Irish Student Newspaper of the Year 2009
AND WOMEN IN DEATH DESTRUCTION IN POLITICS: NIGERIA INDIA, NEWS FEATURES, P8 IRELAND, OPINION, P17
WORLD REVIEW, P12
Tuesday March 23 2010
IS FAIRTRADE REALLY FAIR? BUSINESS, P20
Union warns of precarious Library hours Cal McDonagh Staff Reporter SUNDAY LIBRARY openings are under review once again and the Students’ Union has warned that “there is a chance that this service will be pulled” if it is not made use of. Education Officer Ashley Cooke hails the scheme as an opportunity to show the College that Sunday openings are an indispensible service by “their own definition”. The number of visitors entering the Library each day is being monitored over a six week period which started at the beginning of March. The Students’ Union hopes that the data collected will indicate it is viable for Trinity Library to continue opening on Sundays. Some students have been advised by their Class Representatives to avail of Sunday openings as much as possible over the coming weeks if they want the service to continue. Senior Freshman History students were advised to “try and use it so that we don’t lose it”. The investigation resulted from an agreement between the Provost and the Students’ Union to compare library usage on Sundays with every other day in the week. Previous investigations have only looked at Sunday attendance figures on their own. Ashley Cooke told Trinity News that “so far”, when shorter weekend opening hours are taken into account, not every day in the week has significantly outperformed Sunday levels of attendance. “Sundays are low but so are all the other days,” he said, also claiming that, in some
cases, library attendance has been higher on Sundays than on Saturdays. The Library, though, was unable to release attendance figures at the time of publication. Although the Students’ Union hopes to demonstrate that Sunday library openings are not a dispensable service, the Library has not agreed to a benchmark for library attendance which would secure the status of Sunday openings if achieved. Deputy Librarian Jessie Kurtz explained, “we felt we couldn’t come up with a percentage [of attendance which would lead to a commitment to opening on Sundays]”. Sunday openings have “always been a trial run” says Cooke, who aims to permanently secure Sunday library access for students. Although College is currently committed to opening the Hamilton and BLU Libraries on Sundays in the run up to end-of-year examinations, Cooke makes the case for also opening the Library on Sundays throughout the academic year, especially in the approach to January scholarship examinations. Cooke says Sunday opening is not an underused service but asserts College should provide for the “particular need” of students who want to use the Library on Sundays, even if they form a minority. He cites Sunday openings and 24-hour study access as examples of how students should be allowed to choose when they study. Cooke expects the number of those using the
Issue 11, Volume 56
“LIL BOOK OF SHAME” LAUNCHED TO RAISE MONEY FOR HAITI EARTHQUAKE RELIEF
IT WAS an eventful start for the “Lil Book of Shame” last Friday, which was launched at the 24-hour musical in Players before going on sale all week in the Hamilton, Arts Block and the SU shop, with all proceeds going to the Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund. Though nothing can be done to prevent disasters such as the earthquke, providing the help needed to rebuild Haiti is something that every single person can help with. From this, the idea for the Lil’ Book of Shame was born. For the past three weeks, students were asked to anonymously submit their most shameful secrets and embarrassing moments on the back of postcards and deposit them into one of 15 “Confession Boxes” around campus. Organisers DUBES and Players selected the best to be coloured, illustrated and bound into the Lil’Book of Shame. Over 500 students contributed their secrets, helping to raise awareness for the disaster. It is hoped that through the sale of the book, at the bargain price of €5 each, that a target of €4,000 can be raised in the next two weeks for those most in need. David Adamson (Photo: Nora Ward)
continued on page 2
Ó Broin plans to scrap Demand goes down, officers in USI campaign prices up for rooms Students’ Union President Cónán Ó Broin runs for USI Deputy President » Ó Broin proposes dropping USI Equality Officer and LGBT Rights Officer »
Cal McDonagh Staff Reporter STUDENTS’ UNION President Cónán Ó Broin has been nominated as a candidate for the Deputy Presidency of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), an organisation he is openly critical of. Ó Broin is running on an unofficial joint ticket with Presidential candidate and current UCD Students’ Union President, Gary Redmond, although both posts will be elected independently of one another. Current USI Equality Officer Linda Kelly is also vying to be elected President at the USI Congress, which takes place from 29th March to 1st April. Both Redmond and Ó Broin support a motion by Students’ Union Presidents to downgrade the full-time role of USI Equality Officer and LGBT Rights Officer to part-time roles within the Union. They also plan to replace the four Area Officers with a single Constituent Organisation Liaison Officer. Ó Broin says the job description for the role of Equality Officer is “too vague”, failing to impact the life of most students. The candidate for Deputy President also says that there is no longer “enough policy material” for a full-time LGBT Rights Officer, but says USI-organised Pink Training will continue to be run. The job of the USI is “to protect students’
interests”, Ó Broin says, “not to save the world”. Ó Broin, who describes the current structure of the USI as “woefully inadequate”, will be competing against Southern Area Officer Jono Clifford. The Trinity Students’ Union Council has mandated its 22 USI delegates to vote “ReOpen Nominations” for the Equality and LGBT Rights Officers and to support any motion to amend these roles, as well as the role of Area Officer, in accordance with Redmond and Ó Broin’s design. UCDSU delegates are also authorised to support such a motion. Ó Broin considers such restructuring to be important for generating continuity in the USI. He argues the employment of a full-time lobbyist, a researcher and an administrator would provide the USI with better value for money than Officers who only serve for a yearlong term. Presidential candidate Linda Kelly also wants to employ an Administrations or Operations Officer and says that her experience within the USI will allow for a degree of continuity which “Gary Redmond can’t offer”. Kelly, however, is opposed to what she describes as her opponents’ policy of “If we can remove X officer we can employ Y staff,” adding, “I don’t think a permanent strategist or lobbyist is the best use of resources.” While the “strategic lobbying of key
politicians and public bodies” is central to Redmond’s manifesto aim to “end the threat of tuition fees for once and for all”, Kelly says that the USI should not rely too much on hiring lobbyists, pointing out that the enactment of legislation which has already been passed, such as the Student Support Bill, should also be a priority. While claiming to recognise the “enormous potential” of the USI, which uniquely provides student representation on the Higher Education Authority, Cónán Ó Broin says the USI requires modernisation in order to wield greater political influence. He openly criticises USI leadership in the campaign against third-level fees, calling it “not nearly as effective as it could have been”, attributing much of the work done to individual Students’ Unions. The manifestos of both Presidential candidates lay out plans for developing strong inter-union communications. The role of Liaison Officer, according to Redmond, would be conducive to “getting our Constituent Organisations and members involved in all of the USI’s work”. Kelly also says “there is a lot to be said for creating a national Liaison Officer”, suggesting that the positions of Area Officer “never fulfilled their potential”. USI was unable to provide comment on restructuring proposals because they are “a policy decision”.
Kate Palmer College News Editor THE TRINITY College Accommodation Office has received significantly fewer applications than last year, and has extended the deadline for room applications. At the time of going to print, the Accommodation Office had received 720 applications from undergraduates hoping to live on Campus, and 50 for Trinity Hall. For the year 2009-2010, however, the Office received a total of 2,234 applications, although this also included postgraduate and international students. Even so, there are only 80 places for postgraduate students on Campus and none at all for international students, indicating a significant discrepancy for the following year. There are currently 700 rooms on Campus, although 285 of these are reserved for Scholars and students with other entitlements. In an e-mail sent out on 8th March, the Accommodation Office explained that the deadline would be extended to one week later than the original date. A spokeswoman from the Office explained, “The application deadline has been extended for a number of reasons. A lot of students were having trouble with the online system of submitting an application, and for some reason couldn’t pay their application fee. “We couldn’t see any problems with the system, but in the interests of fairness the deadline was extended”. The decision to extend the deadline was made by the Junior Dean, Dr. Emma Stokes. The spokeswoman added, “We were aware the deadline lay during reading week, when a lot of students would be away from College, and might not have been aware of the applications.” College have recently renovated 44 rooms on campus,
which became available on 19th February. Of these, 22 rooms were reserved for staff members. The remaining rooms, which were open only to Senior Sophisters who had been previously unsuccessful in the application process, have yet to be filled. As of Friday 12th March, 6 rooms remained available. The cost for rent and utilities was in excess of €1,745 for the period 19th The price of rent and utilities for rooms on Campus is decided by the Junior Dean, Dr. Emma Stokes. February to 8th May. The accommodation rates come to an average of €158 per week. This exceeds the current rate for the same Standard Room during Hilary and Trinity terms, which costs an average of €120 per week. The spokeswoman from the Accommodation Office said she “expects the rooms to go by the end of the month”, and that students who had been unable to get rooms in September will be “happy to say yes in good time”. The current rate for a room on Campus, including utilities, ranges from €2830.69 for a standard twin to €5079.13 for a modern single. These prices were set by the College Board and approved by the Junior Dean in December 2008. The spokeswoman comments, “Any price rises will be in adaptation to the private sector. “Because the Accommodation Office has to set the rates early it does not give us the ability of the private sector to adapt to the current market. The cost of rent and utilities has not risen any more than is usual.”
COLLEGE NEWS “Woefully inadequate” Students’ Union President Cónán Ó Broin’s opinion of the current state of the USI. Ó Broin is running on an unofficial joint ticket with Gary Redmond, the UCDSU President, for Deputy President and President of the USI respectively.
“Any price rises will be in adaptation to the private sector. Because the Accommodation Office has to set the rates early it does not give us the ability of the private sector to adapt to the current market. The cost of rent and utilities has not risen any more than is usual.” A spokeswoman from the Accommodation Office explains the possible rise in prices for Campus and Trinity Hall rooms for the 2010-2011 Academic Year.
TRINITY NEWS March 23, 2010
“I don’t agree with Gary and Cónán’s policy, that if we can remove X officer we can employ Y staff. I don’t think a permanent strategist or lobbyist is the best use of resources.” USI Presidential candidate Linda Kelly’s opinion on the policies formulated by Gary Redmond and Cónán Ó Broin on USI reform. Linda Kelly is currently Equality Officer for the USI, a position which Redmond and Ó Broin wish to downgrade for being “too vague”.
THIS FORTNIGHT THEY SAID... Compiled by Kate Palmer “[Sunday openings] have always been a trial run” The statement from the Library on its opening hours, which remain a point of controversy in College. Education Officer Ashley Cooke says there “is a chance the service will be pulled” if not enough students use it.
“An Éigse is fearr riamh dáiríre.” Fiona Ní Mharráin, oifigeach teicneolaíochta an Chumainn (“The best Irish Festival ever” Fiona Ní Mharráin, technical officer of the Cumann)
“They will directly benefit the Irish economy, and lead to the creation of sustainable high value jobs” Trinity College Provost John Hegarty talks about the new spinoff companies which have been appointed to encourage research and entrepreneurship in College. “The most attended festival ever in Trinity”. Ross Dungan of DU players tells Trinity News about the Irish Student Drama Festival, which took place in College last week.
IRISH STUDENT DRAMA FESTIVAL THE MUCH anticipated Irish Student Drama Association Festival took place from 8th-13th March. The 62-year-old festival comes to Dublin every eight years, with DU Players being this year’s host and organiser in what is one of the highlights of the student drama calendar. There were over 35 productions from 11 different colleges around Ireland with over 500 performers taking part. Productions were run across the city, including in the Samuel Beckett theatre and the Players theatre located on Trinity campus. The aim of the festival was to showcase the brightest of the new generation in Irish theatre, with those participating ranging from aspiring actors and directors to set designers and sound engineers. It has been a “springboard for numerous influential figures in Irish film and theatre such as Conor McPherson, Pauline McLynn and Fiona Shaw”, as noted by Ross Dungan of DU Players. This year the festival was run alongside the Irish Student Drama Association Fringe Festival which showcased alternative acts of comedy, music and dance, further providing a platform for the rising talents in Irish third-level institutions. Dungan said the week could not have gone ahead without the “dedication of the participating students to a career in the industry”. The festival was well received with great public interest. Organisers were keen to keep ticket prices low in order to maximise attendance. Dungan says the event was “the mostattended festival ever in Trinity”. DU Players did not receive a special grant for funding the festival. They generated funds through advertising, ticket sales and revenue from the other college’s participation fees. The week ended with the ISDF awards ceremony where six awards went to Trinity College, including Best Director and Best Production, both of which for the production of Mercury Fur. Claire Acton
Compiled by Aoife Crowley and Kate Palmer
30,000 » The number of books on sale in the Public Theatre last week, when Trinity hosted Ireland’s largest booksale.
1785 »The year that the oldest book on sale, A Dictionary of the Cant Language, was approximately published.
720 » The number of applications from undergraduates for rooms on Campus the Accommodation Office had received at the time of going to print – significantly less than last year.
€158 » The weekly price charged for the recently renovated rooms in New Square, available only to Senior Sophisters.
Library service controversy goes on continued from page 1
CORRECTIONS In the article ‘Ex-student sues college and alleges xenophobia’ dated Thursday March 9 2010, Fellow of the College Dermot McAleese was incorrectly referred to as the husband of Mary McAleese. Trinity News regrets the error.
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Library on Sundays to increase. “You can’t just expect students to start using it right away,” he explains, anticipating that study patterns will change as more students get used to the new service. Whilst Cooke argues access to library facilities on Sundays is a core service for students, he points out faculty members and visiting readers are less likely to
use this service at the weekend, causing student attendance to appear lower. The turnstile system which counts how many people enter and exit the Library does not distinguish between students, staff and visiting readers. Dr. Jack McGinley, SIPTU representative at College, says he supports the allocation of library resources towards services that benefit
Trinity students and staff, rather than outside readers. He points out all Library staff working on Sundays have volunteered to do so, adding: “We’ve all been students in our own days.” Cooke identifies the tendency of students to enter the Library several times during a weekday, between lectures and seminars, but only once at the weekend, as another factor which
downplays the value of Sunday opening hours. Negotiations about the viability of Sunday library openings continue at a committee meeting attended by the Vice Provost and representatives from the Students’ Union, Graduate Students’ Union and the Library.
HE SAID, SHE SAID... Compiled by Kate Palmer
DO YOU THINK TRINITY LIBRARY PROVIDES AN ADEQUATE SERVICE FOR ITS STUDENTS? 1
BARRA ROANTREE JS BESS “Not really, the library has shockingly bad opening hours and they don’t let you take out enough books. ” DAVID CONNOR EUROPEAN STUDIES
“I think they’ve got bad opening hours. I’ve heard the Trinity Library is behind the national average. Sunday opening hours have only just come back in, and I find Santry Stacks annoying, especially when you order on a Friday and it doesnt come in for a day or two. I ordered some books
4 and they haven’t come in time for my essay. The other day I tried to get a books out of Stacks and a week later the Library e-mailed saying the shelf was broken and they couldn’t find the book.”
BRUFF O’REILLY SF HISTORY & POLITICS
“I think the Library does not adequately serve the students. It fails on various levels, in particular opening hours as well as having friendly and nice staff.”
FERGUS RATTIGAN SF DRAMA & THEATRE
“Largely not. Apart from weekend opening hours which makes it a huge pain to get work done. Also the accessibility of getting books from Stacks is very awkward, frequently I’ve been only told that my books are going back to Stacks without being told that they’ve arrived. The staff are very accommodating, otherwise!”
EMILY BROWN JF PHYSICS “I often find myself doing homework later than 10pm when
6 the Library shuts. The 24-hour Reading Room is pretty nice, but you can’t check out books or use reserve books, and I find that can be a bit of a problem” LAUREN BLUMCAS JF ECONOMICS “I’m a visiting student and the Library back home closes at 3am. Usually I spent all my time studying there, but here in Trinity I don’t because it’s not open very late. Also, you can only check out four books which is ridiculous! Usually they don’t even have books I want, and you can’t check out certain books. I don’t understand the whole Santry thing!”
TRINITY NEWS March 23, 2010
Jumping through hoops for Welfare Week
SU COUNCIL TO TAKE PLACE THE FINAL Students’ Union Council will take place this Tuesday, 23rd March at 7pm. The venue is the MacNeill Theatre in the Hamilton Building. At the Council the Part Time Officers will be elected, along with the delegations for the USI Congress. There will be a presentation by the Vice Provost, Professor P.J. Prendergast. The Council Secretary of the Students’ Union, Christian Wirtz is recommending that any students unsure about running for a position should get in touch with the person currently holding the position to answer any questions.
TRINITY RESEARCHERS FIND FUNDING
Welfare week is an all-round success, above students hula-hoop in Front Square to the amusement of onlooking tourists. Photo: Kate O’Gorman
» Welfare Week launched by Welfare Officer Cormac Cashman to raise mental health awareness in Trinity College » Recent studies show that demand for one-to-one mental health counselling has risen by 64 percent over past year Shane Lynn Staff Reporter
A NUMBER of Trinity College Dublin researchers have successfully gained funding from the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology, and the Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences. Both of these bodies had invited applicants from the university sector to submit relevant research activities for assessment. The Council for Science, Engineering and Technology awarded 12 Trinity researchers the prestigious award of Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowships, out of a possible 32. The scheme, which is open to researchers of all nations, offers fellowships based in Irish laboratories and is designed to encourage excellence in research by funding those in the early stages of a postdoctoral career. Three Trinity researchers were awarded INSPIRE Fellowships and the Marie Curie International Mobility Fellowship. The awards means the three researchers can spend their time at a top level research institution of their choice across the globe, and then reintegrate back into Irish education in order to share the knowledge, skills and networks they have gained abroad. The Irish Research Council is partially funded by the European Regional Development fund, and has been allocated a budget of €12.5 Million since 2007 by the Department of Education.
GERONTOLOGIST WINS AWARD PROFESSOR DESMOND O’Neill of the School of Medicine at Trinity College has won an “All Ireland Inspirational Life Award” for his inspirational leadership in engaging older people to lead active and fulfilling lives. The award, which is the first of its kind in Ireland, is designed to honour individuals, projects and organisations for leadership and achievement in enabling older people to realise their potential and in combating ageism. Compiled by Kate Palmer
WELFARE WEEK kicked off on Monday last, featuring a programme of events aimed at raising awareness of the mental health services available to students in Trinity. Welfare Officer Cormac Cashman described the week as a response to the rising mental health problems faced by Irish students. “The week is really about reinforcing the message of Mental Health Week – that there are supports here to help students – and informing students of when, where and how they can access them,” Cashman said. The week began with an openair performance in Front Square by performing-arts group Express. The group performed a series of monologues inspired by real cases and personal experiences, each telling the story of
someone who has been affected by mental health. Express is the name of the community drama project of Paul Bonar, director of Note to Self. The aim of the community drama scheme is to apply drama skills to something relevant to the community, and Bonar chose to focus on mental health. “I felt strongly about the issue of mental health, and wanted to try promoting mental health awareness through performance,” said Paul Bonar, who is also a Senior Sophister Drama student. The group staged similar performances in the Samuel Beckett Theatre and Trinity Hall on Thursday and Friday. Express has been working with The Student Counselling Service to make the monologues performed available to students online. Tuesday’s schedule included a talk with Dr Tony Bates, CEO of youth mental health initiative Headstrong. Olympic
Boxing silver-medallist Kenny Egan and bronze-medallist Paddy Barnes took part in a “Hoolahoop-a-skip-a-thon” in Front Square that afternoon. The day’s events were rounded off with a fundraiser gig in Think Tank on Eustace St. The awareness campaign comes at a time of “dramatically increased numbers” availing of College mental health services, according to Cashman. When asked whether this was the case, Director of College Health Services Dr David McGrath said that he “wouldn’t say there has been a dramatic increase, but there has certainly been a steady rise.” Student Counselling Service Annual Reports show that demand for one-toone counselling increased by 64 percent between 2004 and 2009. Demand between the academic years 2007/8 and 2008/9 exceeded the projected increase by 15 percent and has since continued
Scientific discovery gives new hope to asthma sufferers » Trinity scientists work with UK university » Discovery of previously unknown cell Kate Palmer College News Editor SCIENTISTS IN Trinity College have discovered a new way to help treat allergies and asthma. Researchers from both Dublin and Cambridge worked together to identify a previously unknown white blood cell involved in allergic responses, called a “nuocyte”. The new cell was discovered by using parasitic worms, to experimentally drive allergic-like responses. The cell produces a chemical called Interleukin 13 (IL-13), and initiates the early responses that can lead to allergic conditions like asthma. Allergic diseases are caused by an inappropriate response the body makes in response to molecules in the environment, such as allergens from dust mites. The name given to the new blood cell “nuocyte” comes from “nu”, the 13th letter of the Greek alphabet. The research received the collaboration of Professor Padraic Fallon, from Trinity’s School of Medicine. The research findings were led by a Dr Andrew McKenzie, from the University of Cambridge. The findings have just been published in the leading international scientific journal, Nature, in a paper entitled: “Nuocytes represent a new innate effect or leukocyte that mediates type-2 immunity”. Professor Fallon said “We are very excited by this work”. He explains the
research has “identified a new cell type that initiates the generation of allergic immune responses that leads to conditions such as asthma”. “As asthma is on the increase globally, particularly in Ireland, the discovery of a new cell involved opens novel opportunities for developing drugs for allergic diseases. This development also sheds new light on the response to parasitic infections and could provide insights into poverty-related diseases worldwide,” Professor Fallon added. Professor Dermot Kelleher, Head of Trinity’s School of Medicine, said, “The School of Medicine at Trinity College Dublin has strongly focused on research relating to inflammatory diseases. We very much welcome the discovery of this new cell type.” He says the “nuocyte” will “produce radical new insights into the causation of asthma and other common diseases.” Professor Fallon’s research on the new cell was funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), an organisation dedicated to providing investments for academic researchers. Commenting on the publication, Dr Stephen Simpson, Director of Life Science at SFI, said, “This work has great relevance to our understanding of the role of the immune system in infection, as well as in allergic conditions. We welcome the collaboration between one of SFI’s Principal investigators and this worldclass group of researchers.”
to rise. Allowing for some duplicates, the total number of students availing annually of college mental health and learning support services stands at just over 4,700. According to Director of the Student Counselling Service Deirdre Flynn, the prospect of a further increase in demand is cause for concern. Due to a lack of space, the offices of the Counselling Service are currently divided between Pearse Street and Luce Hall. “Our rooms restrict the amount of counselling appointments we can offer,” Flynn said. “But the commitment of the staff in the student service network is terrific.” “The demand for mental health services in recent years has increased hugely amongst students in Ireland, the UK and the USA. It is not just Trinity College, it is an international phenomenon.”
The Student Counselling Service is due to relocate in August to Phoenix House, South Leinster St. Flynn sees the move to the larger premises as “a reflection of the commitment from College to ensure that students have continuing access to mental health services.” Information on the range of mental health services available to students can be found at the Welfare Office in House 6. Alternatively, students can visit the Welfare Office’s website at www.tcdsu. org/welfare. For students concerned about upcoming exams, the Student Counselling Service are now running a series of support workshops aimed at aiding preparation and relieving stress. More information is available from the Counselling Service’s website. which can be accessed at www.tcd.ie/Student_ Counselling.
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TRINITY NEWS March 23, 2010
MARY ROBINSON PRESIDES OVER THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY FOR RNL DEBATE Caroline O’Leary Contributing Writer FORMER PRESIDENT of Ireland Mary Robinson chaired the annual Historial Society’s RnL Debate, which took place on March 15th in the Public Theatre, Front Square. The motion was: “That This House Believes that the Modern Irish Woman Has No Need For A Women’s Movement”, which the audience voted strongly against. Whilst addressing the audience, Robinson reminisced about her time in Trinity. She said that members of the Hist at the time, including some of her own family members, had lain on the steps of the Graduates’ Memorial Building in an effort to prevent women being admitted to the society. Robinson emphasised the role of both men and women in future women’s movements, and expressed the hope that “everyone comes out of this debate knowing they can change the world in some small way. Because that is how it starts.” Robinson is currently Vice-President of the Hist, and Chancellor of Dublin University. Other guest speakers at the event included Susan McKay, Director of the National Women’s Council of Ireland, Kate Holmquist, a journalist from the Irish Times, and Yvonne Galligan, the Director of the Centre for the Advancement of Women in Politics.
“An Éigse is fearr riamh i ndáiríre” Karl Mac Domhnaill Scríbhneoir den Scoth
Foilsíodh eagrán speisialta de Thuathail, irisleabhair an Chumainn, ag tús na seachtaine chun an fhéile a cheiliúradh. Ní in Éirinn amháin a labhraítear an Ghaeilge agus thug an Cumann é sin faoi dhearadh. Eagraíodh imeachtaí chun blas Gaeilge na hAlbain a thabhairt do mhic léinn na Trionóide. Thug Griogair Labhruidh “blaiseadh” ar thráthnóna Dé Céadaoin, agus bhí ceolchoirm saor “Éire agus Albain” sa Théatar Thiar níos déanaí le Labhruidh, Ronan Browne agus Louis de Paor. Tháinig Rith 2010, maratón náisiúnta ar son teanga agus cultúr na Gaeilge, chuig an Choláiste. Tháinig siad le chéile le chuid mhaith de cheiliúraithe na hÉigse ag Plás Lincoln chun ciliméadar de chúrsa an rása a rith. Tháinig deireadh le hÉigse ar thráthnóna Dé hAoine an 12ú lá, ach bhí imeachtaí ar siúl an tseachtain dár gcionn freisin, le Lá na Gaeilge, eagraithe ag an Scéim Chónaithe ar an 16ú. Bhí imeachtaí éagsúla i rith an lae, le bricfeasta agus pizza saor san áireamh, agus bhailigh na Gaelgóirí airgead i gcomhair an Student Assistance Fund.
THARLA FÉILE bhliantúil Ghaeilge an choláiste, Éigse na Trionóide, ón 8ú go dtí an 12ú Márta. Bhí sé eagraithe ag an Chumann Ghaelach i mbliana, mar a bhíonn gach bliain, agus ghlaoigh Fiona Ní Mharráin, oifigeach teicneolaíochta an Chumainn, “an Éigse is fearr riamh dáiríre” ar imeachtaí. Seoladh an féile ar an Luain le Croí na Gaeilge i gCearnóg na Pairliminte. Rinneadh croí ollmhór as mic léinn gléasta i léinte dearga na hÉigse, agus bhí iománaí Chill Cheannaigh James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick i láthair chun súil a choimead ar chúrsaí. Ba í buaic na seachtaine an Gig Mór sa Village ar Shráid Loch Garman oíche Céadaoin, inar sheinn Aslan le tacaíocht ó Hounds of Culann. An oiche dár gcionn, cuireadh an chéad Ball Gaelach riamh ar siúl in Óstán Russell Court. Bhí turas dátheangach an choláiste ar an Máirt dóibh siúd a bhfuil suim acu san ealaíon, agus thug Cisteoir Onórach an CSC, Joseph O’Gorman, turas eile timpeall an choláiste ar thráthnóna Dé hAoine.
VDP proves it pays to be a volunteer Claire Acton Staff Reporter THE SOCIETY of St. Vincent de Paul was crowned the 2010 AIB Society of the year at the Central Societies Committee Annual Societies Ball, which took place on Wednesday 10th March in the Hilton Hotel Dublin. On hearing of their victory, President of VDP Sean Flynn, declared he was both “surprised and delighted”. Flynn stated that they did not set out the year to win the award, they wanted to enable as many students as possible to volunteer, and in doing so, help as many disadvantaged people as they could. The essence of VDP is to facilitate as many people as possible to live their lives to the maximum. They have continued to enable other students who wish to get involved in helping those less fortunate. This year VDP ran many events, including the “Big Chrimbo Panto”, where approximately 60 children and 20 adults
with intellectual disabilities performed alongside Trinity students. Furthermore, 64 members recently returned from a 100km trek of the Camino de Santiago in Spain in the hope of raising €12,000 for VDP Zambia. They have also expanded the boundaries of VDP by collaborating with other societies and clubs such as DU Players and the Triathlon Club. This year, VDP has continued to arrange its weekly Soup Run, which expanded to a Friday night run. The overall efficiency of the website has increased in terms of organising Garda Vetting and their webpage. Flynn insists VDP does not “consist solely of an executive committee of seven people”, but is a collaboration of other societies, the CSC and its members, which “endeavour to help improve the day-to-day lives of many”. Flynn claims winning is “absolutely unbelievable”, but maintains “it’s not what you get from achieving your goal so much as what you become by achieving your goals that’s important”. Flynn says VDP is pleased
to be recognised but insists it “won’t sit back and get complacent!” VDP won the coveted award, beating off seven other finalists. Among them was the College Historical Society. Auditor Jamie Walsh was gracious in defeat, stating that there is “something special” about VDP, and “no one more deserving than Sean and his fellow VDP members”. Walsh adds that they are a once-in-a-generation group, who go beyond what seems possible. Walsh singles out the “commitment, ability and energy” of the society which “goes to make a real difference in people’s lives”. 2009 winner, DU Orchestral Society, was also among the finalists. Auditor Patricia Sheridan also hails VDP as a “deserving group”, stating that they were delighted for them as they “know how much great work they do, and how dedicated their committee are”. There were ten other awards distributed at the Awards Ceremony. Details are The VDP committee celebrate their victory at the CSC Ball. Photo: Emma Matthews available on the CSC website.
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TRINITY NEWS March 23, 2010
Historic books go under the hammer Weekly guide to entertainment Kate Palmer College News Editor THE 21ST annual Trinity Second-hand Booksale took place last week, featuring over 30,000 novels, journals, pamphlets, guides and reference books. The event, which is Irelandâ€™s largest charity booksale, went on over three days, from Thursday 18th March to Saturday 20th March. A rare books auction took place on the Thursday, with 80 lots going under the hammer. These included a set of five coloured maps from the Dublin Civic Survey, dating back to 1925. A rare copy of Tom Mooreâ€™s Selection of Irish Melodies from the nineteenth century was put for sale, along with a selection of original newspapers including The Dublin Evening Mail, which was printed on Wednesday 3rd February, 1847. The auction offered two unusual books by the late John Lennon: In His Own Write, written in 1964, and the first edition of A Spaniard in the Works, written in 1965. Both were donated by Guy Robinson. A wide selection of poetry went for sale, including the first
edition of Seamus Heaneyâ€™s Nobel Lecture, delivered in Stockholm on 7th December 1995, donated by Maureen Oâ€™Connor. The oldest document in the auction, dating from 1785, was A dictionary of the Cant Language which was used by the Medicants, a group of ascetics which lived on charitable donations. Throughout the year Trinityâ€™s Booksale Office collects donations of books from staff, students, alumni and friends of the College for sale during the event. The annual Booksale featured a wide range of subjects, from art history to natural sciences, from fictional novels to modern history. The annual event is organised and run by both student and staff volunteers. Funds raised are used to buy books, journals, maps and other research materials for Trinity College Library and for the smaller specialist departmental libraries. The sale continued for Restocked Friday where lots of additional books were added, concluding with Half-Price Saturday and a clearance auction. Trinityâ€™s Secondhand Booksale was held in the Public Theatre, Front Square.
College to boost economy Kate Palmer College News Editor COLLEGE HAS appointed ten new spin-out companies designed to exploit the latest innovation in technology and research, all in the name of the University of Dublin. The companies, which will be based on Campus, are designed to aid Trinityâ€™s science and information technology researchers in entrepreneurial activity. The moves are part of the College Strategic Plan, which has a policy to stimulate knowledge and enterprise across the University on a global scale. Speaking about the appointment, Provost John Hegarty emphasised its importance for â€œdirectly benefiting the Irish economy and societyâ€?. He explained, â€œThese new spin-out companies will drive enterprise development that will lead to the creation of sustainable high value jobsâ€?, which Hegarty says is a â€œkey strategic
goal of the Universityâ€?. Dr James Callaghan, Associate Director of Trinity Research and Innovation, commended the moves. He comments, â€œ[The appointment] has enabled greater commercialisation of Trinityâ€™s world-class researchâ€?. Provost John Hegarty claims the new companies will â€œdirectly benefit the Irish economyâ€? and lead to the creation of â€œsustainable high value jobsâ€? Callaghan tells Trinity News that in 2009 College achieved the highest number of spin-out companies in the history of the University. A total of 116 inventions have been disclosed by Trinity Research and Innovation in the past three years. In 2009 alone, 22 patents were taken out as a result of research by Trinity schools and research centres.
