Wednesday 23nd January 2013
60 1953-2013 Ireland’s oldest student newspaper
College Backs Down in Redundancy Dispute TCD to re-hire workers; move comes a er intervention by Department; union says issue not resolved until terms agreed.
Rónán Burtenshaw Editor
ollege authorities have backed down in the long-running industrial dispute over staff redundancies in Trinity and begun re-hiring the staff laid off in late 2011 and early 2012. The move comes as a resolution to a nine-month stalemate following a Labour Court recommendation in April 2012 which supported their reinstatement. Trinity had previously argued that the recommendation was not binding and that, despite entering the Labour Court process in “good faith”, they were “unable to implement the recommendation on reinstatement due to the precedent it would set and the risk of ensuing unsustainable costs”. However, in a statement to Trinity News on Monday, Trinity confirmed that it “accepted” that the recommendation was “binding”. The Irish Federation of University Lecturers (Ifut), which represented the staff, had successfully argued in the Labour Court that their contracts of indefinite duration (CIDs) were permanent and that they could therefore not be made redundant under the Croke Park agreement. In September the department of education strongly backed the union's position, warning Trinity that the recommendation was “both final and binding” and to implement the Labour Court's recommendation “immediately” or face “consequences”. A month later the department revealed that Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn had secured government approval for
an amendment to the 1997 Universities Act which would give him powers to “address issues which have arisen in relation to the non-adherence to elements of the Croke Park agreement” in addition to further prerogative for intervention in the university sector. Speaking to Trinity News, Ifut general secretary Mike Jennings said that he felt the department's intervention was “pivotal” to Trinity's decision to recognise the ruling as binding. “It is unfortunate,” he said, “that such a draconian intervention was necessary to make TCD come to its senses.” He also said that the union had learned of College's changed stance on the recommendation after seeing communication between Trinity and the department of education in early December. In College's statement they confirmed that the “decision to accept the Labour Court recommendation followed on foot of clarification from the department of education and the National Implementation Body of its binding status under the Public Service agreement.” Last January Ifut had “stalled all further engagement” with the Croke Park agreement process in Trinity following the redundancies. In November it threatened to row back on workplace reforms to increase productivity and flexibility already undertaken as part of the deal, including the full economic costing (FEC) programme, whereby union workers work with colleges to identify
The Tome Collector: Interview with Fritz Senn, founder of the James Joyce Foundation in Zurich, a haven of over five thousand volumes and multiples more miscellany emanating from the Irish émigré.
InDepth - p6
the cost of activities, and the academic workload model, which requires staff to record their daily activities. The union also suggested that it might refuse to assist in implementing the recommendations of the Hunt report and the report on the structure of initial teacher education provision. The three workers at the centre of the case, lecturers in the departments of Art History and Architecture and Social Work and Social Policy and a librarian, had been in receipt of funding streams that accrued from external sources which ceased during the terms of their contracts. College had expressed concern that the Labour Court’s recommendation to manage the situation through redeployment, retraining or voluntary redundancy would place Trinity in a difficult financial position. About 40% of Trinity's staff are non-core-funded, or in receipt of external funding. According to Ifut, one of the three staff in the Labour Court case has “resolved” their redeployment within college, pending a return from leave. Another staff member received what was described as a “concrete offer” two weeks ago while another is engaged in discussions and expected to receive a similar offer in the coming weeks. However, College still sees the reinstatement of the staff as a bad precedent, telling Trinity News that Trinity “will manage the additional costs as best it can. Similar outcomes to [this case] in future will seriously impact on
the College's strategic direction, teaching and research. The situation will be kept under regular review.” It is unclear how College now intends to abide by the Croke Park agreement's guarantee that “compulsory redundancy will not apply within the Public Service”. On CIDs, Trinity's statement said that it did “not provide blanket protection to staff who have accrued entitlement to a contract of indefinite duration from being made redundant” and that “the College will consider claims from staff on a case-by-case basis.” In a further concession, Trinity has agreed to enter conciliation talks in the Labour Relations Commission with five other workers on CIDs who were threatened with redundancy, saying “the outcome of which will depend upon the relative merits of each case.” College had previously refused to engage with the process during the stalemate. Mr Jennings said that the union would “wait until all three claimants are in receipt of offers acceptable to them” before deeming Trinity compliant with the Croke Park agreement. He added that the CID situation was “still a concern because Trinity will treat them on a case-by-case basis.” While Ifut members in Trinity felt “vindicated”, he said that they were “conscious” of the need to remain “vigilant in the current climate”. Additional reporting by Eoghan McNeil
“The current state of our law is placing women’s lives at risk. ” Ivana Bacik on why legislating the X case is legislating for life too.
Comment - p13
MARTHA WAINWRIGHT BLOWS OFF SOME S TEAM AHEAD OF HER DUBLIN GIGS. WALTON GOGGINS, STAR OF JUS TIFIED, TALKS UP TARANTIN O AND SPIELBERG
Caman, camog; come one, come all: shinty and camogie combine for clash of the ash.
Sport - p24
Tuesday 22nd January 2013
What They Said
“ “ “ “ Students filled me up all day. Today is a good day for buildings.
The first use of omg was in 1917 in a letter from Lord Fisher to Winston Churchill. ‘A new round of medals coming out. Omg. Shower them on the admiralty’
Random girl in Cassidy’s last night: “Damo? Is that the Ents guy I keep hearing about?” THE HYPE IS SPREADING. Damo for Ents Campaign
John Logue - USI President John Logue, who had been on the way to a mechanic to fix a minor problem with his car before crashing it.
Hannah Cogan Public Editor
Preferendum on abortion to be held next month Catherine Healy Student Affairs Correspondent College’s students are to be polled on the issue of abortion, following a motion passed by the Students’ Union council on Tuesday 15th January. The poll will be held in conjunction with the elections for next year’s sabbatical officers, from Monday 4th February to Thursday 7th February. The Union’s education officer, Dan Ferrick, said that the issue will be presented to students in a preferendum, meaning its results will not be binding and will only act as a guide when the Union’s voting members subsequently decide on a mandate at a future council meeting. He told Trinity News: “[They] may decide to pass that as a motion, or run it as a referendum that would be binding for the long term, as opposed to a motion which is only for two years”. When asked about the possibility of the preferendum’s result being overturned by class reps, Ferrick commented that “class reps should vote on behalf of their fel-
low students”. The motion passed at last week’s council meeting mandated the union to “hold a preferendum to consider available legislative options in regard to the issue of abortion”. This means that students will be asked for their position on abortion, rather than their opinion on whether the Students’ Union should take a stance on the issue. The majority of speakers at the meeting called on the Union to take a position in the abortion debate. The topic had been originally raised as a discussion item by the Union’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights officer, Eoin Silke, before a motion was worded and subsequently passed. Silke referred to recent criticism of the Students’ Union’s inability to express an opinion on the Savita Halappanavar case as evidence of the need for clarity. However, a number of students at the meeting raised the issue that there is a risk of alienating students who disagree with whatever stance the Union is mandated to take. The pro-life activist Dominic Gallagher was among the stu-
dents who argued in favour of neutrality. He said that the Union should avoid taking a “party line” on the issue so as to allow free debate among students. Gallagher further claimed that abortion is not a student issue, a point with which later speakers took particular issue. The former Students’ Union officer for students with disabilities Aimée Doyle spoke from personal experience in challenging this notion, telling the meeting that a medical condition means she will die if she ever becomes pregnant. Amy Worrall, a senior sophister in human health and disease, similarly contended that many students in College have to travel abroad for an abortion under current legislation. She echoed an argument made by others that crisis pregnancy disproportionally affects students and younger women. Senior sophister English student Sally Rooney argued that ignoring the issue is, in itself, a political act. She joined others in calling for the union to hold a referendum on abortion, in order to ensure students’ views are represented and that Trinity is “a college that supports free speech”.
From the majority of speeches at the meeting, one speaker said, there was an overriding feeling that the issue should “no longer [be] pushed under the rug”. A number of students cited the legacy of Senator Ivana Bacik, a former Students’ Union president who was taken to court during her tenure by the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Children (SPUC) for providing information on abortion to students. The Union’s current president, Rory Dunne, was particularly forthcoming in his praise, saying that Trinity students are “custodians of a fantastic heritage”.
The majority of speakers at the meeting called on the union to take a position in the abortion debate.
Dunne referred to the preferendum held on third-level funding options last year as a model for approaching policy on the issue of abortion. Just under 2,000 students – about one sixth of College’s undergraduate population – voted in the preferendum on fees last May. It is unknown whether student groups or societies will be permitted to campaign in the run-up to the abortion preferendum.
At the time of going to print, Ferrick said he was unable to comment on such details as no formal decision had yet been made. The rules concerning campaigning, as well as the wording of the preferendum, are expected to be released following a meeting of the Students’ Union’s executive committee on Monday 21st January. Under current regulations enforced by the Central Societies Committee (CSC), the Dublin University Gender Equality Society (Duges), which many would expect to take a vocal stance on the preferendum, is prohibited from “espousing corporate opinion on political issues”. The ban on political activity led to Duges halting advocacy activity on the issue of abortion in the run-up to a pro-choice march in November. The CSC has since clarified that individual members of the society are permitted to publicly campaign or advertise protests under the society’s banner, but that the society itself is not allowed to explicitly advocate a political position on behalf of all members. As the CSC objects to the establishment of explicitly pro-choice or pro-life societies in College, the results of the abortion preferendum could result in the Students’ Union becoming the first student body in Trinity allowed to express an opinion on the issue. Under its current long-term policies, the union is mandated only to provide information on the option of abortion to students.
Change of course: new admissions system to be trialled from 2014 Catherine Healy Student Affairs Correspondent
EDITORIAL STAFF Editor Deputy Editor Art Director Web Editor Copy Editor Deputy Copy Managing Editor News Editor Deputy News Student Affairs News In Brief InDepth Editor Deputy InDepth Comment Editor Deputy Comment Science Editor Deputy Science Sports Editor Deputy Sports Photography Editor Deputy Photography Editor-at-Large Public Editor School Co-ordinator
Rónán Burtenshaw Dargan Crowley-Long Éna Brennan Aoife O’Brien John Colthurst Seán Farrell Gabriel Beecham Ian Curran Ruairí Casey Catherine Healy Aonghus Ó Cochláin Max Sullivan Saphora Smith Manus Lenihan David Barker Anthea Lacchia Stephen Keane Sarah Burns James Hussey George Voronov Henrietta Montague-Munson Elaine McCahill Hannah Cogan Niamh Teeling
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An experimental alternative system for undergraduate admissions in Trinity will be trialled from 2014 onwards, according to a feasibility study launched on Monday 14th January. Speakers present at the launch, which was held at the Royal Irish Academy (RIA), included the senior lecturer, Patrick Geoghegan, the provost, Patrick Prendergast, and the dean of admissions and financial aid at Harvard College, William R Fitzsimmons. Speaking at the event, Geoghegan announced that the programme will be used to admit students into three different courses: 10 places in history, 10 in law and five in ancient and medieval history and culture will be ringfenced. The decision to use these particular courses was, according to Geoghegan, because of their “high prestige” and “high popularity”. In 2014, students will be able to opt into this alternative assessment system through the national Central Admissions Office (CAO), as part of a pilot study in developing a new national admissions scheme. As well as by their results in the leaving certificate, students who choose to make themselves eligible for the ringfenced places will be assessed by personal submissions and by a metric termed the relative performance rank (RPR), which will measure each applicant’s academic performance relative to other students in their school. Those opting into the study will also be eligible for the regular places on each course, which will be allocated through CAO points in the normal way. He added that it was “important not to damage the leaving certificate’s position as an examination of international repute”, and that the feasibility study was part of a process of “finding a better and fairer way” to allocate places to students. Speaking at the launch, Fitzsimmons, who was the guest of honour at the launch, said: “This pioneering feasibility study in admissions is something that could be transformative for Ireland … the adoption of broader criteria
for college admission – using a process called holistic admissions – will send a clear message to the young people of Ireland that the gates of Trinity and all universities are open wider than ever before to those who bring excellence in all its forms.” Fitzsimmons stated that the support of the Irish government for this policy “has been unequivocal”. He echoed previous statements made by Geoghegan in saying that Trinity is “the right university” to conduct such a survey, and that as Ireland’s foremost university it has both the moral authority and the moral obligation to help “level the playing field”. Reforming College’s admissions system had been a key promise from Prendergast during his campaign to take up office as provost. In the run up to his election in April 2011, he argued that an alternative programme was required to widen third-level access. At the launch, Prendergast said that he hoped this was an opportunity for Trinity to help “reform one of the more controversial aspects” of Ireland’s education system. He described the current CAO points system as “too narrow a gate” for prospective students to aim for, and added that the current system puts “students to the pin of their collar” in order to get a place in university. He stated, however, that the “legacy of anonymity and transparency” left in Irish education by the CAO system was something that the feasibility study should preserve. The event was chaired by Luke Drury, the RIA’s president. Drury said that the points system had “introduced serious distortions into the system” for Irish students, and he commended College for its efforts in attempting to fix this. Much of the groundwork for the scheme was undertaken by Geoghegan, who held discussions on the matter with various deans of admissions from the United States over the summer months. Speaking to Trinity News in September, Geoghegan said he was confident that the scheme’s ambition would bear fruit: “This could be something that, when the history of education in Ireland or even the history of the
21st century in Ireland [is written], people could point to this and say, ‘That was the year that the points race stopped.’” Geoghegan also told Trinity News that the pilot programme, and in particular its RPR component, would lead to greater diversity in College’s students, given the continuing dominance of fee-paying schools among the top
The pilot scheme, is due to run for two years and will be expanded if it is deemed successful as a pioneering alternative model to the CAO points system. feeder schools to Trinity. While national programmes such as the Higher Education Access Route and the Disability Access Route to Education have offered courses at reduced points to students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and disabled students since 2009, College’s current figures for admissions from non-traditional sources are still a long way off the Higher Education Authority’s overall national target of 30% by 2013. The pilot scheme, which was passed by the University Council, College’s highest academic committee, on 23rd October, is due to run for two years and will be expanded if it is deemed successful as a pioneering alternative model to the CAO points system. In order to ensure the anonymity of the scheme, students’ names and schools as well as any other potentially identifying information will be omitted from applications. A final review committee consisting of internal and external representatives will have the final decision in allocating places awarded through the pilot study. Additional reporting by Ian Curran.
If I had brains I’d be dangerous.”
New centralized system sees thousands of students waiting months for grant payments Ruairí Casey Deputy News Editor Students’ unions across the country are providing food boxes, with continuing delays in the new grant allocation process resulting in financial difficulty for students. As of last week, there are thousands of successful applicants still waiting on their first grant payment, according to Student Universal Support Ireland (Susi), the body tasked with processing student grants. The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) president, John Logue, commented: “As students return for the second term of the year, over 5,500 are still desperate for financial assistance. In order to alleviate some of the hardship caused by delayed grant payments, a significant number of students’ unions across the country have provided food boxes for students who are coming to college hungry.” Mr Logue went on to say that although students’ unions can work to provide modest welfare assistance, they cannot compensate for the entirety of what a grant would cover, with delays inhibiting the ability of students to pay rent and putting pressure on landlords. “The USI is calling on the minister to ensure that Susi has all necessary resources to complete grant payments by the end of the month.” Susi was established to centralise the system of grant applications which had previously been handled by 66 different local authorities. These authorities would continue to process renewed grants, but all first-time grants for the year 2012-13 have gone through Susi. Delays in the payment of these grants have plagued the new system, which has been the subject of widespread criticism from the public, opposition TDs and from within the government itself. In November, officials of the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee claimed that most of the delays were caused by students providing incomplete or incorrect information. A submission by VEC chief executive Jacinta Stewart to the Oireachtas committee on education and social protection led to an animated debate. Some members were unhappy with blame being placed on students and several called for an apology from Ms Stewart. Both minister for education
Ruairí Quinn and taoiseach Enda Kenny made their position known on the matter. Quinn addressed the issue the Dáil in November. “I want to apologise formally to those students and their parents for the distress these delays are causing and ultimately, as minister for education and skills, I accept responsibility,” he said. Kenny publicly stated that it was an “unacceptable position”. In response to the delays in the Susi system, minister Quinn allocated an additional €3m to the Student Assistance Fund in December, raising it to €11m. The fund provides assistance for students with financial difficulties. This year, third-level institutions are seeing an average 67% increase in applications. Speaking at the time, Mr Quinn said, “I recognise that the problems with Susi, the new grant awarding body, is one of the factors driving students to seek help, but there are others such as the withdrawal of other sources of funding like those from societies or partnerships and the increased numbers of students in poverty, and I hope the increased money now available to the Fund will go some way to alleviating student hardship.” By the beginning of December, only 7,132 of the 66,827 students who applied for grants had received payments. It was later confirmed by Mr Quinn that not all grants would be paid before the new year, as many details had yet to be verified and because of banking restrictions during the Christmas holidays. Criticism came thick and fast from TDs and figures in the education sector. Labour TD for Dublin West Patrick Nulty said that the processing of student grants by Susi is “chaotic and offensive to students. “This situation is now a crisis for some students on a low income who are even thinking about dropping out of college. It is time minister Quinn stopped making excuses and hired extra staff to deal with this situation.” Denis Cummins, chairman of the institutes of technology body and president of Dundalk IT, was sceptical about the future of Susi. “As a system I think we have concerns about Susi’s capacity to cope, how is that going to ramp up in future years?” He added that the issue is more immediate in institutes of technology, where the proportion of students on grants is higher.
Eye on Joyce in Year of Ulysses talk on “Cyclops” chapter
Student Affairs Correspondent Last Thursday saw Trinity College host a public lecture by Anne Fogarty, professor of Joyce studies in University College Dublin. Professor Fogarty delivered a paper on the topic of the critical history and problems associated with the “Cyclops” episode from James Joyce’s Ulysses. The lecture, which took place in Trinity’s Long Room Hub, was part of the Year of Ulysses (YoU) project. Professor Fogarty discussed Joyce’s technique and style in the “Cyclops” episode of the novel as well as aspects of the episode’s critical history. She discussed the view that the citizen character in the novel was a composite of Irish nationalist figures such as Arthur Griffith and Michael Cusack. Professor Fogarty described the episode as a piece of writing that “mirrors our own political opinions back to us”. She said that the episode was possibly Joyce’s criticism of liberals for not having “force” behind their beliefs and rhetoric. The Year of Ulysses is an international endeavour which has been undertaken by the Modern-
ist Versions Project, a Canadian research project which aims to digitize modernist texts and “enable scholars using Digital Humanities methods to generate new critical and interpretive insights”. It is partly a celebration of the 90th anniversary of the publication of Ulysses. The Year of Ulysses consists of a series of lectures given by Joycean academics internationally which are filmed and uploaded to the Modernist Versions website. The lectures coincide with the online release of digitized versions of different individual episodes of the novel. The project is aimed at disseminating Ulysses to its “widest audience ever” and to provide support for readers in the process. The project began on 16th June – Bloomsday – 2012 and will run until Bloomsday this year. Trinity’s Dr Sam Slote will be giving a lecture as part of the series on 6th February. Dr Slote recently published his own annotated version of Ulysses which has been warmly received by critics and academics. The lecture is entitled “Between Commentary and Eternity: Annotating Dante and Joyce.” Dr Slote will discuss the process of annotating the novel. Additional reporting by Ronan O’Connor
Tuesday 22nd January 2013
Students’ Union condemns wage cuts for newly-employed nurses Catherine Healy Student Affairs Correspondent Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union has passed a motion opposing a new recruiting scheme from the Health Service Executive (HSE) that will see nursing and midwifery graduates employed at 80% of the minimum agreed rate. Under the scheme, which was launched on 13th January, the starting salary for newly-qualified nurses will be reduced from €26,000 to €22,000 per year and graduates will be offered two-year contracts rather than permanent positions. The cut is the third since 2009, when starting salaries were over 24% higher. The programme will also see the displacement of up to 1,000 temporary and agency staff in favour of new graduates on the proposed reduced salary as the HSE lifts its recruitment embargo for the first time since the Croke Park agreement. The HSE estimates that the move will save the department of health up to €10m next year. Trinity students were also among the hundreds of nursing and midwifery graduates protesting against the scheme on 5th January. The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) and the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA), organised a rally at Croke Park, calling on nursing graduates to boycott the recruitment programme – which the HSE began to advertise two weekends ago – until the posts are advertised at the same salary afforded to their full-time colleagues in the service. The INMO general secretary, Liam Doran, denounced the plans: “No matter how you dress it up, that is exploitation. That is cheap labour and that is wrong … There are no new jobs attached to
this initiative and its introduction will simply put 1,000 experienced nurses and midwives out of work, while giving transient work to the new graduates.” Des Kavanagh, the PNA general secretary, stated that the initiative “must be rejected by nurses and by Irish society as an abuse of a profession which is predominantly female and devalues an acknowledged world-class education system for Irish nurses”. Speaking to Trinity News, senior freshman nursing student Adam Miller criticised the HSE’s marketing of the positions as internships: “We already do a 36-week placement in fourth year. We’re fully-trained and recognised by the Bord Altranais by the time we’re qualified and would be left with the same responsibilities as any other nurse.”
The Students’ Union’s motion was passed at a meeting of the union’s council on 15th January. Dave Curtin, a nursing class rep who was present at the Croke Park rally and spoke in favour of the motion at the council meeting, told Trinity News that the scheme will “100% drive nursing students out of the country”. The proposed starting salaries offered to graduates under the programme are significantly less than what they can expect to earn in the UK, where newly-qualified nurses in areas like London typically begin on salaries in the region of €30,000. Curtin reported that the cuts were already affecting students: “This December, 14 graduates in Our Lady’s Hospital in Drogheda had their contracts taken away as their pay wasn’t in line with these
reduced rates.” A circular was issued by the HSE last month that instructed health managers to discontinue any contract of employment already provided to 2012 graduates. Curtin supports the boycotting of the scheme, but expressed reservations as to whether the positions would be turned down by graduates: “People are scared. They’ll be scared into taking them.” The HSE has since extended deadlines for application to the scheme, which the INMO says is evidence that its boycott is working. In a statement on Thursday 17 January, the union said the boycott will remain in place “for whatever application period the HSE lays down.
Saskia Sassen denounces international “expulsion” of labour in public lecture Hannah Cogan Public Editor What do the young rioters of Barcelona, the revolutionaries of Tahrir Square and the disenfranchised 20-somethings of Occupy Wall Street have in common? According to Professor Saskia Sassen, a prominent sociologist at Columbia University and the keynote speaker at the first of a series of public lectures entitled Eurovisions, they are part of a global and, until now, subterranean trend of dissatisfaction: “They’re waiting for the state to give back to them, fulfil its end of the bargain. The sheer brutality of waiting; Waiting for Godot doesn’t even begin to capture it.” Sassen’s lecture on 15 January, entitled Expulsions – The Fifth Circle of Hell, is the first in a series of lectures jointly organised by College’s Institute for International Integration Studies and the Long Room Hub. The Eurovisions lectures will cover topics ranging from developing European identity to European geopolitical strategy in Asia. According to the provost, Patrick Prendergast, who gave an introductory speech before the lecture, the talks will aim to “engage the public with
academic research, promoting informed and unpartisan debate”. The lecture discussed themes of economic expulsion and isolation in the move toward greater globalisation, suggesting that the systematic incorporation of individuals into the economy after the second world war was starting to fall apart. The definition of the middle class, she explained, was changing; after all, “no meaning is really forever stable”. Increasingly, she reported, the trend to expand the middle class, to encourage more people to be more prolific as both consumers and producers is being reversed, as individuals are forced out. She commented that the rioters of Barcelona, Tahrir square protesters and the Occupy movement are all victims of this exclusion: “They’ve held their end of the bargain, been educated, worked hard, and now they’re frustrated that the state won’t follow through to give them what they feel they’ve earned.” Sassen attributed a love of studying displaced populations to her own immigrant upbringing. Born to Dutch parents in Rio de Janeiro, she grew up in Rome and Latin America, and jokes that she was “brought up in five different languages”. Emigrating to the United States
in her late teens, she worked initially as a contract cleaner with a team of other recent Hispanic and Asian immigrants: “Whilst they called us immigrants, we never thought of ourselves that way. Minimum wage immigration was always a transitory phase.” Her study of immigrant identity and experience continued through a doctorate at Columbia and 12 books covering globalisation and population mobility. Her 1988 textbook, The Mobility of Labour and Capital, was among the first to suggest that foreign investment in developing countries can be seriously detrimental. Mobility of capital and labour, she argued, are not as socially beneficial as is often argued. Pointing to recent so-called land grabs in Asia and Africa, as well as a spate of foreclosures in western economies, she suggested that the financial industry may be the catalyst of the “shadow of urbanisation, the sudden development and exclusion of a vast surplus population”. She suggested that as land and the financial instruments derived from it become far more valuable than the workers or activities found on it, the corporations deriving value from land have an interest in disconnecting people from their communities, particu-
larly in the developing world. She cited Ethiopia as an example, where nearly $100m (€75m) has been spent by Saudi Arabian industries to buy plantation land for wheat, barley, and rice. The farming corporations are largely tax-exempt in Ethiopia, and their produce is exported back to Saudi Arabia. The establishment of such plantation land has expelled local farmers from much of their land, creating considerable problems with domestic food production. Whilst Ethiopia’s GDP per capita has increased substantially in recent years, it seems levels of hunger and malnutrition are rising steadily alongside food prices. Professor Mary Corcoran of the National University of Ireland, Maynooth delivered a brief response to conclude the evening’s event, praising Sassen for her compelling additions to the theories of sociology and noting: “With so much focus on case studies and data, it’s important for academics to relate events on global scale.” Sassen intends to continue her current field of research, examining the so-called “systematicity” of expulsion in a new book to be released later this year.
