Tuesday 20th January 2015
Five potential presidents SU election candidates announced
Candidates for SU president, announced yesterday, from left to right: Gabriel Adewusi, Conor O’Meara, Lynn Ruane, Nessan Harper and Adam Colton. Photo: Kevin O’Rourke
One in four female TCD students sexually assaulted - survey • Soon-to-be released study ﬁnds 42% of female students have been stalked or subject to obsessive behaviour • SU welfare oﬃcer in talks to introduce compulsory sexual consent workshops Catherine Healy Editor One in four female students at Trinity College who responded to a students’ union survey has had a non-consensual sexual experience. The soon-to-bereleased study, which surveyed 1,038 male and female students online between December 8th and 13th, found that 25% of women and 5% of men have been subjected to unwanted sexual contact. Just under a third (31%) of women who took part in the survey said they have experienced unwanted physical contact while studying at Trinity or in a Trinity social setting, compared with 8% for men. One in 13 respondents - 8% of women and 7% of men - reported having been stalked or subject to obsessive behaviour. 42% of female students and 8% of male students said that they had experienced verbal harassment, while one in 20 respondents said they have been physically mistreated by a partner. The study also reveals a worrying lack of awareness about the issue of sexual consent, with only 31% of women and 32% of men saying they had heard of any consent campaigns before. In a statement to Trinity
News last night, Ian Mooney, SU welfare officer, said the figures point to the need for student education on the issue of sexual consent. “Although phrases such as ‘non-consensual sexual experience’ may be somewhat ambiguous in meaning, the fact that such a large number of people feel that they have had one speaks volumes on an issue that’s not commonly discussed,” he said. Speaking to Trinity News, Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop, CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre said she was shocked by the figures. “They certainly seem to mirror what is happening in American universities.” Mandatory consent workshops Trinity News understands that Mooney is now seeking to introduce mandatory sexual consent workshops for students. In an agenda sent around to class representatives on Sunday ahead of tonight’s SU council meeting, he reports having consulted Oxford and Cambridge representatives about their own compulsory workshops. “They’ve told me what’s been good and what’s been bad, the troubles they faced,” he says. “The ultimate goal here for the year would be to introduce something simi-
lar for Trinity and hopefully avoid the troubles that they faced.” Mooney is also meeting officials from the Free Legal Advice Centre (FLAC) and the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre to discuss the study’s findings and the possibility of collaborating on a sexual assault booklet or campaign.
First comprehensive TCD study
His survey is the first ever comprehensive study of students’ experiences of sexual assault and harassment in Trinity College. It follows a landmark study, “Say Something”, published by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) in September 2013, which found that 16% of students - and one in five women - in Irish third-level institutions have experienced some form of unwanted sexual experience, with only 3% of victims having reported it to gardaí. While 14% of non-LGB students recording having an unwanted sexual experience, the figure rose to 25% for LGB students. Most perpetrators of sexual assault were acquaintances of the victim. Three out of 10 women experienced comments with a sexual overtone that made them feel uncomfortable. The USI survey, which polled 2,750 third-level
TCDSU elections: What are the key issues at stake?
students, also found that one in 10 female respondents and 5% of male respondents said they had been the victim of obsessive behaviour. USI president, Laura Harmon, who was USI vice-president for equality and citizenship at the time of the release of its “Say Something” survey, last night told Trinity News that the Trinity figures were “broadly in line” with its own findings. She is said there is a need for Irish universities to improve its protocols when it comes to dealing with sexual assault. “There is no standardised policy for higher-education institutions,” she said. “There should be standard procedures for when students report incidents to staff.” Harmon added that it is an issue she is currently working with minister for education Jan O’Sullivan on. College had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing. If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can get in contact with Ian Mooney (welfare@ tcdsu.org), the Trinity student counselling service (018961407) or the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre’s 24-hour helpline (1800 778 888).
Will Foley: Studying philosophy has taught me nothing expect how to survive misery.
Number of polled students
1 in 20
Respondents have been physically mistreated by a partner
1 in 13
Respondents have been stalked or subject to obsessive behaviour
42% Women have experienced verbal harassment
IRISH ILLUSTRATOR FUCHSIA MACAREE TAKES OVER TN2’S COVER, ANU PRODUCTIONS’ BREFFNI HOLOHAN DISCUSSES SMALL AUDIENCE THEATRE, AND WE LOOK AT THE RISE OF VEGANISM AND CLEAN LIVING IN DUBLIN.
