21st January 2014
WARPAINT DISCUSS NEW ALBUM, MOGWAI ON MUTHROUGH THE AGES, Inside SIC WOMEN IN GAMING, SLAM POETRY CHAMPION, HOLLIE MCNISH AND DIRECTOR, JOHN WELLS.
NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR 2013
Photo: Aifric Ni Chriodain
Photo: Samuel Verbi
Nobel Prize winner and New York Times Columnist, Paul Krugman talks to the Phil.
SU set to “radicalise”: Lenihan refuses to rule out sit-in
T Catherine Healy News Editor
SU remains defiant aer meeting vice-provost over cuts Provost proposed cuts, capitated bodies now learn GSU more cautious, reluctant to encourage “enmity” he Students’ Union president, Tom Lenihan, has refused to rule out the possibility of an occupation in protest at funding cuts for capitated bodies. The assertion follows a meeting on the issue held last Wednesday between the vice-provost, the treasurer, and representatives of the capitated bodies. The meeting failed to result in an agreement on the reversal of funding cuts to Trinity College Students Union (TCDSU), the Central Societies Committee (CSC), the Graduate Students Union (GSU), Dublin University Central Athletic Club (DUCAC), and Trinity Publications. It is understood that representatives of the capitated bodies also declined an offer to reduce cuts from 5% to 3.75%. The offer was proposed by the vice-provost on the grounds that there had been a lack of communication in failing to inform student leaders of cuts until four months after the decision had been made. Capitated bodies were informed on 21st November that their funding will be cut by 10% over the next two years, with two annual cuts of 5%. In real terms, TCDSU is to be reduced by ¤16,229, CSC reduced by ¤17,916, GSU cut by ¤2,998, DUCAC reduced by
David Byrne reports on DUFC making it to the top of the Leinster League table.
“In real terms, TCDSU is to be reduced by ¤16,229, CSC reduced by ¤17,916, GSU cut by ¤2,998, DUCAC reduced by ¤17,690, and Publications cut by ¤2,423.”
¤17,690, and Publications cut by ¤2,423. This amounts to a reduction of nearly ¤60,000 in funding for student services. The decision was reached in June in a meeting of the secretive College Planning Group, which has been tasked with rebranding Trinity and developing a strategic plan to attract more international students over the next five years. The group is composed of fourteen members - including the vice-provost, Prof Linda Hogan; the vice-president for Global Relations, Jane Ohlmeyer; the dean of Faculty of Engineering, Mathematics and Science, Prof Clive Williams; the dean of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Prof James Wickham; the dean of Health Sciences, Prof Mary McCarron, and the director of the Trinity Foundation, Nick Sparrow – but has no student representation in it. The minutes from the group’s June meeting note that College requires “further income to meet its expenditure,” and that Schools are being asked to “deliver more programmes with less resources.” They make no reference to cuts in funding for capitated bodies. Trinity News understands that funding cuts to capitated bodies were initially proposed by Prov-
Michael Lanigan goes behind the door of Dublin’s prostitution business.
“The funding that is allocated every year to the capitated bodies comes from the annual student contribution charge, which is paid by all students.”
ost Patrick Prendergast, who is not a member of the Planning Group. The proposed cuts to student services were presented to the group in a memorandum prepared by Prendergast, along with the vice-provost and treasurer. Speaking to Trinity News on Thursday, Lenihan said that the SU is likely to perform “some form of direct action” if cuts are not reversed. “We would have radicalise if they are imposed,” he said. “We would have to show that we are not taking this lying down.” If cuts are not reversed, he said, “I would have to put it students that if there was ever a time to care about student politics or the student experience, this is the time. This is the biggest decision this year to affect students.” He is quietly confident that students will support any proposed direct action. “I think they would think we are right to protect their interests,” he said. “Their money is being spent less and less on student services. It’s being spent on something that will never affect them. It’s being put into a black hole.” GSU president Ryan Kenny struck a more cautious note later that day as he distanced himself from the escalating conflict. “I think direct action is a valu-
Gavin Kenny explores the geology behind the Oscar Wilde statue.
William Foley calls for revising the duties and functions of the Ents officer.
able tool but it is a last resort,” he told Trinity News. “I think we’re quite far away from those sorts of measures. The ideal solution is always to engage constructively and to reach an agreement that satisfies nobody but is acceptable to everybody. There is a lot to be lost in encouraging enmity on campus. One of the Trinity’s strength is its collegiality, the fact that students and staff identity as being a part of Trinity. One of the arguments we’re making against the cut is that this is sending out a message which is contrary to that idea. We shouldn’t push ourselves away until all other avenues are exhausted.” The funding that is allocated every year to the capitated bodies comes from the annual student contribution charge, which is paid by all students. Before 2002, students paid a direct “capitation fee” which went straight to the capitated bodies for the provision of services and extra-curricular activities for students. This was incorporated into the overall registration fee in 2002. The last student sit-in in Trinity took place in November 2009, when over 50 students occupied the Berkeley library in protest against library cuts.
Tuesday 21st January 2014
What They Said
“ “ “ “ “ “Guys, be careful not to stand still for too long in town or they’ll build a KC Peaches on you.” Neasa Conneally
Sharp increase in student demand for financial assistance Financial support funds depleted as early as October Lower grant threshold leaving students vulnerable Aonghus Ó Cochláin
Student Affairs There has been a significant increase in the number of students applying for some form of financial assistance from College, according to SU welfare officer, Stephen Garry. In an interview with Trinity News, Garry said that demand for financial aid in College has meant that the Student Assistance Fund as well as the additional Student Hardship Fund has been depleted as early as October, far earlier than in previous years. The Student Assistance Fund, which is financed by the European Social Fund with support
from the Department of Education, is available to all students experiencing unexpected hardship during their course of study. Allocated on a per capita basis to each higher education institution, funding available to each higher education institution has varied each year and is dependent on the level of demand for student support through the ‘top up’ grant. College’s Student Hardship Fund, which is administrated by the Financial Assistance Committee, is a further means of assisting students undergoing financial crisis. All applications are means-tested and accompanied by supporting income-related documents. Further forms of financial assistance
include course-specific bursaries given for specific circumstances. Efforts are being made by TCDSU and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) to lobby the Higher Education Authority, the body tasked with allocating resources for financial assistance nationally. According to Garry, the USI has been instrumental in putting pressure on the government for topping up the funds available to hard-pressed students. The effects of last year’s grant debacle, Garry said, are still felt by many students experiencing financial hardship. The centralised Student Universal Support Scheme (SUSI), which was introduced as a replacement of the old student grant system, led to a high
Uproar at JobBridge scheme escalates Weekend protests over exploitative practice at car repair company Minister for Social Welfare defends advertisement for PhD candidates JobBridge “broken beyond repair” - USI Conor Kenny Deputy News Editor Controversy over the latest JobBridge scandal culminated in protests in Dublin and Cork on Saturday, two days after the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) declared that the national internship scheme is “broken beyond repair”. The demonstrations held this weekend in Dublin and Cork were organised by Socialist MEP, Paul Murphy, the founder of “ScamBridge”, a website that highlights abuses of the national internship scheme. They took place at the main offices of Advance Pitstop, an Irish car repair company, in Dublin and Cork. The company in question recently announced its decision to seek 28 interns from the scheme. Advance Pitstop claimed that the interns would “gain practical experience”. However, Murphy claims that the firm is only interested in saving of ¤400,000 in wages that will be made through hiring such
a large number of interns. The garage franchise previously hired 20 people on the scheme but failed to offer employment to a single intern after the completion of their nine month placement. Advance Pitstop has defended itself against claims that it is responsible for undermining the scheme. “All JobBridge participants benefit from the investment in training by Advance Pitstop, and are trained and supervised by staff to the high standards dictated by our customer care policy,” the company said in a statement on Wednesday. “Many participants have subsequently progressed to permanent employment. Indeed, over 10% of our current full-time staff initially joined the company on such a scheme, including two of our branch managers.” The Facebook event page created by Murphy’s ScamBridge campaign to promote Saturday’s protests disagreed, claiming, “These are jobs not internships! JobBridge is a scheme based on slave labour and the exploitation
“Dara Calleary said that ClaroChem’s advertisement was an example of companies abusing the JobBridge scheme to their own advantage, all the while “undermining” its purpose.”
“I went to the jacks just before the speech. Krugman was at the urinals. I pissed beside him” William Foley, Comment Editor
“This week’s RAG Week events will see a portion of funds being allocated to financing the Student Hardship Fund.”
of the unemployed and should be scrapped.” It was revealed last week that the JobBridge scheme had been allowing companies to advertise positions for candidates with “minimum” of a PhD degree. The company in question, ClaroChem Ireland, noted that although “no experience (is) required”, any applicants should be “keen to develop their industrial experience in a busy pharmaceutical/chemical manufacturing plant.” A prospective intern would be expected to work a 39hour week for six months, being paid only 50 euros per week. The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has condemned the advertisement, stating in a press release on Thursday that, “JobBridge is broken beyond repair”. The union added that, “We need proper internships, training opportunities and upskilling in Ireland. But they need to provide adequate monitoring, oversight and regulation. Clearly, in far too many instances, JobBridge is failing in that regard.” USI recently called for JobBridge to be phased out in its policy document, “Vision for Post-Bailout Ireland”. However, minister for social protection, Joan Burton, defended ClaroChem, noting that JobBridge can include job advertisements for candidates with all kinds of qualifications. There is no reason, Burton noted, that graduates with a PhD cannot use
“Oh my GOD, flashback! My design skillz were so bad. I got shit from a few people for putting a vibrator on the cover. Madsies.”
journal.ie Deputy-Editor Christine Bohan reminisces on her days as TN2 Editor
amount of unprocessed and late grant applications. In response the Student Assistance Fund was increased ¤3 million in December of 2012 from ¤8 million to ¤11 million, in order to provide greater financial assistance to students suffering from grant delays. Last year also saw student unions across the country offering a variety of forms of assistance, including food packages and donated goods, to compensate for the failure of the new system to process its backlog of grant applications. The lowering of grant thresholds has meant students who once benefitted from financial assistance no longer qualify. According to Stephen Garry, there are many on the margin of the threshold who are reliant on financial assistance provided by College. “SUSI gives a lot but it’s sometimes not enough,” Garry commented, emphasising the need for the extra assistance provided by College. Another contributing factor to student hardship has been the shortfall in property availability since the beginning of this academic year. With average rental
JobBridge to further their employment prospects. “If a PhD (graduate) is unemployed, of all the people we should expect in this country to be in a position to get good employment, they are the people who have qualified with PhDs,” she said at the “Feeding Ireland’s Future” conference in Dublin. “If doing this helps them get back into the workforce, and I know a number of cases of
“Trinity Economics Forum have announced two white male economists who’ve never even tried to rethink economics. Repeat for two weeks”
“You were writing for my section, which is THE INTERNET” Online editor, Matthew Mulligan
Jack Leahy, Education officer
“The effects of last year’s grant debacle, Garry said, are still felt by many students experiencing financial hardship.”
people who have degrees and post-graduate degrees. . . well then it’s all for the good.” Fianna Fail job spokesperson, Dara Calleary, meanwhile, has described Burton’s attitude as “dismissive” towards PhD graduates. He said that ClaroChem’s advertisement was an example of companies abusing the JobBridge scheme to their own advantage, all the while “undermining” its
prices rising by 7.5% between 2012 and 2013, many students have struggled in finding affordable accommodation. Increased difficulty in finding suitable accommodation has placed a strain on College’s Accommodation Advisory Service, which has reopened this month to deal with incoming students and those still searching for a place to live. This week’s RAG Week events will see a portion of funds being allocated to financing the Student Hardship Fund. It is expected that the week’s events will raise ¤20,000 for the fund. The goal will involve the participation of many of College’s societies, although the proportion of money raised that will be given to the Student Hardship Fund is not entirely clear. While efforts to lobby the HEA are ongoing, the SU maintains emergency interest-free loans on a short-term basis of up to ¤100 for students suffering from financial difficulty. The service has become increasingly popular in recent years.
purpose. Calleary told the Irish Independent that, “JobBridge should be about giving people experience and a feel for the workplace. It should never have been designed to be targeted at PhD students. People are getting very suspicious of all of the Government’s job creation claims and this is just compounding that suspicion.”
Tuesday 21st January 2014
Communications role to be removed from remit of UT editor Constitutional review group proposes splitting of sabbatical role Split to come into effect in 2014-5, won’t affect upcoming election Lenihan favours greater UT editorial independence
T Lia Flattery Staff Writer
he decision has been made to separate the roles of communications officer and editor of the University Times following a review of the TCDSU constitution. The two roles are traditionally held by the same person. The change will not come into effect until the second half of 2015, meaning that the communications officer elected for the 2014-15 year will still retain the position of University Times (UT) editor. The proposal was presented at SU Council last Tuesday by the constitutional review working group, which was set up last term to form recommendations on constitutional changes for the union. The group advised that the UT editor remain an off-books, salaried position within the SU, but separate from the position of communications officer and of lesser importance than a sabbatical role. It was further suggested by the working group that the communications officer role could be abolished outright and that the former responsibilities of the communications officer be transferred to the ents officer. In an interview with Trinity
News, SU president, Tom Lenihan, said he supports the division of the two roles and believes that the communications officer should remain as a sabbatical position. He denied that the proposed splitting of the roles was due to any conflict of interest between the SU and UT. The reason behind the planned separation, according to Lenihan, is to enable the communications position to be better “exploited” and to create an environment in which the standard of UT can be kept up while the communications officer concentrates fully on connecting with the student body. He said that the separation of the job into two positions will allow future officers to have more time to focus on other aspects of their positions. Lenihan also recommended that an oversight authority be established for UT. He said that this would ensure transparency in the newspaper and prevent the SU from intervening were UT ever to print unfavourable information regarding it. In total, eleven possible constitutional changes as recommended
The reason behind the planned separation is to enable the communications position to be better “exploited” and to create an environment in which the standard of UT can also be kept up.”
by the review group were outlined at last Tuesday’s Council meeting. Aside from the communications officer and UT editor split, other key proposals include the abolition of a number of current part-time SU officer roles (for example, the environmental and ethical trading officer) and the creation of others, such as a student parent officer to cater for the increasing number of students who are parents studying at Trinity; the creation of a board of trustees to advise on the financial and legal affairs of the union, and giving the SU the ability to award honorary memberships to people outside of the college. While the decision to separate the UT editor and communications role is definite, the other proposals have yet to be decided upon and may not necessarily be included in the new SU constitution.
Irish Copy Editor
Niamh Ní Dhomhnaill
Aonghus Ó Cochláin
Deputy Photo Editor
Printed at The Irish Times print facility, City West Business Campus, 4000 Kingswood Rd, Dublin 24. 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 andw 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
Staff and students want Trinity to be more like Oxbridge according to survey by ‘Identity Initiative’ Identity initiative part of new drive to boost Trinity’s international ranking Hopes that new name and logo will “create a more cohesive and powerful story” Members of public continue to identify Trinity as “snobbish”
T Lia Flattery Staff Writer
he universities that College should aim to be most similar to are Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge, according to the 943 members of staff and 955 students surveyed since the beginning of the academic year as part of the Trinity ‘Identity Initiative’ scheme. 17% of staff and 16% of students see Harvard University as the university to most aspire to, 16% of staff and 17% of students look to the University of Cambridge as an ideal model, and a further 16% of both staff and students believe that Trinity should aim to be most similar to the University of Oxford. Only 15% of staff and 10% of students stated that Trinity should aim to “be itself”. The survey was the brainchild of Bernard Mallee, the director of communications and marketing, and Beibhinn Coman, the marketing manager. It was conducted among students, staff and members of the general public to gauge support for a new name and logo change for Trinity. The survey’s findings are expected to guide the strategies of the College Identity Initiative, a scheme which is part of a new drive to boost Trinity’s international rankings. The initiative’s recommendations will be delivered in advance of College’s new Strategic Plan 2014-2019, which will be launched next September.
“Dr Patrick Prendergast told the Independent in November 2013 that, “You can go around the world and talk about Oxford and Cambridge, Stanford and Berkeley and the Sorbonne. They are global brands: Trinity doesn’t have a global brand as a university.”
In an email to students in November, Provost Patrick Prendergast said that the initiative’s objective is “to create a shared visual identity and narrative for the entire university. This will allow us to tell a more cohesive and powerful story about what Trinity wishes to achieve in the future. By taking such a professional approach to our identity and brand, we will be able to better use our strengths as a university with a global reputation in student recruitment, in fundraising, and in public relations.” The results of the survey showed that of the College’s various current names, ‘Trinity College Dublin” was most popular, while “TCD” was liked least. The research also suggested that the word “university” is particularly important to people in describing Trinity and College authorities want the new name to incorporate this. Among the other findings of the survey was that that the majority of people surveyed regarded Trinity’s rich heritage and history as the biggest factor distinguishing it from other Irish universities, and that the college’s greatest strength is the worldwide renown and respect that it holds. Candidates were also asked what words they most associate with Trinity. “Academic” and “education” were the most frequently
used words. “Snobbish” was the second most popular word among members of the public, but featured to a lesser degree in student and staff responses. The results of the staff category have shown that just over half of staff are satisfied that Trinity’s current visual identity adequately communicates the identity of modern Trinity, and 80% felt that the current crest should remain unchanged. The initiative aims to boost Trinity’s international university rating by changing the college’s name to better represent its university status on the world stage. Trinity dropped 19 places in last year’s Times Higher Education Rankings from 110th position in 2012 to 119th in 2013. The project is intended to rebrand the Trinity image in a way that adequately captures its “identity” as a university, and to create a clearer and more unified image of Trinity as an education and research focused institution operating on a global level. Dr Patrick Prendergast told the Independent in November 2013 that, “You can go around the world and talk about Oxford and Cambridge, Stanford and Berkeley and the Sorbonne. They are global brands: Trinity doesn’t have a global brand as a university.” The rebranding contract has been given to Irish company,
“The results of the staff category have shown that just over half of staff are satisfied that Trinity’s current visual identity adequately communicates the identity of modern Trinity, and 80% felt that the current crest should remain unchanged.”
Huguenot, in collaboration with the UK-based Lloyd Northover company. Alongside the name and logo change, organisers of the initiative plan to establish an “identity toolkit”. This would be an online platform that would make available to students and staff the new official Trinity logo and typography for use in such materials as presentations, signage, event materials and letters. Identity toolkits are already in use in universities such as Oxford and Stanford.
Tuesday 21st January 2014
Eva Short investigates the Ireland’s 448 missing children and the system that let them down.
News In Brief
Paul Krugman: “My side has been proven right” William Foley Comment Editor
Grants withdrawn from nursing and dental hygiene students James Prendergast Staff Writer A number of dental nursing and dental hygiene students at Trinity College and University College Cork have had their grants withdrawn with immediate effect by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI). SUSI is also considering suspending financial support to students to help pay for the student contribution fee of ¤2,500, according to the Irish Independent. In a letter to 39 dental nursing and dental hygiene students, SUSI said that, as the courses do not lead to “a major award at level 7 of the National Framework of qualifications (NFQ)”, the students are “ineligible for a grant”. The decision was made following an internal audit by SUSI that revealed issues regarding the two courses. The grants will be suspended while an examination into the issue is carried out.
SUSI claims that under the latest student support regulations published last May, courses must be full-time and lead to major qualifications under the NFQ. It added that some level 7 diplomas are not considered major qualifications. Sarah Moyles, a second year student of dental nursing in Trinity told the Irish Independent that 18 of 22 of her classmates had not received their expected grant this month. Students who entered the course this year have also been affected, as have students of dental hygiene. SUSI says it has not yet decided if it will demand repayment of grants issued between September and December. The head of the School of Dental Nursing, June Nunn, said that SUSI did not inform the school that the grants were being suspended. She added that demand remained very high for graduates of the affected courses despite cuts in the dental sector. SUSI was set up in 2012 to take over the processing of student
grants from local authorities and VECs. In its first year the system was plagued by delays and the Ombudsman accepted over 50 complaints by students experiencing long delays. The Ombudsman said that students had been “put through the mill” by SUSI in its first year. In another embarrassing error last November, SUSI rejected a grant application claiming that the student’s family income of ¤46,661 was “above the ¤54,240 threshold under our scheme. Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn admitted last May that the government had “got it wrong”. Following a report into failings at SUSI, extra staff members were hired and the application process was streamlined. On 30th November SUSI announced that decisions had been made on all student grant applications, two months earlier than in 2012.