Trinity first preference as CAO applications soar
Every Friday with Aoife Crowley Deputy Editor TRINITY COLLEGE remains an alluring prospect for this yearâ€™s CAO applicants. There was a six percent increase in first preference applications this year, representing an increase of almost 500 prospective undergraduate students. The incease was spread across each of the universityâ€™s faculties. Many TSM courses saw dramatic inceases in applications, including History, which increased by almost a third, Sociology, up by a quarter, and Spanish, which went up by ten percent. The recently introduced Ancient and Medieval History course also drew in the prospective students, as applications increased by just under two thirds. First preference applications for Law decreased, in line with the national trend, but applications for Law
and a language rose by up to 53 percent. The ever-popular Health sciences also showed increases, with a 20 percent rise in applicants for Medicine and a 29 percent increase in those for Dentistry. Science and Engineering also showed modest increases of five and three percent respectively. These increases are perhaps to be expected in a year that saw record numbers of students applying for college places. The CAO has put the preliminary figure at 72,000 applicants, an increase of ten percent on last year, and the highest figure on record. There is some concern that the number of students this year will put further pressure on underfunded and understaffed facilities across the country. The Chief Executive of the Higher Education Authority, Tom Boland, has implied that a new cap on student numbers may be necessary.
Special student rate 80c
TRINITY NEWS March 23, 2010
Energy Valley plan launched for Shannon
SHORT CUTS RAG WEEK REBRANDED THE UNIVERSITY of Limerick has renamed its annual RAG week to “Charity Week”. This is part of the new initiative to give the week of festivities an “overall re-branding”, to help students reconnect with the fundraising aspect of the week. UL RAG week was in jeopardy of cancellation after residents expressed anger when windows were broken, a car over-turned and trees uprooted. During negotiations, the Students’ Union and University authorities agreed that cancellation would not be necessary as long as there is a bigger focus on charities instead of alcohol, and as long as more events are held on campus instead of in nightclubs. The decision to change the name of RAG week to Charity week came after an SU survey showed that 35% of first-years did not know that the abbreviation RAG stood for Raising and Giving. Mairead Casey
COLLEGES FACE CRITICISM FOR LAVISH SPENDING DUBLIN INSTITUTE of Technology has admitted staff breached travel procedures by taking first-class flights. DIT was one of twenty state-funded organisations surveyed on foreign travel for a Comptroller and Auditor General report published at the start of 2010. The breaches concern four flights taken by science faculty in 2007. Rules prohibit the use of first-class travel on institute business. The report also revealed that DIT spent over €900,000 on flights from 2007 to 2008, including 137 business class and 4,832 economy flights. 926 of these were for non-staff members which cost a little over €122,000. DIT stated that the four first-class arrangements had been made by colleges in Harbin Institute of Technology with whom DIT shares a joint degree in computing, and that the difference in cost between economy and first-class was covered by Harbin. It has also been stated that no other first-class flights have been booked by DIT since 2007. A DIT spokeswoman said that the amount of international travel involved in a knowledgebased institution should not be surprising: “In our case, staff members travel to conferences, present papers, arrange student exchanges, recruit students and so on. We also receive academics from other institutions around the world, so it’s a two-way street.” This week the president of UCD, Dr. Hugh Brady was also criticised for his lavish spending on flights, meals and accommodation between 2005 and 2010 while networking with prospective donors in America, Canada, South Korea and China. The total bill for his flights, the majority of which were business class, was €97,737 and many of his hotel bills exceeded €1,000 and €2,000. Mairead O’Casey
UCD REVERSES COCA-COLA BAN STUDENTS IN UCD have voted to overturn the UCD Students’ Union’s boycott on the sale of Coca-Cola products in SU shops and bars. The referendum, which took place alongside the Union’s annual Sabbatical Elections, was passed by a narrow margin of 51.9% to 48.1%. The boycott means that the Students’ Union is now free to sell Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite, Lilt and RiverRock Water in its bars and shops, and are entitled to seek sponsorship from The Coca-Cola Company.
Aine Pennello Staff Writer
Some of the assembled crowds in Holylands on 17th March. Photo: Brendan Hughes
Disturbances in Holylands Fearghus Roulston National News Editor AFTER LAST year’s St. Patrick’s Day riots in the Holylands area of south Belfast, CCTV cameras were introduced this year in a pilot scheme by Belfast City Council intended to reduce antisocial behaviour and fear of crime in the area. Councillor Pat McCarthy, Chairman of the Health and Environmental Services Committee, said: “The issues associated with the university area, and the Holylands in particular, have been well documented and the launch of this scheme shows the commitment of Belfast City Council and its partners to work together and pool resources to find practical solutions, and deliver
tangible results for residents and the wider community.” Despite the introduction of CCTV, the student area saw more disruption this year, as hundreds of revellers took to Palestine Street for a “street rave”. An ambulance was moved down the street in a futile attempt to disperse the crowd, which was then moved in on by the police, who were successful in clearing the area. The Gown, Queen’s University Belfast’s student newspaper, reported that crowds cheered for one young man on Palestine Street who let off a fire extinguisher. Motorists attempted to dodge broken glass on the road, but many onlookers watched as tyres were punctured. Student officers and University officials observed the chaos
until late in the night, although it has been alleged that the house from which much of the disturbances came was not being rented by a student. Several men were charged in connection with last year’s violence, none of them Queen’s students. A poll on the Gown’s website suggests 50% of readers blame students for the disturbances last week, while 33% blame non-student residents. The Holylands have been the focus of much attention in the last few years as residents complained to police and council services about escalating levels of violent and anti-social behaviour. In February a number of students contacted the police after witnessing a crowd of young men jumping up and down on a car bonnet outside an apartment in College Park Avenue.
President Dr Jose Ramos-Horta of Timor-Leste, pictured here at a joint press conference in the office of President Nasheed of the Maldives. Photo: Mauroof Khaleel
UCD honour peace activist with honorary doctorate John Fitzsimons Staff Writer UCD HAS awarded the President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste an Honorary Doctor of Laws. Dr. José Ramos-Horta was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 along with Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo for “their work towards a just and peaceful solution to the conflict in East Timor”. He was honoured by UCD in recognition of the commitment he has shown to human rights along with his dedication to establishing the independence of TimorLeste, which has had a tumultuous history of foreign occupation. In 1970, at 21 years of age, after working as a journalist in his homeland, which was then a Portugese colony, José Ramos-Horta was exiled for one year to Mozambique, another Portuguese colony, where he began his efforts to secure independence for Timor-Leste. Although Timor-Leste secured independence in 1975, it was invaded by Indonesian forces after their proclamation of independence. Working from Australia and the USA, RamosHorta lobbied governments to cut ties
with the Indonesian President Suharto’s regime and promoted a peace plan to end the violence in his homeland. After 24 years of occupation and armed conflict, in May 2002 TimorLeste achieved its independence from Indonesia. The small country has made progess since this event, despite some violence and disruption. José Manuel Ramos-Horta formally took office as President on 20th May 2007, following a landslide victory in the first national elections since the restoration of independence. In February 2008, he was the victim of an assassination attempt which he survived following multiple operations in Australia. Timor-Leste remains in an embryonic state, with a delicate security situation and a stagnant economy. It also remains one of the world’s poorest countries. According to data from the WHO, in Timor-Leste 14% of children younger than 5 years of age suffer from acute malnutrition, and 56% are chronically malnourished. After receiving the award, President Ramos-Horta delivered an address entitled “Timor-Leste and opportunities
for Asia in the 21st Century”. In the paper he described how a small country like Timor-Leste struggles to integrate itself strategically, economically and diplomatically after becoming independent. Despite gaining its independence in May 2002, the country still remains in a fragile condition. In February 2008, Dr Ramos-Horta was the victim of an assassination attempt which he survived following several operations. “President Ramos-Horta is a moral giant, who from a young age has acted as a voice of his people to assist them towards independence from oppression,” said Dr. Niamh Hardiman, who gave the citation at the honorary conferral ceremony. “His advocacy has shown that the best way to respect the rights of the oppressed, and to achieve freedom and justice, is through peace building.” “He played a vital role in healing divisions within his own country, building bridges with its nearest neighbour, and keeping faith with the principles of freedom, justice, peace and reconciliation that have informed his whole life’s work.”
THE UNIVERSITY of Limerick and NUI Galway announced plans early last week to partner with Shannon Development and the Irish Technology Leadership Group (ITLG) to create a new “Shannon Energy Valley”. Speaking at the announcement of the launch at a conference in Silicon Valley, NUIG Vice-President for Research Professor Terry Smith explained that the Shannon Energy Valley will act as a national green “energy hub” for research and development, industry and commerce while providing much needed employment and attracting foreign investment. The initiative’s location is said to be influenced by Shannon’s history of renewable energy projects, with the 1920s Ardnacrusha project functioning as the world’s largest renewable energy initiative at the time. The area’s preexisting grid infrastructure, alongside its coal, oil and gas generating stations and the construction of a liquid natural gas terminal, also made Shannon a convenient location for the energy valley. Inspired by Silicon Valley, the initiative aims to develop alternative energy sources through the use of the area’s natural resources. Speaking at the conference Professor Brian Fitzgerald, Vice-President of Research at UL, commented on Ireland’s worrying present relationship with renewable energy, but highlighted the initiative’s aim to change this. “The European Wind Energy Association has estimated that the spending on importing energy in Ireland works out at almost €1,000 per annum for every man, woman and child. Ireland is surrounded by natural resources in the form of wind, wave, tidal, solar and local geothermal energy. This is a major opportunity for Ireland to become a leader in energy research.” The two universities, UL and NUIG, are said to be at the head of this research objective. The initiative, Prof. Smith stated, is “the first major initiative in regional development to flow directly from the Strategic Alliance between NUI Galway and UL launched by An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen TD, on February 18th last”.
Commenting on NUIG’s B.E. in Energy Systems Engineering and UL’s BSc. Energy courses, Prof. Smith remarked that both courses have been operating successfully since their launches in 2009. UL is also set to appoint their newly created Professorial position in Energy later his year. Also noted at the conference were UL and NUIG’s aims to collaborate in offering more energy courses at undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD levels with the hopes of providing the continual knowledge and expertise needed for the Shannon Energy Valley. Other aims of the initiative include eventual self-sufficiency in energy, lowering Ireland’s carbon footprint and industrial costs to meet emission targets, and the creation of an Energy and Environment Park in which both businesses and the public can gain access and knowledge concerning Ireland’s renewable energy projects. An estimated €10 billion will also be spent on the construction of windfarms across Ireland with the majority of these located within a one hour range from the Shannon Energy Valley. Through these aims the initiative hopes to create both immediate shortterm employment and skilled jobs by offering re-training and advanced training within the long-term project of the sustainable energy industry.
HOW GREEN IS IRELAND » - Ireland’s energy import dependency was measured at 91% in 2006. » - In the same year, renewable energy made up 2.7% of the country’s total energy requirements and 3.1% of final energy consumption » - A household of four using solar energy to heat water could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by one tonne » - Energy efficiency in Ireland improved by 8.1% in the decade from 1995 to 2005.
Move to lure Irish diaspora back home Fearghus Roulston National News Editor TAOISEACH BRIAN Cowen introduced plans to lower third-level fees in Ireland for second- and third-generation Irish at a press conference in Washington last week. The “Ireland Homecoming Study Programme” is an attempt to generate €10 million for the Irish economy, by offering significantly discounted fees to attract descendants of the Irish diaspora. Eight institutes of technology are set to take part in the scheme. At the moment non-EU students need to pay fees to study in Ireland, but this new scheme will offer discounts of up to 40% for the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Irish emigrants. The idea was first suggested during last year’s conference in Farmleigh, where Irish-Americans discussed the economic problems facing Ireland and possible solutions to these problems. The programme is expected to attract over 500 students in the next three years and Mr. Cowen estimated it will contribute around €10 million to the Irish economy. The eight institutes offering the discounted fee of €5,950 include Athlone, Carlow, Cork and Waterford. The creator of the programme, Brian McNamara, claimed the new system would allow the “global Irish” to attain affordable qualifications. “As a nation, we have long recognised the important role that the Irish diaspora or global
Irish play in promoting Irish culture and trade,” he said. “This initiative will offer a practical benefit to the offspring of Irish people abroad by allowing their children obtain an exceptional Irish education at highly competitive rates.” The Taoiseach’s announcement came as Fine Gael education spokesman Brian Hayes launched a comparable programme intended to encourage international students to come to Ireland. It is claimed the programme could create up to 6,000 new jobs in the education sector. Fine Gael claim thier plan will radically enhance standards and quality in third-level education by overhauling the quality assurance system currently in place. Suggestions made by ther proposal include automatic green cards for PhD students graduating into areas like engineering, a new student visa procedure, and the appointment of a Minister of State with direct responsibility for the third-level sector. The Fine Gael move comes amid claims that Ireland is “punching below its weight” on international education. While various studies have pointed to the potential of the sector, there has been criticism that visa requirements and other restrictions are inhibiting growth. At a news conference in Dublin, Brian Hayes said the Fine Gael party in government will provide the political leadership to develop Ireland’s reputation globally as a prime international education destination.
March 23, 2010
FOREIGN UNIVERSITIES MOVE TO ESTABLISH INDIAN FOOTHOLD
California Highway Patrol establish barricade along tuition protest route in Los Angeles. Photo: Sara Smith-Sell
Tuition protests raise the question of racial equality Monika Urbanski Staff Writer TENS OF thousands united on March 4 during the “Strike and Day of Action to defend Education”. Although some UC Berkeley students were turned off by the riots the week before, the day of passionate protest against education funding cuts attracted thousands of demonstrators to walkouts and teachins at universities and high schools throughout California. According to the Los Angeles Times the rallies were largely peaceful. In Oakland, however, about 150 protesters were arrested after they blocked a freeway, stifling rush-hour traffic. It is clear from press reports that the central messages of the March 4 protests were heard. All the major mainstream media outlets ran articles on how the cuts to state funding have increased the cost of tuition and have put higher education out of reach of millions of students in the U.S. Another central message that was communicated successfully was the notion that groups from different educational sectors joined together and they were able to show that a powerful voting block is being formed. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the reason for the “Strike of Day of Action to defend Education” can be found in a couple of acts of desperation last year. First, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger cut about $600 million in overall funding for Californian Universities. Then the Universities’ regents and trustees, facing budget crises of their own, reduced programs, furloughed workers and raised tuition. Ananya Roy, UC Berkeley Professor of Urban Studies compared the 32% tuition increase over a two-year period with racial discrimination. On March 4 she said during a broadcast: “Students of color have been fighting around these issues for quite a while in the UC system ... so we see this as a struggle to not only save the university, but ... to make those issues of access and opportunity ... visible to all.” While at first glance the question of racism seems to be unrelated to the issue of funding, Bob Samuels, lecturer at
UC Los Angeles and author of the popular blog Changing Universities, argues that it is evident from recent events at UC Berkeley and San Diego that increased racial tensions often occur during an economic downturn: “In fact, one obvious connection between racism and economics concerns enrolment policies and decisions. As many people have reported, less then 2% of the undergraduates at several of the UC campuses are African American, and although this low level of enrolment might not be blamed directly on racism, the effects of the situation is to fan racial tensions.” A series of racially charged incidents has galvanised protests and teach-ins at UC San Diego. First, a fraternity held a party called the “Compton Cookout”, which invited people to come dressed in stereotypical ghetto attire. Then, a noose was found hanging off a bookcase on the seventh floor of the university’s library. The student involved was suspended on February 26 for her actions. While the investigation is ongoing regarding a possible hate crime, she has claimed it a “mindless” act and clarified “that it was not an act of racism”. Following these incidents Administrators at UC San Diego and the school’s Black Student Union have signed an agreement that outlines common goals, leading to an effort dubbed “Join the Battle Against Hate”. The problems faced at Californian Universities brought thousands of students to the streets on March 4. Partly to protest against education funding cuts, but also to protest against such racially charged incidents. Similarly, as this paper has reported, in June 2009 Australian students were marching against violent attacks towards Indians in Melbourne and Sydney. Recent attacks have led the Indian government to issue a travel notice, warning its nationals to take extra precautions when travelling to Australia. Australia’s Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has just returned from a three-day visit to India, where he reiterated the view that Australia has no tolerance for racist attacks. The incidents, both in the U.S. and Australia, have caused protest amongst students against racial prejudices. Now it might be true that the student hanging a noose in the library
had no racist intent. The “Compton Cookout” seemed to have looked like an innocent joke to the organisers. Similarly some attacks on Indians in Australia may have turned out not to be racially motivated. Australian police say that, at least in some of the assaults, the attackers have been fellow Indians. In the case of Jaspreth Singh, who claimed he was attacked by four men and then set alight, it turned out that he had made up his story as part of an insurance fraud that could have gained him $11,000. Nevertheless, those incidents should not just be dismissed as innocent misunderstandings. In his book, The Hidden Brain, Shankar Vedantam reviews the latest studies of how racism works, and he documents some surprising findings. According to Vedantam children as young as three years old will associate positive traits with white people and negative traits with black people regardless of the race of the child or the attitude of the children’s parents and teachers. From his perspective, the only way to fight racism is to openly admit that we all harbour racist associations and we need to become aware of our unconscious tendencies. Samuels explains how important educating against racism has become nowadays: “While the election of Barack Obama might make us think that we have moved beyond these race-based prejudices, the recent events at the University of California, San Diego reveal how we cannot simply escape unconscious racism ... The interventions failed to get to the root of the problem, which is how do we teach people not to act on their unconscious racist beliefs. This need for education was evident when the student who placed the noose in the library explained that she did not intend to do any harm, and she did not think about the racial significance of the noose.” It seems that the protests on March 4 were more significant than one might think at first sight. They were not only asking for free education for everyone not depending on their social status or cultural background. But even more importantly, the protestors were raising awareness towards the fact that it is in those institutions it can be made possible to educate against racism.
As costs rise, colleges digitalise Stuart Winchester Deputy International News Editor THE PAST few years of university-level education have been marked by numerous student protests against tuition increases. With the unrest caused by the most recent protests in California still fresh in educator’s minds, some experts are turning to technology for the solution. Across the globe, a number of universities and secondary schools are embracing the open-source and intuitive nature of the Internet to try and promote education. Though the majority of schools, especially in largely developed countries, have been shifting more and more of their resources online, the greatest benefit may come from increased accessibility to lower-income populations. This benefit is partially to do with the fact that technology, specifically the Internet, is largely intuitive for many young children. In 1999 Dr Sugata Mitra conducted the “Holes in Walls” experiment, which placed small touch-screen computers in various walls throughout the slums of New Delhi. After just a few weeks it became clear that children as young as eight years old were capable of basic computer operation and were quickly teaching themselves more. This realisation has driven educational innovators to introduce more and more Internet-based teaching. In Europe and North America, for example, and to a lesser extent Asia, iTunesU has become increasingly popular. iTunesU is a programme that allows any person with an iTunes account,
the popular music-downloading program, to listen to lectures from a wide variety of universities. Trinity has a number of lectures uploaded, as well as Oxford, Cambridge and many other international universities. Some schools have moved even further online and have already seen the benefits. In the Cempaka Schools in Indonesia students are required to have a MacBook, as well as an iPhone (which is provided by the college), that are fully integrated with the school’s servers. This meant that during the recent A(H1N1) scare, school officials were able to send everyone home, but classes proceeded as normal, albeit on the internet. Attendance was still mandatory to the online classes and assignments were still given out and completed. The administrators responsible for these measures argue that the higher use of technology not only affords them a greater degree of independence from the classroom, it also helps their students become more familiar with the sort of technology that is likely to become more and more prevalent in the workplace. In this way, they believe, they are teaching very practical skills to their pupils. Massachusetts Institute of Technology has now stepped forward and moved over 1,900 recording of their lectures online, including assignments and syllabi. The service is called MITOpenCourseWare and it is completely free to anyone with a web browser. In defending their decision, MIT refers to their University Mission that states, in part, “to advance knowledge in ways
that will best serve the nation and the world.” By placing so much of their material online then, administrators hope to promote this goal. Of course, they also state that because MIT emphasises “hands-on experience in instruction” there is no danger of the typical, paying student becoming irrelevant. However these new technologies are implemented, whether in high-income private universities or in less wellfunded public institutes, they are sure to dramatically change the way in which education is delivered in the coming years.
ON MONDAY March 15, the Indian Cabinet approved a proposal to allow foreign universities to establish branches within India. This bill, the Foreign Education (Regulators) Bill, was blocked previously by the Communist Party of India. However, now that the Communist Party is no longer a constituent of the ruling coalition it is very likely that the Indian Parliament will pass the Bill next month. The introduction of this legislation has been seen as mutually advantageous for both the foreign bodies and the Indian government. “This is a milestone which will enhance choices, increase competition and benchmark quality in education,” said Minister of Human Resources and Development Minister Kapil Sibal. Experts believe that not only will it raise the bar for education in India, but will also help shore-up the student economy in India. Last year alone 160,000 students left India to study abroad. Now, though, the hope is that students will stay on for university and longer. UNITED STATES
BEING A FRESHMAN JUST BECAME MORE DIFFICULT FOR ANTIQUE-THIEF A FRESHMAN at Drew University, William John Scott, may have one more element to add to his resume very soon: antiquities thief. The student, who plays lacrosse and is a political science major, has been arrested and charged with the “knowing theft of an object of cultural heritage from a museum.” In total though, there may be well over a dozen letters that Mr. Scott has pilfered. Authorities discovered six letters in his room stolen from the Drew University archives, where Mr. Scott worked part-time. The majority of the letters were written by Wesley Brothers, who were responsible for founding the Methodist Church; however, a few of the letters were from dramatically more recognizable authors, most notably Abraham Lincoln and Madame Chiang Kai-Shek. The theft was discovered when Scott attempted to mail some of the letters to a collector in England who was displeased with the condition of the letters. If convicted, Mr. Scott faces up to ten years in prison. UNITED KINGDOM
UK EDUCATION OFFICIALS MUST LEARN TO DO MORE WITH LESS AS UNIVERSITY officials around the world watch the protests that have been unfolding in the wake of UCLA’s decision to increase tuition, many are preparing to do more with less. At the most recent higher education summit, hosted by The Guardian, politicians and educators alike have been struggling to plan for higher education’s financial future. The most popular plan, so far, is the “50% aspiration,” which seeks to increase the number of students under age 30 by fifty percent in the coming years. The alternate plan, proposed by the Conservative party, is to establish a set of cash incentives to encourage prompt payment of student loans. Though neither plan has been declared acceptable by the opposing party, it is clear that the financial crisis will be wreaking havoc for years to come in higher education.
DESPITE ECONOMIC WOES SOME UK SCHOOL HEADS AWARDED 15 TO 20 PERCENT SALARY INCREASE REGARDLESS OF the struggling economy and the almost daily outcry over increased university tuition, the salaries of British university heads have increased 15 to 20 percent in 2009. In 2009, the top officials, known as Vice Chancellors, were making as much as $713,000 (£474,000) a year. Those officials in the top earnings bracket were spread among some of the top schools in the UK, including UCL, Imperial College, Kings and Oxford. Though there is even more student outcry following this news, the issue most likely will not be broached until the educational summit on March 18.
Arizona State University has made significant investments in online education. Photo: Sean Toyer
TRINITY NEWS March 23, 2010
Indian bill reserves seats for women A new bill would mandate that one-third of Indian lawmakers be women, but how much would India’s female population actually benefit? Neil Warner Staff Writer AFFIRMATIVE ACTION always tends to be a tricky issue, but it tends to be even more complicated when it comes to the higher echelons of politics. So it is with the case of India and the proposed amendment to its constitution, the “Women’s Reservation Bill”, which was passed by the upper house of the Indian parliament earlier this month. Approved by an impressive but somewhat misleading majority of 186 to 1, it reserves one-third of all legislative seats for women at both national and state levels. The bill follows several failed attempts at similar legislation that have been made since the 1990s. It is in many respects a highly encouraging and laudable step forward and will put countries such as Ireland, languishing with a Dáil that is a meagre 13% female, to shame. For India itself, which currently has female representation of less than 11%, it will in certain respects be a tremendous change. What’s more, the bill enjoys broad support and is favoured not only by the governing Congress Party but also by the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and may well soon achieve the support needed from the lower house and state assemblies to become law. However, this is not necessarily quite the breakthrough for women’s rights or social development implied at first glance. To start with, the impression one may get from the legislation on first appearances — of a developing country’s surprising propulsion into a world of liberal values — is not entirely
“The impression one may get from the legislation – of a developing country’s surprising propulsion into a world of liberal values – is not entirely accurate. “
Indian women stand to triple their representation in India’s parliament. Photo: McKay Savage accurate. India itself has a long history of reserving seats in parliament for particular groups, such as those for tribal and “lower caste” Indians and for religious minorities. Additionally, while the parliaments India will join in the elite club of countries with over 30% female parliamentary members include many progressive countries that one would expect, such as Scandinavian countries, they also incorporate a surprising number of underdeveloped African countries. These include not only the famous and highly anomalous case of Rwanda, but also countries such as Mozambique and Angola. Part of the reason for these anomalies is that the figures for the representation of social groups in politics have a tendency to be highly deceptive, and doubly so when they are a consequence
of quotas enforced from above. In situations such as these, political representation is often a very thin pasting-over of a reality that is much messier and grimmer than the numbers suggest. Consider two different ways in which the statistics can be misleading in this regard. The first difficulty arises upon closer examination of the nature of cause and consequence in these situations; in other words look behind the headlines and the basic numbers. Apparent progress is often not the result of a triumphant march towards the light of modernity but an offshoot of other processes, often less permanent ones. For example take the peculiar case of Rwanda. Rwanda appears to be a model among all nations for gender equality, with its parliament consisting of an actual majority of
women, the first time in history that this has happened anywhere. Advocates of gender equality routinely cite this case with approval. Yet the fact is that Rwanda’s female participation rate is to a significant degree a consequence of the disproportionate number of men killed in the genocide in 1994. In other African countries, the high rate of female political participation exists in spite of their highly egregious social situation, as a result of admittedly forward-thinking post-conflict political settlements made in those countries in the 1990s. Just as the cause of something may not be what it seems, the consequences of a development like this are often different from those which were intended or at least alleged. The Indian bill would certainly mean more female faces in
politics, but the amendment omits a reservation for women from “lower castes” or from religious minorities; hence parties representing dalit (“untouchable”) or Muslim interests have vigorously opposed the bill, saying that it will lead to a more elitist and exclusionary politics, and threatening to withdraw support for the government over it. Additionally many analysts fear that it will exacerbate the already serious problem of nepotism in Indian politics, in which local powerholders simply pass on their political “estates” to their wives or daughters. Moreover, India’s progress in this area does not primarily arise from the enlightened goodwill of India’s politicians; the genuine initiative of Congress leader Sonia Gandhi deserves much credit for the bill’s passage, but
the proto-fascist BJP’s support of it should arouse scrutiny. The second problem is much more important and one which the feminist movement is very often in danger of forgetting; the severe disconnection that exists between superficial political progress and meaningful change in the lives of ordinary women. This can be illustrated by what may seem to be a rather silly argument: that women have been in leadership positions for thousands of years, but that this fact has not contributed to the material improvement of women’s lives for much of that time. I doubt the reign of Cleopatra meant much for every other woman in Ptolemaic Egypt. The Indian subcontinent is a more recent example of this problem. For half a century women have risen to powerful roles with surprising frequency in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Way back in 1965 Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka became the world’s first female Prime Minister. The two leading political figures in Bangladesh for the last two decades have been women. In India itself politicians such as Indira Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Kumari Mayawati have been highly prominent. But all of this has meant little for a region which remains rife with misogyny. Much of Indian society suffers atrociously from a culture of sex-selective abortions, female infanticide, domestic violence and dowry deaths. Perhaps, in the longrun, developments such as this bill will help, but for the moment these paper improvements do little to change that reality. So let us welcome this possibly forthcoming amendment, and hope that it progresses further. We should, indeed, regard it as wonderful news and over time it may not only improve the prospects of individual women and India’s global image, but may also percolate into Indian life more broadly. We should, however, be very careful to maintain perspective. Perhaps the greatest contribution of this bill will be, through the contrasting worlds India will then provide, to show that tremendous political progress in this area in itself means little to the everyday lived reality, and may redirect attention further in that more important area.
Hospital oversight Lack of thorough examination in x-rays leads to severe criticism of hospital administration. Máiréad Cremins Staff Writer
Independent bookstores, like the Eclipse Bookstore pictured above, are members of a dying breed. Photo: brewbooks
Local bookshops face huge struggle Gavin McLoughlin Staff Writer THE RECENT demise of Hughes & Hughes represents another blow to struggling independent booksellers in Ireland. As powerful online and supermarket retailers continue to demand larger discounts and higher margins from publishers, the outlook is grim for this once-vibrant industry. While this situation is far from unique to this country, it is particularly sad to see our rich and varied literary tradition homogenised and bastardised by the supermarket retailer, the celebrity hardback, and the Dan Brown novel. Once the land of Shaw, Beckett and Behan, Ireland risks becoming the land of Jordan, Chris Moyles and Richard Hammond. Moreover, the advent of the Amazon Kindle and the Sony e-reader casts the very future of the paper book itself into uncertainty. What impact, then, have these recent developments had on those independent booksellers that continue to trade? Paddy MacNeill, owner of “The Skerries
Bookshop” in north Co. Dublin, insists he is not worried by Hughes’ collapse: “My overheads are much lower than theirs were, so that means I can survive when they can’t. I’m just paying myself, I don’t have any staff.” When asked about the difference between the experience a consumer has in his shop as opposed to a retail giant, Paddy thinks his personal service, passion for literature and varied range of stock keep the customers coming through his door. “I offer a personal service here. I’ve a little bit of everything, bestsellers, Irish authors and local authors. I know the writers. I read a lot myself and I’m able to make recommendations to customers.” However, not all share his optimism. Mark Kiernan, an employee of “The Wise Owl” chain of small retailers, said, “We would be worried to a certain extent about their closure, mainly because we’re never sure how publishers are going to react. If they raise their cost prices that would be extremely difficult for us in such a competitive market.” Neither are fans of the Kindle or the e-reader. Paddy doubts the Kindle will lead to the death
of the conventional book: “Maybe with the bestsellers that might take off, but you never know how these things are going to pan out. There’s still a cost issue there because you have to buy the Kindle as well as the book.” For Mark, nothing compares to the experience of reading a paper book. “I know it sounds corny but I enjoy being able to hold the book and feel the pages. The Kindle is kind of cold and detached.” Where, however, do customers fit in to all this? If consumers want to buy cheaper books in Tesco or from Amazon, surely that is their prerogative? For Karen Roberts, a customer of Paddy MacNeill, the most important thing is to continue to support local businesses. “I find that in smaller bookshops you do get more of a personal service. It’s convenient to have somewhere local where you can just pop in, the stock is just as up to date as anywhere else and if there’s something you want that they don’t have they can get it in that day or the next, so it’s just as handy.” As a student, Ciarán McKenna admits that price is the most important
factor for him when it comes to buying books. “Of course I’d love to buy from independents more often, but if I buy the books online there can be as much as a 50% difference in price. I’m on a budget so as far as I see it I don’t really have a choice.” This sentiment would seem to be echoed by book purchasers all over the globe. The independent bookshop retains great affection in the hearts of booklovers everywhere, but in the case of Hughes and many others, the price gap has proven to be a bridge too far. The only people who can save these outlets are the customers. If consumers are serious about holding on to the independent bookshop experience, to the personal service, to varied stock, and to the knowledgeable and passionate staff, then they must put their money where their mouths are. The alternative is that work of genuine merit that refuses to pander to commercialism and the lowest common denominator will be swallowed whole by the likes of Dan Brown and Chris Moyles, and literary Ireland will be dead and gone.