Dylan Lynch talks solar flares with the Trinity physicist leading a space forecasting project just awarded €2.5m in EU funding.
Alicia Lloyd talks to former Trinity wing Niyi Adeolokun about life with Connacht Rugby.
Brian Conlon, one of the microbiologists behind the recent discovery of the world’s first antibiotic in 30 years, tells us about its implications for the treatment of antibiotic-resistant diseases.
SciTech pp. 21 - 22
Sport p. 24
Tuesday 20th January 2015
What They Said
“ “ “ “ “I’m actually a social entrepreneur” #FiveWords ToRuinADate
Jack Leahy @Jack_Leahy
Didn’t have enough money to pay for Diet Coke, peanut M&Ms *and* Hula Hoops. Sophie’s Choice wha Petah @POBherty
Can’t wait to finish my degree in Sociology and Social Policy and put it to use in the real world! (: (:
Caffeine detox, day one: maybe being chronically superunhealthy is healthier than this acute nightmare. Naoise Dolan, @NaoiseDolan
Matthew Mulligan, @_mattuna
CROWDED FIELD AS 17 SU ELECTION CANDIDATES ANNOUNCED • Hotly contested presidential and welfare races • Campaigning set to begin on February 2nd
James Wilson News Editor 17 students were announced to cheers as candidates for this year’s sabbatical elections on the steps of House Six by Electoral Oversight Committee chair, Kieran McNulty, yesterday evening.
Running for the position of SU president are Lynn Ruane, Conor O’Meara, Gabriel Adewusi, Adam Colton and Nessan Harpur. Junior sophister politics, philosophy, economics and social student student Lynn Ruane came to college through the Trinity Access Programme and currently works as SU’s student
Clockwise from top left panel:: Ents, UT, education, communications and marketing, and welfare candidates. Photos: Kevin O’Rourke
parent officer. She was employed as a drugs worker at the age of 17 in Killinarden, Tallaght, where she developed a programme to combat the rise of heroin use among local teenagers. In 2007, she became community development drugs worker with Bluebell Addiction Advisory Group. She has sat on local community boards, including the Canal Community Local Drugs Task Force and Policing Forum, and currently works for Vincent De Paul Ireland. Junior sophister BESS student and Galway native Conor O’Meara will be a familiar figure to those who lived in Halls in last year. A former president of Trinity Halls’ JCR committee, O’Meara has also served on the SU’s communications and campaigns committees and now acts as his year’s BESS coordinator, having previously been their class rep in first year. He was elected as Cancer Soc’s awareness officer last year and is an active member of Trinity VDP. Nessan Harpur, a senior sophister student of mechanical engineering, was elected as class rep at the beginning of the academic year and previously spent two years as an S2S mentor. He is currently works with a committee running the inaugural Trinity Film Festival and set up
a branch of Engineers Without Borders in college. He currently works as an energy analyst for CES Energy and has spent his college summers gaining work experience in Canada, America, China and India. The final two candidates in the presidential race are Adam Colton, a BESS student, and Gabriel Adewusi, a volunteer with S2S and the current SU access officer, could not be reached for interview at the time of writing.
The race to succeed SU welfare officer Ian Mooney is also set to be contested by five students - Aoife O’Brien, Louise O’Toole, Conor Clancy, Liam Mulligan and Muireann Montague. Senior sophister chemistry student Muireann Montague, who has been involved in LGBT activism since second year, helping out with Q Soc’s campaign team as a senior freshman, before being elected two years in a row to serve as the society’s liaison officer. Her SU CV includes membership of rainbow week, welfare and campaign committees, as well as a spell as a class rep for chemistry. Senior sophister history student Conor Clancy currently holds the position of sport and exercise officer on the welfare
committee and has volunteered as an S2S peer mentor. He represented Trinity at last year’s Student Sport Ireland conference and co-founded the Lighthouse project to facilitate meetings between off-books students. Since coming to college he’s also been involved with DU Players, DUFC, DU Boxing Club, DU Snowsports and the Jazz society Senior sophister social studies student Louise O’Toole has spent three and four years respectively volunteering for S2S and Foróige, and is currently the head mentor for the BESS faculty group. As part of her course requirements, she has spent two semesters on social work placements. In addition, she has participated in numerous TCDSU campaigns, spent a year as welfare ambassador and was a Voluntary Tuition Programme tutor in her first year. Aoife O’Brien is the final candidate for the position, a junior sophister student of computer engineering, TCDSU’s inaugural gender equality officer and a previous SU disability officer. A former class rep, peer mentor and co-founder of DU Germanic Soc, she has also been involved in SciFi Soc and the DU Gender Equality Society. The final candidate, Liam Mulligan, a junior sophister student
of business and politics. He’s been involved in the welfare campaign #TCDTalks and featured in the SU’s #TCDListens video, released two weeks ago. He furthermore helped found SusLiving - a charity initiative that aims to promote the benefits of sustainable living and environmentalism amongst school children and college students. In addition, he acts as the Irish ambassador for a French crowdfunding platform, Makers and Bankers, and serves as PRO of Horse Racing Soc.