“The recession has proved his “side” right in the battle against the “austerians”, Paul Krugman, winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics Science, said in an address to the University Philosophical Society last Tuesday. Krugman admitted that the recession, while horrific on a human level, was academically interesting and provided an opportunity for economists to test their theories. He listed some of his counterintuitive predictions which had been proved correct by recent events: that QE wouldn’t lead to rampant inflation, that austerity would harm the economy, and that high debt didn’t necessarily cause subpar economic performance. The liberal economist felt reassured that he had not been a “phoney”. On the other hand, Krugman said that the recession had also dismayed him by illustrating the dogmatism of most professional economists and the disinterest of policymakers in research that
doesn’t already support their positions. He cited the example of the 27 economists who signed a manifesto urging the US Federal Reserve (the Fed) to avoid hyperinflation by not engaging in the quantitative easing programme. Those economists were subsequently proved wrong but none have admitted it. Policymakers meanwhile, according to the professor, never pay attention to research that doesn’t suit them. He hotly denied that he had had any influence on the Fed’s monetary policy – though many of them were his friends, none of them, he claimed, listen to his advice. European politicians, Krugman said, were particularly beholden to orthodoxy. Leaving the Euro was a “political impossibility” for Ireland. He expressed surprise that Ireland had guaranteed the unsecured bonds of mainly German investors and said that the IMF had been the “good guys” in the Troika whereas the EU commission and the ECB had insisted on the “morality play” narrative in which Ireland had to atone for its fiscal irresponsibility.
Prof Philip Lane, head of Trinity’s Economics Department and Whately Professor of Political Economy, questioned Krugman on whether he thought the incremental or “big bang” approach to policy making was more appropriate. Krugman answered that he preferred the latter. He also fielded questions on the Icelandic economic recovery, on banking regulation procedures, and on whether economics should be compulsory at secondary school level. There was a general atmosphere of reverence in the Graduates’ Memorial Building (GMB) for the Nobel Prize winner. Krugman received a standing ovation at the beginning of the discussion and two rounds of sustained applause at the end. The genuflective atmosphere was broken only by one speaker who, in a tremulous voice, read out a prepared criticism of what he saw as Krugman’s insufficiently libertarian approach to market regulation. Krugman swiftly dispatched his critic. “Letting markets work is a pragmatic, not an ideological decision,” he told the audience.
Senior academics in hot water over pension top-ups James Wilson Staff Writer Hundreds of Irish academics have been awarded pension tops-ups worth "tens of millions of euro", according to The Sunday Independent. Staff who retire without having paid into the system for 40 years are entitled to, in recognition of the further study they completed as postgraduates, top-up allowances, in some cases amounting one quarter of the staff member's total pension. A considerable number of academic staff and other senior fig-
ures in Irish universities took advantage of a special entitlement that allowed them to obtain the maximum possible pension allowed under public service rules The revelation comes at a time of falling public expenditure and despite government cuts having reduced spending on third-level education from ¤1.85 billion to ¤1.53 billion since 2010 - a cut of over 15%. Each payout was requested by the academics in question's employers and personally approved by minister for education, Ruairi Quinn, and minister for public expenditure, Brendan Howlin, and has a resulted in a request from the Public Accounts Com-
mittee (PAC) for both ministers to appear before them and account for the practise. Nationwide, Trinity is the biggest user of the scheme and 147 staff members have taken advantage of the scheme since 2010, with 44 having been awarded top-ups in 2013 alone. A spokesperson from the College issued a statement that there were three public service pension schemes used by Trinity employees and that any adjustments are made "strictly in accordance with the provisions of the scheme rules".
Trinity FBI hacker calls for more privacy James Wilson & Johnny Byrne Staff Writers Citizens should be able to choose what they want to share, Donncha O’Cearbhaill, the third year medicinal chemistry and famous hacker, said last Wednesday at the College Historical Society (Hist) debate on government surveillance. The technological revolution has led to a revolution in spying and even the Irish government refuses to divulge what information it looked at, he said. O’Cearbhaill was questioned by Gardai in 2011 over the hacking of the Fine Gael party’s website. He was later arrested in Halls in 2012 following the leaking of details of a confidential call between the FBI and Britain’s Serious Organised Crime Agency. O’Cearbhaill was speaking against the Hist motion that, “This house believes it is justified for the government to spy on its citizens”. The first speaker to propose the motion, student Stephen Barr, opened the case with an appeal for the audience to think of the greater good. He underlined state efforts to combat crimes perpetrated by the mafia and pedophiles as justification for
spying. In his view, spying could be justified because its use often prevented ordinary citizens becoming the victims of heinous crimes. The next speaker, Nick Clairmont, began by stating that freedom of speech was a fundamental right and that the use of spying by governments was hugely damaging to this concept. He added that he did not believe that extra surveillance would protect society from terrorism and warned that people were becoming too complacent about spying, before invoking the name of the late US Senator Joseph McCarthy who made a name for himself publically interrogating citizens with alleged communist sympathies. Rollo Montgomery KonigBrock, a junior freshman student, conceded that while spying does threaten the right to privacy it was sometimes necessary to maintain an open society. He advocated its use in situations where large companies act fraudulently and against such illicit organisations as the Ku Klux Klan. Jack McGrath sought to clarify the terms of the debate by acknowledging a need for Governments for spy on individuals know to be dangerous but rejected any attempts to justify the
mass surveillance of society as a whole. He cited the example of an NSA employee’s spying on an ex-boyfriend as proof as to why citizens should be wary of given such organisations too much power. The final proposition speaker, Adam Moneghan, called the concept of privacy a myth and informed the audience they had all signed their right to it away when they opened Facebook accounts. Spying, he continued, was “just a collection of data.” The final speaker, Frank Bannister, invoked George Orwell in his speech, telling the crowd that the technology he envisaged in 1984 was not available then but was being used now. He informed listeners that he was afraid of the current government, but cautioned that future administrations would not be so benevolent. He finished by rhetorically calling for the audience to reject the motion and confine it to “the dustbin of paranoia where it belongs.” The motion was put to the floor and defeated by a majority of audience members gathered in the Graduate Memorial Building (GMB).
Sponsored swim for former Cumann Gaelach auditor James Wilson Staff Writer The friends of a former Trinity student who was gravely injured last summer are organising a fundraising swim to help meet the costs of his care. Pádraig Schäler studied Modern Irish and History TSM from 2009 to 2013 and was highly active in College’s Irish language community, becoming auditor of the Cumann Gaelach in his third year. Following an accident in America last summer in which he was knocked off his bicycle, Pádraig
was transferred from Cape Cod hospital to Dublin’s Beaumont, followed a few months ago by a move to a specialist neuro-rehabilitation facility in Germany. Speaking to The Herald, Pádraig’s father, Reinhard said that, "He is still in a coma, but over the last month or two there have been signs that he is getting slightly better." In order to contribute to the significant cost that his care has incurred, and in recognition of his great love of swimming, his friends have organised Snámh Phádraig (Pádraig’s Swim). Participants are aiming to raise a minimum of ¤250 each and will leave Dublin on 12th April for a
two day trip during which they will take a swim in the sea off of each of Ireland’s 17 coastal counties. His friends in the Cumann Gaelach are also organising a Concert for Pádraig, which is due to take place in Workman’s Club on the Wednesday of Éigse na Tríonóide,Trinity’s Irish language week. All profits from the ticket sales will go to help fund his medical treatment. Amongst the acts playing will be the Trinitones, Kíla and Seo Linn, whose rendition as Gaeilge of Avicii’s Wake Me Up went viral last summer.
Tuesday 21st January 2014
Online Editor, Matthew Mulligan assesses the Trinity graduates disillusioned with party politics who are trying to bring about change in the upcoming local elections.
Illustration: Natalia Duda
Missing Inaction Eva Short investigates the Ireland’s 448 missing children and the system that let them down.
B Eva Short Staff Writer
etween 2000 and 2012, 6,154 unaccompanied asylum -seeking minors (from here on referred to by the clinical term "separated children") came into the country. The average age of these children ranged from 14 - 17. Of those 6,154 minors, 526 have gone missing, 448 of which remain unaccounted for. While the numbers of missing children vary relative to the intake, an average of 7.16% of separated children went missing per year and were never found. Numbers wise, the peak years were between 2003 and 2005, seeing the loss of 66, 65, and 53 children respectively, with only 10 - 20% of these children being subsequently found. 38 separated children disappeared in 2009, which sounds like an improvement, until you consider that this accounts for 18.7% of all separated children that came into Ireland that year. While the figures are staggering, it is important not to think of this situation solely in terms of percentages and statistics, because behind every number there is a face, a person whose location is now totally unknown. These figures cannot express the reality of situation, but I found people that could. I spoke to two individuals; Tom Dunning, the principal social worker at the Separated Children Seeking Asylum team within the newly formed Child and Family Agency and June Tinsley, the Policy Officer at Barnardos who took part in the organisation of a seminar concerning separated children in April 2013. Two very different perspectives, both offering some explanation for those 448 children. The word "missing" has grave connotations in the minds of many. It engenders the image of someone vanishing into thin air, never to be heard of again, and the idea of that fate befalling a teenager is all the more frightening. As Tom Dunning explained to me, however, “missing” in some of these cases is a grey term. "We were being exploited by people coming in to Ireland to work illegally; pretending to be children, coming into care, and leaving before the social workers could meet them." He told me that these people would come into the country at night, generally over a weekend. By the time Monday came around when a social worker could see them, they had departed, leaving
only a note explaining that they had to go to work. "We couldn't even look at their age issues because they'd already be gone." Of the people coming into the system that genuinely were children, Tom said they would arrive into the country "on a mandate from their families", prearranged to leave the service with someone to arrive at their job. All of these people would disappear within the black economy, hence rendering them missing. I asked why they were allowed to leave, and Tom reminded me of a very tricky aspect to caring for these children. "Detention of children is illegal, we don't lock them up." When he mentioned this, I recalled the recent Irish Times story about a children's care unit in Monaghan that caused concern among inspectors after it was revealed that children were being locked in their rooms between 8pm and 8am. While the situations are vastly different, it made me realise that there is a thin line between over and under supervising children in care, and the fallout from both can be equally devastating. When I spoke to June Tinsley, she provided a different answer. "There might be an element of a child being reunified with their family and just dropping off the radar." She noted that children may move within the country and fall out of the HSE system that they were in. It wasn't long until she mentioned a term that had been playing in the back of my mind since I first laid eyes on the missing persons reports - trafficking. "There might also be an element of trafficking, or exploitation within the system...they drop out of the system, are exploited for sexual purposes and come back into the system. A pimp then may come take them again, that kind of pattern has been known to happen." Tom was quick to say that he and his team recognised that trafficking is “a serious crime", and he explained that they did deal with victims of trafficking. He characterised the role that he and the members of the Separated Children's team play as that of a "prudent parent", always trying to approach the child as they imagined their parent or customary caregiver would. He stressed though that the trafficking and exploitation of children was "suspected", as they couldn't confirm nor deny given that these
“38 separated children disappeared in 2009, which sounds like an improvement, until you consider that this accounts for 18.7% of all separated children that came into Ireland that year. While the figures are staggering, it is important not to think of this situation solely in terms of percentages and statistics, because behind every number there is a face, a person whose location is now totally unknown.”
children have gone AWOL . Trafficking and exploitation is probably one of the most contentious issues surrounding separated children. A 2005 internal HSE report, retrieved via FOI by Village magazine, highlighted their acknowledgement of the possibility of trafficking within the asylum care system. Despite this, in 2010 a HSE spokesperson stated to the Irish Times that "It has been unsubstantiated that any of the children that have gone missing from HSE care have been trafficked." At this point, the Children's Right's Alliance (CRA) stepped in and gave a response. On 1st February 2010, CRA Chief Executive Jillian van Turnhout compiled a report, prefacing it by explaining that there had indeed been cases where children missing from care "had been 'found' in situations where they had been exploited by traffickers." The report listed over 25 case studies where children had been trafficked, exploited, or forced into marriage. Among these cases, girls from countries such as Liberia and Nigeria were either picked up directly from their HSE accommodation or were enticed out of it by sex traffickers. Another girl, who had been arrested in a brothel in Kilkenny after having ran away from state care, was placed back into care, and then went missing again right before she was due to stand trial. What becomes glaringly obvious when looking at these cases is that children didn't seem to find leaving these state care facilities particularly difficult, and there's a reason for this. In 2000, the HSE received an unprecedented deluge of asylum seeking minors; 520 in the space of one year compared to the mere ten children that came into the country the year prior. In response, they quickly formed a team of social workers to deal with the issue, a team that was formalised in 2002. Children were placed into unregistered hostels which were run by privately owned security companies as an emergency provision. This emergency provision remained in place for the next seven years. The accommodation was basic, with June Tinsley saying "They got their meals and that was about it." They weren't even always given meals - according to a 2013 report compiled by UCD's Dr Muireann Ní Raghallaigh, the hostels initially started out with self-catering units. Supervision
was minimal, and it is no coincidence that the bulk of children that went missing disappeared during the seven years that these hostels were in place. Tom Dunning called the former system "inadequate", and Ní Raghallaigh's report points out that the hostel accommodation was in breach of a number of childcare guidelines. It was what has been called a "two-tier" system, one in which separated children were given a lower quality standard of care by the HSE than their Irish counterparts, not even being afforded therapeutic services even though many of these kids were fleeing hostile situations in their countries of origin. To make matters worse, these sub-standard care units were, as Ní Raghallaigh puts it, "for profit". I use the past tense in reference to this situation because in 2009, when the Equity of Care Principle was enacted, the system underwent a dramatic overhaul. The hostels were phased out over the course of eighteen months, a move that clinicians and NGOs had long been campaigning for. The relationship between the Separated Children's social work team and the Garda National Immigration Bureau (G.N.I.B) was strengthened, leading to a collaborative effort between the two bodies in the assessment of separated children. The Separated Children's team became a short term assessment and reunification unit, and children that couldn't be reunified were placed into foster families. Separated children are now each assigned a social worker, who offers them therapeutic support. Essentially, this destroyed the two-tier model, meaning that these children are now being given the exact same kind of care as any other child in the system. The number of children going missing has decreased. This can partly be explained by the sharp decline in the number of separated children coming into the country after 2008, but percentage wise, the amount of children going missing has decreased, as of 2012, to 2.8%. It's a great development - in fact, the 'Irish model' is now looked upon as very progressive and efficient, remarkable given the system's chequered history. So why did it take so long for the changes to come about? June Tinsley didn't know. Tom Dunning stated that, as a clinician, he couldn't comment, and
that it was a question for the institution and not for the people on the ground. After having gone through three different switchboards to speak to Tom in the first place, the idea of trying to get answers from a government department almost made my stomach churn. Luckily, Dr. Ní Raghallaigh's report clarified the situation. The hostel accommodation model was flawed. Clinicians, NGOs, and even other governments had constantly been commenting on this, but the HSE were slow to act on it. The process of change was happening, albeit slowly. In 2009, something happened - the release of The Ryan Report. In the lead up to its release, internal reports indicate that the HSE fast-tracked the process, presumably in the hopes of saving face. For more than a decade, separated children fell through the cracks of a system that fostered inaction. There were gaps in the HSE, gaps that were exploited, and while these gaps were bridged, it was not done in time to help these now missing people. Given that most of them have been missing for the guts of ten years, it doesn't seem as if the system will be ever able to find them. It's embittering - 448 children that were placed in care are unaccounted for, and frankly it'd be satisfying to be able to blame someone. There would be a sense of justice to it - perhaps this is why social workers come under a lot of fire. However, the real culprit can't be pointed at, for bureaucracy doesn't have a face, even though it is behind some of the most egregious failings of government.
Tuesday 21st January 2014
People before parties Online Editor, Matthew Mulligan, assesses the Trinity graduates disillusioned with party politics who are trying to bring about change in the upcoming local elections.
Matthew Mulligan Online Editor
his May, the Local and European Elections will take place, the first of their kind since the ousting of Fianna Fáil from government and the election of the Fine GaelLabour coalition in 2011. Since then, the government has lost TDs to the independent benches, Labour has lost almost 10% of its councillors, and the “Reform Alliance” has tried to get itself off the ground. Lucinda Creighton, Róisín Shortall, Colm Keaveny and others have lost the whip, with Keaveny later joining Fianna Fáil. The indecisiveness and suspicion of Irish voters has not been unwarranted, as shown by Pat Rabbitte’s remarks that making simple promises that may or may not be fulfilled is something that one “tends to do during an election”. The elections in May will be a reflection on whether the Irish people have forgiven or forgotten Fianna Fáil, and whether they feel that the government is doing a good job. Local elections are more accessible to independent candidates and smaller parties. Reflecting the fact that it is the first electoral opportunity since 2011, the May elections will certainly be interesting and will produce results that will keep pundits talking until the scheduled General Election in 2016. The announcement that some Trinity graduates who are running for council seats in May have affiliated under a new group, “People before Parties”, is certainly an indication that younger people who are leaving College and facing high unemployment and the prospect of emigration want to do something to help those in their areas. The group does not describe itself as a political party and it consists of independent candidates who feel frustrated about the size of problems in their area and their inability to affect change.
The mixture of political beliefs among candidates and a lack of a wish to constrain themselves within the party whip system is why they are running as independents, along with plans and policies that try tackle smaller local issues instead of larger national issues. One such candidate is Wayne Flanagan Tobin, a suicide prevention campaigner and youth worker who is running in Pembroke South Dock. Tobin’s campaign leaflet explicitly mentions a disgruntlement with the promises made by political parties and a need for “a new type of politics which represents young people, struggling families, and the elderly”. Speaking to Trinity News, Wayne Flanagan Tobin said that the desire to come together as a group was borne out of a frustration at the “brain drain” that was occurring in the country. Though most of the candidates running under the People before Parties banner are based in Dublin, Flanagan Tobin mentioned that he would like to see the idea broadened and expanded to different parts of the country. The fact that the group is made up of graduates is reflective of a frustration of being “unable to affect the decisions in their communities” with the skills they have from university and working in their particular sectors, and a feeling of compulsion to “get up and do something locally”. Simon Hall, candidate for the Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown County Council, is another graduate of Trinity and former editor of the University Record, forerunner to The University Times. Hall states on his website that the reason he is running as an independent is that he feels that national parties are more orientated towards national politics, and should “have a limited place in local politics”. He
cites the increase in councillor numbers as something that may contribute to a large number of independents elected, which he says would be a good result. Both Hall and Flanagan Tobin have made promises which genuinely do seem to be focused on improving the communities in which they are living. Of course, the usual arguments by Irish political observers regarding the merits or redundancies of the local government system are mostly based on the fact that TDs regularly bring up local issues in the Oireachtas, conduct local clinics, and are an early port-of-call for problems their constituents have; from graffiti to accessibility grants to medical bill irregularities. TDs such as the Healy-Raes and Michael Lowry are constantly returned to the Dáil because of their popularity in their constituencies and the time they spend on local issues. However these TDs are both from areas with smaller populations than Dublin, where the personal touch from TDs is harder to come by. Local councillors with issues that strictly affect their local areas may have the personable touch needed to get elected. It is not the first time that young Trinity students have tried to enter into the political realm with campaigns based on a different approach to politics. The last General Election saw Trinity Classical Civilisation and Art History student Dylan Haskins run a campaign in the same constituency as Rúairí Quinn and
Taxes in the Pipeline Consultants, consultants, everywhere, and not a drop to drink. Orla Ní Dhúill looks at the laky boat that is Irish Water.
A Orla Ní Dhúil Contributor
lot has been written about Irish Water in the last few weeks following revelations that ¤50 million had been spent by the semistate body on consultants alone. For those of you just joining this story, Irish Water is semi-state subsidiary of An Bord Gáis, answering to the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It was created by the Water Services Bill in early 2013 and then further defined two months ago in the second Water Services bill. It will take at least five years to fully set up and is already budgeted to cost the state ¤180 million, assuming it stays within budget. One of the reasons Board Gáis won the tender to set up Irish Water was that they claimed to have a national customer billing network, which could be extended to cover water bills. But in their first year they decided they needed to spend millions of euros hiring consultants, partly to advise them on a billing system. Not only is the project expensive but the Government has been consistently inconsistent in their statements regarding Irish Water. Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan, is at the centre of controversy because in November 2012 he told an Oireachtas committee that Irish Water’s set up costs would be ¤10 million.
