguably a job worth fighting for.
t EDITOR’S NOTE: While this newspaper contains advertisements for individuals campaigning for Students’ Union sabbatical officer positions, Trinity News would like to make clear that it does not endorse a particular candidate and remains unbiased in its capacity as Dublin University’s independent newspaper.
“The decision to stay neutral was praised by both sides of the divide” NIALL MURPHY
LET’S GET this straight before I begin. No, I do not have long hair, a beard down to my bellybutton and a joint hanging out of my mouth. As far as I’m concerned, if I have to sit here and “imagine all the people”, all 7 billion of us, then maybe it’s time to pop the pill. So no, I don’t really fit the stereotype. That does not mean that I can’t see the virtue in neutrality though. The first question which would immediately spring to mind is; how could Ireland, a country seemingly determined to instil a sense of Church imbued moral virtue into its people, stand by and watch the persecution of millions during the Second World War? When Ireland decided to stay neutral in 1938, the decision was praised from both sides of the divide in Ireland. In a country still scarred by the memories of a divisive civil war, British imperialist violence, the decision made eminent sense. In 1938, it would have been naive to presume that the allies were the “good guys”. Who could say that the massacre of Amritsar only a handful of years earlier, and the degrading approach of Britain towards India and all of its colonies, represented moral virtue? Furthermore, while nobody could have doubted that anti-Semitism was rife in Germany at the time, when the war began the Holocaust had yet to turn into the “Final Solution”. So while Nazi Germany was no doubt seen as being morally bankrupt, joining in with Churchill and all the racist, imperialist policies which he and his country stood for, on the basis of that being the morally correct thing to do, would have been impossible. The important statement that Ireland sent out to the world, and still sends, that war is unacceptable as a means of settling international disputes and imperial rivalries, embodies the
kind of morality that reasonable people subscribe to. Had every other country followed our example, the war would not have had to happen. In the face of the threat of a British invasion for not joining in the war effort, the bravery involved in staying neutral becomes a lot easier to appreciate. Ireland’s small size and relatively improvised armed forces made the decision all the more morally acceptable. Let’s stop and imagine for a minute (yes that’s right, another reference to Herr Lennon). When the Irish government would have first heard of the horrors being committed during the holocaust, the war would have been in full swing. With not enough supplies to feed its own people, and an army of about 10- 15,000 soldiers, a few WWI tanks and a handful of rusty fighter jets, the question surely arises, what use could Ireland have been in bringing WWII to a sooner conclusion? A headline in the Irish Times stating that the “Irish Air force destroys the Germans and frees thousands of Jews from certain death” was about as likely as Churchill stating his desire to see a free and independent India. To send enough Irish troops and soldiers into the war to actually make the bother of it worthwhile would also necessarily have involved conscription, a disgusting violation of the rights of man and would have led to certain death for most. And what of the benefit of this sacrifice to the allied cause? Zilch. Zero. Nada. Absolutely nothing. Would it not have been immoral, in those circumstances, to march them to their death? If Minister Shatter thinks that sending young men to be cannon fodder for an imperialist army is morally virtuous, then I think he should resign. Now, where did I leave my sandals?
“Irish neutrality defined us in terms of our relationship to Britain” EOIN SHEEHAN
IRISH NEUTRALITY in WWII was defended then and is defended today as a necessary policy of self-preservation by the Irish State. Apologists for De Valera point to the dangers of picking sides in the war: what would stop one of the belligerents from invading us? Would it not have been an embarrassing loss of sovereignty to open up the ‘treaty’ ports to allied shipping? Primary School textbooks tend to attempt to soothe the conscience of some by arguing that the Irish State did its bit; did we not send fire trucks to Belfast following its bombing? Did we not allow the British to build a radar facility in the South? Yet all this misses two crucial consequences of our neutrality in WWII. Firstly, our efforts to maintain a neutral policy placed us on the wrong side of history. And secondly, we yet again allowed ourselves to be defined internationally in terms of our relationship with Britain and missed the opportunity to become part of a wider, global and European community. Attempting to justify wars in terms of their morality is always dangerous, witness the proponents of the Iraq war as they tried to justify that action in terms of ‘good’ versus ‘evil’. But very occasionally a conflict threatens to alter the balance of power and the nature of the international system so drastically, that one can argue its being as a moral crusade. WWII is one such rare case. Britain cannot be considered morally equivalent with Nazi Germany. That it was our own long held grievances and victimization complex that prevented us from taking a position is shameful. The phantom of a potential German Invasion was just that. Hitler had no strategic reason for invading Ireland and was already looking to wrap up operations in Western Europe as quickly as possible to concentrate his full attention on Barbarossa. The Irish policy involved watching closely as the two sides fought, only committing once one clearly had the upper hand.