Two candidates - Aifric Ni Chriodain and Jemma O’Leary - are contesting the new position of communications and marketing officer. Ni Chriodain is a senior sophister TSM student of French and film studies. In addition to her two years on the council of the University Philosophical Society, first as pro-librarian and then librarian (public relations officer), Ni Chriodain has worked in a number of marketing positions since starting college and currently sits on committees for the Central Society’s Executive (CSC) and the Trinity Arts Festival (TAF). Junior sophister French and history student Jemma O’Leary, was this year charged with sourcing
sponsorship for DU History, and sitson the society’s publication sub-committee. She also serves as third-year representative on the Cancer Society’s committee.
Molly Kenny, the unopposed candidate for education, is a long-time SU representative, having won Representative of the Year at USI Student Awards 2013 for her role as JF class rep for Engineering. Now the SU’s faculty convenor of Engineering, Maths and Science, she sits on the University Council, Faculty Executive, Education Committee and Union Forum. Formerly a member of the Welfare Committee and Constitutional Review Sub-committee, in a previous life she was also a member of the College Historical Society’s committee, helping to run the society’s annual maidens competition for novice debaters.
Also unopposed is Edmund Heaphy, standing for the position of University Times editor. The senior freshman student of German and Philosophy worked previously as the paper’s creative director, overseeing the paper’s first redesign in five years - which he credits as having helped win the paper Student
Publication of the Year at an award ceremony held by the USI last year. Now the paper’s deputy editor this year, he also serves as a coordinator for the Voluntary Tuition Programme.
Finally, there are three candidates contesting the position of entertainment officer. Law and business student David Gray works on the Ents team as events and nights manager. He is also an active member of Law Soc, DU DJ and Snowsports. Final year mathematician and economist Conor Parle, who is also contesting the position, has interned at in the Trinity Economics Department and has previously volunteered with S2S and the Voluntary Tuition Programme. Katie Cogan, the final candidate in the race, is a science student and current committee member of Trinity TV. She also acts as the secretary of DU DJ Soc and served on a Fashion Soc subcommittee. She was elected a class rep for her course at the beginning of the year and co-presents a science radio programme called still.in.sane. Campaigning begins on February 2nd and ends on February 12th, when the new officers are expected to be announced.