The apparent surprise of political leaders about the spending of ¤50 million on consultants was hardly reassuring. That figure is expected to reach ¤85 million in the next few months. Hogan claimed that the consulting contracts given out by Irish Water were “not my business”, though as he is the Minister for the Environment, it is unclear whose business Hogan believes this to be. Also not reassuring was the apparent disagreement between Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Irish Water chief John Tierney over whether or not water service could be disconnected for those who do not pay the charges. John Tierney told Newstalk that people who did not pay their water bills would suffer disruption to the service but Gilmore claimed he “didn’t see how that could be the case” which is hardly a strong denial. Gilmore went on to say “In any event, the question of what regime will be in place is not yet determined and it’s too early to be speculating.” But some might hope the Tánaiste would be sufficiently informed that there would be no need for speculation. Especially as there appears to be provisions in the Water Services (No. 2) Bill, which was signed into law only months ago, clearly prohibiting the cutting off water services to homes. It has been suggested
“Installing water metres will cost the state half a billion euro, a figure made particularly galling as state investment in water infrastructure has fallen in the last 3 years from €435 million to €286 million.”
that Irish Water believes they can reduce water pressure to a house to a level where appliances like showers will not work, while remaining technically within the law as the kitchen tap will still work. All that could be written off as just the usually inter-department incompetence that is the hallmark of much of Irish politics but the problems surrounding the formation of Irish Water run deeper. Water conservation is an important issue but there seems to be little to no focus from the government on protecting Irish water from pollution from industrial or chemical leaks or of encouraging the public to invest in water saving message such as grey water systems for toilet cisterns or rainwater collection. In fact, following speculation that water tariffs may need to rise if the public conserves water, questions remain over the effectiveness of this system at all. The money being spent on the installation of meters would have had a very significant long term impact if it had been used on the water system itself, which implies that the creation of Irish Water has more to do with raising taxes without calling it tax, than it does with the environment. Installing water metres will cost the state half a billion euro, a figure made particularly galling
as state investment in water infrastructure has fallen in the last 3 years from ¤435 million to ¤286 million. In Dublin alone there are 800km of water main that are over 80 years old. “So far, a total 115km of water main have been rehabilitated in the Greater Dublin region and surrounding counties, with 11 million litres of water per day saved”, said Tom Leahy, Executive Manager of Dublin City Council, in a press release in July 2013. He was announcing a ¤3.95 million contract to replace a further 20km of aging water pipe, work that is still ongoing. If we do a little maths we’ll see that the remaining 685km of old pipes that have yet to be replaced could be losing up to 76 million litres of water every day. The fact that in July last year there were water restrictions in place due to dry weather in a country that floods once a year would lead many to believe water is simply not being collected and stored adequately. Much of County Roscommon has had a boil-order on their water for over 6 months due to cryptosporidium in the supply. Cryptosporidium was also found in Galway’s water supply in 2007 and again in 2008. Mains water in the Lifford area of Donegal has been periodically undrinkable for a number of years. This is the wa-
ter that Irish people are expected to pay for? John Tierney claims that his company will save the Irish taxpayer ¤2 billion by 2021. But this idea of saving the “taxpayer” fails to take into account that “savings” on the state budget are achieved through payment of water bills made by said taxpayers as individual citizens. These are just the flaws of management. The underlying ethics and precedent set by these events are even more concerning. The water tariff is another in a series of blanket taxes that will affect lower income families the most. For those on low incomes, a water bill will be a much greater proportion of their cost of living than someone on a high income. Irish Water is also being set up as a profit-making organisation, which is a dubious sentiment to hold around the nation’s water supply. The manner in which Irish Water has been created, the management ethos displayed by their early decisions on the use of consultants and their aggressive position on reducing people’s access to water who cannot pay is early evidence that this approach to managing water is all about profit and has nothing to do with conserving water or improving services for Irish people.
Tuesday 21st January 2014
Illustration: Natalia Duda
In Dublin’s fair city Deputy InDepth Editor, Michael Lanigan, goes behind the closed doors of Dublin’s prostitution business.
A Michael Lanigan Deputy InDepth Editor
nyone who has ever visited Escort Ireland’s website could easily mistake the content for being an offshoot of Amazon, because in essence, it is. From the reviews, where users share their explicit satisfaction and rate the ‘girlfriend experience’, to the numerous photographs from different angles on display for your due consideration to assess the quality of the worker, the whole spectacle comes across as the flogging of a a product, rather than an actual person. This depersonalised search, in a trade already notorious for being an emotional vacuum can only further enhance the sense of disconnection in the client and as a result, it comes as no surprise to find that sex workers, given the choice, tend to stay out in the open as ‘street walkers’. At least, when soliciting outdoors, one has the chance to suss out prospective buyers. For those offering their service indoors, the paranoia escalates tenfold given that their sole system of weeding out liabilities are phone calls and, on fortunate occasions, when an online buyer is a marked threat. In-calls are a paradox of sorts in terms of security for the escort. In order not to find their physical wellbeing solely at the mercy of the sympathy of the client, an escort might require a second party to be present. However, to have such an associate within the same confines runs the risk of authorities deeming the premise a brothel if this associate has any links to sex work, or deals with payment. Outcalls are equally as dangerous, the sole protection is the driver, whose purpose is to transport the worker and receive confirmation that he, or she, has met with the client. They seldom wait outside. Hence, we see incidents such as recounted by former sex worker and now published author Rachel Moran, during which an outcall saw her threatened with a rifle, for failing to comply with a request. The sense of entitlement ingrained in those who feel payment means total access to a
body is a serious danger, as one sex worker by the name of Mia described. Agreeing to attend a Christmas party with a second worker, the two were gang-raped by eight men after the buyers refused their request to leave. Violently inserting objects into the two unsupervised women, the escorts finally managed to depart soaked in blood and urine, with the second woman found dead of a heroin overdose two weeks later. On the other side of the transaction, it is a test of one’s own critical faculties when seeking out willing subjects: a considerable problem when pitted against sexual desire. There is nothing on these sites to be taken at face value. Out of the escorts whom I either contacted or encountered, the enthusiasm expressed in their bios proved false. This lie is merely providing peace of mind for the client to persevere. It is an act which might fool a paying customer, but is a performance nevertheless. Plastering the site too are adverts urging those to report cases of trafficking and coercion. The escorts are seldom Irish and this harks back to the findings from an Immigrant Council of Ireland survey noting one in four prospective buyers had encountered a case of suspected trafficking during their pursuits. This is a problem for all involved. Migrants in these situations often fear police having come from authoritarian backgrounds; hence they keep quiet and out of view by remaining in brothels. Client shame hinders the willingness to step forward and report suspected cases. Meanwhile, despite encouraging whistleblowers, Escort Ireland comes across as a non-intervening, indifferent medium. Any notions of a moral duty are too risky since they are legally bound to withhold their voices, deterring them from interference. Any direct link means a breach of law, leading to a potential prosecution for pimping out the worker. With these issues in mind, I began the process of meeting with
“Outcalls are equally as dangerous, the sole protection is the driver, whose purpose is to transport the worker and receive confirmation that he, or she, has met with the client. Hence, we see incidents, such as recounted by former sex worker Rachel Moran, during which an outcall saw her threatened with a rifle, for failing to comply with a request.”
three callgirls, starting in Santry. The first escort was an Italian, under the name Crystal. Lacking in basic English, online reviewers have scorned her for being cold and concerned solely with her fee. A quick Google search of her image, found me on escort pages in the United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands and England, so locating her would prove challenging. We agreed to meet outside a sports centre across from the IKEA in Santry, which was the next problem. The apartment blocks here are among the most infamous spots for escort activity, besides Temple bar, the IFSC and Connolly Station. Arriving outside the clinic, there were at least three women, whose applying of make-up, lack of sporting attire and swift departures with non-descript, nonsporting men made it clear that this building was a frequent dropoff point. That fact had not gone over the heads of the staff in the building. After fifteen minutes of lingering about at the entrance, there was no sign of this woman, but I could not help noticing a peoplecarrier, driven by a single man, which had passed back and forth between the flats and the clinic four times since my arrival. After leaving a few voicemails and following two inquiries from staff as to whether I needed any help, it was clear that Crystal was not coming. Another appointment would be out of the question, since her page was advertising a national tour the following day. I scheduled myself into two different appointments a few weeks later, one for a Chinese escort named Coco, the other with a Brazilian woman under the name ‘Exotic Massage’. First calling the masseuse, telling her that I located her via the website, she gave me an extremely flexible slot for later that evening, saying that business was not exactly booming. On the other hand, I lied to Coco as to who had pointed me in her direction. This minor detail significantly altered her behaviour: “Can you come at five?” “Sure. Ballsbridge, yes?”
“Yes. RDS. Who sent you?” “A friend recommended you.” There was a long pause. “Not the website?” “No, no.” “Not Ballsbridge. Burlington Hotel instead, okay? Call there”, she responded sternly and hung up. There was no reason given for this sudden change, but it was clear that my experiment had triggered a reaction that was significantly less than welcoming. After making my way down to the Burlington, I called her at five on the dot. She told me to walk towards a series of houses. Upon arrival, I called once more to confirm my location and met with her agitated voice: “No, go away. You can’t come in. Done. Please go, now.” She hung up straight away, startling me, and leaving me unsure as to what had sparked this outburst. A few hours later, it was time to venture over across the Liffey to Connolly Station. Born in Sao Paolo, Brazil, Maria, as she later told me, had been working as an escort here for the past four years, but had been working beside Connolly Station for the past year. The idea of ‘flexible hours’ and free time as boasted by the Sex Workers Alliance of Ireland seemed absurd from the word go, considering she struggled to direct me to her building as I described my exact whereabouts, only to find that I was a few metres away from her door. There were clear signs that she was operating within a low-key brothel. There was audible activity of others over the phone, despite her noting that she had been alone for the past few hours. On entering the apartment I could hear others in both hers and the adjacent apartments. Adding to this, when I keyed in the instructed flat number XX, flat XY opened instead. This explained her manner, which was friendly, but extremely muted, grim and borderline paranoid anytime I inquired into details about her work. I was met with nervous laughter and frequent glances away, often hiding her face completely. I doubt paying customers would have noticed
these minor character breaks, but they were glaring me straight in the eyes the entire time. Expressing a clear desire to leave Ireland for good, she simply seemed depressed, despite her efforts to prove otherwise. When the time came to offer her services, the smile dropped in a flash, coldly undoing her top and placing her hands on my shoulders. At this point, I stammered some indecipherable excuse and made my exit. Fully prepared for an outburst of rage, her mood hit a note of genuine friendliness, amicably labelling me a hopeless case before shoeing me out the door. After concluding these encounters, it was not discomfort that I felt, but outright inadequacy. When Maria briefly let slip that she wanted to leave and return to Sao Paolo it did not inspire a heroic side of my soul to step forward, just total defeat in walking away. Call me melodramatic, but after I walked away from the station, it felt as if I had just sat by and watched a slave return to its master. You may challenge that part, the Sex Workers Alliance of Ireland certainly do, noting the ‘happy hookers’ who claim to enjoy their work, but then again, there were slaves in antebellum America who preferred bondage to freedom.
Tuesday 21st January 2014
Louis Strange considers the implications of the provost's push for privatisation.
Who Cares? Micahel Stone looks at the much maligned, seemingly misnamed Irish care system.
C Michael Stone Staff Writer
are is a word that, over time, has become toxic in the Irish psyche. It has gained the quality of an auto-antonym, now more associated with endemic, institutional abuse than with nurturing and protection. From the expansion of industrial schools in the 1920s to their winding down in the 1970s, Irish children were subjected to a hellish existence at the hands of a morally bankrupt Church acting with impunity. Seen as the answer to the problem of childcare by the Department of Education in their inception, the schools represented the State shrugging off responsibility for children in need of care. The publishing of the Ryan Report, the Roscommon Child Care Case Inquiry and the Child Death Review represented a turning point for Irish people; the reports’ harrowing revelations have been reported as the cause of falling church attendance, increased atheism and deeper distrust of institutions. None of this is surprising. However, the most important mandate brought about by these inquiries is a complete overhaul in child protection services in Ireland. Of this, we have a much less clear picture. In the aftermath of these reports, the government made a commitment to uphold their statutory requirement to protect children and develop a quality service. In order to assess their progress and to get a greater image of the state of care in Ireland, I met with Jennifer Gargan, the director of Empowering People In Care. EPIC is an advocacy group with a mission to amplify the voices of people in care and with care experience. She says the last eight years have seen huge positive changes and a shift in attitude. The 2012 referendum prioritising children’s rights and underlining a constitutional obligation for the state to uphold them was a big part of this. The high standards set by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) and their transparent inspection and reporting processes are a welcome monitor on the pulse of Irish childcare. Progress has been made in developing this system. What of the state of childcare today? Jennifer hit me with the startling figure that 40,000 children are referred to the HSE every year by those concerned for their well-being. Once a child is referred, their situation is reviewed and every effort is taken to support the family and keep the child in their home situation with their primary caregivers. However, in a number of cases the home situation is simply not
“It is understandable how 20% of cases take up 80% of the time as children act out to gain attention. This is no fault of the children; their frustration is no surprise when requests to meet siblings and to see their family at Christmas are not responded to.”
safe for the child and they must be taken into State care. Although some children are subjected to direct forms of abuse at home, the majority suffer from neglect, which Jennifer describes as “a very insidious form of emotional abuse”. A lack of attention and nurturing harms their senses of identity and self-esteem. They suffer in school for their poor hygiene and dirty clothes. They are quite simply better off escaping from a world of neglect. These cases enter into the State care system and constitute between 2,000 and 2,500 of referrals. There are currently over 6,400 children in the care system. 5,800 are in foster homes, about one third of these being the homes of relatives. Potential foster parents go through stringent vetting and training before being allowed to take on a child. Although not much is revealed by the HSE about the success of foster care, EPIC are informed anecdotally that fostering yields better outcomes than institutional care. Jennifer tells me of children who grow up with their foster family as a secure base, returning at holidays and remaining in close contact. The vast majority of people do well in care and go on to succeed in education and lead happy lives. Success stories are seldom reported in the media and the world of childcare is no exception. It is the 450-500 children in residential or “other” care (the HSE do not provide clearer breakdowns than this) that we hear most about. Most recently, the HIQA report into the Crannóg Nua High Support Unit found inadequate management of high-risk behaviour, which was most notably displayed in the locking up of children from 8am to 8pm every day. Secure care, i.e. locking up, is only permitted by a High Court Order when no other alternative is available. In this case, and in a similar case in Rath na nÓg High Support Unit reported in October 2013, it is clear the institutions overstepped their mandate. These reports are worrying, echoing the interpretation of “care” as “control” we saw in the last century. I brought up this philosophy of controlling rather than caring with Jennifer. I had come to believe, rather cynically, that social workers saw children as a commodity to be dealt with in their line of work, rather than as young human beings. However, she informs me that social workers have the very best of intentions. The issue here is a system under strain - 542 of
“Secure care, i.e. locking up, is only permitted by a High Court Order when no other alternative is available. In this case, and in a similar case in Rath na nÓg High Support Unit reported in October 2013, it is clear the institutions overstepped their mandate. These reports are worrying, echoing the interpretation of “care” as “control” we saw in the last century. ”
the children in care have little or no interaction with their social workers. With many social workers juggling up to 52 cases at once, it is easy to see how one person may not simply have the time to pay each child the attention they deserve. It is understandable how 20% of cases take up 80% of the time as children act out to gain attention. This is no fault of the children; their frustration is no surprise when requests to meet siblings and to see their family at Christmas are not responded to. Another issue Jennifer raises regarding this undesirable philosophy is that reform on the legislative and policy level has not yet trickled down to ground level. Embracing high standards and children’s rights at a governmental level does not mean instant change in the attitude taken by those operating in residential institutions. This she identifies as a problem that must still be dealt with. Hopefully, frequent inspection by HIQA will not only encourage but enforce this change in attitude. Reviewing EPIC’s press statements online, it is striking how often they release a comment on HIQA reports, noticeably more often than the media does. This is mainly because many of their reports into residential care have overwhelmingly positive points to make, points welcomed by EPIC. This gives evidence of a system that is changing for the better, even at the level of residential institutions. Overall, Jennifer’s message was heartening with an optimistic take on institutional reform, coupled with the success stories of the fostering facet of care. However, there is still a great deal to be done. I asked her where she hoped to see strides made in 2014. She identified two key areas: earlier intervention and aftercare. Underfunding and understaffing make life difficult for the child protection services, the best solution to this is to lower the amount of children entering the care system through early intervention. The first way to bring this about is through education. Although parents guilty of neglect are often suffering from mental health and substance dependency problems, one of the biggest issues is that they do not know how to look after children due to lack of experience and education. By educating secondary school students on a general level and by directing more specific education to inexperienced, young parents, this can be tackled. Early intervention also includes the identification of ne-
glected children early on. This prevents their situation from deteriorating and stops further harm to the child, as well as making them less difficult, expensive and time-consuming to deal with. Early intervention is the cornerstone in an efficient and effective childcare service. Aftercare is on the latter end of a child’s experience with the child protection services. Jennifer laments the lack of a statutory right to aftercare, leaving emerging adults without a secure base. When faced with adversity, people need someone to turn to and in the case of those in care, who have no parents to do so, a service needs to be in place. Furthermore, this service cannot be a sticking plaster on a weak system. It must be built up on the foundation of a reliable and effective care system. Ultimately, we are in a situation where much work has to be done, particularly in managing youths in High Support Units more constructively and holistically. However, the fact that the public are privy to HIQA’s inspections of childcare services - that we know of situations where services do not meet standards – is very positive indeed. It means that unlike when under the auspices of the Catholic Church, our child protection services are regularly scrutinized and questioned. This self-reflective nature can only improve the quality of services and foster a positive attitude towards childcare both within the service and without. EPIC can be reached at epiconline.ie Phone: (01) 872 7661 Mobile: 087 903 6598 (for text messages).
Tuesday 21st January 2014
We’re Coming Back: the vast community and the right to vote
" A Tommy Gavin Deputy Editor
Ireland is one of the few countries in Europe that doesn’t allow absentee balloting. Tommy Gavin investigates We’re Coming Back; a campaign advocating for the rights for emigrants to vote. ny time I’ve sat down anywhere for the last few months this is what I’ve been talking about. And when people say ‘why should you be allowed to vote’ my response is always: ‘because I’m an Irish citizen too.’” Connor O’Neill, an Irish emigrant living in Brussels, is one of the founding organisers of We’re coming Back (WCB); a movement campaigning for voting rights for Irish emigrants. “The idea that you completely disregard Irish citizenship politically unless you’re actually standing on the island of Ireland seems a little bit ridiculous.” According to statistics released by Eurostat last November, Ireland sits at the top of the list of European countries where the number of people leaving the country is higher than those coming in, by 35,000. Indeed, the government can be seen as having adopted a policy of encouraging emigration with the repeal of air travel tax and the letters sent by the Department of Social Protection advising jobseekers of work in Canada. Yet despite these overt suggestions that the grass may be greener in far off lands that don’t factor into the measurement of Irish youth unemployment figures, there is a glaring contradiction. There is no postal vote, and you are not allowed to remain on the electoral register once you’ve emigrated. This basically means that accepting the government’s invitation to please leave without a fuss carries with it an accompanying sacrifice of the ability to participate in the democratic process. Connor says that he would be “loath to portray this as some kind of thing like ‘oh we left and now we want the vote, but that rather as friends and family started leaving and this became more topical, home got cast in a new light and we came to realise how unusual it is in Ireland in this case.” We’re Coming Back began as a campaign last year when the friends and family of a group of people, particularly based around Wexford and Dublin began to leave the country. David Burns also is one of the founding organisers or WCB, and he is currently teaching and undertaking a masters in Paris, and he was one of the first of that group to move away, with Connor later moving to Belgium. Connor says that “before emigration started to peak over the past few years, this wasn’t an issue I was particularly aware of or put much thought into. As soon as so many people started to leave and it became more topical, the campaign kind of sprang up in response. It became starkly apparent to us that Ireland is anachronistic in how it treats its emigrants after they leave” The name is a reference to the We’re Not Leaving (WNL) campaign that emerged last year in response to forced emigra-
"Irish citizenship laws can more concretely be said to have been abused by former Leeds Centre-half Jackie Charlton, who used the ‘granny rule’ as manager of the Republic of Ireland team to actively canvass in the UK for candidates for the green jersey, going so far as to place notices on the notice boards of English clubs."
tion, youth unemployment and JobBridge internships. While David and Conor are tangentially involved in WNL, they say that WCB is much narrower in its aims. According to Connor, “we’re aware and supportive of what We’re Not Leaving are doing, and WCB can link in there. WNL is supportive, but it has taken stances on a huge number of issues, and we lobby for voting rights for Irish emigrants, and that’s it. Obviously our members have personal positions on the role the government has played in emigration and the various social issues, but we see WCB role as purely lobbying on one issue.” We’re Coming Back is primarily a social media campaign, and over the Christmas weekend they asked for Irish people around the world who had emigrated to send in pictures of getting together with friends and raising raise a toast in what they called #toastforavote. The concept was an attempt to put names and faces to emigrants because, Connor argued “we had become very accustomed to seeing a lot of numbers and statistics about emigration, and I think that can be almost sanitising.” The running of the campaign, like WNL, attempts to be as inclusive as possible, due to the fluid way it operates without organised leadership, and the fact that everyone involved is either working, studying or interning. However, they have made efforts
to link with existing migrant networks like the London Irish Centre, and groups on facebook. One such group set up for Irish people in Australia has 40,000 people in it, and the admin approached WCB and offered to share their material. Tánaiste Eamonn Gilmore said in March 2012 that of the 70 million people belonging to the diaspora, you would have to decide who qualifies for a vote. Connor disputes that framing though; saying “I don’t think anybody would take that figure as being realistic. Even if you promoted a very conservative extension of the franchise. If it was a limit of having left the country after a maximum of seven years and it was only in presidential elections, that would enfranchise a very small number of emigrants, and it would be under 300,000. Michael D Higgins supported a vote in the presidential election for people who’ve left within ten years. You’d at least get ten years to build up a life somewhere else and gain citizenship somewhere else. It’s very difficult to put a definite figure on that, especially without having the tools or resources that the government would have if they were to draw up a taskforce on this.” The constitutional convention overwhelmingly supported voting rights for presidential elections in September, which Connor and David find a cause for optimism.