What is morally reprehensible about Irish neutrality is that we allowed our grievances against Britain to cloud the simple reality that Nazi Germany threatened to permanently alter the map of Europe while spreading Nazism, Dictatorship and Racism across its area of operations. Such moral cowardice places Ireland firmly on the wrong side of History. Our failure to help the war effort forced us to accept scraps off the table when the Marshall Plan was implemented to reconstruct post-war Europe. At the creation of the UN, Ireland’s application for membership was vetoed by the USSR on account of our neutrality in the war. De Valera’s infamous visit of condolence to Ambassador Hempel in the aftermath of Hitler’s death caused outraged in the United States and elsewhere. In short, the post-war period saw the world reconfigured. The Marshall Plan and increased European harmony foresaw the need for close European integration to forestall potential conflict in the future. The UN offered new hopes for world peace. Yet in all this Ireland remained alone, a bitter, resentful and backward-looking island, dogged in its refusal to move beyond the perceived injustices of the past. While links between Europe and the United States were cemented, while the foundations of the European project were set, Ireland sat sulking on the sidelines. What could we have done? Militarily, very little. But opening up the ports to Allied convoys may well have saved thousands of merchant seamen’s lives. U-boats would not have had as free a hand as they did to engage in Irish waters. But more importantly, we could have been part of something bigger; we could have defined ourselves in terms broader than simply being Britain’s put upon neighbor. I do believe there is such a thing as being on the wrong side of History. Irish neutrality in WWII is one episode which will be seen in the future as holding back Ireland’s evolution into an outward looking, modern, democratic state.
Letters should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Trinity News, 6 Trinity College, Dublin 2. We reserve the right to edit submissions for style and length. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Trinity News.
STUDENTS’ UNION DEMOCRACY – A BLUNT TOOL? IT’S THAT time again everybody! Yes, the Students’ Union election candidates have been announced. It remains to be seen whether Election 2012 will be as hard-fought as last year’s campaigns, though global trends indicate a quieter year for politics all round. The excitement of the Arab Spring has gone sour, Republican resurgence is under whelming the US, and of course closer to home Dave Whelan is running unopposed for Entertainments Officer; in stark contrast to last year’s heated race between Chris O’Connor and Elaine McDaid. Potential for apathy is always a risk. Of course many of you will question the value of Students’ Union elections in the weeks to come. Depending on who you ask, the Union is everything from our underused democratic voice in college to an insular clique for those socially and politically ambitious types who seem to know everyone, attend every event and stick to their own. This ‘cynical’ viewpoint may have some basis in reality. Many of the candidates in elections past and present come from within the Students’ Union system and have cultivated an identity within it. However, it is misguided to dismiss the Students’ Union elections on that alone. Even if the functions of the SU could be performed without elections, they bring credibility to the decisions
made. Without elections, they are not truly our Students’ Union. Democracy is never perfect. It is a blunt tool, granting only the vaguest ability to affirm or reject. Nonetheless, it is a power we have to influence many decisions affecting our daily lives in Trinity, and this is far more than a rubber stamp for preordained heirs to the proverbial throne. Everything from USI disaffiliation to budget deals on nights out is up for debate. The candidates have a role to play in piquing our interest, but now is also the time to make your grievances heard. Don’t ignore the elections this year. The SU is what we make of it. By Joseph Williams
INTERNET IN RESIDENCES DOES NOT JUSTIFY COST OF CAMPUS Madam – I WOULD like to take this opportunity to voice my discontent regarding the quality and speed of the internet service in campus residences. It intermittently can take up to an hour to connect to the internet at all, and even when it does connect loading a page always takes several minutes. As a Computer Science student, I am well-equipped to navigate the labryinth that is the TCD NAC process – furthermore my computer functions
perfectly well using regular Wi-Fi. Considering the cost of living on Campus (which I have no qualms with, should the facilities be forthcoming), may I suggest the signal/speed/proxy settings be considerably improved.
THIS TIME IN HISTORY
Yours, etc. This letter was sent anonymously
THE ROWING CAREER OF ‘JACK’ LANGRISHE Madam – I NOTICE another excellent piece on Old Trinity by Peter Henry [The rowing career of ‘Jack’ Langrishe, 24 February 2012, Volume 58 Issue 5]. The name Langrishe is familiar to me from the list of our First World War Dead, namely: 99. Richard St George Hercules Langrishe DALY; wounded and missing while rescuing an officer, Messines, 31 October 1914. Gort, Galway; Church of Ireland; 17, 22 June 1904; St Andrew’s College; Henry Vivien, Clergyman. Old Trinity indeed. Very best wishes, Gerald Morgan
Trinity News: Thursday, 14 May 1970 Volume XVII, No. 16
The Chaucer Hub, Trinity College
THIS article records an attack on Trinity College after TCD: A College Miscellany (now known as Miscellany) published a controversial poem. The incident caused about €1,300 in damage in modern-day currency.