Town hall meeting on proposed Work to begin on long-term SU strategic plans new student fees likely Lia Flattery Senior Reporter SU president, Domhnall McGlacken Byrne, is provisionally planning to hold an SU town hall meeting to gauge the opinion of the student body on proposed new student charges. The six new charges consist of an increase in the commencement fee from ¤114 to ¤135, a ¤75 fee for diploma and certificate awards ceremonies, an increased postgraduate application fee from ¤35 to ¤50, a rise in the cost of a new student card from ¤6 to ¤20, a standard price of ¤100 for duplicate degree parchments (currently ¤116) and duplicate diploma parchments (currently ¤20) and “a flat fee of ¤250 for students sitting supplemental exams, regardless of how many papers are re-taken.” The additional charges were first presented to last year’s sabbatical officers at a meeting of the college Finance Committee
in June 2014. The reason given for the charges was “budgetary pressure.” Following objections from the SU and Graduate Students Union (GSU) to the proposals, College decided to “defer” negotiations on the charges until the 2014/15 academic year. In December 2014, McGlacken Byrne and other sabbatical officers of the SU and GSU circulated a memo to college authorities outlining their ten objections to the charges and demanding sufficient time for broader consultation of students and staff before any measures be formalized. Among their arguments were that the new charges were not included in the sources of income identified by College for the next five years, that introduction of the charges sets “an intolerable precedent” and that the revenue that would be generated by the charges “is of a magnitude comparable to major financial strategies in which major amounts of time and discussion have been invested.” They
also objected to College’s use of comparisons to other third level institutions in “justification” of the charges as “selective” and irrelevant. They stated that the absence of a system of means-testing for the charges “constitutes a glaring deviation from Trinity’s stated commitment to equity of access to education” and that the “stabilisation” of the Academic Registry is of critical importance and needs to take place before students are charged more for their engagements with it. Speaking to Trinity News, McGlacken Byrne said that at the town hall meeting “all options will be explored. Should charges be opposed out of hand, not just in and of themselves but because of what they represent… Or is it more reasonable and realistic to look for a compromise… [such as] means-testing the charges, or having a per-exam charge rather than a flat irrespective penalty?” The meeting will most likely go ahead in late January.
Fionn McGorry Deputy News Editor Work on a multiple-year strategic plan for the Students’ Union is set to begin this term, in accordance with a manifesto promise made by SU president, Domhnall McGlacken-Byrne, in last year’s sabbatical elections. Speaking to Trinity News, McGlacken-Byrne stated that former TCDSU and USI education officer Hugh Sullivan would be leading the formation of the plan.
An external review of the SU, undertaken in the term of SU president Rory Dunne, by Professor Áine Hyland of UCC, David Coghlan of TCD, and Liam Burns, then-president of the National Union of Students in England, noted a need for evidencedbased strategy and purpose in the students union, noting the diversity in purpose of the five separate sabbatical officers. This review counselled the introduction of a strategic plan of 3-5 years, noting that four years would coincide with the turnover of an undergraduate cohort. Further to that, the review advised the introduction of a board of trustees. This trustee board was introduced in the reviewed SU constitution adopted in March 2014 but the membership has not yet been appointed. McGlacken-Byrne indicated that this board of trustees would be able to provide a level of stewardship over the implementation of the plan. He intends to go to faculty assemblies and survey opinions on what the priorities of the students union should be. The final
plan would need to be ratified by the SU Council, and McGlackenByrne noted a desire to have a launch at some stage in the term, emphasising that the plan would need to be completed by the last council meeting of the term. As there are only two SU council meetings left in term, the limits on the time frame are such that the details of the plan will be one of McGlacken-Byrne’s largest activities in the final months of his term. McGlacken-Byrne indicated that the measures indicated in the plan would be sufficiently vague not to bind a particular officer in to specific actions while providing guidance over the Union’s activities. When asked about the SU Council motions which will expire before the end of the plan, McGlacken-Byrne highlighted the broad measures under which these motions could be organised, indicating that these motions could be examples which the SU could follow going forward. Furthermore, he added that even if the plan were viewed negatively in future, it would enable an assess-
[The measures] would be sufficiently vague not to bind an officer to specific actions. ment of the measures in the plan which future presidents could use as a metric to build on. McGlacken-Byrne noted that the plan was a method for the SU to modernise, noting that in the past the union had run a bookshop and a travel service, named Dublin University Student Travel, and that the discussions around the formulation of the plan could enable the union to focus on the activities which it viewed as most important.