SU Canditate Profiles
Ruarí Casey Deputy News Editor
President Lylas Aljohmani Lylas is a final year student of Medicine. An active member in a number of medical societies, she has also been involved in the Students’ Union and currently holds the position of assistant campaigns officer, as well as being a member of the welfare committee. She would like to see the Union become more approachable, using informal clinics to engage with students. If elected, she plans to expand the current accommodation advisory service by working with private letting agents to provide priority lettings to Trinity students. She also aims to increase opportunities for internships by working with the Careers Advisory Service and the Alumni Office. In addition, she would follow the example of Rory Dunne, by donating 10% of her salary to the Student Hardship Fund. Rosa Langhammer Rosa is a JS student of Business, Economics and Social Studies (Bess). Involved in a wide range of student societies, she is currently public relations officer (PRO) of Cancer Soc, treasurer and fundraiser of Enactus Trinity and third-year rep for Dubes. She wants to increase the interaction between the Union and
the average student. She plans to pressure grant awarding bodies to ensure that this year’s Susi fiasco is not repeated and to make information on part-time jobs and accommodation more accessible by giving them a prominent place online. She wishes to develop an app in collaboration with other student organizations which would provide information on timetables, the library, deals of the week and more. She will also introduce a Union loyalty card for their services and more permanent deals with local businesses. Tom Lenihan Tom is a JS student in Law and Business. He is currently a class rep, secretary for Law Soc, film editor for TN2 and American sports correspondent for the University Times. He acknowledges that many students are sceptical about Union elections, and that to combat this the president needs to understand student issues and make life easier for students. He aims to represent the ideas and views that all students can offer, and to bridge the gap between college authorities and the Union.
Communications Leanna Byrne Leanna is a SS student of Bess. She has written for the University Times for the past three years and currently holds the position of deputy editor. She is also a class rep and a member of the Union’s communications committee. She feels the Students’ Union should encourage students to use online resources other than Twitter and Facebook, and that there needs to be more regulation and a greater effort to start debate among students. She wants to make the Students’ Union more accessible by bridging the gap between students and the Union. She aims to seek advertising for the University Times to invest more in the newspaper and the communications office. She believes Trinity should be more focused on technology and the internet, and her campaign will reflect this belief. Matthew Taylor Matthew is a SS student of History. He has been involved primarily in the media side of student life. He is currently University Times opinion editor, treasurer of Trinity Publications, station manager of Trinity FM and was founder and co-director of last year’s National Media Conference. He wants the Students’ Union to use more creative means of interacting with students and to increase their understanding of what services the Union offers. He also plans to reform the University Times to make sure its editorial line is impartial and the paper does not become a Union mouthpiece. He wants a change in the mentality of the college, to make Trinity more than just an educational institution, but an active and caring community as well.h Tommy Gavin Tommy is a JS student of Sociology and Philosophy. He is the editor and founder of the University Times Magazine and has previously served as the deputy editor of the University Times. He plans to institute a code of practice and ethics for the University Times to set out the principles for writers and editors and to define their different roles and responsibilities. This would also guarantee its independence from the Students’ Union. He would also make the Union’s website more accessible and user-friendly and improve the deal of the week. He sees the vibrant student media environment in Trinity as something which should be developed and defended by the communications officer. Ricky McCormack Ricky is a SS student of Drama and Theatre Studies. He has held positions in Players and the Phil, was editor of the Piranha last year and is currently a member of the Central Societies Committee executive. He also spent last summer working under the press secretary of a US congressman. He acknowledges that there is a serious disconnect between students in Trinity and the Students’ Union. He wants to use the position of communications officer to bring them back into touch and to make students feel empowered and involved. He wants to introduce more forums for discussion between students and college administration so they can voice their opinions.
Education Jack Leahy Jack is a JS student of English Literature and History. He holds the position of news editor in the University Times, is finance and services officer of the Students’ Union, and was founder and co-director of last year’s National Media Conference. He feels that the Students’ Union needs to have greater dialogue with students, with officers being more approachable and policies more widely discussed. If elected, he aims to further the education that Trinity can provide
to its students outside of lectures. Issues he will focus on include better library services, improved student assessment of modules and education in skills. Eric Tebay Eric is a SS student of Biochemistry. Having been involved with the Students’ Union since second year, he is currently faculty convenor of Engineering, Maths and Sciences, and is charged with the organizing of EMS Day and the Science Ball. He is also secretary of the education committee. He believes that the Union needs to be more transparent and accessible, and would provide a Facebook platform for students to discuss academic issues. He plans to introduce a new “Exam Skills Week” which will feature seminars and workshops to increase students’ study skills. He also wants to streamline student module assessment and improve library services.
Welfare Stephen Garry Stephen is a SS student of Psychology and Economics. He has been involved in a number of college societies and the Students’ Union. He is currently president of Student2Student and has previously held the position of Junior Common Room welfare officer. He wants to bring a fresh approach to the promotion and implementation of welfare campaigns. He recognizes the importance of welfare’s collaboration with the student body, and aims to help students equip themselves for the stresses of college life. He also wants to strengthen dialogue between students and staff, and work with the college to make sure Students’ Union projects reach their full potential.
Ents Conor Gleeson Conor, or “Smeesh”, is a SS student of Bess. He has been heavily involved in ents for the past two years and has vast experience in putting up posters and running underage discos. He aims to improve services at the Pav by introducing heaters, awnings and sounder barmen. Other plans include ambitious brick-by-brick moving of Trinity Halls closer to college, a new 36-hour study space and a weekly tobacco deal with Maguire’s. He claims that his high level of soundness will distinguish him from his competitors. Cian Mulville Cian is a JS student of Bess. He has been involved in ents, working with past ents officer Chris O'Connor on the Madhaus night in the Academy, and holding positions on the 2012 Rag week committee and ents exec. He plans to reintroduce weekly ents nights to provide a cheap alternative to privately run club nights and would organize cheap weekend trips to major European cities. Unhappy with last year’s Trinity Ball, he wants to make sure the event is about entertainment, not profit, and that ents gets the best lineup possible. Sean Reynolds Sean is a JS student of Bess. He was a founding member of Fish Soc and the society’s first ents officer. Though not a member of the ents team, he has collaborated on a number of events for Rag week and Freshers’ week, and has experience in organizing club nights and live music events. His plans include new ents club nights, more live music in Trinity, and off-campus, festival-style events. He also wants ents to act as a facilitator in supporting societies, class reps, sports clubs and individuals in pursuing their own ideas and initiatives. Cameron Macaulay 22-year-old Cameron MacAulay is running a joke candidacy for the Ents position. He is involved with Players, whose Chair Paul Testar is running his campaign, and performed in the Trinity Shakespeare Festival this summer. Having graduated from St. Andrew’s College in Booterstown in 2009 Mcaulay, who is a musician and composer, began studying music in Trinity. Macaulay’s election profile would dispute this information - asserting instead that he is a 29-year-old former two-time UCD Ents Officer now studying Business and Arabic after inter-railing in “Slovenia or Slovakia” and trying his hand at club promotion. It continues that he was “voted Most Likely To Party With Shaggy in [his] school yearbook” and that his interests include “ partying and getting my mates concession into clubs.” “The most urgent problem is the opening hours of the library. I would cut these completely. People say it’s wrong to hold culture hostage. So why is it not wrong that culture holds students hostage?” It concludes by promising to better the job done by current Ents Officer - Stoke City midfielder Glen Whelan.”
Tuesday 22nd January 2013
Aonghus Ó Cochláin
News In Brief
News In Brief Editor
Students invited to partake in NetSoc to host lecture on the Irish “Junior Nobel Prize” free software movement Trinity students are invited to submit their course work to the Undergraduate Awards, considered to be the Irish “Junior Nobel Prize”, before 24th May 2013. The awards serve as an opportunity for students to be recognised for undergraduate achievement and academic excellence on a global platform. Founded in 2008 by two Trinity graduates, Oisin Hanrahan and Paddy Cosgrave, the Undergraduate Awards include all institutions across the country and the top 100 colleges globally, open to
students in their penultimate and final year of an undergraduate degree course. In February 2012, the organisation received official patronage of the president of Ireland, Michael D Higgins. “We’re looking for the next generation of creative thinkers and problem solvers,” according to Louise Hodgson, programme director. “The programme attracts students who, at a very early stage in their academic careers, are already researching solutions to the pressing problems we face as
a global community and turning commonly-accepted theories on their heads.” Winners are honoured at the Undergraduate Awards summit in Ireland, a three-day conference for undergraduate achievers from all disciplines to collaborate, share ideas with one another and forge relationships. The exceptional papers are published in the annual Undergraduate Journal for academic libraries worldwide as a showcase of outstanding undergraduate research.
Amnesty Youth condemn attack on Syrian university Amnesty International Ireland’s Youth Action Team has expressed its shock at an attack on a university in Aleppo, Syria last Tuesday, where at least 87 people were killed. Since the beginning of the uprising in Syria, a number of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by both proand anti-government forces have been documented by humanitarian agencies, such as Amnesty International. Both sides have been accused of killing and torturing captives and being responsible for the killing of civilians through the use of indiscriminate weapons. Accord-
ing to the United Nations, over 60,000 people have become causality to the continuing conflict. Sorcha McCauley, Trinity College student and chairperson of Amnesty International’s Youth Action Team, commented on the news of the attack: “I want to express our solidarity with the students of the Syrian university who, like many students across Ireland, were studying for their exams when this vicious attack took place. “The fact that this attack happened in a place of education is a stark reminder of the kinds of violence and human rights abuses that are taking place in Syria on a
day to day basis.” Dan O’Neill, youth and student officer of Amnesty International, further added that the conflict has continually made headlines and stories of violent war crimes serve as a constant reminder of how a peaceful cry for freedom has escalated into an internal armed struggle that has been detrimental to civilians. Amnesty International has taken the position of demanding that pro- and anti-government representatives respect international humanitarian law and the safety of civilians.
HMV staff in Limerick hold sit-in for unpaid wages A sit-in was held in two HMV stores in Limerick after it was announced HMV Ireland would be going into receivership last week. The staff are seeking assurances of wages owed to them, including holiday pay earned over Christmas and a guarantee about redundancy should stores close permanently The 16 HMV stores across Ireland are to remain closed during the receivership process, with negotiations being held between staff and representatives of Deloitte, the company that is receiv-
er to HMV. A store manager at the Crescent Shopping Centre branch commented, “all we want is what we are owed,” and expressed hope that a buyer would come in and reopen operations. He said, “We are looking for a bit of support from the Irish Government because UK retailers who operate in Ireland should not be able to treat their Irish staff like this.” The company has only gone into administration in the UK and stores have not closed. HMV Ireland has over 300 staff who will be affect-
ed. Controversy arose as HMV was unable to honour vouchers for the store that many customers may have received in the holiday season. A refund will not be available, unless purchased with a credit or debit card where the process of ‘chargeback’ is possible. Support for the sit-in was given by local business and TDs in Limerick, and there was an appeal to students to get behind the efforts.
NetSoc are to host a lecture by the computer programmer and software freedom campaigner Dr Richard Stallman, entitled ‘The Free Software Movement and the GNU/Linux Operating System”, on 4th February from 7:00pm to 9:00pm in the Ed Burke Theatre The non-technical lecture will encompass the ethical, political and economic issues which arise through the use of computers and computer software globally. The goals and philosophy of the free software movement will be a feature of the lecture, as well the
status and history of the GNU operating system. Dr Stallman launched the free software movement, supporting the freedom to copy, modify and redistribute software, in 1983 with the development of the GNU operating system in 1984. The free software, combined with the kernel Linux, has been used worldwide by millions of users. The non-profit organisation Free Software Foundation, founded by Dr. Stallman, considers software freedom to be “one of the most successful social
movements to emerge in the past 25 years, driven by a worldwide community of ethical programmers dedicated to the cause of freedom and sharing.” In recognition of his work, Dr Stallman has been the recipient of honorary doctorates and several awards, including the ACM Grace Hoppy Award, a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer Award and the Takeda Award for Social/Economic Betterment.
USI launches online survey on experiences of violence On 10th January, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) launched its national “Say Something” online survey on third-level students’ experiences of violence. The confidential USI survey is the first of its scale, encompassing all higher education institutions across the country. The 10-15 minute survey is being conducted with the help of Cosc, the National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence, and covers areas related to unwanted
obsessive behaviour and stalking, harassment, educational support, physical mistreatment and violence, and unwanted sexual experiences. Commenting on the launch of the survey, USI vice president for equality and citizenship Laura Harmon expressed her hope for a good response from third-level students across the country, with the goal of better understanding the extent of violence experienced by students: “We hope that the information
we receive will be useful in ensuring that the future campaigns USI and local students’ unions run in this area will be well informed and targeted.” The survey includes contact details of several support services for students seeking help with the related issues of violence included in the questionnaire. Students’ unions will be promoting the survey, with initial results set to be published in the coming weeks.
UCC placed third in UI GreenMetric rankings
The quad on University College Cork campus. Four Irish higher education institutions were rated in the latest UI GreenMetric World University Rankings, with University College Cork in third place, University of Limerick in 58th, Dublin City University in 80th and Dublin Institute of Technology ranking 198th out of 215 universities globally. The GreenMetric rankings were established in 2010 by Universitas Indonesia as an environmental initiative for universities worldwide to reduce their carbon
footprint and spread awareness about the importance of sustainability. Categories taken into account are green statistics, energy and climate change, waste management, water usage, transportation, and education. The most recent ranking includes 215 universities from 49 countries, an increase from previous years. Commenting on the achievement, the president of UCC, Dr Michael Murphy, said: “On behalf of University College Cork, I am
delighted that our green credentials have again been recognised and that we are now ranked as one of the top three institutions worldwide. The result is a wonderful acknowledgement of the approach taken by UCC in the area of campus sustainability.” University College Cork previously placed 4th in last year’s rankings. Ranked first was University of Connecticut, followed by University of Nottingham in second position.
A bitter Phil to swallow as former Hist committee members score for other side Catherine Healy Student Affairs Correspondent The former College Historical Society auditor John Engle and his debating partner Adam Noonan were the highest-ranked Trinity team and second-highest Irish team at the World University Debating Championships (WUDC) held in Berlin over the Christmas break from 29 December to 3 January. Engle was named in the final tab as the 40th best speaker, and Noonan was placed in 37th position. The only Trinity team to break out of the preliminary rounds, they were eliminated in the “partial double-octo final”. They finished the competition in 30th position representing the University Philosophical Society in a tournament involving 389 in-
ternational teams. This marks the second year a Phil team has reached the upper rounds of the competition, with Ricky McCormack and David Byrne exiting last year’s tournament in Manila as octo-finalists. The feat means the Phil will be guaranteed a spot in next year’s competition in Chennai, India. Despite the senior officer positions that both Engle and Noonan have previously held on the Hist committee, they chose to switch allegiance in the run-up to this year’s tournament following the resignation of Engle as auditor of the Hist last October, after the Hist committee had passed a no-confidence motion against him. The two teams representing the Hist this year were also ranked within the top 100 places at the WUDC. The Hist’s current auditor, Hannah McCarthy, and her partner Briony Somers finished in 99th position, while John Doo-
dy and Naoise Dolan finished in 64th place. Among the nine preliminary debates in which all Irish teams participated was the motion that “this House would create public housing for the poor in wealthy areas”. Speakers were given 15 minutes to prepare a seven-minute speech either proposing or opposing a motion with their teammate. Other motions presented to competitors included Japan’s right to nuclear weapons and the international financing of natural resource extraction in corrupt countries. In a competition traditionally dominated by Oxbridge teams and Australian speakers, this year’s winning partnership from the University of London included the former Trinity student Catherine Murphy, who reached the octo-final stages of last year’s competition with Engle.
The News staff look at the issues, old and new, that the next set of sabbatical officers will have to address.
Joyce’s home from home Lara May Ó Muirithe talks to Fritz Senn, a Joycean in Zurich who has made it his life’s work to collect Joyceana and help others to understand the work of Dublin’s most famous literary export.
F Lara May Ó Muirithe Staff Writer
ritz Senn is the founder of the James Joyce Foundation in Zurich. The Foundation was formally established in 1985 and has provided numerous scholars and amateurs alike with outstanding resources; the library is extensive, holding more than five thousand volumes and including dozens of translations into more than 40 languages. I first met Fritz when I was a student at the Dublin James Joyce Summer School in 2011. I was struck by his unpretentious disposition – despite his being the archetypal Joycean – and his unconventional delivery of lectures, which he always conducts without notes. In interview, Fritz elaborates on his continual engagement with reading Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, the early formation of a Joycean community and the establishment of the foundation, as well as discussing the impact of the recent expiration of copyright on Joyce’s work and the controversy surrounding the release of The Cats of Copenhagen by Ithys Press. Q: According to the James Joyce Foundation website, you had the most comprehensive collection of Joyceana in Europe. How did you acquire it? A: I became interested in Joyce in the 50s, and at that time no Joyce industry had as yet evolved. There weren’t many books on Joyce around and it was easy to keep up with publications. From a moment that I cannot now determine I grabbed whatever I could lay hands on, and also collected magazine articles or offprints, posters – everything faintly connected. I engaged in a lot of correspondence with Joyce scholars, critics
or translators. Within an increasing network, authors often sent you their books or articles. I made as many contacts as possible; people with similar obsessions tend to find each other. Over a number of years, a lot of material came together and a substantial collection kept growing. Most of the studies at that time were done by American academics, far ahead of all the others. I was also lucky to get to know some people who had met Joyce – Frank Budgen, above all, and Joyce’s Zurich friend Carola Giedion-Welcker. Then, in 1982, the jubilee year, something changed when I lost my job. Q: What was your job at that stage? A: I was working for a publisher, first as a proofreader, then an editor. When the company was restructured they got rid of me. For a time I was at a loss and helpless, yet it was comforting to see how a growing Joyce community that had developed over the years came to my aid with suggestions and proposals. Somebody local approached the bank that had installed the James Joyce Pub in 1978. I don’t know if you saw it when you were in Zurich, it’s not far from the foundation. It was the old, pre-crisis, Union Bank of Switzerland that had bought and set up the interior of the pub imported from Dublin. It already came with the name James Joyce attached to it, and they wanted to know who that was, so I became connected with the bank. The collection I had might otherwise be dispersed. The head of the bank, Dr Robert Holzach, who had become interested in Joyce’s books, managed
to institutionalise the collection as a research centre in 1985. This followed a Swiss tradition of supporting culture, called after Maecenas, the Roman sponsor of arts. In 1985, the foundation was formally set up. From then on we systematically acquired all kinds of Joyceana that were available; we could never afford expensive first editions or artwork. We did get free copies and donations, but books don’t come in automatically: we have to order them. Within the 27 years of our existence a lot of material has accumulated and, as you may have seen, it’s not only books but also magazine articles, offprints, pictures, posters, videos, tapes and CDs, ephemera, and thousands of newspaper clippings – probably more than anywhere else in the same place. Of course there is no such thing as completeness. Q: I want to know more about your career’s progression. Your early involvement with a generous network of Joyceans facilitated the establishment of the James Joyce Foundation in Zurich? A: I have always been an amateur. That is, I never had a real academic job, except for a few semesters as a guest professor at American universities – for a short time, I was a “professor”! – though I have continually been doing courses on Joyce. Mainly Ulysses, in Zurich, but not as a member of the faculty. So I flaunt my amateur status, though in actual fact I have become a sort of professional. As an outsider you are free to pursue what you are genuinely interested in, and you don’t have to go along with whatever is in academic fashion. Also, you have the time
to absorb such complex challenges as Ulysses or Finnegans Wake, a luxury that students rarely can afford. I always had an ambivalent position: outside the academia, and yet always part of the Joyce world. By now we have had more than 20 International James Joyce Symposia (they originated in Zurich in 1966), not counting the conferences in the US. I got fascinated and found something to absorb my time – don’t ask me what exactly it was. In such a position you find others with similar attitudes. If you’re particularly mad in one respect you find birds of a feather. That led to a widespread correspondence in a kind of pioneering spirit. At one stage I was mainly interested in Finnegans Wake and there was a dispersed group us who exvhchanged observations and wrote little explanatory notes. In the old times of the typewriter one could knock out a few carbon copies at best, and we sent them around in a haphazard fashion. At some point I suggested we might have a kind of bulletin, to be distributed among the like-minded. We started – and by we, I mean Clive Hart who was then a student in Cambridge. This became the Wake Newslitter, which also gathered momentum as it obviously served a need. Information, glosses about Wake passages, could be shared internationally. It was a time of minute discoveries which also resulted in a multitude of little notes (that swelled my bibliography out of proportion and made it look very impressive). The Newslitter became the first permanent publication (after a short-lived James Joyce Review) until the James Joyce Quarterly was initiated by
We were – and I’m always trying to find a term for which we cannot be sued — bypassed. The publication happened behind our back.
Thomas Staley and it helped me a lot to be connected to it right from the start. Q: You’re in the thick of it, but how does this outsider’s perspective of which you speak bear on your working relationship with various institutions and scholars? A: According to whim, I can be part of it all or stay outside. One of my disadvantages is that I never took a Joyce course. One of my advantages is that I never took a Joyce course. You can observe things better [from the outside]. And, also, I didn’t have to produce anything for academic advancement, and that means I spent my time over what fascinated me. Students with so many obligations simply can’t afford this. The price is some intellectual narrowness. Q: The career you have created is enviable. I admire the fact that you are apart from the academic rigmarole. But have you ever veered towards that life? I presume that some people were interested in involving you with academia? A: There was a time when I thought an academic career might be enviable. By some strange coincidence (everything in life depends on coincidence) I was invited in 1968 to the University of Buffalo where they have the big James Joyce Collection and a summer school where some of my Joycean friends had been teaching. I was scared stiff because I had never even taken a Joyce course and so I didn’t know, literally, what I was supposed to do in a classroom. I overcame my fear, went and I liked it. I had
Wednesday 23rd January 2013
From abortion to Parkinson's and computer processors to plant bacteria, scientific endeavour ranged all over the RDS, writes Anthea Lacchia
p9 something to pass on, what had been a private hobby could be communicated. So I liked the academic life I had experienced. I toyed with the idea of having an academic position in the States. I never made any serious move, however, and at the time people like me, who only have a limited scope, one single melody, were in little demand. A general problem: either you spread yourself all over a wide area, or else you specialize on something. I happened to fall into the second narrow category by constitution. I am glad now not to be moored in some university, subject to its requirements and at the mercy of intellectual fashions and the constraint of literary theories. Q: Jumping to the present, are you able to discuss the controversy surrounding the release of The Cats of Copenhagen? A: The foundation received a donation of lots of original stuff a few years ago, generously given by Hans Jahnke, an in-law of the Joyce family. It comprises a lot of documents, notes, additions to Finnegans Wake, and quite a cache of letters, and photographs, as well as ephemera. Among the letters there is a very short one, a page and a half, where Joyce writes to his grandson that there are no cats in Copenhagen. Some weeks before he had sent his grandson a box of chocolates called “The Cats of Beaugency”. This is based on a local legend of the devil building a bridge but demanding the first soul that passes over it, but he is cheated by a cat that is sent across first. That much longer letter had long ago been turned into a children’s book, The Cat and the Devil. The short follow-up is a charming piece, written in a fairylike tone. As you know, all the material we have, and we have a lot, is open for inspection. It is the purpose of libraries to make their holdings accessible for the benefit of scholars and readers. Somebody we know – no mention of any names – must have copied the letter, as others have been free to do. Then in February last year we heard that a new Ithys Press in Dublin was going to publish the letter, as they wrote us just before it became a fact – out of the blue. We never imagined anybody would do that, behind our back, without asking us or informing us in good time. The Foundation of course does not have (and never claimed) copyright of the letter, this belongs to the Joyce estate. But legally the owner of a document must also give permission. So this publication, an expensive limited edition, happened behind our back, without our knowledge, agreement, permission or connivance. We also had assumed that the expiration of Joyce copyright would not include all the unpublished material, which would still be under seal for an indeterminate time. The legal situation is extremely confused and obscure with different laws obtaining in different countries. At any rate we were shocked and felt betrayed. I made it quite clear to newspapers that we had nothing to do with the act, of which we were ignorant. We were – and I’m always trying to find a term for which we cannot be sued – bypassed. The publication happened behind our back. If publication is legally possible at all we would have liked at least to be given an option. A bitter taste is left behind. Q: I was sad when I heard, as I know first-hand how congenial the staff at the foundation are. You had a lot of sympathy. A: The main issue is that trust has been broken, the kind of trust among scholars without which we could not function. The Foundation has been and will remain open to scholars. Most of our visitors are known, familiar or even friends. We are a financially weak institution. We cannot engage in lawsuits. It was never our intention to publish and make money from the letter. When I protested against the clandestine action Ithys Press presented me as someone suppressing the free expression of thoughts, and I was called “morally reprehensible” – a new role for me. Q: One of the editions of The Cats of Copenhagen is being sold for a large sum of money. A: They did an expensive bibliophile edition, for collectors. It has now been published in the States in a commercial edition. Again, it happened without our knowing or consent. We still believe, naively, that as sole owners of the document we ought to have a say in its publication. Q: Let’s focus on a more pleasant subject: the reading groups. They relate to the genesis of the foundation itself. Reminiscent of a medieval reading group, you began by meeting with fellow “obsessives” and working through the texts together. A: There had been a reading group before the foundation. I told you I have been doing Joyce courses for the Zurich Univer-
sity, but not part of the faculty. In 1982, the Joyce anniversary, a student asked: why don’t we do this slowly and privately? Once we had the foundation, the Ulysses reading was transferred there. We have so much material at hand, and I don’t want the Foundation to be just an assembly of books and magazines and God knows what, but we should do something with it. The Foundation should not be a noun – a substantive – but a verb: something active and communal. We have the time, the place, the background, and something to hand on to the community – to Zurich. We’re lucky, I am lucky, that in my old age I have a position where I can do what I like and do best. The reading groups have become an institution, a part in the cultural life of our city. By now we have no fewer than four such groups, two each on Ulysses and Finnegans Wake even if this is straining our forces and resources. The groups are under no pressure, we can proceed sentence by sentence. Ulysses normally takes about three years, Finnegans Wake around eleven! Participants come from as far as Basel, Berne or St Gallen. Q: Joyceans speak of the joy of re-reading Joyce - the “retrospective arrangement.” How has your reading of the texts altered over the years? A: Ulysses is the sort of book that, no matter how erudite or perceptive you are, reveals itself by stages. Coming to the end you might feel ready to begin, and the book will have changed along with you; each reading changes. I cannot say how often I have read the book because from a certain, or rather not certain, stage on you no longer read through from the beginning. In the kind of activity I have, with reading groups, courses, preparing talks, research, et cetera, consecutive readings become an exception. Q: People often want to know how one “should” one approach Joyce as an absolute beginner. What do you think of such an attitude? A: I always hesitate to use “should” or “must”. My advice is to charge ahead, try to find out what is not immediately under-
I wanted to test my English, among other motives, and then there was some Zurich connection anyway since a large part of Ulysses was written, or drafted, in Zurich. It was also a scandalous book, with an aura of its own. stood, but basically persevere if something does not make sense. Understanding in Joyce trails behind, it is retrospective. I always claim that not understanding (not only in books, but in life) is not the exception but the norm. I advise that we try to compensate our inevitable initial ignorance by active curiosity (Odysseus had it). Q: The reading groups at the foundation partly operate as a support system (I'm thinking of The Wake!). Your approach is emphatically non-hierarchical and you consistently seek to open to the field. A: Oddly enough, Joyce may be best read in groups. The advantage is we share different background knowledge and also often share common ignorance (which makes it more easy to come to terms with it). Reading together (without preconditions in the case of our Zurich readings) can take away the fear that Joyce’s reputation tends to infuse. The texts, Ulysses certainly, are also accessible, in fact very human and as we slowly pick up, increasingly funny. Q: Your first language is SwissGerman but you mentioned to me before that you first read Ulysses in English. What was that like, what did you make of the text’s uses of the Irish idiom? You hadn't yet visited Ireland, so what was its imaginative appeal? A: I was a student of English with an exchange year in England, and it was an opportunity and a challenge. I wanted to test my English, among other motives, and then there was some Zurich connection anyway since a large part of Ulysses was written, or drafted, in Zurich. It was also a scandalous book, with an aura of its own.