Part of the problem though is the complicated Irish relationship with citizenship, and the weight it put on as a result of having been bluntly wielded as an instrument of policy. More often than not in the history of Irish politics, what it means to be an Irish citizen was defined out of spite or with an agenda, rather than out of considered civil rights or entitlements. Article 2 of the revised Bunreacht na hÉireann established that “it is the entitlement and birthright of every person born on the island of Ireland … to be part of the Irish nation.” This was initially inserted as a territorial claim to the island, against the partition of Northern Ireland. It was later revised to allow Ireland to sign the Good Friday Agreement, allowing people in the North to claim either British or Irish citizenship, or both. The issue of citizenship became further politicised after perceived unintended consequences of the attainment of citizenship by anybody born in Ireland, once Ireland became a net receiver of migrants in the 90’s. This translated into a public fear that immigrants were exploiting a loophole to gain citizenship, and that pregnant Nigerian women were clogging up Irish maternity hospitals in order to take advantage of the Irish welfare state. This lead to the 2004 citizenship referendum which established that citizenship is only available to a person born in Ireland to non-national parents if one of the parents had been a resident for three of the four years preceding birth. That’s still comparatively more liberal than many other European countries, but it emerged out of a deeply racist impulse, the same place from which a blonde Roma child was taken from her parents last October. Irish citizenship laws can more concretely be said to have been abused by former Leeds Centrehalf Jackie Charlton, who used the ‘granny rule’ as manager of the Republic of Ireland team to actively canvass in the UK for candidates for the green jersey, going so far as to place notices on the notice boards of English clubs. Nobody ever accused Tony Cascarino of citizenship tourism, and he didn’t even technically qualify since his mother was adopted. Perhaps the converse also holds; that pregnant Nigerians would have been welcome if they were going to captain the Irish team. Incidentally, while WCB doesn’t explicitly campaign on a position regarding migrants residing in Ireland, they’re very supportive of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland, with whom they maintain contact. David though, did note the similarity in rhetoric between opponents to the enfranchisement of Irish emigrants, and the opponents of the enfranchisement of non-Irish immigrants. “This rhetoric of flooding
that ‘they’ll sweep the country and change it, that similarity has always shocked me. You get the idea of this regressive idea of citizenship where they don’t see it as giving people the ability to participate in the democratic process, but something that needs to be defended from invaders and people who’ve jumped ship. That’s why we put a progressive idea of citizenship at the heart of We’re Coming Back.” They pointed out that fears of the electorate being outnumbered by diaspora are common to states with absentee voting, and there are various ways to control for those. Two of the main ones are having a time limit of eligibility: typically ten to fifteen years; and having weighted diaspora constituencies. So if County Wexford is a constituency that elects five TDs, you could say that all of the eligible diaspora within a ten year limit can be a constituency and they can have one TD or ten. Or however many you see as being appropriate. “So”, David says, “one of the big obstacles is people saying ‘could we not double or triple the electorate overnight?’ “That’s not what would happen here, and it’s not what we’re campaigning for either. We want this to be viable, we want it to work. There’s a subtle message between that lack of absentee voting and the cynical message of the Gathering that the Irish diaspora are a potential revenue generator who can be tapped for a few quid and have their Irishness sold back to them. It’s a seemingly glaring admission that you have to be able to pay to play, and that participation in the democratic process is of secondary importance. This seems to be reflected in Gilmore’s questioning of the fairness of “representation without taxation,” as if citizens of a state need to be in that state to be affected by the actions of its government. Connor is perhaps more stoic in his take on it, that even though emigration is seen as a “safety valve for policies that were seen to encourage people going, I think if emigrants were given some sort of voice back home, that contradiction would be less stark.” He continued; “when young people are leaving at such a high rate, I don’t think it’s going to placate them that they could vote for the president when they’re away from their friends and family. But I do think that it would be important. It’s a signal that we’re still part of the Irish nation and we’re not forgotten about.
Tuesday 21st January 2014
Tuesday 21st January 2014
Online Editor, Matthew Mulligan looks at the controversy surrounding Panti’s appearance on RTE.
Ents needs to change
Comment Editor, William Foley discusses the issues surrounding the role of the Ents Officer and why it needs to be reformerd.
A William Foley Comment Editor
s the #LeadershipRace approaches, the hacks are slithering out of the CSC incubation chambers and preparing to infest the campus with shiny t-shirts, hollow promises and glossy leaflets with an average handout-to-bin lifespan of about five seconds. Still though, the bracing winds of change are set to blow through Mandela House. Reforms are afoot (and I’m not talking about the regrettable name-change – The Leadership Race? What were they thinking?). The word on the cobbles is that the position of communications officer is to be separated from the role of editor of UT for next year’s elections. The rumoured reasons for this decision are not ones which this writer approves of. But at any rate, the role of the comms sabbat was hardly the one most crying out for reform. The position which, to my mind, is most in need of tinkering with is that of the Ents officer. There is a moral problem with Ents as it currently operates, and this problem has to do with Ireland’s “drinking culture”. Yes, this ground has been well trod by scores of broadsheet columnists peddling their wellrehearsed shock to the middlebrow masses. But the fact that Ireland’s alcohol condition has become a cliché is more an indictment of Irish society than of the lack of imagination of the news media’s opinion mongers. The first day that I moved in to Trinity Halls, myself and the rest of the freshers crammed into the gym where the warden, Brendan Tangney, was to treat us to a welcoming lecture. Tangney spent much of the lecture warning us to “be reasonable” when consuming alcohol – “it’s not that I expect you not to get drunk” he said wryly, to general laughter. The warden was followed by a Garda sergeant who warned us not to get smart with the cops when they bring us home drunk. Then that year’s JCR and SU Ents officers, James Doyle and Dave Whelan, took the stage. They began to outline the feast of club nights that awaited us for whole week ahead. The students grew more and more excited and the involuntary whoops of joy rose to a hysteric chorus when Dave Whelan roared at the crowd “are you ready to party?” (In the interests of journalistic probity I should point out that he didn’t ut-
“Then that year’s JCR and SU Ents officers, James Doyle and Dave Whelan, took the stage. They began to outline the feast of club nights that awaited us for whole week ahead. The students grew more and more excited and the involuntary whoops of joy rose to a hysteric chorus when Dave Whelan roared at the crowd “are you ready to party?” The crowd went wild. Brendan Tangney probably wished that he’d included complimentary nappies in the welcome goodie bags.”
ter these exact words, but he said something fairly similar). The crowd went wild. Brendan Tangney probably wished that he’d included complimentary nappies in the welcome goodie bags. That night we tanked up on Karpackie and Tesco Value Vodka before piling into specially commissioned JCR buses. Warden Tangney stood at the top of the bus queue reminding us to leave our cans and naggins behind and advising us to “be reasonable”. We went off to some club then, full of high spirits and high hopes. I don’t remember where we went exactly – the Palace maybe, or DTwo. One sweatbox is like another. This was our induction into college life. And so things continued for the following year. I won’t deny that I, along with thousands of others, had some good times on the beer, and I won’t deny that alcohol also did, as it still does, seem a prerequisite for having fun. But I saw ugliness as well. Ugliness in myself, and ugliness in others. We laughed it off. We were drunk. Consequences could not spill over the strict border between the night out and the morning after. Except, of course, they did. The entrenched nature of alcohol as a social problem has long been illustrated by the figures. According to an HSE study, 88 deaths a month are directly attributable to alcohol. One in four deaths of young men aged 15-39 in Ireland are alcohol related. Alcohol is a textbook eternality. While the cost to the consumer is cheap – a woman can reach her low risk weekly drinking limit for ¤6.30, a man for under a tenner – the cost to society is enormous. The HSE reckons it to be ¤3.7billion a year in health, crime, public order and other ancillary costs. This, of course, cannot describe the incalculable human cost. Death, broken homes, abuse, and depression – our own SU president, Tom Lenihan, has spoken of the link between his mental health problems and alcohol abuse. It should be clear, then, that alcohol is a social problem in Ireland, particularly so for young people. This can’t be helped by having a full time SU officer whose primary role is to organise club nights. I do not think that this problem would be solved by ending Ents club nights altogether. In fact, Ents probably organises relatively safer expe-
riences for Trinity students. As Sean Reynolds, the current Ents officer pointed out to me, Ents does not, unlike midweek clubs, organise or advertise discount drink deals. But it’s unlikely that this makes a huge difference. With the “pre-drinking culture”, as Warden Tangney referred to it on the warning posters inside every Halls residential house, most alcohol is consumed before people even reach the clubs. So ending Ents club nights would be a mere drop of diluted Prazsky in a vast ocean of Tesco’s finest own brand spirits. In practical terms, it would have no effect. But the worry is moral, not practical. One does not complain that Maximilien Kolbe did not end the Holocaust by offering himself up for execution instead of Franciszek Gajowniczek. In the light of Ireland’s drinking problem, having the organisation of club nights as a major function of the Student’s Union seems, at best, irresponsible. There is a morally admirable side to Ents however. Every year, a certain proportion of Ents revenue is ringfenced and donated to a number of organisations such as the student hardship fund and cancer soc. So far, almost ¤10,000 has been allocated for this purpose and Reynolds aims to raise ¤40,000 by the end of the year. Meeting this target includes raising a record-breaking ¤20,000 during rag week. This would seem to provide a moral counterweight to the problems raised above. Reynolds has also broken new ground for Ents officers by organising two gigs on campus during Michaelmas term – Le Galaxie in Players’ Theatre and James Vincent McMorrow in the chapel. Reynolds intends to hold three more campus concerts this term in the dining hall, chapel and players’ theatre. Could on campus gigs combined with more events such as the Surf Sail Salmon weekend held yearly in Sligo supply an alternative to the usual diet of club nights, while also raise funds for worthy causes? Entertainment, the brief of the Ents officer, is, after all, a term which has a wider range of referents than just jerking sloppily to house music in the Button Factory. So maybe the moral worry surrounding Ents can be resolved with a changed focus on what kind of entertainment is actually provided. But there are also
“So ending Ents club nights would be a mere drop of diluted Prazsky in a vast ocean of Tesco’s finest own brand spirits. In practical terms, it would have no effect. But the worry is moral, not practical. One does not complain that Maximilien Kolbe did not end the Holocaust by offering himself up for execution instead of Franciszek Gajowniczek. In the light of Ireland’s drinking problem, having the organisation of club nights as a major function of the Student’s Union seems, at best, irresponsible.”
practical concerns. Is it the best use of SU money to organise club nights when there is an almost anxiety-inducing range of choices available to students who want to head out? According to Reynolds, most of the Ents organised nights sell well, many sell out. Not all of them do however. I spoke to one man who paid into an Ents club night in the Button Factory only to find the staff cleaning up and getting ready to go home – the night had been cancelled due to lack of demand. When I spoke to Reynolds he claimed that this night was exceptional – the weather was awful, and the event was held in the week after reading week when many students have exams and essay deadlines. Without carrying out some sort of audit of Ents club night attendance, I can’t know for sure how well-attended most nights are. However, having already accrued a surplus of ¤10,000 since the start of the year (not including that money ringfenced for fundraising), it seems likely that the Ents nights are sufficiently popular to justify themselves – according to the impartial arbitration of market forces at least. It might also be argued that it is unnecessary to have a role for a full-time Ents officer – most colleges don’t have one. Only DIT and Trinity have Ents officers in full-time sabbatical positions though UCD has a full-time staff member who performs the same functions. It seems repugnant however, to argue that someone’s job be scrapped merely because it does not exist in other organisations. It is unnecessary too when the position is financially viable – Ents usually brings in a surplus. The solution, I think, is to reform the position of Ents officer by broadening the functions and duties of the job. There is no reason why entertainment should be confined to within the sweaty walls of a nightclub. Reynolds has made some steps in this direction through holding on-campus concerts. His plans to develop a codified financial policy and an explicit obligation to raise funds should also be applauded. But the kinds of entertainment on offer should be broadened to provide an alternative to the dispiriting excesses of Irish drinking culture. Humans have devised countless different ways of entertaining themselves. All that’s required is a little imagination.
Tuesday 21st January 2014
Fracking up the water supply Feidhlim McGowan looks at whether the consequences of northern fracking could spread across the border.
S Feidhlim McGowan Contributor
ince the failed attempt to establish a nuclear power station at Carnsore Point in the 1970s, Irish policy makers have not considered nuclear power as a solution to the country’s growing energy needs on the basis that it is perceived as unsafe. France, on the other hand, has 59 nuclear power stations and 75% of its electricity is produced using nuclear power. So when France bans a source of energy extraction on environmental grounds it seems that, in the interests of consistency, Ireland should seriously consider doing likewise. Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, is a technique whereby water is mixed with sand and chemicals, and the mixture is injected into a well at high pressure in order to extract oil or gas from shale. Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy explained the ban introduced in 2011 by stating that, although extracting the gas in the future was a possibility, “this won’t be done until it has been shown that technologies used for development respect the environment, the complex nature of soil and water networks.” The argument in favour of fracking is a simple one: it allows access to natural resources that would otherwise be impossible to reach. This creates jobs and is good for the economy. The poster
boy for fracking in this regard is the U.S state of North Dakota, which is using this energy extraction technique to access what is touted as possibly the largest oil field ever discovered in America. The result of this oil boom is an incredibly low unemployment rate in the state of only 2.7% (as of October 2013). However, comparing North Dakota and Ireland may not be valid because of the large differences in demographics. Ireland, according to a 2012 World Bank report, has a population density of 66.45 inhabitants per square kilometre. This is quite low compared to most developed countries, but practically Singaporean compared to North Dakota, which registers an extremely sparse figure of 3.8 inhabitants per square kilometre. In purely pragmatic terms, one could argue that pollution, or the risk of pollution, is a less serious problem in areas where fewer people live. Environmental fundamentalists may baulk at such a notion, but the U.S brought it to its logical extreme when they tested hundreds of atomic bombs in the Nevada desert. The other benefit of fracking is that it may lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions if increased access to natural gas, which is considered a clean fuel, means a reduced reliance on
“Since the failed attempt to establish a nuclear power station at Carnsore Point in the 1970s, Irish policy makers have not considered nuclear power as a solution to the country’s growing energy needs on the basis that it is perceived as unsafe.
‘dirty’ coal. This point, however, is disputed, as a 2011 study from Cornell University reported that large volumes of methane leak into the atmosphere as a result of fracking. If true, then the net effect on the atmosphere could be negative, as methane has a much higher warming impact per unit than carbon dioxide. The main concern of those opposed to fracking is its impact on the availability and quality of water resources. There are numerous examples of chemicals used in fracking leaking through the well casing and contaminating the water supply. Tamboran Energy, the Australian company who intend to begin fracking on the Leitrim/Fermanagh border, attempts to assuage fears with regard to contamination by promising on its website to “utilise absolutely no injected chemicals in our hydraulic fracturing operations. We will conduct fracture stimulations with only sand and water cleaned or recycled at the surface”. This raises the question of why other energy companies would go to the bother of adding chemicals (presumably at some added cost) if the job can be done effectively without them? In the event of a contamination of the local water supply, the consequences could extend far beyond the Border region. In 2006, a
report commissioned by Dublin City Council from consultant engineers RPS proposed that one way to meet the growing demand for water in the capital would be a network of pipelines from the river Shannon. A ¤500 million water supply project, currently set for completion in 2020 at the earliest, would pump 350 million litres of water a day from the river Shannon for use in the Greater Dublin Region. Given the proximity of the proposed fracking sites to the source of the Shannon, the viability of this pipeline project may depend on developments far from the capital. The Irish government is proceeding with some caution when it comes to fracking, recently stating that no licences for will be issued until the Environmental Protection Agency report on the impact of fracking on health and the environment is issued in late 2014. Worringly, however, our nearest neighbours are much more gung-ho about the whole idea. David Cameron declared that his government is “going all out for shale” while environmentalists have compared his proposal to allow local councils to keep 100% of the business rates from shale gas companies to a bribe. It seems reasonable that the more fracking sites established in Britain, the more likely it becomes
that the ear-marked sites in Fermanagh will begin production too. This area is within the catchment area for the Shannon, so the risk of Ireland’s largest river becoming polluted would be considerable even in the event that no fracking goes ahead south of the border. But if a moratorium is passed in the Republic, then it may pressurise Northern Ireland into doing the same. There is a precedent of neighbouring jurisdictions acting in unison in this regard, as the states of New York and New Jersey both passed moratoriums on fracking within a short time frame. The risks of water contamination from fracking could impact negatively not only on the Border region, but also indirectly on the Greater Dublin Area. It is of course possible that when enough peer-reviewed evidence has been gathered, that the benefits of fracking will be shown to outweigh its costs. Or perhaps a safer, cleaner method of shale extraction will be developed. Either way, Ireland should not feel it is missing out on a golden opportunity by not immediately following Britain’s lead. After all, gas in the ground is safer than money in the bank.
Trinity College Dublin (Inc.) Louis Strange looks at the idea of privatisation and the consequences it would have for College.