Tuesday 20th January 2015
Library owed 6 7k in unpaid fines Clare Droney Online News Editor Trinity College is owed ¤67,920.91 in library fines, while University College Dublin, with 30,000 students, is owed ¤428,494, according to a recent Irish Independent investigation. The report found that in total approximately ¤800,000 is owed in library fines to universities and colleges around Ireland. Speaking to Trinity News, Trevor Peare, Head of Readers’ Services, confirmed that ¤67,920.91 is currently owed to Trinity
College in library fines, with approximately 19,000 active students on the library’s records. Peare emphasised that overdue fines are an “avoidable expense.” He highlighted the importance of library fines in order to persuade people to return items on time, ensuring dependable availability dates for other borrowers. Nine years ago, the library introduced a “gentle reminder” email, which is sent to students two days before the book’s return date. This has given students a greater opportunity to avoid overdue fines and has made a significant impact in reducing
the amount of library fines. However, Peare was keen to emphasise that students who have difficulty paying fines or returning books should contact the library. “One thing we don’t want is someone to be afraid to come into the library because of a fine,” he added. NUI Galway is owed ¤24,633 in library fines from 3,248 people, including 280 staff. Trinity College do not currently charge fines to staff for overdue books. According to Peare, the library tried to raise fines for staff but this was strongly opposed at the time. However in recent years,
sanctions have been introduced and staff members with overdue books are unable to request items from stacks or to borrow further material. The Irish Independent also found that Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) is owed ¤109,945.29. While students at DIT are allowed to borrow six books at a time, undergraduate students at Trinity are permitted to borrow a maximum of four books from the undergraduate lending collection. In recent years, progressive fines were introduced meaning that the overdue charge for
standard loans increases from ¤0.50 per item, per day to ¤1 per day after two weeks. However, the library has also made changes to loan periods, for example nursing students, who are often on placement, can now borrow books for a month at a time. If a student’s library fines exceed ¤15 they are unable to renew books online or borrow further books from the library. Students with overdue books or outstanding fines will not have their degrees conferred.
Student referendum on cutting Trinity ties with Israeli universities to be proposed • Student campaigner says he is hopeful motion will be approved • Move follows GSU backing of separate ‘anti-apartheid’ campaign Lia Flattery Senior Reporter A motion calling for a college referendum that would ask students whether they would want the SU to campaign for College to cut its ties to Israeli thirdlevel institutions is to be raised at tonight’s SU council meeting, Trinity News has learned. Oisin Vince Coulter, a senior sophister philosophy and classical civilisation student, is planning to present the motion and spoke to Trinity News about the reason he decided to do so. Currently, he said, Trinity has ties with a number of Israeli universities and severing these ties “would have a tangible impact on those universities”. He said it would send “a strong message that we feel that Israel needs to shape up, that they need to stop what they are doing in the West Bank” and that their universities need to cease all involvement in military programmes. This action, he went on to say, would also link Trinity to “a broader campaign, across many universities both in Europe and in America, to divest from and boycott connections with Israeli universities.” Asked about the level of student support that he anticipates for the motion, he said that he is hopeful that it will receive
a favourable response. Trinity students have “a very long history of anti-apartheid activism... [and] of taking strong stances on issues like this,” he explained, citing as an example the renaming of “House Six” as Mandela House. “Considering Trinity’s current links with Israeli institutions,” he continued, “including those involved in… [Israeli] military programmes, I think a lot of people, when they hear the facts, are going to support it.” If a referendum is held following tomorrow night’s motion and if the referendum is successful, he expects an initially mixed reaction from college staff and authorities. “I know some of the academics are already on board and are involved in the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign,” he said, but, “in terms of the higher up people who would be involved in, what one might call, the more business end” of College, “I imagine that they are not going to be too keen on it.” Despite this, he remains optimistic that “if there is a grassroots movement from the students saying that they don’t want to be supporting Israeli violence and all of the horrible things that Israel is currently doing” then College authorities ultimately “won’t have too much of a choice” in the matter. This would be helped, he said, by the
Ciaran O’Rourke, organiser of the TCD Apartheid-Free Campus Campaign, on a poster run in the Arts Block in November. Photo: Matthew Mulligan fact that the Graduates Student Union has already passed a similar motion and by the precedent of the 1970s when College boycotted apartheid South Africa. It could take “a year or two,” Coulter admitted, but he believes that if an SU campaign does go ahead it will eventually be successful in its efforts. He added that a campaign would offer “an opportunity for TCDSU to really
be on the right side of history on something” and expressed hope that all student unions and universities across Ireland would come to adopt a firm stance on the issue. The move comes after ‘TCD Apartheid-Free Campus Campaign’, a student campaign calling on College to cut its links with institutions and companies that support the Israeli occupa-
tion of Palestine, received the endorsement of the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) earlier this year. A motion passed by 33 out of 56 votes at the union’s council meeting in November pledged support for the campaign as it looks to raise the issue at board level this year,
Former education minister Ruairi Quinn to take up teaching role with School of Business Andrew O’Donovan Staff Writer College is in the process of approving former Labour party leader Ruairi Quinn to teach an elective module as part of two postgraduate courses offered by the School of Business, Trinity News has learned. Quinn confirmed the news and told this paper yesterday that he was approached by Brian Lucey, a professor in finance, with a view to heading a week-long intensive course which would focus on the formation of the single European currency. Students in the Masters in Finance and Masters in International Management degrees will have the option to take it.In correspondence with Trinity News, Brian Lucey said that while “nothing is yet approved by College ... I can’t see any major issue.” Quinn, who recently resigned from his role in cabinet as minister for education amid much opposition from teaching unions to proposed reforms to the Junior Certificate, was previously minister for finance during the period when the single European surrency was being devised and served as president of the EU Economic and Financial Affairs Council. When questioned as to what had particularly attracted him to Quinn, Lucey responded, “Who wouldn’t want that experience involved in their school?” Alongside the core curriculum, postgraduate students in the business school take a number of electives. Refusing to comment on financial arrangements when
asked whether he would receive a payment for the module, Lucey said that Quinn would be treated the “same as any other external module-deliverer - no more, no less.”