IT HAS recently emerged that nearly 58,000 x-rays of adult patients were never read by a consultant radiologist at Tallaght Hospital over a five-year period. This inaction has led to tragic consequences including delayed diagnoses for two patients, one of whom has since died. The hospital initially stated that the number of unread x-rays was thought to be around 700; it wasn’t until 14th December 2009 that a report ordered by Professor Kevin Conlon, CEO-designate of the Dublin hospital, showed the true number of the unreported X-rays to be an astonishingly high figure of 57,921. Additionally, thousands of GP referral letters have gone unopened, leading to major delays for patients. Professor Tom O’Dowd, a public health specialist at Trinity College Dublin, was the first GP to alert the hospital to the x-ray referral problems, last April. However Lyndon McCann, chairman of the Adelaide, Meath and National Children’s hospital, denies receiving O’Dowd’s letter of concern until 10th March 2010, despite the letter being stamped as “received” by the Chief Executive’s office on 27th April 2009. In a statement released on 11th March 2010, a Tallaght hospital representative said: “There are no unopened letters in Tallaght Hospital. There is no backlog of referral letters for either adult or paediatric services.” This miscommunication exemplifies the disorganisation that evidently has permeated the hospital at the cost of its
patients’ health. Labour leader Eamon Gilmore has said that Minister for Health Mary Harney, who was in New Zealand on a St. Patrick‘s Day trip, should be “fired”. Despite her willingness to deal with the issue while abroad and her assertion that a review of the x-rays will be completed in ten weeks, Fine Gael spokesperson Dr. James Reilly said Minister Harney is sending all the wrong messages by not being here to deal with the crisis, and that the backlog could have been tackled within a month if the Minister had instructed the HSE to outsource the work. “The state and its agent Tallaght Hospital have failed their patients,” said Reilly. “They must act immediately to address that.” Since the crisis has come to light, the hospital’s board members have agreed that reforms are necessary. Charlie O’Connor, local TD and member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children, demanded that the HSE appoint a respected individual to the current board and continue to have a representative on the new board after their failure to appoint a member to the previous board of management at the hospital despite being entitled to do so. Lyndon McCann said that there would be a new post created for a director of quality and changes would also be made to “modernise” how the facility is run. The HSE has confirmed that it will make all of its hospitals verify that they do not have similar problems to Tallaght’s delays in reviewing x-rays. It remains to be seen whether this crisis will produce a valuable lesson or just another dust-gathering report.
TRINITY NEWS March 23, 2010
It’s all coming up Roses with Suas Volunteering with Suas is a life-changing experience. Current Rose of Tralee Charmaine Kenny describes how her visit to Kolkata opened her eyes to the plight of India’s poor
T HAS been seven years since I first volunteered with Suas Educational Development, an Irish-based, education-focused organisation that supports access to quality education in under-resourced communities in Ireland, India and Kenya. My interest in the organisation was sparked during my undergraduate days here in Trinity, where I studied Management Science and Information Systems Studies and later completed a M.Sc. in Economics. I had been looking to volunteer abroad for a summer. Suas was only getting up and running then. It has made leaping progress since those days – now supporting 13,000 children in under-resourced communities, working with an annual budget of €1.2 million in 2009 and sending 80 volunteers to work as teaching assistants with local partners in India and Kenya this summer (of which 23 are Trinity students). The Suas Trinity Society has also grown markedly over the past few years, even winning awards at the CSC Annual Society of the Year event; the Society run a weekly Development Education course on campus and a number of homework clubs, and it has a strong affiliation with the Bridge 2 College programme, a collaboration between Suas, the Trinity Access Programme and the Center of Research for IT in Education. I am thrilled to be able to use my role as Rose of Tralee to act as an ambassador for Suas. The three months spent in Kolkata working as a teaching assistant in 2003 and a further three months spent in Delhi volunteering as a team co-ordinator in 2006 was for me a very humbling and enlightening experience and one which I’ve certainly carried with me over the years. It not only gave me an appreciation for what a fortunate life I’ve been born into but also a flavour of the power that I have to make a difference. And it’s a double-edged difference - one cannot
stress enough that whilst volunteering can make a very positive impact on the community with which you are working, the biggest impact being made is probably on yourself. The first thing that struck me on my recent return to Kolkata is that there has been a noticeable change in this city; it has evidently seen a real boom. There are Dundrum-esque shopping malls, large blocks of middle-class apartments, and better quality and more variety of cars on the road. I even wonder where all the roving cows have disappeared to. Then there’s the area of Salt Lake City, the hub of Kolkata’s IT industry, which is a far cry from Mother Theresa’s Calcutta. The local Suas partners in Kolkata – Development Action Society (DAS), Sabuj Sangha and Vikramshila - would all stress that this is only one side of the story, and that progress only touches a very small percentage of the population. The fact remains that 37 percent of West Bengal, the state to which Kolkata is capital, is still illiterate and 53 percent still drop out at primary school level. The Suas Partner Support team manager, Bryan Patten, along with a media team of journalist Tom Lyons and photographer Brian Meade, both of The Sunday Times, and Newstalk’s Chris Donoghue, were my travel companions. On our first nght, we travelled out to the south-eastern part of the city and meet with DAS, a partner of Suas, with whom I worked in 2003 as a teaching assistant. DAS focuses on empowering women and children. Their goal is to break the cycle of poverty in their target areas through providing and supporting the education of first generation learners, as well as supporting community empowerment through building the skills and capacity of women. I was chuffed that they had a poster inside their office saying “Welcome Charmine”. When they noticed the error in spelling my name,
As you approach the dumping ground in the jeep, you become covered in flies. The villagers make their living by rag-picking on the dump – collecting plastics, metals, glass, wood pieces – some even rummage for food.
Charmaine Kenny with a student on the railway lines outside Kolkata. Photo: Bryan Meade they told me it was the Indian spelling! We heard about the great progress that DAS are making, as well as the challenges they face in their projects. DAS took us to visit the community of Makaltala, a village of about 500 people that is located beside Kolkata’s main dump. As you approach the dumping ground in the jeep, you become covered in flies. The villagers make their living by rag-picking on the dump – collecting plastics, metals, glass, wood pieces – anything that they can sell for a few rupees. Some even rummage for food. Men, women and children, alongside cows, pigs, wild dogs, birds and rats, scavenge together. 80 per cent of Kolkata’s hospitals dump their refuse straight into municipal tips that are delivered to Makaltala dump. Villagers work with no protection – if not barefoot, they wear flimsy plastic flipflops; they wear no gloves, no masks. A crematorium located within the dump cremates unclaimed bodies and has a defective chimney. Fumes and smoke are spread over the village area polluting the air further. Unsurprisingly the
health of the village is poor, with people suffering cuts, bruises, infections and internal ailments from the toxic waste. The village lacks the basic facilities of public transport, piped water, sanitation and electricity. DAS have set up a school here, educating the children who are all first generation learners. Many of the children ragpick before and after school. We spoke with ten-year-old Kisham Porem who attends the school - at least he thinks he is ten, but he is not sure. Very few of the births in this community are registered so no one is quite sure of their age. He told us how he witnessed his father kill his mother by burning her alive with kerosene. Later that day, Gargi, the DAS teacher, pointed out his father as we negotiated our way around the village. DAS have also helped the women of the community set up a Women’s Community Group. Together the women have successfully campaigned to a local councillor to have an illegal alcohol shop closed down. Substance abuse is a big social issue within the community amongst both men and children. We
met nine-year-old Chotka Sadar, already a recovering alcoholic. Chotka told us of how he started drinking when he was 4 because, when he would come home from a day of ragpicking, there was no food left for him. So he would buy alcohol, local brew no doubt, to numb the hunger. He explains to us how the school has helped him battle his addiction and he enjoys the daily school meals that he receives. The women speak with passion; they see education as the way for their children to hoist themselves out of this dire existence. I am inspired by the aspirations these women have for their children; they want their children to become “selfdependent”, to pave a happy and peaceful life for themselves and not to suffer the lives of their parents. One lady tells of her hope for her son to become a doctor, that he also has compassion to do something about the health of the people of Makaltala. Suas volunteers work here every summer and I admire their hardiness – it is by no means an easy placement. Now back in Ireland the focus is on
how we can continue the work on the ground in communities like Makaltala. The main annual fundraising campaign of Suas – Shamrocks for Schools – took place last week around St. Patrick’s Day. Suas recruited 250 volunteers in Dublin, Cork and Galway to paint shamrocks on the faces of parade revellers young and old, collecting voluntary donations. By working together in this way, volunteers raised over €22,000 for Suas. I am thrilled that this year, all of the funds raised will go directly to Suas Partner Projects that I visited in Kolkata. When it costs less than €70 to support the education of a child for a year including meals, copybooks and uniform, the money that was raised on St. Patrick’s Day will go a long way.
If you are interested in getting involved with Suas, visit their website at www.suas.ie. To see where exactly the money raised will go, check the recent Newstalk documentary at http://media.newstalk.ie/ podcast/18732/
Boring like Sunday morning Is Sunday a day at the end of a week, or simply the prelude to Monday? Ciarán McCollum finds the Irish Sunday lacking on all fronts.
IREANN’S WEEK traditionally begins on a Sunday, I believe. Although since beginning this article, it has been brought to my attention that I am the only man in Ireland who believes this. The working week only ended sometime Friday for God’s sake. One does have Saturday to oneself, and as a troublesome tween that for me was a precious time of fountainpen-less freedom – one could care about nothing as much as one wanted. Spoil your inner Swinehound. Slouch yourself near a Megadrive II, load up Shinobi and commence mindmushing by ninja adventure. However by Sunday the next week has begun. One still manages to do nothing useful – minus nothing even. The average person probably devolves about 23% on a Sunday. At a rush of guilt you might remember you have a dog that’s supposed to be walked and made to chase things, or maybe decide to start practicing a cool trick you’ve always wanted to learn, like cartwheeling. But there will be more than amused surfers watching you and little leashed Furlusconi (he’s a randy Pastore Bergamasco) attempting acrobatics
along the beach: as ever there’ll be the over-the-shoulder loom of the invisible Sunday guilt-nark. He probably looks like Randall in Recess but sounds like your mother’s “for-the-fifth-time-get-the-hell-outof-bed” voice. He waits for the fun to stop and then coyly reminds you after a productive day’s tumbling, just right when you’ve found the remote under you and are settling into the sofa, that although every episode of Gargoyles is a transcendent twenty-five minutes of television (arguably the Disney Channel’s best production, he concedes); it’s not in German, tomorrow’s Monday and if you are forced into coining words like “Der Schneezer-schnouzer” during the vocab test again Miss Wouldscareababyface will give you a right staring. It’s a very God-fearing, societyserving sort of attitude. They remove the bridle on the Friday, gift you a titbit of time to run through the meadows nigh and enjoy a few of nature’s wayside gifts. You might doze beneath a shady spruce, chomp on dappled grass, cool your hooves in a whispering stream as flying carps leap up to kiss you on the snout...with their teeth. Yeah, that’s because the God’s Day is spent getting
“Stuff closes on a Sunday. Actually pretty much all stuff closes on a Sunday, except for garages, for those emergency pizzas made of sand on late nights, and a few perky restaurants.”
back into gear; slowly, gripefully, putting off preparation so much that the putting off of preparation kills the entire day. And the cheeky devils demand a sleepy trip to church as well – forced quiet reflection! Now, if you would allow me to be churlish, why does the Lord choose to ruin his own Goddamn day? Is it because while He kicks back He rather enjoys watching us writhe, knowingly doomed in our attempts to delay calendared misery? Are regular distractions like the TV crap in heaven? Is He sick of reality shows starring angels who never err and every beatific Mastermind contestant specialising on one book? Has our Lord never tried watching Gargoyles on YouTube? Mass would make so much more sense at a crap time like Monday morning, God. In Dublin I found that Saturday feeling had grown slightly weaker, probably because so much buzz gets burnt up drinking working nights, banjaxing one’s brain. There’s certainly a chemical explanation, like the ethanol particles come “crouching tiger, hidden naggin”, have their own hooley with the joy-receptors, end up calling a stripperenzyme while making provocative remarks to the baldy white blood cells thereby trashing the place. That’s why (among many other less publishable reasons) I’m glad to be in chilly Burrrlin – where most of life is organised in a way that actually makes sense, like sense-able person structured stuff. To finally get to the point, the week over here in Krautland officially starts on a Monday.
Model Beate Grabowska enjoys a lazy Sunday morning: This photo is not representative of the typical Irish Sunday experience. Photo: David Urbanke
Stuff closes on a Sunday. Actually pretty much all stuff closes on a Sunday, except for garages, for those emergency pizzas made of sand on late nights, and a few perky restaurants. It’s like ze crazy Germans thought this was a day that should be spent not doing stuff you do on all the six other days. Like we need a time to log out of life and not like things. Like it was a day that should be spent dusting down board games and
grannies and not at the shops (admit it, you haven’t even watched all the DVDs you already own). Almost like the day was holy or sacred to some people or something a bit mad like that. Call me bored with too many words and too many inches of column space in a student paper, but the Irish Sunday is unsatisfactory as a day of rest, and thus, by proxy, the Irish weekend as a whole is positively pwnd by Germany’s.
It’s only a psychological thing, but then again so was Michael Jordan’s “secret stuff” in Space Jam – and that helped the Looney Toons beat basketball players from outer space! That and Bill Murray. But anyway, bring back Sunday. The crummy old Sunday when there’s nothing to do except go to church and look for attractive members of the opposite sex in the congregation. Hell, I think I’d even turn up for a sermon.
TRINITY NEWS March 23, 2010
Irish students: the eternal adolescents It’s not just about missing lectures – Conor Dempsey on how our lazy generation are putting our futures in danger
HILE SEARCHING for exam clues on the feedback thread for one of my maths courses I came across a bleak example to substantiate my feeling that there is something amiss with at least a certain sub-section of students in this college. This was the revealing comment: “I thought you might like to know that sometimes when you ask questions in class, and no one answers, it’s not that no one knows the answer, it’s just that people are too embarrassed to speak up. They’re worried they might not be completely
“There is something wrong with students here; we don’t value our education enough to bother participating.” right, or they don’t want to show off.” Of course, whoever wrote this is absolutely right. The pathetic fact of the matter is that we are so caught up in what others think of us that we will literally sit through lectures and say not a word, regardless of our understanding of the material. We all know this phenomenon; it is mentioned with laughter, as we all chuckle about the lecturer asking for questions only to be met with blank stares and absolute silence. This is not what university ought to be like; we are missing out on the chance to interact directly with those who know the answers to whatever questions we may have. Nobody will think you are stupid - most of the time when somebody asks a question I am delighted because it just clears up something I was wondering anyway. American students here find this amazing. A classmate from the US recently told me that he assumed he was missing the point of one of our courses; nobody asked questions and he assumed
this was because we all got it and he did not. No, I assured him, it’s just that there is something wrong with students here; we don’t value our education enough to bother participating. In the US they pay for what they get and they want to get as much as they can for their money. At the end of the day finances trump embarrassment. The lethargy and apathy with which we approach our education is not just a foible, a cute reminder of the carefree Irish. Certainly the overzealous super-achiever culture of the American academic elite is not healthy, and thankfully it has not reached these shores just yet. On the other hand, it is equally destructive to reside at the other end of the spectrum, and I fear many of us do. Invert the stereotype of the industrious go-getter at Harvard and you have the stereotype of the passive Irish student, so indulged that he need not bother becoming an adult at least until after graduation. That is what has happened; this generation has not grown up on time, we are the eternal adolescents. A reintroduction of fees may be just what we need. A fair system where fees are regulated and kept reasonable combined with a sensible student loan scheme would help to raise the value of education. The USI seemed to be in paroxysms of horror at the mention of reintroducing fees. The reaction of student unions to the idea was embarrassing. Fees introduced in a fair manner would raise the value of education and also address the underfunding faced by Irish universities. This would help our universities to perform better on the international stage, and that would be of direct benefit to the students passing through. Fees need not make college any more exclusive than it already is; a system where everybody must get a loan, and admission is still solely resultsbased, can ensure that students from less advantaged backgrounds maintain at least their current chances of reaching university. The recalcitrance with which
student unions treated the issue was a clear indication of how cosseted we have become; apparently the idea that we would have to actually pay for our tuition is preposterous. The fact is that in the current generation the average student has never experienced financial strain. Most of us have been completely comfortable since birth. I am not talking about luxury here either; I simply mean that we have all had enough food on the table, a warm home, decent clothes etc. I do not come from a wealthy background and I am aware of the struggle many people would face in paying registration fees for example. I am not arguing about the fairness of our society’s way of deciding who gets to university, but rather about the attitude of typical students, especially in Trinity. One of the less desirable effects of this comfort is that we have no sense of urgency in becoming financially independent. There are, of course, advantages to this; without pressure to promptly achieve financial independence we have much greater freedom to explore different career paths and to find the sort of job we really want. More weighty however are the disadvantages; many of us do not feel we are working toward any career and this often manifests itself in disengagement and apathy. On the
“A reintroduction of fees may be just what we need to raise the value of education. The reaction of student unions to the idea was embarrassing.” other hand many of those who are taking advantage of their opportunities to get the jobs they really want are too driven by the ideal end-result. The
“In the US they pay for what they get, and want to get as much as they can for their money.” more organic hit-and-miss development people used to go through has been given up for a focused, straight-line careerism that creates individuals with a limited and standardised range of experiences. This stems directly from our cushioned upbringing; we are excessively idealistic and can afford to be. Such idealism is just wastefulness in another guise. There have been myriad improvements in this country over the past 30 years, and we are lucky to have reaped the benefits. On the other hand, as we hear all the time, from some of our most lucid commentators, from our parents and grandparents: the baby has been thrown out with the bathwater. Along with material hardship we have discarded solid values like respect for your elders, humility, work ethic, and appreciation of opportunity. Generations who still had these values instilled show none of the self-importance and arrogant laziness of the current generation of university goers. Nor do they show the self-indulgent idealism that allows students to ponder their perfect path indefinitely, all the while resting on the backs of others. It seems to me that adolescence has literally stretched into the early twenties, an effect of the indulgence generated by the Celtic Tiger. Many students need to make the basic realisations that ought to occur during adolescence: we are not owed anything, indeed we have been given everything, and that brings a responsibility to do something with our opportunities. It is a sorry state of affairs if our natural response to our manifold opportunities is to embrace an inflated sense of due and forget to grow up.
Playing follow the reader at Dublin Book festival The Dublin Book Festival offered an opportunity for writers to discuss their work and, more importantly, each other’s works. Kevin Breathnach was on hand to witness the witticisms.
NCE, I saw polemicist Christopher Hitchens eviscerate self-styled contrarian John Waters in a debate on religion. Though I’ve since come to view the militant atheism of Hitchens, Dawkins et al as somewhat tiresome, the underlying bloodlust of Hitchens’s always-eloquent rhetoric is as satisfying to recall now as it was to witness back then. “This is why readers come to hear writers speak,” I remember thinking. “To see them humiliate others.” It was with this recollection in mind that I sat down in City Hall on a Saturday morning, to listen to such luminaries as Nell McCafferty, Diarmaid Ferriter and Carlo Gébler speak at the Dublin Book Festival. When, in a talk on the art of literary reviewing, Greg Baxter deadpanned that, “Violent discourse on literature inspires me,” I supposed I’d come to the right place. Reading is an intensely private experience, yet it regularly shows its face in public. Traditionally, it was in books pages and arts programmes that reflections on reading were aired. But book festivals now play an increasingly significant role in what Philip Roth once called “talking shop”. The Dublin Book Festival, which took place between the 6th and 8th of March, has completed its third year. With all talks free of charge, the organisers expected a turn-out surpassing last year’s record of 11,000. How such a figure is arrived at, however, I really don’t know. The festival opened with a discussion entitled “Rewriting Ireland’s Rebel History”, in which Ruan O’Donnell, the avuncular author of several books on Robert Emmet, argued that, “We can literally never have enough context.” In a run-through of her new book on the graffiti of Kilmainham Jail, however, Niamh O’Sullivan argued that inscriptions such as, “To hell with government!” stand alone as artefacts, independent of any historian’s commentary. The apparent incongruity of the respective viewpoints went unaddressed. Not for the last time this weekend, the heavyweights pulled their punches.
With his play currently running in the Abbey, author of Christ Deliver Us! Thomas Kilroy spoke with celebrated playwright Declan Hughes. Borbála Faragó, Eva Bourke, Paddy Bushe and Trinity’s own Gerald Dawe read from or spoke about their poetry and others’. But for a book festival, its programme betrayed an embarrassing paucity of acclaimed novelists on show. Only Hugo Hamilton, whose 2003 autobiography The Speckled People has been translated into 15 languages, stood out among those speaking as a novelist of repute. The novel is out of fashion, however. Greg Baxter spoke at length about David Shields’s Reality Hunger: A Manifesto, a new work which urges a move away from the contemporary novel (an “essentially purposeless” art form) in favour of autobiography. Nevertheless, the festival would be better positioned on the other side of Christmas, a period when big-name novelists generally have new books to push and
peddle, so that Baxter’s opinion might be countered. As it happened, the point went unchallenged. It’s not as if the novelists aren’t in town. At one point during Shane Hegarty’s reading, Irvine Welsh sat down next to me. Moments later, though, he left. He had a point. Writing for The Irish Times every Saturday, Shane Hegarty is one of Ireland’s most consistently thoughtprovoking journalists. The Irish (And Other Foreigners), which chronicles the 10,000 years of immigration into Ireland, seems like a genuinely interesting book. But with Hegarty stuttering and stumbling over his selected passages, the senescent audience seemed to zone out. Talking about reading is a public experience, but reading itself is to my mind a necessarily private one. On Sunday, I went to see Declan Meade, editor of The Stinging Fly,
be interviewed by Eileen Battersby. Meade was sick, however; and it turned out, in any case, that Battersby was the intended subject of the interview. With her new book to plug, the Literary Correspondent for The Irish Times pulled off the not inconsiderable feat of being a duller speaker than she is a writer. With the event taking place in the Council Chamber, Battersby said that she felt like she was sitting in a tribunal. “I haven’t done anything wrong,” she joked. Not so fast, Eileen: I’ve read your book. The man beside slept through the proceedings. After his reading, Shane Hegarty spoke of the vivifying influence immigration has had on Dublin’s Moore Street. “The physical buildings are in rag order,” he said, “but the influx of new blood has brought the area to life.” In some respect, the Dublin Book Festival is the inverse of this. Pristinely kept, City Hall is an impressive Georgian building. Inside, twelve fluted columns d e s c r i b e the massive
entrance rotunda, above which hangs an imposing dome. But there was a numbness to the proceedings resulting, I think, from the hegemonic role of The Irish Times at the festival. Of the event’s speakers, over a dozen are regular contributors to the IT. The sportswriting event, which took place on the “Irish Times Stage”, was exclusive to its own writers. This is not to say anything against these journalists; they are the best in the country, and so have every right to speak at this festival. But they are colleagues and, if any differences have not been ironed out already, they can’t really appear to disagree with any vehemence in public. They certainly can’t humiliate each other. The audience made fewer objections still. Perhaps they’d read the City Corporation’s motto, embedded in the floor mosaic in City Hall: “Obedienta Civium Urbis Felicitas” - “Happy the City whose Citizens Obey”. On Saturday morning, Diarmaid Ferriter, author of the acclaimed Judging Dev, had
warned against “the dangers of reading history backwards”, and had asserted the need in Ireland for “a more nuanced history”. The phrase is echoed by A More Complex Truth, the title of Nuala O’Faolain’s posthumously published selected writing, which was launched by its editor Anthony Glavin and Irish Times journalist Fintan O’Toole on the final day of the book festival. A truly ground-breaking Irish journalist, O’Faolain passed away in
“‘I haven’t done anything wrong,’ she joked. Not so fast, Eileen: I’ve read your book. The man beside slept through the proceedings.” May of 2008. The launch of A More Complex Truth was the last event of the festival. This sense of closure, matched to the evident grievance of so many in attendance, caused a funereal air to hang over the proceedings. The Irish Times had come to mourn one of their own. “I still can’t quite get used to the idea that we’re talking about her in the past tense,” O’Toole eulogised. Anthony Glavin appeared visibly and audibly upset when, speaking about the selected writing, he said that O’Faolain’s voice is “palpable and resonant; just about as near as we can get to her”. No stranger to controversy herself, O’Faolain understood that truth was not present in one viewpoint or another. Truth is more complex than that. Presented with a seemingly impenetrable block of facts, writers must painstakingly sculpt out a more complex truth. Of course, literary warfare is not the way to go about this – it will only destruct the block. But a refusal to engage leaves the block untouched.
TRINITY NEWS March 23, 2010
The last Year of the Indian Tiger? Alice Stevens Staff Writer “IT’S NOT another tiger crisis, it’s the final one,” says Belinda Wright, head of the Wildlife Protection Society of India, in reference to the dwindling population of tigers worldwide. This decline is most serious in India which is home to 40% of the world’s tigers, with 23 tiger reserves in 17 states. Last year was the worst year for tiger deaths since 2002. It seems apparent current measures taken towards preserving the species are ineffectual and that the situation has reached crisis point. Decisions made by the Indian government in the next few years will determine whether the tiger, the National Animal of India and a symbol of strength, intelligence and endurance, will continue to exist in the wild. At the turn of the last century, there were an estimated 45,000 tigers in India. Due to excessive and extravagant hunting among India’s elite and the destruction of habitat throughout the 20th century, by the time the Wildlife Protection Act was introduced in 1972, the number of tigers in India had dwindled to approximately 1,800. The challenge was a daunting one. However, there was hope for the tiger. The Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi launched Project Tiger and forests were
set apart where tigers could live under special protection. Numbers started to rise but urbanisation, business exploitation of the forests, tourism and - most seriously - poaching have prevented substantial recovery and now threaten to bring about the extinction of tigers in the Indian wilderness. Tigers are poached for their body parts; the skins are prized in fashion and their bones are used in Chinese medicines. Poaching is a lucrative business. Tiger pelts can fetch up to $12,500 on the Chinese market. Because of the incentives for poaching, it is imperative that there are strong deterrents against such activity and that the tiger sanctuaries are tightly secured. Unfortunately, this is not the case. According to Dharmendra Khandal, the Field Biologist for Tiger Watch, the authorities are always the last to act and poachers can easily elude the guards. The forest security suffers from inefficiency and complacency; Fateh Singh claims the authorities are too preoccupied with tourism and VIP outings to spend adequate time on protection. The failure of the authorities to put a stop to poaching is an embarrassment for individual reserves and a blow to the national image. Subsequently, the figures of tigers in India’s reserves are often exaggerated and incidents of
poaching are not reported. “They are always saying that the numbers are on the increase, but there is no proper scientific research. They are lying to save their skins. If they have a problem they should declare it. The authorities like only praise,” says Fateh Singh, the founder of Tiger Watch. Furthermore, the figures are distorted by ineffectual
The government and state officials frequently lie about the number of tigers left despite the fact that they are disappearing at an unprecedented rate and unreliable methods of counting based on pug marks. New camera techniques have been introduced and recent reports place the tiger population in India at 1,411. However, few experts believe this figure and some conservationists have estimated a count as low as 800. Clearly, the government lacks the drive and efficiency to protect their tiger population. Luckily there are non-
government organisations and groups who have taken it upon themselves to protect tigers and their habitat. One of these groups is Tiger Watch. Tiger Watch is a privately-funded organisation set up 12 years ago to curb the decline of wildlife in the Ranthambhore reserve, one of India’s most popular tiger reserves. Having worked closely with the police to tackle the most serious threat to tiger security in the reserve – poachers from the Moghiya tribe - Tiger Watch has helped the police arrest 47 alleged poachers from the tribe. The association has also worked with the Moghiya tribe, providing education and jobs for the women as well as employing informers in an attempt to change the culture and perception of these tigerhunting people. Another active group exists in the Periyar tiger reserve in Kerala, where 76 women have taken protection of the tiger into their own hands. Known as the Vasanta Sena (Green Army), they venture into the forest every day to patrol for poachers. Each woman takes one day off work a week to volunteer. One such woman is Gracycutty. “Here we breathe the best air in the world and we are dedicated to protecting it,” she says. “I think if there is only one tiger left in the world in the end, it will be here.” Such efforts are admirable but the
threat faced by the tiger is too serious to be solved by individual organisations; a complete reform of the system and an active interest on the part of the government are necessary in order to preserve the tiger population. However, the instability of the Indian political climate makes this very difficult. Maoist guerillas or Naxalites, who have been singled out as the greatest threat to Indian security have overrun at least six of the parks. Under these circumstances research and preservation are impossible for the forest department. So what hope exists for the tiger? Some think a captive breeding system will ensure the continuation of the population but tigers bred in captivity have yet to integrate into the wild. Furthermore, this measure would only work if the tigers’ habitats are sustained. Fateh Singh is hopeful in the tiger’s capacity to endure. However conservationist and tiger expert Aditya Singh is not so sure. He believes that once the connections between the reserves break down, there will be no hope for the tiger. “There are still connections between the reserves, but in five years they won’t be there,” he says. “I think the tigers have five years. They will stay in isolated pockets, but they will have reached an evolutionary dead end.” The issues affecting the tiger reflect larger problems faced by the country.
The tiger is a victim of overpopulation, illiteracy, poverty, inefficiency and insurgency. Solving these issues is essential for the fate of the tiger but also for the Indian nation.
TIMELINE All species of panthera tigris are classified as endangered-tocritically endangered. There are only an estimated 5,000–7,000 tigers in the wild of all subspecies. There are six sub-species: Amur, Bengal, Indochinese, Malayan, South China and Sumatran. The other three known subspecies– Bali, Caspian and Javan– became extinct during the course of the twentieth century. The Amur tiger was almost hunted to extinction in the 1940s, when it was estimated only 40 or so individuals remained in the wild. Today there are an estimated 500.