T Louis Strange Staff Writer
he previous front pages of Trinity News have made for interesting reading. In November, TN reported that 81% of 500 College students polled would not support the privatisation of Trinity. A month later, the December issue led with news of looming cuts to Arts and Humanities departments in College, with funding being sought from private investment to make up the shortfall. This ostensible tendency towards privatisation has been coupled with worrying noises coming from the upper echelons of College, in particular from the Provost, Patrick Prendergast. At a time when everyone involved with Trinity should be doing as much as possible to put pressure on the government, suggesting that College should look to private investment for its funding provides the Department of Education with excuses for further cuts. Prendergast’s comments in an interview with the Irish Times in late November give reason for serious concerns as to how College is viewed by those in charge. Whilst it should be noted that in the article (“Running university is serious business for Trinity’s provost”, 29th November) the Provost himself makes no explicit reference to College as a “business”, it is what can be read between the lines which should set alarm-bells ringing, in statements such as ‘[t]he strategy on innovation and entrepreneurship aims to support the creation of more
“To think that privatisation would not be accompanied by a sharp rise in fees for students would be naïve, and such a rise would change Trinity’s demographic. The result would be a more elitist institution, defined not by high academic standards, but by socioeconomic exclusion.”
than 160 start-up companies over the next three years.” College is not a business and should not be viewed as such. The issues of privatisation and viewing College as a business are not necessarily one and the same, it must be said, yet both would have similar implications for the future of the College. So we have to ask ourselves: what is Trinity’s purpose? At the risk of getting too philosophical, these issues raise fundamental questions; questions that are not limited just to Trinity, but go right to the heart of what we think education in general should be “about”. Treating Trinity as a business implies a certain view of education: that it is primarily about making money (which means making money out of students). But that is not what education should be “about”. You do not provide education because there is money to be made out of it; you provide education and the money only comes into the equation as a means to an end, not the end itself. To treat Trinity as a business gets the relationship between College and students entirely the wrong way round. It might be in the Provost’s interests to steer Trinity towards the American educational model – after all, it would probably make it a lot easier to run the College if there were a lot more money to play with – but it would not be in the students’ interests. To think that privatisation would not be accompanied by a sharp
rise in fees for students would be naïve, and such a rise would change Trinity’s demographic. The result would be a more elitist institution, defined not by high academic standards, but by socioeconomic exclusion. But think of the impact of higher fees not only on who could come to college, but also why: privatisation would give rise to a cultural shift whereby students would be put off from doing Arts courses (already much maligned) and instead be herded towards those which are more likely to get you the large salary that you would need in order to justify (or pay back) those fees. It becomes a vicious circle: you pay high fees, you go to college with the sole aim of getting a job; you get out into the real world to get that job to pay back the high fees. Introducing a student loan system, a solution which the Provost suggested in November, simply defers the problem of paying back crippling debts and exacerbates this cultural shift. Education becomes more about getting in, getting out with a 2:1 and getting a job rather than actually engaging with education for its own sake, or recognising its intrinsic value on an individual and collective level. Trinity is not a business and it is not a factory; its purpose should not be to produce a generation of entrepreneurs all desperately trying to sell things to one another. But if Trinity’s value is to be defined by its capacity to create
“When people think of Trinity, they think of the lyrical greatness of Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett. Do we want to abandon that heritage and re-brand Trinity as “that place where that guy who owns Ryanair went”?”
revenue, the areas of the College which bring in most money (inevitably the departments which attract the attentions of big business) will take precedence over others. This is already happening, with the axe poised over Arts and Humanities departments, whose value cannot be reduced to numbers on a balance sheet. This amounts to a betrayal of Trinity’s academic tradition. When people think of Trinity, they think of the lyrical greatness of Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett. Do we want to abandon that heritage and re-brand Trinity as “that place where that guy who owns Ryanair went”? Given the importance which the Provost seems to place on branding – reflecting in the Irish Times piece that “Nobody says Harvard University, they just say Harvard. Maybe Trinity should be the same.” – it would be an odd move for Trinity to sell its soul (or, in business terms, its unique selling point). According to the Provost, “Trinity wants to do for Dublin what Stanford has done for Silicon Valley, what MIT has done for Boston, what Imperial has done for London.” This may be what he wants Trinity to do, but following the elitist trajectory of the American and English systems, reducing the College to a business, is not what everyone wants. Trinity’s duty is, first and foremost, to its students – that is what Trinity wants to do.
Tuesday 21st January 2014
Conor Heffernan examines the human rights abuses in Qatar as it prepares for the World Cup in 2022.
Ignorance isn’t Panti Bliss Online Editor, Matthew Mulligan looks at the recent controversy around Panti Bliss’ appearance on RTÉ’s The Saturday Night Show.
T Matthew Mulligan Online Editor
he fabulous Irish gay icon and internationally acclaimed performer Miss Panti Bliss appeared on RTÉ’s Saturday Night Show last week. The mama of Irish drag queens and the rowdy landlady of the snazzy PantiBar on Capel Street, Panti performed an act before taking off the dress and sitting down to talk with Brendan O’Connor as her alter-ego Rory O’Neill. It was put to O’Neill by O’Connor that ‘a lot has changed’ in Ireland with regards to tolerance of LGBT people. O’Neill responded that a lot has changed and that the audience all probably know someone who is gay. However he mentioned the fact that the tolerance had not seemed to have reached all corners of Irish society, stating that “the only place that you see it’s ok to be really horrible and mean about gays is on the internet in the comments and people who make a living writing opinion pieces for newspapers”. When asked who he was talking about, O’Neill mentioned John Waters, Breda O’Brien and the Iona Institute. Following the interview, a complaint was made to RTÉ and the piece was taken down from the website. The piece and transcript of discussion was also removed from broadsheet.ie. Rory’s definition of what homophobia is, the subtleties and slightness of it, was innocuous; he in no way called anyone homophobic but mentioned that some people need to look at themselves, realize that they have certain tendencies and try to move past them. If certain columnists didn’t spend time writing about gay people, gay people wouldn’t have a need to discuss them when they are given an opportunity to do so. It was no wig-burning call to arms that elicits taking down and heavily editing a clip. The very part where he defines homophobia has been removed, but yes RTÉ, “a lot has changed” in Ireland. RTÉ later put the clip back up and issued a statement saying that the clip was removed due to “potential legal issues and for reasons of sensitivity following the death of Tom O’Gorman”. Tom O’Gorman was found murdered in his home last weekend. O’Neill made absolutely no mention of O’Gorman on the show; he says the first he heard of those events was the following morning, much like the rest of us. “LGBT people it seems, are only fit to be on TV to do a funny stage act in a funny voice, and then keep their mouths shut about the daily prejudices and hardships they receive.” When I saw that Panti/Rory was going to be on RTÉ’s flagship Saturday night programme, I was thrilled. I couldn’t believe that someone who is not only a great entertainer and LGBT activist
“The fact is, homophobia is still rampant in Ireland. And the silencing of those who are victims of it is one of the ways it is kept alive. Try telling someone who reads pieces decrying ‘the gay lifestyle’ in national newspapers that homophobia isn’t real. Try telling to young people who are being raised by same-sex parents, and older people who have been raised by same-sex parents that they have never encountered homophobia, especially when these children are referred to as being somehow damaged and unhappy because of who their parents are.”
but also a successful businessperson and icon was to be allowed grace the halls of Montrose to sit and be beamed into the homes of families across the country. Families which may be dealing with someone coming out, families which lovingly embrace their LGBT children, siblings, and parents and families where there might be a young person looking for the message that they are not alone. I was sorely disappointed. LGBT people it seems, are only fit to be on TV to do a funny stage act in a funny voice, and then keep their mouths shut about the daily prejudices and hardships they receive. Not only was the initial “a lot has changed” asser tion incredibly assumptive, but when O’Connor was told that homophobic elements still do exist within some elements of society, he swatted away any inkling of it. “Try telling someone who reads pieces decrying ‘the gay lifestyle’ in national newspapers that homophobia isn’t real” The fact is, homophobia is still rampant in Ireland. And the silencing of those who are victims of it is one of the ways it is kept alive. Try telling someone who reads pieces decrying ‘the gay lifestyle’ in national newspapers that homophobia isn’t real. Try
telling to young people who are being raised by same-sex parents, and older people who have been raised by same-sex parents that they have never encountered homophobia, especially when these children are referred to as being somehow damaged and unhappy because of who their parents are. As a gay man but more importantly as someone who wants to give the next generation a better country than we’ve been handed, we must admit that there is homophobia. Just because we are on target to have a same-sex marriage referendum in 2015 does not mean we are suddenly a nation of accepting, tolerant people. Sneaky words like ‘choice’ and ‘lifestyle’ are used by opponents of not just marriage equality, but anti-LGBT equality altogether. We are people who have not chosen to love who we love, but we will not be constrained by the remnants of the bigoted, narrowminded, cross and crozier style rule that still defines so very much in this country. Not all LGBT people take part in the Pride Festival. Not all LGBT people want to get married or have children. All LGBT people want to be treated with dignity and respect. RTÉ really let themselves down here, because though the murder
“Rory’s definition of what homophobia is, the subtleties and slightness of it, was innocuous; he in no way called anyone homophobic but mentioned that some people need to look at themselves, realize that they have certain tendencies and try to move past them. If certain columnists didn’t spend time writing about gay people, gay people wouldn’t have a need to discuss them when they are given an opportunity to do so. It was no wig-burning call to arms that elicits taking down and heavily editing a clip. The very part where he defines homophobia has been removed, but yes RTÉ, “a lot has changed” in Ireland.”
of Tom O’Gorman is a travesty, the linking of it in their statement with the legal action being taken by an offended party might have some dangerous connotations. With the original interview not available and an obvious edit on the video that was put up on the RTÉ website, the ambiguous nature of the statement might lead some uninformed observers to believe that O’Neill mentioned O’Gorman in some way, something he has already had to make a statement about on twitter. O’Neill said “To clarify: I did not mention Tom O’Gorman on RTE Saturday night. The tragic incident involving Mr O’Gorman happened on Sunday morning. I can only assume the reference to Mr O’Gorman in the RTE statement relates to me mentioning his employer, the Iona Institute.” It is difficult for institutions to act in the proper way when faced with legal action; some would urge RTÉ to not bow to such pressure. The decision they have to weigh up is not one that anyone would want to have, especially with the nature of defamation law in Ireland. But when was the first time that someone in this country has been able to call out and sue a public figure for being homophobic or writing inflammatory things about LGBT people? Never. For a certain type of people who seem to be forever about the sanctity of their freedom of speech, they don’t extend the common courtesy to those who have no pulpit to speak from. The debates leading up to the marriage referendum in next year will be full of people who will swear that they have nothing against gay people. They’ll say that kids raised by same-sex couples end up damaged and that a ‘lifestyle choice’ can’t compete for the same rights that ‘human nature’ grants opposite -sex parents. These people will be given platforms to say what they want on the national airwaves. Will RTÉ bow to legal action if the H word is uttered during those debates? Or will they live up to their duty as national broadcaster and let people hear a balanced and sensible discussion? Somehow, after this debacle I don’t think so, but I hope I’ll be proven wrong.
Tuesday 21st January 2014
Talking the talk Conor McGlynn laments the state of contemporary political discourse where language has become plagued with clichés and evasive banalities
T Conor McGlynn Deputy Comment Editor
he run-up to an election is the time when politicians typically lay out their plans for the betterment of their constituencies and their country. They try to demonstrate their commitment to change and to improving community life. In this year’s local elections those running for council positions have put forward plans both small and large which they hope will lead to a higher quality of life in their political domains. However, they also provide a wealth of examples of a particular practice in Irish politics: the use of clichés and media tactics to give the impression that they, the politician, are making a commitment to something, without really saying anything at all. “It’s easy to talk the talk but the time has come for me to put my money where my mouth is.” This is not a stylised example. It is an actual quotation from a statement made before Christmas by Mr Noel Rock, a Fine Gael politician running in the local government elections in the Ballymun ward of Dublin. Mr Rock was replying to criticisms that his ‘Noel Rock No Expenses Pledge’, where he promised not to take any expenses payments, was nothing more than an attempt to gain coverage in the media. The race for local government has so far provided a plethora of such remarks. “It is not enough to talk about change – actions speak louder than words” was another coming from Chris Andrews, an ex-Fianna Fáil TD running in the election for Sinn Féin. What is the problem with using clichés? Is it just snobbery on the part of people who object to their simplicity, and who think that there is a ‘correct’ way to speak English? This may well be the case in ordinary, quotidian life.
Clichés can be useful in everyday discourse. They facilitate general conversation by providing people with readymade, readily understood phrases which easily articulate ideas. However, the problem in political debate is that they often give a politician the appearance of saying something without really saying anything at all. In his essay “Politics and the English Language” George Orwell identifies two features of this kind of language. One is staleness of imagery; the other is lack of precision. The phrases are vague and indefinite; they can mean anything or nothing. They recycle the thoughts of others and try to pass them off as insight or wisdom. Such banality and lack of concreteness becomes the mark of political talk, and leads to a general lowering of the level of public debate. The examples seen in the runup to the local elections are indicative of a wider trend in Irish politics. Politicians often use tactics, such as clichés, to avoid real discussion of tricky issues. One example of this is the interview technique called the ‘block and bridge’. This involves a politician who is confronted with a question they would prefer not to answer, acknowledging the question, and then quickly moving to another topic with which they are more comfortable. For instance, saying “That’s an excellent question, but the one that needs to be asked is…” is a classic way of moving an interviewer back onto a politician’s key message. A brief rebuttal such as “That’s not the relevant issue” or “That’s a hypothetical question” redirect the interview, while phrases such as “Let me be very clear about this…” can then focus listeners’ attention, and make them think that the politician has
really dealt with the issue. Listen to any interview given by certain current government ministers for a master class in this technique. These sorts of tactics prevent real political debate, and make people lose confidence and trust in their public representatives. They fuel the misconception that politics is something which by its very nature is slippery, indefinite, and duplicitous. When people get used to this behaviour from their elected representatives they stop expecting more. Disingenuous tactics reinforce attitudes that “They’re all the same”, and make people further disillusioned with the democratic system in their country. We saw a particularly cynical attempt to manipulate this perception in the run-up to the referendum on the abolition of the Seanad, when Fine Gael campaigned on the basis that it would mean “Fewer politicians”. It is precisely these sorts of schemes that create the attitude in people that says fewer politicians would be better. We should demand more of our politicians. They should be called out by the media when they use these tactics in interviews, and when they use clichés in election literature. The problem is not just that this kind of language reflects poorly on our politicians, but also that it creates poorer politicians. As Orwell says, “[Language] becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts”. Political language is worth more than hackneyed phrases and careful evasions.
Why the UK should leave the EU Maxton Milner argues the economic case for a British exit from the EU.
T Maxton Milner Contributor
he United Kingdom, more than any other EU member state, does not fit into the political construct which is the EU: it refuses to join the Schengen Area; has comprehensively rejected the Euro; and clings to certain Imperial measurements despite, broadly, defeat on the matter. A great deal of ink is spilt arguing the merits of the UK leaving the EU, versus continued integration into a single European entity of some form. The latter is inescapably happening through a common currency, a common (impotent) Parliament, and standardising efforts across virtually all spheres of trade, politics, and culture. The debate is entirely worth having; it illuminates the enormous weight of the matter. Nonetheless, the current downturn arguably makes a full appraisal of the economics surrounding “Brexit” more important than constitutional theory; so let us consider them now. The UK’s gross contribution to the EU budget in 2011 was approximately £20bn. In contrast,
UK’s domestic spending cuts for 2011 totalled approximately £6bn. This is evidently a vast difference. However, some contend that this assessment is incomplete as it fails to take into account EU funding returned to the UK’s Exchequer or citizens by EU institutions. Not only is this descriptively suspect and inconsistent - tax is in no other instance discussed in ‘net’ terms – it further supports the economic case against the UK’s EU membership; the UK’s 2011 net contribution, £11bn, considerably dwarfs domestic cuts. Clearly, ceasing to pay EU contributions, by leaving the EU, would make a huge difference to the economic pain British citizens are currently undergoing due to spending reductions in many areas. It is a gross over-simplification to suggest that access to the single market makes this exorbitant prince one worth paying. Europe is the only continent in the world in economic decline. The growth of countries such as Brazil, China,
and India is resulting in a decreasing proportion of world GDP for European countries. This trend looks unlikely to reverse in the coming decades. Put simply, Europe matters less and less in the modern world. Neither is it the case that Europe is uniquely important to the prosperity of UK economy. Supporters of this would point to the 44% of British exports (ONS Sep. 2012) which go to EU member-states. The reality starkly counters this, however. Not only is this figure inflated by the “Rotterdam Effect” – whereby trade destined for the wider world initially passes through Europe and is therefore included in the statistics – but the UK runs a significant current account deficit with other EU member states. That is to say, the UK imports more from the EU than it exports there; it buys more than it sells. Put simply: the EU needs the UK, the UK does not need the EU quite as much. Despite commentators’ predictions that the EU would lock Britain out
“The UK’s 2011 net contribution, £11bn, considerably dwarfs domestic cuts. Clearly, ceasing to pay EU contributions, by leaving the EU, would make a huge difference to the economic pain British citizens are currently undergoing due to spending reductions in many areas.”
of the Single Market in the case of ‘Brexit’, it would be economic suicide for the EU to do so, especially in such difficult times for the continent. Crucially, Germany, the EU’s power broker, is especially benefitted by trade with the UK; it is extremely difficult to foresee a situation in which the EU would not at least offer the UK a trade agreement in the style of either Norway or Switzerland. Indeed, improved terms compared to those countries would be likely, given the UK’s significantly larger population and economic importance. Detractors would argue that this scenario holds little benefit for the UK; Norway and Switzerland, for example, are supposedly without global bearing or significance. However, this simply is not the case. Norway and Switzerland, in contrast to EU member states, have their own seat at the WTO. Moreover, the EU’s fabled gigantic size does not translate into international trade agreements; EU-US free trade has been a British goal since the EU was created in 1992. Negotiations with the India have virtually ground to a halt; those with China and Brazil are greatly more distant. Switzerland has no such limitation. Even Iceland, with a population of 320,000, has free trade with China. Moreover, in this scenario the UK could derive maximum benefit from its Financial Services industry by retaining the single market’s free movement of capital – as Switzerland currently does – while exercising sovereign powers to protect it against
EU legislation it deems harmful, which it currently struggles to do. Though narrowly successful in fighting off attempt to introduce an EU-wide Financial Transactions Tax in 2011, 2013 saw new laws on bonuses made EU law despite UK opposition over fears it may harm business. This is a key national concern for the UK due to the uniquely important role Financial Services plays in the British economy; the City of London paid 12% of the UK’s entire taxation in the financial year 2011/12. The last great hope of the pro-EU lobby, the myth of ‘influence’, is similarly flawed. There is no intrinsic reason why the lack of a voice in the creation of trading standards ought to diminish mutually beneficial trade. The UK has no say in Japanese or Australian standards, yet nonetheless enjoys a prosperous economic relationship with both countries. More importantly, the status quo is of little actual value; most EU decisions are the result of Qualified Majority Voting, making it very hard for a country to actually translate its will into results unless it has broad support. In summary then: an £11bn annual saving; continued access to the single market; freedom to conduct trade deals with world’s growing economic powers; and increased presence in global affairs. Regardless of the political arguments, from a British perspective: what’s not to like?
Tuesday 21st January 2014
Dylan Lynch looks at some of the exciting prospects of space exploration in 2014.
Should Fifa withdraw from Qatar? Conor Heffernan looks at the recent human rights abuses surrounding the Qatar World Cup and questions Fifa’s stance as an apolitical organisation.