[Trinity finance professor Brian Lucey] said that Quinn would be treated the “same as any other external moduledeliverer - no more, no less.” Asked whether, considering his most recent professional experience is in Education Policy, he would ever be interested in lecturing on that topic, Quinn said that, while he would be, he is conscious of appearing as though he is “pontificating while my successor is involved in carrying out reforms.” Quinn previously lectured part-time in architecture which he said he found “very rewarding and stimulating,” and is therefore looking forward to this return to academia. He was non-committal about whether he would pursue academia on a full-time basis
Staff Writer The weekly Socialist Worker Student Society (SWSS) meeting held last Thursday tackled the potential for rising Islamophobia in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo shootings. The event was well attended, with at least 40 people there to watch and discuss. It began with a talk from James O’Toole, the national secretary
of the Socialist Worker’s party, on what a socialist approach to this issue entails. He encouraged attendees to put the events in context, though he made it very clear that “providing context is not justification” and asked the crowd to consider why young Muslim men in France might turn towards terrorism. Is it only to do with religion, or are there economic and political factors as well? O’Toole said that a socialist perspective links the issue back to imperialism.
James Wilson meets Trinity’s second-in-command
Vice Provost Linda Hogan on funding, rankings and student recruitment James Wilson News Editor Social mobility lies at the heart of College’s strategic plan for the next five year, Vice Provost Linda Hogan told Trinity News in a wide-ranging interview last week. The plan, launched in October by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, commits the college to increasing the proportion of students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. “We currently have 20% of our student population from underrepresented backgrounds,” Hogan said. “That’s about 600 students and we want to increase that by 25% [by 2019]. Our student numbers are also likely to increase, so it will be an incremental increase. We’re expanding the number of schools and the kinds of programmes that we have in those schools. Young people don’t tend to aspire to come to Trinity in a vacuum and nor do they decide that in their fourth, fifth or sixth year It has to be embedded in primary school and a lot of our programmes are focused on that.” On the issue of enrollment she stressed the college’s commitment to attracting students from across Ireland and the European Union, noting that, “We have a pretty intensive programme about trying to encourage applications from across the country and Northern Ireland. We have student ambassadors from each county and we will enrol students who meet the academic criteria.” Controversially, she reiterated Trinity’s support for the recalibration of A Levels in the CAO for Northern Irish students, but not for those students sitting the same exams in England and Wales. From next year onwards Northern Irish students will only need to submit three A Level subjects if they wish to obtain the maximum 600 points, but the requirement for English and Welsh students wishing to apply will remain four. Conceding it was a “delicate balance”, she noted the decision was a pilot based on Trinity “historic links with the north”, adding “There is a discussion between universities, the CAO and the Department of Education about re-calibrating them for everyone and we’re very keen to progress. that. But there’s a concern from the Department of Education as to the knock on effect as to how the Leaving Cert might be weighted and regarded in UK colleges. They don’t want to do anything that might undermine the prospects of students applying there.”
after politics. While the course itself will only last one week, Quinn indicated that there will be considerable
preparation work, so depending on when the next general election is called - which must be no later than April of next year - he
may have to combine that workload with his role as a TD.