Illustration: Mice Hell I bought a copy (one guinea, a substantial part of what I earned) and began the venture. Oddly enough, I do not remember just what I was able to make of it. I know I had to look up “parapet”, then a new word for a foreigner, as well as “gunrest” (not in the dictionary, but it could be guessed). My memory is dim, all I know is that I must have trudged on, with a dictionary at my side. There was no guide then. Some months later I found Stuart Gilbert’s and Frank Budgen’s books, so that was something to hold on to. I forget most details, I must have been lost, but a fascination emerged, to see what can be done with language (perhaps I haven’t done anything else all those years). Q: To what extent is translating Joyce more problematic than translating the work of other writers when Joyce seems to be translating himself in some instances? A: I have not myself translated Joyce. It was only after some time that I began to wonder how passages, often scintillating ones, would be rendered into German, so I got the German translation of 1930 and looked at what had been done. It was disappointing, in the nature of things. Literary translation is already next to an impossibility. Whatever is typical in a
text, idiosyncratic, the local colour, the nuances, semantic play, et cetera, is likely to evaporate. I then looked at French and Italian versions and started to compare. I think I was the first to concern myself with Joyce translations, in the sixties. At first one tends to be highhanded and arrogant, finding fault with the existing solutions, but later on I am becoming more tolerant, realising the tremendous handicaps. Just think of all the manifest or embedded quotations. I find it profitable now to look at translations to see where they deviate significantly – this always refers back to a feature of the original that otherwise I might have overlooked. And then of course Joyce already is translation. Ulysses represents itself as a remake of the Odyssey (and much else, Shakespeare, rituals, et cetera) And within it you have the whole scope of English, from the Hiberno-variant to literary language, dialects, slang, and even earlier stages of English. Each episode is in a way a different translation, with changes of register, mode, style, perspective, et cetera. As you say, Sirens differs from Ithaca, one has to be musically orchestrated, with different sounds and echoes, the other has to be abstract and neutral (helped by
the strong Latin component of the English vocabulary for which there is often no equivalent). Q: How does one go about translating Finnegans Wake, a polylingual text? A: Finnegans Wake is entirely beyond the scope. Its semantic layering (sometimes, not always, play on words and meanings) is so obviously impossible to recreate adequately. Ironically then, it becomes almost easier just because it cannot be done, normal criteria no longer apply; there is a kind of general absolution, and everything achieved is to be appreciated. In my formula, FW is impossible to translate, and therefore it has to be attempted. A sort of Beckett syndrome: try to fail better! Q: The genetic critics, such as Sam Slote from TCD, undertake laborious manuscript work. What is the effect of this on the field? A: Since Joyce, at least from a certain moment on, hardly ever threw away anything he had done, notes, drafts, et cetera, there is a wealth of material to study the progress of the works, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. This offers unique insight into the workshop and we come as near to the au-
thor’s thoughts – perhaps intentions? – as we ever will. So we can trace the laborious genesis. A valuable, very solid, no-nonsense, approach makes us aware of new angles. We have too much material to cope with and the kind of homework we could and perhaps should be doing becomes enormous, out of reach. So we have to be grateful to those who do it. I do have a few reservations though. One of my axioms is that understanding must not depend on accidentally preserved notes and drafts. Here I use “must” – and it is an aesthetic must. I want works to be autonomous. I know FW is a different case where we have to be grateful for any kind of insight, no matter from where. Q: Joyce carefully controlled his output; what do you think will be the impact on Joyce’s legacy now that the copyright has expired? A: Joyce wrote amazingly little, in bulk. Now that no agency can control our output we are likely to see a lot of texts, editions, “creative” of great originality or immense stupidity. The genie is out of the bottle for good and will take any number of shapes. Q: Would you say you are a purist?
A: Purist? I don’t know. I try to be tolerant even where I do not like a particular result, like the two films we have of Ulysses. It is all too easy now for someone to compose a piece of music or to paint a canvass and call it “Oxen of the Sun” or something like that. Joyce has been and will be turned into kitsch: T-shirts, ashtrays, souvenirs. In some way it is a success: Joyce seems to become what he also writes about and is now called popular culture. Huston’s The Dead is probably the best of all films so far, especially in relation to the atmosphere. Like what I said about translation, if some adaptation does not succeed, according to whatever standard or criterium, at least it shows what can be done with language as against other media. We also learn from unsuccessful attempts. Q: How radical is Joyce today? A: Joyce is radical. But I am not good at labels. Proto-psycho-geographer, alright; I am at a loss about “proto-Situationist”. Who knows, I may have been one myself all my life without knowing?
Wednesday 23rd January 2013
What is neoliberalism? Rónán Burtenshaw explores the vanguard of capitalism – which links the restructuring of the Reagan and Thatcher eras to the military dictatorship of Pinochet's Chile and the debt penury of austerity Europe
T Rónán Burtanshaw Editor
he term “neoliberalism” has achieved a certain degree of popular purchase during the current crisis of capitalism. It has been used as a way of finding a coherent narrative to explain the way in which the processes underpinning the attack on the welfare state and working peoples' living cinditions today are associated with the free-market capitalism that was resurgent in the Reagan and Thatcher era after the crisis of the 1970s. But with the term's proliferation has come a certain amount of misuse and confusion. Is it just a synonym for capitalism? If not, what distinguishes it? Neoliberalism is the application of political-economic doctrines that privilege the market, private ownership of the means of production and philosophies of individual liberty. Its theory – neo-classical liberalism – is a 20th century development on the classical liberalism of thinkers such as John Locke, David Ricardo and Thomas Malthus by two schools of thought most prominently featuring Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman. Neoliberalism – through coercive methods linked to debt, tyranny and the hegemony of the US – has formed the vanguard of the process of economic globalisation, buttressing the gradual erosion of barriers to the movement of capital, commodities and (to a lesser extent) labour since the second world war. Neoliberalism is a trial-and-error application of classical liberal theory but differs from it in certain important ways. Neoclassical liberalism and classical liberalism ultimately share a common goal of defending property from egalitarian or anti-proprietarian social movements. However, the key difference is the instrument of defence – with the latter developing a particularly market-oriented approach from the former’s individualist one. 19th century French parliamentarian and political economist Frédéric Bastiat is usually credited with beginning this transition with his works, Economic Sophisms and Economic Harmonies. However, contemporary neoclassical liberalism is widely accepted to have begun with the Austrian school of economics pioneered by Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. The US rose to prominence in the neoclassical liberal movement in the 1950s with its own Chicago school of economics, whose most prominent faculty member was Milton Friedman. They developed upon the Austrian school’s theories by placing particular emphasis on monetarism and price theory. Also at this time Ayn Rand developed the philosophy of ob-
jectivism, with her best-known work Atlas Shrugged being published in 1957. Although Rand’s philosophy most closely resembled classical liberal individualism, it worked to attract political energy on the right to libertarian politics, which benefited the Chicago school project. Neoclassical liberalism’s break from classical liberalism is particularly important when considering the development of neoliberalism as an applied economic programme once it “went global” in the 1980s. The chief pivots were from idealism to realism and from individualist to market-centred politics. The former allowed the movement to break from anti-statist theories and adopt a strong, minimalist state whose chief purpose was to enforce lawand-order in defence of property at home and abroad. The latter made the movement more open to top-down imposition of market doctrine, with the elevation of the individual’s free choice no longer of critical importance. As Hayek noted in The Constitution of Liberty, there would come an inflection point in classical liberalism – where the individual acting rationally in their own self-interest would come to undermine the market system. One could not ask a person to be a partisan for a system and a radical individualist at the same time. This realisation had been made in different ways by each of the prominent neoclassical liberals and led them to privilege the defence of the market. Neoliberalism developed as an application of these theories and, as a result of these departures from classical liberalism, quickly embraced the use of mediating bodies (such as the state, the military and the International Monetary Fund). Neoclassical liberals also began to see in economic crisis opportunities to apply their theories. Naomi Klein, in her Shock Doctrine book about the subject, quotes Milton Friedman as saying: “Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around.” The first application of this mediated, trial-and-error imposition of market doctrine came in the US – the country whose economic and political hegemony would later buttress neoliberalism’s international development. According to socialist economist Doug Henwood, “these fortunate uses of crisis [by neoliberalism] first appeared during New York City’s bankruptcy workout of 1975.” The city’s bankers – strongly influenced by the free-market theories of the Chicago school and imbued with unusually large
powers by the regional power of Wall Street – decided to stop buying the municipal council’s debt, thus plunging New York into fiscal crisis. The city authorities, realising that budget deficits would be unsustainable without the previously-reliable flow of credit from the financial sector, turned to the federal government. It was widely assumed that the Ford administration would sanction a bailout of the city – as had been done with city and state authorities across America on numerous previous occasions. However, despite New York city’s crucial role in the global economy as a nodal point in the circulation and accumulation of capital, this bailout was initally rejected. The president’s decision was immortalised in the New York Daily News headline, “Ford to City: Drop Dead.” The reason for this was successful lobbying on behalf of the financial industry’s representatives in Washington DC, who endorsed the hard line taken by the bankers in New York. In the first example of what Naomi Klein would later dub “shock doctrine” they had decided to fight for a reduction of the welfare state in order to increase profitability. What was at stake, as New York Affairs editor LD Solomon put it in a February 1976 column for the New York Times, was “whether or not the promises of social and economic entitlements of the 1960s can be rolled back to a lower order of magnitude without social upheaval”. Through the institution of what Henwood described as a “bankers’ coup” – where the municipality ended up being run by “a committee of bankers and their delegates” in a situation much resembling contemporary arrangements in Greece and Italy – they succeeded in their task. With the bankers’ Financial Control Board (FCB) in place and introducing a policy programme of neoliberal restructuring (such as a state employee wage freeze, the institution of tuition for City University of New York and hospital cuts and closures), the federal government agreed in December of 1975 to extend a line of credit with the New York City Seasonal Financing Act. Its limit of $2.3bn was just over a quarter of the $8.2bn shortfall. Within four years the size of the New York city budget, in real terms, had shrunk 32% and it was firmly on course for decades of “further belt-tightening, and market-driven development”. The success of New York’s neoliberal restructuring gave impetus to the free-market reforms taking place in Chile after the US-backed coup by General Pinochet against Salvador Allende in 1973. A team of free-market economists, trained in the Chi-
cago school, had begun developing the Iadrillo programme shortly before the coup against Allende. After its success they were appointed by Pinochet to run the country’s economy. Initially reluctant to cause too much upheaval or undermine the social fabric, the reforms from 197475 were minor, mostly involving the reprivatisation of property expropriated under the Allende government. However, following the direct intervention of Milton Friedman, who came to the country and suggested a number of economic measures, the “shock” applied to its economy became more profound. During the reforms conducted from then until 1983, Chile, which had been one of the most protectionist economies in the world under Allende, abolished all tariffs for imported goods, privatised most of the state manufacturers (with the exception of Codelco, nationalised under Allende and later to prop up the economy from total collapse), slashed tax rates, fired up to onethird of the public service and closely regulated the liquidity on offer from the country’s central bank. The result was an economy Friedman dubbed a free-market “miracle”. These changes were achieved in tyrannical conditions: according to the 1991 Retig Report, around 80,000 political prisoners were interned, 30,000 people suffered torture at the hands of the military and police, 2,000 people were “disappeared” and 3,000 killed. This took neoclassical liberalism into new territory in terms of the kind of mediation used in the application of shock doctrine, but not one that was theoretically inconsistent. In 1927 Ludwig von Mises argued that “it cannot be denied that fascism and similar movements aiming at the establishment of dictatorships are full of the best intentions and that their intervention has, for the moment, saved European civilization”. He continued his support for the cause of saving civilisation (or the market) from socialism by working as chief economic adviser to Austrian fascist Engelbert Dolfuss until 1934. Friedrich Hayek had also explicitly endorsed the Pinochet regime as a “necessary system for a transitional period”. “At times it is necessary for a country to have, for a time, some form or other of dictatorial power. As you will understand, it is possible for a dictator to govern in a liberal way … My personal impression is that in Chile … we will witness a transition from a dictatorial government to a liberal government”. In his book Debt: the First 5,000 Years, David Graeber examines the development of globalisation
As Hayek noted in The Constitution of Liberty, there would come an inflection point in classical liberalism – where the individual acting rationally in their own self-interest would come to undermine the market system. Neoclassical liberals came to privilege the defence of the market.
using these neoliberal shocks as models for the imposition of market doctrine in instances where it does not “flow otherwise from American military, political or economic hegemony”. Using further examples like post-war Iraq – which Klein says was created to resemble a “free-market paradise” – and Singapore, Graeber further demonstrates the relationship between neoliberal restructuring and violent coercion. This can take the form either of direct military intervention – as in Iraq – or by “a vast apparatus of armies, prisons, police, various forms of private security firms and police and military intelligence” – as in many countries including Singapore. He also examines the central role the US plays in debt coercion, which is particularly important in applying neoliberal structural adjustment programmes to states in the global south. Basing his arguments on the status of the dollar as world reserve currency and the close relationship between mediating bodies like the IMF and World Bank and the US political and capitalist class, Graeber argues that US military predominance is central to the global network of finance capital. He surmises that “there’s a reason why the magician [meaning the US] has such a strange capacity to create money out of nothing. Behind him, there’s a man with a gun”. So, how should we conceptualise neoliberalism and describe its role connecting the Reagan and Thatcher era to the present? The post-second world war global economy presented capitalism with the largest non-capitalist strata in its history in the form of the welfare state and the communist states that contained, at one time, roughly half of the world’s population. Organised labour reached the height of its power in the democratic capitalist states – resulting in increased wages and a higher percentage of distribution of the value of production. This presented a crisis of profitability, which consumed the global economy in the 1970s. Economic globalisation was advanced by a series of victories of capital over labour internationally which defeated aspects of the welfare state. These victories often took the form of neoliberal economic restructuring buttressed by the coercive methods detailed here which, despite their stated aims of advancing human “freedom”, used debt penury, state punishment and military coup d'états to achieve the goal of resuscitating profitability under capitalism. Measures which were supported by the leading neoclassical liberal ideologues of the day – Mises, Hayek and Friedman.
Wednesday 23rd January 2013
Dearbhla Ní Fhloinn explores the latest strand of political outreach from Brussels: the European Citizens’ Initiative.
Photo: Anthea Lacchia
Young Scientists on Show posed an 11-question survey and distributed it to 1000 16-18-yearolds living in border counties. We had a 35.6% response rate. Then we analyzed our survey using a statistical analysis program and considered age, gender and location. “We were very surprised to find there was no difference according to gender, but there was a location difference, with the south being more in favour of abortion in all circumstances. In order to discover why, we used our questions about religion: religious affiliation played no role in people’s answers. However, the more religion was considered a strong influence on a person’s life, the less likely the person would be to support abortion.” They also found that those who were familiar with the Savita case were more likely to support abortion if the foetus has no chance of survival outside the womb. “We decided that the abortion issue was very relevant to the times that we live in and 16-18-year-olds don’t really have a voice in that issue. But we are the ones that will be voting in the future.”
A round up of the 2013 Young Scientist Exhibition
T Anthea Lacchia Science Editor
he RDS was buzzing with excitement as students and visitors swept through its halls from 10th12th January, on the occasion of the 49th BT Young Scientist Exhibition. More than 45,000 visitors had to wrestle their way through endless crowds to get a glimpse of the science posters and to talk to the scientists of tomorrow. As well as 550 student projects on display, there were plenty of science and technology exhibits and practical demonstrations. For instance, the World of Robots exhibit, in which heavyweight robots fight each other with spinning discs and pneumatic fists, is an all-time favourite for kids. Other stands include that of the Geological Survey of Ireland, where people got a chance to try gold panning, and that of the European Union, where visitors could play an interactive fishing game to learn about sustainable fishing. Trinity, along with most other Irish universities, also had a stand at the show with the purpose of attracting and informing prospective students. Overall, the student projects had a striking emphasis on applications, with many budding scientists already thinking of ways to market their inventions. Some of them have even patented their inventions. Girls were the stars of the show this year, scooping up all four top prizes. As well as the main awards for best group and individual projects, several other prizes were up for grabs: these were awarded to projects that demonstrated excellence in specific areas such as recycling, technology and sustainability. The quality was high and the enthusiasm of the students higher. One thing is for sure; Irish science is alive and well. A selection of projects:
BOX 1 A speech recognition aid to learning Ever wished you could take down every word your lecturer utters? Eoin McMahon, from Gonzaga College, Dublin, developed an advanced application that captures speech through a microphone, converts it into text, broadcasts it over a wireless network and then displays it on a screen. “It provides instant transcription of the speaker’s words to multiple receivers. Say a university professor is giving a lecture: as he or she speaks, the words pop up on the screen like subtitles. It’s going to be useful to people who
have hearing difficulties as well as acting as an aid to note taking. In fact, personally I find that when I try to take notes I don’t get the most out of the class.”
BOX 2 Energy harvesting from a PC microprocessor using the thermoelectric effect We are all familiar with the way our computers send out heat. But what if we could transform that heat into energy? “My project is about using the heat from a computer microprocessor to generate electricity,” says Lorcan O’Brien, from Kinsale Community School, Cork. By using something called the Seebeck Effect, which is the direct conversion of temperature differences into electric voltage, Lorcan was able to take the heat generated by the little chip inside a computer microprocessor and turn it into useable energy. “When you run a program, the computer starts to heat up because it has to process all the data. Up to now, I was able to generate 10 or 20 mW with this method, depending on the heat of the processor. So you could power LED devices or charge batteries.” Lorcan has always liked building computers: “It’s a big interest I have at home and I learnt a lot of it from my dad.”
BOX 3 Will arm length affect the distance an archer can shoot an arrow? Ruaidhri Kennedy from Ardgillan Community College in Dublin took his favourite sport and transformed it into a project: “My project investigates how arm length affects the distance and speed of the arrow. First, I asked five people of varying arm lengths and heights to fire ten shots with their arm parallel to the ground.” Ruaidhri’s results show that a smaller arm length actually increases distance and vice versa. Furthermore, even when two participants’ arm lengths were completely different there was no difference in velocity. “I became interested in this idea since following the Olympics in China, where physical education teachers take students with different arm lengths and assign them to different sports. They think that if you have a long arm length you’ll be good at swimming or archery,” explains Ruaidhri.
BOX 6 OVERALL WINNERS A statistical investigation of the effects of Diazotroph bacteria on plant germination
Box 6, the overall winners. Photo Anthea Lacchia
BOX 4 BES T INDIVIDUAL PROJECT “Free Feet”: a device to reduce freezing of gait in Parkinson’s disease Edel Browne of Presentation College Athenry won the award for best individual project for inventing a device that can help people with Parkinson’s disease walk more smoothly. “The aim is to reduce the freezing of gait, which is a physical inability to move your legs or feet associated with Parkinson’s. The main symptoms associated with it are tremors, but gait freezing is also very common: over 72% of people with Parkinson’s suffer from it. Gait freezing is caused by a deficiency of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the midbrain. “My project is very simple: it’s made up of just a laser, a battery and a tilt switch. The tilt switch is used to prevent battery wastage: the device is placed at the side of the shoe and, when the
shoe is flat, the laser is turned off to ensure battery is not wasted. I tested the device on eight people for thirty minutes without the device and then with the device. I learnt that on average there was a decrease of 39% in freezing severity.” But how does it work? “The laser puts a dot in front of the person wearing it and this changes walking from an automatic movement that you don’t think about, to something that you do have to think about. The idea is that you’re focusing on the dot and concentrating, so the part of the brain that’s working changes from the midbrain, which is severely depleted in dopamine, to the frontal lobe. So there is more ability to move. The technology is very simple, but it works!”
BOX 5 Abortion views Deirdre Ruane-McAteer and Emma Shields of Bush Post Primary School, Louth, claimed the runner-up group prize for their
The student projects had a striking emphasis on applications, with many budding scientists already thinking of ways to market their inventions. Some of them have even patented their inventions. research into the differing social attitudes of students living on opposite sides of the Border to abortion. “We used religion as a correlating factor to investigate our results fully,” they explain. “We com-
Ciara Judge, Emer Hickey and Sophie Healy-Thow from Kinsale Community School, Cork, were the overall winners of the Young Scientist Exhibition. They showed that a certain bacterium, rhizobium, boosted the speed of germination in wheat and barley. Usually the bacterium helps legume plants to grow by releasing nutrients, but the girls had the brilliant idea of testing it out on food crops. “We wanted to see if we could use that bacterium on other plants that don’t already have it. We used several statistical methods and found that it actually sped up the germination days by 50%. We got the idea from Emer’s mum, after she found strange nodules on the roots of pea plants. We thought there was something wrong with them, but when we did some research we found that it was just a special bacterium called rhizobium that fixes nitrogen in nodules in the roots.” The girls took home a trophy, a check for €5,000 and the chance to participate in the European Union Contest for Young Scientists in Prague. “We’re thrilled! It’s still a bit surreal to be honest,” they said.
Wednesday 23rd January 2013
Exercising grassroots democracy in the European Union Dearbhla Ní Fhloinn looks at how new citizens’ initiatives endorsed by the European commission are trying to make European politics more democratic.
T Dearbhla Ní Fhloinn Contributor
he European Union stretches over 4.3m square kilometres of land, and is home to over 500 million people within its 27 member states. A political and economic union, the EU is founded on eight treaties. Every year, numerous laws are passed and decisions are made by the European institutions in order to implement these treaties. So far this year, 1,001 regulations and 28 directives have been adopted, and 502 decisions have been made. This is a lot of law, and it affects a lot of people. With the exception of the European parliamentary elections which come around every five years, the supranational structure of the EU means that EU citizens have very little say and very little opportunity to influence on the running and development of the union, or even make themselves heard. The European commission noted this issue and, in an attempt to make the EU more democratic, established the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) system in the treaty of Lisbon in 2009. Brought into existence in April 2012, the ECI is a mechanism whereby citizens can suggest to the commission to propose legislation on a subject of their choice. The majority of signatures are collected online. All EU citizens old enough to vote in European parliament elections are eligible to sign up to support an initiative. But in order to be considered before the commission, an initiative has to be supported by at least one million EU citizens, coming from at least seven different EU member states. The ECI is a novel and innovative democratic tool. The new channel of access opened between EU citizens and the commission is very similar to the power of the European parliament. By permitting citizens to make suggestions directly to the commission, it complements and goes beyond traditional routes of appealing to directly elected members of the European parliament (MEPs) and the right to petition. This is a step towards more direct involvement of citizens in EU politics. While it may not re-
solve the EU's current democratic deficit, it can be seen as progress towards restoring faith in its politics and system of governance. But the ECI is a democratic power that offers more than a mere communication with the commission. It is a power that guarantees that citizens’ opinions will be taken into account. It is a power that does not find parallels in other systems. This is undoubtedly its most striking feature. The commission is obliged, under its own law, to give serious consideration to any initiative that reaches the quota of 1m signatures. Once this threshold is reached, the initiatives are presented to the commission and a public hearing is held in the European parliament. The commission must subsequently decide what action to take, if any. Any action or lack of action must be motivated. There are currently 14 initiatives underway, the most recent one having been launched on 19th November. The variety of topics reflects the diversity of the EU and the wide range of issues affected by EU law. Let Me Vote is an initiative to grant EU citizens living in a different member state the right to vote in all political elections. If entertained by the commission, this could have significant implications in Ireland, where non-Irish EU citizens (other than British citizens) are only entitled to vote in European and local elections. The Single Communication Tariff Act initiative proposes the abolition of all mobile-phone roaming charges within the EU, while High Quality European Education for All suggests the implementation of standardised schooling within the EU and the creation of a common European baccalaureate. This is not the only education related initiative however. Fraternité 2020, which was the very first initiative to be launched, aims at enhancing EU exchange programmes such as Erasmus and the European Voluntary Service. It started collecting signatures online on 26th October 2012, and now, only one month later, it has already collected more than 55,000 signatures from all 27
European citizens oen feel that they have little opportunity to make their voices heard on European issues.