Stuck in a European Monetary Funk Iseult McLister Staff Writer GREECE’S TERRIBLE public finances have not just been caused by its budgetary extravagance but creditrating agencies have also been cited as triggers of its economic misfortune by having unhelpfully downgraded Greek government bonds. France and Germany have called for an investigation into the so-called “naked” trading of sovereign CDSs and some blame has been shifted onto the unprincipled speculators who had bet against bonds, helping to increase borrowing costs. One other problem for Greece has been the lack of a central Eurozone authority for helping out cash-strapped countries. Even worse for the nation, the ECB is going to tighten up its lending rules again after the deceleration of the global recession. The country will find it difficult to borrow if Moody’s Investors Service cuts Greece’s credit rating, meaning its government bonds would no longer be collateral at the central bank. The Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou recently designated €4.8 billion of additional deficit cuts in a bid to convince other European nations and investors he could regain control of the budget. The government aims to reduce its shortfall below the EU’s 3% of GDP limit by 2012. An “EMF” (European Monetary Fund) has been proposed to help deal with Greece’s problems and German Chancellor Merkel and Finance Minister Schäuble seem serious about
the scheme. According to the Financial Times, some have accused them of using the idea to persuade German public opinion and “prepare a short-term fire brigade operation for Greece”. By the
“Trichet said...[t]he ECB has ‘relatively little reason to change... what has served our monetary policy well’...‘we do not wish to breed dependency’” time an EMF could be set up, however, it would be irrelevant to Greece. The purpose of the fund now would be to ensure that a repeat of the Greek situation could be prevented in any other European nations in the future. A Greek official said to the FT on 10th March that: “Support from European partners is key in this kind of situation. An institutional format such as an EMF would be an advantage for us or any other small Eurozone country.” When Schäuble brought up the idea of an EMF, he said it would act as a lender to Eurozone countries that could not raise funds in capital markets. It would not be a “competitor” to the IMF (based in Washington, DC) but it would try to regulate the fiscal policies
of negligent member countries. JeanClaude Trichet, European Central Bank President, hinted that he might support the proposals and some ECB policymakers are supportive of the plans to strengthen the political effectiveness of Europe’s 11-year-old monetary union. The rules governing the operation of the single currency proscribe a bailout for a country on the brink of insolvency. Mr. Trichet has backed the idea that in extreme cases outside help should be provided. Greece is supportive of the proposal as a potential lifebelt to get it out of its debt crisis. There are no major policies to change the central bank’s workings, however, and Trichet said in a speech at Stanford recently that: “We view the pre-crisis operational framework as a very natural reference point for our phasing-out process.” The ECB has “relatively little reason to change fundamentally what has served our monetary policy well, both in normal and crisis times”. He also said that “we do not wish to breed dependency” and therefore “...a delayed exit from extraordinary liquidity support would distort market behaviour and misallocate credit”. The European Commission has been using powers recently instated by the Lisbon treaty to establish more “budgetary surveillance” on the 16 participatory countries. More economic policy co-ordination between the nations is seen as an essential tactic in preventing a repeat of the Greek situation and European Commissioner
for Economic and Financial Affairs, Ollie Rehn said that: “The Greek case is a potential turning point for the Eurozone; if Greece fails and we fail, this will do serious and maybe permanent damage to the credibility of the European Union. The euro is not only a monetary arrangement, but a core political project of the European Union ... In that sense, we are at a crossroads.” A new single currency regime will be unveiled next month by Rehn of “rigorous surveillance of national budgets”. Also Eurostat is to be given new auditing powers over Eurozone member states. Axel Weber, Bundesbank President, had warned that the proposals would be a distraction from attempts by countries such as Greece to bring their public sector deficits back under control and the French Finance Minister, Christine Lagarde, said that it was not an “absolute priority” for the European Union. The idea would most likely be met with much resistance from elsewhere in Europe if it required changes to European Union treaties and Angela Merkel has
acknowledged an EMF could not be set up without changes to the EU, which seems a daunting task. Other policymakers have argued that Europe would be better served by finding ways to work better with the IMF instead of setting up an entirely new institution because the ECB’s big worry is that an undertaking could undermine the effective implementation of the EU’s financial policies. Stephanie Flanders of the BBC believes that the economic problems afflicting the Eurozone PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain) are serious and that there are two big issues standing in the way of the liquidity solution. There is the problem, firstly, of diverging European
competitiveness. It is essential that countries in trouble, such as Greece, try to restore their competitiveness and this can only be achieved with more balanced growth. Solvency is the other problem and many economists think that the floundering members of the Eurozone are going to come out of the process of restoration with unsustainable levels of public debt. A mechanism to effectively restructure sovereign debt is what is required and according to one American financial expert, Carmen Reinhart, “an organisation that could oversee orderly sovereign defaults in the Eurozone would fill a useful gap in the existing financial architecture...the Eurozone needs a crisis response mechanism for dealing with the likes of Greece.” It also needs “bold new policy initiatives”. This would help Eurozone countries expand, grow, and restore together.
TRINITY NEWS March 23, 2010
Death and destruction in Nigeria Manus Lenihan Staff Writer AFTER HUNDREDS were slaughtered there in January, army presence was stepped up heavily in Jos, the capital city of Plateau State, in north-central Nigeria. The security forces, however, were nowhere near the outlying village cluster of Dagan-Na-Hauwa when, over four long hours, hundreds were hacked to death on the morning of Sunday, 7th March. Jos has been the scene of mass violence in 2001, 2008, and now twice this year. The multi-ethnic former colonial mining city lies on Nigeria’s roughly Northern-Southern, MuslimChristian divide, and the sporadic killings have been put down to ongoing feuds between the heavily segregated religious communities of Jos. The facts, however, do not fit so simple an explanation, and these periodic murderous riots and rampages are in fact a disturbing manifestation of some of Nigeria’s deepest-rooted problems, both cultural and systemic. On 17th January, protests at the building of a mosque in a Christian area of Jos sparked off four days’ intense fighting. Mobs set aflame mosques, churches and over a thousand houses, shops and vehicles. Of the 492 who were burned, hacked or shot to death, 364 were Muslims. Among them were all 150 inhabitants of one Muslim village. Less than two months later, at 4am on 7th March, machete-wielding gangs descended on the Christian and Animist Berom community of Dagan-Na-Hauwa. They set fire to homes, used fishnets and animal traps to catch fleeing villagers and killed between 100 and 500 people. This recent slaughter has been seen as a reprisal by Muslim Hausa-Fulani herdsmen for January’s violence, but the tribe’s expansionist agenda and aggressive protection of their grazing rights have been mentioned as possible motivations. In reality, though, these two motivations are examples of the same kind of inter-ethnic power struggles which have fuelled violence in the area, and indeed throughout the country, for decades. Tribal and village loyalties come before nationality for most Nigerians a policeman might conspicuously fail to notice crimes committed by a kinsman,
or a civil servant might promote someone from his own village over someone more qualified. While this is in no way true in most cases, it has generally been a problem in Nigeria that collective, community-based thought and action is invested not in Federal or even State government, but in tribe and village. At best, this is nothing more sinister than friendly parochial-style rivalry, but at worst it manifests itself in mass murder. Nigerian nationhood is tenuous; “Nigeria” as a word and as an entity being a more or less arbitrary creation of British imperial officials. The many groups living in this vast, rich swathe of land were ruled under imperialism as one, fought for independence as one, and have been ruled as one by military
“Jong, a Christian, was informed of the likelihood of violence as early as 9am on Saturday 6th. He passed word on to security chiefs, who failed to respond until 2.30pm on Sunday 7th - when the murderers had long since escaped after a massacre lasting four hours.” governments or a tiny political élite ever since. A complete lack of common language, identity, religion or perceived interests have stunted any effort to make a united nation of this geographical expression and have fuelled the kind of violence that has plagued Jos. In such a context we can understand, when we consider that the Muslim Hausa-Fulani are Nigeria’s largest ethnic group, making up 30% of the population, why accusations of complicity in the recent massacres have been directed at people in high public offices. Plateau State’s governor, Jonah Jong, a Christian, was informed of the
likelihood of violence as early as 9am on Saturday 6th. He passed word on to security chiefs, who failed to respond until 2.30pm on Sunday 7th - when the murderers had long since escaped after a massacre lasting four hours. The National Security Advisor has been replaced, security forces are clamping down heavily on the area and dozens of arrests and charges have been made, but more boots on the ground in and around Jos will not uproot the causes of the violence. Protests of crowds of women in Jos and Lagos on 12th March illustrated the ethnically divided nature of Nigerian politics, as they demanded that the Northern Muslim oligarchy end their encouragement of the aggressive expansion of the Hausa-Fulani around Jos. The Hausa-Fulani are seen as “settlers” and “invaders” in Jos, despite a presence going back decades. However, they have done little to encourage integration, clustering away from the locals while expanding, often violently, outside this zone. Like the Igbo and the Yoruba, Nigeria’s other major tribes, they speak a language unintelligible to others. With rapid urbanisation as the 20th century drew to a close, such strong cultural differences became a catalyst for violence in many Nigerian cities, and today in Jos the Hausa-Fulani are expanding their power. Because “settlers” are treated as effective second-class citizens by local and state government, the Hausa-Fulani must rely on high tribal connections in the Federal establishment. These powerful Muslims identify with the Hausa-Fulani as kinsmen on a national level, and at the local level of Jos religion is an easy visual and cultural symbol for tribal affiliations. The killings therefore are a national, and not a local or a religious issue, and one which poses tough questions to Nigeria’s tribal-based politics and society. The Most Rev. Dr. B. A. Kwashi, Anglican Archbishop of Nigeria stated, following the recent massacre, that: “In Jos we are coming face to face in a confrontation with Satan and the powers of hell.” This could easily be mistaken for part of an extreme anti-Islamic rant, but the Archbishop’s statement on the violence was more pertinent than that. He insists that religion is being used
as a justification for a quest for money and power by mobs of unemployed, demoralised, hopeless young men. He believes that they are young men with no religion, no values whatsoever, made so by the hopelessness of their environment. Professor Kibiru Mata of the University of Abuja agrees. The government of Plateau State and the Federal government alike, he says, have failed to appropriate public resources in such a way as to alleviate suffering. He calls the killings “a manifestation of economic alienation”, the actions of a generation with no opportunities. To understand why and how the Jos massacres happened, we should examine the economic realities of Nigeria today. Though the country is abundant in natural resources and production, is potentially self-sufficient and has a huge and young working population, most of its citizens live in poverty and squalor. Of the nation’s 154 million inhabitants, and of the hundreds of thousands who apply for third-level education, only 35-40,000 are accommodated in the country’s universities. 31% of Nigerians are completely illiterate. Hundreds of billions of dollars are owned by a tiny number of Nigerians and business-savvy foreigners for purposes of speculation and short-term profit, making the material basis for real progress impossible by squandering or looting the country’s potential wealth. The continuing deregulation of the oil sector is taking even more of the country’s natural wealth out of the hands of its citizens. In this context, it is little surprise that some of the country’s tens of millions who are permanently unemployed, and the many more who are on precarious livelihoods, might resort to violence to defend what they see as their tribe’s interests, and by extension their own. The segregated and tense nature of society explains why such a small élite can seize and hold so much of the nation’s wealth with so little outcry. Struggle between rival groups, made up of the powerless and penniless, for political and economic advantage is seen as the only means of advancement. Since community
consciousness goes no further than tribe or village, class-consciousness is practically nonexistent. Rival ethnic groups, victims of the same inequality, fight for the scarce resources left to them, encouraged and often given impunity by wealthier and more powerful members of their tribe. This is a battle fought at the cost of lives, most graphically illustrated by the rioting, violence and massacres that have periodically broken out in places like Jos. Dozens of suspects have been arrested by the time of writing, some with blood still staining their clothes. Charges have been made against many, heads in authority have metaphorically rolled and security forces are bolstering their presence around Jos. It must be recognised, however, that the occurrence of such hideous atrocities must be a sign of massive systemic and cultural problems. A suppression of the symptoms, assuming even that is achieved, will not address the root problems of inequality, disenchantment and militant ethnic division that have once more brought death and destruction to Jos.
Democracy is not a popularity contest. Yet. The arachaic use of the electoral college in US politics has to be replaced by a popular vote for real democracy, argues Conor Dempsey. Conor Dempsey Staff Writer AS THE Democrats attempt to pass a bill to reform healthcare the spotlight is fixed on the Senate; the second house of congress is blocking a health bill backed by a majority in both houses, as well as by the President. In that house the Democrats have 57 members out of 100 and the Republicans have 41, with 2 Independents. The fact that a party with a majority of 16% is not able to pass an important bill is just one symptom of the malfunctioning United States democracy. Equally indicative of rot in the system is the grossly unfair way in which Presidents are elected, as well as a new ruling allowing corporations to fund political campaigns to any degree they wish. The Senate rule which allows a mere 41 senators to block any bill backed by the other 59 is the filibuster. A filibuster used to be a rare event witnessed on occasion as a last ditch effort to prevent a law, which somebody had particularly strong feelings about, being passed. It used to involve an unusually long speech designed to cease the debate and stop the functioning of the house; if a filibuster went on long enough it would often result in the abandonment of a bill. The record for the longest filibuster ever conducted in the US Senate was set by Strom Thurmond (R), who held the floor for 24 hours and 18 minutes in an unsuccessful attempt to derail the 1957 Civil Rights Bill. This sort of display of determination is probably in keeping with the intentions of the the framers of the Constitution; they hoped that the Senate would act as a cooling chamber for particularly sensitive bills. The idea was that the Senate would slow down the passage of a bill and that broader concensus would have to be reached in order to pass bills of special import. The bill did pass in the end, and was followed up with a stronger Civil Rights Bill in 1965. The southern segregationists had their last show of determination, as was
their right, but democracy won in the end. Nowadays Sen. Thurmond would have a much easier task ahead of him for reasons I will explain. One hundred years ago, in order to minimise the potentially unlimited power of the filibuster, the Senate decided to introduce the rule of cloture. This put an end to the right on which the filibuster rested, namely the right to unlimited debate. Now, if two-thirds of voting Senators voted in favor, cloture could be called to a debate and a filibuster ended. In 1975 the Senate made a further two changes; it was these changes that took the filibuster beyond the realm of cooling and into the domain of the undemocratic. It was decided that a filibuster could now be announced by 41 senators without any need to actually hold the floor; the filibuster became a simple action with no physical effort involved. It was also decided that three-fifths of the Senate membership (60 Senators) would have to vote for cloture.
“The record for the longest filibuster ever conducted in the US Senate was set by Strom Thurmond (R), who held the floor for 24 hours and 18 minutes...” Since then there has been an exponential rise in the use of the filibuster. Its ease of use has meant it has become routine. Only 41 Senators are needed to block any bill; the 41 Senators representing the smallest states account for 11% of the population. The 60 Senators representing the 30 smallest states account for 24% of the population. Senators representing a mere 11%
of the population are in theory able to block any bill voted for by senators representing the remaining 89%. Senators representing only 24% of the population can pass any bill. Surely even the most staunch supporters of the sacrosanct document that is the US Constitution can recognise that this is not democratic? Another sign that US democracy is malfunctioning is the current state of their electoral system. In the US presidential election there is a significant risk of a presidential candidate losing an election despite having had a clear majority in the popular vote. This actually happened in 2000 when Gore had 500,000 votes more than Bush, but because of the archaic electoral college system Bush won the election. The problems with this system are many, and the arguments of its defenders are void. The electoral college is defended as a part of the American political culture, as part of the Constitution, intrinsic to the way politics in the US is supposed to operate. This sort of argument is usually presented as stemming from pride in the Constitution and faith in the wisdom of the framers. There is not, however, any mention of the electoral college in the Constitution. As Hendrick Hertzberg noted in an essay for The New Yorker, “America has been an inspiration to people struggling for democracy. But, when it comes to actually designing the machinery, the American model has no takers not among successful democracies at any rate. (The Philippines, Liberia, and some Latin-American countries, which have copied us, are not good advertisements)”. There is hope that American presidential elections will begin to look more like those in other democratic countries come 2012. This is thanks to a pragmatic new program called the NPV, or National Popular Vote plan. The idea is this: states sign up to an agreement, to be enshrined in their state legislation, stating that once enough states have come on board to account for 270
“Democracy is coming to the u.s.a,” sang Leonard Cohen – in 1992. electoral college votes – the number required to elect a president – then the said states will cast all their votes to whichever candidate wins a majority of the national popular vote. So far about one-fifth of the required 270 votes have been accounted for. This system introduces a popular vote without having to amend the constitution, which is an ideal but unrealistic option. Unfortunately a recent Supreme Court ruling made a historic change to the law that deals fresh damage to the American political system. The court ruled by a divided 5-4 vote that corporations are now free to use treasury funds to back any political candidate they wish. This decision reverses the ruling of Austin vs. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, 1990.
The vote rests on the interpretation of the word “person” in the 14th Amendment. The interpretation now includes corporations in some essential ways – the most important being that as far as persons have the right to aid political candidates privately under the 1st Amendment, corporations are now persons. This is an unfortunate decision for a system already plagued by the influence of money. A question that perhaps the rest of the democratic world ought to ask: is America in a legitimate position to advance the cause of democracy worldwide? Of course, flawed democracy is usually better than no democracy, but as the leading nation of the world America ought to be an example of democracy at its best. It is only fuel
for the enemies of democracy that the chief democratic crusaders seem a little shaky in their convictions. Suppose the US did elect its president based on the percentage of the national popular vote that he received. Al Gore would have been the president from 2000 until 2004, at least. The “war on terror” would have been quite different. There is little doubt that Gore would have invaded Afghanistan; he would have been right to, or so most commentators agreed then and still agree now. He would not, though, have been so quick to believe spook stories about weapons of mass destruction hidden in Iraq; as the Iraq war reaches its seventh anniversary we should reflect on the profound way a broken American democracy can affect the rest of the world.
TRINITY NEWS March 23, 2010
TRINITY NEWS Issue 11, Volume 56 Tuesday, 23 March 2009 6 Trinity College, Dublin 2 www.trinitynews.ie
WOMEN IN TRINITY Recent events surrounding International Women’s Day highlighted the fact that in the College’s recent past, female students have been excluded, snubbed and generally treated unequally and unfairly. As reported elsewhere in this issue, Mary Robinson told the Hist how, during her time at Trinity, members of the society had lain on the steps of the Graduates’ Memorial Building in an effort to prevent women being admitted to the society. These puerile, attention-seeking measures were obviously unsuccessful, and soon after, women began to be admitted as full members of the Hist. 2010 marks the 106th year since women were first admitted to College as students, and today, over half of all students are female (56% in 2007/08). However, we must not relegate the struggle for equality to the history books. We should also be aware that, though female students today are accepted as equal to their male counterparts, with regard to academic staff men continue to dominate every stratum. Since 2006, two women professors have been appointed, in comparison to 33 men. There are twenty-four Heads of School in College – three of these are women, twenty-one are men. According to the WiSER Database, a quarter of the Schools in the College do not have a single female professor or associate professor. And as of 2008, there were fifty-one female Fellows of the College, in comparison to two hundred and seven male Fellows. Every Provost in our history has been male, and no female candidates seem likely to emerge for next year’s election. While statistics cannot tell the full story, it is important to be aware that, despite appearances, a glass ceiling remains firmly in place. The problems that woman face in academia are mirrored in politics, and a useful example was provided last week by Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, who showed that tackling these problems can prove hugely contentious. His proposal on quotas for women candidates was defeated, after Lucinda Creighton TD spoke against it. Kenny had proposed that 20 per cent of Fine Gael’s candidates in the next local election should be female. This quota would then rise to 25 per cent for European elections. However, Creighton’s lashed out at his proposal, calling it “window-dressing”, which did not deal with the real problems women face in the political arena. She stated, “There are no anti-bullying, or anti-discrimination, measures, nor any human resources systems in place in any of the political parties. Unless you deal with those, the rest is window dressing to make us sound progressive.” It is true that quotas are a simplistic response to a complex problem; but what then is to be done? In 2006, Trinity and Science Foundation Ireland responded to the lack of a female presence in staff of the Faculty of Engineering, Maths and Science by setting up the Centre for Women in Science and Engineering Research, or WiSER. This Centre aims to recruit, retrain and advance women in academic science, engineering and technology. It offers a number of services, including mentoring to women in the sciences, but the fact remains that the Faculty continues to have no female Heads of School, and a paltry five percent of its professors are women. There is no quick-fix solution to the gender imbalance among staff in College. Support structures, such as those supplied by WiSER provide practical help to women in academia, but fundamental, lasting change will take time. If nothing else, Women’s Day reminds us that gender equality remains a goal, not an achievement.
1953 HEADLINES, HOW NOTHING HAS CHANGED At a recent gathering of alumni from Trinity News and other student publications, this paper had the great fortune to be presented with the gift of every issue of Trinity News from Issue One, Volume One (October 1953) through 1970. Our thanks once more to Colin Smyth for his generosity. What strikes one reading through these issues is how little student issues have changed in 56 years. The front page headline of Issue One reads “Fees increase.” That year, changes to the college calendar meant that fees increased from 36 guineas to 50. Other issues of the day involved the activities of the Student Representative Council, the predecessor to the modern Student’s Union. Of course, the real changes are evident elsewhere – a column titled “A Woman’s Point of View” and the sports headline “Floodlit Game – Highlight of Season to date” being prime examples. Yet it appears that students will always be students, and care most about their beer money and their peers. At the Annual General Meeting of the DU Publications Committee on March 16, Aoife Crowley was elected to the position of Trinity News Editor for the academic year 2010–2011. We wish her every success when she takes up the position this summer.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
LETTERS TO THE Editor should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Trinity News, 6 Trinity College, Dublin 2. The Editor reserves the right to edit submissions for style and length. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Trinity News, its staff or its Editor.
Trinity cardinals must resign to save college reputation Sir– There are many in our society who seem to believe that loyalty to an institution justifies the condoning or even the covering-up of criminal activity. We are all horrified (or claim to be horrified) by the examples of child abuse that have so disfigured the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland in the present generation. Institutions are not as such moral agents and can only function well when they are led by those with sound moral instincts. The Church is not the only institution in Ireland that suffers
from a deficiency of moral leadership. There are many in Trinity who are aware of the sexual harassment and intimidation of vulnerable young lecturers but who have been frightened to speak out against it. In a climate of fear and of cynicism charges of sexual harassment are levelled at the innocent (such as myself) and not the guilty. I hope that we are not to see academics being disgraced in the way that cardinals and bishops now are routinely disgraced in our national newspapers and television programmes. If we are to preserve the reputation of our own College (renowned
for the moral examples it has given us in the past) then we must do what is necessary (discreetly if possible) to remove from positions of authority those who have proved morally unequal to their responsibilities. If I can resign my Fellowship when I am innocent, then those who are guilty must surely also resign. Very best wishes, Gerald Morgan, FTCD (1993-2002)
By way of reply Sir– In relation to a front page article which appeared in Trinity News (dated March 9th, 2010) titled, ‘Ex-student sues college and alleges xenophobia’ and continued on page 2, ‘Serbian student retaliates after disciplinary action’, Trinity News, in breach of the most basic principle of journalism sought no right of reply from the College in advance of publication of the article that contains a number of serious allegations. The College is therefore seeking publication of the following statement: The College wishes to put on record that the allegations being made by Mr Zejak and reported in the article are inaccurate and unfounded. The College also reserves the right to take any additional action to protect the reputation of the College and its officers. At the outset the College wishes to stress that its primary concern is the welfare of
its students and that the College’s pastoral services work to support and assist students to ensure their personal well being and academic achievement. The Trinity News article is extremely misleading in its portrayal of the role of student services and as such is potentially damaging to those among the student body currently in need of help and support. In relation to specific allegations and factual inaccuracies made in the Trinity News article, the College wishes to put on the record the following: 1. The Visitors ruled that the actions taken in suspending Mr Zejak had been in accordance with the College’s statutes. 2. Mr Zejak’s suspension came after all pastoral avenues to support him had been exhausted and after his refusal to engage in any meaningful way with the College’s procedures. 3. The Visitors’ hearing was presided over by Judicial Visitor (Mrs Justice Harding Clarke)
and Pro-Chancellor (Dr Dermot McAleese). Dr McAleese is not connected with the President of Ireland Mrs McAleese as the Trinity News article inaccurately reported. 4. Specifically in relation to allegations concerning the School of Mathematics in the article, the School is one of the most international in College with 13 out of 20 international staff and 6 out of 16 international students and it refutes in the strongest possible terms all allegations of xenophobia. 5. The College, as an institution, has no formal evidence that legal action is being pursued in this regard, as to date it has not been served with any legal papers by Mr Zejak. Yours, etc Anne FitzGerald Secretary to the College
A 90-degree university OLD TRINITY by PETER HENRY
A QUICK look at the 2010 Statutes reveals the remarkable number of degrees which the University of Dublin awards or has awarded in the past. Just over 90 different degrees are listed, ranging from the venerable BA to odd new creations like the BStSu (bachelor in deaf studies, or baccalaureus in studiis surditatis). And this doesn’t include the various licentiates once awarded by the university, or the lucrative diplomas which the college hands out. All of the university’s degrees are associated with a colourful hood. Along with the hoods, bachelors and masters both have distinct gowns, and doctors wear colourful gowns in the colours of their degree’s hood. Several of our degrees are no longer awarded. The bachelor in veterinary medicine and the bachelor in agriculture, among others, lost out during rationalisation in the late 1960s, when these schools moved to UCD. And the DD, as I noted in a recent column, seems to have been abandoned for no particular reason. The proliferation of degrees seems to have little logic behind it. There’s the bachelor in science, for example, and then many versions of it: the BSc (Hum Nut), the BSc (Syst Inf), and so on, each with its own multiple-word Latin name. Several other degrees have similar parenthetical variations. Why these degrees had to be created is a mystery: perhaps it was thought that a specially named degree would more easily attract candidates. The university survived quite well until the mid-19th century with just 10 degrees: these were BA, MA, BD, DD, LLB, LLD, MB, MD, MusB and MusD – arts, divinity, law, medicine and music, respectively. Degrees in surgery and obstetrics were the first additions to this list. The need for honorary degrees to award at the tercentenary in 1892 then led to the introduction of the LittD and ScD (letters and science). These degrees were also a response to the disappearance of clerical Fellows, who would previously have been content with the DD.
The most popular doctorate is now the doctor in philosophy, but this was not available until 1920. Dublin University agreed with other UK universities to introduce this degree in response to American pressure – students from the United States wanted the magic letters PhD after their names. Despite this the award proved initially unpopular, and even in the mid1940s only 10 a year were being taken. (Oxford, interestingly, awards a DPhil rather than a PhD.) While most graduates earned their degrees via study here at Trinity College, there are several other ways of taking a DU degree. These can usually be recognised by italicised letters after the degree. Degrees honoris causa are honorary degrees, and these are usually one of the higher doctorates, but sometimes the MA. These are handed out to a lucky few every year to recognise the recipients’ contributions to learning, society, culture or the university. The jure officii degree – usually the MA – is relatively common. These are usually taken by graduates of other universities who take up academic posts at this university. Members of staff with more than 40 years’ employment in the college are also eligible to apply for a j.o. degree. The Calendar always points out honorary degrees – have a look to see if any of your lecturers have h.c. noted after a doctorate. For some reason MAs j.o. are just given as MA, making it impossible to know if someone has upgraded his Dublin B to an M, or if he has been awarded the degree jure officii. A degree jure dignitatis can be awarded to a Trinity alumnus who has distinguished himself in his area of expertise. These seem to have been forgotten in recent years, but judges and bishops were once regularly admitted to degrees in this way. Another often-forgotten route to a DU degree is via Oxford or Cambridge. A degree ad eundem gradum (usually abbreviated ad eund Oxon or ad eund Cantab, depending on the degree holder’s original university) may be taken here by graduates of either of these ancient universities. An Oxbridge graduate is entitled to take the same degree in Dublin – though not a doctorate, and subject to a large fee – if he joins the college’s academic staff or plans to read for a higher degree here. You may also do the same with your Dublin degree at those universities. All of this is obscure to the modern student. But in 1935 it was the subject of satire in the
A University of Dublin BA degree. undergraduate periodical TCD: A College Miscellany. LJD Richardson, MA 1916, who went by the pen-name El Jadir, wrote regular satirical pieces under the title Episodes in the History of Trinity College, Dublin. In one he noted the existence of other methods of obtaining a degree, among which you may recognise your own. El Jadir suggested alieno capite – by impersonation – not an easy one for a non-twin to pull off. There may be a few holders of the codicillis celatis degree – with the help of notes secretly introduced to the Examination Hall. Many can boast a BA interventione Caeli – by a miracle. And how many claim a degree vicini contaminatione – by copying from a neighbour’s answer book? You can read El Jadir’s full list at trinitynews.ie/oldtrinity. THE SOCIETY of St Vincent de Paul was founded in 1833 to serve the poor of Paris. A Catholic charitable organisation, it was founded by Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, and named after the 17th-century saint Vincent de Paul. The group’s “SVP” logo is well known. So why does the Dublin University St Vincent de Paul Society, which was founded in 1975, use the strange three-letter acronym “VDP”? Is it to avoid the word “saint”? email@example.com
TRINITY NEWS March 23, 2010
Personal injury – the best bet to ride out the recession Orla Donnelly Staff Writer HER NAME was Robin; she was five years old when she fell off the moon walk – a half moon climbing frame, a thrilling favourite in the school’s yard. Her leg was in a cast for six weeks. The school had to remove the playground – it is fair to say that I have never gotten over the emotional trauma of seeing the caretaker hack that wondrous see-saw to pieces. But the most painful thing to swallow; Robin wasn’t even supposed to have gone on the moon walk – she broke the rules in the first place. But even rulebreakers and trespassers have recourse under Irish law. If you accumulated the monies paid out in 2008 by the Government, companies and private individuals to compensate claims for personal injuries, you could buy every player in Manchester United, every pair of shoes ever designed by Monolo Blahnik, twice, or some other item that costs in the region of €280 million. When did a sincere “sorry” become insufficient? I am not referring to the true cases of injury; those described
by the PIAB’s Book of Quantum as significantly ongoing injuries or serious and permanent conditions. I understand that loss of a substantial nature should be relieved in so far as possible, although in many cases of real suffering money is of little more assistance than a bandage to a corpse. But the “trivial” claims, those regarding substantially recovered injuries, are brought more and more frequently – and not for the primary motive of ensuring no one else suffers the same fate. I myself considered taking legal action in an effort to redeem my own pain and suffering as I watched the third consecutive Tangle Twister fall from the stick to its doom outside the shop. Instead I settled for a letter begging HB to position the sticks through the centre of that strawberry, frozen-iced goodness. They gave me a free ice cream but more importantly a promise to try their best in the future. However to most claimants such a promise would be insufficient; those of the likes of Mr. McWilliams, who is claiming for approximately the 10th time (his memory it seems is as flawed as the coordination of his feet). They
seek damages. The notion of damages in Tort is as a means to put the injured party in the position they would have been in, had the incident never occurred; encompassing the reimbursement of medical expenses, loss of income (past, present and future), and the relief of pain and suffering. This last aspect can be abused; damages are becoming disproportionate, and more frequently a method to fund the family trip to Mallorca. Frightened about the prospect of unemployment, terrified that your degree won’t be worth the paper it’s written on? Ireland today has the answer; earn a livelihood from clumsiness and fall over. The Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB), or Personal Injuries Board as it’s now known, will be happy to inform you what your leg, kidney or nose is worth in one simple click of the mouse. We are bargain hunters by nature, but do these people claiming for an Ouchy or Boo-boo ever consider the real cost of their claims? Obviously if you claim against a private individual the face of the person whose money you are taking will be
abundantly clear, but what of the companies who are inundated by personal injury claims? Insurance premiums for the respondent company will inevitably rise, all because you didn’t notice that piece of paper on their floor and twisted your ankle. Against a large company that might not be viewed as the little man sticking it to the big bad corporation, they have more than enough money to go around. But smaller industries who are already struggling could go under as a result of such claims. Plaintiffs do not measure the effect their actions may have on the livelihoods of employees; is a broken finger worth some mother’s son’s job? Many of these “substantially recovered” personal injuries claims are directed against the local authorities, aka the government, its servants or agents. Subsequently if you do get compensation along with that money I propose you then lose your right to complain that they are misappropriating funds! Then there is the added cost to the public at large of making such a claim that is overlooked as claimants fill in the online form. Money makes its familiar
migration from the taxpayers’ pockets to fund the running of the Courts and the Injuries Board, money that could undoubtedly be better spent. Frivolous claims irrespective of whether it is a faceless corporation or the man over the back wall equates to court enabled robbery and it is shameful. But I fear I may be alone in this thought as litigation fever infests deeper in our society. In Ireland today is it any wonder that more and more schools have banned running in their playgrounds? However if the “say sorry, shake hands and we’re all friends again” technique is responded to by the less blameless infant with a cry of “NEGLIGLENCE”, precautions must be taken. Robin’s parents didn’t think about the rest of us; their child broke the rules
a n d t h e y profited. When other parents are teaching that forgiveness is key and accidents happen, perhaps they were of the now widely held school of thought in our pro-litigation society. A school that teaches: “That Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall,/ and Humpty Dumpty had a great fall, /Tragically all the kings’ horses and all the kings’ men /Couldn’t put Humpty together again. But thankfully dear Humpty was blameless and now he owns half of the kingdom!”