Socialist Worker Student Society condemns Charlie Hebdo Dee Courtney
the big interview
O’Toole explained that from a socialist perspective, the link between the interests of big businesses and states led to increased foreign wars for oil and other resources. He spoke about the bitterness wars create for the people affected. He urged the crowd to consider that young people often move to western countries as a result of wars started by the west in their own countries. They are then subjected to racism and blamed by the media for economic problems. He pointed
out that many of the poorest people living in social housing in France come from its former colonies, and that it is convenient for France to label them as illiberal to justify its wars: “These countries always have to justify their wars, and they use humanitarian language to do it. Bush went into Afghanistan to save women and King Leopold went into the Congo to stop slavery.” Moving to Charlie Hebdo itself, O’Toole said that though a defence of free speech seems
understandable, the value of satire is in questioning people in power. Critique of religion is valuable but if you stop there, you will miss the political subtleties of these conflicts. He said that in order to talk about why these attacks happen we need to talk about imperialism, which means we need to talk about capitalism.
When queried about concerns about the college’s proposals to increase the number of non-EU students from 7.8% of the student body they currently constitute to 18% by 2019, she replied that, “We’re intending to increase slightly the number of EU students who are admitted to Trinity. As the number of EU students are increasing, Trinity will increase proportionately its level. At the moment it would mean increasing our EU intake by about 200 annually and that’s in the context of our taking in 4,500 every year.” As to concerns as to the knock on effect on space and staffing within Trinity, she noted that, “We are building a new business school and a new engineering, computer science and natural science building. That will significantly increase our capacity in terms of space. We are also planning to increase our staffing.” She added, “We would hope the increase in non-EU students will allow us over time to reduce our student-staff ratio because we’ll have more income to fund staff and student support services. So we do expect that by the end of the five year period that our staff student ratio will have improved.”
When asked about that perennial question - Trinity’s performance in world university rankings she remained optimistic, saying, “There are many ratings agencies and they all look at a number of metrics. They are: funding per student, research - numbers of papers published and cited, reputation - how other academics rate subjects in Trinity, how industries across the world rate the qualities of our graduates. Each agency ranks these differently and that accounts why we might be 64 in one and 94
We’ve initiated a programme that will see former scholars help fund the cost of scholarships. in another. So the first thing to say about that is that Trinity’s score has increased every year since about 2006. So even when our rankings have dropped, our scores have gotten higher. So what that means is that other universities are increasing their scores at a higher rate than we are. So, actually year on year we are improving our performance.” The problem is that “from a ranking perspective, we’re not improving it quickly enough,” she did concede, however. There are some things that are in our control and some things that are not. Of the things that are in our, such as supporting our academics to do high quality research and to get it out and cited, on those metrics we are increasing our impact every year. It is a huge testament to the quality of our academics that we are able to have such a big impact, even other things are declining. And the biggest reason our score is not increasing as fast as others is funding per student. We’ve done an assessment of this and Trinity’s income is about 65% of the income of those around us in the rankings, so we’re performing extremely well relative to the funding that we have.”
The decrease in exchequer funding for the third level sector envisaged by the government in the next few years was noted as another area of challenge for Trinity. Whilst keen to stress her opposition to continued cuts to university funding - “we do continue to make the case to government that they need to fund students appropriately” - she also sought to highlight the alternatives the college has turned to in order to make up for the cuts in its budget. “We’ve initiated a programme that will see former scholars help fund the cost of scholarships,” she said. “So those who benefited are now giving back to those who are now beneficiaries. Income from our site is really important, we have some property that we rent, all that income goes back into supporting the university. We also have the visitor experience, making sure that when visitors visit the Book of Kells they have the opportunity here rather than across the road. So those are all very important things. Finally, nonEU students and postgraduate students - the fees that they pay currently make up about 20% of our income, so as our numbers increase we would expect their numbers to increase as well.” Much like the Irish state, Trinity aims to run a budget surplus by the end of the decade, with the Strategic Plan hoping for one between 2-3% of the college’s annual income. Noting that, “Every year during the recession the College Board has mandated that we plan for a balanced budget and for the last number years we have done that”, she added that “It’s a very difficult situation, it put a lot of strains on schools and students services and supports. The board has said to the executive, you cannot run a deficit and we have had to allocate on that basis. Why we want to run a surplus is that we want to invest in the maintenance of our buildings - which we’re not doing at the moment. Because we’re just balancing the budget. We want to invest new initiative which will support a range of things. So that’s why we want to run a balanced budget. So we can have provisions for things like the Arts Buildings - which could really do with a bit of TLC.” Finally, regarding the proposed “global research question” that Trinity announced it would set about solving in October, she said a decision has not yet been made, but stressed Trinity’s expertise in the areas of sustainability, energy, ageing and inequality She added that College would “definitely have a decision by the end of this academic year” and that any consultation over the issue would “absolutely” be public.