European Headquarters in Brussels member states. Launching an initiative is a huge undertaking. Interested citizens must create a “citizens’ committee” with at least seven EU citizens resident in at least seven different member states. This is to ensure the initiative is representative of a union interest; however, it also doubles up as a way of enforcing greater European integration. Simona Pronckuté, a 26-year-old Lithuanian who now lives in Brussels and works for the European Liberal Youth, is on the citizens’ committee for Fraternité 2020. Her previous participation in Erasmus and European Voluntary Service programmes, in addition to their resulting opportunities, motivated her to get involved. Pronckuté reports what her involvement has shown her: “European citizens often feel that they have
little opportunity to make their voices heard on European issues,” but that “European citizens, particularly young people, want to approach EU institutions and to build a ‘bottom up’ Europe”. It is not only citizens that experience difficulty having their voices heard. Pronckuté admits: “Of course, it is a big challenge for organisers to make an ECI visible in the society and to approach ordinary citizens who have never heard about any ECI.” Fortunately, politicians and nongovernmental organisations are willing to support these initiatives. Currently Fraternité 2020 is supported by over 100 non-governmental organisations. MEPs are supportive of these initiatives too. The German MEP Gerald Häfner said: “I think that maybe the most important thing today is that we understand that this is
our Europe. It’s not the Europe of institutions or politicians, it’s our Europe, and we are responsible for that Europe.” In October, Pronckuté and a fellow organiser for Fraternité 2020 were invited to the European commission by its vice-president, Maroš Šefčovič. This is very encouraging. It is early days for the ECI scheme as a whole. It is only at the beginning of its three-year trial period; the initial initiatives, including Fraternité 2020, have until 1st November 2013 to collect 1m signatures of support apiece. Many other initiatives are likely to be launched in the meantime. An optimistic Pronckuté believes: “It could be seen as a pilot project to test whether a more participatory form of democracy would work in the EU.” She concludes confidently: “One million European citizens must be heard.”
girl coxswains, I became a cox, sliding into the position gingerly and wondering whether I had the voice for such an act. Apparently, I do, though I came to hate the sound of it after two and half hours of “yank it” filling the air. I plead that you do not judge me. It was on the video they made us watch. Everything is the coaches’ fault (except when it’s ours). Sadly, I never gained the courage to sing Mulan’s I’ll Make A Man Out Of You, partially for fear of distracting, and also for fear they would somehow find rotten tomatoes to throw at me. It is a shame really. After all, I had the microphone, and even if they had booed, I doubt I would have heard over the wind. Despite there being a vast
number of us, most of our time was spent in our own houses of six. Don’t think this was through any type of disdain or cliqueness. Our refusal to leave our houses was brought about through sheer laziness or, if you are feeling kind, sheer exhaustion. Only once did we venture forth from our house as night fell, and that was to revel in cards for an hour, using dishwasher tablets and salt packets for bets. Our lives are incredibly exciting. Despite our pain, it was with a sigh of sadness, and tears of sorrow, that we packed up. One, two, three boats came over the hill, knees buckling all the way; then some other stuff, then more boats, then some more oars and ties – I honestly had not realised how much stuff we had brought
to row with. It certainly made me feel far better about my personal packing skills. As we all departed our separate ways, we waved goodbye to our little families, sad to know our family dinners were over, and knowing that now we would be forced to enjoy our tea and biscuits alone. Of course next week I will be complaining about the pain and the agony and grumbling, “Why on earth did I sign up for this?” But I beg you to ignore this in favour of the friendship and joy and overall feeling of triumph that will be felt when we smash UCD at Colours. Because we must, or the wrath of the coaches will fall upon us (and that is never a pretty sight).
Strangelove oar: how I learned to stop worrying and love the boat Rowing, rowing, rowing the boat is no nursery rhyme in midwinter. Besides, as Emily Ranson tells some tales from training camp, they are much more likely to sing something from Mulan.
I Emily Ranson Staff Writer
t was with trepidation that I arrived at Islandbridge, set to meet the rowing squad. Trailing a heavy suitcase as well as the knowledge that I had somewhat wafted my way through my Christmas training schedule — in other words, occasionally glancing at my runners — it seemed justified. Even worse, I was one of the minority wearing jeans, instead of the tight Lycra of sport clothes. Noting the tiny luggage cases littered around, I could not help but wonder: where had my packing skills gone? True, I had flown in from England the previous night. I live on a tight schedule, and then wonder why there is a permanent feeling of tension in my shoulders. Still, though, as we stared helplessly at the boot of the car, using the cases as puzzle pieces, I could only hang my head in shame. Somehow, we ventured onwards. I drifted off in the car, fuelling my strength for the coming days. Arriving late at Blessington (the only time I would be late that week) on account of the confusing signage, we began the arduous task of fitting the boats together. Our shoulders were aching by the time we were allowed lunch. Chatter filled the air. Having taken the boats down the Mount Kilimanjaro-like hill to the lake, would we be required to carry them up every day too? With food in front of us, it didn’t seem quite so terrifying, and we could only weep with gratitude when it was discovered not to be the case. Had we been forced to, I doubt we would have had the energy. Having arrived at 11, we were on the water by 13.15, rowing our little hearts out to the voices of the screaming coxes. Gasping for breath, we would race alongside each other, for no reason whatsoever. On our full days, we were on
the water for two and a half hours each time, morning and evening. Perhaps surprisingly for those who believe the horror stories, we meandered over to the water at 8am, enjoying a refreshing lie in. Do not fear, however – upon our return to College, I have been assured we will soon be following the schedules of vampires. Our hours were perhaps not as vicious as one might think. Our time was our own from 11 to 14.15, and again from five until eight in the evening. Having lugged up our laptops, swearing that the new year would bring new ways and a focus on the true aspects of college, our first day saw us happily staring at computer screens. The rest of our days saw a repetitive cycle: upon entering the house, whatever food we could find would be ingested, followed by collapsing in front of the TV or passed out on the beds. Good intentions only last so long in the face of rowing. Despite worsening weather and sore muscles, we gained great joy from it all (masochistic tendencies are a requirement of any rower). Leaking wellies saw ingenuity, some keeping extra socks in their hats to ensure warmth on the boat. Camaraderie was easily established as we worked to balance the boat and keep in time. Uproarious laughter could be heard as we watched one of the men’s quads tip, and their resulting struggle to turn it back over as they treaded water. Even without tipping over, our boats soon contained their own little lakes due to vicious weather. Only with the might of 20 could we lift a boat at one point, so filled with water was she. Considering eight is normally sufficient, this is a bigger deal than it sounds. At one point, due to lack of
Having arrived at 11, we were on the water by 13.15, rowing our little hearts out to the voices of the screaming coxes. Gasping for breath, we would race alongside each other, for no reason whatsoever.
Wednesday 23rd January 2013
Raising a flag: Henry Hill on how the spectacle at Belfast city hall is a sign of wider unrest in Ulster unionism.
SU Political Preview The News staff set out the issues at stake in the upcoming student elections, from the shape of protests and the press, to academic, emotional and social provisions.
his year’s Students’ Union elections are shaping up to be some of the most interesting and hard fought in recent memory. Not only does there appear to be a wealth of candidates on each ballot paper, particularly in the presidential and communications races, but this year’s prospective sabbatical officers are also facing into some of the more unique challenges that the Union has had in recent years. Changes in admissions policies, grant systems and the Union of Students in Ireland’s campaigning mechanisms, as well as an upcoming preferendum on abortion campaigning, spell a new set of issues that our potential officers are going to have to deal with. In anticipation of the campaigning in the weeks ahead, and indeed of Trinity News’ coverage of the process, our reporters discuss what exactly is going to be on the agenda for Trinity’s would-be student representatives.
and if this means opposing the budgetary promise, then an effective means of combating it must be found. Whether this would be lobbying, protesting or providing a financial alternative will be largely a decision for the president. Of course, the president also has much work to do on the home front. That the Union has had problems with engaging with its student body is no secret. There is widespread ambivalence towards the Union, which will no doubt be reflected in the election turnout. Its president will need to define its function – whether it’s a sort of civil service for students, a political representation of the student populace or something else entirely. It is hard to measure something as intangible as students’ engagement with their students’ union, but finding a way to increase it is going to be an important issue in this coming campaign.
It’s been a fairly turbulent year in student politics: the failure of the new Susi grant system has left thousands waiting on payments; student fees have increased once again; and the Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) decided to remain affiliated with the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) after a referendum in October. In a country facing austerity budget after austerity budget, it is no easy task to fight for students. USI have tried a variety of approaches – from mass marches to lobbying individual TDs – but lit-
tle ground has been gained. To be a students’ union president is to be our students’ representative at a national level, and it is important we elect someone who can work with the USI to further the mandated aims of both USI and TCDSU. It is not enough to make easy promises. It is a difficult time to be an effective sutdents’ union president, and Trinity would do well to elect a person with the leadership and ability to be such a president. A further fee increase of €250 has been promised for the next budget and, when elected, our next president will have to face what has become the central issue in Irish student politics. They should represent the students of Trinity in their position on fees,
The communications race has for the last few years been an arena for some of the more colourful campaigns during the election weeks. Whether it was Ronan Costello’s heavy emphasis on his gingerness in his election materials or Owen “Cabbage” Bennett’s vegetable-based motif, the winners of this race have, for the last two years anyway, had to couple their message with a strong gimmick in order to differentiate themselves from the also-rans. This is probably partly to do with the perceived ambiguity of the
communications officer’s role. This ambiguity is the first challenge for the candidates in this race, as it is in most years. The dual nature of the role is the source of this ambiguity for most students. How exactly is the communications officer supposed to both run a newspaper with an objective standard of journalism while also performing the role of mouthpiece for the organization? That said, previous communications officers have managed to do a reasonably good job at juggling the seemingly opposed roles by simply trying to allow as much editorial freedom as possible in the University Times. Ideally, potential communications officers probably need to take a reasonably firm stance on
one side of the fence as “editor” or “spokesperson”. Regardless of the difficulty of this task, it should be the first one that has to be addressed by candidates in their manifestos and their speeches. The changing nature of the Union of Students in Ireland’s campaign against the reintroduction of third-level fees is an issue that is unique to this year’s race. Moving from a campaign based on a national march to more localised protests as the USI has done puts a significant amount of responsibility in the hands of each individual students’ union. The responsibility to raise awareness and communicate the new message falls largely on the communications officer and this is something that each candidate is going to have be aware of – they will have prove to their electorate that they are up to that particular challenge. Probably more so than in recent years, our prospective communications officers will have to recognize that this awareness-raising role is fundamental to the job. Then, of course, we have the perennial issue of the University Times. Both the current and future communications officers have had an incredibly high bar set for them by UT’s previous editors, with the paper winning “Newspaper of the Year” three years in a row at the Student Media Awards. Continuing this trend is no doubt a concern for the current communications officer and will remain a major issue throughout this year’s campaign. But the battleground of how best to maintain the quality of the newspaper is a decidedly complex one and it is here that the issue of differentiation becomes a real problem for the candidates. It is not good enough for a candidate to say that they want to maintain the UT’s standard, as has been the case for some of the also-rans in the last couple of years. Their manifestos will have to lay out specific plans to ensure that this issue is addressed. What makes this year’s race particularly exciting are the rumours of format changes that some candidates are expected to suggest, such as the reduction of print editions and expansion online, and a radical reorienting of paper and magazine. At any rate, this is going to be an interesting race if only because of the calibre of people who are rumoured to be putting their names forward. It could also be one of the more contentious races if the rumoured candidates’ opinions on the issues diverge as much as they seem set to.
Education race Aonghus Ó Cochlain
The role of the education officer encompasses everything relevant to the academic interests of students, be it examinations, lectures or general issues. Representing students’ interests involves serving as a channel between students and college, being on the College Board and the University Council, among other related committees dealing with areas from library services to quality assurance. The election and training of class reps is
another responsibility of no small importance. There have been many features and issues facing Dan Ferrick as education officer this year. The implementation of a new online system caused delays in tutor allocations, timetabling issues and undue stress at the start of the year for many. University selection and entry process reform has been a continuing discussion, with plans for a pilot scheme to run for entry in September 2014 – a system that may prove more comprehensive than the traditional CAO points calculations and allow for the evaluation of applicants on a broader metric. The review of the Scholarship examination and decision to limit participation to senior freshmen was a development which will undoubtedly impact students in the future. Recently, successful negotiation of 24-hour library facilities approaching the exam period should reduce stress felt by students in their studying. The provision of support services to supplement and aid students’ academic experiences will continue to be a core feature of the position, and certainly not one that can be overlooked. Examples of these services include Skills4StudyCampus, and additional forms of assistance for students with disability and other needs that may go unnoticed by many but are crucial to some.
Welfare race Catherine Healy Within the college circles that will be most vocal in the run-up to this year’s sabbatical elections, it is easy to be overlooked if you are not perceived to be a widely-recognised “personality”. The yearly power list published during Freshers’ week, which purports to rank the most influential individuals on campus, reflects what has become a widely-accepted conception of power. Actors, editors, debaters, highranking committee members – these are the students who tend to run for sabbatical positions in the Union, as well as the candidates that are most spoken about amongst those of us who take an interest. In a recent conversation about potential competitors in each race, a friend said in an off-thecuff remark that, “no-one cares who runs for welfare anyway. It’ll be some random girl.” The welfare race is regarded as less exciting, less important than other election showdowns. It has been similarly downplayed by past coverage of sabbatical elections, which has often portrayed candidates as cushy and largely irrelevant. From my experience of speaking to past welfare officers, not only have they been the most affable of sabbatical officers, but also the most interesting in their stories, anecdotes and insights into the student experience. With furthers hikes in the student contribution charge and cuts to maintenance grants, the financial assistance offered by the
The next welfare officer needs to have an even more political voice as more burden is put on its resources in the coming year … the office needs to publicly articulate the toll government cuts will take on the students of 2013.
welfare office is also of increasing importance. In the run-up to Budget 2013, Aisling Ní Chonaire spoke about the financial strain being experienced by students who come to her office and in the past few weeks she has also been the most vocal sabbatical officer to support the boycott of the Health Service Executive’s controversial nursing graduate scheme. The next welfare officer needs to have an even more political voice as more burden is put on its resources in the coming year. Along with its promotion of mental and sexual health and provision of once-off loans, the office needs to publicly articulate the growing toll government cuts in both mental health and education will take on the students of 2013. It may not be a bitchy or glossy race, but the issues at stake in the welfare election will be more important than ever this year.
Ents race Ruairí Casey
Trinity is one of the few universities in Ireland to have a fully salaried ents officer, and we must surely ask why this is so? With €22,000 of Students’ Union money being granted per year to what is commonly regarded as the least necessary sabbatical position, expectations and standards should be high. However, ents has not succeeded in broadening its appeal among the student body beyond its largely freshman audience. Promises are always big – warehouse parties, international mystery tours, great lunch deals, quality live acts and a better Trinity Ball than ever – but the reality is probably more familiar: cancelled events, mediocre club nights, lunch deals that rarely compete with those already offered by local businesses, sparse live music and €80 to see the Coronas. Ents’ increasing reliance on societies like Fish Soc and Horse Racing seems to belie a lack of original ideas. It has facilitated (or, more uncharitably, relied upon) these societies for many events, and it might fairly be asked whether it should provide more support for societies and less of the usual offerings. The Trinity Ball is by far the biggest entertainment event held during the college year and it must be remembered that ents has almost nothing more than a promotional role in its management. Ents have relinquished control of the event to MCD, who have the final say on issues like pricing and lineups. Since the contract with MCD was recently renewed, the next few years will see the ents officer having very little influence over the Ball. Trinity is located in the heart of a capital city, a city with innumerable bars and nightclubs, providing more variety than ents can possibly compete with. So why is ents so important that it needs a fully paid sabbatical officer to run it? And why should the Students’ Union support an institution which has a proven history of financial risk – it lost €15,000 last year. Expect these questions and further analysis in Trinity News’s coverage of this year’s ents race.
Wednesday 23rd January 2013
World without ends: John Porter sees the long-awaited apocalypse spreading in the shockwaves of the collapse of p16 capitalism.
Time to confront discredited arguments Those opposed to abortion must not be allowed to hijack the X case debate, writes Ivana Bacik, the Reid professor of criminal law and the deputy leader of Seanad Éireann.deputy leader.
L Ivana Bacik Guest Contributor
ast week the Oireachtas committee on health held hearings on abortion, following a government decision taken in December to introduce legislation and regulation to implement the X case test. The X case, as most people are aware, occurred in 1992, when the attorney general, Harry Whelehan, got an order in the Dublin high court to prevent a traumatised and suicidal 14-year-old schoolgirl, pregnant as a result of rape by an older man, from obtaining an abortion in England. The girl known as X and her parents returned from England, where they had already travelled, when they learnt of the injunction – and what transpired became known as the X case. In the high court, Judge Costello interpreted the words of article 40.3.3 of the Irish constitution (the eighth amendment) to mean that the state was obliged to prevent any pregnant girl or woman from travelling abroad if the purpose of the journey was to terminate her pregnancy. The article, passed by referendum in 1983, gives equal rights to life to “the mother” and “the unborn”. Even before it was passed, Irish law on abortion was the most restrictive in Europe; abortion is a criminal offence under 1861 legislation, carrying a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. But the passing of the amendment gave a new impetus to antiabortion groups, which took a series of court cases to close down women’s counselling centres, depriving women of the right to receive information on how to obtain abortion abroad. Students’ unions became the only organisations willing to provide such information. As president of Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union in 198990, I carried out union policy by giving information on abortion to women with crisis pregnancies. As a result we were threatened with prison by SPUC (the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child) – and only avoided being sent there by legal arguments invoking European law. Just two years after our case, when X and her parents appealed to the supreme court in 1992, that court ruled that X was entitled to an abortion in Irish law because she was suicidal and so her pregnancy posed a “real and substantial risk” to her life. The X case test was upheld by the people in two subsequent referendums: in November 1992 and again in 2002. However no legislation was ever introduced to implement the X case test, despite the supreme court judgment of Justice McCarthy who made clear the need for legislation to clarify when doctors could terminate pregnancies to save women’s lives. The very welcome decision by this government to legislate was taken on the basis of an ex-
pert group report on abortion published last November. That group was established to consider the implications of the European court of human rights judgment against Ireland in the ABC case of December 2010. In fact, the European court in ABC confirmed what we should already have known and what was stated 20 years ago by Judge McCarthy – that this government must legislate to allow abortion in cases of risk to a woman’s life. In a careful and comprehensive report setting out the legal context and a clear blueprint for the necessary legislation, the expert group report points out that the state must render effective a right already accorded, and confirmed in two referendums, by article 40.3.3 of the constitution as interpreted by the supreme court in the X case. The report also addresses a number of key questions that have been raised about the content of the legislation itself. First, it deals with the issue of time limits. There has been some unsavoury scaremongering by anti-abortion activists who have argued that legislating for the X case would mean that abortions may be carried out “up to term” if necessary to save a woman’s life. However the expert group report clearly states that where a woman has a pregnancy that places her life at risk, and her foetus is or may be viable, then clearly the pregnancy may be ended without ending the life of the foetus, ie early delivery of the baby may be possible with subsequent appropriate neonatal care. Second, the report deals with the specific risk of suicide. Again, anti-abortion activists have been critical of the X case judgment, arguing essentially that it is too easy to fake suicide risk and that allowing abortion on this ground will open up the law to abuse. First, this argument is profoundly demeaning to women – suggesting that we are so deceitful that we will be queuing up to pretend about suicide risks to get an abortion. Secondly, it is demeaning to psychiatrists who have professional training in assessing suicide risk. Thirdly, it is simply legally wrong. The supreme court test for the need to establish “real and substantial risk to life” arising from risk of suicide is far higher than the “mental health” ground for abortion under the British Abortion Act 1967, to which antiabortion activists keep referring. The inclusion of suicide risk as a ground for abortion has been confirmed by the people in two referendums since the X case test. Further, it is simply not true to say that pregnant women or girls are never suicidal. We have already had two direct cases in Ireland; the X case in 1992, and the 1997 C case, where the high court heard and accepted psychiatric evidence that a young girl pregnant as a result of rape was
The supreme court ruled that X was entitled to an abortion in Irish law because she was suicidal and so her pregnancy posed a “real and substantial risk” to her life. The X case test was upheld by the people in two subsequent referendums: in November 1992 and again in 2002.
A protestor outside Leinster House, at a recent protest in the wake of the death of Savita Halappanavar. suicidal and that the suicide risk posed a real and substantial risk to her life. Indeed, international psychiatric evidence presented to us last week by seven eminent Irish psychiatrists reminded us that suicide is associated with unwanted pregnancies in countries where abortion is not available. We are just fortunate in Ireland that abortion is available – albeit across the Irish Sea. Last November, just before the publication of the expert group report, we learnt the true cost of legislative inaction. The news that 31-year-old Savita Halappanavar had died after suffering a miscarriage at 17 weeks of pregnancy in Galway University hospital has shocked the nation. The account of Halappanavar’s final days, as expressed in the dignified words of her grieving husband, is heart-breaking. This was a preventable death. On learning that the foetus she was carrying was not viable, she repeatedly asked for the pregnancy to be terminated. It appears that doctors refused to terminate
on the grounds that there was still a foetal heartbeat and that “Ireland is a Catholic country”. She thus remained in hospital for some days, miscarrying in appalling pain; an infection set in and she tragically died as a result. This desperately sad case generated immense grief and anger nationally – in particular, anger at the unjustifiable delay over 20 years in introducing legislation. For all that time, the debate has been dominated by a group of highly vocal lobbyists, backed by the Catholic church – the socalled “pro-life” campaign. Their intimidatory tactics have scared politicians away from legislating. Over the past few days, participating in the Oireachtas hearings, I have listened in disbelief to their smooth spokespeople making ridiculous arguments, suggesting that legislation is not necessary and that yet another referendum should be held to overturn the X case and rule out suicide risk as a ground for legal abortion. Now is the time to confront these discredited arguments and to acknowledge the disgraceful
failure of our political system to acknowledge the pressing reproductive health needs of women, like the many women who have bravely gone public about their own experiences of crisis pregnancy. The so-called “pro-life” campaign must not be allowed to hijack this debate again. As independent legal experts, independent doctors and their professional organisations have all clearly stated this week before the Oireachtas committee hearings, legislation on the X case is necessary to fulfil our international responsibilities, to provide clarity in our law and most importantly to prevent any further uncertainty for doctors. We need to give doctors clear instructions as to when the performance of necessary procedures, including abortion, may be carried out to save the lives of pregnant women. We need legislation urgently, because the current state of our law is placing women’s lives at risk. No more legislative inaction. We know now that it costs lives.
the Irish Times and certain other papers. Instead, we now have a pro-choice and anti-abortion dichotomy. The media will affect people’s views on whatever legislation is proposed. If these outlets insist on keeping a pretence of impartiality, they have an obligation to present the debate around it in a fair and balanced way. 20 years after the supreme court judgement on the X case,
the government’s chosen approach to abortion is a combination of regulation and legislation. Whatever bill is put before the Oireachtas will likely have a provision for threat of suicide. Many will feel that this decision is too long in coming; others will think it unnecessary. If the legislation is not clear and definitive we may, before long, find ourselves paying an unacceptably high price for it.
Legislate for X, not for abortion on demand
T Conor McGlynn Staff Writer
A careful, cautious approach to abortion is needed so thatlegislation will address the X case and not the agendas of other parties, argues Conor McGlynn.
he Oireachtas joint committee on health and children held three days of hearings last week on possible ways to implement the X case ruling on abortion. This ruling asserted the right of a pregnant woman to a termination where there is a real risk to the life of the mother, including the threat of suicide. The committee will draft a report to inform possible public policy on this issue. The way in which any legislation or regulation which follows from this is framed, and how it is treated by the media, will have long-term repercussions on abortion in Ireland, and it is vital that it is handled in the right way. The government does appear to be committed to proposing some sort of legislation on X, in spite of appeals from certain groups that current legislation is sufficient to ensure the safety of the mother in life-threatening circumstances. Although the government has ruled out the possibility of a free vote on any potential abortion bill, if the proposed legislation is seen as too liberal –or if there are questions about it leading to “abortion on demand” – then Fine Gael backbenchers may not be willing to support it. The main bone of contention with regard to legislation is whether it will include the threat of suicide as grounds for an abortion. There are widespread fears that such a move may in time result in the equivalent of abortion
on demand in Ireland. There is no consensus about whether or not this will in fact happen. Simon Mills, a barrister and medical doctor who appeared before the committee, said that he could not find any loophole in the legislation he proposed that could be exploited to allow for abortion on demand. Others, however, have not been sure that any legislation would be so watertight as to exclude such a possibility; also, once allowed through, it would be extremely difficult to repeal. In order to remove the threat of suicide from the legislation, a referendum would almost certainly be needed. However, two referenda, aiming to exclude the threat of suicide as sufficient grounds for abortion, have been rejected by the electorate, so it can be argued that the public will clearly supports the inclusion of such a provision. Nonetheless, it must be kept in mind that the majority of the population is against a more liberal abortion regime; preventing this outcome must be the first priority for the government. Whatever legislation is decided, its future effectiveness will depend ultimately on the way in which it is framed. It is essential that it is not introduced as the “first step” towards the more liberal regime that so many commentators are expecting. It should rather be the end of the line; the necessary extension of our current laws to deal with extreme and extraordinary cases.