HEAD TO HEAD: HOSTAGE RANSOMS
‘REALITY CHEQUES’ LOUISE FITZGERALD
THE POLITICS of hostage-taking and negotiation have always been fraught with difficulty. With each individual hostage situation comes new problems that have to be surmounted in attempts to ensure the safe release of victims. One of the key issues governments must face is whether or not to negotiate with hostage-takers. Governments of countries such as Britain and America adopt a firm stance refusing to make concessions of any sort. Although they are justified in not conceding to demands that are political in nature, such as the release of prisoners, in situations which are purely monetary, the principle of non-negotiation does far more harm than good. The main justification used to defend their stance is the belief that payment of ransoms will encourage further hostage-takings. However this need not be the case. By following correct procedures and keeping the payment of ransoms secret which, given it is in the interest of both governments and hostage-takers alike, is a realistic endeavour, the safe release of hostages and the future safety of citizens can be ensured. The reality is that, regardless of whether ransom payments are being made or not, hostage-taking will continue to occur. Although diplomacy should be considered paramount, once diplomatic avenues are exhausted governments must be prepared to consider the payment of ransoms and their point-
SOCIETY DIARY SORCHA POLLAK CSC AWARDS GOING TO university is seen as the opportunity to broaden your mind, educate yourself on the works of Nietzsche, Rousseau and Marx. Before arriving in college you are vaguely aware of the wild social life that students lead, yet as a teenager you tend to link that with going out to clubs every night. I, for one, never imagined the wide-ranging pool of societies and activities which awaited me as I walked through Front Arch for the first time a few years back. Societies are what make a university tick. They’re where you meet the friends you’ll never lose contact with. They’re the places where you can finally act like the complete weirdo that you are, and no one will judge you for it. They are what make your four years in Trinity College. I wonder, though, how many students are fully aware of the amount of work that goes into the running of a society, and the number of societies which exist on campus? The CSC is the place for the answers to these
blank refusal to do so has time and time again led to the prolonged suffering and tragic deaths of innocent citizens. The plight of the British couple Paul and Rachel Chandler, who were taken hostage by Somali pirates over five months ago, is one such case. The refusal to pay the ransom has led to the Chandlers’ ordeal of being held for over 152 days in captivity in the Somalia desert and the violation of their fundamental rights to freedom, and resulted in both prolonged psychological and physical trauma. This must be considered an unacceptable injustice on the part of the British government, when they could so easily secure the release of the couple by the simple payment of a ransom. Indeed the payment of ransoms has been proven as the most effective and successful method of ensuring the safe release of hostages. The prominent kidnap of five-yearold British citizen Sahil Saeed in Pakistan is most recent testament to this. The case of Sahil sparked international interest and speculation with false reports of his release, acquisitions of the involvement of his family in his kidnap and rumours regarding the payment of a ransom. However out of the speculation it emerged that the payment of a ransom of some £110,000 had led to the release of Sahil and the subsequent arrest in Spain of those involved in his kidnap. Fortunately in this case government principles were not allowed to be valued above the life of an innocent five-year-old. Ultimately when deciding on whether ransoms should be paid, it comes down to how much a human life is worth. By refusing to pay ransoms, governments are quite literally gambling with human lives.
questions. Until this year, the Central Societies Committee was, for me, a group of people I heard of now and again in passing. It has only been in recent months that I’ve come to understand what their work on campus entails and more importantly how it affects the societies we all treasure so dearly. The main event of the academic year for the CSC is the awards season. Unfortunately I am not talking about the Oscars, Césars or Baftas, but the CSC do put together a pretty good show when it comes to rewarding the hard work of Trinity’s societies. I discovered this last week when I got the opportunity to tag along and see what happens on the night when everyone gives everyone else a pat on the back. It was a revelation for me to sit in the packed Hilton Hotel dining room and look around at all the different people filing in for the awards. Of course, in black-tie they all looked slightly smarter than their usual bedraggled student selves, yet I was surprised to see many familiar faces of people I didn’t know were involved in society activities. It is easy to forget the huge amount of energy and labour which is necessary to hold a society together. With over onehundred societies on campus I don’t know why I was surprised by the number of people attending the awards. Everyone was there; that girl who sits across from you in the library, that guy who always seems to be hanging around outside having a smoke, even that girl you met during your own Freshers’ Week and hadn’t seen since. With groups ranging from the Joly Geological Society to the Comedy Society, the mix of people was fantastic. It really was a true insight into the eclectic mix of people who make Trinity the great
‘SLIPPERY SLOPES’ JAMES KELLY THE RECENT Pakistani abduction of a British child, Sahil Saeed, by armed robbers from his grandmother’s home in Punjab has sparked worldwide interest. The abductors reportedly demanded £100,000 in ransom to be paid for the child’s safe return. The whole institution, if one could call it that, of ransom and kidnapping invite a very interesting debate. Should the ransom be paid? And if it should, who should pay it? This is not the first time this debate has surfaced and I am sure it won’t be the last but I have to argue that these ransoms should not be paid. It’s not a minority view, virtually all governments back the argument of not negotiating with abductors and they discourage third parties from doing so also. The big picture needs to be looked at when discussing this issue. While it may seem cruel not to pay the ransom, by paying a precedent is set. For example, say an Irish citizen is abducted tomorrow and the ransom is a million euro, should the government pay? It’s a slippery slope because by agreeing to pay a ransom and deal with the abductors, a government is opening itself and its citizens to further danger. Suddenly every Irish citizen becomes a target because the Irish government has showed its willingness to pay ransoms, thus endangering a whole lot more people. So, while it may seem harsh by not paying the ransom you are taking a hardline approach to the abductors and showing them that the government is not willing to negotiate
with what is essentially a form of terrorism. By not paying, potentially hundreds of lives and millions of euro could be saved. In monetary terms, if the ransom were paid, the money would only go back into abductions or other unsavoury things, like international human trafficking or the drug trade. By paying a ransom, the government or third party are in some way endorsing what these abductors do and serving to further their cause. Another monetary issue is whether governments could actually afford the ransoms in the long run. If the initial ransoms are paid, it would only fuel abductors to ask for more and more money as abductions intensified. Ireland, for example, is probably in enough debt as it is and not to drag up the “economic downturn” line, but truly it would be prohibitively expensive to pay what would eventually end up as a series of ransoms. From the point of view of the government, several political reasons exist for not paying ransoms. Central to this is that if a government initially pays ransoms but decides to stop when a limit is reached, there would be a severe backlash from the public. The government would be vilified for paying and then again when they decide to stop paying ransoms. Questions would begin to be asked about government actions, thus undermining government power. The argument most people put forward in favour of paying ransoms is usually that if they were held hostage, they would want the government to do something. Sadly, this is not feasible. While people may hate to hear it, the bigger picture – the safety of all a country’s citizens must be taken into account and paying a ransom would cause many more problems in the long term than what it would solve.
university that it is. It made sense to start the night off with the awards, before the food or drink arrived. I can see this now in hindsight, looking back on the dancing queens who graced the dance floor with their moves the moment the DJ kicked off. Somehow I don’t think those shaking hips would have been hugely appreciated during the awards ceremony. And so the evening kicked off with the prize-giving. The Visual Arts Society jumped up first to grab the Best Small Society award, soon followed by the Photographic Society for Best Medium Society. However, it was the prize for Best Large Society which grabbed my attention the most. I won’t deny that during my first two years in Trinity I was very active in this society, therefore some may feel that my view of this group of people is somewhat biased. Yet I like to think, having spent the last two years slightly more distanced from them, that I can objectively assess the work they do. This year DU Players has been very successful at becoming a more accessible, interesting, fun and diverse society. From an impressive Freshers’ Week calendar to nights with recognised faces such as Bill Nighy and Stephen Berkoff, I’m not surprised that Players scooped up this award. A lot of the credit must go to the chairperson of this society. Ross Dungan, who, quite unsurprisingly may I add, won Best Individual this year in addition to being chairperson of the Best Large Society. Although many of us may question whether his degree has survived this year, Ross has succeeded in turning DU Players back into one of the best societies on campus. All societies have their up and down years, and it seemed that recently Players had begun to fall a bit off the radar when it came to recognition from the CSC.
But this year, under the chair of Dungan, they have jumped back into the spotlight. One of the more entertaining moments of the night was when the winner of Best Fresher was announced. I think that most people will agree when I say that seeing that chair of Singers, Robbie Blake, bounding up with excitement and enthusiasm to collect this award was slightly bemusing. Hold on, isn’t Robbie Blake in second-year and wasn’t the winner of the prize called Cian McCarthy? It seems this problem was rectified later in the night, or so I am led to believe from the photo which is posted on the CSC website. The main moment came after we had been fed and watered, when Best Overall Society was announced. Through the screams and shouts of congratulations, I was happy to hear that the winner was the St. Vincent de Paul Society. The members of committee were full of smiles as they were presented with their award to the sounds of a standing ovation from the audience. A short but sweet speech from Seán Flynn, the chair of the society, brought the prize-giving to a slightly noisy and excited end. And so my first and unfortunately final experience of the CSC ball came to a close with some hardcore breaking it down on the dancefloor. Having written this column on various society events over this year, it was a great experience to find myself immersed amongst all the creative groups and clubs of our university. And of course, many thanks to the CSC for a wonderful night. As for the societies, keep up the good work. You’re made the past four years some of the most memorable of my life.
TRINITY NEWS March 23, 2010
IN PROFILE: FERDINAND VON PRONDZYNSKI
Provost-in-waiting? Lara Hand Contributing Writer PROFESSOR FERDINAND von Prondzynski is the current President of Dublin City University and his ten-year term will come to an end in July 2010. This begs the question: what will such an esteemed academic do next? There are rumours that he may be considered for the distinguished position of Provost of Trinity; while these have not been confirmed it is not entirely out of the bounds of possibility as, coincidentally, the current Provost John Hegarty’s ten-year term comes to an end in 2011. Arguably, the more pertinent issue is not whether Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski will apply for the post of Provost or not, but whether he would be an apposite candidate and ultimately make a good Provost. Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski has a fascinating family history; he is an Irish citizen of German origin. He comes from a military heritage, a direct descendant of his namesake Ferdinand von Prondzynski, a 19th-century Prussian General from Groschowitz near Oppeln in Silesia (now Groszowice, near Opole in Poland). His grandfather fought in WWI and his father was a Captain during WWII and a Knight of the Order of Malta. Later his father became a director of the cementproducing company, Dyckerhoff AG. Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski’s academic career began in Trinity; he graduated in 1978 with a BA and an LLB. He subsequently went on to obtain a PhD in Law from Cambridge. From 1980 to 1990 he was a Lecturer in the School of Business Studies in Trinity and became a Fellow of the College in 1987. He earned the nickname the “Red Baron” due to his views on industrial relations and labour law which were notably sympathetic to trade unions. He continued to be highly influential in these two areas as an active commentator and he co-authored the first Irish textbook on employment law. Initially he argued for a disengagement of the law from industrial relations, believing that disputes were better resolved through bargaining rather than litigation and this was a very modern and forward-thinking approach for its time. His ideas were expressed in his book Freedom of Association and Industrial Relations (Mansell, 1987). Significantly, the recently established Commercial Court, which was set up specifically to deal with commercial disputes more expeditiously and expediently through encouraging and facilitating the use
of alternate dispute resolution (ADR) methods rather than them culminating in a trial, concurs with this view. Later his views began to moderate and he argued for a framework of employment regulation that took account of economic pressures and the need to maintain competitive conditions. He more prominently advocates that while the law should protect employees’ rights, it must also promote business success and economic growth, obviously a highly topical and concerning issue at present. He has also published a number of books and articles on social policy and in particular on the importance of legal protection against discrimination. From 1991 to 2000, until he became President of DCU, von Prondzynski was Professor of Law in the University of Hull; for much of that time he was also a Dean: first of the School of Law, and later of the Faculty of Social Sciences. It is interesting to note that during
“...a direct descendant of his namesake Ferdinand von Prondzynski, a 19th century Prussian General from Groschowitz” his Presidency of DCU there has been some controversy involving industrial relations disputes between the University and tenured academic staff. Three incidents reached the stage of litigation, peculiarly in the precise area of legal expertise – employment law. None of the actions were directed at von Prondzynski personally but he was involved in all of them. On a personal level Ferdinand von Prondzynski is married to Dr. Heather Ingman, a novelist and Lecturer in English Literature in Trinity, and an occasional writer in The Irish Times with whom he has two sons. Von Prondzynski is a member of the Church of Ireland and an enthusiastic follower of Newcastle United football club. He is also a keen amateur photographer, and DCU has published several calendars of his photographs. Von Prondzynski writes a fascinating blog (which is well worth having a quick read of ) dealing with topics mainly relating – but certainly not limited – to higher education and public policy: (universitydiary.wordpress.com) It is succinct and insightful and focuses on
pressing issues of education and employment that are extremely relevant to students; for example some of the recent topics discussed range from grade inflation to gender quotas in politics. In conclusion, it seems that Professor von Prondzynski would certainly make an excellent Provost, not solely because of his undoubted a c a d e m i c stature and leadership experience in DCU, but because he is engaged and active in contemporary issues that m a t t e r , especially to students. He displays a critical, questioning and challenging attitude that all students should aspire to. This is perhaps best expressed and epitomised in his comment on his blog regarding the disapproval of Brother S h a u n O’Connor of people attending a rugby match on Good Friday: “In fact, the one who died on Good Friday had a habit of mocking the rules and restrictions of the religious hierarchy of the time.” Illustration by Aoife Crowley
“Infamy, infamy – they have all got it in for me.” Gary Gannon Staff Writer IT IS often said that you can determine how bad your situation really is by the calibre of those who attempt to help you out; well a slight variance to that old cliché may very well apply to the much deplored Malcolm Glazer. The owner of Manchester United is so unpopular that a motley crew of city bankers have began circling “The Theatre of Dreams” to the enormous approval of United fans, agitating to buy out the American tycoon. We shall return to these “Red Knights” as they like to be known later, but first, in full acknowledgement and respect of the fact that it is these same fans who make Manchester United great, allow me to begin by threading very carefully. The Glazer dynasty is bad for Manchester United and indeed football as a whole, very bad. The Glazers arrived at United in 2005 without a proverbial pot in which they could relieve themselves in and, as it stands at this point, have plunged the neverpreviously-in-debt Red Devils £700 million into the red. A shocking statistic on its own but one further compounded by a recent UEFA announcement which decreed that as of the beginning of the 2013-14 season, clubs who wish to compete in the highly lucrative European Champions League will need to demonstrate to the governing body that their financial books exist in a peaceful state of equilibrium. Further added to this toxic potion are rising ticket prices, further emphasis on g the “Corporate p attracting Customer”
and the knowledge that Malcolm Glazer treats Old Trafford like his own personal bank machine. Had United not raised £80 million in the sale of Christiano Ronaldo then the club would have ended last year with a financial deficit of £30.8 million, it is clear that something must be done. But what can be done? Before we sell our soul completely to the devil in exchange for a solution, let us first apply to the “Dark One” for the position of advocacy. Allow me to be frank here: this consortium of city bankers, who have labelled themselves “The Red Knights”, have an absolute shambles of a proposal on the table at the moment which is receiving so much publicity purely because of the absence of any other alternative. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the power struggle taking place at Old Trafford at the moment, think of Pontius Pilate asking the baying mob of biblical times to choose between Jesus Christ and the murderer Barabbas at the festival of Passover. These “Red Knights” come with some pretty formidable experience it must be said; Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O’Neill and hedge fund owner Paul Marshall being just a couple of the names attempting to revive the reputation of the banking sector on the back of Manchester United. The proposal itself is, according to how cynical the eye of the beholder happens to be, extremely ambitious or extremely unrealistic. Through initial proposals with the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) the “Red Knights” have explained that they plan on recruiting g net-worth” individuals who 50 “high
will each contribute in the region of £10-15 million in order to raise £500 million. Still running a little short, what they then plan to do is to rouse a further 100 less wealthy though no less altruistic souls who are willing to part with between £1-5 million in the restoration
“...one almost feels guilty saying it but, on the field at least..the Glazer tenure has been the most successful in the history of the club.” of Manchester United’s glory. Ok, unlikely but not nearly as laughable as the final cog in the shining armour of these “Red Knights” who then want the fans to put their hard-earned money where their mouth is and, as members of MUST, each contribute a whopping £2500 each! Now you will not find any in-depth knowledge of the complexities of investment banking in this article, but at the very least we have all seen Dragons’ Den and we know that when these wealthy folk invest their money, they want more than a say in how the company is run. In football, democracy does not work; at Liverpool, they have two equal-sharing owners whose constant bickering has torn the very heart out of the club and, more importantly, has descended on to the p p pitch were Liverpool are a shadow of
their former selves. What sort of chaos would unfold if United had 60 screaming voices in the boardroom? Apologists for the Glazer clan often present an altogether too easy to make rebuttal to accusations of mismanagement on their behalf; one almost feels guilty saying it but under the reign of Glazer, on the field at least, Manchester United have been very successful. In fact, though United’s trophy cabinets have never really been short of silverware, it could be argued that since United are currently contesting their fourth successive league title, have reached the finals of the past two Champions League campaigns and have just recently destroyed AC Milan to ease into the quarter-final of this current European campaign, the period coinciding with the Glazer tenure has been the most successful in the history of the club. Of course, this success has far more to do with the management skills of Alex Ferguson and the exceptional talent at his disposal than the ownership of Malcolm Glazer, but it is important to recognise that the Glazer era has not had the same type of counter-productive impact on Manchester United as, say, Hicks and Gillett have had on Liverpool, Berlusconi on Milan or Florentino Perez has had on Real Madrid. In fact, the Glazer family has been positively cordial in their handling of the protests that have greeted their every appearance in Old Trafford. They have maintained a very dignified silence which has served not to inflame the supporters’ anger – the son of a Liverpool co-owner encouraged a protesting Liverpool supporter to q acquaint himself orallyy with the board
member’s genitallia. They have not attempted to employ any tacky publicity stunts and left the day-to-day running of the company to chief executive David Gill and Sir Alex Ferguson. The most concerning aspect of this very impressive fan protest is what would happen if the fans actually did somehow manage to wrestle control of the club? Manchester United have not been a local club in the traditional sense in many decades and it would be quite interesting to witness what exactly would happen if a certain number of fans actually did feel they had more of a stake in the club than others. This is the case in Italy where a relatively small number of “Ultra” supporters have a disproportionately large say in how the club operates. This has resulted in a serious case of what you could term as “Supporter Elitism”, where most stadiums are now only half-full on match days because the supporters who actually have real lives Monday-to-Friday feel like secondclass citizens in these grounds and so stay away. Manchester United means so much to so many; most fans could tell you the moment they began truly “following United”. For me, it was the final day of the 1992-93 season; United, having already won the league, were beaten by Blackburn 2-1 when Gary Pallister, being the only member of the team not to have scored, came up and sunk a free-kick into the bottom corner. But, so too can I tell you the day that my support will end: it will be the day when some self-righteous fan accuses me of being a second-class supporter because I was unwilling to part with £2,500 to rid myy team of a man who we feel is
trying to exploit us of our hard-earned cash. There is another danger, one which isn’t intended to be insulting but will no doubt manifest itself that way: David O’ Leary once unwisely said that fans are fickle and it is with this testament that I am inclined to agree. These same United fans who are calling for Malcolm Glazer’s head on the boardroom floor were once calling for Sir Alex Ferguson’s head, granting him a brief stay of execution only after a Mark Robinson winner in an FA Cup tie against Norwich in the eighties. Darren Fletcher has become one of the most complete midfielders in world football, but just two years ago he was appreciated by the Red Devils faithful about as much as an episode of “Robbie Fowler: This is Your Life”. This isn’t a fickle affliction which solely affects Man Utd supporters. Newcastle United, for instance, have one of those “local businessmen done good”, who they carried to power on a wave of popular triumphalism the likes of which are usually reserved for African dictators; then, when things got bad, the fans grabbed their pitchforks and banished this local monster of consumerism out of the stadium. Now times are looking good again, the Geordie faithful are considering letting him back in. Malcolm Glazer isn’t perfect – he doesn’t even come close to that – but neither are these “Red Knights”, nor perhaps any other potential owner of such an enormous economical asset as Manchester Unite. As fans, perhaps we should just take a step back, breathe, reassess the situation and see if that which g glistens reallyy is Green and Gold.
TRINITY NEWS March 23, 2010
The enraged anti-Catholic mob The angry mob that has sprung up in response to Church paedophila needs to calm down, according to Eamonn Hynes Eamonn Hynes Contributing Writer THERE’S NOTHING like a good paedophile story to drum up the outraged, liberal-media-reading masses; most of whom have never experienced the horrors of child abuse, nor are they charged with cleaning up the mess left behind by a bunch of sick perverts. Cribbing and moaning from the sidelines and making snipes at the Catholic Church are the tactics of a coward and symptoms of their ignorance. It is in an air of calm that I write this piece in support of the Irish Catholic Church and in support of the Irish clergy in their mission to cleanse the institution and continue on the path of repentance, healing and renewal. First off, we should calm down. Is one really that interested in the kind of slippery implication that one reads about in the holier-than-thou Irish media who bandy about terms such as “misprision of felony” and the 1937 Offences Against the State Act like bullies in a school yard. The fact is that in order for a person to be guilty of a crime (such as this Section 17 of the Offences Against the State Act that we hear about so often), proof of fault, culpability or blameworthiness in both behaviour and mind is required. Some of the stuff I’ve read in recent weeks would lead you to believe that Pope Benedict is the anti-Christ and Cardinal Brady one of his evil minions. But getting back to the issue that caused shock-waves of outrage across the nation, I say this: The then-Fr. Sean Brady never at any stage consciously acted to further harm an abuse victim with an accompanying level of mens rea. Yes, Fr. Brady was a man in a position of responsibility, but I do not believe for one moment that he purposely acted to expose more children to the care of a sex pervert. Brendan Smyth went on to abuse children after
Fr. Sean Brady interviewed him, wrote his report and sent it on to his Bishop, but to say that this is because of an act or an act of omission on the part of Cardinal Sean Brady 35 years later is a farce. We’d better start building prisons, because if we’re going to hold leaders of all institutions to those kinds of standards, we need to round ‘em all up, drag ‘em all before the judiciary (themselves of course squeaky clean in matters pertaining to child abuse and child pornography) and imprison them in a dungeon. There are plenty of company directors in the construction sector who have seen people killed under their watch: a tragedy that cannot be undone. Any right-minded Christian will acknowledge that the death or serious injury of a worker is a tragedy and that seeking vengeance against those higher up the hierarchy is futile and counterproductive in the process of grieving and recovering from life’s setbacks. There’s a big difference between the justice demanded by the angry mob and the type that civilised society dispenses. We must also remember that there are different standards of accountability in society, in that those who work 40 hours per week can engage in their little perversions outside office hours, unlike priests who are on duty 24 hours a day and cannot be “sacked” no matter how grave their crimes. The Church is an earthly institution run by humans with human failings and human temptations. It has been this way since the time of the Apostles. There have been terrible Popes in its 2,000-year history, not to mention lots of scandal. But that is not the real story of the Church: the Church is the largest charitable organisation in the world, has been responsible for the conversion of hundreds of millions in Africa, is the bedrock of the great European cultures, motivates and inspires over a billion people all over the globe to follow in
“Cribbing and moaning from the sidelines and making snipes at the Catholic Church are the tactics of a coward and symptoms of the liberalmedia-reading masses’ ignorance.”
Pope Benedict XVI kisses the head of a baby during his weekly general audience on May 6, 2009 in St Peters’ square at the Vatican. Photo by Alberto Pizzoli/ AFP/Getty Images the footsteps of Christ, has played a central role in the peace process of Northern Ireland and provides a moral blueprint for life in the family and life in the community. Modern capitalism, the culture of consumerism and globalised business do not take human factors into account when deciding how to maximise their profit margins – a nation full of dumbed-down, individualistic, intoxicated consumer types who live on top of one another in apartment blocks and are continually in debt is their goal: not happiness, family life and divine sustenance. Bourgeois society with all its pretensions of decency and morality is hypocritical when it comes to the matter of child abuse. So what’s all this got to do with perverted priests? Well, be very careful what you wish for: if one wishes for the ruin of the Church, what will it be replaced with? The model for society that we currently have, complete with public drunkenness, violent crime, teenage pregnancies, widespread sexual perversion, abortion, drugtaking, murder, rape and the birth of a social underclass who will never work
a day in their lives? What those who knock the Church know full well and artfully suppress, is that any system that operates on such a scale will occasionally make mistakes, even bad ones, since all human institutions are manned by people with human weakness. We must strive for perfection, minimise mistakes and when mistakes do occur, they must be rectified. The bien-pensant Church-bashers fear their censure and crave approbation: they are quick to point the finger and not in the habit of examining themselves. They don’t have the mechanisms of accountability that currently exist in the Church, having been instigated several years ago from the highest levels of the clergy. The fact is that young childing are safer in the hands of the Church than any other organisation in the country as no other organisation has such a rigorous vetting scheme and child protection procedures. The Pope’s letter to the Catholic people in Ireland which was read out in every Church across the land last Sunday gives us much to think about
and highlights the current challenges and future work that needs to be done. While some will never be happy no matter what the Pope writes (ultimately, even if they had his head on a plate, they would not be satisfied), the opus Dei must go on. It is not often that a Pontiff addresses the island of Ireland in such a direct manner. Having one of the world’s greatest intellectuals write over 4,000 of the most humble and apologetic of words on this particular issue demonstrates just how serious this matter is in the minds of the most senior clergy in Rome. I don’t expect this post-Celtic Tiger society of ours to embrace the words of the Pope quite just yet: there are still a lot of closed hearts to be healed, but I do expect that at some point in the future, we will look back and see the direct intervention and solemn apology from Pope Benedict as a major milestone in the purification of the Irish Church. Cardinal Brady’s moving St. Patrick’s Day homily made several references to his own failings, the plight of abuse victims and the Church’s duty to them.
He equated the challenges currently facing Irish Catholicism with those faced by St. Patrick when he managed to lead a nation of pagans to the way of Christ. Brady openly acknowledged that he is a sinner, just like St. Peter who, when asked by God to become a fisher of men, replied: “Leave me Lord, I am a sinful man.” Cardinal Brady took office in 2007 and his primary duty since then has been in tackling the child abuse issue head-on in the spirit of Christ. This is no easy feat. The 71-year-old has taken on this task, probably the most challenging of his life, with a level of fortitude that most men half his age would balk at. He has managed to achieve all this in the most sensitive, soft-handed manner in which the recompense of abuse victims is central and the Gospel is his guiding light. That said, his journey has not ended and there is much still to be done. This sinner wishes for Cardinal Brady to remain steadfast through these difficult times and expects that he will bring repentance and healing to the Catholic Church.
Drugs aren’t all bad, m’kay By Conor James McKinney
THE COUNTRY is presently in a tizzy over legal highs and their source, the infamous head shops. In the UK, a more immediate outcry has arisen out of the deaths of two men who had taken mephedrone while out clubbing. The Labour Party here has published a bill that would force head shops to apply for planning permission b e f o r e opening, while the government is reportedly planning to ban a range of well-known legal highs. (If I were in government and listened to Joe Duffy, I’d make damn sure it were reported that I was planning to ban this stuff, too, whatever the truth of it.) So far, so good, or at least so expected. The reason for this outcry and response is that the vast majority of people do not believe the simple proposition that “Drugs are rarely intrinsically harmful if used in a safe way”. They are more comfortable with the South Park Thesis that “Drugs are bad,
m’kay”. Take mephedrone. This is a legal substance related to qat, a stimulant used widely in some Arab and African countries. It produces a mild feeling of euphoria, mild physical side-effects and a not-so-mild psychological dependency (this should be contrasted with physical dependence, as you’d get with nicotine). In other words, you might try it, mightn’t like to keep on using it, but if you do nothing very bad would happen. The men who died on Scunthorpe last week had taken it in combination with alcohol and methadone, the heroin substitute that is given to recovering addicts. That’s about all I know about the matter, but it’s enough to reinforce my view that mephedrone is nothing to worry about. Even if it did have something to do with the tragedy of these men’s deaths, over and above the other two drugs, I think that, quite frankly, mixing alcohol and methadone with anything would be bloody dangerous. Unfortunately, adding anything stronger than Cidona to that mixture was risky, and I don’t think the poor guys who died from it didn’t know that. They just chose to go for it regardless. The hysteria of legal highs here has reached such a pitch that, as the blogger Twenty Major pointed out at the time, those engaged in the scaremongering bear some of the culpability for the subsequent arson attacks. Even where the protests are non-violent, they certainly aren’t based on long years of reflection on the minutiae of drugs policy. The Irish Examiner reports one Cork-based Labour councillor as calling for an examination of the head shop issue “from the ground up and the top down”. Marvellous. Meaningless. But it’ll play well in Clon, no doubt. It’s interesting to note that the Labour bill
“Legal highs look a lot better than illegal highs, not necessarily because they are less harmful, but because they don’t fund crime. The best argument for head shops is that they give you a way to buy drugs without going to a dealer.”
was originally designed to crack down on sex shops. Lumping these together with head shops as undesirable businesses is conceptually unhelpful – unlike drugs, sex is never bad for you, no matter how much you do it – but does tell us something about how politicians and society view these outlets. It’s a natural point of view. Most of us have the sort of innate conservatism that makes one feel uneasy about, say, a sex shop near a primary school. There’s not much of a rational basis to it, unless you envisage gibbering gimps emerging periodically to lure little children into their pit of depravity, but you’d just feel happier if it wasn’t there, and was safely down in a basement somewhere in Dublin 8. They are seedy. There’s no denying that. A faint air of disreputability constantly clings to them, rather like those 24-hour casinos. Even when what they sell is legal and always will be so, as with sex aids and pornography, they’re just not kosher, not mainstream, not OK to walk into for a scope around. You can’t put these sort of establishments beside a hairdresser’s, butcher’s and post office – or, God forbid, a school – what kind of message would that send? Well, it would send the message that sex is nothing to get worked up about, figuratively speaking, once you’ve passed the age of 20 or so. It would send the message that gambling at four am after a nightclub is a bad idea, but only for that particular punter. And it would establish that drugs are only bad if you misuse them. We use drugs in a variety of ways and for a variety of reasons, one of which is recreation. It may be a pity that people use drugs like alcohol to further social intercourse (commonly in the hopes of furthering a different kind of intercourse) but from a societal standpoint we understand it, and from a political standpoint we don’t see any need to ban it. Where there are health risks, people ought to be allowed to reflect on whether they want to run it in the interests of a good time. If something is going to kill you outright, granted, there’s not much sense in legalising it. But for a product that has shifting and variable side-effects, dependent on frequency of use and even your genetic
predisposition, why not take a decision on whether or not to use it? This is, after all, what we do with alcohol. The same ought to hold true for other recreational drugs, including legal highs, and things like cannabis that are currently banned. Many of them will cause you some degree of harm, generally less than that of alcohol, and normally only if you abuse it, mix it or take it in some unimaginably vast quantities. (I’m sure mephedrone could eventually kill you, in the same way that eating too many bananas is supposed to give you lethal potassium poisoning, and it is possible to die of over-hydration if you drink water non-stop for hours at a stretch. That’s not really the point.) The Labour bill, insofar as it has its roots in populist conservatism, is therefore more than a little misguided. But a requirement of planning permission for head shops, or even a more wideranging system of licencing, is actually a fine idea, so long as it is not merely a tool to bully them out of business. They would help them shake their down-market image, insofar as that is possible, and help ensure that nothing illegal or dangerous reaches their shelves. You could require that products be properly labelled, for example, so that people know what they’re getting and exactly what it might do them. The provision of information enhances personal autonomy. There’s a social context to recreational drug use as well. The reason the media seem to think that these dozens of head shops around the country only existed since January is because there aren’t social problems associated with the products they sell. You’d certainly worry if you saw people walking around stoned in the middle of the day, or turning up to work off-their-tits on bath salts, in just the same way you don’t
want to see people drinking vodka in Mass. There’s a time and a place; most users of receational drugs know this. Once you accept that getting high is no different and no more harmful than getting drunk, legal highs start to look pretty good. They certainly look a lot better than illegal highs, not necessarily because they are less harmful, but because they don’t fund crime. The best argument for head shops is that they give you a way to buy drugs without going to a dealer. As we’ve seen, you might not particularly like the look of the guy behind the counter in a head shop, but presumably he pays his taxes. If he doesn’t, that’s a matter for the Revenue Commissioners. The first quote I used in paragraph two was lifted from an article by Professor David Nutt, who was forced to step down as an advisor on drugs policy to UK government after calling for cannabis to be regulated according to the harm it causes. On the facts, as Professor Nutt interprets them, this is not very much at all – but it suited the government to posture, to reclassify cannabis as a more dangerous Class B prohibited drug, instead of engaging with this reality. Irish policy-makers are no better. Although it’s tempting to see the election of Luke “Ming the Merciless” Flanagan to Roscommon County Council as a harbinger of change, most politicans are still going to be guided by popular misconceptions rather than take a more nuanced approach to drugs in Irish society. As we have seen, this does nothing to add to public safety, restricts personal choice and allows criminals and publicans to retain control of most of the market for recreational drugs. So by all means, head shops could do with some regulation. But using regulation to drive them out of business is a bad idea.