Provost’s academic syntax examined
OLD TRINITY PETER HENRY
ast week I came across our new Provost’s inauguration speech on YouTube. It was delivered in the Public Theatre last September 19. Dr Prendergast began with his oath, which, he said, was set into the college’s Statutes four centuries ago. It was – but not in that form. I dug up an old translation of the Statutes to see in what way provosts once made their declarations after being elected. “We ordain,” says the 1709 document, “that whoever is elected Provost of the college shall take the following oath publicly in the Chapel.” “I, Provost-elect of this college, do swear that I will from my heart embrace the true religion of Christ; that I will prefer the authority of Scripture to the determinations of men; that from now I will seek the rule of my life and the sum of my faith; that I will esteem the King’s authority supreme in all things and no way subject to the jurisdiction of foreign bishops, and to the utmost of my power oppose all opinions contrary to the true Word of God.” No papistry allowed, then. Most of the oaths in these old laws have some kind of anti-Roman clause, and it’s not simply a case of paranoia. Just 20 years before the translation from which I
07 February, 2012
quote was published King James II’s Catholic soldiers took over the college, had the chapel reconsecrated, and Introibo ad altare Dei was heard there for the first time. The Provost then declares his intention to protect the college’s possessions and its members, and to observe the Statutes themselves. He also makes a promise to be in Dublin for 10 months of the year: “I will not be absent from the college, either about my own business or another’s, more than two months in a year, unless the affairs of the college or the royal authority shall call me elsewhere, or force, disease, contagion, or some other necessary cause shall happen, to be approved by the Archbishop of Dublin in the absence of the Chancellor.” The declaration has a religious conclusion, alien to the Godless institution Trinity has become: “All and singular these things I will observe, so help me God, touching the holy gospels of Christ.” I’ve put the entire document online – it’s at trinitynews.ie/oldtrinity. A regular reader of this column who had also listened to Dr Prendergast’s speech sent me a note. He pointed out that the Provost referred to the college’s entrance as “Front Arch” several times. Front Gate does indeed have an arch, but it has no history of being called Front Arch. The latter does not occur once in Trinity News in the 1950s or 1960s, and the fastidious editors of the late TCD: A College Miscellany would never have allowed it. Hopefully the older name will survive – but, if anyone has the authority to impose a change, I suppose it’s the Provost. Also noticed in Dr Prendergast’s talk: the word ‘provostal’. The Students’ Union’s newspaper used the ugly concoction ‘provostial’ in the year before the election, and it threatened to stick. I propose that both be avoided unless utterly necessary.
WITH THE preponderance of newly-minted professors strutting around the college, Dr Prendergast must feel bereft. Is he to be merely “doctor” while some lacking even a PhD are called “professor”? email@example.com
Front Gate incorrectly known as front arch
Prendergast’s use of the term Provostial provoked the ire of traditionalists at TCD
22 SCIENCE firstname.lastname@example.org NATURE
The silkworm that grew its own heart
The worm which could grow its heart
A HEART’S greatest weakness is that it is unable to regenerate damaged muscle. New research from the Max Planck Institute aims to remedy this using silk. Disks spun by the tasar silkworm are used as a three dimensional scaffold for the new material to grow around before the whole object is transferred onto an ailing heart as a patch. Silk has the advantage over other materials of being invisible to the body’s immune system. The process has proven entirely effective on rats but remains to be tested using a human heart. PHYSICS
Rap music machine generates electricity A NEW medicinal scanner designed to be implanted inside the body has harnessed the power of music to run. The sensor, commonly used to measure blood pressure in aneurism patients, is powered by a small lever which vibrates when exposed to low frequency sounds. The vibration is enough to generate the electricity needed for the device to take a reading and transmit to a computer. Of the four musical genres tested, rap, jazz, blues and rock, rap was found to have the most efficient bass for the device. With this new technology patients can be tested from the comfort of their own homes. HEALTH
Symphony of the sea
Singing fish were found in the deep sea
MARINE biologists from the University of Massachusetts have published the first study of deep sea fish sounds in over fifty years. The study involved listening to the noises produced by life at depths of over 680 metres in the North Atlantic. It revealed a chorus of sound far more detailed than familiar whale song, with contributions from at least sixteen separate species, and sounds varying from grunts to drumming and even duck-like calls. This study is key to understanding the behaviour of animals living in the total darkness of the deep sea, how they communicate, navigate and survive. TECHNOLOGY
Strengthen your tipple with graphene RESEARCHERS at the University of Manchester have found yet another use for graphene – increasing the potency of vodka. Graphene, a new material derived from graphite, is already famous for being the thinnest, strongest and most conducting material in the world; and a recent study also revealed it to be impermeable to every gas except water. This unexpected find allowed researchers to place a graphene seal over a container of vodka, enabling the water to evaporate leaving a more concentrated mix of alcohol trapped inside. Stephen Keane, Deputy Science Editor