I Conor Heffernan Contributor
n the aftermath of the recent draw for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, media attention appears to have shifted away from recent allegations surrounding human rights abuses in Qatar. However, in the face of human rights abuses and allegations of modern slavery, the question should remain as to whether or not the football governing body Fifa have a moral obligation to withdraw the 2022 World Cup from Qatar? Arguably yes. Will they withdraw? If history is anything to go by, the answer appears to be no. The allegations of modern slavery in Qatar are far reaching, extending not only to the workers constructing the stadiums for the Qatar World Cup, but also footballers within the country. There are allegations of unpaid wages for labourers, passports being seized to stop movement of labour and appalling working conditions that have led to the deaths of a number of Nepalese labourers. Those who complain to their employers about their conditions have allegedly been met with violence or contempt. The problem revolves around the fact that exit visas are required to leave Qatar. Who is often responsible for such visas? An employer or sponsor? What happens when the employer holds all the power? In one word, slavery. Such a system is not unique to Qatar but this system has been the undoing of many labourers wishing to leave and has also affected the world of football. In November 2013, Zahir Belounis, a French-Algerian soccer player based in Qatar finally gained an exit visa. He had been unable to leave the country for more than two years because of a contract dispute with his former club, El Jaish. Belounis’s situation was so dire that he contemplated hunger strikes and even committing suicide. What was Fifa’s response to the situation? Avoidance. Fifa opted out of the controversy on the basis that Belounis began his legal process in Qatar instead of through their own channels. Fifa retained its status of being apolitical. While many in both footballing bodies, Uefa and Fifa declare that the organisations are apolitical, the reality appears to be anything but. Football is unfortunately not divorced from politics or monetary concerns. And
while people may argue that the days of Fifa hosting a World Cup in a totalitarian state (Italy 1934) are over, recent dealings by Fifa have shown that the interests of local populations appear to be of little importance. If the last World Cup in South Africa is anything to go by, the interests of Fifa outweigh the interests of locals. While Fifa, a non-profit organisation, earned billions in tax-free revenue, local sellers were excluded from selling within a 1.5 km radius of stadiums. This was despite expectations from South Africans that the World Cup would provide a much-needed boost to the local economy. Not only this but Fifa had the right to fine local businesses, restrict hawkers from
selling unauthorised Fifa products, ban the sale of beverages or other products of non-sponsoring companies within this certain radius. Even more scandalously, South Africa agreed to set up 54 special courts (‘Fifa Courts’) to handle World Cup related offences, such as hooliganism or playing live games on TV in public places without obtaining special Fifa licences. Indeed, it is an apolitical institution. Myopic greed on the part of the footballing body does not bode well for those calling for Fifa to withdraw from Qatar. This is not an isolated incident, as recent rioting in Brazil during the Confederations Cup this year showed the unrest a World Cup could ignite. Although the
Brazilian protesters had a multitude of grievances, their main complaints centred around the contrast between new World Cup stadiums being built and the dire state of Brazilian public services. The construction of stadiums for the tournament allegedly resulted in nearly 700 families in Rio de Janeiro, mostly in low-income communities, being displaced by World Cuprelated construction. Such is the anger felt by locals and politicians alike that Romario (yes that Romario), now a Brazilian Congressman, has recently come out and accused Fifa of ‘robbing Brazil’. So have local concerns changed Fifa attitudes? Blatter, the acting head of Fifa, has reacted
to such outrages with thinly veiled appeals for calm and repeats his assertion that Brazil will be ready for the World Cup. While Fifa may present itself as apolitical, it’s inference in host countries day-to-day politics is anything but. So how has Fifa, an apolitical organisation, become involved in such a political situation? The answer appears to revolve around money and political pressure. Regarding money, the bidding process of the World Cup System is highly dubious. The Fifa Executive Committee has 24 members who vote in rounds to decide host nations for World Cups. Each member of the committee then goes out to each bidding country and appears to have an obligation to extract as many gifts as possible. One need only cast their mind back to England’s failed World Cup bid and the outcry regarding £230 gift bags given to each of the Fifa delegates in the understanding that this was the done thing to garner support. The controversy emerged when Fifa delegate, Jack Warner returned his bag to the English FA because he was unaware accepting the gift pledged his support to the English World Cup Bid. The English FA also paid for accommodation and meals for each Fifa delegate but this was ‘within Fifa accepted bounds’. These bounds appear vague in practice, often referred to as simply symbolic gifts. England spent £35,000 paying for the Caribbean Football Union’s gala dinner in an attempt to gain their vote for the 2018 World Cup. Is this too a symbolic gift? Is this merely an act of kindness by the English FA? While such accepted bribery apparently has a limit, there are now allegations that the son of African Fifa delegate Amos Adamu, was offered $1m by Qatar to host a gala dinner ahead of the vote to decide 2022 World Cup. It is unlikely this was a coincidence. Qatar also spent roughly £1million sponsoring the Confederation of African Football’s congress. Money either openly or clandestinely appears to direct Fifa’s decision-making. Along with this, Fifa hire an outside consulting company to run an extensive bid analysis and they rank each city based on seven criteria. Where did Qa-
tar rank in terms of World Cup bids for 2022? Last. So is money the sole determinant in this process? Yes and no. While the bidding process appears largely determined by who can buy the most delegates, other factors appear to be at play. In an interview with German magazine Die Zeit, Fifa President Sepp Blatter revealed that Qatar’s successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup was won with the help of “political influences” from prominent figures in Europe. Blatter claimed this was from European leaders who recommended to its voting members to opt for Qatar, because of major economic interests in their respective countries. Yet of the 24 Fifa delegates, only 3 of the eleven members who voted for Qatar were from Europe. It would perhaps be more apt to say that Qatar’s global investment in Africa, South America, Europe and the Middle East has shown the importance of politics for all voting members, and not just those from Europe. Maintaining that it was solely European political pressure that resulted Qatar’s successful bid is not only factually wrong, it is misleading. Football like, politics, is now a global issue. It is just unfortunate Fifa seems unable to completely divorce football from global politics. It is important to remember that Fifa was fiercely apolitical in the Belounis case and submissive regarding Qatar’s bid. Contradictions reign supreme in Fifa house. If Fifa’s recent behaviour is anything to go by, local human rights issues (and abuses in the case of Qatar) will not deter them. The next World Cups after Brazil, in Russia and Qatar respectively, have the potential to be very damaging to football. Neither State is known for respecting human rights. What will the future of the World Cup bring? In an interview this year Blatter told us “The Fifa World Cup…is bound to bring people together. There are no differences in football; social classes don’t exist” Social classes may not exist in football, but a modern-day slave system certainly does in Qatar. Will Fifa withdraw from Qatar due to human rights abuses? Recent history presents a very grim answer.
Tuesday 21st January 2014
Separate the economy from the academy
W Keith O’Neill Contributor
Keith O’Neill condemns the conflation of business with education .hile travelling in Morocco re- tics? There are very few relTrinity as an institution which cently I met a young man in a hostel who went by the name of Ozo. I began talking with him before we ate our communal meal and rather unoriginally as a means of starting a conversation I asked him a stock question which most fellow travelers utilise when engaging in amicable hostel conversion, “where are you from?” His response was rather unconventional and caught me by surprise; “the world”, he said. At that time I was somewhat frustrated at Ozo and his inability to play the game and engage with me in pleasantries, but upon reflection and with the benefit of retrospect, I now see his position entirely. What is it in contemporary society that propels the modern day individual to label themselves within the sticky confines of a national setting and all the baggage that it entails such as differentiation and division? What is “Irishness” anymore if not a whole lot European, North American and Asian ad infinitum? Does the modern individual not now read Japanese books translated and published in New York, wearing clothes made in Cambodia while sitting on sofas made in Scandinavia? The point here is simple; we are all now modern individuals who dangle on a thousand different global strings. What is somebody claiming to be “Irish” referring to that is so critically different to somebody that claims to be Swedish, with the exception of seman-
evant differences in associated cultural expression beneath the surface. We are all for the most part united by a project of liberal capitalism whether we may like it or not. Symbolic of this is that in our capital city’s cultural quarter we have the presence of Ronald McDonald, just like in Stockholm, Paris, New York, Tokyo and Melbourne. No longer can we claim to be something that is both unique to us and applicable to everybody at the same time, unless we want to start highlighting differences in bus fare or worse again the colour of asphalt. Just as in the case of the cultural process the educational one is no different. Although we should not view these as separate epistemologies, it helps to define them as such. The academy - a once critical facility in which one could reject, with impunity, the many wretched ills of the market place is now seemingly succumbing to the intensified grip of the liberal project. Provost Patrick Prendergast has been spouting a lot lately about the requirement for Trinity College Dublin to reinvent itself in the face of falling QS rankings and apparent misconceptions about the function of Trinity as a university as opposed to a college. Claims that wealthy prospective international students are put-off by the fact that they seek a university education as opposed to a college education are prompting some academic elites to push for a rebranding of
“I propose that education up to now has been, and still can be if we maintain it, the last defender of the sovereign; a critical facility in which we can objectively reject the many wretched ills of the market place that undermine autonomy and eradicate any semblance of beauty to be found in the cultural process.”
apparently needs to reaffirm its identity as a top level global university fit for competition among its counterparts. Much has been written about this proposed face-lift in light of its affect upon attracting international students who are a great financial asset to any university. However, little has been said about the effect of such a move upon the educational process itself. We know that education is a valuable resource for any civil society. Few would argue about the importance of tertiary education in producing many of the liberal values that we seem to adhere to and passionately defend as a vital part of the modern knowledge economy. Leaving aside the fact that education fuels economic productivity, educated people, generally speaking, make for good citizens. We have seen how education encourages tolerance and adaptation. It produces positive people, massagers of the societal organism, and creators of cohesion. But we must ask ourselves some very poignant questions that now emerge from this relatively new angle of economic governance of the third-level sector; what do these civil values really represent at their core with all this new talk of educational brands, and privatisation within our academic institutions? Arguably the university has been governed by the economy for long before these new proposals, in effect what has not
been? Our own sense of freedom and autonomy as individuals has been long been determined by our place and functionality within the market society. However the academy of the past had the ability to critique the sheer restrictive and banal nature of capitalism and indeed more importantly provide analysis of the great institutions that it has trampled upon, undermining autonomy and eradicating any semblance of beauty once found in the cultural process. Indigenous institutions homogenised and capitalised, trampled underfoot. With the implementation of these new proposals I now doubt that we could attempt to claim that this is still the case. The Bologna Process signed in the June of 1999 sought to standardise practices within higher education by allowing for the free movement of students and graduates across the continent for any of the 46 countries within the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). This quite clearly paved the way for cooperation among higher level institutions, a move unparalleled in previous times. The idea here was simple; the enlargement in scale of the European systems of higher education done in order to enhance its ‘competitiveness’ by cutting down costs. Therefore a Europe-wide standardization of the ‘values’ produced in each of the national higher educational systems was called for, effectively eroding all forms of democratic political control over higher education.
I propose that education up to now has been, and still can be if we maintain it, the last defender of the sovereign; a critical facility in which we can objectively reject the many wretched ills of the market place that undermine autonomy and eradicate any semblance of beauty to be found in the cultural process. We must give serious thought to the notion of the knowledge economy and the universities role at the forefront of this process. In the glowing light of the late radical philosopher Michel Foucault, it would seem that in this new global civil society that we are fervently striding towards - one so heavily entangled in the field of the capitalist thought; knowledge and truth is whatever works economically. Keep calm and study on.
this is something that this year’s SU want to change. The deadline for nominations was Monday, and I do hope that the new means of nominating students will encourage more women to run for positions. I’m not advocating electing women to positions within the SU just for the sake of equality, but I do believe that there have plenty of girls in this college would have ample experience and would be well able to perform in any of the positions. There have been noted times in the past when talented girls who have ran and then lost to much less experienced guys who went against them and one has to wonder what this says about our electorate. Is it again that we don’t really care who’s elected or what they do when they get there, we’re just happy as long as the nice or popular guy makes the mandate becuase sure ‘he’ll be a bit of craic.’ Ideally, the most competent and ex-
perienced candidate would win but as in life that is not usually how it happens There is also an issue with the number of students who run for these positions. In a university with such an active student body and where extra-curricular activites are revered, one would think that many would be grapling for these positions but it’s not always the case, especially when it comes to girls running. However, when one considers the cycle that has gone on previously. it’s not that surprising. Girls have to campaign harder and more intensively to get noticed while their male counterparts can get away with providing no policies and running around campus in a tiger onsie. It’s not fair and frankly would deter most girls from even considering running for a position, let alone President. It is still an old boys club. We have more female students than male and yet this
years SU only has one female representative. Of course, there is also the issue of the numbers of those who vote. a marginal percentage of the student population vote in the elections and as such, many of the races end up being mere popularity contests. Despite all of this, I would sincerely encourage any girl considering running for a sabbatical position to please do so, whether it be this year or next. It will be hard, exhausting few weeks of organisation and campaigning and at the end of it all you may not win but you might and by more girls running, it will hopefully encourage more girls to run next year and more the year after that. What we would hopefully end up with more students running for positions across the board and a more gender equal SU.
Editorial Elaine McCahill Editor
It’s that time of year again. The time that is pretty much universally detested, when campaigners and flyers and awful stunts punctuate our daily lives on campus for around two weeks: The SU elections. Although, it has been rebranded this year to the Leadership Race but this title is really no more apt to describe the awful, unashamed popularity contest that the elections really are. Year on year, two types of student, for the most part. are elected. There are the ones who have been involved in the SU and multiple societies since Fresher’s Week, determined to be in with that House 6 crew and have worked their way up through a number of positions to eventually run for a position with the entirety of the Trinity hackdom behind them. Then there is the other type of student who reaches to a sabbatical office; the one with little experience but oodles of popular-
ity who sometimes comes out of nowhere to beat the much more experienced or qualified student who was running against him or her. It’s unfortunate but it’s the way it goes. The most experienced or talented don’t necessarily win. However, one of the more consistent issues with the SU Elections as a whole is the distinct lack of equal representation in terms of gender. Even though we have a female majority in terms of students in Trinity, the electorate as a history of mainly voting men into positions of power. It is baffling to think that a woman has never been directly elected to the office of SU President here. When women have held the position, they had previously held another Sabbatical position and ran for the office again the following year. It is evident though through the recent push for the Leadership Race and have open nominations that
“It is baffling to think that a woman has never been directly elected to the office of SU President here.”
Tuesday 21st January 2014
Science in Brief Gavin Kenny
Human genome sequencing for under $1000 For the first time ever the cost of sequencing an individual’s entire genome is set to drop below $1000 (¤735). Last week San Diego-based Illumina claimed to have broken the ‘sound barrier’ of human genomics with its new HiSeq X Ten Sequencing System. The new instrument will have the ability to list the entire hereditary information of five humans per day – six times faster than its predecessor. Since the ‘$1000 genome’ catchphrase was coined over a decade ago, the race has been on to hit this milestone. In 2003 the biologist and entrepreneur Dr Craig Venter – one of the first to sequence
the human genome – offered $500,000 (¤368,000) through his foundation to the creators of the first machine capable of this. In 2006 this was rolled into the new Archon X Prize which upped this offer to $10m (¤7,350,000). Unfortunately for Illumina, the competition was cancelled on August 22, 2013 as it had been “outpaced by innovation” i.e. it was no longer incentivising the technological changes Venter and the board had intended. But with three initial customers already lined up for the $1m-a-pop (¤735,000) sequencer (only sold in sets of 10 or more) Illumina won’t mind.
Coffee may boost long-term memory
The surprising geology of Dublin’s Oscar Wilde statue Immortalising one of College’s best-loved alumni, Merion Square’s colourful statue receives a well-deserved closer inspection, Gavin Kenny investigates its geology.
I Gavin Kenny Science Editor
ncorporating five beautifully colourful and exotic rock types from three different continents, the sculpture of Oscar Wilde in Dublin’s Merrion Square is truly a geological wonder. The city of Dublin sports innumerable statues and sculptures of its famous former residents but most, quite literally, pale in comparison to the striking, multicoloured sculpture of its beloved son Oscar Wilde. Since its unveiling in 1997, the work of art, commissioned by Guinness Ireland Group and executed by Danny Osborne, has earned its place as a regular stop on Dublin’s tourist trail. But not many people, geologists included, appreciate the true beauty of the work. Walking up to the statue for the first time I was immediately struck by the shimmer of Wilde’s trousers and on closer inspection I found them to contain huge crystals of a mineral called feldspar up to a few centimetres across. My face right up against the statue I was then attracted to Wilde’s lurid smoking jacket. The materials were clearly natural yet they seemed to flow so fluidly. I was reminded of the Ancient Greek sculpture of Nike adjusting her Sandal – a marble relief from the Temple of Athena Nike at the Acropolis, Athens (410-405 BC), in which the sculptor makes solid marble appear to flow like fabric and hang almost weightlessly. My interest ignited, a quick Google search later I came across
a fascinating review of the sculpture and its geologically aspects by Prof Chris Stillman who spent forty years in College’s Geology Department. I soon learned of the extraordinary rock types used by Osborne to produce Wilde on his perch. The mesmerizing trousers worn by Wilde are composed larvikite – a coarse-grained igneous rock often known as Blue Pearl Granite due to its striking blue iridescence. The larvikite perfectly mimics a coarse tweed fabric and the effort of shipping it from the Oslo Fjord in Norway, is easily justified. Wilde’s brash smoking jacket is a combination of green nephrite jade from the extreme north of British Columbia, close to the Yukon, Canada, and pink thulite from Western Norway that composes the collar and cuffs. The Canadian jade is from a zone of contact metamorphism where relatively rare ultramafic magma intruded the local country rock, while the Norwegian thulite was mined from veins in metamorphosed shales and sandstones. Wilde’s black shoes and socks may take a back seat to their chromatic siblings but they are no less exotic. The black Indian granite, known as charnockite, is from southern India and contains a distinctive pyroxene mineral known as hypersthene. Ireland too contributes a piece of its geology to the jigsaw. The huge rock on which the sculptor has perched Wilde is a 35 tonne
“The vivid colours, straight from the natural world, capture Wilde’s flamboyant character. One can easily imagine Wilde, adorned by his unapologetic smoking jacket, shimmering trousers, and cheeky smile, flicking his head towards a US Customs Control officer to offer: “I have nothing to declare but my genius.”
boulder of quartz transported from the Wicklow Mountains where it had weathered out of a vein in the Leinster Granite. Osborne, who found the boulder himself, must be congratulated on placing Wilde so naturally. In the words of Wilde himself, “being natural is simply a pose,” but this reclining pose, as the subject faces his childhood home on Merrion Square, is a true demonstration of a master artist at work. To complete the piece, Osborne employed the bare minimum of man-made materials. Wilde’s shoes are finished with delicate bronze laces while the head (modelled on that on Wilde’s living grandson Merlin Holland) and hands were original composed of porcelain. However, the head fell into disrepair and was replaced by a more durable jade one in 2009. In addition to the beautiful use of wonderful natural materials, I love the cleverness of the sculpture. The vivid colours, straight from the natural world, capture Wilde’s flamboyant character so perfectly. One can easily imagine Wilde, adorned by his unapologetic smoking jacket, shimmering trousers, and cheeky smile, flicking his head towards a US Customs Control officer to offer: “I have nothing to declare but my genius.” He struts on, head held high, his heavily polished, charnockite-granite-black shoes clicking loudly as he exits.
Development of the “wonder condom” underway The days of conventional condom may be numbered as funding floods into the next generation of the popular contraceptive. Kate O’Loughlin investigates the ‘wonder condom.’
T Kate O’Loughlin Contributor
he Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded a group of scientists at the National Graphene Institute in Manchester, UK, $100,000 (¤73,000) to create a super thin and strong condom from the “wonder material” that is graphene. Graphene is incredibly thin and light, allowing only the smallest molecules (like water) to pass through it. Graphene also happens to be the most thermally conductive solid material in the world, meaning it would almost feel as though you were wearing nothing at all. A pure graphene condom would be incredibly strong but completely transparent and potentially only one atom thick. In lieu of such difficulties the National Graphene Institute are working on developing a material made of graphene and latex which would combine the strength and lightness of graphene but still be easy and convenient to use. The Gates Foundation awarded eleven grants of $100,000 each to eleven condom research groups to create “a Next Generation Condom that significantly preserves or enhances pleasure, in order to improve uptake and regular use.” The projects that prove promising also stand to gain another $1m (¤730,000) from the foundation. The aim of this research is
to make men more likely to use condoms by removing their main problems. Conventional condoms are often considered awkward and ungainly, as well as reducing sensitivity and interrupting the moment. Condoms are currently the most popular way to protect against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Creating a safer condom that is less likely to break and is easier to use but also enhances pleasure could change the male perception of them worldwide and encourage their use. Dr Papa Salif Sow, Senior Program Officer on the HIV team at the foundation, said a “redesigned condom that overcomes inconvenience, fumbling or perceived loss of pleasure would be a powerful weapon in the fight against poverty”. Graphene was first produced in The University of Manchester in 2004 by Prof Andre Geim and Prof Kostya Novoselov by taking a piece of graphite and dissecting it layer by layer until only one single layer remained. The material is currently imagined for use in electronics like mobile phone screens and computer chips. However, due to its unique properties it is a strong candidate for other applications such as water filtration and anti-corrosion coatings. Aside from small-scale condom production, graphene and
its composites could allow for the creation of lighter vehicles and buildings and to possibly replace silicone in electrical systems. Other winners of the grant include the creators of Rapidom – a condom with easy-hold grips that could be applied with one easy action. Another team is working on a polyurethane version that has shape memory and is self-heating which would have a snug fit and anti-STD antimicrobial nanoparticles that would help to further reduce risk of infection. Some researcher are moving away from latex altogether including a group from San Diego called Apex Medical Technologies who are looking into the use of cow tendons or fish derivatives. While the commercial market for these condoms is large, their benefit in developing countries – where condom use is less popular – is potentially huge. The knowledge of the epidemiology of STDs in the developing world has increased markedly in the last twenty years however the problem is still huge. There is a strong like between STDs and the sexual transmission of the HIV infection. Having an untreated STD can increase the acquisition and transmission of HIV by a factor of 10. In developing countries STDs and their complications, even omitting HIV, rank among the top
five disease categories for which adults require healthcare. With condoms that already contained anti-STD microbial nanoparticles, or stronger and easier to use condoms, the struggle would get a little easier. If these new condoms are kept affordable, their distribution across areas like sub-Saharan Africa – the region with greatest HIV prevalence – could be kept up by agencies such as UNAIDS and UNFPA. By sharing these designs, countries like Brazil, China and India, which are selfsufficient in condom production, could create their own, having a great impact in those countries not receiving as much aid. There is no timeline on the creation of these graphene condoms. The National Graphene Institute is set to open in 2015, so it will be at least a few years. One issue with these graphene condoms, and indeed the other applicants, is their price. Graphene is currently quite expensive but it is hoped mass production would bring down the price dramatically. Gates also hopes the initiative will incite competitors. If at least one of these ventures is successful, sex may well become a much more pleasurable act while the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases is reduced.