The important thing is for the legislation to be seen as credible in this regard. It is this shifting sand which I believe has been the cause of the political standstill on this issue for the past 20 years. Many people who consider themselves pro-life would be in favour of abortion in such extreme circumstances. However, there is a legitimate fear that cases such as that of Savita Halappanavar are being used by pro-choice groups to undermine our current laws on abortion and to circumvent the democratic decision of the people. When there are calls for action on “hard cases”, there is always the suspicion that there are ulterior motives at work. The media has not done much to help dispel this impression. In America, where news stations such as Fox and MSNBC are openly partisan, it is almost easier to get a balanced account of events, since it is clear where the bias lies; no one is, in a sense, being duped by it. In Ireland, the biases are more covert and arguably more damaging. Consider the coverage by the Irish Times of the “death of Savita”. In almost any other non-tabloid news story it would be regarded as grossly inappropriate to refer to a subject on first-name basis, and here it is nothing short of propaganda. There is also a near-Orwellian manipulation of language under way. Note the gradual disappearance of the term “pro-life” from
In America, where news stations such as Fox and MSNBC are openly partisan, it is almost easier to get a balanced account of events since it is clear where the bias lies; no one is, in a sense, being duped by it. In Ireland, the biases are more covert, and arguably more damaging.
Wednesday 23rd January 2013
Will 2013 be the year of recovery? Rory O’Farrell, researcher responsible for macroeconomic projections at the Nevin Economic Research Institute (NERI), on the different shapes recovery might take.
T Rory O’Farrell Guest Contributor
hough economists often like to think of economics as a rational scientific discipline, most economic decisions are made in a political world where one person’s recovery is another person’s recession. What is recovery, and will it happen in 2013? For most people the most pressing issue facing the country is unemployment. Unfortunately, this is likely to remain high for some years to come. Between 1980 and 1996 unemployment remained above 10%. This lasted for a period of 17 years. The 1980s have rightly entered our folk memory as a time of economic depression and hardship. However, what is often forgotten is that the late 1980s were a period of high economic growth. Significantly, though, it was jobless growth. Over the coming years growth is likely to be lower than it was in the late 1980s and jobs will continue to be lost. If 2013 were to be a year of recovery, where would the jobs be likely to come from? Typically, we need GDP growth (growth in what is produced in the country) above 2.5% or so just to create employment. Although there is some growth in exports, and this is to be welcomed, it is not enough to overcome the continued falls in domestic demand. This is particularly a problem as the domestic economy is more labour intensive than the export sector. Export growth simply does not create as many jobs as the domestic economy and domestic demand is falling. The Irish economy is reorienting itself away from the labour-intensive domestic sector. It should not be surprising that the domestic sector continues to shrink. In the medium-term fiscal statement produced in November by the Department of Finance, the government shows its plans to remove €3.5bn from the economy in 2013, €3.1bn in 2014, and €2bn in 2015. Whether this is necessary or not is one question, but its negative effects on the economy
cannot be ignored. The Nevin Economic Research Institute’s (NERI) implementation of the European Commission’s Hermin model suggests that the budget will reduce GDP growth by 2.1% and employment by between 25,000 and 35,000 jobs. In contrast, the department of finance only expect it to reduce GDP by about 1%. Given that exports are doing well, it is clear that government policies are reducing growth. Although these negative “multiplier effects” may seem like mere academic curiosities, they do influence the decisions that governments make. The IMF has provided evidence that these negative effects have been underestimated during the recession, though other members of the EU/IMF/ECB troika have disputed this. While it is clear that the labour market will not see any serious recovery (of the forecasters that predict out to 2015, none expect unemployment below 10% even by 2015), GDP is more difficult to predict. However, in the NERI’s latest Quarterly Economic Observer (released on 9th January), GDP growth of 0.6% for 2013 is projected. This is not negative, so in some way it can be considered a recovery of GDP. However, even if GDP is higher due to an international recovery, it will take several years of high growth in the world economy to make a dent on Irish unemployment. Also, the severe cuts to public investment has reduced the capacity of our economy to compete, and will make it more difficult to take advantage of any upturn in the world economy. Even if unemployment is probably of most concern to people, the government’s budget balance is also relevant. Though returning to a sustainable government budget is important, a healthy budget balance is not an achievement in itself, but a constraint we must keep within to achieve other social and economic objectives.
The 1980s has rightly entered our folk memory as a time of economic depression and hardship. However, what is often forgotten is that the late 1980s was a period of high economic growth; significantly, though, it was jobless growth.
We often hear that “austerity isn’t working”, as people point to high unemployment and low growth. However, that is to misunderstand the intentions of the troika. The role of the troika is not to return the economy to growth, reduce unemployment, or to reduce forced migration. The role of the troika is simply to return the fiscal finances to stability so that lenders get their money back. Whether this is achieved with high unemployment or low unemployment is only of secondary concern. So is the troika’s plan achieving what it aimed to do? The troika have two main targets. One relating to the primary balance (which is the government’s balance excluding interest on our national debt). This indicates how we are getting government revenue into line with spending. The other main target relates to the ratio of our debt to GDP. This indicates the ability of the government to pay back the stock of debt. We have often heard that Ire-
land has been meeting these targets. What we do not hear so often is that these targets are frequently changed. The goal posts are being shifted to help us stay on target. In 2012 and 2013 it is likely that the government deficit will perform better than what it had forecasted. This is more likely due to the department of finance switching to giving pessimistic forecasts of our deficit after several years of being overly optimistic. However, the NERI considers it unlikely that the government will achieve the target of reducing the deficit to below 3% by 2015. Forecasting, whether forecasting the economy or the weather, is not an exact science. Economic forecasting is particularly difficult as the forecast itself can affect the future. Politicians may “talk up” the economy in the hope that it will boost confidence and increase consumer spending. However, we cannot get the economy to work without the infrastructure to make it work,
regardless of how positively we think about it. Pessimism should not be confused with hopelessness. Any projection or forecast is based on assumptions, such as what the government will do. Pessimism acknowledges that things are likely to be bad, but hopelessness assumes they cannot be any other way. Internationally, there seems to be a change of heart regarding austerity, ironically with the IMF taking a leading role. Fiscal austerity will always cost jobs, but it can be done in a way that minimises the damage. The decision of the government to move from a 2:1 ratio of cuts and taxes to something closer to 60:40 in the last budget will probably help save about 5,000 jobs. The NERI put forward a plan based on tax increases coupled with a public investment programme that could have saved another 17,000. 2013 can be a year of recovery, but only if we make it so.
Wednesday 23rd January 2013
EU presidency merely a spin of the rhetorical merry-go-round Like the wooden mounts on a carousel that move up and down to simulate galloping, politicians are trying to take us on a ride round and round in circles. Manus Lenihan exposes the make-believe fantasies of the political fairground and calls time on their circus.
T Manus Lenihan Comment Editor
he minister of state for European affairs, Lucinda Creighton, has promised that Ireland’s EU presidency will be “about substance rather than about show or pomp”, and that it will be a “no-nonsense, no-frills presidency”. For the government’s sake, I hope they will not enforce that “no-nonsense” rule: if they did, there would not be much left. For example, the presidency has its own website, which will only exist for six months and which cost €250,000 to develop. That quarter of a million euros would be a mouth-watering figure for any community project, charity or public service, but it goes to a propaganda website that very few people will look at. The presidency itself will cost us €60m. This website is so hungry for content – for a meaning as to its existence – that it has a map entitled Delegate Dining, showing restaurants within five minutes of Dublin Castle. Yes, I get it; it is to encourage those 15,000 EU officials to empty their wallets around town and, as the mantra goes, give a much-needed boost to the local economy. If we had not put the map online and shown them that there are restaurants in Ireland, they would surely have brought packed lunches. All this hardly deserves the word pomp, in the sense of great rituals and spectacles. The visits by Queen Elizabeth II and Barack Obama, now, they were examples of show and pomp. They were empty, but at least there was spectacle. This EU presidency stuff is just filler. This article will examine one aspect of this: the “spotlight” which the presidency will purportedly shine on youth unemployment. A government statement explains how this is going to work, sparkling with the language of (yesterday’s) tomorrow: “Europe’s digital economy”, “the single market of the future”, and so on. “Concrete proposals here include data protection, cybersecurity, e-signatures/e-identification, high-speed broadband rollout and web accessibility.” We often hear this kind of talk. How the “concrete proposals” are going to translate into millions of jobs for unemployed young Europeans is never made clear. Why the digital sector is spoken of as if it were the only societally useful thing in the world (apart from the pharmaceutical sector) is a question that is never even asked. I actually think that, when a politician or businessperson or journalist starts going on like this,
they might as well just let their mouths hang open and let out a low buzzing noise. It is just filler material. Concretely, it boils down to the hope that a government can prod businesses toward hiring a few young people, not even enough to make a dent in the statistics. Usually this comes down to giving a tax break to a company that hires younger people, or in other words bribing “employers” so that they start employing. That – in plain terms, nothing – is what it means in the real world, but the establishment’s rhetoric on youth unemployment serves the political function of making the speaker seem tech-savvy and making the future seem bright. I believe that our children will laugh at us for our stupid fantasies of a gleaming high-tech landscape without any of those dirty, unglamorous jobs that are, like, so 20th century. But right now, it is a myth that works. It is a defence mechanism that politicians use when they want to make the hard questions go away. The other major tactic in the presidency’s great crusade to get us off the dole is to “aim to get consensus among member states on the principles of a youth guarantee”. Firstly, they are only “aiming”, so they may partly expect to miss. Secondly, they want consensus. That means all the member states, which will be some task. Thirdly, they seem only to want the states to agree in principle at this stage. So, then, this is not a promise of a youth guarantee; it is a promise that they will be promising it for the next couple of years. Fourthly, and most importantly, a youth guarantee is nothing to get excited about. It means everyone under 25 is entitled to a job, further education or an internship within four months of becoming unemployed or finishing education. It will not create more jobs or courses, or give more funding to courses or make them better. We can imagine that most of the offers will be for internships, and that most of the internships will be through JobBridge or other JobBridge-style exploitation schemes. Education falls into the same trap. It is true that you are more likely to get a job if you are better educated. The 2011 census, when calculated on the basis of principal economic status, shows that 39% of under 25s are unemployed (the more commonly cited figure is 30%). This compares to an unemployment rate of 18% among
college graduates who are under 25. What is happening is that graduates are getting the pick of the jobs, not that jobs are springing up out of the ground for people with degrees. Obviously, it is good for people to get more education, and having as many people as possible educated is of huge benefit to any economy. But these are not questions of what schemes, initiatives or guarantees can be dreamt up by politicians. These are questions of resources. This is the source of the intellectual bankruptcy evident in all the rhetoric of the presidency. They want to talk about tackling youth unemployment, but they definitely do not want to talk about resources. In Ireland we have lost tens of billions in private investment in the last few years. We have lost tens of billions more thanks to austerity budgets. Globally, the rich are not investing despite making record profits. The world’s richest 100 people grew richer by $241bn (€180bn) in 2012. Idle corporate cash hoards in the eurozone alone add up to an estimated €2tn. Will you hear a word about this during the presidency? Not a chance. We will hear a lot of tragic moaning about youth unemployment, but no mention of the obvious: the only way to get people back to work is to match up the massive resources that exist with the people who are willing to work to do jobs that need to be done. This obviously means violating the property rights of those who have the lion’s share of the wealth of our society, something none of the establishment parties in this country would dream of doing. It means we have to end the domination of unelected banks and corporations over the world economy, and instead democratically plan the allocation of resources according to need. There is no other way to get 5.5 million young Europeans back to work, and it is not tolerable in any way to leave millions on the dole and hope for the best. Anyone who, albeit with good intentions, pleads with the government and the EU to “do something” to tackle youth unemployment needs to take a good look around. The only ones who can do something about youth unemployment are the young unemployed. A thousand voices in the media and politics tell young people to work for free, to “upskill”, to become entrepreneurs, to relate to each other as competitors, to think in terms of the politicians’ techno-utopian dreams of entrepreneurs, start-ups, hightech professionals and marketable, patentable “new ideas”. That is not the kind of action that will get you anywhere. As a generation, we are going to be languishing in misery until we rediscover collective, political action and fight for an end to this rotten system. Step one is realizing that the establishment are just playing games. The EU presidency will be a showcase for this brand of nonsense and rhetoric.
Join the (political) party Young people disempower themselves by disengaging from the political process: they cannot count on parties coming to them, stresses Fiachra O’Raghallaigh, they must come to the party.
C Fiachra O’Raghallaigh Staff Writer
ivic education is by now a standard part of every school’s curriculum. If we feel strongly about a particular political issue, we know that we are morally obliged, as active citizens, to articulate our opinions, whether by protesting publicly or by writing to our political representatives. The latter is a relatively nontime consuming form of political engagement, yet while one letter may get a drain cleared or a pothole fixed, it is unlikely to effect radical change. The humble citizen, armed with only a pen and a sheet of paper, has a lot less influence than the well connected lobbyist. Joining the union or representative body for whatever issue is dearest to his heart will increase his power, but an even more radical method would be to join a political party. Simply put, joining a party is the least complicated method of taking ownership of the political system. Regardless of whether card-carrying members intend to run for election, or even take part in basic grassroots activity such as canvassing, they are entitled to a voice on party policy. Nearly every party allows its members to vote on policy at branch level, and others allow their full membership to vote at AGMs and Ard Fheiseanna. Much has been made of governments breaking the promises which get them elected, yet few people ask why citizens don’t take part in deciding what those polices should be in the first place. It is blatantly obvious that citizens are either unaware of this power or are uninterested in having it. According to my calculations, the percentage of Trinity students involved in political parties is well below 3%. Given the rising education costs, the poor
employment statistics and the woeful financial situation facing most students, the fact that over 97% of students are divorced from the policymaking process is deplorable. At a time when the youth unemployment problem should be the single most important issue on the government’s agenda, most students have elected to simply switch off. I attribute this unfortunate state of affairs to two main factors. Firstly, there is an unfortunate tendency in Irish society to stigmatise political involvement. I believe this is due to a popular misconception that party members have a moral obligation to agree with every single decision that the party makes. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. While I can’t speak for every party in the country, as a member of Fianna Fáil I have found that while all members broadly agree on so-called “commonsense” policies, they disagree quite heavily on others. This disagreement is healthy, because it ensures that our policies are discussed from every angle before they are finally unveiled to the public. This also has a certain educational value. For example, since becoming involved in Fianna Fáil I've learned a lot about the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy which I knew little or nothing about before. I would imagine this experience would be the same, regardless of what party one may choose to join. Secondly, it is easy to be dismissive of grassroots power, given our experience that governments – especially coalition governments – usually don’t follow party policy to the letter. This is be-
The humble citizen, armed with only a pen and a sheet of paper, has a lot less influence than the well connected lobbyist. Joining the union or representative body … will increase his power, but an even more radical method would be to join a political party. cause coalition governments operate on a quid pro quo basis and, unless the two parties have a lot in common, compromise is needed. Also, some radical policies are either too uneconomical or politically difficult to implement over five years, and may require a lot of public debate to make the electorate accept their value. All this does not diminish the power of the grassroots in setting the agenda. TDs and senators
may play around with it to suit their electorate, making compromises and placing contentious policies in cold storage, but they cannot ignore them completely. If the grassroots finds itself ignored by the very candidates it selected, it can choose to remove them at future selection conventions. Admittedly this power is rarely exercised, but it exists nonetheless. It is high time for the citizens of this country, particularly the
younger generation, to wake up and become politically active. If students are fed up with being ignored by their TDs, then maybe they should force them to listen. More than at any other time in our history, we need a democratic revolution to bring new ideas and voices to the forefront of national debate. For what use is it to live in a democracy, if we choose to divorce ourselves from it? We have a voice, let’s use it!
Wednesday 23rd January 2013
The flagging of Ulster unionism The flag dispute surrounding Belfast city hall is merely a symptom of more serious existential problems in Northern Ireland’s unionist communities, argues Henry Hill.
I Henry Hill Staff Writer
t is hard to believe that Belfast city council, when it voted to restrict the flying of the union flag on the city hall to a series of “designated days”, could have foreseen the scale of the tide of loyalist fury that its decision would unleash. For those unfamiliar with events, a brief recap: following an unsuccessful motion by the two nationalist parties on Belfast council to ban the flying of the union flag over city hall, a motion was passed to restrict it to certain official days (such as the Queen’s birthday). This motion was supported by Sinn Féin, the Social Democratic and Labour party and the non-aligned Alliance party, which holds the balance of power. The Ulster Unionist party (UUP) and Democratic Unionist party (DUP) voted against. Protests at the time were to be expected. Some protests turning violent was also probable, this being Northern Ireland. Even the attempt by protesters to storm the building, temporarily halting council proceedings before the vote, was not surprising. But I do not think many people were expecting the protests to sustain themselves this long, let alone evolve into fierce expressions of loyalist discontent across a whole range of issues. Nobody is in any doubt anymore that these are not just about the flag: one of the groups behind the protests recently demanded the resignation of Peter Robinson, the first minister whose DUP has been accused by some of fanning the flames in the first place in order to punish the Alliance party; Alliance’s sole MP, Naomi Long, unseated Robinson in Belfast East at the 2010 election. Two recent developments in the province have impaled the main unionist parties on the horns of a dilemma. The first is loyalist disengagement from politics, which is not only fuelling the
riots but is also costing unionism seats, both on local councils and in the assembly. West Belfast, for example, has more than enough pro-union voters to return a unionist member of the legislative assembly (MLA), but it does not. The second is the release of the most recent census figures, which show for the first time a Protestant minority in the six counties. Interestingly, despite this, the proportion of people identifying as “Irish” was only 30%. Following on from the last Life and Times Survey (which showed a majority of Catholics in favour of maintaining the constitutional status quo), the obvious task for unionism seemed clear: find a way to win over those Catholics who are reconciled to Britain, but still cannot or will not vote for pro-union parties. Both the UUP and the DUP looked to be trying to make progress on that score before the flag fiasco kicked off. Events since have highlighted the dilemma in stark terms: it seems impossible for the same party to appeal to both disaffected loyalists and persuadable Catholics at the same time. It gets worse. In addition to Catholic “swing voters”, there is a large chunk of moderate unionist voters who do not sympathise much with the current protests or with anybody who looks to be trying to exploit them. This group is the core vote, if one exists, for Alliance, which formally abandoned unionism some time ago. On the other hand, many loyalists now harbour a deep antipathy to the Alliance party and anybody seen to consort with them. This would be less of a problem if the UUP and DUP were more distinct. Time was that the UUP would chase moderate unionist voters, whilst the DUP would do more to represent loyalists. With the DUP now the majority party, it does not have the leeway that
Police at the scene of a violent protest in Belfast in light of the flag controversy. it used to for pandering to street protests (although the instinct is still there, unhelpfully), whilst the UUP has failed to adapt to minority party status at all, instead functioning as a sort of DUP-lite. As a result both parties are pursuing the same vote in the “middle” of the unionist electorate, shedding both moderates and loyalists on either end. The need for more diversity in pro-union politics is not, unfortunately for those who support it, anywhere close to being universally acknowledged. Stubbornly refusing to die in the face of the facts is the notion of “unionist unity”, a circle-the-wagons fantasy in which unionists of diverse political persuasions set aside their differences pretty much permanently in order to safeguard the union. A union which, by the
consent of all the democraticallyinclined parties concerned, can only be overturned by a referendum, during which unionist unity could be temporarily and usefully achieved regardless of day-to-day disagreement. Sadly, it is this mentality which currently grips the leaderships of the DUP and UUP. The invention of a “unionist forum” over the flag issue, combined with the UUP’s disciplining of its liberal wing (Basil McCrea), make pretty plain the current direction of travel. It is hard to see how such a strategy addresses either of unionism’s key problems. Moderate Protestant unionists, let alone Catholics, are not going to go anywhere near the DUP for a long time, if ever. Similarly, one cannot see why working-class loyalists would find the exact same
batch of unionist politicians any more appealing now than before the protests. Indeed, the calls for Robinson’s resignation strongly suggests they do not. It is as if the big unionist parties, in particular the UUP, have not quite clocked that the days when there existed such as thing as an “Official Unionist”, who commanded the automatic loyalty of vast swathes of the electorate, have long since passed. The referendum lock means there is no longer a perceived need to toe the line and send capital-U Unionists into the political trenches to defend Ulster against either mainland perfidy or Shinner scheming. Unionist moderates can quite happily vote for the border-neutral Alliance party because they know that they are guaranteed
the right to vote for the union in any border poll. In the Alliance and the Democratic Unionists, the old UUP base has found somewhere to go, and has largely moved there. More worrying are the disaffected loyalists. In a political environment as febrile and explosive as Northern Ireland’s, it does not pay to have any group excluded from the business of the province for too long. Indeed, from the allmust-have-prizes executive to the painstakingly proportional voting system, Northern Ireland’s political apparatus have been designed with inclusivity in mind. Getting through to them is one of the big challenges facing contemporary unionism – not to mention those nationalists who genuinely believe in a “shared future”.
not only displace the real source of discontent but, before the battle even commences, divides the host in two and sets them to fight amongst each other? There is another philosophical idea, this time drawn from contemporary philosophy that could help analyse this aporia and, perhaps, discover a path away from the impasse. In his recent book In Defence of Lost Causes, the Slovene philosopher Slavoj Žižek develops and applies to the political realm the idea of “the Event”, first expounded by the French philosopher Alain Badiou. Žižek describes a true political Event as essentially a moment of collective emancipation when, through struggle, the illusory dominant ideology (or “sociosymbolic order”, as he terms it) is overthrown and the true nature and structure of society is revealed and, hence, changed. The key point of relevance here is the distinction between Events and non-Events. Non-Events occur when the frustration and discontent of the people is displaced from its source and fixed, in true populist fashion, upon an invented target, a fantastical enemy. The typical example is that of Nazi Germany, a true counter-revolutionary reaction to Bolshevism. Here, the target of discontent is shifted away from the true root of German interwar discontent (that is, the massive failure of capitalism and accompanying fall in living standards) and on to “the Jew”, a mystical, imaginary construction portrayed as a malevolent intruder upon the otherwise happy lives of the “natural” Aryan citizens of Germany. Thus, while
the fascist state appeared radical, it actually left the underlying, antagonistic structures of German society intact. Therefore, the rise of fascism was a non-Event. Is this displacement of struggle away from socio-economic problems and towards a mystical enemy not precisely the political process at work in Northern Ireland today? Is the peace process not exactly this kind of non-Event where, though relative peace was achieved, the fundamental sectarian opposition between Catholic nationalist and Protestant unionist and the even more fundamental socio-economic problems remain as they were before? Is this not because the liberal architects of the peace process and the political mechanisms that it set in motion based themselves wholly upon seemingly irreconcilable sectarian division and because they did not aim to alter the deeply flawed socio-economic structures of Northern Irish society? In fact it was the Alliance party, the very embodiment of this type of cross-community liberalism, which sided with Sinn Féin and the Social Democratic and Labour party in voting to limit the flying of the flag outside Belfast city hall to 17 days a year. This action was, as they saw it, in accordance with the equality guidelines established by the peace process. This incident illustrates all too well the failure of the liberal position on the North which sees Northern Irish politics as being an eternal balancing act between nationalism and unionism. There can be no final and settling compromise on this basis when both opposing camps’ ultimate de-
mands are essentially antithetical and when a fundamental source of discontent – the inherent inequities of capitalism – is entirely ignored. It should not be surprising then that on this basis there can be no satisfying compromise on the flags issue either. For nationalists, the union flag represents rule by a foreign state, the violence and terror of the B Specials and the denial of civil liberties under unionist rule. For unionists, the flag is an embodiment of their culture, their loyalty to the Queen of the United Kingdom and their identification with what is, to them, not a foreign state but their home. Needless to say, the tricolour inspires equally oppositional reactions. This division, of course, is something that the most powerful forces in the Northern Ireland executive, Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist party, are all too aware of. Even as they impose destructive austerity measures they have proved adept at diverting attention from their policies by stirring up sectarian tensions. Both sides constantly renew and refresh the support of their political base through skilful posturing on an array of divisive issues. The current flag controversy illustrates this strategy all too well. The only way to derail sectarianism, then, is for a political mobilisation that rejects the dominant ideology and which challenges austerity and the structural inequalities of the economic system. It is time for Protestants and Catholics to unite, not on the basis of a political marriage of convenience imposed from above, but of a united strug-
gle. The precedent and shining example for this should be the Belfast strike of 1907 when dock workers, carters, shipyard workers, sailors, firemen, boilermakers, coal heavers, transport workers and women from the city’s largest tobacco factory united to strike for union rights. Even the police mutinied in favour of the strikers. A key feature of the event was solidarity between Protestant and Catholic workers. On that 12th July, instead of sectarian parades and cross-community resentment, there was a march of 100,000 down the Shankill road led by unionist and nationalist pipe bands ending in a rally of 200,000 at Belfast city hall. Marches on the Dáil and quixotic demands for flag-lowering, no matter how genuine the emotions of grassroots supporters might be, will not resolve the vicious antagonisms inherent in Northern Ireland society or help it to emerge from the political aporia. What is needed instead is the kind of authentic Event outlined by Badiou and Žižek . Only through rejecting the dominant sectarian ideologies and uniting in an emancipatory struggle can Protestants and Catholics change the material conditions of their lives for the better. Then, when the experience of shared struggle still lives in the collective consciousness of the North and with the economic structures of society rearranged to the people’s liking, we shall see what remains of the old divisions between Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter.
Fight over flag turning real conflict upside-down The flagpole over Belfast city hall has become a lightning rod for the sparks of social discontent, with establishment politicians conducting the charge away from capitalism to tribalism. William Foley calls for the breaking of the sectarian circuit.