Around town: Science in the City Enda Shevlin went to the launch of Dublin City of Science, which will give us a preview of research in 2012
ear ye! Hear ye! Dublin, the capital city of a country famed for producing such scientific giants as Robert Boyle, John Tyndall, Ernst Walton and Jocelyn Bell Burnell has hereby reclaimed its rightful place at the summit of European scientific endeavour by officially inaugurating itself as the City of Science 2012. Launched on 26 January at the Convention Centre by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, and comedian Dara O Briain, before approximately 400 people, Dublin City of Science promises to be a milestone in affirming Ireland not only as a global hub of ideas and expertise, but also as a country with the chutzpah required to lead from the front and pull off the groundbreaking discoveries that the world requires both today and in the future. Signifying the importance of the event was the attendance of China’s ambassador to Ireland, Luo Linquan, together with his science and technology secretary Yang Zjihun. Both were enthusiastic in their attendance and effervescent in expounding the potential for collaboration between the two countries. Dublin goalkeeper and science teacher Stephen Cluxton, together with PhD student and television presenter Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin, were also present as science ambassadors for the celebrations. Throughout 2012, over 160 events are planned, all with the express aim of fostering environments which lend themselves equally to both curious amateurs and devoted experts, and to plenty of liberal conversation between the two. A good example is the Dublin Maker Faire, which will serve as a showcase for homespun innovations, whether they be homemade experimental projects or fully patented, ready-to-market inventions. An “open call” for participants opens
Comedian Dara O’Briain gets his thinking cap on at the City of Science festival which launched at the Convention Centre
in February, which gives anybody with ideas to share the opportunity to get involved. Central to the year-long City of Science celebration is Dublin’s hosting of the ultra-prestigious European Science Open Forum (ESOF). This biannual event, previously held in Munich, Barcelona and Torino, comes to Dublin after a competitive bidding process in which the city pledged to showcase not only the country’s scientific prowess but also its rich heritage in the arts. How the two combine will be a pervasive theme throughout both the forum and the year’s activites. The ESOF itself will create an explosive mix of over 5,000 elite and multidisciplinary scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs, communicators and policy-makers, and is frankly staggering in both scale and ambition. Four Nobel Laureates will be attending: Peter Doherty (1996), Jules Hoffmann (2011), James Watson (1962) and James Heckman (2000). Doherty and Hoffmann were awarded the prize for discoveries concerning how immune cells recognise distinct markers on viruses and bacteria respectively (particularly relevant given Trinity’s and Ireland’s increasingly prominent standing on immunology’s world stage). Watson,
as part of the famous “Watson and Crick” duo, was the first to discover the “double helix” structure of DNA. Heckmen was awarded the Nobel prize for his work on microeconomics. Others to look out for include the Director General of CERN, Rolf-Dieter Heuer, and Craig Venter, probably the world’s most influential and wellknown molecular biologist. Heuer will hopefully present a more definitive answer regarding the Large Hadron Collider’s search for the existence of the Higgs boson, also known as the God Particle. This much-heralded search is expected to be completed within the coming months, meaning a major announcement is a definite possibility. Venter, on the other hand, as the man responsible for producing the first draft of the human genome – not to mention the successful engineering of the first life form controlled entirely by manmade DNA – will hopefully bring events back to a more “grounded” but equally enrapturing state. A place should also be reserved in advance for the European Space Agency’s Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain, whose work oversees the Planck and Herschel telescopes, the Galileo Satellite Navigation System (an upgraded version of America’s GPS) and Europe’s contributions to
the International Space Station. Add to all this contributions from Mary Robinson and Bob Geldof on human rights, the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, as well as influential communicators such as the editors of the journals Science and Nature and the science and technology editors from the BBC and the Financial Times. Robin Ince, the co-host of BBC Radio Four’s acclaimed science comedy series The Infinite Monkey Cage will also be in attendance. Fans of the show may be pleased to hear that, when asked by Trinity News whether The Cage were considering attending Dublin City of Science, Dara O Briain, who has appeared on the show previously, said “it was a great idea” and “worth keeping in mind”. At a time when enthusiasm for science is riding high but competition for funding capital has become increasingly fierce, Dublin City of Science 2012, combined with the ESOF, is a promising reminder to ourselves and both potential and established colleagues abroad that Ireland is competing and winning on the scientific stage. Future students in particular should take note. A full list of ESOF speakers is available on the Trinity News website.