TRINITY NEWS March 23, 2010
ROUND UP SHANE QUINN NORTHERN IRELAND
SAVILLE REPORT PLANS CHANGED THE REPORT into the events of Bloody Sunday will now not be handed to the Government next week as planned. Instead, lawyers for the Government will review the report while it remains in the possession of Lord Saville. The Government and the Inquiry have agreed the report will stay with Lord Saville while it is checked for issues of national security and right to life. Families of the victims had feared the report would be delayed or amended before publication. The report will not be given to the Government until all the issues surrounding its publication have been resolved, which is expected to take about two weeks. It will then go to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Shaun Woodward (pictured), who will decide when it will be made public. This may or may not be before the general election. A spokesperson for the Inquiry said the revised arrangements would “reduce the length of time for which the Secretary of State has to be in possession of the report before publication”. They also said it would not have any adverse effect on the timetable leading to publication.
OMAGH REPORT COULD AFFECT DEVOLUTION OF POLICING AND JUSTICE POWERS THE SDLP spokesperson for Policing, Alex Attwood, has said this week’s report by the Westminster Northern Ireland Select Affairs Committee could have implications for the devolution of policing and justice powers to the assembly next month. The committee has criticised the British Prime Minister for refusing to disclose the outcome of a report into claims that intelligence was not shared ahead of the Omagh bombing. Mr. Atwood said that all of this very much revolves around M15 and the way it does its business. He also claimed, “There is no accountability or analysis where M15 is concerned, and this has serious implications, not least should a serious security issue occur in the future.”
NUNS BACK HEALTH REFORM A GROUP of Catholic nuns in the United States of America is urging Congress to pass healthcare reform, breaking ranks with bishops who say the current bill does not do enough to block federal money from being used to fund abortions. The nuns’ letter was released this week: “We write to urge you to cast a life-affirming ‘yes’ vote when the Senate healthcare bill (H.R. 3590) comes to the floor of the House for a vote as early as this week.” A group representing the nuns said the 55 signatories represent tens of thousands of Catholic nuns in the United States. The letter argues that the legislation “will make crucial investments in community health centres that largely serve poor women and children”. “And despite false claims to the contrary, the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for elective abortions,” the letter reads. “It will uphold longstanding conscience protections and it will make historic new investments – $250 million – in support of pregnant women. This is the REAL prolife stance, and we as Catholics are all for it.”
YOUTHS FIRED UPON BY POLICE SOUTH AFRICAN police have opened fire with rubber bullets on schoolchildren demonstrating at the per charged with court appearance of a local rapper murder. Molemo Maarohanye, betterr known as Jub Jub, is accused of killing four schooll pupils during a car race. d at the Soweto Crowds of children gathered shed placards court and threw stones, brandished ill the rapper. and reportedly threatened to kill Dozens of police moved in, making ls. arrests and dispersing the pupils. South African news agency, Sapa, ad to reported that student leaders had em down. address the crowds to calm them At one point, some children chanted that they would kill the rapper iff they saw him leaving court. ccused were in Mr Maarohanye and his co-accused ng. court for an ongoing bail hearing.
The way forward for feminism Sarah Clarkin Staff Writer IT SEEMED that all was well in the world of women last week, Women’s Week, when leader of the opposition, Fine Gael’s Enda Kenny tabled a motion to impose quotas on the number of women candidates that would have set targets ensuring that 20% of its candidates in the next local election would be female, increasing to 25% in the European elections. And yet, the proposal was defeated after being strongly opposed by one of Fine Gael’s most prominent female voices, Dublin South East TD, Lucinda Creighton. The confusing reason why a proposal, on the surface so favourable to women was defeated mainly by women needs to be looked at: are women really their own worst enemy, or is there still a long way to go before the fairer sex can be equally represented in parliament and all other areas of civic life? Lucinda Creighton was just one prominent female Fine Gael politician who opposed the leader’s motion; Catherine Byrne, TD for Dublin South Central and Senator Fidelma Healy Eames were also amongst the ranks of the discontented, not on the grounds that they did not want more female candidates, but on the basis that it was a banal gesture, when issues such as long hours, childcare and the treatment of women within the realm of politics have not been addressed. Creighton claimed that within no political party had anti-bullying or anti-discrimination measures been enacted, nor are there any human resources systems in place. Creighton’s assertion begs the question: are all concessions made to women a mere smokescreen, underneath which circumstances are still as outdated as they were fifty years ago? Without a doubt, Kenny meant for his proposal to symbolise more than a well meaning gesture, and while the desire to increase women’s involvement
in politics when it has traditionally been below par can be seen, as it was by the rank and file of his own party, as a cynical ploy masked as progressiveness, it is nonetheless a vital, positive evolution in feminist philosophy. The question on everyone’s lips in the wake of Women’s Week though must be how to make these measures stick; how can women be totally equal in the workplace and in all other aspects of life? Feminism and all its branches have, since its matrix, been paralysed by inner strife and disagreement, and though women’s movements, frequently described as “classes of wild enthusiasts and visionaries” by the media, have been campaigning for multiple decades, it is argued in many the agora that we are no closer to absolute equality than we were before the achievement of the vote. To look closely at some governmental decisions of the past year is to see that many of them have a direct negative effect on women. The cuts to child benefit in the 2010 budget are, according to the National Women’s Council of Ireland, playing out disastrously across the female spectrum, with many Irish women now struggling more than ever to pay childcare costs. The ultimate result of these cuts will be a drastic reduction of the number of women in every workplace. More worrying still is the fact that the poorest people in Ireland are older women, who dedicated their lives to rearing the next generation and are now forced to listen to the rank and file of government and opposition discuss the damaging products of demographic time bombs. At the heart of the matter, most agree, is the need to get women into political power, but as we have already seen, with things as they stand this is nigh on impossible. It is a vicious circle; women will be unable to compete or work in positions of political power until conditions for them change, and yet conditions may not change until they are in power. Another
J Howard Miller’s “We Can Do It”, of 1942, famous for its ubiquitous use as promotion material to involve women in mechanical production and other male-dominated industries during World War II.
line to take on this sorry saga is to look closely at decisions the government has not made, in relation to the key issue of abortion. Despite the fact that there have been many referenda, the Irish government is still incapacitating many women with regard to making their own decision. Whether or not insufficient sexual education is at the heart of the matter, the fact remains that each year thousands of Irish women are forced to put their health at risk to travel to England or further afield to have terminations, in many a case because continuing with their pregnancy would be harmful to their health. Throughout multiple interviews the Women’s Council of Ireland conducted with those who had traveled abroad for abortions, with medical practitioners and with social workers, the terrifyingly overwhelming characteristic that emerged was the various, sometimes insurmountable, obstacles girls and women face in regard to making mature and sensible decisions about their pregnancies. Not only are they denied access to services they need
within Ireland, they are discouraged and in many cases aggressively so, from seeking the care they need abroad. Alongside these concerns is the fact that they cannot be certain that the advice they receive is accurate or complete. “Nowadays there is no such thing as feminism,” claimed Miuccia Prada, during the week, and you would have to agree with her. The majority of the population believe women do have a status equal to that of their male counterparts, and that following the achievement of the vote and all other “concessions” since gained, what is there to complain about? As a nation, we need to scratch beneath the surface and face the gloomy truth; a ballot represents nothing more than a symbol of grudging goodwill if women are not represented in a representative democracy. Somehow or another, be it through motions like Kenny’s or the solving of the problems highlighted by Creighton, women need a greater voice in politics. Now all we need is a powerful woman to lead the way and show us how.
Tiernan & O’Carroll Kelly: the real Irish culture? Cathal Wogan Staff Writer nd VOICES AND words. It’s always voices and ary words, or voices about words. Contemporary n’t society. Irish literature. The latter hasn’t embraced the former. Or has it? I’m not going to be so stupid as to decide one way or the other. Luckily, Julian Gough, god’s g ift gift to literature and self-appointed arbiter of literary distinction, has investigated the issu ue issue for us. First of all though, a digression. Whenever my old man sees me struggling to writee something, he always tells me to start with a quote, or to shove a good one in wherever I’m stuck. So here’s a quote. A clever man once said a thing g: clever thing: “tradition is the illusion of permanence””. permanence”. Th hat’s Woody Wood dy That’s Allen. Very clever. Keep that in mind, back we’ll come back to it. Anyway. Julian Gough. d “I hardly read
I Irish writers any more,” says Gough, “I’ve b been disappointed so often.” For the sake o a bit of fun and controversy, I would lovee of t be able to say that Gough has launched to a scathing attack on the Irish writers. U Unfortunately, that isn’t really the case. R Rather, he scribbled on his blog. However, T Guardian did pick up on his words and d The a little bit of a storm has brewed in the tiny t teacup that is popular literary criticism. G Gough did quite a bit of scribbling actually, s it might be worthwhile to sample his so w wn words on the Irish writers that he, by his own a admission, hardly reads anymore. “To revive a useful old Celtic literaryc critical expression: I puke my ring. And t older, more sophisticated Irish writers the t w that want to be Nabokov give me the yellow s squirts and a scaldy hole. If there is a m el movement in Ireland, it is backwards. Novel a after novel set in the nineteen seventies, s h sixties, fifties. Reading award-winning Irish li on literary fiction, you wouldn’t know television h been invented.” had According to Gough, contemporary I Irish writers are out of date. They are only c te contemporary insofar as they exist and write n now. They don’t really have any meaningfull li to modern society and seem to be in link d o denial of their position within it, clinging to t past in dour nostalgia. the “I don’t get the impression many Irish w writers have played Grand Theft Auto, or b bought an X-Box, or watched Youporn. R Really, Irish literary writers have become a p priestly caste, scribbling by candlelight, cutt o from the electric current of the culture. off W We’ve abolished the Catholic clergy, and
r replaced them with novelists. They wear b black, they preach, they are concerned for o souls. Feck off.” our There must be concessions, surely. Yes, t there are. Young Irish literary talent exists.. G Gough kindly gives a few suggestions as to w where that talent lies. Among the literaturee s suggested was something a little alarming. G Guess. Just guess. For Christ’s sake. O ks. Obviously. Those Ross O’Carroll Kelly books. tic “For me, the only writer to grab the Celtic T Tiger by the tail and pull hard while the t tiger roared was Ross O’Carroll Kelly, the p pseudonym of Paul Howard. And that was a n to newspaper column, collected every year into a new book – read them all if you want to u understand Ireland’s rise and fall. No otherr w writer caught it while it happened.” Brilliant. Gough champions Howard’s b books as the “best, funniest, and most h historically important run of Irish satirical j journalism since Myles na gCopaleen.” S Should I take these books apart? I should, t they deserve it, but I won’t. I have to argue.. I h er have to get back to Woody Allen. Remember h him? Tradition is the illusion of permanence. T Tradition is supposed to trickle down t through passing generations, to defeat timee b preserving something, whatever it may by b good or bad. The Irish literary tradition n be, i notorious, producing a ripple effect that is i for a comparatively small speck on the is, g ly globe, disproportionately large. Consistently I Ireland has known itself as a land of literaryy s scholars. I think Gough (who?) has bought i into that. Tradition is the illusion of permanence.
T real problem with Irish literature, what The i not taken into account by Gough and is t many that share his opinions, is that the t lettered legacy is just a tradition. It is this a fallacy. It is an illusion. It does not mean t that Irish literature has a divine right to be b brilliant at all. We as an island of emotional, i imaginative and humourous wordsmiths feel w can just spew whatever runs through our we s stream of consciousness and it will be art. I will enlighten a world devoid of passion It a fire as only the words of an Irish man or and w woman can. Note: Gough uses Tommy Tiernan a an example of Ireland’s wonderful as v voice. “Tommy Tiernan is Ireland’s most p philosophical voice, but he has chosen s stand-up comedy as his way of delivering h philosophical prose ... On the right night his y will end up on the floor weeping tears of you l laughter and recognition as he takes Ireland a apart.” This is rubbish. Tommy Tiernan is a twit who swears too much, has a mildly a amusing accent played for lowbrow laughs a abandoned satire a decade ago to please and t glorious graduates of Copper Face Jacks the w fill Vicar Street to see him. who Tradition is the illusion of permanence. M Maybe what Gough fails to state is his a assumption that Irish literature is failing by n advancing its position as traditionally not r remarkable. This position is not permanent, o obviously. If the best we can produce is Ross O O’Carroll Kelly and Tommy Tiernan then it i difficult to see how Julian Gough can be so is h hopeful. Striving for greatness is a noble act, b to assume greatness is an Irish illusion of but p permanence.
TRINITY NEWS March 23, 2010
Toxic drug finds new uses
IN BRIEF JOHN ENGLE
Nicholas Bernard Contributing Writer THIS MONTH the research journal Science published evidence produced by a Japanese research group that indicates a possible mechanism as to how the infamous drug thalidomide deformed a generation of babies. If ever there was an argument for the dysteleological theory of “bad design”, or perhaps better worded “unintelligent design”, thalidomide would be it. No doubt the mothers of the thalidomide babies would have asked themselves where the intelligence lies in designing an antiemetic (used to treat morning sickness) painkilling drug, that coincidentally and horribly, deforms your child, or kills it. The original packaging supplied with pharmaceutical thalidomide included the following statement: “In pregnancy and during the lactation period the female organism is under great strain. Sleeplessness, unrest and tension are constant complaints. The administration of a sedative and a hypnotic that will hurt neither mother nor child is often necessary.” The patent owner of the “unintelligently designed” thalidomide was a German pharmaceutical company, named Chemie Grünenthal. Chemie Grünenthal began as part of a soaps, cosmetics and toiletries business. Today the company produces painkillers, now for both female and male organisms. Profit for 2008 was estimated by the company to be just short of €1 billion. In the late 50s and 60s thalidomide was prescribed as a potent painkiller and tranquiliser. However, it was through its widespread use to treat morning sickness of pregnant women that thalidomide really demonstrated its devastating capacity as a teratogenic agent, one causing developmental defects. An estimated 10,000 unborn babies
were poisoned by thalidomide, with many dying, and others left with birth defects such as the trademark absence of the long bones of the legs, known as phocomelia (from the greek for “seal limbs”), or of the arms, amelia. According to the website for the Irish Thalidomide Association, a group battling for proper compensation for sufferers, there are still 32 survivors of the thalidomide tragedy living in Ireland today, as well as another 18 in Northern Ireland. Whilst these people clearly cannot now benefit from research into the effects of thalidomide, there is nevertheless a large body of research being conducted across the globe to try to understand how thalidomide, and similar substances, mediate their therapeutic as well as their pathogenic effects so that no such horrifying event can ever be repeated. Today thalidomide is still prescribed to cancer patients with multiple myeloma, and also to sufferers of leprosy. These patients are strongly advised to undertake birth control measures, and clearly, the severity of these diseases warrants the use of thalidomide, particularly in the absence of any reasonable alternative therapy. Furthemore, as the research on thalidomide is piling up, it is being realised that it may be a potent treatment for other diseases such as a range of cancers as well as inflammatory diseases such as Crohn’s disease and Behçet’s disease. This month a research group from the Tokyo Institute of Technology led by Hiroshi Handa report that they believe they have found the mechanism as to how thalidomide causes developmental defects. By conjugating beads to thalidomide derivatives and exposing those beads to cellular proteins Handa’s group were able to identify two protein
INVISIBILITY MADE POSSIBLE
Thalidomide, cause of horrendous deformities of babies in the 1950s and 1960s may receive new life as a treatment for a number of chronic illnesses, including Crohn’s Disease.
binding partners for thalidomide, cereblon (CRBN) and DNA binding protein 1 (DDB1). They discovered that thalidomide directly binds CRBN which is itself bound to the DDB1, and that this interaction inhibits the activity of a growth factor called fgf8. This is the first such linkage between thalidomide and this growth factor pathway. The researchers backed up their findings with a zebrafish model of the disease. Zebrafish are commonly used to study embryonic development. When Handa’s group put zebrafish embryos into thalidomide containing medium they did not develop normal pectoral fins. They also discovered that proper growth and development
of zebrafish otic vesicles and pectoral fins is dependent on the zebrafish gene equivalent of CRBN. This groundbreaking research may allow the development of thalidomide derivative drugs that will be potent treatments for a range of diseases, but without the teratogenic risk to unborn children. Simply put, a lot of sick people could one day benefit from an earthly ‘intelligent redesign’ of the infamous thalidomide. But convincing anybody who can remember the disaster of the 50s that a thalidomide related drug is safe, might be as difficult as convincing an evolutionary biologist of intelligent design.
Dawkins brings evolution to forefront Anthea Lacchia Contributing Writer CREATIONISTS ALL around the world, be on your guard! Richard Dawkins’ latest book, The Greatest Show on Earth, is a collection of powerful evidence for the theory of evolution, making the information regarding natural selection accessible to non-scientists everywhere. Perhaps best known as the author of The God Delusion, Dawkins is the past holder of the Simonyi Professorship of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. Although he is a famous champion of atheist ideals and fierce defender of science and reason against mysticism, in his latest book, published in September 2009, all attacks against religion are put aside. As Dawkins himself told an Irish audience at the reading he gave at the RDS last September, the book serves as an explanation of the multiple lines of evidence for evolution, which are all around us. The evidence brought forward is so simple and yet incontrovertible that it should make any proponent of “Intelligent Design” shake in his boots. In the first chapter, we are asked to imagine we are teachers of recent history. How would we feel if Holocaustdeniers were constantly disrupting our classes, demanding that equal amounts of time should be spent teaching the “alternative” theory? Such people do indeed exist. Such a world in which people so detached from reality are given a public, state-funded platform seems ludicrous, yet the same frustration ordinary people feel at such deniers is shared by many science teachers around the world, particularly in the United States. Evolution is in general given very little time, under the relativist claim that there is no absolute truth, and sometimes the very word is expunged from state-approved textbooks. Here is a very disturbing figure: according to an opinion poll taken in 2008 by Gallup, an American polling organisation, more than 40% of Americans deny evolution. Since ill-informed opposition to evolution is so powerful at present, there was never a more opportune time for “Darwin’s Rottweiler”, as Richard Dawkins is often called, to write such an accessible book.
Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace are the two figures that laid the foundations for modern evolutionary thinking. Darwin, in The Origin of Species, as well as suggesting a mechanism for evolution, wanted to show that biological evolution was a fact. But be careful, Dawkins warns! When addressing the task of trying to prove the theory of evolution, it is important to remember that a proof, in the strictly mathematical sense of the word, cannot be formulated with regard to biological processes. It is not possible to prove evolution in the same way as it is possible to prove that √2 is irrational. Nevertheless, evolution is a fact, in the same way the theory that green plants obtain energy from the sun is a fact. Of course, not only has the theory of evolution not been disproved, but it is supported by massive quantities of evidence. If you are not convinced, consider the quirks and imperfections present in all modern organisms. As Dawkins skilfully explains, these make no sense, unless they represent holdovers from an otherwise evolved ancestral state. For example, humans have big maxillary sinuses, or cavities, behind the cheeks on either side of the face. These have a drainage hole on their top, thus failing to efficiently use gravity to assist drainage of fluid. This can be explained as a consequence of the shift from quadruped to biped locomotion, since, in a quadruped, the “top” is actually the front, and the position of the drainage holes makes much more sense. Thus, the evidence points to us humans as products of evolution. Our evolutionary legacy is written all over us. Several chapters of the book are dedicated to outlining the evidence that comes from fossils, in particular transitional stages of major evolutionary changes. In fact, accepting evolution as true allows us to explain why any given fauna in Earth’s history was an intermediate, in general character, between the fauna of the immediately preceding (older) and immediately succeeding (younger) period. There are, of course, gaps in the fossil record and Creationists often latch on to these in the vain attempt to discredit the theory of evolution. Memorable is the passage where Dawkins responds to those Creationists who are
WE HAVE gotten used to using satellite navigation in our daily, from helping us find our way to the store to docking ships. It has become such a heavily used item that it would seem the kinks in the system have been all worked out. However, there is one thing that can have a damaging effect on our sat-nav systems that has gained more attention among astronomers lately: the fact that the Sun has passed its solar minimum and is moving back toward its solar maximum. The Sun goes through what is called a solar cycle on average every eleven years, with swings between high and low activity. These active periods occur when a high number of Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) are emitted from the Sun. These solar flares send out huge bursts of magnetic energy into the surrounding space and some of them are sent in Earth’s direction. These high energy particles can affect the satellites that are
involved with the sat-nav’s systems. There are a large number of satellites circling the Earth. The way the satellites create accurate information for the satnav programs is through relatively simple geometry. Satellites send information back to Earth through a radio signal that holds two essential pieces of accurate information. One piece is where exactly that specific satellite is, and the other piece is the exact time. This allows the sat-nav to receives this information from whichever satellites it happens to be in alignment with at the time, and since there is a whole fleet of them, military and civilian, there is enough to work out exactly where it is through a simple triangulation calculation. Once the sat-nav collects this information it can determine its position bases on how far it is away from the satellites combined with how long it took the signals to arrive. The problem arises when the radiation coming from the Sun’s CMEs interferes with these signals and makes it much more difficult for the sat-nav to find the weak
COSMIC BIRTH New infrared images of the Berkeley 59 star cluster, located in the constellation of Cepheus which is about 3300 light-years from Earth, show a “cosmic rosebud blossoming with new stars,” in which young and developing stars remain partially shrouded in the afterbirth of warm cosmic dust, surrounded by wisps of heated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Images from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) show areas of high heat within the “natal cloud” that indicate that a new generation of stars is beginning to form. Even the most developed stars in the cluster are only a few million years old, virtual infants on the cosmic scale. It is of great interest to astronomers and cosmologists to learn about the development of stars, as it helps them to understand more about how our own sun formed, probably in a similar stellar incubator.
SEARCHING THE VOID often heard shouting “Show me a fronkey (intermediate between frog and monkey); show me a crocoduck (intermediate between crocodile and duck)!” Dawkins suggests sarcastically that creationists should not limit themselves to mammals, but also talk of a kangaroach (intermediate between kangaroo and cockroach) or an octopard (intermediate between octopus and leopard). The fact is that every species shares an ancestor with every other one, so it’s clearly possible to find fossils that approximate a common ancestor of a frog and monkey. In fact, scientists have revealed numerous elegant examples of sequences of intermediate forms. Even if the concept of evolution is not clear to you or if it is limited to those teenage schooldays when you learned, with some surprise, that humans and great apes are more related that you thought, this book provides an excellent introduction to many areas of science and is accessible from any level of prior knowledge. There are no boring paragraphs to be read. The last pages leave the reader with the truly moving message that evolution is within us, around us, between us, and its workings are imbedded in the rocks of aeons past. Verily, we are the children of natural selection.
Solar activity threatens sattelite technology Alannah Nic Phaidin Contributing Writer
Research published by German scientists from Karlsruhe University in last week’s edition of Science demonstrates a new and exciting use of optics technology: the ability to make objects appear invisible. This was accomplished by the researchers using photonic crystal, optical nanostructures designed to affect the movement of photons, or light particles. These crystals were assembled into an “invisibility cloak” that was used to conceal a small bump on the surface of a sample of gold. Tolga Ergin, the lead researcher on the project, described the masking effect as being akin to hiding a small object under and carpet and then making the carpet and bump invisible. This development holds an immense amount of potential for future potential. Harry Potter fans have a while to wait, however, as the research is still in very early stages and has a long way to go before anything as big as a person can be concealed.
signal that the satellites send to Earth. The only way we have to counter this at the moment and for the foreseeable future is the use of complex directional antennae, which are expensive and at the moment used almost solely for military applications. It is still incredibly difficult to obtain such equipment for commercial industry due to heavy regulations set by the military. Even if this information was released to non-military users in the US and selected allies, due to export controls on the actual products it would be near impossible to get this information to a number of companies that might fall out of the specific boundaries of the requirements listed by the US government. Another problem arises when the signal that is sent has to travel through the ionosphere, the outer atmosphere of the Earth. The ionosphere is mostly made up of a collection of particles that have been ionised, or been ripped apart by the Sun’s activity. The more active the Sun, the more radiation enters the ionosphere and the
greater the potential for interference with sat-nav. This can have a negative effect because the technology assumes that the signal that has been sent by the satellite has been sent at a constant speed and continues to travel at a constant speed, but that is not automatically true, since the greater the interference from the Sun through increased activity the more slowly the signal may pass through the ionosphere, resulting in greater distortion of the speed of the information being transmitted to Earth, adding error to the system’s calculations. There are other factors that can interfere with information in similar ways, but the sun’s cycle has a more powerful and longer lasting impact. The reason why scientists have not had to consider it before is because the last time we had a solar maximum the technology had not reached a point where it was so precise, nor was it so essential to our lives. In this Information Age disruptions of communication can be devastating and we must be ready for trouble.
NASA’s ultraviolet telescope, Galaxy Evolution Explorer Mission, the only one of its kind in space, marks its seventh anniversary in May. There is much to celebrate in terms of priceless data compiled by the telescope, which has helped shape our understanding of other galaxies, collating information regarding the size, brightness, and shape of galaxies across billions of years of cosmic history. The information gained from the telescope has helped cosmologists gain a better understanding of the origins of the Universe. Another highlight of the Galaxy Evolution Explorer’s discoveries was its detection of the red giant star, Mira. Through research of Mira, scientists hope to better understand how stars like our sun die.
STEM CELL GEOMETRY Scientists at the University of Chicago have developed a new method of influencing the growth of stem cells. Through the use of geometrically patterned surfaces, the researchers were able to affect the lineages of stem cells and direct them to form either fat or bone cells. Such research has great promise for further use in harvesting stem cells for therapeutic use, but the researchers are quick to say that the new method is only in the earliest stages of development and far from ready for any medical application. Their discovery, however, does hold great promise for future research projects into the development of stem cell treatments.
BUSINESS & CAREERS
TRINITY NEWS March 23, 2010
Greece: another epic journey ahead Alan McQuaid, Chief Economist at Bloxham Stockbrokers, analyses the consequences that Greece’s economic crisis are likely to have on its closest neighbours. Despite the government’s fiscal retrenchment, it looks as if the region will be suffering the consequences for some time to come.
Alan McQuaid Chief Economist, Bloxham THE VIEW coming out of Athens is that Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou can tap into massive political capital, an unrivalled pedigree and strong international credentials to rescue his country from a severe debt crisis. After a hesitant start, the Socialist moderniser bowed to months of EU pressure and imposed draconian fiscal austerity measures, convincing markets to lend him somewhat cheaper money to plug budget holes. However, deeper recession, entrenched resistance to reform and wider financial market turmoil mean that Greece is not yet in calm waters. Mr. Papandreou set the stage last week for salary cuts and tax hikes ahead of visits to Germany and France to seek support from the EU. So far, markets and his EU peers have applauded the move. Moody’s ratings agency said the fiscal measures are a positive sign that the Greek government is really trying to grasp the nettle, but added that the agency was looking for near perfect delivery for Greece to maintain its current credit rating of A2 with a negative outlook. Back in Greece, though, trade unions immediately announced strikes and it will take hard work to keep the backing of a largely sympathetic public once the measures start to bite. Success of the fiscal austerity measures hinges on a peaceful social front. Mr. Papandreou won October elections on a tax-and-spend ticket. A
sociologist by training, he espoused “green growth” without being fully aware of the dire state of Greece’s public finances. Soon afterwards, he announced the deficit would be double that predicted by the outgoing conservative government, plunging the country into a crisis. He initially resisted pressure from markets and
“Quite clearly, the crisis has threatened the credibility of the euro, and leaving Greece to fend for itself could unnerve markets further.” the European Union for tough, Irishstyle fiscal retrenchment. Critics said it took him too long to understand the urgency of the problem. For weeks he tried to secure concrete EU support in exchange for tough measures, accusing Brussels of having turned a blind eye to his predecessors’ dodgy statistics and warning that Greece would turn to the IMF if its partners abandoned it. Mr. Papandreou seems to face no serious political challenge in pushing through austerity steps as his socialist party enjoys a comfortable majority and the main conservative opposition has committed itself to austerity in principle.
European leaders, grappling with crises at home, have been reluctant to extend help to a fellow member with chronically unreliable financial data, though French President Nicolas Sarkozy promised at the weekend that Eurozone countries would help Greece if its financial problems worsened and vowed a crackdown on market speculators whom the Greeks blame for their woes. Still, many market economists complain that one-off cuts fail to address Greece’s more entrenched problems. However, if the measures convince markets Greece is serious about putting its house in order, it may be able to raise funds at reasonable rates and EU aid may never need to materialise. But the availability of such aid, if needed, may still turn out to be a crucial factor in maintaining market confidence. Mr. Papandreou has said repeatedly that Greece must repair its credibility, and there is little doubt that success will hinge on whether Greece manages to cut a 12.7% of GDP budget deficit by 4 percentage points this year and set the foundations for growth. Athens has to borrow €53 billion this year, and needs to refinance about €20 billion of debt maturing in April and May, putting a growing time pressure on the EU to see Greece’s fiscal woes resolved. Although the EU treaty seeks to prevent bailouts of member states, legal issues could be overcome with enough political will. EU governments could offer many forms of aid, from speeding disbursement of structural
Public disturbances have been the public face of massive dissatisfaction among the Greek people. economic aid to giving debt guarantees or creating a bailout fund. Because aid would have to be justified to taxpayers in rich EU states, it is unlikely to involve government-to-government transfers of cash. Instead, it would probably be indirect and designed to help Greece continue to borrow in debt markets. Should the EU come to the aid of Greece this year, German taxpayers may become unwilling to provide support over the long-term if structural economic weakness keeps Athens dependent on EU aid for years. And the EU has shown little sign of reforming the way the bloc works to prevent such debt crises occurring with other members in future. It has said it will tighten monitoring of members, but it still has no guarantee that countries will maintain fiscal discipline or that their economies will be able to work well inside the Eurozone’s monetary straightjacket. Quite clearly, the crisis has threatened the credibility of the euro, and leaving Greece to fend for itself could unnerve markets further. Problems could then spread to other EU countries, in particular those in the southeast. Indeed, the Greek debt crisis is
poised to undermine already dwindling investment flows into south-eastern Europe’s emerging economies, adding to barriers to recovery in one of the continent’s most fragile regions. Greek lending in central and eastern Europe is concentrated mainly in Romania and Bulgaria, both struggling to recover from sharp economic contractions and most exposed to any scaling back in funding as Greece’s banks shore up their own finances. Greece has been a major investor in the region and although its problems have so far only had a limited impact on nearby states, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development warned last week of potential hits to nearby bank systems and economies. Greek firms are also not expected to invest heavily in their usual target areas as they digest severe government spending cuts at home. While there may not be a wholesale retreat from Romania and Bulgaria, there certainly won’t be an increase in investment flows and with a string of downgrades to Greece’s credit rating by rating agencies, banks are unlikely to expand their loan books abroad this year. Currently Greek banks control roughly 15% of
banking assets in Romania and Serbia. In Bulgaria, the figure is 30%. And though officials in these countries are cautiously optimistic, Greece’s troubles are too recent to show up in the data so underlying problems may take some time to come out into the open. Southeast Europe as a whole is suffering from a general lack of foreign investment (in Romania, for example, it dropped to €4.9 billion in 2009 from €9.5 billion a year earlier) and the Greek crisis comes as a further blow to the region. Bucharest and Belgrade were forced to grab International Monetary Fund-led rescue loans to avoid crises last year and Bulgaria’s economy is still on shaky ground. That means investors looking to tap emerging Europe’s recovery may shift money to more stable countries like Poland, the only European Union state to avoid recession last year, or those with limited Greek exposure such as the Czech Republic. Whatever the outcome of Papandreou’s fiscal tightening, it is likely that there will be a lot more twists and turns in this drama before the curtain finally comes down. Greece and its closest neighbours are not out of the woods yet.