T William Foley Staff Writer
here is a philosophical notion that originated in ancient Greece known as aporia. Broadly defined, an aporia is a state of impasse. It can occur, as it often did in Plato’s dialogues, when two opponents exhaust all lines of argument available to them and arrive at a position where neither has the upper hand nor any resource left with which to gain it. Does this concept of aporia not precisely describe the contemporary political situation in Northern Ireland? Having exhausted every line of argument on the basis of opposition between unionist and nationalist, after the failure of violence to achieve anything and the failure of the peace process to put paid to sectarian division, politics in Northern Ireland is defined by an impasse between two entrenched political blocs. The slow but sure conversion of the Catholic and Protestant populations (and hence, nationalist and unionist political bases) towards numeric parity can only shore up this entrenchment. Deadlock is a phrase which aptly describes Northern politics, the natural result of a political discourse which mobilises support according to the logic of ethno-cultural differences and, crucially, where neither side is strong enough to overcome the other. Within this politico-ideological framework there is no way out of this impasse, no argument that will break the aporia, no retreat from the trenches. This is because, when discontent arises, the only channels of political action and the dominant mobilising ideology are those of sectarian politics, a vicious dogma that permeates every institution from Stormont to the media to sport and culture. Hence the “flag controversy”, the most recent in a long series of sectarian disputes in the North. It should not be a cause of astonishment that, in a political context where symbols (flags, murals, colours) are potent artefacts of political denotation, the removal of the union flag from its erstwhile permanent position outside Belfast city hall should outrage many unionists. But could it not be the case that
there is some other dynamic at work here which is not readily apparent? Is this not another example of latent socio-economic antagonisms finding their outward expression through already existing tensions and through the dominant mode of political discourse, that of sectarian ethnic identity? Northern Ireland has long been the economic “sick man” of Britain and Ireland. The decline of industry in the post-war period has left the country in a long-term economic malaise. The country with its proportionally large public service is heavily reliant on an economic subvention from the British government. Most other employment is in the services sector, particularly in call centres, the only “growing industry” in the north. On average, Northern Irish wages are the lowest in the four countries of the United Kingdom. Furthermore, the economic outlook is dire. With public sector cuts being implemented by Westminster via Stormont, the corresponding reduction in effective demand has resulted in a steep private sector decline – the characteristic vicious circle of austerity economies. Unemployment continues its upward trend. These economic woes, symptoms of the perennial antagonisms and inequalities of the capitalist economic system, cannot be other than a source of major social discontent. The problem, however, is that this discontent cannot manifest itself in a movement that actually strikes at the roots of the inequalities and deprivations. Instead, the only organisational and ideological forces of mobilisation to hand are those which not only obfuscate the problems but displace the site of struggle from the politico-economic to the politico-ethnic. How, then, can Northern Irish people mobilise to fix their socioeconomic woes when the dominant organisational structures are part of the political establishment which inflicts them? How can they articulate their discontent when the dominant mobilising ideologies are sectarian and hence
Wednesday 23rd January 2013
Dodging the bullet: Hannah Cogan on how the NRA passes the buck for gun killings by blaming the mentally ill
The blathering slagging of the Gathering As demonstrated by the Homecoming in Scotland and the Olympics in London, the Gathering will only succeed if people at home as well as abroad buy into it, writes Lola Boorman
T Lola Boorman Staff Writer
he Gathering, the government’s €5m plan to boost tourism – which sounds more like a cheap horror film than a sentimental appeal to the Irish diaspora – has been criticised on a number of levels, most notably by Gabriel Byrne who called it a “scam”. Although it seems like a “how Enda Kenny spends Arthur’s Day” kind of gig, the government projects (or rather prays) that it will bring in 325,000 tourists and €180m. The year-long event launched to a disappointingly small crowd at this year’s New Year’s Eve festival in Dublin. There may be some for whom the concept of the Gathering brings a tear to their eye, at the thought of all the O’Kellys, O’Briens and Murphys back together again having a pint and listening to trad; and let’s not forget the toasting of those reputable Irish heroes, the Quinn clan. But there are many others who see the Gathering as an embarrassing shakedown, the stage Irishman bringing the American on a tour of the Guinness brewery so he can get a pint at the end of it. Cynical or sentimental, what does the Gathering really say about Ireland and Irishness? Our modest taoiseach really sold the idea when defending the Gathering against Byrne’s criticism, calling it “a very credible, national proposal” – undoubtedly the rejected tagline for the advertising campaign. From the advertising budget, approximately €1.5m has been allocated for over-
seas campaigns focusing in the US, the UK and central Europe. There may be an echo of “wait a second” surrounding the scheme’s UK advertising, as the Gathering is redolent of a similar festival in Scotland held in 2009, coincidentally the same year the Global Irish Economic Forum devised the plan. Homecoming Scotland 2009, which included an advertising video featuring various Scottish celebrities such as Sean Connery singing awkwardly, was a huge success, supposedly bringing in 100,000 people (a 3% rise in tourism, despite a global 4% decline at the time) and generating £53.7m (¤66.3) in additional revenue. In fact, it was so successful that they are holding another homecoming next year to coincide with the Ryder Cup and the Commonwealth Games. No doubt our Gathering will be far more successful; what with the world-class standard of Irish charisma and hospitality, the government presumably thinks it will be impossible not to outshine our slightly cruder and less lovable Scottish cousins. The Gathering itself is actually quite a clever concept. The scheme is, by all accounts, an advertising campaign which puts its name to those various festivals and events in Ireland that care to post their information on the website and list themselves as a “gathering”. Virtually anything can be considered a gathering: for example,
Homecoming Scotland 2009, which included an advertising video featuring various Scottish celebrities such as Sean Connery singing awkwardly, was a huge success, supposedly bringing in 100,000 people (a 3% rise in tourism, despite a global 4% decline at the time) and generating £53.7m in additional revenue.
if a couple of students here in College wanted to stage an outdoor, 24-hour Father Ted marathon while simultaneously attempting to break the world record for most cups of tea served in one sitting, all that those students would have to do is create an account and blurb for their event on the Gathering website. The website also offers a series of guides with advice on advertising, organising and running a successful gathering. Indeed, the initiative is described as a “people’s project” and is entirely dependent on grassroots mobilisation in order for it to be a success. It has been quite well-received on this front, with approximately 25,000 gatherings registered online from bearded festivals to sea sessions. The Gathering appears to act as a purely advisory and marketing body, running over 50 community outreach meetings to date. However, it is possible to obtain funding from the programme, with contributions of between €500 and €2,500 for any one event. Funding, which will be provided through local city or county councils, is however dependent on a minimum delivery of 10 overseas visitors per €500. In order to qualify for the funds, organisers must provide “evidence of, and have a clear plan for, tapping into international networks”. The event coincides with the 50th anniversary of JFK’s visit to Ireland and, I think many would agree, it might have been nice to have had the Queen round again (and maybe Obama too), although if she starts visiting too often people might start speculating about her all-too-obvious Irish heritage (we know it’s true). Despite the obligatory slagging period, the Gathering has thus far been very well received. There is a conception that the obvious economic purpose of the scheme somehow makes the whole thing stale, but since when has boosting tourism ever been a bad thing?
One could also criticise London for profiting from the athletic Olympic achievement of a select group of hardworking amateurs. Of course The Gathering is a scam, but what isn’t? The fact remains that, regardless of the inherently commercial motives this scheme holds, the sentiment remains the same. For the small pop-up festivals all over the country this is a chance to foster a much broader tourism base within Ireland, boost local economies and create a greater sense of pride among communities. The small festivals that are being promoted may never have been able to function otherwise; their presence has the potential to create an original and less sporadic culture of small events and festivals which may one day grow up to be the fringe, Hay or Oktoberfest that is uniquely ours. Cynicism, in this case, is in the eye of the beholder. Byrne accused us of being disconnected from our diaspora, but the truth is that Ireland has a much more recent emigrant population to concern itself with. Ireland’s legacy of emigration is our biggest tragedy, but from a cold, solely economic point of view it could appear to be our most valuable economic trick. Not only has the present exodus reduced the unemployment rate but it is also lessening the strain on welfare and public expenditure. Without Ireland’s substantial diaspora, it is unlikely an island as small as ours would have the kind of tourism sector that we enjoy. You could go so far as to say that Ireland needs the regular, timely wave of emigrants for long-term investment in its tourism market. In fact this method has made tourism Ireland’s “jewel in the crown” while its domestic market descends into chaos. Despite a global drop in tourism figures, Ireland’s exports have never been in danger of a serious
decline. This fact has sparked yet more criticism for the Gathering, raising the question: is this just a distraction? The tourism industry has no need for further stimulation. Surely our resources should be focused on the growth and sustainability of other sectors. Our recent, very educated emigrants are too fresh to be attracted by such a sentimental national paton-the-back fest. Many will see brutal, perhaps painful irony in the scheme: Michael D welcoming with open arms tenth-generation “Irish” with their hands thrust deep in their pockets and calculating the exchange rate. Or is the Gathering an attempt to keep people at home? Ireland’s image abroad (outside Europe, that is) among its diaspora was never in any danger of waning. In fact, it is our internal image – how we view our country now – that is slipping into the red. Good or bad, the Gathering realistically can’t do very much harm. Whether you choose to participate or just ignore it, the whole thing has raised some serious questions which only solidify our anxieties about our modern society. The celebration of Ireland’s history of emigration will seem to some a rather distasteful move at this particular moment. Alternatively, this programme could have a uniquely invigorating effect on individual communities as well as having the potential to inspire a much greater grassroots movement. With the deadline approaching for Ireland to repay its €5bn promissory note for the Anglo-Irish Bank bailout and the country assuming the EU presidency, expectations for the economy seem to be growing. In any case, if the Gathering ends up being a completely overwhelming failure, its final event can be a good old-fashioned Irish wake to mark the death of the Irish economy.
itualists spoke of some vague idea of a new consciousness coming into the world on 21st December. Likewise, profound fears of an ecological disaster were central fears for many. Whilst each civilisation may have been proved wrong in their prediction that the world will end, they are right to the extent that their world will end. Every civilisation must fall. In the case of the Mayans theirs fell long before they had predicted. Perhaps this is the true meaning lying behind many apocalyptic predictions. Rather than representing the end of the world they merely predict the end of a civilisation. This may be the reason why we have witnessed a tremendous upsurge recently in apocalypse fiction and film. Hollywood alone has
produced 20 films depicting an end of the world scenario since 2010, which is almost as many as all apocalyptic films made during the 1970s. The current crisis of global capitalism is truly terrifying, primarily because it currently seems impossible to envisage a way out of the quagmire. Well, the answer may be what is sometimes called “capitalism with Asian values”, which in reality means an open capitalist market system with a totalitarian political system. With the rise of “capitalism with Asian values” and the apparent, or imminent, collapse of western Europe and the United States, it seems one particular civilisation may be reaching its nadir. Undoubtedly this is a terrifying prospect for many people in
the west, even if they have not articulated it, or even become fully conscious of it. The inability to conceive of a solution to this crisis, which is a crisis that runs to the very core of our economic and political systems, may partly be what is fuelling the booming genre of apocalypse fiction. The tremendous success of The Road, The Hunger Games, as well as films like 2012, and even Wall-E, the first mainstream children’s film to deal with a post-apocalyptic future, point to the increased appetite audiences have for the disaster genre. Perhaps it is easier for us to imagine the end of the world than it is for us to think how we will reshape our world.
Apocalypse now? The morrow ... the morrow
O John Porter Staff Writer
The world itself might not be about to end, but, with economic and environmental systems at breaking point, writes John Porter, we might be approaching the end of the world as we know it.
n 21st December 2012 I waited, like everyone else, for the end of the world. When it was past midnight and nothing had gone wrong I was somewhat disappointed. I felt as if I had been cheated. I felt more sorry for Lu Zhenghai, though, who spent his life’s savings building what the press dubbed a “Noah’s ark” in order to escape the apocalypse. The ship reportedly cost him $160,000 (€120,000) to construct and he did not even get an opportunity to test it out. The Mayan apocalypse prediction, which became incredibly popular over the last two years, unfortunately proved to be another in a long line of dud disasters. Thousands of people across the world prepared for 21st December in great detail, hoarding food, building nuclear fallout shelters, and even spending weeks training themselves in arduous survival courses. Why are we so fascinated by fantasies of our impending doom? Certainly the apocalypse prediction is not a modern phenomenon. All civilisations have predicted the end of the world. There seems to be something very natural in such predictions. Frank Kermode, who published a work on apocalypse fantasies in the 1960s, suggested that whilst humanity lives in “the midst of things” they must construct longer narratives, about birth, death and existence, and the apocalypse is one of the more enduring examples of this kind of story. Storytelling, a major way in which humans make sense of the world, relies on a narrative structure that contains a beginning, a middle and an end. The narratives of individual lives follow
this structure: we will all die, so it is only natural to assume that the world, or the rest of humanity, will do so one day as well. At a very basic level it is a psychological impossibility for mankind to comprehend time as infinity, which means we must imagine its end. If we take the Christian tradition as one example we can see the power of eschatology, the Christian form of apocalypse prediction. The majestic force of the Revelation predictions has the power to affect anyone, even from outside the Christian tradition. And these stories continue to exert an obvious influence today on Christian fundamentalism, but also most likely a wider influence on the collective unconscious. There are many hilarious stories of Christians who have misguidedly predicted the apocalypse. My favourite has to be William Miller’s predictions in the 1840s. After his initial prediction that the world would end by 21st March 1841 was proved wrong, he revised the date to 18th April, the second second-coming, and then again to 22nd October. Each time a crowd gathered in anticipation that they would ascend to heaven. Surely on the third occasion their faith must have been a little shaken. Recently new forms of apocalypse fantasies have emerged to stand alongside the still-established Christian fundamentalist tradition. They can be characterised as either new-age spirituality or secular ecologism. What was interesting about the Mayan apocalypse is how many people approached it from these perspectives. Many new-age spir-
Whilst humanity lives in ‘the midst of things’ they must construct longer narratives, about birth, death and existence, and the apocalypse is one of the more enduring examples of this kind of story.
Wednesday 23rd January 2013
What is the purpose of an education?
“Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.” – Paulo Freire, ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’.
As we enter a new year as a student body it is worth reflecting on the process which brings us together – education. What is its role in our lives? What is its value to society? There are many answers to these questions but, in many ways, they can be divided into two schools. One school – with its roots in the Enlightenment ideal of the free and critical pursuit of knowledge – emphasises the liberatory quality of education to the individual and society. Education empowers people, offering them the tools they need to critically analyse the world they live in and the faculties to impact it. Education enriches society, especially where it is released from its ivory towers and accessible to all members of a society by right. Allowing for greater numbers of people to enquire and create, achieve an understanding of the past, utilise their talents and strive for self-actualisation is a so-
Editor Photo: Aidan Murray
cial good which benefits us all and should be encouraged. The other school aims at training the emergent generation into the system of the established order. Its goals revolve around the continuation of the status quo. It emphasises the need for young people to be obedient and achieve ‘maturity’ - where maturity is the embodiment of established order. It fits well with an economic order which would trap young people under a mountain of debt and restrict their ability to act independently or rebel. For its proponents it is a process of equipping the young with the tools to make it in ‘the real world’. For its opponents it is indoctrination by the powerful into the world they’ve created. If that seemed like a hostile take on the latter approach to education – it should be. As a newspaper composed of a student staff, funded in large-part by money accrued from students, TN is student media and supports the interests of students. And one of those interests is in young people being given the space to learn and develop, to express themselves and create under the conditions of the Enlightenment school – one that allows young people to define their own path rather than seeking to qualify them in the existing one. It is important that students recognise the constant battle be-
tween these two schools of pedagogy. In the university - do you train for passing tests or for creative inquiry? Do students have some input into the material they study, based on their interests and understanding, or is information deposited into them like a bank? Does the funding which shapes the college’s development come through some form of democratic allocation or through corporate sponsorship? How often are you taught to question the fundamentals of the world you live in and how often are you taught to accept them? The central point of conflict between these two schools is over the utility and necessity of change. If the prevailing system is fundamentally sound then why object to being trained into its ways? Why set your designs on doing something different? If, however, it requires change then the importance of the Enlightenment school is evident. The coming year will see the battle between these schools intensify. Undergraduate students will be forced out of education by fee hikes and cuts to grants. Postgraduate students who aren’t from wealthy backgrounds will find state support beyond reach. Many who do make it to university will work long hours or live on the breadline. College’s shrinking grant will see more emphasis on external funding streams – grants
from big business or fees from international students of means. Lecturers will be pushed further down the road of metering their jobs, recording every detail into notebooks to be assessed by corporate measures of productivity. Many will escape teaching altogether by taking refuge in the comparative freedom of research. Those who replace them will be precarious young workers on short-term contracts, paid a fraction of the amount. Marketdriven reforms and the austerity agenda threaten the freedoms of education and the creative space in the college. If we, as a student body, are to rise above the drudgery of collecting degrees as a step up a social ladder then we will need to be cognisant of these battles and active in them. We will need to reclaim the space in this university and this time in our lives for free and critical pursuit of knowledge. This is how this generation, one of emigration and unemployment, ironic detachment and cynicism, depression and inactivity, can find a way to create a culture and a society of our own. 2013 must be a radical year in this college where students reclaim education for what it offers in its fullest sense. Not as simply an avenue to a job - but as the means to change the world.
Lance Armstrong and the Libel Dilemma
W Hannah Cogan Public Editor
hen David Walsh, a Sunday Times writer and sports editor, published several pieces in 2005 alleging that Lance Armstrong had doped his way through several Tour de France victories, he found himself at the end of a vicious lawsuit, owing over £1 million in damages and legal fees as well as being compelled to publish an apology. In an agreed statement in 2006, the paper said: “The Sunday Times has confirmed to Mr Armstrong that it never intended to accuse him of being guilty of taking any performance-enhancing drugs and sincerely apologised for any such impression. Mr Armstrong has always vigorously opposed drugs in sport and appreciates the Sunday Times’ efforts to also address the problem.” Mr. Walsh’s story was deemed inadequate because, whilst it contained several witness testimonies and expert analysis of
discarded syringes, he lacked a full confession from Mr. Armstrong. He has since confessed in a much-publicised interview with Oprah. The seven-times Tour de France winner was stripped of all his cycling titles going back to August 1998 and banned from the sport for life last autumn after the US anti-doping agency, Usada, released a report detailing allegations of widespread doping by Armstrong and former colleagues in his cycling team. Mr. Walsh takes no credit for opening the investigation. ”It was my job, I’m not looking for any thanks from anybody. Any concern I have is for the sources who told the truth and were vilified for it” he told the BBC. It’s often noted that the most successful legal defense against slander or libel is truth. When we evaluate slander or libel, it’s important to remember that there’s no definitive measure of right and
wrong. No scientific test or objective measure of truthiness exists to confirm whether a story comes under the remit of ‘fact’. Instead, we compare new information to the imperfect and often flawed information we already have, and take stock of how the new information measures up - obviously untrue, possibly untrue, quite likely, or definitely. The most significant stories concern themselves with areas of conflicting information and the definition of truth will change constantly consider the coverage of Libya, the terms of Ireland’s bank guarantee, or the phone hacking scandal in the UK. All of that seems to me to be an argument for more information instead of less and suggests that it might be time to rethink slander and libel laws. We used to ban the spread of false information because there was so little to counteract it, and news that did
spread did along concentrated avenues. With the internet whirring away and networking at an all-time high, information moves around in a blur. We talk to everyone about everything, and most of us have the cop-on to be selective with out sources and our facts. Rarely now do we assume anything to be true- we tend to analyse and cross reference it ourselves. When the KONY video happened, the internet immediately self-checked as we all started evaluating it. With those principles to guide us, abandoning slander and libel laws would give us more information to work with, and a free-for-all seems unlikely- newspapers, remember, stake their reputations on providing good information. In this age, a deluge of information is no bad thing. Let’s open the floodgate.
Scenes from the aftermath of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting. Photo: Jessica Hill.
NRA have American media and opinion over the gun barrel
I Hannah Cogan Public Editor
n the aftermath of the Sandy Hook elementary school shootings, America’s National Rifle Association made their presence felt. Bloomberg, the Guardian and others have accused the organisation of “hysteria” that “degraded the gun debate”. The NRA have mobilised voters, signing petitions and sending congressmen and senators scrambling to reaffirm their support of the second amendment. That pull amongst voters is based on a truth many do not like to acknowledge. The NRA is popular. More popular, in fact, than President Obama. The latest Gallup poll, conducted in the aftermath of the Newtown shootings, noted that a 54% majority of Americans view the NRA positively despite broadly disagreeing with their proposed gun legislation, as they have in every Gallup poll on the same issue since 1993.
74% of Americans do not want to ban handguns, despite consistently feeling less safe if they knew another individual was armed in a school, courtroom or public area. Americans, it seems, are more terrified of being shot than anyone else in the world. They own more body armour per capita than any other country. Every day nearly one million children are sent to school with bulletproof backpacks. Of those 74% who support the use of handguns, more than 90% cite protection from violent crime or personal attack as motivation for owning a gun. The NRA’s argument is based on a simple premise: the vast majority of American mass killings are carried out in areas where large groups of unarmed people congregate. In a society terrified of being unable to defend themselves, that logic is particularly
trenchant. The motivation of those perpetrators does the most damage to the claims of the NRA. Spree killers do not randomly target schools or universities; more than 99% of school and university shootings are carried out by students at those schools, with 71% citing bullying and the remainder citing assault, harassment, sexual abuse, social injustices, and other triggers specific to a school environment. Of the remaining truly random spree killings carried out in the United States, discounting attacks aimed at specific institutions or people, the most common targets are government buildings and military bases, where armed security guards and the full force of the United States military seem to have little effect deterring shooters. The NRA have their own expla-
nation for America’s endemic gun violence problem, laying blame for many of America’s mass killings at the feet of the entertainment industry, citing games like Grand Theft Auto and Mortal Kombat as the overwhelming catalyst for such atrocities, with their distributors and producers silent co-conspirators in America’s mass killings. The sway of the NRA in creating an effective scapegoat is remarkable, especially since all of those videos fall under the NRA’s basic premise; the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun – respect for law and order be damned. The mission statement of the NRA states: “The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters – people so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person
Bullying in a digital age Elaine McCahill Editor-at-Large In the last few months there has been greater emphasis and wide discussion about the more negative impacts of our online social revolution. The regulation, limits and effects of negative uses of our daily sources of communication such as Twitter and Facebook have been questioned. But what is cyberbullying? What counts as cyberspace, and what words or actions merit the term bullying? As with most morality issues that come with using the internet, the phrase is soaked in ambiguity and an inability to define or quantify how certain actions will affect people in different ways. As with most things in life, people cope differently. A widely accepted definition of cyberbullying proposed by the Canadian antibullying campaigner Bill Belsey, is that it “involves the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated and hostile behaviour”. A number of events, such as the deaths of the two young sisters Erin and Shannon Gallagher in Donegal and the late minister of state Seán McEntee by suicide, and the viral sharing of the KPMG Daddy video online, have stimulated a national debate on the issue of cyberbullying. Suicide and mental health issues are, in general, a contentious here in a country that is still attempting to rid itself of the bitter aftertaste of a gripping and claustrophobic religion that dictated public reaction and policy regarding such delicate issues, mainly by ignoring them. As such, suicide is still a contentious issue, especially when raised in the national media, and both it and mental health issues are not discussed openly enough. However, despite a cultural reluctance to confront the issue, when cyberspace was brought into the argument, the debate exploded. The irony of the situation was not lost on many in that the technology which facilitates our greater interaction and participation with the issues was a social element that participated in hurting some of our community. In response to the untimely deaths of the Gallagher sisters, a report by Pádraig Cotter and Sinéad McGilloway (both of the National University of Ireland, Maynooth) was published in the Irish Journal of Education. Cotter and McGilloway interviewed 112 students between the ages of 12 and 18 regarding the prevalence and nature of specific forms of cyberbullying; they found that cyber bullying was, overall, less frequent and of shorter duration than traditional bullying, but that its effects were worse than traditional forms of schoolyard bullying, with the significant exception of email. According to the report, internet and phone use among these teenagers was high, given that 58% sent five or more text messages a day and 88% used the internet, with more than 66% using it for a number of hours per week. It was also confirmed that video and phone bullying were seen as substantially worse, given that one’s parents were less likely to notice and it was harder to escape. The lack of escape is essential to this new hybrid of harassment; the internet is freely available on phones, the home computer and even the TV in some instances, and as such cannot be avoided, as opposed to traditional forms of bullying whereby it is more often than not all left behind once you pass through the school gates. But how does this increased cyberbullying within the Irish secondary school system commute into our college sphere? Speaking to the Students’ Union welfare officer, Aisling Ní Chonaire, about these issues of cyberbullying and their relevance to student life in Trinity, she stat-
can possibly ever comprehend them. They walk among us every day.” In a society that demonises the mentally ill, it is worth noting that the first public awareness organization that released a statement after the shootings at Sandy Hook elementary school was not the National Rifle Association. It was not a group connected with guns, or for that matter, schools. It was the American Autism Foundation (AAF) who released a statement almost immediately after the fact, assuring the public that autism, which shooter Adam Lanza was rumoured to suffer from, was a developmental disorder and generally not known to cause violent outbreaks. The AAF report a significant rise in physical and verbal abuse toward autism sufferers since the shooting.
ed that while she had not been contacted regarding any major incidences of it, she “wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if I was to come across it”. Ní Chonaire does feel, though, that bullying over the internet and social-media platforms, and their effects on the individual, are extremely hard to quantify given that “fraping” or uploading unflattering or drunken images can be seen as hurtful to some but dismissed by others. As such, she emphasises the need to better communicate College’s Dignity and Respect Policy, which states that harassment is defined as "any act or conduct that is unwelcome to the recipient and could reasonably be seen as offensive, humiliating or creating an intimidating environment." A motion was passed by the Students’ Union council on 15th January advocating better communication of this policy, to inform students what due action College has mandated itself to take when such situations occur. The Union of Students in Ireland is currently in the process of putting together a policy that specifically pertains to cyberbullying. When asked if cyberbullying applies to third-level institutions in general, Ní Chonaire reflects that while it is becoming more relevant in society as a whole it is not necessarily prevalent at third-level: “It's incredibly easy to make anonymous comments, tag a photo or broadcast a ‘joke’ to a huge community of people in an instant. I don't necessarily think it's a surprising evolution or development, but society, research and policymakers must be responsible in their actions and become aware of the nature of the internet and how damaging a simple tag or post can be.” For the most part this type of harassment comes back to our individual behaviour, and how we should use these tools in a responsible way and try to communicate our views without necessarily causing offence, especially when it concerns our peers or private individuals in general. The golden rule when it comes to online interaction? Think before you tweet, post, comment. like or share. It is the old adages of “think before you speak” and “if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say it”, but on a new, highly interactive platform, will you really gain anything from sharing a video of a drunken teenager proclaiming to everyone listening the extent of her father’s wealth at four in the morning? That is not to say that if you disagree with someone you should not express your side of the argument or voice your opinion on contentious government policies or even just share your new favourite song. Please do, and to your heart’s content. It is our platform. It is our space to interact and express ourselves and we should take full advantage of it. At the same time, we should respect its power, potential and reach and also be aware that what we say online now will stay with us right into our future, or could greatly hurt someone else in their present. A good example of the caution we need to exert is relevant to the media hype for the aforementioned KPMG Daddy video. The title alone conveyed sexist imagery, referencing the video of a barely clad Kate Upton dancing around provocatively for dubious “fashion” photographer Terry Richardson. As shown here, far more is conveyed by what we share or like on any social media platform than we can even begin to consider. As with any form of interaction that your name is attached to (unless you are an anonymous troll), one needs to have a measure of understanding about how people may perceive what you say. If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article or just fancy a chat, you can contact Aisling Ní Chonaire at email@example.com.