A taste of 2012 at Trinity’s Science Gallery Anthea Lacchia Science Editor
s a Trinity student, you won’t need to go too far to celebrate Dublin City of Science. Our very own Science Gallery has big plans for the year ahead. “It is a very exciting year for the Gallery,” says Dr. Micheal John Gorman, founding director. Now that the long-running and highly successful exhibition Surface Tension has closed, the upcoming exhibition, Edible, will explore how we reshape the planet through the food choices we make. “We’ll be looking at the future evolution of food, from genomic cuisine, to molecular gastronomy.” Whether it’s exploring the interior of a giant inflatable stomach or enjoying a four-course meal created by artists, scientist and chefs, there will be countless interactive exhibits and activities to choose from. Already intrigued? Edible will run from 10 February to 5 April. It will be followed by Happy?, a lab which will run experiments seeking to explain why Irish people are so happy. “We’ll be working with the School of Psychology in Trinity, trying to find out what makes people happy, Gorman said. “In fact, Ireland regularly comes out close the top of the lists of countries in the world where people are happiest.
One of the displays – a 5-minute meal of fruit and licquorice to look like an eye
Yet by every single metric we should be incredibly miserable: the climate, the financial situation, so why are we so happy?” ponders Gorman. “Our
flagship program for next year is called Hack the City. It’s going to be running from 22 June to 7 September and will cover the peak period of Dublin City
of Science 2012 (11 to 15 July) when we plan to have a Hack the City festival. The idea of Hack the City is to look at the flows of energy, information and transport through the city and, effectively, to explore the science of the city.” Before each exhibition at the Gallery, large brainstorming events are held. For Hack the City, urban planners, engineers, representatives of industry, but also artists, designers and even a policeman were asked to give their ideas: “The policeman has seen people hacking the city in all sorts of ways, illegal ways, so the perspective will be interesting!” says Gorman. This exhibition will be followed by Nanolab, an exciting collaboration with the nanoscience research lab CRANN which will explore the science of the very small. Nanolab will run from 14 September to 14 October. After that, Game will kick off on 26 October and run until 18 January 2013. “We will be looking at the future of gaming, including mixed-reality gaming, where the real world meets the virtual world. Ireland is a real hub for the gaming industry and game developers so there’s amazing talent here in that area.” And as if all this wasn’t enough, in 2012 the Gallery will welcome its millionth visitor since opening in 2008. Wouldn’t you be crazy to miss out on all the excitement just down the road on Pearse Street? TRINITY NEWS
COLLEGE SPORT 23 email@example.com
Le Grand Tour de Trinity James Hussey speaks to DU Road Cycling members Paul McAufield and Andrew Stanley on the road to intervarsity success
T “Andrew has played a huge part in this early success, winning the first two stages and performing admirably”
his week, College Sport Editor, James Hussey, spoke to DU Road Cycling captain Paul McAufield and Trinity’s leading road cyclist, Andrew Stanley, about the season so far and the ambitions for one of the university’s fastest growing sports. The confines of Áras an Phiarsaigh are strangely incongruous to the usual free-flowing, adrenaline rush that the cyclists I am about to meet are accustomed to. The strain of last Saturday’s race on Howth Head still on his mind, Andrew Stanley is readying himself for an early February ten-mile time trial, against the best college cyclists in the country. “The training has been tough for the intervarsity competition. I’ve really had to commit to a regime, watch my food intake and nutrition and, of course, I haven’t been drinking in the run-up to races. The work I’m doing for the races takes a lot out of me, physically and mentally, so there’s a lot of preparation needed before I actually get on the back at the start line.” The almost immediate success of the club is down to the talent and dedication of cyclists like Andrew and the enthusiasm shown by Road captain, Paul McAufield, who detailed the genesis of the club, also describing his initial shock at the numbers attracted to this endurance sport. “Before 2011, DUCC catered predominantly for mountain bikers with little emphasis on road cycling. We set up the road cycling division of the club this past year and it has grown hugely, with between 30 and 40 active members available for competitive races. The former captain of UCD Road Cycling is on the committee and we have publicised the club a lot. Earlier in the academic year, we had a talk from two-time Rás winner Philip Cassidy. Quite apart from being inspirational for
A DUCC cyclist during the intervarsities. Photo: DUCC
the aspiring cyclist, Philip is very interested in promoting cycling on a university level. The club hopes to have Seán Kelly later in the year to talk about his career in the saddle.” The relatively high standard of intervarsity cycling in Ireland came as a surprise for the DUCC Road
team. With a group of young, talented cyclists however, acclimatisation was quick and wins have already begun to flow. Paul related how his aims for the year have changed drastically as each race passes, with Trinity’s cyclists continuously outperforming their selfmade expectations.