Here at home it’s worse than it looks Business Editor Jason Somerville takes a look behind some of the seemingly positive labour market statistics that have indicated the bottoming out of the Irish economy. Jason Somerville Business & Careers Editor AT THE end of February, unemployment inched back to 12.6% from 12.7% the previous month. Economists have been pointing to the continued improvement over the last three months in the jobless figures as a signal that things are looking up for the Irish economy. However, beneath the figures is a much bleaker story. Recent statistics from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that in 2009, 93% of Irish emigrants were under the age of 44. This implies that the majority of those who left the country last year did so in search of work. Ultimately this improves the official estimates of the level of unemployment, but it masks a more worrying underlying trend. Ireland has one of the most highlyeducated workforces in the world. Indeed, 61% of the total population have attained a third-level degree. Furthermore, this figure is likely to increase as the benefits of “free education for all” filter through to the next generation.
Connecting the dots, it is clear why such a high level of emigration can be detrimental to the future growth potential of the Irish economy. The so-called “brain drain” is not new to Ireland. The 1980s were marked by mass emigration, primarily by highly-educated young people, in search of employment. This became so widespread that the world-renowned psychologist Hans Eysenck postulated that the Irish had become a genetically inferior race. His argument, while extremely simplistic, was that the most highly-educated Irish citizens would leave Ireland in search of work due to a lack of available domestic opportunities. By emigrating, their DNA would be excluded from the genetic pool. It is a shame that Eysenck died in 1997, just as the Celtic Tiger was taking hold and Ireland was being propelled into the league of the world’s most advanced economies. Indeed, such an achievement was built upon a “knowledge-based economy”, contrary to Eysenck’s grim prediction. While Eysenck was wrong about the genetic inferiority of the Irish, a valid point can be derived from his
observation. If the most talented graduates in the country are persistently forced to emigrate in search of job opportunities, Ireland’s reputation as a “knowledge-based economy” may become severely compromised. No level of corporation tax could compensate multinationals for this development. So what can be done to offset this vicious circle? The answer is obvious: stimulate growth and employment. However, the method by which such a result could be achieved is less straightforward. In 2009, of the 213 countries in the world, Ireland’s economic performance ranked 206th, underscoring the need for immediate action. Traditionally, when governments want to increase employment, they borrow and stimulate the economy. However, as it stands, Ireland already needs to borrow €20 billion from private markets this year alone to run the country on a day-to-day basis. This is despite €4 billion in cuts introduced in this year’s budget. An alternative method of employment generation lies with monetary policy.
However, given the ECB’s tough stance on inflation and the return to a positive growth in the Eurozone as a whole, this is unlikely to materialise. Indeed, despite his optimism
“Ireland already needs to borrow €20 billion from private markets this year alone to run the country on a dayto-day basis ... despite €4 billion in cuts” surrounding the Irish labour market, Bloxham Chief Economist Alan McQuaid warns that “there will be a high level of unskilled workers permanently on the dole queues even when the Irish economy returns to positive growth”. He notes that there is no doubt that the lower rates of monthly increase in the numbers signing on in recent months can be put down to increased
emigration, more people than usual returning to education and Government schemes aimed at cutting the numbers on the Live Register. This culmination of factors has been responsible for the marginal improvement in the unemployment rate over the past few months. It has not been driven by a “real” shift in prospects for the Irish economy. The Live Register is only a proxy measure of unemployment. Indeed, we must delve into the Quarterly National Household Survey if we are to arrive at a clear picture of the Irish labour market. Unfortunately, a similar story is to be found. The most recent data from the CSO are for the third quarter of 2009. They reveal that the number of people in the labour force at the end of the period fell by 2.8% in the year. The decline in the size of the labour market was largely attributable to a decline in participation of 53,600 individuals, as represented by the fall in the employment participation rate from 64.2% to 62.5%. This confirms many of the intuitive fears of economists. In a recent interview with Trinity
News, Deputy Richard Bruton was eager to drive this concern home: “66% of the jobs lost have been amongst people who are under 25, and almost 90% among those under 30 ... this has been very much a young person’s recession”. However, even his party’s ambitious plan of a “program for employment” that plans to invest €11 billion in key infrastructures will have to face up to a number of economic realities if it is to be implemented. It has hard to be anything but pessimistic about prospects surrounding the Irish economy. Worryingly, the more conditions deteriorate in the labour market, the more damage will be done to the long-term growth potential of the economy. In the 1980s the government focused all of its efforts on stabilising the budget deficit and hoped for a miracle in order to boost growth. That miracle came in the form of the booming US economy of the 1990s. This time around we cannot afford to wait patiently for such a miracle. It is unfortunate then that we have little other choice.
FORTNIGHT IN FIGURES
-0.8 Percentage points: The fall this month in the annual growth in asking prices for residential property in England and Wales.
The rise in manufacturing output in January yearon-year. Total industrial production also increased by 1.8% over the same period.
The monthly rise in prices in February; this is the first positive change since August. On a yearly basis, this represents a fall of 3.2%.
Percentage points: The decrease in the growth of GDP expected by US economists in 2011, according to a recent Blue Chip survey.
the target budget deficit Portugal wants to achieve by 2013, according to a new plan by its government. The decfict currently stands at 8.3%.
BUSINESS & CAREERS
TRINITY NEWS March 23, 2010
Fairtrade for some, poverty for others
JOKE OF FORTNIGHT What do you get when you cross the Godfather with an economist? An offer you can’t understand.
Jonathan Wyse takes a look at the downside of the Fairtrade movement from the free-market economist’s perspective and argues that the organisation may be doing more harm than good. Jonathan Wyse Staff Writer AS SOME of you will know, “Fairtrade Fortnight”, overlapping the end of February and beginning of March, saw an exhaustive media campaign persuading consumers that they should switch over to Fairtrade products. It’s all very well-meaning, and certainly makes consumers feel good about themselves. But does Fairtrade actually make life better for the poorest farmers in the world? The more ethical policy would be to embrace free trade and stop keeping prices artificially high. Fairtrade does actively try to identify the poorest farmers, but this has some unfortunate side-effects. Because this creates costs, it disadvantages the poor who have little access to capital and live hand-to-mouth. This explains why Fairtrade is most common in Mexico (a relatively affluent country) as opposed to Ethiopia or Rwanda (extremely poor countries that really need our help). So what are the unfortunate sideeffects of this? The poorest countries lose business to more affluent farmers, because demand flows to the Fairtrade products coming from Mexico. If poor farmers make it into the Fairtrade scheme though, things aren’t much better. Fairtrade bureaucrats will kick out farmers if they break rules meant to exclude the rich who don’t need help. What are some of the indicators that the farmer should be kept out of the scheme? If you’d rather maintain small business status than join a co-operative, Fairtrade doesn’t want your coffee. Apart from the unnecessary
infringement on individual agency, the co-operatives are often corrupt and the incentives created discourage effort from individual farmers. But if they don’t join up, they’ll lose business. Now, consider the Fairtrade farmer who’s considering expanding his farm and hiring full-time workers. It’s clearly an economical decision if he’s considering and can afford it. Indeed, mechanisation and economies of scale are the only way to develop these industries. But if the size of his farm goes beyond 12 acres, he’s kicked out of the Fairtrade scheme. Thus it’s more profitable to maintain his small farm and spurn the expansion of his enterprise – along with the boon to local employment this would bring. How do these regulations help the developing world? So if you want to help people in the world’s poorest nations, it’s better to spurn Fairtrade and donate the difference in price to the countless charities promoting foreign economic development. Moreover, donating to them provides help that doesn’t require the recipient nation to spurn modern technology and continue using outdated techniques on crops that perhaps the climate of the country is ill-suited to (as Fairtrade does). These countries need our help, but they should be encouraged to look forwards, not backwards. If you consume Fairtrade products, read the literature and educate yourself to the real harm that this well-meaning organisation is doing. Even if you question the reasoning behind them, you can’t challenge the facts: only about 5% of the price of a Fairtrade chocolate bar
kes it even makes evant to the relevant So country. ou pay when you % more that 20% for the Fairtrade factor, feel-good o you think where do all that money goes? tunately, shops Unfortunately, irtrade as a kind treat Fairtrade -quality line. They of high-quality at consumers will pay the know that premium in the hope that it is justified mount that actually supports by the amount farmers in the developing world. ces and profits rise to reflect Thus, prices astic demand with respect the inelastic to price. So where does that price
THE GOOD SHOPPING GUIDE: YOUR GUIDE TO SHOPPING WITH A CLEAR CONSCIENCE
premium go? If you’re an ethical consumer, you should be asking that question. Jonathan Wyse blogs under the name of the Freemarketeer.
FAIRTRADE FACTS FAIRTRADE FOLLOWS a market-based approach to development. The main idea is to give poor farmers in Less Developed Countries access to markets, while ensuring that they remain protected from the volatility of commodity prices. According to the Fairtrade website, the movement “is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world”. One of the key features of the organisation
is that the producers must be paid a “sustainable price”. The current social movement has its origins in Europe in the 1960s but attempts to develop a similar movement by NGOs date back to the 1940s and 50s. The orgainisation has its own independent consumer label which guarantees that the products it certifies adhere to the principle of fair trade (fair prices for producers, concern for the environment etc). The main products
carrying the Fairtrade logo are: coffee, brazil nuts, bananas, cotton, tea, olive oil, citrus fruits and cocoa products. In 2008, sales of Fairtrade products were valued at US$4.08 billion. The organisation has come into conflict with thinkers on both sides of the political spectrum. Those on the right insist that the price supports are distortionary and harmful to the producer; some on the left criticise the movement for not adequately challenging the economic system.
The psychology of job hunting and the trappings of the market Lisa Keenan examines the consequences which the prioritisation of qualities over skills has for employees and job seekers.
Lisa Keenan Deputy Business & Careers A LOT has changed since the Fordist model first began to show signs of decay in the late sixties. The rise of the service industry coupled with the increased mechanisation of the primary and tertiary sectors of the economy mean that we now see extreme division of labour and the creation of a multitude of hyper-specialized jobs. Career paths are no longer linear – we don’t start with one company straight out of school and work our way up the ladder – so these days we change jobs as often as we change our car. Whereas before it was enough to possess the right skill-set for the job, or even the ability to learn the required skills, now the prospective employee must display a wide range of desirable personality traits if he or she is to be seriously considered for a position. Employers are now suspicious of anyone who appears to be wedded to their career and take signs of other interests as a good indication of a well-rounded individual. Involvement in extra-curricular activities is now almost as essential as a university degree. Interests and activities outside of employment serve as signals to employers. They show what kind of person you are and whether or not you are likely to “fit in” to the workplace in question (this is another departure from the traditional employment pattern: the question of candidates’ suitability for a post would never have been determined by their passion for modern art or their fondness for running marathons at weekends). The expansion of the criteria which the candidate must meet is not just evident at the higher echelons of the service sector but has instead trickled down to its menial service jobs.
Anecdotal evidence on the subject indicates that the quest to find the perfect employee now borders on the surreal. One well-known cosmetics store refused to take in curricula vitae and instead asked for a “fun” letter of application
“A candidate was later hired on the basis of her ability to express her personality through the use of stickers and peppy self-descriptive adjectives...” explaining what the job seeker was “all about”. A candidate was later hired on the basis of her ability to express her personality through the use of stickers and peppy self-descriptive adjectives. An equally well-known clothes shop requests access to candidates’ Facebook profiles as well as the inclusion of four photos of the applicant which sum him or her up. This hyper-differentiation of employees can be viewed in a positive light. People who have other interests outside of work possess a range of qualities which can aid them in their job. For example, those who engage in team sports have experience working as part of a group in order to achieve a common goal. Such a talent is difficult to quantify but is logically a point in a candidate’s favour from the employer’s perspective. Engaging in these activities also demonstrates an ability to multitask. However, placing such a burden on employees to distinguish themselves from the masses and job seekers does have rather negative effects on their psyche.
In 1983, Arlie Hochschild, building on Ervin Goffman’s insights in The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, argued that expecting employees to possess and display certain qualities during their work day can in fact lead to “emotional numbness” and a loss of self. The flight attendants she surveyed spoke of the mental exhaustion they experienced after clocking out from a shift during which they were expected to embody relaxed friendliness at all times. In addition, for those who are looking for work or who have been “let go”, the extreme individualisation of the work experience means any “failure” in this regard is experienced as a personal failure by the individual, regardless of the wider economic context. What this means is that even if overall unemployment figures are high, the message people receive is that employment is out there for them so long as they can stay positive and present themselves to employers in an attractive light. This is particularly true in the American context. In Bait and Switch, Barbra Ehrenreich wrote of her experience of life coaches, motivational speakers and CV doctors as she searched for a job in corporate America. Essentially the doctrine these people propagated was one of individual responsibility. Ehrenreich sums up the message of one of the many life coaches that she paid to help her in her quest for a job: “as for his philosophy, it’s straightforward victim blaming: your problem is you”. Suggestions that a difficult job market or a rigid corporate culture may in some way be to blame for the inability of many to find a job is met with derision by the gurus encountered throughout the book. Ehrenreich wrote Bait and Switch in 2006 and although the economic context has changed since then, the culture of victim blaming has not. In
times of recession employers may wield the whip but, as any career coach will tell you, it is important that job hunters not show their awareness of this fact. The ideal employee must be eager to please but full of self-confidence and sure of his own self-worth. In fact, those looking for work are expected to engage in a kind of “double-think” that makes it impossible to consider the broader context in which they undertake their job search. At the end of January a link to the Forbes website caught my eye; it claimed to have invaluable advice for job seekers in these very difficult times. The article turned out to be a catalogue of faux pas which must be avoided by applicants, chief of which was “not to let your job desperation show”. I was baffled. Could this mean that even in the middle of
“Suggestions that a difficult job market or a rigid corporate culture may in some way be to blame for the inability of many to find a job is met with derision...” the worst recession since the Great Depression the unemployed were being asked to internalize the blame for their situation? I read on. It could. While acknowledging that job search can “often” be linked to survival (apparently for some it is simply a hobby), the author proceeds to talk about how off-putting the sight of the desperate candidate is to the employer: “If you’ve ever witnessed desperation in a relationship, you know how unappealing it can be to see someone willing to settle for something.
Anything. It makes you wonder just how much that person values himself or herself.” Even at a time when job loss is widespread and money worries are foremost in many people’s minds, displaying something as vulgar as a pressing need to meet mortgage payments is a no-go area. The focus must instead be on maintaining a positive attitude and pursuing aggressive selfimprovement. The logical course of this prioritising of personality traits over qualifications is that the qualification aspect of the job will eventually slip into the background. Essentially, the quality replaces the skill as the criteria for employment. We can imagine a situation in which the division of labour becomes so extreme that the skill-set becomes almost irrelevant as qualities like an “upbeat attitude” take centre stage. The recently released movie Up in the Air illustrates this with a cost-cutting measure whereby inexperienced office workers take over the task of firing people by webcam, replacing the skilled consultants who had previously flown across the country to do it. The only requirement here would be an ability to stay calm and follow orders – and of course the capacity to read a flow chart mapping out the correct responses for every situation. Ehrenreich argues that we can see the supremacy of the personality trait over the qualification in action today as jobs like pharmaceutical company sales reps become invaded with cheerleaders whose exaggerated smiles and generally attractive appearance (given that the majority of doctors are male) are deemed to produce better results (more sales of drugs) than qualifications in chemistry or biology. The change is underway and admiration for packaging rather than content is now just one more thing for prospective employees to worry about.
THERE ARE certain books which once you pick them up you cannot put them down again; they scream for attention and compel the reader to finish them before even thinking about starting anything else. The Good Shopping Guide is not one of them. This reference book, intended as a consumer how-to-be-good-to-yourneighbour bible, is hard-going from the outset. The stated goal of this book is to help the reader to “make informed decisions about what consumer brands are best for the planet, best for animals and best for people everywhere”. This is a worthy aim but the coupling of a friendly and helpful format with the seriousness of the issues that it addresses is somewhat jarring. Do consumers really want to get their information about the way in which the products they buy are manufactured from brightly coloured tables with helpful symbols to distinguish the ‘goodies’ from the ‘baddies’? Although a great deal of research has gone into the classification of these highprofile manufacturers by the Ethical Consumer Research Association (ECRA), the reader would never know. A list of the reports published by the ECRA on which this book is based is provided, but without footnoting or referencing it appears that we are expected to take it on faith that Budweiser operates in oppressive regimes but has a good record for workers’ rights, or that Knorr tests on animals in an unethical way. This for me is the most disappointing aspect of the book: it offers only a snapshot of a select bunch of companies (granted they are the most popular ones) and gives the reader a report on their performance according to certain categories which are so broad as to confuse. Even the explanation contained in the introduction of how the companies are classified is general enough to leave the discerning reader with plenty of questions. However I must admit that The Good Shopping Guide does in fact have something to contribute to the debate about ethical production and consumption. Readers should not make the mistake I did in attempting to read it cover to cover. Instead, it is best to leaf through it and to select a page a random. If the content of that page intrigues you – for example, why is Teacher’s whiskey classified as engaging in very irresponsible marketing? – the internet must be the next port of call. The ECRA maintain a free online database which allows the public to access information on the behaviour of almost 20,000 corporations (although detailed information requires a subscription), but this kind of information is also available from other sources like the Fairtrade Foundation or Genetically Manipulated. The Good Shopping Guide aims to merely stimulate the reader to think critically about where the products he or she buys come from and how they are produced. Not a guide to be slavishly followed, it instead points the way to more careful consideration of the effect which the choices we make on the high-street have on the rest of the world and empowers the consumer by focusing on the premise that making small changes (like switching brands) can have global effects. Review by Lisa Keenan
TRINITY NEWS March 23, 2010
Living the Moroccan dream Surfing the Moroccan waves near Taghazout. Photo by Callum Swift. Callum Swift Contributing Writer I SAT gazing out the window of a Boeing 737 at the vast and juxtaposed land below me. The evening sun brushes the snow-tipped Atlas Mountains, casting shadows over circles of irrigated green dotted amidst an endless expanse of harsh scrub. Four hours ago I was fighting the familiar bitter wind on O’Connell Street, attracting a few strange glances due to the fact that I’m trailing what is best described as a body bag behind me. With three boards, a tent, a wetsuit and a few clothes I’m heading to the small fishing town of Taghazout in central Morocco, with a continuous loop of iconic surf footage from the areas famous right hand point breaks filling my mind. I have done plenty of road trips before, both for surfing and mountain biking: living in a van for months on end, surviving on pasta, showering in ponds and driven by a love for the sport that can keep you searching for new places your whole life, desperate for an uncrowded wave or fresh track to satisfy the yearning. Usually, money and time only allow us to venture to the obvious and easily accessible places in Europe, but with the reach of low cost airlines ever expanding, places like Morocco are
becoming a cheap and exciting option, accessible for as little as a €100, fourhour return flight direct from Dublin. All Mike and I had booked was a return flight to Agadir, and with little more of a plan than to rent a car and find some waves we landed with great anticipation. After a bit of bartering with a car hire company and some creative packing we had the boards and luggage crammed into our little twodoor and were driving into the bustling streets of Morocco. With neither of us thinking to bring a map and a large lack of signposts, we drove through the chaotic city blind and loving every moment. Every sense is affronted, the stifling air wafting the potent scents of the city through the car, horns blasting aimlessly and the drone of the evening prayers echoing across the streets from the mosque. The Moroccan roads are crazy: red means go, right of way seems optional and motorways are shared with donkeys and camels. At one stage we were stuck behind a kid on a pedal pop (a 50cc motorbike/bicycle), who was trucking along the middle of the motorway whilst texting away on his mobile, his helmet hanging from his bars! Somehow we found our way to Taghazout, and when a local told us his friend had a room we could stay in
for 50 dirham (about 4 euro) a night we gladly put our tents back in the car and followed him up the dark and shambolic streets, dodging goats and kids on motorbikes until we got to the house. Whilst the outside, like all the surrounding buildings, was bare concrete and crumbling brick, the inside was plastered a dark red and orange and beautifully decorated with the owner
We surfed until our exhausted bodies wouldn’t allow us to continue, practically inhaled our dinner and collapsed into our tent, utterly ecstatic. Hassan’s own artwork. On top of the fire sat a conical clay pot, a simmering stew of chicken, vegetables and spices. These tagines, a Moroccan specialty, became our staple diet while we were there. Some unfamiliar Reggae was playing out of his speakers and a shisha pipe was bubbling away on the table, the whole house a hazy waft of spices and flavoured tobacco.
We woke at first light with high expectations. The surf media has descended on Morocco recently and all we could think about were the pictures we had seen in videos and magazines of perfect, reeling point breaks framed on a hazy aquamarine ocean. The surf forecast looked good, large swells and low winds. However we were met with grey skies, grey ocean and lumpy, messed up waves. Not quite what we came here for, but we had a fun session nonetheless, despite paddling out to a dirty brown estuary no doubt containing most of the town’s sewage. The next few days were similar, scouring the coast’s many points and beaches for surf, looking at swell charts and wind directions, wondering why the ocean wasn’t playing by the rules and producing what the forecast said it should be. We decided we wanted to get away from the crowds and surf camps of Taghazout, so we packed our car and headed out. The road north varies from miles of dead-straight coastal roads to meandering mountain passes. Goats roam the scrub and climb the almond trees, perching precariously in their thorny branches, searching for the nuts. Lines of washing hang still in the sleepy midday heat and women walk with donkeys for miles along the road. We stopped on a cliff top overlooking
the ocean and I hopped out of the car, toilet roll in hand. I wandered over to the cliff edge and was astounded by the spectacle before me: line upon line of clean swell, refracting around an outcropping water break and producing a kilometre-long, perfect right. This is why we came. We drove down to the harbour at a ridiculous pace, frothing with excitement. Suits on, sun cream on, drink of water, a quick jump of the harbour wall and we were out the back. We surfed until our exhausted bodies wouldn’t allow us to continue, practically inhaled dinner and collapsed in our tent, utterly ecstatic. The rest of the week was incredible, the sun burning though the clouds and turning the ocean a stunning colour, catching the floating Saharan particles to cast a hazy shimmer over the coastline. When we were too tired to surf we explored the surrounding villages, chatting to gap-toothed old fisherman and eating a ridiculous amount of tagines. As we sat bobbing in the ocean in our last surf of the trip, watching the spray of the waves catching the dropping sun’s last rays in a beautiful spectrum of colour, we were talking about what we would usually be doing at that time: sitting in the last lecture of the day or battling the traffic on the way back from
work, dreaming of this moment. Why does it have to be a dream? You don’t just have to go somewhere in search of surf to enjoy it, to walk around a bustling market for the first time, to eat new and exiting food and to learn a bit about another culture and language. You don’t have to prebook every last detail of your trip; in fact, you get the most out of it by doing the exact opposite. If we had booked in with a surf camp, not only would it have cost triple the amount but I wouldn’t have arrived back in Dublin with Hassan’s tagine pot, a bag full of spices and a recipe for a stunning meal. But this trip just whet my appetite. Whilst we did our best to explore and immerse ourselves in the place, there is only so much you can accomplish in a week, and that area of Morocco is now fairly well-charted in terms of surf. Twenty years ago the west coast of France still held secret spots, and going to Thailand for the summer was unthinkable, but times change and surfers and travellers are forced to venture into ever further and more inaccessible places for the same buzz of exploration. New frontiers are opening up: Senegal, Angola, Peru, Costa Rica and India to name just a few. Who knows what the world will be like in 30 years? But I think it’s safe to say these places won’t stay untapped for long.
A Mexican match to remember When Ralph Marnham organised a football match between two rival schools, he thought that it would be a straightforward affair. Little did he know what lay in store for him... Ralph Marnham Deputy Travel Editor I WAS teaching in a small village called Santa Maria Pipioltepec. The local Mexicans there are a mixture of Mazuan Indians and other ethnic minorities, living in traditional villages and farms around the pine-clad hillsides of Valle de Bravo, about three hours away from Mexico City. What had struck me about the school was the lack of sport offered, despite the children playing football every break time in the school playground. They seemed to know most of the English football team, especially David Beckham. Their idol, however, was the captain of the national team, Rafael Marquez. After having taught in the school for three months I decided to organise a football match with another rival local school, San Fransisco. Henry, a friend of mine, was a teacher there. Although my passion for the game had never translated itself onto the pitch (I was a left back in a very average team), I did rather rate myself as a coach, especially as Henry’s knowledge of football was pretty poor, often confusing it with its American counterpart. We had decided that the age group for the match should be between ten- and twelve-year-olds and the following day I started to hold the trials. When I had announced to the classes involved that we were going to play a match against San Fransisco,
they had all seemed to be extremely excited about the idea. However, when I got to the school football pitch that afternoon, I was still astonished to see how many children had turned up for the trials. Apparently, word had gone round the playground that this was happening and nearly everyone had come along to ask me if they could be part of the team. I reiterated the point that they had to be between the ages of
Pedro played a looping pass to Emiliano, and after a one-two with Rogerio, Emiliano slammed the ball into the top right corner of the goal. ten and twelve to participate. This still did not seem to deter a certain Jose, who had a full on moustache, in trying to persuade me that he was in fact twelve. Luckily, I remembered that he was actually seventeen. It was with great difficulty that I managed to sift through the throng of eager faces. After half an hour, we started the trials. Although I thought that I had come reasonably well-prepared with various exercises scribbled down on
my pad of paper, I was soon proved very wrong. Firstly, I asked the group to split themselves into four different categories: goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and strikers. To my despair, I ended up with five goalkeepers, six defenders, ten midfielders and twentynine strikers. As I started the first exercise, it became clear that most of the boys wanted to chase the football around the pitch and score goals. After a few stern words, I recommenced the training drills. During the exercises, it slowly dawned on me that I was going to have to exclude the majority of the children. Realistically, I could only have a squad of twenty, meaning that thirty would miss out. At the end, I organised a big football match with everyone included. A few of the kids started to stand out. There was Juan, a big twelve-year-old, who, although sometimes over the top, put in a great number of sturdy challenges. Pedro was the playmaker of the team, and, although the youngest and slight of build, proved to be very adept at finding his team mates with pinpoint passes on the bumpy surface. The two strikers who shone the most were Emiliano and Rogerio. I returned home that afternoon full of hope and anticipation for the coming match. I turned up the next day with a heavy heart, knowing that at lunch time I had to put up my squad list. I spent most of my lunch breaking up fights and trying
The Santa Maria football team. Photo by Ralph Marnham to comfort disappointed children. Even my fellow teachers seemed to want to get involved in the debate. In the end though, the whole school seemed to get behind the team and even came to watch us in our training sessions. There seemed to be genuine hope and excitement in the air. It was at this point that I started to get worried. What if my team lost? This was not helped by the fact that Henry kept on telling me about his success as a coach. The night before the game I could hardly sleep. Henry and I had agreed to play at our school as our pitch was far better than theirs. When I arrived, my anxiety heightened as I saw that the whole school, pupils and staff, as well as the whole village had turned up. Henry turned up with a team of giants. It seemed that the twelve-year-olds from San Fransisco were twice as tall and I started to panic. After a lot of argument we decided to referee one half each. We tossed a coin and Henry took the first half. Within two minutes, Juan, my star centre half had given away a penalty with a desperate challenge. It was only after a lot of shouting and complaining from the touchline that I persuaded Henry not to send him off. The first half turned out to be a disaster with Henry’s team
easily winning the physical contest. At half time, they were four-nil up. Henry had a wide grin on his face, with the teachers from his school cheering him on. I turned round apprehensively towards the headmaster of Santa Maria. He scowled at me and turned away. The second half kicked off with me as the referee. I had given my team a passionate talk at half time and brought on five eager players, desperate to prove to me that they should have been included in the original team. The changes seemed to pay off. Pedro played a looping pass to Emiliano, and after a one-two with Rogerio, Emiliano slammed the ball into the top right corner of the goal. My team went wild and we seemed to have regained the diminishing interest of the crowd. A quick goal followed from Rogerio, who was excelling in his role as a striker. Juan made another dubious tackle and I decided to wave away Henry‘s screams from the touchline. Rogerio then scored again. Four-three! I started to hope that maybe we would win. However, it was not to be. After a barrage of attacks from Santa Maria, San Fransisco scored in the last minute from a devastating counter-attack. The game finished amicably with both sides sporting huge
grins on their faces. My teachers came up to offer their commiserations. All in all, I felt immensely proud with the children who had participated and with those who had missed out, they had been our most ferocious supporters. An annual fixture between the two schools has been held ever since.
TEACHING IN MEXICO Although many different companies offer ‘the gap year experience’, one must approach each one with great care. One way of deciding where to go is to speak to friends or family who have gone on different programmes. For Mexico, from personal experience I would recommend Africa, Asia and Americas Venture. They offer a training week, four month placement, a week’s safari and free travel at the end.