The NRA are not a fringe group. They are the dominant group in America’s gun debate, enjoying majority support and a wave of good public opinion. Their voter mobilisation tactics are effective because they capitalise on one of America’s greatest fears, manipulating statistics to target and disenfranchise the mentally ill. The NRA’s media tactics work because people believe them, because they are encouraged, always, to disconnect from the perpetrators of violence. Countering the NRA involves an honest assessment of the fears underpinning their considerable support and assessing the viability of a gun culture in a country that systematically marginalises its atrisk populations.
Wednesday 23rd January 2013
Science in Brief Anthea Lacchia
That’s a fine set of feathers you’ve got there A new study led by researchers at the University of Alberta has revealed that some feathered dinosaurs used their tail feathers to attract mates, in much the same way as modern day peacocks and turkeys. Using digital muscle reconstructions, the researchers were able to establish that oviraptorosaur tails were muscularly robust and
both bone and muscle structure of the tail support the hypothesis that these dinosaurs waved their tails. Scott Persons, lead researcher in the paper, studied the fusing together of vertebrae at the tip of the tail in four different species of dinosaur. The study was published in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica.
Sub-zero Kelvin temperatures send a chill down scientific spines
Fracked or fiction? Drilling down to the facts, Adam Kelly and Anthea Lacchia discuss how distortions, of both risks and rewards, are flooding the fracking debate.
Anthea Lacchia & Adam Kelly
Science Editor & Staff Writer
n our fossil-fuelled society, fracking is our latest addiction. But why is fracking so controversial? What is it about fracking that is so irking to industry representatives, geologists and environmentalists alike? The term fracking refers to the hydraulic fracturing technique employed to extract otherwise inaccessible gas and oil from shale. Shale is a sedimentary rock that is broken up during fracking in order to release the gas contained inside. Wells are typically drilled to 2km, at which depth drilling continues horizontally, where pipes are laid containing holes through which liquid is expelled at high pressure. This liquid is composed of water, fine silicates and fracking fluid: the water and fracking fluids break open the rock and the sand serves to keep fissures open, allowing the gas to seep into the pipes. After approximately a year of rapid gas flow, the rate of flow slows considerably and the land around the top of the well is almost completely reclaimed. One of the most notorious issues surrounding the fracking debate – and one that is highly relevant to Ireland – is the contamination of water supplies. Earlier this year, the United States Geological Survey confirmed findings by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that fracking compounds were showing up in the drinking water in Pavillion, Wyoming. This verification is the first of its kind but, according to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study, these contaminations are isolated incidents. Investigation of over 20,000 wells drilled in the past decade has only revealed a handful of occurrences of water
pollution and, in each case, the shafts through the aquifers were poorly sealed, a clear breach of existing safety regulations. The depth at which the gas is accessed occurs far below aquifers and the US has banned the fracking of shallow shale deposits to specifically prevent aquifer contamination. Dr David Chew, from Trinity’s Geology Department, comments that: “From currently available data, it appears that the mechanical fracking process itself does not pose a significant environmental risk (eg, the causation of significant earthquakes or fractures reaching and contaminating drinking water). “Groundwater contamination is rare and typically stems from poor well design or construction. The controversy and debate on fracking in the media is heavily weighted towards these pollution risks, yet the large-scale and inevitable industrialization that accompanies fracking often receives much less attention.” Advocates of fracking often quote the cleanliness of natural gas linked to the reduction in coal burning: in fact, natural gas burns without discharging sulphur dioxide, mercury or particulates into the air or leaving ash behind. But, however great the reduction in pollution might be, the growing concern is that gas itself might leak. Methane, the main component of natural gas and an especially pernicious greenhouse gas, can be vented, escape during flaring or simply leak from faulty equipment. This month, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Colorado in Boulder reported alarmingly high rates of meth-
ane leakage from oil and gas fields in the US. In fact, when a well is completed, fluids returning to the surface bring large amounts of methane with them. New policies issued by the EPA have mandated that these wells must be capped and the methane be captured. Of course it is in the interest of industry, for financial reasons, that these policies be observed. While the US has seen a reduction in CO2 emissions in the past decade, believed to be due to the switch to abundant shale gas, any atmospheric gain has been almost completely offset as a result of methane emissions. In reality, in many states in the US, shale gas drilling has far outpaced the efforts to understand and limit its impacts. In general, despite their natural opposition to fracking, protest groups do agree that it can be done safely. Proper regulation and strictly enforced controls can limit the risks associated with drilling: well flowback can be treated and recycled, reinforced concreting in the well shafts will not leak, prevention of venting and flaring will tackle the methane problem, and careful monitoring of activity can limit tremors. The International Energy Agency says that: “If the industry wants to gain public acceptance there will have to be more disclosures; engagement with local communities; effective monitoring of wells; tough rules on well design, fracking and surface spills; careful water management and a stop on methane emissions.” A stringent implementation of these measures would certainly go a long way towards placating the concerns of the anti-fracking groups. France and Bulgaria, soon to be joined by the Czech Republic,
have imposed full moratoriums on fracking. These impositions are certain to stimulate innovation in the research of renewable energy and ultimately have a more positive impact on the future of energy supply and consumption. Exploratory licenses in Eastern Europe have shown that European shale requires different drilling techniques to those employed in the US and, with a densely populated continent, the fleets of tankers needed to carry the vast quantities of sand and water would almost certainly be opposed by a concerned European public. With the technological viability of fracking and the relative cleanliness of shale gas, careful regulation could make these unconventional resources a sensible candidate as a transitionary fuel. The foremost problem with shale gas is that it is still a fossil fuel. Natural gas may be considered to be a relatively clean fuel and its extraction may be done safely, but its exploitation does nothing to address the required move to renewable resources. Existing coal technology is being modified to utilize natural gas and as long as renewable resources do not have the same economies of scale as the fossil fuel supply, they will not be embraced with the necessary vigour. Development of natural gas is simply moving the posts, further enabling a dependence on a finite resource, when action should be taken to cultivate sustainable fuel technologies. Fracking is a step towards addressing national green targets, but is not the leap we need.
When dealing with degrees celsius, minus temperature are common occurrences, especially in winter, but up to now it had been impossible to achieve them on the Kelvin scale. Quite astonishingly, physicists at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching have now created an atomic gas in the laboratory that has negative Kelvin values.
Sub-absolute-zero temperatures were reached with an ultracold quantum gas made up of potassium atoms. One interesting feature of the gas is that it mimics “dark energy”, widely acknowledged as one of the greatest mysteries of the universe. So this finding has great potential not only for the creation of new materials and quantum devices, but also for solving fundamental cosmological questions.
Biomedical engineering gets a new push Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) are joining forces to accelerate innovative healthcare services and technologies. This new collaboration, known as Dublin Biomedical Engineering Research Initiative (DBERI), will focus on areas such as disease identification, simulation, clinical testing and the development of new interventions and therapies.
“The goal of this new initiative is to improve healthcare delivery through new tools, technologies and medicines,” said Dr Patrick Prendergast, Provost of Trinity. Examples of recently funded biomedical engineering research across these three institutes include spinal disc repair, heart valve repair, cardiac regeneration, hearing loss and deep brain simulation.
Rita Levi-Montalcini dies aged 103 Italian Nobel laureate Rita LeviMontalcini, who jointly won the 1986 Nobel prize for physiology and medicine, died on 30th December 2012. Her research into cell growth was instrumental in cancer studies. Born into a Jewish family in Turin, she had to carry out her research while hiding from the fascists during the second world war. It was the discovery of nerve
growth factor (NGF) that won her the Nobel prize, shared with her colleague Stanley Cohen. Through the study of chicken embryos, she was able to make major discoveries into how organ growth and cell growth are regulated. In Italy, she was deeply involved in social and cultural affairs and became a symbol of scientific achievement.
harmless but some are linked to conditions such as autism and schizophrenia. This would agree with other studies that have shown marked increases in the rates of detection of autism in children. Better diagnostic ability would explain some of the increase but it is speculated by the authors that increased paternal age is likely to also be a factor. The reason why mutations arise on the male side more often is because a man’s sperm is continually produced throughout his lifetime. This requires continuous cell division to make new sperm and it is thus from here where the mutations arise. A woman, on the other hand, is born with the full complement of eggs that she will need in her lifetime and thus, with no need for cell division to produce new ones, the mutations
do not tend to occur. Hints of this phenomenon, referred to as “the paternal age effect” have been noted before. For example, the genetic condition achondroplasia, the cause of dwarfism, has been linked to the advanced age of the father at the time of conception. All in all, the news is not great for those of us planning to hold off having children for another decade or two. However, there is a surprisingly simple solution. It is perfectly feasible for any young adult male to collect their sperm and have it frozen or “banked” in a sperm bank for when you are feeling broody in later years. After getting such a bad rap during the past few years, I say it is time banking became cool again.
Better banking for a healthier child Every two extra years of age of the father at the time of conception are linked to two more mutations in the child. Enda Shevlin suggests that men might want to start saving at the sperm bank.
“A Enda Shevlin Contributor
ll women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does, and that is his,” chided Oscar Wilde in The Important of Being Earnest. While I do not doubt for a moment that our Oscar was indeed an earnest fellow, I would have to argue that in this instance, he was only half right. Like it or not, we are the product of both our parents. We are given half our genes from our mother, half from our father and, before you know it, out pops a little one with her mother’s eyes and her father’s nose. Numerically speaking, “the little one” should have an exact match for 50% of her mother’s genes and 50% of her father’s. However, it is common for a tiny proportion of these genes to change or mutate so that a newborn is ever so slightly different, genetically speaking, from its parents (note for non-biology students: a mutation is basically a mistake made during the copying of a gene). This is, after all, how evolution occurs: cells divide, genes are copied, mistakes are made and are passed onto our children. 90% of these changes are harmless but a few can be useful, hence humans have opposable thumbs.
A slightly greater number – approximately 10% –are harmful however, hence politicians and the Big Bang Theory (the TV show, not the actual theory). Joking aside, it turns out that men – and specifically older men – are likely to be contributing more than first thought to their offspring. A recent study published in the journal Nature has highlighted that the later in a man’s life that he produces a child, the significantly greater the risk that he will be responsible for passing on potentially harmful genes. The study, based in Iceland and led by Dr Kari Steffason and Dr Augustine Kong, looked at almost 80 families and compared the genomes of parents to those of their children. At its simplest, they were looking to see how many mutations in its genes each child had compared to its parents. They also looked to see from which parent the mutation arose and whether these were likely to be helpful or harmful to the child later in life. The results make for interesting reading. On average, the authors estimate that 60 genetic changes or mutations occur per generation of children but that of these, almost four times as many came from
the father as from the mother (55 versus 14). Even more startling was their observation that while a 20-year-old father passed on an average of 25 mutations to his child, a 40-year-old father passed on over two-and-a-half times as many at almost 65. In contrast, the mother passed on an average of 15, irrespective of age. This means that for every two years older the father is at the time of conception, two more mutations are passed on to his child. Owing to better education and the prioritising of careers, potential parents are putting off having children until later in life and, as a result of this, the authors estimate that children born in 2011 will have around 10 more mutations than children born in 1980. There is a cause for concern here because harmful mutations are much more common than beneficial ones and, since humans are no longer under many of the tougher selection pressures our ancestors faced – it is no longer the case that only the most athletic or strong of us mate and thus pass on our genes over time – the health of the population will decline in the longer term. Of the mutations that Steffason and his team did find, many were
A recent study published in the journal Nature has highlighted that the later in a man’s life that he produces a child, the significantly greater the risk that he will be responsible for passing on potentially harmful genes.
Wednesday 23rd January 2013
Wonder of Music on the Mind From physical to psychological therapy, and cognitive to manual skills, Carol O’Brien records how scientific research has been tuning into the potential of music
F Carol O’Brien Contributor
rom ancient times through to the modern day, music has captured the hearts and minds of humanity. 42,000 years ago, humans were carving flutes out of the wing bones of vultures; in ancient Greece, Plato declared that “music gives wings to the mind”; music seems to be an important feature of every culture. Yet, there is no clear explanation for why humans spend so much of their time engaged with music, or what goes on in our brains when we listen to and play it. Is music biologically innate? Does it confer survival benefits, and so was it selected through evolution? The answers are not obvious and there are differing and controversial opinions on the origin of this curious phenomenon. Even Darwin admitted that music making and enjoyment “ranked amongst the most mysterious” of man’s faculties. The cognitive scientist Steven Pinker famously declared that music is “auditory cheesecake”, little more than a pleasurable byproduct of language. Others propound the evolutionary advantages of creative expression and the arts, and assert that music and dancing are a display of both physical and cognitive fitness. Scientists who study music have had to battle with presumptions that their work was not scientific enough, by its very nature. Robert Zatorre, a leading figure in the field from McGill University, has said that in his early days of grant applications he didn’t admit to researching music, instead referring to his work as “complex non-linguistic auditory processing”. Things have slowly changed, however, and many now see music as a key to gaining insights about a whole host of brain func-
tions such as memory, language and perception. There has long been a conflict between those who argue that the brain has evolved a specialised pathway for processing music, and those who argue that music merely “hijacks” pathways involved in language and other functions. Isabelle Peretz, a neuropsychologist from the University of Montreal, has spent much time studying people with amusia – impaired ability to produce or comprehend musical tones. She has shown that people with both congenital and acquired amusia largely have normal hearing and language functions. She has been instrumental in convincing others that although music and language processing overlap significantly, they do have at least some independent areas. The potential therapeutic effects of music have been investigated in a wide range of illnesses, with significant positive results: reducing chronic pain, alleviating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and even helping Parkinson’s patients to walk when they synchronise their movements to a musical beat. In the 1940s and 1950s music therapy, in its modern form, began to develop as a profession. After World War II, various musical activities were organised for traumatised and wounded soldiers. Anecdotal evidence that the music did not just lift spirits, but actually had analgesic properties persisted and the field of music therapy as we recognise it today began to emerge. It is still a constantly evolving field, but has undergone something of a paradigm shift in the last two decades; the rise of neuroimaging techniques in the
early 1990s allowed researchers to visualise and identify the brain regions involved in music processing. Music therapy has progressed from a discipline founded on clinical observations and case studies into one increasingly based on neurological evidence. The year 1973 saw the development of a pioneering musical treatment for stroke patients who had been left with speech difficulties. The traditional approach to treating these patients would have been to have them repeat spoken phrases. Instead, patients simply sing the phrases. Gottfried Schlaug, a neurologist based in Harvard Medical
The potential therapeutic effects of music have been investigated in a wide range of illnesses, with significant positive results: reducing chronic pain, alleviating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and even helping Parkinson’s patients to walk when they synchronise their movements to a musical beat.
School, has worked extensively on this therapy and has found significant improvement in patients – and neuroimaging results to back the treatment up. The hypothesis is that the improvement in speech is due to the gradual recruitment of melody processing regions in the right-hemisphere of the brain, allowing them to take over function from the damaged speech areas. As well as having therapeutic properties, it has been claimed that music has other beneficial effects. An important event in the history of music physiology
was the discovery of the so-called “Mozart-effect”. This theory has its origins in a short paper published in Nature in 1993. Frances Rauscher, a psychologist at the University of California, Irvine, asked 36 students to listen to either Mozart, a relaxation tape or silence for 10 minutes, and then perform several spatial-reasoning tests. Curiously, students showed a temporary improvement in one particular paper-folding task after listening to Mozart. It didn’t take long for the results to be wildly generalised from a single paper-folding task to IQ, and from students to infants, as educational companies ran with it, profiting from the eagerness of parents to give their offspring the best start in life. Several studies since have either found no evidence of the effect or confirmed it has largely been exaggerated and misrepresented. While listening to Mozart is one thing, playing an instrument is another. It is much more beneficial to buy a child an instrument than a Mozart CD. Playing music is an extremely complex process involving many areas of the brain coordinating their activity. It has
been found that musicians have hyper-development and additional specialisation of certain areas of their brain. Pianists exhibit activation of their motor cortex when just listening to piano music. People who have spent time learning a musical instrument have been found to perform better in standardised tests and reading proficiency exams. Not surprisingly, there is an association between musical training and perception of the tones in language: musically trained people are better at Chinese, and among Mandarin speakers there are a higher proportion of people with absolute pitch (the ability to identify exactly the pitch of a note without comparison to another) than among English speakers. Dancing, another aspect of musicality, was long thought to be a uniquely human trait. That is, until a YouTube star by the name of Snowball emerged in 2007. Over 5 million views, and several published papers later, Snowball has had a significant influence on our thinking about music and rhythm. Snowball is a sulphur-crested cockatoo and his favourite pastime is dancing to
the Backstreet Boys. Aniruddh Patel of the Neurosciences Institute in California has visited Snowball and studied his dancing or, to be technical about it, his spontaneous movements in time to a musical beat. In an interview with the New York Times, Patel described Snowball dancing as the neuroscientist’s equivalent of “seeing a dog reading a newspaper out loud”. The significance of all this is that it suggests that musicality is not linked to evolution. If it was true that dancing was an evolved trait then only animals with an extensive history of dancing would dance; ie, only humans. Snowball suggests we need to think again about the origins of music and dancing. There is no doubting that extraordinary advances have been made in understanding the physiology behind music processing and production, but there is still much left to discover about music’s effect on the brain. Regardless of the reasons why we have music, and the processes that take place in our brains when we listen to and play it, there is no doubting its unique power to enrich our lives, and soothe our pains.
“intra-tumour variability” present in every cancer; ie, that within one tumour there are parts which are qualitatively different. This phenomenon has been suspected by clinicians for decades, but only recently have studies demonstrated just how great this genetic heterogeneity can be. Using next generation sequencing technology, a team led by Professor Charles Swanton of Cancer Research UK’s London Research Institute analysed the tumours of patients with cancer of the kidney which has spread to other parts of the body (metastatic renal carcinoma). It was shown, by sampling up to 11 different parts of a tumour, that over 60% of the genetic mutations present were not shared throughout. In addition, an evolutionary “tree” could be constructed, showing how different parts of the tumour developed from a shared precursor. In an analogous fashion to Darwinian evolution, tumour cells, which by initial mutations acquire an increased propensity to grow and mutate further, subsequently diverge from a common ancestor by acquisition of different genetic alterations. Some mutations con-
fer survival or growth advantage to the tumour cells, whereas others render the cells inviable. If the advantageous changes overcome the body’s natural ability to eliminate cancer cells by immune mechanisms, then a clinically apparent and potentially aggressive tumour may arise. By the same thread, divergence gives rise to heterogeneity within the tumour, whereby two – or usually more – separate populations of cancer cells may survive and grow. Referring to this “tree model of cancer growth”, Swanton, in a recent interview, distinguished early “trunk (mutations) … present in every cancer subclone and every tumour biopsy”, and later “branches” in the genetic changes that are “not present in every region … [and] represent the diversity within the tumour”. This “tree model” has several implications for the day-to-day clinical management of cancer patients. Inadequate sampling of different tumour parts, such as by biopsy, may limit the usefulness of these tests to guide personalised medicine involving targeted therapies. For example, consider a woman who has had one biopsy per-
formed on a breast lump, which shows breast cancer susceptible to Herceptin (a treatment which targets some breast cancers). If even one non-sampled part of the tumour does not exhibit the molecular alterations which render it susceptible to the drug, then there is potential for that part of the tumour to survive and outgrow, precluding a cure. Likewise, inadequate tumour sampling for biomarker measurement relating to a heterogenous tumour may give rise to inaccurate conclusions. These findings are of serious concern, when in daily oncological practice, physicians make important decisions relating to patient care, based on one or very few tests of the tumour profile. Efforts to develop targeted therapies have not been in vain, however, and will form an important part of our burgeoning armoury of anti-cancer therapies in the future. One thing is for sure: continued support and investment for oncology research will be vital if we are to meaningfully improve cancer outcomes for all patients. WHO World Cancer Day is 4th February 2013.
Targeted cancer therapies: practice not yet perfect The treatment of cancer with targeted agents rather than chemotherapy is promising but not a panacea, explains Conor John O’Donovan
C Conor John O’Donovan Staff Writer
ancer is the second most common cause of death, accounting for 7.8 million deaths worldwide in 2008 (projected to rise to 13.1 million by 2030). It is a strikingly complex disease in its biology, and poses a great challenge to the world scientific and healthcare community. One of the main drivers behind recent developments in oncology (cancer medicine) has been the concept of “targeted therapies”. With increased understanding in the field of tumour biology in recent decades, it has been possible to design drugs which target the mechanisms by which cancer cells survive, grow and divide. In contrast to conventional cancer chemotherapy, which tends to kill dividing cells non-specifically throughout the body, targeted therapies have the potential to remove only the cancerous cells and hence avoid many of the unwanted side-effects of conventional therapies. However, optimism in these targeted therapies should be tempered by a certain realism. Despite the incorporation of novel targeted agents into chemotherapy regimens for various cancers, improvements in cancer patient outcomes have been modest. The majority of cancers have been shown to become insensitive to targeted agents over time and exposure, leading to relapse of disease and progress. This can be likened to the acquired ability of drug-resistant bacteria to survive despite antibiotic treatment. If there has been disappointment or naivety in believing targeted therapies to be the “magic bullets” of oncology, this stems from a lack of understanding of cancer’s complex biology. To appreciate how targeted anticancer agents work, and why they don’t succeed, requires some understanding of the basic concepts of cancer development. Cancer is a generic term for a group of diseases which have in common a loss of the ability of cells to
control their growth, and a gain in ability to invade adjacent tissues and spread to other parts of the body. Cancers arise from the body’s own cells, as a result of mutations in specific genes: so-called oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes. Years of dedicated work has enlightened researchers as to the common mutations which are characteristic of different types of cancer. Many of these genes under normal physiological conditions play roles in the control of cell survival, growth and replication, cell signalling and DNA repair pathways – those processes which are normally under tight regulation, but go wrong in cancer. Oncologists have long and increasingly appreciated the existence of great “inter-tumour variability”; ie, that one patient’s tumour may differ significantly from that of another patient. On a basic level, not every cancer has the same set of mutations, and hence the same type of cancer; eg, colon cancer may look and behave differently in different patients. This led to the idea of “personalised” approaches to cancer therapy: (1) you have many anticancer drugs available, which target particular mechanisms of tumour growth; (2) you are able to determine the mechanisms on which one patient’s cancer is dependent for growth; (3) you should hence be able to select a particular targeted therapy (or combination) which is best for that patient. Furthermore, there has been great hope in the usefulness of developing “biomarkers” in oncology care. This refers to the use of special tests of biological samples from the patient, such as tumour biopsies or blood measurements, which may be used to predict or monitor response to therapy, or to guide prognostic estimations. The naivety with regard to tumour biology, referred to earlier, concerns the underappreciated
Despite the incorporation of novel targeted agents into chemotherapy regimens for various cancers, improvements in cancer patient outcomes have been modest.
Wednesday 23rd January 2013
Getting back on the bike: Luke O’Callaghan-White on how the likes of the Dublin University Cycling Club are determined to ride through the pain and set the sport back on the right track.
The long-ball game: DUAFC at 130 years Older than the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal, Dublin University Association Football Club has had its ups and downs but, as Sarah Burns looks over its past and present, she finds a club forging ever forwards.