A study published this month in Nature Neuroscience concluded that caffeine enhances consolidation of long-term memories. Although it has long been recognised that the caffeine in coffee is a stimulant that promotes alertness, its effects on long-term memory have never before been studied in detail. Participants in the study were shown pictures of rubber ducks, saxophones, and other objects before being given either 200mg of caffeine (a ‘tall’ coffee at Starbucks contains about 260mg) or a placebo. 24
hours later, when shown images slightly altered from those they saw the day before, the group that had received the caffeine performed significantly better at recognising these alterations. If you are planning to aid your memory consolidation with post-study coffees in the run up to this summer’s exams, it is worth noting that Daniel Borota and his colleagues also found that caffeine did not actually have any effect on memory retrieval – so it may be better to skip that cup of joe on the way to the exam hall.
V formation of flying birds ‘solved’ We have all, at one point or another, found ourselves staring up at the sky, eyes trained on a flock of migrating birds flying in V formation and marvelled at this curiosity of nature. This month, research published in Nature claims to have unlocked the secrets behind the phenomenon. Fighter pilots have long known of the advantages of tucking in behind a jet in front, but this study of rare northern bald ibises has outlined exactly how birds take advantage of their neighbour’s flap. As air squeezes around the outside of a bird’s wing it creates a vortex and
causes air to move upwards. The following bird then keeps the tip of its wing in this area of upwardmoving air – or upwash. Birds sense what their companion in front is doing and position themselves perfectly, keeping their flap slightly out of phase so it remains in the upwash. Chief investigator, Dr Steven Portugal believes that this research has the potential to help those in the booming unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV, industry plan efficient flight formations and save fuel.
Tuesday 21st January2014
Illustration: Natalie Duda
Wearable devices in medicine: ethical and legal implications The technology behind remote sensors and wearable devices is racing forward, Hishaam Saumtally looks at whether the legal framework keep up?
B Hishaam Saumtally Contributor
ack in 2012, the Google Glass project created a huge buzz all over the internet. It has captured the curiosity of a lot of people, despite its unknown released date and price. Other companies, such as Nike, Sony and Jawbone have been striving with their electronic bracelets (respectively Fuelband, SmartBand and Up) that can track your exercise, sleeping and eating patterns. These devices are examples of a new trend in technology: wearable devices. By nature, they differ from portable devices in the sense that they are non-obtrusive. It is no longer about needing to take a device out of your pocket to use, but a device that is part of your everyday life and that does its purpose without the user even noticing it. It is a growing market, estimated at $2bn (¤1.46bn) in 2011 and estimated to reach $6bn (¤4.38bn) in 2018. Biosensors, which are at the heart of this trend, represent an even greater market, predicted to reach $17bn (¤12.41bn) in 2017. Applications for these devices include various sectors, such as fitness, infotainment, medical, industrial and military. But surprisingly enough, despite the popular excitement around the products previously mentioned, healthcare represents the largest share of this industry, with a 35% market share. In the medical field, the de-
mand for these devices can be explained by several intertwined factors. Overcrowded hospitals, longer hospital stays leading to rising health costs, prevalence of chronic diseases such as diabetes which cannot be treated in the hospital setting and the ever ageing population has created the need for ambulatory health monitoring, which these devices embody. The trend towards wearable devices really started with the invention of the Holter cardiac monitor back in the 1940s, but further development for other conditions has been impaired by the then-current technologies. In the past decades however, amazing progresses were made in terms of biosensors, smaller and more power efficient microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), miniature operating systems and software, and of course wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or even just the internet. Currently, the best selling device remains the continuous glucose monitor (as commercialised by Medtronic) due to the high prevalence of diabetes in developed countries. A sensor is implanted just below the skin and continuously measures glucose levels. This information is then directed to a non-implanted transmitter that communicates either to a pager that displays glucose levels or even an insulin pump. Another area where wear-
able devices have great potential is the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. In these patients, the monitoring of motor fluctuations between intakes of medication by a physician remains impractical. The wearable system, by the Motion Analysis Laboratory at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in the US, allows access to gathered data using web application and provides clinicians with a means to interact remotely with patients in the home setting, configure the sensor nodes, and record annotated data. This technology can also help monitoring of treatment compliance. A 2013 study utilizing a monitor by Proteus Digital Health assessed the adherence to tuberculosis (TB) medication in 30 patients and sent it to a physician through a data server. The study found that 99.7% of the sensors positively detected patient ingestion of TB medication, which makes it very reliable. Through these different examples, it is easy to see how technology can change the way physicians practice medicine and this can raise a few ethical concerns but also reinforce some key concepts in modern medicine, the first of which is autonomy. With this upto-date information, patients will have the ability to make informed decisions when choosing the appropriate management for their condition. Since an individual can
only be considered autonomous if their decisions are not limited by inadequate information or understanding, this is a great tool towards a better autonomy of the patient. Patients become therefore more active and this subsequently reduces paternalistic trends in medicine. From the physicians’ point of view, it can be argued that we get a better understanding of how the patient deals with his condition outside of the hospital setting, as demonstrated with the Parkinson’s and TB devices. However, according to a paper by Bauer published in Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics in 2007, such technology could create a gap between the patient and the doctor. Part of the art of medicine resides in the physical interaction between the patient and the physician. This is where a proper trust bond can be established between the two parties. By taking this away, one also risks a DIY approach to medicine. So while office visits and hospital stays are decreased, so is the confidence in physicians on one side and a depersonalisation of patients to physicians might occur on the other. Another important aspect is how confidentiality can be affected by new technologies. In Ireland, under the Data Protection Acts, healthcare professionals are required to keep personal
data, including medical records, secure. Since complete security cannot be guaranteed for information transmitted digitally, it is important for patients to be informed of this potential lack of privacy. Naturally, these concerns should be dealt using law. As technology is advancing at an everincreasing pace, so is the need for regulation. Laws need to be technology neutral, that is to say they cannot favour a certain technology over another, and make sure that users of one technology are not at a disadvantage. In Ireland, it is the Irish Medicines Board (IMB) who is in charge of the regulation of new medical devices. It makes sure that devices follow European Directives, indicated by the CE label. They follow three EC Directives that are constantly revised. The latest technical revision was in 2007 and the latest proposal was in 2012 – a new text which should replace all three Directives. Another amendment is scheduled for 2015, but the IMB was unable to let us know what these changes would be. When it comes to the transmission of electronic data, privacy is the elephant in the room. A lot of our personal data is currently on our laptops, smartphones and remote servers and is prone to hacking. This can be used not only for identity theft purposes, but also
for data corruption. The data sent to the physician or the patient can be withheld or worse, modified, which could for instance send a wrong flag or deliver a drug that should not have been delivered. It has been suggested (by Al Ameen and co-workers) that safeguard methods should be implemented at three levels: administrative (by granting permissions), physical and technical levels (encryption). From a legal point of view, according to the Data Protection Acts, the physician has the legal responsibility to keep the patient’s record confidential, but now that a third party is involved (the server through which data transits), should the law be changed to now involve this third party? The Health Information Bill from 2008 emphasises that informed consent from patient is important for use and sharing of information, and that a unique identifier should be used to improve patient care and safety. It is interesting to note that this bill addresses issues related to the use of new technology, but has yet to be enacted. Given the potential of this technology and the reasons why it is needed nowadays, this discrepancy of speed between technological evolution and law enactment could be a future source of controversy.
Into the dark – space exploration in 2014 Dylan Lynch explores some of the exciting prospects in store for space exploration in 2014 and beyond.
B Dylan Lynch Staf Writer
y the time you have finished reading this sentence, the sun will have spun you and your planetary spaceship ‘Earth’ almost 238 kilometres around itself. In one hour, it will carry you roughly 107,300 km. Galaxies millions of light years away are bursting into life, comets are colliding and stars are withering away or bursting into giant supernovae. Yet despite all of the probes and telescopes shot out into the expanse of the Universe, how far has mankind actually gone? The furthest from home that man has ever set foot is the moon, which may seem like quite a feat at a first glance. But as web-comic writer Randall Munroe puts it, “If Earth were the size of a basketball, in our 40 years of exploration no human has been further than half an inch above its surface”. So how are we working as a race to further explore the cosmos? Nasa is probably one of the first names that comes to mind when you think of space travel and rocket missions. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration was responsible for putting Neil Armstrong on the moon in 1969, the development and deployment of the Hubble Telescope and of course the Spirit Rover mission, which turned 10 years old on 4th January. But what does Nasa have planned for the future? Unfortunately due to budget cuts, many potentially
beneficial programs have been cancelled or postponed. However, one of the projects has only been postponed until 2025: the Orion deep-space capsule. This capsule, once fully developed, will hopefully be able to bring astronauts to and from the moon and withstand re-entry speeds of over 32,000 km/h. Although the capsule was initially meant to be launched in 2014, President Obama postponed it due to over budgeting and being behind schedule. Instead it is hoped that travel to comets will be possible for astronauts in 2025, and travel to Mars (using the same technology) in 2035. However, a much more recent mission is being run by ESA, the European Space Agency. On the 20th of January 2014, ESA’s comet-chasing mission ‘Rosetta’ will wake up from its deep space hibernation, and finally reach the comet it has been slowly approaching for over a decade: Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. This 3000 kilogram satellite will orbit the comet and send pictures of it back to Earth. Then in the Autumn of 2014, the Rosetta lander ‘Philae’ will attempt the first ever landing on a comet. The lander will send back panoramic pictures of its landing site, and a detailed analysis of comet soil samples. This mission could have a huge influence on the field of Comet and Asteroid
“Research into space exploration has provided us with a huge amount of technological advances in the last 50 years.”
mining, a concept many astronomers and astrophysicists believe to be instrumental in deep-space exploration. On the other side of the world, China has just landed its first lunar rover. Just under a month ago, the Chang’e 3 rover touched down in an unexplored area of the Moon. The lander is equipped with top-of-the-range equipment including groundpenetrating radar and spectroscopic instruments, and has the capability to assess the chemical composition of the lunar soil. This data could shed light on the history of our natural satellite and on our home planet also. While some experts say that the mission is relatively pointless as we already know so much about the moon, Leroy Chiao (former Nasa astronaut and International Space Station Commander) disagrees. Chiao writes; “The parts of the moon that have been explored are so minuscule. It’s like saying you sent probes to the Earth, you looked at small areas of California and New York and now you know everything there is to know.” The rover and lander had already separated and taken pictures of each other on the moon just hours after their landing on 14th December, according to Dr. Zheng Yongchun of National Astronomical Observatories of China. He wrote on a forum for lunar scientists that judging from the pictures, the lunar soil may be
much more compact than earlier suspected as the lander and rover did not make as big a footprint in the soil as expected. “The footprint of the Lander (weight about 1000 kg) and the wheelmarker of the Jade Rabbit (weight about 140 kg) are much shallower than prospected… Maybe the lunar surface soil is much [more] compact. The surface can support much heavier payloads than ever.” Unfortunately, with harsh budget cuts and dwindling public interest, space exploration is losing funding and thus our dreams of travel beyond our solar system are diminishing fast. The main issue seems to be that people argue space travel hasn’t benefited life on Earth in any way, that the money spent on NASA could be used to better the planet we already live on instead of trying to find another. However what this portion of the public seem to realise is that the research into space exploration has provided us with a huge amount of technological advances in the last 50 years. Everything from Radiation-Blocking sunglasses and Firefighter Breathing Apparatus, to Solar Powered Electricity Generation and Automatic Insulin Pumps can be attributed in some way to the research done by Nasa and ESA. So what does the future hold for us in terms of space exploration? The most promising answer is the colonization of the
red planet, Mars. There is currently a program for ordinary citizens to go on an expedition to the planet but there is a catch: due to fuel constraints, you won’t ever be able to return. The mission, titled Mars One, was set up by two Dutch men in 2011 with the hope of having 24 individuals living there permanently by 2025. The selection process has already passed its first round (as of 2nd January 2014), and there is a shortlist of just 1,058 people from the 200,000 original applicants. Trinity-graduate and Science Gallery Research Projects Coordinator Dr Joseph Roche entered the spolight recently as one of only three Irish applicants to make the cut. If the mission takes off, we could even see plans for this sort of colonization on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon in our lifetimes. Now is a very exciting time to be alive. With new possibilities and technologies being formed every day and the ever growing list of possibly-habitable worlds; the next great step for humanity seems to be a step onto another planet. While you or I may not explore the outer cosmos in our lifetime, we are laying the invaluable foundations that will allow our children or grandchildren to venture out into the Universe.
Tuesday 21st January 2014
Sarah Burns interviews badminton Olympic hopeful Pratash Vijayanath.
Double trouble with ladies captains for Duhac Column O’Leary profiles Duhac Ladies captains Maria O’Sullivan and Laura Frey following their recent wins.
A Column O’Leary Contributor
lthough the Christmas break halted the continuation of athletics in Trinity College, two of Duhac’s leading athletes were keeping busy in athletic competition. Both Laura Frey (combined events) and Maria O’Sullivan (cross country/ long distance) won very impressive titles in their respective athletic disciplines over the holiday season. January 4th saw O’Sullivan, a Raheny Shamrock athlete and captain of Duhac Ladies’ Harriers, represent Ireland in the U23 Celtic Cross Country Challenge Race at the Iaff international cross country event in Greenmount, Antrim. This 5.6km race was ran in conjunction with the women’s senior international event, in which some of the world’s greatest cross country athletes took part. O’Sullivan stormed to victory in the Celtic Challenge in impressive fashion, finishing in a time of 19:28: over 40 seconds ahead of Welsh athlete Natasha Cockram (20:10) who took silver. This win has added to O’Sullivan’s growing number of titles. In the last 12 months she has become Intervarsity 3000m champion and National Interme-
diate Cross Country champion. She will hope to build on this in weeks to come, when she will be taking part in the Intervarsity Indoor Championships:“It’ll be my first time doing indoors so I’m really looking forward to the experience. Hopefully I can perform as well as I did in Antrim over the Christmas break.”Overall, O’Sullivan was fourth Irish woman home, finishing in a well-deserved 12th position. On Saturday January 11th, Laura Frey, Duhac Ladies’ Track and Field captain and a member of Lagan Valley Athletics club, took gold at the AAI National Indoor Combined Events Championships in Athlone. The discipline consisted of five events over the day: the 60m hurdles, high jump, long jump, shot putt and 800m. Frey got off to an ideal start, finishing 1st in the hurdles in a time of 10:11. However, wins from Sarah Mesloh in the shot putt event and Karen Dunne in the long jump threatened Frey’s lead. After four events Frey was marginally ahead of Dunne and Mesloh by 29 and 31 points, respectively. In the end, however, Frey performed valiantly in the 800m, finishing 1st in the
800m race (2:30.52) to secure the national title. She finished with a total of 2,869 points, while Dunne had to settle for second on 2,821 points:“I’m really pleased with the result, a great way to start the season with lots to work on for summer but hopefully there’ll be more good performances to come!” Frey won the combined events at the Iuaa Intervarsity Outdoor championships last April, a title which she will wish to retain this spring. The two ladies captains have set a great example for Duhac and for the college, which has encouraged the members of the club to step up to the plate for the next upcoming intervarsity competitions. The Iuaa Intervarsity indoor track and field championships will take place in AIT International Indoor Arena in Athlone on Saturday February 7th. O’Sullivan and Frey will be amongst the twenty or so competitors representing Duhac on the day. Frey hopes to continue her impressive winning success in the combined events discipline while Maria will be looking to add the 3000m title to her growing record.
DU Fencing Club top Leinster League David Byme reports on DUFC’s success at reaching the top of the Leinster League table.
D David Byrne Staff Writer
ublin University Fencing Club’s (DUFC) intermediate team ended 2013 top of the Leinster Epee Novice League. The league was established in September, featuring six teams: DUFC, Pembroke, FenceFit, Maynooth, Griffith College, and Blessington. The fencers from each team have two years or less experience fencing, and so is an excellent platform providing fencers of similar levels competitive match experience. From September to December these 6 teams battled it out for a place in January’s final. DUFC are unbeaten, having impressively won all five of their matches and were able to ring in the new year as league leaders. The team was made up of novices Camille Hindsgaul, Fionn O’Connor, and David Byrne. In addition, beginner Tim Porter fenced in the final league match, the victory which ensured DUFC’s top of the table position and place in January’s final against second place Pembroke. DUFC should have the psychological advantage going into the final in January, having already defeated Pembroke earlier in the season. Confidence must not
turn to complacency, however, as previous results have no bearing on the outcome of the final. It is bound to be a thrilling final, as both teams are made up of confident, promising and hard working fencers. The Aldershot Open 2014 took place in England last weekend, the 9th and 10th of January. DU Fencing’ Club Captain Max Milner entered the competition, as did the Club Captain from 2011/2012, Ned Mitchell. The final was a thrilling affair with Max 5-0 down very early on, and the score progressed to 10-4 down. Then came a shocking and inspired run of 10 consecutive points to put Max 14-10 up. He won 15-11, after a truly remarkable come back. Ned Mitchell finished in 13th place (knocked out by the runner up). This weekend, DU Fencing Club will be hosting the Professor Duffy Memorial Cup in Trinity College Sports Centre.
Tuesday 21st January 2014
The concussion discussion James Larkin looks at the situation on and off the pitch for football players who suffer a concussion
C James Larkin Contributor
ontact sports are coming under huge scrutiny at the moment over the topic of concussion. Every weekend there seems to be an example of a player suffering a concussion in a contact sport such as rugby, NFL or soccer. A lot of the time the players who have suffered from concussion return to the field of play unless they are completely incapacitated. At the moment the guidelines for most contact sports are that if a player is suspected to have suffered a concussion then they should be removed from the field of play and not let return to the game, they are then continually assessed by a physician until it is deemed safe for them to return to training and subsequently to a game. Under these guidelines a player cannot overrule the decision of the doctor although these guidelines are not always adhered to. The player often wants to stay on the field and sometimes their coach and fellow players also want them to stay on the field; even in a concussed state they are still capable of having a positive impact on the game for their team. So should a player be forced
to leave the field of play if they suffer a concussion? Before we can discuss why players might be allowed to stay on the field of play with concussion we must discuss why they are taken off. A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury which consists of either bruising of the brain or straining of nerve cells or both, this can lead to some nerve cells being unable to communicate with the rest of the body. Recovery times for concussion vary from days to weeks depending on the severity of the injury. If another concussion occurs before the brain has time to recover then the damage will be worsened. A second concussion can even be fatal. When someone suffers a concussion they become confused and unable to think clearly. In a contact sports situation this leaves them more likely to receive a second concussion as they may make wrong decisions leading to dangerous scenarios. These scenarios are not only dangerous for the player who has suffered from the concussion but also the players around them, so the player is taken off in the interest of their
own health and the health of the players they are playing against. Along with these short term consequences of concussion there are also long term consequences; players who suffer multiple concussions can go on to suffer from many mental disorders such as depression, Alzheimer’s disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy to name a few. With regards to the player’s own health, should a player be allowed to damage his own brain if they want to? It is completely logical that players who have just suffered a concussion cannot make the decision to stay on the field as they cannot think clearly due to the nature of the injury, but what about a player who has been wholly educated on the risks and results of staying on the field with a concussion? Should that player be allowed to declare that he wants to stay on the field if hypothetically he does become concussed? The player might have to waive his medical insurance but many teams seem to want to keep their players on the field even if they have suffered concussion so maybe not. Players often play
on with injuries without waiving their rights to medical insurance so why should the brain be any different as long as the player knows the consequences? A more pertinent issue is the health of the players that the concussed player is playing against. As previously mentioned, concussed players are more likely to get themselves into dangerous situations due to poor judgement; these situations are risky for both the player and the players around them. Proper criteria must be laid out in order to determine
which players pose no threat to other players and which ones do. Players who receive multiple red cards for badly timed tackles are allowed to play again once they’ve fulfilled the ban even if some of those tackles are career ending. Perfectly healthy players may show the same lack of balance or inability to think clearly as a player who has just suffered from concussion and they are allowed to play. So the fact that a player who has suffered concussion is more likely to injure the players around them should be of
no more relevance than the fact that a player who has received multiple red cards is more likely to injure the players around them. At the moment and with the current guidelines, governing bodies are not even entertaining the idea of allowing a concussed player to play on. The fairer option would be to allow a player who is educated on the subject, in the right frame of mind and aware of the possible consequences of playing with such a condition to make their own decision.