“This being the inaugural year of the club, we’ve had to create our own aims and so far we’re well on track to fulfilling them. When we created the road cycling side of the club, the main ambition was to have healthy membership numbers and a dynamic team of cyclists. Our Colours rivals, UCD, have a strong club and, I suppose, as we grow in size, we are aiming to beat them. In the current Cycleways Intervarsity League, DUCC is leading. Andrew has played a huge part in this early success, winning the first two stages, performing admirably in tough conditions against seasoned competitors. Trinity’s Neil Long finished in third last Saturday on the hill climb also, a result that hugely benefited the team.” Paul and Andrew were quick to emphasise that, although training is arduous and the strain of races pushes the body and mind to their respective limits, the enjoyment and thrill that cyclists get is one not easily replicated by other sports. The camaraderie in the group suggest that team morale, despite the early days of the club, plays a huge part in its burgeoning success. “We train on Tuesdays and Thursdays, usually taking a 2-hour spin out on the roads. This is complemented by a 4-hour tour most Saturdays, although this has been interrupted due to the Cycleways Intervarsity League. We are really hopeful going forward that we can expand the club with a strong committee at its core. In March, many of our cyclists will represent Trinity at A4 level in the Cycling Ireland races, another indication of our strength and the enthusiasm in college for the sport. Cycling seems to have a strong future in Trinity’s city-centre environs, the perennially student-friendly transport has taken on a competitive edge in Dublin University. The club hopes to secure funding from DUCAC for the academic year 2012-2013, and continue its journey with the help of an enthusiastic membership. This is one Grand Tour not to be missed.
Minister for defence plots Collingwood success James Hussey talks to DUAFC Captain Conall “Shocko” O’Shaughnessy about the team’s hopes for promotion
his week, College Sport talked with Dublin University Association Football Club (DUAFC) captain, Conall O’Shaughnessy. The team is looking to gain promotion for a fourth successive season, an unprecedented achievement marking DUAFC as one of Trinity’s most successful sides. O’Shaughnessy, a towering centre back, has led by example this season, highlighted by a monumental performance against varsity rivals, UCD. How has the season been so far for DUAFC? “The league campaign has been fairly successful so far. We’ve had a bit of a dip in form just after the Christmas break where we lacked sharpness and had some uncharacteristically sloppy displays. For this talented group of players, that was a disappointment. Previous to that we had been on a great run in November and December. We were the league’s form team, having been unbeaten for 11 games and were confident of a good title push. While it appears now that the title may be a step too far this year, we’re
07 February, 2012
Conall O’Shaughnessy puts his body on the line. Photo: Paul Sharp/SHARPPIX
still on course to achieve our main goal of promotion for a fourth successive season, which needless to say would be a great achievement for the club. With 8 games left in the league there is still plenty to play for. What matches have been highlights for you and the team? “At this stage of the campaign we’ve had some excellent results, in particular beating Postal from Talllaght away 5-0. Our home form in particular has been excellent and we’ve had good wins in College Park against Leixlip and Malahide, and were unfortunate to
only get a draw against league leaders St Patrick’s Ringsend in the final game before Christmas. This year saw you defeat rivals, UCD, in the Colours match. How did that game affect your season? “The Colours’ win against UCD has been without doubt the highlight of the year for us. It was an exceptional perfromance and result and really acted as the catalyst for our season. After that victory we went on an excellent run of results in the league and the confidence the lads took from that result has been a great help, and
will hopefully feed into our morale for the Collingwood in Limerick.” With the Collingwood Cup nearly upon you, how are preparations going and what expectations do you have for the tournament? “The preperations for the Collingwood are going well. We’re training 3 times a week with the league campaign still going ahead every Saturday. We’ve a big panel at the minute and realistically we will only take 18 players to Limerick so there is a lot of competition for places and that is showing well in the training performances. If we stay relatively lucky with injuries we should be in good nick for what is a physically demanding tournament. It takes four victories in four days to win it, in a tournament which is traditionally dominated by UCD’s professional side. DUAFC hasn’t won it since 1991 so we’re due a big performance. Last year, we won the secondary prize of the Faulkner Cup, having been knocked out of the main competition by Jordanstown so we’re hoping to improve on that. If we beat RCSI in our first game, it is likely that we will face Jordanstown again in the quarter finals so personally it would be nice to get a bit of revenge on them.” How do you feel about DUAFC’s role within Trinity? “The club is always looking to improve and increase its capacity. We wouldn’t have the same level of
external funding from alumni etc as the rugby or rowing fraternities have, which is why its such an achievement to be as continually successful as we are.” In terms of player numbers and quality, how do you think the team stacks up against the sports traditionally more associated with DU, for example, rugby, rowing or cricket? We have a new committee this year who are looking at increasing our number of teams within the squad, and new coaches, development officers would fit into that scheme. we find that there is a lot of people who want to play regular competitive football in Trinity but given the competition and level of talent in the first team there is not a whole lot of opportunities for some. Equally, members of our squad might not get as much game time as they would like. This is something we’re hoping to address as the club moves forward.” What is the development side of soccer like in Trinity? What are the structures for a Freshers’ team and other developmental squads? “The Freshers squad has been doing well and they are in the national division 2 semi finals. Such is the level of competition in the first team that not too many have been able to make the step up as of yet, but no doubt a lot of them will be involved next year and they are integral to the future of the club.”