H Sarah Burns Sports Editor
ere’s a question you might someday hear at a pub quiz: which Irish player with strong Trinity connections scored the first-ever goal in the history of the European Championships? To save you reaching for your iPhone, here is the answer: Liam Tuohy. He is one of the unsung heroes of Irish football, a name that does not resonate quite as much as Roy Keane or Paul McGrath, and yet his achievements are just as noteworthy. Tuohy played for and managed the Republic of Ireland national team, and his CV also includes stints in charge of several clubs in the League of Ireland, including Shamrock Rovers, Dundalk and Shelbourne. Sandwiched between his stints at Rovers and Shelbourne was a six-year period in charge of DU Association Football Club (DUAFC) from 1975 until 1981. Not surprisingly, Tuohy’s tour of duty was not without success. In 1979 he managed the club to victory in the Collingwood Cup. Another interesting fact that you might come across is the following; founded in 1883, DUAFC is the oldest association football club in the Republic of Ireland that is still in existence. Those of you quick at maths will have already calculated that the club celebrates its 130th anniversary this year. It is quite an achievement, especially as one does not normally associate soccer with Trinity. Indeed, back in the 1880s, College had a ban on all games, mainly due to the fear of violence, gambling and drinking that was associated with them. Nonetheless, on 30 November 1883 College Park played host to the first known game between a Belfast team and a Dublin team, with DUAFC losing 6-0 to Belfast
Athletic. At the time rugby was the most popular sport in Dublin. In October 1883 the Irish Times voiced its concerns that association football was likely to split rugby ranks, and therefore was not at all to be welcomed. Despite this blast of negativity, DUAFC managed to reach the final of the Leinster Cup in the following season, losing in a replay to Bohemians. The club first competed in the Irish Cup in 1884, and it reached the semi-finals in 1886 where the side lost 4-0 to Distillery, a Belfast outfit. A reflection of the calibre of the team in its early days is the fact that in 1885 two DUAFC players, William Eames and Frederick Moorhead, were the first Dublin-based players to be chosen for Ireland. Between the club’s foundation and 1891, nine players from Trinity received international caps for Ireland. During the first world war, the club ceased to exist, as did most university clubs. College’s official history even records: “It was a sign of the times when the Board of 1917 gave permission for sheep to be pastured in College Park, and haycocks were erected, the marks of which were visible for many years after.” Throughout the second world war, College Park was unavailable for soccer , so grounds were used in Clontarf, in Grangegorman and at St Patrick’s Athletic instead. In 1941, Trinity won the universities league, and lost out in the Collingwood Cup final to UCD. Collingwood is the holy grail of college football, with universities from all over the country competing. It was first contested in 1914, but it was only in 1967 that DUAFC won for the first time, defeating Queen’s University Belfast
1-0 in the final at College Park. 1979 saw the only other Collingwood Cup victory, under Tuohy. The club’s centenary year of 1983 was marked by its first win of the Harding Cup, a competition for freshman teams. Over the last 30 years, the club has added two more Harding Cup victories and made it to the final of the Collingwood Cup in 1996 (losing to University of Ulster) and 2000 (losing to University College Cork). In 2008 it decided to re-enter the Leinster Senior League after three years of summer football. This proved to be a most successful move, with the club winning the Major 1D Division as well as the Joe Tynan Cup. Today, DUAFC fields three competitive teams and has an active membership of 70-80 players. Looking to the year ahead, the club’s captain, Darren Burke, explained that DUAFC hopes “firstly, to consolidate all three Leinster Senior League teams in their respective competitions, and then potentially challenge for promotion, which looks like being possible with all three teams there or thereabouts”. The club has two teams competing in the Leinster Senior League – in the Saturday Premier and the Major 1A divisions. Their first team is currently at the top of the Leinster Senior League major division, with only one loss out of 12 in their Sunday outings. Last season the side made it to the semi-final of the Tom Carroll, and to the final of the Spillane Cup. “While rugby is very much a main sport in Trinity,” Burke comments, “and has had many successes in recent years, soccer has also been successful in its own right; the Colours victory over UCD last year being an example.” Throughout the club’s
Megaleague on a roll James Hussey on a platform for players from across the country and the continent to indulge in their love of the game and of each other..
A James Hussey Deputy Sports Editor
ssociation football will celebrate 130 years as part of College’s proud history of athletic endeavour in 2013. DUAFC represents Trinity at various levels in both women’s and men’s soccer leagues and competitions, most notably the Collingwood Cup, an annual intervarsity tournament. There is, however, a different breed of soccer that, for a small portion of the student body, is an all-encompassing, quasi-obsessive pursuit – the Trinity Megaleague. The competition satiates the needs and desires of students and staff ineligible, or perhaps simply not good enough, to compete for DUAFC. Its egalitarian ideology inspires annually, prompting groups of friends, acquaintances and even casual football fans to invest in jerseys and kit. Most importantly, the Trinity Megaleague asks those willing and able, to in-
vest their time and effort, making available something that, without the work of a few, would be inaccessible to many. From main coordinator, Tommy Dunne, to referees, to the players themselves, the Megaleague is an experience that, when the correct application and effort is there, becomes an integral part of college life. The sense of camaraderie and the connections and friendships formed are but a byproduct of a contest that has the spirit of football at its core. One such example of a team is Sellotape, an interestingly named group of players whose diversity is matched only by their relentless self-mythologising. The club, who grace the Megaleague-designated pitches in Santry in fetching blue and yellow jerseys (replete with squad names and numbers in-
spired by the greats of the game, from Franz Beckenbauer to Paul Scholes, via Ruud van Nistelrooy), is made up of enthusiastic students from across all years and disciplines, a shining example of the Hamilton and Arts Buildings co-existing – thriving, even – in perfect harmony. Sellotape grew from humble beginnings, their origin analogous to that shared by many Irish institutions. For Sellotape, like any Megaleague side, these first timid steps into the pantheon of Trinity soccer were filled with trepidation. Questions of organisation raised themselves early on, inevitable issues of leadership concomitant with the struggle to establish the simple aspects of a football club, all of which required the teamwork that lent to Sellotape its motto, “Semper Aliquid Haeret” (Something Always
During the first world war, the club ceased to exist, as did most university clubs. College’s official history even records: “It was a sign of the times when the Board of 1917 gave permission for sheep to be pastured in College Park, and haycocks were erected, the marks of which were visible for many years after.”
Photo: George Voronov existence UCD has remained its arch-rival and DUAFC will be hoping to build on its shock 1-0 victory over the Belfield side in last year’s annual Colours match. “No other rivalry has the tradition or been around as long,” agrees Burke. “The Colours game versus UCD is always a highlight of the year.” Apart from trying to affirm its supremacy in Dublin, the first team will also be looking to make another bid for Collingwood Cup glory, but has been handed a difficult preliminary-round draw. Burke comments: “We’d hope to be involved in the business end of the Collingwood Cup this year but
Sticks). The time for tentative steps cast aside, Sellotape readied themselves for their first game as a collective. Similar to the experience of many clubs upon entering the FA Premier League, and reminiscent of the old adage of “being thrown in at the deep end”, Sellotape initially floundered in the confines of competitive College soccer. The team was internally designated as being “under construction” after a mere handful of games, the well-worn cliché aptly encapsulating the need to improve the squad, provide sufficient strength-in-depth and give the team a fighting chance for the road ahead. An influx of talent towards the end of the team’s inaugural season improved the side’s fortunes but could not help a beleaguered Sellotape from falling in the Cup, losing to eventual beaten finalists (and attested nemeses), 99 Problems. Players may seem quick to emphasise the serious nature of the competition, but essentially, competing for Sellotape, or any of the other teams that ply their trade within College, is by-and-large a
One such example of a team is Sellotape, an interestingly named group of players whose diversity is matched only by their relentless selfmythologising.
have been drawn against Queen’s and the competition is being held in Jordanstown in Belfast.” Also running throughout 2013 will be the club’s Mega League, an 11-a-side internal league made up of College’s students and staff, which also allows a maximum of two external players per squad. With over 300 students playing regularly, DUAFC is still going strong on the occasion of its 130th anniversary and still boasts one of the largest active memberships of any of Trinity’s sports clubs. In Burke’s words: “With the expansion of the club, it’s onwards and upwards for DUAFC.”
fun experience. De facto training sessions take the form of five-a-side matches at College’s Sports Centre, where the lighthearted banter of the changing room evaporates on the field of play. Despite the intensity of the aforementioned (and the oftquestionable tackling of a number of players), a healthy atmosphere of competition exists within these contests, and ultimately, any infighting is left on the pitch. Sellotape looks forward to another year of Megaleague competition, along with a number of other teams from diverse faculties across campus. With games ongoing every Saturday and Sunday on College’s playing fields in Santry, the perennially-combustible nature of the league has not disappointed thus far. The men in blue and yellow have travelled a distance in their short time together, finding strength in collective unity and hope in a shared vision. The Trinity Megaleague provides much more than the chance to play football against fellow students; Sellotape are living testament to that fact.
Wednesday 23rd January 2013
2013 Preview: a look at some of the big events happening within College sport this term American Football David Barker
James Hussey Deputy Sports Editor
The Dublin University American Football Club is gearing up to enter its fourth season in the Irish American Football League’s top tier. Last year saw the Trinity team amassing its strongest record to date, finishing with an impressive six wins to two losses. After suffering defeat in the first two games of the season, the club bounced back to record six consecutive victories and storm into the league playoffs for the first time. This year sees Trinity in a new division with collegiate rivals Dublin City University, University College Dublin and the University of Limerick. Trinity will hope to build on last season’s success with another playoff appearance and a chance to go even further than last year.
Association Football Darren Burke The main aim within Dublin University Association Football Club (DUAFC) is to start playing intermediate football in the next couple of years. The Sunday side have made a great start to realising this ambition, amassing 29 points in the opening 12 league games, leaving DUAFC in a great position to push for promotion to intermediate football. After an inspired 1-0 win in the Colours match last year, DUAFC hope to make it two wins in a row in 2013. It is hoped that the match will take place under lights in Belfield with both sides hoping for a good turnout to one of the longest-standing derbies in Irish football. The Collingwood Cup will be played in the University of Ulster, Jordanstown (UUJ) in February
of 2013. The squad will travel with the aim of competing at the business end of the tournament this year after a disappointing 2012 Collingwood Cup and a great start to the year so far. Many young stars are emerging in the DUAFC ranks, laying their claim for first team positions. The future looks bright for DUAFC!
ing eight games of the Dublin league unbeaten. DUBC will also look to compete well in the college league as they build towards the B intervarsities this April in Cork. After a disappointing showing in Limerick last year, reaching the final is essential to ensure a speedy return to the A competition.
In the coming months, DU Harriers & Athletics Club (Duhac) will look to build on a very successful 2012, with competitions in indoor track and field, outdoor track and field and cross country. Boasting Irish international Sam Mealy and national medalists Irene Gorman and Ciara McCallion, to name but a few, Duhac are confident that they can replicate their success at the intervarsity road relays: where the men’s and women’s teams both took bronze, and in finishing second in the final standings, DUHAC achieved their highest ever overall finish. The addition of a busy calender of events on campus – the 111 mile relay, Chariots of Fire, College Races and Trinity Relays – ensures that it will be a very busy few months for Duhac.
Having picked up a series of victories at DIT in the penultimate week of the Michaelmas term, Dublin University Boxing Club (DUBC) is shaping up to have a very strong 2013. The club will be hosting the junior intervarsities in early February, giving the new talent acquired last year a chance to prove their abilities in the ring. Famously, the club will also be hosting the annual Colours match against UCD in the Exam Hall. The night promises to be one of great atmosphere and even greater pugilistic talent, hopefully culminating in the Fred Tiedt Trophy returning to its rightful owners.
Basketball David Murphy Dublin University Men’s Basketball team (DUBC) is currently riding high atop Dublin division 1 with a 6-2 record. The narrow 50-45 loss away to Killester in the quarter-final of the cup was a bitter pill to swallow. However, the return of Théo Deleligne from his Christmas recess allows Trinity to look to close out the remain-
Triathlon Sarah Burns 1st of February sees the highlight of the triathlon calendar with the annual mini-triathlon taking place in the college. Founded in 2006, Trinity’s Triathlon Club is the biggest university club in Ireland with over 200 members. Last year the event raised funds for the Trinity Access Programme (TAP), with participants completing a 200m swim, 5km cycle and 1.5km run. This year the club is hoping to build on its already massive success and encourage more students to get involved.
Men’s Gaelic Football John Tighe It’s that time of year again, where footballers all over the country dust off the cobwebs of Christmas, and in college circles it means many things, but especially the Sigerson Cup, where Dublin University Gaelic Football Club (DUGFC) are playing for the first time after a prolonged absence. Our first opponents in the competition are the old enemy, UCD. This will be the first Colours match since 2005, and it will hopefully be a match to remember. Paddy Power give odds of 80/1 for DUGFC, while our opponents for the first round are at 9/1, but when the ball is thrown in on the 29th January at Clanna Gael in Ringsend, the formbook goes out the window. As always, it will be the team who wants it most that will come through on the day. If this young Trinity team is to win, it might be the impetus for making an unlikely run through the Sigerson rounds. That said, DUGFC is looking no further than the match against our Colours rivals.
The possibility of peaking for the Gannon is not out of the question, and revenge for last year’s defeat would be sweet for this effervescent, youthful Trinity side.
Ladies Gaelic Football Sarah Burns Despite some losses early on in the season, the Ladies Gaelic Football team will be hoping to pick up where they left off with their win against Waterford Institute of Technology before Christmas as they head into the championship. The side will be faced with tough competition as they meet St Mary’s University College in their opening match in Belfast which is scheduled for 14 February.
Boat James Hussey Coming off some sterling performances in the Irish championships of July 2012, Dublin University Boat Club (DUBC) had high hopes for this season, hoping to maintain the momentum that had brought them to the top of Irish collegiate rowing. The victories kept rolling for the club, with an overall win at the Dublin Sculling Ladder, and a dominant performance at the Neptune Head of the River. With this year’s Gannon Cup scheduled for its traditional March date, the club will keep one eye on its cross-city rivals, while maintaining a broader focus on the litany of tournaments, both nationally and internationally, that take place in the coming months. The possibility of peaking for the Gannon is not out of the question, and revenge for last year’s defeat would be sweet for this effervescent, youthful Trinity side.
Rugby James Hussey Dublin University Football Club (DUFC) began the 2012-2013 season in the new confines of AIL Division 1B, having secured promotion with a barnstorming run of victories in last year’s Division 2A. An influx of talent over the course of the summer, coupled with their now ubiquitous style of fast, free-flowing rugby, saw DUFC climb to the top of the league, with the side winning their first seven games against some of Ireland’s most prestigious club sides. The momentum was slowed either side of the Christmas break, however, with two hard-fought losses pushing the Trinity team back to second in the table. The club’s mettle will be truly tested in the coming months, particularly with the all-important Colours match scheduled for the 22nd of February. The university’s elite sporting side will look forward to recovering lost points and consolidating their position as one of the country’s most promising club teams in 2013.
Want to be a sports journalist? Joanne can tell. From Dublin senior football to Dublin City University, Joanne Cantwell has subsumed herself in sport. Now she is sharing her enthusiasm with fellow fans on television and radio, and here shares the steps of her career with Kate Rowan.
W Kate Rowan Staff Writer
ith the Six Nations just around the corner it is not just rugby players and coaches who will be shedding blood, sweat and tears over the coming months but also those in the media covering the unfolding drama. RTÉ sports presenter Joanne Cantwell’s voice crackles with excitement as she talks about the busy period ahead. It is evident from Cantwell that television production is a team effort; she speaks with infectious enthusiasm about the editorial meetings for Against The Head, RTÉ’s weekly rugby magazine programme, which he presents during the peak periods of the rugby season. The journalist explains that the programme is prerecorded on a Monday afternoon prior to being shown on television that evening. Before filming can proceed, though, an editorial meeting takes place where that night’s content is planned. Potential oncamera talking points are planned by Cantwell – as presenter – the director, the editor (whose role is that of a producer) and the analysts. Former stars of Irish rugby such as Alan Quinlan, Bernard Jackman and Victor Costello can often be seen as members of the panel. Cantwell pinpoints the exchanges between the analysts in the editorial meetings as highly charged, passionate and at times extremely entertaining, laughing that “it is a pity that this part of the editorial process is not filmed as people at home would love to get an eye on what goes on between these guys. They are all really knowledgeable and often they disagree but it is great to hear such different opinions. I think any rugby fan would love to be a part of that.” Cantwell gives an interesting insight into her role as presenter: “The camaraderie, opinions, disagreements and banter between the guys is what makes the programme work, so it is important that I am the least important person. I think it is really important that people are seeing a discussion. I feel like I am doing a good job if I am barely mentioned afterwards!”
As well as praising the expertise of her colleagues on Against The Head, Cantwell also hails Irish fans’ command on sporting affairs, explaining that it is key to have a deep understanding of what you are talking about as a journalist as “sports fans will spot a spoofer miles away.” One sports fan who takes a keen interest in the programmes Cantwell is involved in is her father Brendan, who she credits with setting her on the path of working in her chosen field. Tracing her desire to work in sports media, she expounds: “the interest came from that, I have always absolutely loved, loved, loved sport. My dad is an absolute sports nut. I mean crazy; there is no one like him on the planet. I remember I walked in one day and he was watching tractor pulling! I don’t go that far. I draw the line at tractor pulling! But I have always watched a lot of sport. The love of sport really came from him because he is so mad about it. I played everything I possibly could growing up.” Today, Brendan is often the first person to talk to his daughter after a programme has been aired. “Afterwards I always get a phone call from my dad. He would never hold back, sometimes he will say ‘I thought the lads were a bit harsh on whoever’, he still gives me great pointers – he is my biggest fan.” Cantwell was an accomplished sportsperson herself, playing senior inter-county Gaelic football for Dublin. When it came to sizing up career options before leaving school, she explains, “I wanted to find something I could do for a living that involved sport and this was the obvious choice. I picked journalism in Dublin City University but I don’t think it matters what course you pick, what matters is what you do once you are there.” The Blanchardstownwoman is honest when she talks about her time studying. “I did a four year journalism degree, having very little interest in anything other than sport and it is very difficult to sway every single assignment
you have got towards sport, but sometimes if you were told you had to go down to the courts, there would be no way around it and you would just have to focus on that.” Cantwell’s first foray into broadcasting was in radio during the early part of her studies. “I was really lucky as FM104 were looking for somebody to do their sports bulletins at the weekend, they were stuck, they were willing to interview anybody and they interviewed me even though I had no experience, I had a good sports background and they gave me the job. That is how I got my foot in the door. It is really important to get that foot in the door and it was by pure luck, but then I worked really hard.” In her final year of study, the budding broadcaster went on a work placement, as part of her course, to TV3. During this time she learnt the importance of asking for what you want. “I went in and said ‘I don’t want to hang around making tea, I want to learn,’ and this worked as the editors would let me sit in with them and show me how things worked, they were really good to me.” This led to freelance work for the television station after graduation as well as balancing radio shifts. After six years with TV3, Cantwell moved on to her current employers. Confessing to being somewhat “nerdy” in her sporting knowledge, she acknowledges just how important the “emotional element” of sport is alongside the technical aspects, citing radio show Saturday Sport, which she works on, as a great example of this marriage. “People feel part of it as they can call into the show and that gives it a genuine meaning.” When asked about advice to those who wish to follow in her footsteps , whether it be in television, radio or print journalism, she says: “Get involved as much as you can whether it is the college radio station or a student newspaper, put in a lot of hours and just work really, really hard!”
Joanne Cantwell (above) will be preparing to cover this year’s Six Nations in the coming weeks.
Cian Healy in action for Ireland in last year’s Six Nations.
Wednesday 23rd January 2013
Founded in 1883, DUAFC is the oldest association football club in the Republic of Ireland that is still in existence. Sarah Burns highlights the history of football in Trinity.
Members of DU Camogie Club pose with a mixture of Irish camóga and Scottish camain at Clanna Gael Fontenoy. Photo: Matthew Wilson
Edinburgh stick it to Trinity camógs at shinty
L Sarah Burns Sports Editor
ast weekend DU Camogie Club welcomed Edinburgh University to Dublin in their annual shinty match. With over 20 camogie players travelling to the Scottish capital last year, the club greeted both the men’s and ladies’ shinty teams in a double-header just days before the championship kicks off for both the hurlers and the camógs. Often compared to hockey, shinty is played with a wooden stick slanted on both sides called a caman, with players permitted to play the ball in the air but unable to catch it, unlike hurling and camogie. Shinty, which is thought to predate Christianity, is recorded as having been brought to Scotland with the Gaels from Ireland and is thought to be originally derived from hurling. A cold afternoon at Clanna Gael Fontenoy, College’s GAA headquarters, saw the camogie side lose out by a slim margin of
five points. Missing some of the regular lineup, a number of frees were given to the Scottish visitors in the opening minutes of the game as the camógs struggled with the rule of not being able to catch the ball. With only three minutes gone, Edinburgh looked to capitalise with a shot on goal, which was saved by goalie Caoimhe Mackey. Trinity opened the scoresheet only seconds later, however, with a point scored by Emily Merchan who dodged past two defenders. Despite some more pressure from Merchan on the Edinburgh goal, Trinity failed to add another score for the rest of the first half while Edinburgh picked up 1-3. Trinity’s best chance of the opening half came just five minutes before the halftime whistle with Jeanette Boran’s shot on goal; however, this was saved by the Edinburgh goalie. The second half brought a new
lease of energy into the Trinity pack, most notably in Ciara Kilroy, Helena Costigan and Jacqueline Elebert. Despite conceding a goal early on in the second half, Trinity struck back with 1-1 scored by Elebert, who sped past by the Edinburgh defence. However, the Scottish side quickly added another goal to their tally from long range. With only five minutes left on the clock, both teams swapped sticks in a friendly gesture which resulted in a shock 2-2 scored by Trinity thanks to the hard work of Costigan and Boran with the Edinburgh players finding it difficult to adapt to the hurley. Trinity’s late comeback ensured a close final score-line of 3-4 to 5-3, with the camógs failing to repeat their shinty win of last year. After the game, Jeanette Boran commented on the challenges of the sport: “The two rules that make shinty very difficult for a
12th January 2013 Trinity
camogie or hurling player include no kicking or touching the ball with your hand. These skills come naturally to a hurler or camóg but can also act as a successful method for increasing concentration levels and ground hurling skills.” However, Boran did feel that the switch over for a shinty player to camogie is actually more difficult as “the ball doesn’t travel as far and they wouldn’t have sufficient skills in rising the ball and hitting it in the air without touching it with their hands compared to us who have already acquired the shinty skills through ground hurling.” Following the ladies’ match, Trinity’s hurlers took on their shinty counterparts, suffering a 2-3 to 10-1 loss. DU Hurling Club will be looking to return to winning ways as they kick off their Kehoe campaign this month and the championship in February against Athlone.
3-4 5-3 DU Team Sheet Emily Merchan Jacqueline Elebert Jeanette Boran Caoimhe Mackey Megan Pendred Ciara Kelly Casey Kane Ciara Kilroy Helena Costigan
“Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever” With the professional game in such a spin, it is up to amateur cyclists and clubs to provide renewal. Luke O’Callaghan-White reacts to the Armstrong admission and relays the resolve of Dublin University Cycling Club to play their part in the recovery of the sport
T Luke O’Callaghan-White Contributor
his iconic headline quote from disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong brought me into contact with the sport I have come to love. Armstrong was the sole reason I ever joined a club, the sole reason I bought a racing bike. Like all others who genuinely adore this sport of ours, his admission to doping on Oprah Winfrey’s “The Next Chapter” came as a blow, a blow we could all see coming but a blow nonetheless. As one columnist in the New Yorker put it, Lance Armstrong was never a person. He was simply an idea, a mere mirage like Honest Abe or Johnny Appleseed – a myth. Lance Armstrong quit. The illusion/the man left the sport he professed to adore the moment he injected his first needle. For in any sport, the moment an athlete consciously decides to dope, they become totally removed from their former life. This decision signifies the death of any love or passion they once held as they prepare to journey into a dark abyss of cheating, deceit and clandestine mendacity. The systemic issue of systematic and highly professional
doping is not an issue specific to Armstrong. Indeed, many of his closest competitors received lengthy bans for illegal drug use. No doping scandal, however, was ever as extensive, prolific or costly as his. As we look to the future of professional cycling, we need to ask questions. We need to push for further transparency. We need to strive for a sport that has values. With such negativity justifiably circulating around most media outlets, it can be challenging to see a way out for this sport, to see a future. The pain caused by Armstrong is not temporary. The shameful past must be the starting point toward a humble future. I believe that somehow the sport will heal. “I know that you cannot live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living. And you … and you … and you … gotta give ’em hope,” implored Harvey Milk. The beacon of hope shines brightly for one of Trinity’s fastest growing clubs: DUCC (Dublin University Cycling Club). The cycling team lives by an ethos of involvement, dedication and humility. The club has a promising
season ahead of them. DUCC’s secretary, Ian Richardson, is just back from Asia where he competed in the prestigious Tour of India amongst élite riders from all over the world. Club members like Fiona Guihen and Eoin Healy are looking to add silverware to their already ample trophy cabinet. Mountainbikers Tadhg Ó Síocháin and Daire Ó Catháin are looking to compete in some of Ireland’s most competitive races this year along with former DUCC captain Stephen Scrivener. No doubt about it, the club is ambitious about what it seeks to achieve this year. Numerous riders are looking to race in one-day and stage races across the country while others are looking to spread their wings even further and compete in Leinster and national championships. The club, however, is not only centred on high performance racing. Following on from a successful series last year, DUCC will once again try to fuse success with inclusivity by hosting the second annual intervarsity league for beginners this April. The club is looking to attract cyclists and
prospective racers from thirdlevel institutes across Ireland. The intervarsity series will consist of an array of races including four individual time trials, known more commonly as the “test of truth”. The league will conclude with a team event, most likely a team time trial. For those who fancy themselves as a Chris Hoy or Victoria Pendleton in the making, or for those who just want to cycle in a velodrome, DUCC will be holding track accreditations and a track race this coming April. Competitors in the intervarsity league will be asked to pay only a minimum price in order to cover
some essential costs. The majority of the event is expected to be financed by DUCC’s two sponsors: Cycleways and Powerscourt Capital. The beginners’ intervarsity league marks only the start of what is sure to be a colourful and illustrious season for the cycling team at Trinity. Although the pain of the extensive and crushing Armstrong scandal is immensely hard to swallow, we cannot abandon this sport so many of us truly love. Armstrong was right in one regard; quitting does last forever. We can’t give up on cycling. While DUCC has several aims and aspirations for the upcoming
year, one of them is to play a part in reviving the name of cycling. This is a duty that must be shared by every bike club in the world. Teams across the globe have a moral imperative to provide the stepping stones to credibility. Cycling, we’re told, is in need of reform. Reform is indeed required, but not from the bottomup at the grassroots level, but from the top-down. Amidst the grey shadows and scepticism that surround cycling, maybe events like the beginners’ intervarsity can play a role, a small role albeit, on the long road to redemption, a redemption which the sport desperately needs.