Premier League miscellany At this halfway stage of the Premier League Jack Hogan accesses the success stories and possibilities ahead.
A Jack Hogan Staff Writer
ny calls for a winter break in the Premier League should be rubbished after what has been one of the most entertaining periods of festive football in many years. We have witnessed the stuggles of title contenders, the resurenge of relegation-battlers, touchine tiffs and most importantly some top quality goals. Where else can we start but with the rise and rise of Manchester City? Six consecutive League victories over the Christmas period gave Manuel Pellegrini the manager of the month award for December, though he will surely be more satisfied with his side’s impressive home victories over rivals Arsenal and Liverpool. These wins showed the two sides of City – their free-scoring attacking force was clearly evident when they put six past the Gunners but it was their dogged and determined defensive display against Liverpool that shows their true title-winning capability. Grinding out similar results against Tottenham and Chelsea in the coming weeks would certainly please Pellegrini. Indeed, with by far the best goal difference in the league and with the Sky Blues now aiming for four trophies, the Chilean has a lot to be optimistic about. However, he must ensure that the upcoming European tie with Barcelona does not distract his players from consolidating their position near the top of the League. City fans have also been delighted by the misfortune of their cross-town rivals. Manchester
United have faced serious public scrutiny following three consecutive losses and pressure has mounted on David Moyes to spend big in the January transfer window and to drop the underperforming Smalling, Rafael and Kagawa. Change is needed at Old Trafford if they are to push for a top four spot this season. Also in the mix for a Champion’s League place are Spurs who have improved markedly following the departure of André Villas-Boas. Wins against Stoke, Southampton, United and Crystal Palace have seen Tim Sherwood’s men climb progressively up the table. The re-introduction of Emmanuel Adebayor to the side has been key to this revival but perhaps the departure of Jermain Defoe to Toronto FC highlights the need for Tottenham to bolster their squad with a couple of January additions. Spurs face a challenging trip to Goodison Park next month in what could be a decisive tie in the battle for fourth place. Everton have continued to improve under the guidance of Roberto Martinez but the recent injury of the impressive Ross Barkely and the departure of Nikica Jelavic to Hull could dent the Toffees’ attacking prowess. Hull City, in spite of the ongoing saga of their propsed name change to “Hull Tigers”, have punched above their weight so far this season, but struggled over the festive peiod with only one win in seven games. Newcatle too have been on the wrong end of results (and refereeing deci-
“Where else can we start but with the rise and rise of Manchester City? Six consecutive League victories over the Christmas period gave Manuel Pellegrini the manager of the month award for December, though he will surely be more satisfied with his side’s impressive home victories over rivals Arsenal and Liverpool.”
sions!) in recent weeks. Losses to Arsenal, West Brom and City have dampened Alan Pardew’s New Year celebrations, which was quite evident in the Londoner’s foul mouthed touchline attack on Manuel Pellegrini. Newcastle need to channel this frustration in their upcoming fixture list, which sees the visit of their north-east neighbours Sunderland. Gus Poyet’s side have picked up points on the road at Everton, Cardiff and Fulham in recent weeks, giving them a shot at Premier League survival that did not seem possible a few months ago. In a truly extraordinary season so far, only six points separate bottom from 10th spot, making relegation predictions impossible at this stage of the campaign. However, if current form is anything to go by, then West Ham, Fulham and Cardiff have much to worry about. The Hammers’ poor run of results over Christmas has raised speculation on Sam Allardyce’s position. If the manager is depending on the return of Andy Carroll from injury to lead the club into recovery, he may need to think again and spend big in the transfer window. In South Wales, no matter how shameful the sacking of Malky Mackay, one cannot deny that the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as his replacement was a shrewd one. The United legend has impressed in his managerial career with Norwegian side Molde and could be the linchpin for a Cardiff revival. Towards
“Spurs face a challenging trip to Goodison Park next month in what could be a decisive tie in the battle for fourth place. Everton have continued to improve under the guidance of Roberto Martinez but the recent injury of the impressive Ross Barkely and the departure of Nikica Jelavic to Hull could dent the Toffees’ attacking prowess.”
the top, Arsenal continue to impress but were dealt a huge blow with the injury to Theo Walcott. If the likes of Ramsey, Wilshere, and Giroud can continue to produce goals there shouldn’t be any need for investment in new players this month. Chelsea too have shown their worth with a resilient festive win over Liverpool and convincing victories at Hull and Southampton, hepled by a resurrengent Fernando Torres. However, Mourinho’s treatment of Juan Mata has drawn criticism so don’t be surprised to see a transfer request handed in by summer time. Hot on Chelsea’s heels are Liverpool who recovered from a disappointing festive season with a highly entertaining win at Stoke. The return of Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard from injury spells danger for opposition teams as the highly acclaimed (and painfully named) SAS strike partnership is restored. Indeed it has been an eventful winter period in the Premier League. The coming weeks should give us a clearer picture of how the rest of the season will develop as the title race intensifies and the relegation battle comes to the fore. You’ll be forgiven for choosing Match of the Day over a night in the library!
Tuesday 21st January2014
Ronaldo finally wins the Ballon D’Or Gavin Cooney examines Ronaldo’s career and his finally beating Messi to win the titles of greatest footballer of 2013.
I Gavin Cooney Staff Writer
f a week is a long time in football, then nine and a half years must seem like a generation. This week, however, those who bring the above cliché to the table, as it were, were reminded of a distant past. Cristiano Ronaldo shed tears upon accepting the Ballon D’Or award last week, an award that recognised him as the greatest footballer of 2013. Spanish football daily Marca described them as ‘tears of gold’. It was not the first time Ronaldo has cried in public. After losing the Euro 2004 final to Greece in home soil, the world saw Portugal’s precocious attacker reduced to an anguished and wailing wreck after the final whistle. Then Ronaldo was merely a talent. An extraordinary talent, but had yet to achieve what he could and subsequently did. On that pitch in the summer of 2004, the sobbing Ronaldo aesthetically captured most of the stereotypes held against him. The tears met favourably with the caricature of a petulant child playing a man’s game. The bandaged earrings with the accusation that he
was a person that cared as much about his appearance as anything else. It was easy to forsee him failing to make the most of his talents. Here was an outrageously talented teenager with a big ego and an even bigger bank balance. Since losing the European Championship Final, Ronaldo has won the Champions League, three Premier League titles, two English League Cups, one FA Cup, one La Liga title and one Copa Del Ray. He has played 196 times for Manchester United, scoring 84 times. For Real Madrid, he has a scarcely believable 166 goals in 153 games. Ronaldo, far from falling victim to the magical rewards of a career as a professional footballer, has redefined what a professional footballing career is. He has shaped the profession as much as it has shaped him. Ronaldo, along with Lionel Messi, has turned the improbable into a weekly spectacle. A willing suspension of disbelief is probably the best method to use to put Ronaldo’s achievements into context. While pitches today suit
“Ronaldo shed tears upon accepting the Ballon D’Or award last week, an award that recognised him as the greatest footballer of 2013. Spanish football daily Marca described them as ‘tears of gold’.”
attacking players, defences have never been so well organised, opposition players have never been so athletic and disciplined. Yet Ronaldo has averaged more than a goal a game in the past two years. Ronaldo’s phenomenal achievements are a victory for self-determination and belief. Early in his Manchester United days, Ronaldo declared his ambition to become the best football in the world. Since then, he has set about proving himself right. He bought a house with a custom built swimming pool to aid his recovery. He hired his own chef to cook meals that would benefit him the most. He stayed back for hours after training practising a free kick technique he has now trademarked. He practised step-overs with weights around his ankles. When he tasted success he did not rest upon it. Success only provided the thirst for more success. For more hard work. The result is a career that has and continues to redefine what we see as a prolific goal record. Whereas once clubs craved
a striker that would score 20 goals a season, Ronaldo and Messi have made those who score 30 goals a year seem average. It seems extraordinary that amidst the life of fame that Ronaldo has lived in the past ten years that he is still willing to submit himself to extra training to make even wider the yawning chasm between him and the thousands of other mere mortals kicking a ball around a field for a living. He is chasing records and trophies rapaciously with a fury and a fleet of foot rarely, if ever, seen before. More extraordinary of all is how invulnerable he appears. The great footballers of the past have been suffused with a great weakness. While the capabilities of George Best, Paul Gascoigne and Diego Maradona seemed cosmic, the men themselves were painfully mortal. All had addiction issues, and none ruled for as long as Messi and Ronaldo have. Maradona fell for the trap as Ronaldo has evaded. Maradona’s former teammate Sergio Batista believes he never had a proper youth, from
the age of 19 he could not keep a low profile, such was his footballing reputation. It led to a belated adolescent rebellion, culminating in his suspension from the 1994 World Cup for substance abuse. Like Maradona, Ronaldo has had to grow up in the blinding light of the media’s intrusive curiosity and exploitation. He did not have the comforting walls of the Barcelona academy – like Lionel Messi did – to obscure the flash of cameras and the cuts of criticism. Yet he has achieved what he set out to do. Cristiano Ronaldo was the best footballer on the planet last year. An athletic apogee of self-belief and hard work. In 2014 Ronaldo wipes away tears with a smile on his face. The tears will fade. His achievements will not.
London’s burning Louis Strange takes a look at the strength of London clubs in this season’s Premier League.
L Louis Strange Staff Writer
ondon clubs make up over a quarter of this year’s Premier League, and while that might represent a strong contingent from the capital in terms of numbers alone, strength is not a characteristic shared by all. While Arsenal and Chelsea are on fire, West Ham, Fulham and Crystal Palace are closer to going down in flames. Oh, and Spurs play football too. To begin with West Ham, whose struggles this season can be pinpointed to the ill-advised, £15million injury mess otherwise known as Andy Carroll. West Ham fans’ belief that all you need is “sex, drugs and Carlton Cole” has been proved misplaced as a lack of goals sees them lying in 18th, the lowest-placed London club in the Premier League. At any other club Sam Allardyce’s severed head would probably be rolling away from the guillotine by this stage, but they don’t take things too seriously in the East End: the West Ham fans displayed their eternal sense of humour during the 6-0 demolition by Manchester City, serenading the City fans with a chorus of “You’re nothing special, we lose every week!” They will need that sense of humour next season in the Championship. Many thought that Crystal Palace were certain to be joining them there, but as it stands there seem to be other clubs who want to be relegated more. Signing Marouane Chamakh is never a good sign, and yet Palace are still hanging on, albeit dangling perilously just above the relegation zone. (Chamakh has even scored four
“It’s Arsenal’s defense which has done most of the work this season: the central defensive partnership of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielney has blossomed and Wojciech Szczesny is proving himself to be one of the best goalkeepers in the league, with as many clean sheets this at the half-way stage of this season (ten) as in the entirety of last term.”
goals – not a huge number, but nevertheless four more than most would have thought he would score.) Palace’s secret has been to save themselves for the important games: despite losing to the bigger teams, they have secured important results against the clubs around them, beating West Ham, Cardiff and Stoke since the beginning of December, suggesting survival might be possible in spite of a lack of real quality in the side. For Fulham, the potent cocktail of conceding too many goals and not scoring enough – who would have thought that would be a bad combination? – has resulted in the worst goal difference in the division, at -26. Fulham have been unlucky to have proven goal-scorers with years of experience failing to do the business up front: Darren Bent has only managed two so far this season and has for the most part found himself on the bench, whilst Dimitar Berbatov has scored just four and frustrated Fulham fans with his “mercurial” performances (here interchangeable with “lazy” and “not bothered”). When Steve Sidwell is your top scorer (five goals), something is going wrong. With Brede Hangeland now back after almost three months out Fulham may start to improve defensively, as they threatened to do in the first half against Arsenal this weekend; however, it was not enough to stop Arsenal returning to the League’s summit thanks to two Santi Cazorla goals within five minutes in a Fantasia-
esque second-half from the tiny wizard. But it is Arsenal’s defense which has done most of the work this season: the central defensive partnership of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielney has blossomed and Wojciech Szczesny is proving himself to be one of the best goalkeepers in the league, with as many clean sheets this at the half-way stage of this season (ten) as in the entirety of last term. Injuries have not yet significantly disturbed the stability of the Arsenal back four, instead taking their toll on a midfield with enough depth to absorb them, Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsay’s absences covered by Cazorla, Serge Gnabry and the returning Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Short of options up front, however, it may be that Arsenal’s title challenge will depend on Olivier Giroud, unlikely as that might have seemed in August. And so to the other half of North London. One of Zeno’s paradoxes – a set of philosophical problems devised by the Greek philosopher in the fifth century B.C. – describes a race between Achilles and a tortoise: the tortoise is given a head-start by Achilles and even though the latter catches up to the tortoise in a matter of moments, on account of the tortoise being constantly in motion Achilles will never actually reach the point where he is before he is no longer there. Zeno must have been thinking of Arsenal and Spurs when he devised this problem, as no matter how
“Many thought that Crystal Palace were certain to be joining them there, but as it stands there seem to be other clubs who want to be relegated more. Signing Marouane Chamakh is never a good sign, and yet Palace are still hanging on, albeit dangling perilously just above the relegation zone.”
hard Tottenham try they always seem to be behind their neighbours. Having recovered from their abject early season form under supposed saviour André Villas-Boas, Spurs rectified the problem by appointing an Arsenal fan, Tim Sherwood, as manager. The most noticeable change from the Villas-Boas regime is the restoration of Emmanuel Adebayor to the starting line-up – Sherwood probably remembered Adebayor from his Arsenal days – and the striker has reinvigorated Spurs’ push for Europa League qualification, scoring five and providing three assists in his last six games, before which he had only played 45 minutes of Premier League football this season. Another striker threatening to hit form is Chelsea’s Samuel Eto’o, whose hat-trick against Manchester United suggested that he might be the right choice to in front of an array of dangerous midfield players. Chelsea are still tipped by many to win the League this year – Manchester City’s ridiculous forward line might have something to say about that, though – and if Eto’o can score goals on a consistent basis (bearing in mind that the three against Manchester United doubled his League tally for the season) then José Mourinho will in all likelihood be a very happy man come May. Which, unless you are a Chelsea fan, is surely something nobody wants.
Tuesday 21st January 2014
Column O’Leary profiles Duhac Ladies captains Maria O’Sullivan and Laura Frey following their recent wins. p.21
Photo: Lara Connaughton
Leaping towards Rio 2016 Sarah Burns interviews Prakash Vijayanath who hopes to play Badminton for South Africa in the 2016 Olympics.
Sarah Burns Staff Writer
hile for most of us, the 2016 Rio Olympics seem like a lifetime away, with the dust finally having settled on London 2012, for hopeful athletes such as Prakash Vijayanath the new year marks his quest at becoming Africa’s number one in badminton player in time to secure automatic qualification for the Games in just over 18 months time. Currently ranked third in Africa for men’s singles in badminton, the 19 year old moved to Dublin last year to study. Since then the Johannesburg native has had his most successful year to date, winning the South African National Men’s singles title while coming second in the All African Championships. Studying Computer Science and Business here at Trinity College, Vijayanath is living and training at Badminton Ireland’s high performance centre at Marino. The centre, which is home to many of Ireland’s own Olympic contenders, sees athletes live and train there under the likes of Daniel Magee, the country’s national coach for badminton and previous national champion in men’s doubles. Speaking about 2013, Vijayanath still seems utterly surprised at how the year panned out for him. “I just really didn’t expect to do so well in both of those tournaments [the South African Nationals and the All African Championships],” he says. I think it was all the training that paid off for me. For the African Championships I didn’t think I’d even make it past the quarter-finals. It’s always been a difficult tournament and to make finals, I’m really happy but I do want to do better this coming year. Even for nationals, I hope to regain my title.” While Vijayanath is ranked third in Africa at the moment, reaching number one on the continent would guarantee automatic qualification for Rio 2016, a feat which the South African feels is well within his reach. “I mean the difference in the world rankings between the number two, the number one and me is really small. Even if I play just one extra tournament I could get it,” he explains. This year Vijayanath is set to play around ten tournaments, which will see him travel everywhere from Uganda, Romania and Portugal, with most happening during college term. Luckily however, training and tournaments haven’t seemed to inflict that much on the junior freshman’s study: “every tournament is
“The Commonwealth Games will be really tough, it’s one level below the Olympics and there are really good players going through it. The world number one from Malaysia, he’ll be in it. The top Indian players will be there, the top English and the Scottish will be there. I could do well, I could make the quarter-finals, depending on how good of a draw I get.”
about a week long so that’s a week off college. It can be tough at times but fortunately most things are online while lecturers have been accommodating. My training programme is also very flexible and at the moment it’s not too bad. I think when it comes closer to the exams I might have to cut it down a little bit.” With this January marking Vijayanath’s first year in Ireland, I ask how he’s found the last few months in the country’s capital. “The weather is a bit of a problem”, he laughs, “it’s a bit cold but other than that, the people are very friendly. I’m enjoying it.” Vijayanath was lucky enough to miss much of the windstorms that hit Ireland over the Christmas period, returning home to South Africa to participate in a tournament in December, as well as visit his family who are still living there. “They’re really looking forward to visiting me here,” he says. “The first week when you come back from South Africa having been there for a few weeks can be very hard but after that you get used to it, you get back
into training and your routine.” I’m informed that Vijayanath’s family are planning on visiting him either before or during the Commonwealth Games this summer in Glasgow. Held every four years, the Games sees athletes from the Commonwealth nations compete, with the tournament described as the third largest multi-sport event in the world, just behind the Olympics and the Asian Games. Born in India, the country’s previous status in the British Empire allows Vijayanath to participate in the hugely competitive tournament. He explains “the Commonwealth Games will be really tough, it’s one level below the Olympics and there are really good players going through it. The world number one from Malaysia, he’ll be in it. The top Indian players will be there, the top English and the Scottish will be there. I could do well, I could make the quarter-finals, depending on how good of a draw I get.” Talking to Vijayanath, what appears central to his progression and success over the past twelve months was his decision not only
“Currently ranked third in Africa for men’s singles in badminton, the 19 year old moved to Dublin last year to study. Since then the Johannesburg native has had his most successful year to date, winning the South African National Men’s singles title while coming second in the All African Championships.”
to move to Ireland, but to enter Badminton Ireland’s high performance centre in Marino, which saw him concentrate purely on national tournaments. While Vijayanath does play for the college team when he can, taking part at club level has been completely ruled out. “I live and train there [in Marino] which is very handy,” he says. There are loads of people in the academy but in the high performance, there’s about eight of us, with six of us living and training there. It’s been so beneficial to move here. I think the standard here in Ireland is definitely better than at home. The training has been better, the coaching staff here are really good, even the players I get to play against at my level are of a much higher standard so I’m always improving.” Badminton South Africa (BSA) currently lacks a national training centre although the BSA Board recently approved setting up a centre in the city of Pretoria. While clearly invaluable to his game, living and training at the same institute does take its toll, with Vijayanath admitting “it can get a little intense. All my roommates train with me, they’re all high performance players like me. It does get a bit too much badminton focused sometimes but thankfully at the weekends they go home and I normally go off somewhere with my friends.” With a busy few months in store for Vijayanath, his focus remains firmly on making it to Rio 2016, ideally through automatic qualification by gaining Africa’s number one spot. If not, he will probably have to be in the world’s top 50 or 60. He explains “it will be really tough though because the number one guy from Africa is South African and normally they don’t take two people from the same country, unless its China or Japan or one of the other top countries.” Indeed a busy few months ahead for Vijayanath, yet he remains both optimistic and determined on achieving his Olympic dream. “The cut off date for Olympic qualification is May 2016,” he states “while the starting date for the qualifying period is May 2015 so we have exactly one year and in that year we have to do really well.”