TRINITY NEWS March 23, 2010
A family affair There are a wealth of sporting families in diverse disciplines from horse racing to soccer and to rugby. Here are just a few dynansties that have been hitting the headlines in recent months.
maestro Frank Lampard over the last five or six years it is hard to believe that as a teenager in the mid 1990’s he lacked confidence in his footballing ability and longed for the success and recognition his older cousin Jamie Redknapp received playing for Liverpool. I have a feeling that now Lampard would not want to trade places with his cousin who after a string of injuries retired from the game and transformed himself into a Sky Sports pundit. He has become much maligned due his penchant for “stating the bleedin’ obvious” but has a growing female fan base as a result of his tight fitting shiny suits! Lampard and Redknapp are related through their mothers. The late Patricia Lampard (née Harris) and her sister Sandra both married footballing men; Frank Lampard Senior and the current Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp. Both Frank Senior and Harry are natives of London’s East End and played for their area’s most famous club West Ham United. They worked together with Redknapp as manager and Lampard as assistant manager of the Upton Park side from 1994 to 2001. During this time the brothers-in-law nurtured many young players from their youth academy who have gone on to become household names such as Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick and of course Frank Junior. Unfortunately for Frank Junior the fact that he was playing under his uncle and father did not endear him to some of the West Ham faithful. They felt the youngster was getting his game due to nepotism despite the fact that he showed great promise. This led to him
I ALWAYS thought when watching horse racing one is to pay rapt attention to the genealogy of the magnificent beasts that compete in the sport of kings. However, being clueless in the area of animal husbandry I was relieved during last week’s Cheltenham Racing Festival that a lot of the fuss was being made about a human bloodline for once. Despite missing out on defending last year’s Gold Cup triumph on Kauto Star Ruby Walsh, 30, still had a successful four days at Prestbury Park winning the Festival’s leading rider award and he also made it to the top of the Cheltenham all-time Festival jockey list. There was more joy for the Walsh family with Walsh’s younger sister Katie, 25, entering the winner’s enclosure on both occasions that she raced. The Walsh siblings inherited their racing pedigree from their father Ted who was both successful as a jockey and then a trainer. He teamed up with his son for Grand National success with Papillon in 2000. Ted has also gained notoriety as a racing pundit often coming out with gems such as “ I remember her mother well, she was a great ride!” Which sounds rather racy but of course only refers to the horse’s athletic ability. When Katie won the National Hunt Chase on Poker de Sivola on Saint Patrick’s Day, her father was also in flying form making the comment “What a great ride Katie got off him, she will remember this for the rest of her life.” I doubt those in racing circles would have gotten as much of a giggle out of this as I did as they seem immune to these types of references to equine talent. The only other female jockey in the National Hunt Chase was Nina Carberry and she finished second behind the Kildare woman. Carberry is also the younger sister of a Grand National winning jockey. Her brother is the talented but controversial bad boy of the racing world Paul. Last year he was banned from racing for 30 days after failing an alcohol breathalyser test in Naas and was sentenced to jail for two months in 2006 for “breaching the peace” on a flight from Malaga to Dublin. These two great racing dynasties may become entwined as Miss Carberry is currently dating Ruby and Katie’s brother Ted Junior. Ted Senior was happy with his son’s girlfriend’s performance saying “Nina’s a big part of our family, too. We were all delighted for her.” Racing is just one of many sports where there is a prevalence of strong sporting families. Looking at the consistent and freescoring form of Chelsea and England midfield
Unfortunately for Frank Junior the fact that he was playing under his uncle and father did not endear him to some of the West Ham faithful.
being jeered by some of his own fans and left him with bitter feelings towards them after he moved on to Chelsea in 2001. He was not shy about his opinions of the fans’ behaviour in his 2006 autobiography Totally Frank and as a result every time he plays against the Hammers he receives a hostile reception. It would appear that a certain amount of controversy seems to surround these sporting families and this following duo of cousins
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16.
LEINSTER DIVISION 2
Pl 15 12 12 12 14 11
W 8 7 7 6 2 2
D 2 3 2 3 2 0
L 5 2 3 3 10 9
Dublin University 7 – 0
GF 62 21 30 37 20 19
GA 27 12 33 18 56 43
GD 35 9 -3 19 -36 -24
Pts 26 24 23 21 8 6
Team Railway Union Hermes Loreto UCD Old Alexandra Trinity College Corinthians Pembroke Wanderers Glenanne Bray
Pl 14 14 14 16 15 16 17 14 16 16
SAT MAJOR 1C
W 12 12 10 8 6 4 4 3 3 2
2 – 0
Team Lansdowne Bruff D.L.S.P. Bective Rangers Terenure College Old Wesley Belfast Harlequins Clonakilty UCD Dublin University Thomond Corinthians Malone Old Crescent Highfield Greystones
P 12 12 13 13 12 13 12 13 12 13 13 12 12 12 13 13
W 12 8 8 7 7 6 6 5 6 5 5 6 5 4 3 2
D 0 2 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 2 0 1 0 1 0
L 0 2 4 5 5 7 6 7 5 8 6 6 6 8 9 11
F 386 251 263 223 225 232 212 195 259 230 222 158 199 212 141 126
A 135 182 199 196 200 249 177 224 200 245 248 233 209 255 237 345
TB 8 3 3 0 1 3 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 0 0
LB 0 1 1 4 3 3 3 5 0 6 2 1 2 3 3 2
Pts 56 40 38 34 32 30 29 29 28 28 28 26 25 20 17 10
D 1 1 2 4 3 2 2 4 3 2
L 1 1 2 4 6 10 11 7 10 12
GF 45 33 36 36 19 7 15 19 16 13
GA 11 8 14 26 17 25 45 26 42 25
GD 34 25 22 10 2 -18 -30 -7 -26 -12
Pts 37 37 32 28 21 14 14 13 12 7
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.
Team Old Belvedere Portlaoise RFC Cill Dara RFC City of Derry Belfast Harlequins Malahide RFC Cavan Dublin University Carrickfergus
P 8 7 8 6 8 7 7 7 8
W 7 5 5 5 3 3 1 1 1
D 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 0 1
L 1 2 3 1 4 4 4 6 6
F 231 202 97 138 56 64 20 20 15
A 45 35 89 41 128 56 164 82 203
TB 3 4 3 3 1 1 0 0 0
City Of Derry
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.
Postal United St. Patrick’s CYFC Alpine Express Sacred Heart FC Dublin University FC Newbridge Town Ballyfermot United Swords Celtic Larkview Boys Portmarnock FC Templeogue United St. James’s Athletic Fairview CYM
16 17 17 18 12 15 12 18 16 10 15 14 0
10 9 9 8 7 7 6 4 3 3 2 1 0
3 4 3 5 5 2 0 3 5 4 6 2 0
3 4 5 5 0 6 6 11 8 3 7 11 0
50 40 32 31 26 33 19 25 25 22 31 18 0
26 23 28 26 12 36 21 42 32 19 41 46 0
33 31 30 29 26 23 18 15 14 13 12 5 0
ALL IRELAND DIVISION 2N
26/09 - Registration infringement (1 points deducted)
LEINSTER DIVISION 1 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
that shattered Irish hopes of repeating the Grand Slam. His older cousin Gallas, 32, also crushed Irish spirits when he scored in the Stade de France from a pass created by Thierry Henry’s infamous “hand of Frog”. The defender like the rugby star has had his fair share of problems aired in the media. While still a player at Chelsea in 2006 Gallas was very keen for a move and it was alleged by the West London club he claimed that he “would score own-goals” if he was not given the transfer he desired. The player was disgusted by these stories and accused the Blues of “lacking class”. He was transferred to Arsenal as part of a swap deal for Ashley Cole. At the start of the 2007/08 season the Frenchman was given the Gunners’ captaincy. However, his emotional outburst after Eduardo’s leg was broken at an away fixture against Birmingham City caused many to question his mentality. His manager Arsène Wenger stood by him. Gallas went a step too far in November 2008 when he gave an interview to the Associated Press agency in which he revealed tensions within the squad, which were causing divisions within the team. He also suggested that Arsenal’s younger players needed to work harder and act more bravely if they were to be successful. After being dropped for a match he was stripped of the captaincy and was succeeded by Cesc Fàbregas. At the time it was thought Gallas would leave the North London side but he continues to play for them. Sporting talent and a desire to win certainly seem to be qualities that can be passed through families, those I mentioned are only the tip of the iceberg. We should not forget the Williams sisters and Murray brothers in tennis, the Wallace and Kearney brothers in rugby and the Charlton, Ferdinand and Hunt brothers in soccer to name but a few.
AIL DIVISION 2
Team Dublin UniverWeston Suttonians Avoca Navan Bray
Ruby Walsh, above, shares a passion for horses with bothe her father and sister, while Lampard, right, is cousin to fellow footballer Jamie Redknapp.
Results and fixtures
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
are no exception. Both Arsenal and France centre-back William Gallas and his younger rugby playing cousin, the Stade Français and France centre Mathieu Bastareaud have courted controversy as well as playing their part in breaking Irish sports fans’ hearts in recent months. The Guadalupe born 21 year-old Bastareaud has been one of the stars of this year’s Six Nations Championship but last year he was embroiled in an event that sparked off a diplomatic incident between France and New Zealand. Last summer while the French team was on tour in New Zealand the player who has been described by some pundits as having “the build of a dump truck” claimed he was attacked by a group of All Blacks’ fans outside the team hotel in Wellington after sustaining facial injuries. The authorities in New Zealand were worried as they thought the attack may have been racially motivated and in order to keep the country’s reputation intact for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, which they are to host, the Prime Minister John Key released an official apology for the incident. However, upon police scrutiny of CCTV footage showing Bastareaud returning to the hotel in the early hours of the morning unharmed he was forced to admit he had made the story of the assault up to conceal that he had banged his head on a bedside table while drunk and he was afraid that if truth came out he would be dropped from the squad. A media frenzy then erupted. There were claims and rumours which included that the player had been involved in a brawl with team mates or that an angry pimp had attacked him. The truth of the origins of Bastareaud’s injury have never fully been gotten to the bottom of. The French Prime Minister François Fillon stepped in, apologising to the people of New Zealand. Bastareaud returned to a mixture of suspicion and hostility from the French media. During this time it was reported in L’Equipe that due to a deep sense of shame resulting from the Wellington incident, the centre attempted suicide by jumping into the River Seine. He spent a number of weeks receiving specialist psychiatric care. It was also widely reported that his state of mental fragility was exacerbated by a sense of isolation that he felt at being one of the few black players from the troubled suburbs or banlieues in a squad dominated by provincial white players. Since those difficult few months Bastareaud has been letting his rugby do the talking and has silenced his critics with strong performances in the Six Nations. He played an important part in the French team
LB 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 2 0
Pts 32 24 24 23 14 12 8 5 3
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
Mt Pleasant A Trinity A Total Fitness MH A Westwood B Old Belvedere A BYE
7 6 6 6 7 0
74 69 60 18 9 0
TRINITY NEWS March 23, 2010
Skating and skiing through adversity
THE COMMENTARY BOX WHO WANTS TO LOSE THE WORLD CUP? WAG CULTURE IN THE beginning, there was football. On the first day, there was light, and Brazil illuminated the void. The second day brought forth Italy, glowing with passion. The third day saw France emerge, spurred on by fierce national pride. The fourth day dawned and Argentina weaved their way across the land. The fifth day saw a lull in creation and hence Germany was born, along with a stoic approach to their game. On the sixth day, England was created, and with them came a cultural by-product of their existence. The seventh day brought rest and recuperation from any knocks picked up by trailing legs and ill-timed lunges. The beautiful game has seen dramatic changes in recent years. While many have been beneficial in improving game quality and international standing, others have been seriously detrimental for its reputation. The aforementioned by-product of English football is the inane emergence of the wives and girlfriends of the national team’s players as celebrities in their own right. The acronymic WAG culture has seen more headlines since its establishment than the England squad’s exploits on a football pitch, perhaps lending us a clue to its controversial prominence in one of the world’s leading sporting nations. To study the impact WAGs have had on modern English football (especially in the light of recent revelations), we must first take a look at the shambolic 2006 World Cup. Baden-Baden, a boutique Bavarian town, secured its place in the sporting hall of notoriety after the invasion of WAGs during the Three Lions campaign in Germany. The ever increasing spending habits of the footballers’ better halves took on astronomic proportions in the once peaceful Black Forest town. However, cometh the WAG, cometh the tabloid press, cometh the scandal, cometh the arguments... and so on. The English team collapsed (yet again) in the quarter finals to Portugal and immediately, a share of the blame was laid on the Gucci covered shoulders of Victoria Beckham, Cheryl Cole, Nancy Dell’Olio et al. We may look back at these simpler times and wonder why such controversy was stirred up over expensive spa treatments and designer clothing splurges. However the problem was more deeply rooted than it superficially seems with changes having to be made to the squad’s schedule so as to meet with the WAGs demands. The age of the WAG was certainly upon us, breeding countless fitness DVD’s, spats between players and needless to say, controversy. For four years now, the tabloid press of Britain has churned out daily stories on the likes of Abbey Clancy (Peter Crouch’s fiancé) and Cheryl Cole (Ashley Cole’s wife, for now). The highly publicised fall-outs, arguments and war-of-words that still continues between many of the “2006 WAGs” still provides a basis to sell newspapers. Unfortunately, one cannot see an end to this depressing trend, as the WAG provides an amalgamated sales pitch for any marketing executive-the fame brought by their footballing partner, the mandatory good looks and the often vogue-setting clothes they wear, ensures that in the current celebrity driven climate, a WAG endorsement is as good as any other. Recent revelations have further sullied English football’s relationship with the WAG, and for now, they seem to be one of the major divisive factors in team dressing rooms. The sports world is conscious of John Terry’s infidelities and that handshake that didn’t happen with Wayne Bridge, but why the sudden rush of ill-will towards the WAG in 2010? Reasons are manifold-it’s a World Cup year and England’s “golden generation” are coming to their prime, a WAG-abetted premature denouement to the competition would mean serious consequences for those involved. Fabio Capello has marked himself out as “anti-WAG” culture and all it brings, citing the absence of such in Spain, Italy and France, England’s more successful European neighbours. Finally, the English Football Association does not wish to revisit the couturelined streets of Baden-Baden again. The WAG is, of course, just another part of the global brand name of soccer nowadays. Roy Keane, Alex Ferguson and the aforementioned Mr Capello disagree with the image and sway they bring to the football pitch. However, 2.5 million readers of Hello magazine can’t be wrong, can they? James Hussey
Joannie Rochette, above, won her bronze olympic medal under trying personal circumstances Kate Rowan Staff Writer AFTER WINNING a record breaking 14 gold medals at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver last month the Canadians had a great choice of champions to carry the flag at the closing ceremony at British Columbia Place. However, instead of going for gold, bronze medalist in the women’s figure skating Joannie Rochette was selected as the flag barer. The metal of her medal may not have been as precious as some of her compatriots but the circumstances in which Rochette won her medal truly were. Just two days before taking to the ice for the short programme, the first stage of the women’s figure skating competition, Rochette’s mother Thérèse suffered a sudden massive heart attack and was rushed to hospital in Vancouver where she passed away. She had just arrived from Montreal with her husband Normand to cheer their daughter on. Naturally a grief stricken Rochette considered pulling out of the competition in order to mourn with her family. After much reflection and an outpouring of public support through out Canada and around the world, the 24 year-old figure skater decided with the support of her coach Manon Perron and father to skate on in memory of her mother. Thérèse Rochette had spent the last ten years following her only child across Canada and the globe, making along with her husband huge financial sacrifices that had paid off with Joannie being seen as a strong medal contender in Vancouver. In interviews the Olympian often described her mother as “my best friend and the first person I always call when I have good news or if there is a problem.” Growing up in the village of Île Dupas in the province of Quebec, a native French speaker Rochette first donned skates at the tender age of 22 months and was encouraged
as she got older by her father who was the local ice-hockey coach. When she first stepped onto the ice for her short programme Rochette was greeted with boisterous support from the capacity crowd in the Pacific Coliseum. The BBC commentary duo of veteran sports broadcaster Sue Barker and figure skating expert and former single men’s gold medalist Robin Cousins willed on
Rochette’s mother Thérèse suffered a sudden massive heart attack and was rushed to hospital in Vancouver where she passed away. She had just arrived from Montreal with her husband Normand to cheer their daughter on. the young Canadian to land every double axel, triple flip and triple loop and the emotion could be heard in their voices as she gave a poised, technically excellent yet passionate performance. Once the music had faded the emotion of what she had just done could be seen across her face and in the “kiss and cry” area when she awaited the judges’ scores she broke into tears saying in French “this is for you”. Despite the emotional turmoil of the previous few days Rochette received a season’s best score of 71.36, the third best score of the night. Two days later Rochette came back to skate her free programme to Samson and Delilah by Camille Saint-Saëns and in spite of
a miss-timed landing on a triple flip she held out to secure Olympic bronze behind South Korean teen sensation Yu-Na Kim and the graceful Japanese Mao Asada, winning gold and silver respectively. Once again Barker and Cousins gave an emotionally charged commentary and like many watching in Canada and around the world they were choking back the tears as Rochette glided off the ice to rapturous applause. Afterwards Rochette explained that her mother had been her inspiration after an extremely stressful four days “I didn’t have much strength,” she said. “I didn’t sleep much. But that last triple, my mom was lifting me up because I had no more legs. I really feel that it happened.” Upon return to her home province of Quebec, the bronze medalist gave an emotional press conference in Montreal citing that part of the reason she decided to skate in honor of her mother was after she was sent a message from an eight year old girl who had also recently lost her mother encouraging her in the Olympics. She asked for privacy to grieve for her mother and for time to allow the events of Vancouver to sink in. She confirmed she will take part in the World Figure Skating Championships in Turin at the end of the month. Rochette was not the only Winter Olympian to triumph in the face of adversity during the Vancouver games. Slovenian cross-country skier Petra Majdic came into the games as a favourite in the individual classical sprint and the classical 30 kilometre race after strong performances in both the Salt Lake City and Torino Winter Olympics. Majdic’s chances of reaching the podium in British Columbia looked to be over after she experienced a horrific fall into a deep gully, sliding on her back on a sharp curve and tumbling a further three metres onto rock during training before the classical sprint. The 30 year-old emerged from the accident with five broken ribs and a punctured lung.
Against all the odds, the hardy Slovenian insisted on competing with her face contorted in pain as she skied. She barely made it into the final but through sheer grit and determination she fought until the very end winning bronze, the first ever crosscountry medal for Slovenia. She explained how she managed to get the finish line “At that moment I was thinking ‘It’s over, but the second part of me was just screaming ‘I want to go to the finish.’” After the race, the skier hobbled up on the podium for the flower ceremony and needed an escort to prop her up when walking to the news conference who helped her into her chair as she grimaced with pain. Majdic then expounded on what her medal meant to her “Today, this is not a bronze,” she said. “This is a gold with little diamonds on it!” Like Rochette, the Ljubljana native was asked to carry her country’s flag in the closing ceremony but was unable to as she was in hospital recovering from her injuries and exhaustion. She gained a special place in the hearts of the Canadians and along with the courageous figure skater was honored with the Terry Fox Award at an emotional ceremony in Vancouver. This award was created by the Fox family and the Vancouver Organizing Committee in order to honour Olympians who embodied the same spirit as Terry Fox, the young amputee who lost a leg to cancer yet set out to run across Canada in 1980 in his Marathon of Hope to raise funds for cancer research. Fox died of cancer before he could complete this but the legacy of his courage and determination lives on today through a foundation in his name. Rochette and Majdic may not be golden girls but both have created great Olympic moments that will be remembered for many years to come. By over coming personal loss and pain they inspired the people of Canada and Slovenia and millions of sports fans worldwide.
Ethiopian women run to escape Alexandra Finnegan Deputy Sports Editor IN 2005, Emily Wax wrote an article for the Washington Post entitled ‘Facing Servitude, Ethiopian Girls Run for a Better Life’. The piece explored the many bleak realities faced by young girls growing up in Ethiopia. Despite a national law prohibiting child marriage, the east African country of Ethiopia has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world. Sixty percent of girls younger than 18 years old are married and in the Amhara region, fifty percent of girls under 15 are married. Due to these premature marriages, Ethiopia also faces one of the highest rates of childbirth injuries in the world with 1 in 27 mothers facing the risk of death during labor (compared to a 1 in 4,800 chance of death in the U.S.) According to UNFPA, Girls aged 15 to 20 are twice as likely to die during childbirth as women in their 20’s and girls under the age of 15 are five times more likely to die of maternal causes. The reasons behind child marriages are cultural. Families marry their daughters early in an attempt to keep them more subservient, in an effort to keep their daughter’s chastity intact and to maximize child-bearing years, all of which enhance a family’s status. Poverty also plays a vital role.
In a country where a shocking eighty percent of its people live on less than $2 a day, families struggling to stay alive are forced to marry their daughters off early. Parents also hope to shield their daughters from premarital sex, by finding them a husband who can act as a guardian. Five thousand metre runner Meseret Zenebe, 19, relates, “Abducting girls as young as 12 for marriage is an accepted
“My older sister was 14 when my parents forced her to marry a man in his forties. I looked at her and I ran.” way of finding a bride in southern Ethiopia… The usual procedure is to kidnap a girl, hide her and rape her. Then, having taken her virginity or by making her pregnant, the men can contact the village elders and claim her as his bride.” One way in which these young girls try to avoid early marriage is by training as long-distance runners. Aster Megitsu, 20 states, “Today, in Ethiopia, there are only three ways to escape forced marriage – turn
to prostitution, commit suicide or run for your life.” And run is exactly what many of these girls do. Aster adds, “I wanted to escape from the influence of my family and live my own life. My older sister was 14 when my parents forced her to marry a man in his forties. I looked at her and I ran. I knew that if you’re good, you’ll get spotted and a running club in Addis Ababa will pay for you to move to the city.” Aster is not to only one who isn’t motivated by winning medals for her running. Thirteen year old Tesdale Mesele who is interviewed in Wax’s article states, “I also run because I want to give priority to my schooling. If I’m a good runner, the school will want me to stay and not be home washing laundry and preparing injera.” There have been a number of success stories for female Ethiopian runners. Athletes such as Derartu Tulu who became the first Africa woman to win an Olympic gold medal, Meseret Defar won gold medals in the 5000m at both the World Championships and the Olympics and Tirunesh Dibaba, the current Olympic 5000m and 10000m champion. Dibaba who was born in the village of Bekoji began doing athletics at the age of 14 in order to avoid an early marriage. She now earns an estimated £300,000 a year and is married to 2004 and 2008 Olympic silver medallist
Sileshi Sihine. Long distance running, like football elsewhere in Africa or baseball in the Dominican Republic can offer the younger generation a ticket out of poverty. Dr. Patricia E. Ortman, a retired Women’s Studies Professor embarked upon the task of raising money for the Girls Gotta Run Foundation, a volunteer organization which was established three years ago to provide new shoes for girls training to be runners in Ethiopia. Ortman argues that suitable running shoes are vital to an aspiring athlete. She says, “In some cases, girls are forced to give up on their dream of becoming professional athletes due to injuries caused by lack of proper attire and shoes… That’s the big reason why GGRF focuses on sending them money to buy running shoes.” Dana Roskey, a director of the Tefsa Foundation, an organization that funds early childhood education for disadvantaged children in Ethipoia stresses, however, that running alone cannot be the solution to the problem. He says, “Girls are more vulnerable to exploitations and misfortune, and their fate is somewhat limited.” He stresses the importance of primary education and adds, “Ultimately running is not their only destiny, and there are other options.” But for many, becoming an athlete means pride, independence, security and freedom.
PERFORMANCE UNDER PRESSURE P23
Dublin Head of the River Intermediate clash on the liffey sees UCD’s Gannon Cup winning team continue strong Eamonn Hynes Contributing Writer A BEAUTIFUL Spring day greeted oarsmen at last Saturday’s Dublin Head of the River. Our own Dublin University Boat Club competed alongside UCD and Queens University, as well as local clubs Old Collegians, Neptune, Commercial and An Garda Síochána, amongst others. There was much enthusiasm on the Ha’penny Bridge where this reporter found himself surrounded by well-wishing families and friends of those competing, as well as the odd Scotsman with a passing interest in the goings-on on the river below. Hot favourites UCD, off the back of their Gannon Cup win, looked impressive and impressive they were as they went on to take the Senior VIII’s title. Old Collegians, UCD’s old boy wing (that is currently undergoing a bit of a revival), had two master’s eights entered and certainly demonstrated how to get away from the wife for the day, have the banter of a 20 year-old, whilst holding down a full-time job with all the trappings of permanent employment! It is always encouraging to see the Boat Club’s novices rowing so well after just 6 months’ experience. This university’s most sucessful sports club demands a continuous supply of fresh oarsmen in order to maintain her status. There is no doubt that the training currently being
undertaken down at Islandbridge, under the watchful eye of club men Mike Ryder and Seán Tunney, will pay dividends in the very near future. DUBC fielded an up-and-coming intermediate VIII for the Dublin Head, the club’s elite oarsmen preferring to focus their efforts on next week’s internationally renowned London Head of the River Race. There, former Oxford University oarsman Kevin Cunningham (Oriel College) will be competing alongside the best that the British Isles has to offer, along with club heavyweights Ali Floyd and Peter Croke (this year’s Captain of Boats). At London, DUBC will be looking to make their mark and persuade the Henley Stewards in the matter of automatic qualification for Henley Royal Regatta’s Temple Challenge Cup next July. It is always difficult trying to balance one’s committment to the club with the demands of university life (the imposition of semesterisation by the College administrators having a particularly bad effect on Boat Club members’ study plans), but winning races has never been easy and we must remain steadfast in the Boat Club’s ability to punch well above their weight in every competition they enter. The university championships are the next major event on the Boat Club’s calendar and preparations are well underway in the matter of maintaining the university’s reputation for being Ireland’s premier university rowing club.
DU BOAT CLUB’S PERSPECTIVE ON SATURDAY the club sent two eights to compete at Erne Head of the River in Eniskillen. A last minute crew shake-up meant the senior eight didn’t perform to their ability on the day, but the Intermediate eight put in a decent performance
over the six kilometre course, beating Neptune’s crew to win the pennant. The squad continues to train hard with the shortterm goals of Dublin, Galway and London Heads in mind.
The DUBC intermediate eight photographed passing the Ha’penny Bridge: Rebecca Crowley (Cox), Luke Acheson (Stroke), Mark Harris (7), Peter Desmond (6), James Semple (5), Eoghan Mooney (4), Danny Johnston (3), Paddy Ryan (2) and John Magan (Bow). Photo: Eamonn Hynes
Just like watching Brazil Ciaran O’Callaghan Contributing Writer THE 2009/2010 soccer Megaleague continues to be arguably the most enthralling sporting competition in Europe, if not the world. Nineteen remarkable teams entered the wellestablished competition in September of Michaelmas term, with high hopes to become either Saturday or Sunday league champions. Now, as the delights of spring hit Dublin, the final few fixtures of both leagues are inevitably going to be fascinating battles. Suitably named side, ‘Unreal Madrid’, have dominated the Saturday league. They have combined stringent organisation and discipline, with skill and flair to top the league by an impressive margin. The top of the Sunday league however is remarkably close as halls representatives Temple Road Wanderers and Dartry Road Rovers, are engaged in a dramatic fight for the top spot. However there has been delightful football played by all of the sides involved in both leagues. Although Mark McCann’s Unreal Madrid can be
seen as the hotshots of the Saturday league, other teams such as Lincoln Celtic and Mendel have had solid seasons with creative football coming from both sides. C.F.R Clunge have entertained the ‘Santry loyal’ with their fast paced style and explosive attacking football as have the newly established Galaclassaray. Additionally, A.C.T.T.T., a team of intelligent post-graduate physicians also deserve praise for their endeavours in the Saturday league. Captain Rob Lennox has created a strong, organised outfit who play with true sporting pride. The Sunday league has also thrown up some close battles this year. Sporting Lisbon Treaty have created moments of truly artful football that Eric Cantona would be proud of; Cian O’Reilly must certainly be proud of his loyal squad. Brian Free’s Whispering Eyes have played clinical counter-attacking football and are known for going forward down the flanks. Moreover, Hair of the Dog, a team of engineers have shown that hung-over football can also be beautiful football. Cian O’Carrol-Lolait’s Banter F.C. have been consistently strong this
of the Dog captain Billy Kinane released a provocative statement, reminiscent of a certain Kevin Keegan, just after the cup draw: “But I’ll tell ya, you can tell him now if you’re reading this, we’re fighting for this cup, I’ll tell ya honestly, I will love it if we beat them, love it!” Strong words. Chief Commissioner of the Megaleague, Tommy Dunne hopes that the competition for the cup will result in soccer matches of the highest standard. Dunne asserted: “I’m looking forward to the final, I’ll see you there, College Green, 22nd of April, 2 o’clock!” Megaleague referee and all round aficionado Patrick Skinner has stated: “Football is my life; The Megaleague is my world. Oh my days this draw is exciting. I cannot wait to see who will take the cup this year. The Megaleague has seen the most competitive soccer in Europe. I wish the best of luck to all teams involved.” Many people agree that nothing in football is certain. However, I beg to differ, it is certain that this year’s Megaleague cup will be the most exciting tournament since the game began.
SUNDAY LEAGUE 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.
season and hope to trouble Taste of Dunfermline and the two halls teams for the Sunday championship. However, what supersedes all excitement over the culmination of the leagues is the coveted Megaleague Cup. The draw has thrown up some interesting fixtures with each side hoping to claim ultimate glory in the final which is to be played on College Green on Thursday 22nd of April. Reigning champions Lincoln Men are looking for a repeat performance in the cup. Captain Mark McLaughlin believes that his team of teeth-fiddlers have what it takes to go all the way. Yet they will be up against stiff competition in A.C.T.T.T. in the first round. Last year’s finalists Banter F.C. are hoping to claim the glory of the cup this year as they face Galaclassaray. The captain of the predominantly vacant side Cool Runnins’, Brendan Segalas, has hinted that his side will certainly turn up to the first round of the cup: “My team is fresh, fresh like bacon. I hope we get at least to the semi-finals and meet Hair of the Dog who we will decimate.” However, Hair
Temple Road Wanderers Dartry Road Rovers Taste of Dunfermline Banter FC Whispering Eyes Hair of the Dog Sporting Lisbon Treaty Hank and the Taigs
4 5 3 3 4 3 4 4
19 19 20 12 12 6 13 6
13 10 5 4 9 7 18 10
+6 +9 +15 +8 +3 -1 -5 -4
9 8 7 7 7 6 4 3
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.
Unreal Madrid Lincoln Celtic Mendel CFR Clunge Galaclassaray Real Ale Killester ACTTT Cool Runnins’ Galahad Albion
5 5 4 5 5 5 5 2 2
23 16 10 17 14 8 9 8 2
4 7 10 17 10 16 23 6 10
+19 +9 0 0 +4 -8 -14 +1 -8
15 9 9 7 6 4 4 3 1
The rise and rise of spread betting Eric Cullinane Staff Writer A GROWING phenomenon which can be seen in betting is the emergence of Spread Betting amongst punters. In layman’s terms, payouts are based on the accuracy of the wager, rather than a simple “win or lose” outcome, such as fixed-odds with conventional bookmakers. With this in mind, a spread can be defined as a range of outcomes, and the bet is whether the outcome will be above or below the spread. The following example should convey the simplicity of Spread BettingIn a football match the bookmaker believes that 10 or 11 corners will occur, thus the spread will be set at 10-11. A punter believes there will be more than 11 corners, and “buys” at €20 a point at 11. If the number of corners is 14, the payout is €60 (14-11=3x€20). However, if the number of corners is 8, the loss is €60 (11-8=3x€20). Spread betting carries a level of risk compared to its fixed odds counterpart, with potential losses or gains far in excess of the original money wagered. However a stop loss will incur so large losses can be limited. The same principle as detailed above applies to many aspects of sporting events-points in a rugby game, winning distances in a horse race, batman’s runs in a cricket game, total goals in a football match etc. These two way markets give you the opportunity to bet for or against the prediction by going higher or lower. The more right you are, the more you can
win, but of course, the opposite is true if you are wrong. A stark indication of the volatility of this form of betting can be seen in the Euro 2004 game between France and England. A shrewd punter bought Zinedine Zidane’s goal minutes at 11 for £50 per point. This means any goal that Zidane scored he would get 1pt for every minute of the goal time. France went on to win the game 2-1, with two late Zidane goals, both in the 90th minute! So, in the 89th minute the punter was 11x £50 down = £550. Three minutes later he had 180 points in the bank. He ended up winning 180 - 11 = 169pts x £50 = £8450, a truly incredible turnaround! From this betting coup alone one can see that there is no more exciting way to bet on sports than via the medium of spread betting. Dublin-based firm Sportsspread is Ireland’s sole Spread Betting Company and offers a large range of markets on a multitude of sports events every day. One of the key attractions and benefits of Spread Betting over traditional fixedodds betting is that you can bet right up to the final whistle. Sportsspread offer prices ‘in-running’ so you can take a profit, cut a loss or simply make a decision ‘in-running’ on an event you are watching live. It is free from commission unlike Betfair, who charges a commission on all winning bets, which is set at 5% of the net winnings. Without doubt, it is an aspect of betting that interests me as a writer and a punter, and if you too are looking new ways of betting, it is well worth spreading your horizon.