Thomond’s no match for late Trinity surge but we handled it well.” Gallagher also commented on the intensity of the opposition, and looked forward to what the rest of the season holds for this young Trinity team. “It was important that we matched them in the contact area in the opening half, it gave us a platform to build upon so that when space opened up in the later stages, we were able to take advantage of the opportunities they yielded up. Despite apparent inexperience, this is a very mature Trinity team we’re looking at now. We are 3 points clear at the top of the table and our aim is to go unbeaten for the rest of the season. The team has high hopes of promotion to Division 1 next year.” DUFC play Malone in College Park on Saturday 4th of February, followed soon after by a tough away game at 3rd placed Queens on February 18th. Morale is high going into these games and Trinity will hope to further stake their claim for promotion to AIL Division 1. The front-row powerhouse dominated in the scrums, tackled strongly throughout and scored two tries from two incisive, opportunistic runs through the Thomond pillar defence.
RESULT: DUFC – 30 Thomond – 3
Kay Bowen & James Hussey DUFC President & College Sport Editor
AFTER a six week break from All Ireland League (AIL) action, Trinity travelled to Limerick to play the perennially difficult Munster outfit, Thomond. In typically Irish fashion after a very dry January without rugby, the heavens opened, and the game was played in torrential rain. Errors piled up at the start of the match as both DUFC and Thomond struggled to come to terms with the slippery ball. Captain, and out-half, David Joyce kicked an early penalty but Thomond levelled almost immediately with a penalty of their own. The early stages were highlighted by Dominic Gallagher’s yellow card, received when Trinity’s openside flanker reacted badly to what appeared to be a deliberate eyegouge by a Thomond forward. The first half will be remembered for a try-line stand by Trinity just before half time. The Limerick side were camped on the students’ line but could not muster the inspiration or strength to breach the DUFC defence. Trinity stood firmly, tackling with vigour, proving why they have the best defensive record in the league. The students were inspired by this defensive stand and their energy levels
“DUFC consolidated their superiority with a wave of attacks” raised significantly after that period of play. The sides went in 3-3 at half time, the home team feeling a little unlucky not to be ahead against the league leaders given the run of play. In the second half, DUFC upped
Number 5 Jack Kelly and Number 7 Dominic Gallagher rise to the occasion. Photo: Peter Wolfe
the tempo of the game considerably and dominated from the opening whistle as they kept the ball through multiple phases. An 8 minute period of possesion proved fruitless in terms of points but would prove instrumental in the outcome of the match. Thomond had been run ragged in defence and looked a broken team, suddenly lacking the intensity that saw them threaten Trinity in the opening half. David Joyce kicked another penalty, which was followed quickly by an outstanding collect, gather and score by centre Ariel Robles. The number 13 showed some superb individual skill after chasing a grubber kick from the aforementioned Joyce. Neil Hanratty had created the space in behind with a surging run forward that sucked in
Thomond’s defenders, leaving Joyce with ample room to set up his fellow back for the game’s opening try. After this score, (11-3 to Trinity) the students consolidated their superiority with wave after wave of attacks. The students were piercing the opposition’s defence at will, making ground on every possession. Inside centre Paddy Lavelle added the second try after some slick work from scrum-half Mick McLoughlin. Prop Ian Hirst added the next two tries when he scored from close in on his first effort. Subsequently, Trinity’s number 1 showed deceptive speed and agility to beat two defenders and run in under the posts from 20 metres out. In the space of fifteen minutes DUFC had turned a 6-3 stalemate into
a 30-3 demolition, scoring four tries and claiming the all-important bonus point. Speaking to Trinity News after the game, DUFC number 8 Jack Dilger and Dominic Gallagher were very happy to get the bonus point and emphasised the importance of a tough win in the difficult conditions provided by an away match in Limerick. Dilger told us: “We’re delighted to get the bonus point in our first match back after a 6 week break. This was a tough away fixture in daunting surroundings in the heart of Limerick. Thomond are a tough team to play against, they play a very set-piece oriented game, which makes it difficult for the other team to get a foothold in the match. Their passion was immense during the game
DUFC 14 Neil Hanratty 15 James O’Donoghue 12 Paddy Lavele 11 Niyi Adeolukan 60 Ciaran Wade 10 Dave Joyce (c) 9 Mick McLoughlin 1 Ian Hirst 2 Tim O’Mahoney 55 Warren Larkin 3 Ed Tate 4 Colin MacDonnell 5 Jack Kelly 6 Brendan O’Connell 50 John Iliff 7 Dominic Gallagher
Dublin’s fencers are foiled by Duffy Team Epee Anna Smith & James Hussey Contributing Writer & College Sport Editor
DUBLIN University Fencing Club (DUFC) hosted the Duffy Team Epee competition recently. The event, in memory of Olympic fencer and DUFC’s first “Maître d’Armes” Professor Patrick Duffy, has been Ireland’s premier team epee event since 1988 and draws teams from around Europe. DUFC entered four teams in the competition: three men’s teams and one women’s. Despite hard work and some very close matches, Trinity’s 2nds (comprising of Gabriel Beecham, Etienne Richard, Vincent Roch) just missed the cut and finished in 17th place, while the 1sts team and alumni team made it through to the later stages of the competition. DUFC 2 (Alex Kelly,
“The final of the men’s fencing event went right down to the wire” Niall O’Brien, Riccardo Savona) lost a heartbreaker to Connaught to finish 12th, while the Alumni team (Colm Flynn, Rory Greenan, Ned Mitchell) narrowly lost their grudge match against the Irish Pentathlon team, eventually finishing in 5th position, one spot off the podium. The final of the men’s event went right down to the wire. After forty minutes of competition the leading German team, Marburg Fencing, defeated strong Irish team, Duffy Fencing Club, 45-44 on a double touch with less than ten seconds on the clock.
Sunday’s women’s event was the most competitive in many years, with teams from Leipzig and Marburg, Germany, and Colchester, UK representing their respective countries. The women’s team (Liz Fitzgerald, Ciara Greene, Clodagh McCarthy Luddy), despite having less than a year’s epee experience between them, defeated DCU and posted extremely respectable scores in their other matches. Leipzig eventually took the trophy with Colchester close behind, followed by the University of Limerick, Marburg Fencing, DUFC and DCU. Fencing Club Captain, Ned Mitchell, spoke to Trinity News after his side’s performance in the Duffy Team Epee. Fencing has a long, trophy-laden history in Trinity College and the current crop of fencers will look to further consolidate their reputation at an elite level. “Expectations this year have been very high after Intervarsity success and 8 national titles in 2011. Although many of our talented fencers graduated in the past 12 months, the dedication and perseverance of our committee and the talent of our newer competitors has kept us on track to meet our aims. “We won 4 medals and two titles at the Irish Open and we have already beaten DCU in intervarsity competition. Another of our club members, Natalya Coyle, is on the Irish modern pentathlon team with her sights firmly set on the Olympics.” With DU’s fencers competing in international events from Copenhagen to Turin to Gdansk, the scope of talent on offer at what is a relatively small club is deemed “nothing short of remarkable” by Mitchell. The club
The Marburg Team hold the Professor Patrick Duffy Trophy, named after a former professor and fencer at Trinity. Photo: DUFC
has much more to offer than its elite competitors however, as explained by its captain. “The club has taken part in charity events over the past year, such as “Fencing under the Campanile”, that raised money for Sudden Death Syndrome. 2012 has shown a growing emphasis on the development of beginners and much of our resources in coaching and funding has gone towards creating what we hope will become the
backbone of Irish fencing in years to come.” DUFC continues to deliver on an annual basis for Trinity College. The upcoming Colours matches against DKIT and UCD will prove a test for Dublin University’s fencers, however, Mitchell believes that the passion and strong core of one of Trinity’s most successful clubs will translate into another victory against our Belfield rivals. “We have won the Intervarsity
tournament for the last 4 years, so we hope to retain that again. Trinity is hosting the competition this year which gives us the advantage of competing at home. We really hope to defeat UCD later in the semester, that has to be one of the main aims of the club every year.” This talented group of fencers will look to cement the DUFC legacy for years to come, an infusion of talented youth key to the progression of this club on a national and international platform.