Tuesday 20th January 2015
News In Brief
RAG Week organisers aim to raise 30k James Wilson News Editor
Organisers of Trinity’s RAG Week activities have estimated that the money raised from charities this week could exceed the previous record set last week when ¤25,000. Officially launched by Provost Patrick Pendergast yesterday in the Graduates Memorial Building, RAG Week has grown steadily in its fundraising ability, with students raking in ¤12,000 in 2011. Were ¤30,000 to be raised this year, it would represent a growth of 250% over a four year period. Kicking off the week, volunteers with the Students’ Union organised a bucket collection at various points around campus. In the afternoon, an aerobics session was held by DU Dance and a concert was held in the
college chapel by the Trinitones later in the evening. An “Iron Stomach” competition in Front Square is being hosted by Trinity Sci Fi society today, the winner of which will be awarded a Trinity Ball ticket - prior requests for a vegan option on the Facebook event page were left unanswered. S2S has also arranged a sumo wrestling competition for that afternoon, and for those eligible, the SU has organised a visit to the blood donation clinic on D’Olier Street. A “Big Fat Table Quiz of RAG Week” is taking place in the Exam Hall this evening, with Trinity Ball tickets, vouchers for the 1592 restaurant, and wine as prizes. A traditional “line of coins” is set to take tomorrow morning, in which students are encouraged to place their spare change in a line stretching from the Campanile to Front Gate, patrolled
vigilantly by SU sabbatical officers. An obstacle course outside the Pav has also been arranged, and a five-a-side football match is set to follow. The famed Trinity Come Dancing competition, which pairs up and pits many of College’s big names against each other is due to take place this evening. Thursday will see Bricfeasta na Póite –a hangover breakfast– take place in Seomra na Gaeilge in conjunction with An Cumann Gaelach, followed by the wellestablished Quidditch tournament between The Phil, VDP, Trampolining, and Suas. Ents’ RAG Ball with Redlight will also be taking place in the Opium Rooms on Liberty Lane. On Friday, the Pav is set to host a dodgeball competition, followed by a mystery tour in association with MOVE.
Caoimhe Gordon Staff Writer The extended 24 hour library is set to open to students in two weeks, Trinity News has learned. This new study space will become known as Kinsella Hall, after Trinity alumnus Eric Kinsella donated to the project. Head librarian Helen Shenton has communicated to the SU that the full facility will be accessible from February 2nd, according to the most recent SU Council agenda distributed to class reps over the weekend. This comes after months of work converting the second and third floors of the Ussher Library
News Editor The former president of the DIT’s student union and the current Union of Students in Ireland (USI)’s current vice president for campaigns has announced his intention to stand for the position of USI president at the organisation’s Annual Congress later in March this year. Announcing his candidacy on his Facebook page on Sunday, FitzPatrick said, “The Union of Students in Ireland is one of the few entities that can give stu-
James Prendergast Investigative Correspondent
dents and young people a fighting chance of a future in this country. I've had the absolute privilege of representing students in a number of capacities since 2008 and I feel like I still have something to contribute.” He added: “Moving into an election cycle, I know in my heart that I am the person with the necessary experience, strategic vision and courage that the organisation and the movement needs. It's a long road ahead to Congress 2015 and I'm genuinely excited to get out there and talk about my ideas within the movement and hear all of yours.
''#GoWithGlenn” FitzPatrick will be the first student from DIT to contest the position of USI since 2012 when Ciarán Nevin stood unsuccessfully against UCD graduate John Logue. With UCD since having disaffiliated from the union, the DIT student newspaper, The Edition, speculated that FitzPatrick’s path to the presidency is likely to be “easier” than it would have been in previous years. FitzPatrick is currently the only candidate in the presidential race to have publicly declared their intention to stand.
Phil debate sees Trinity students vote in favour of water charges Tadgh Healy Deputy Features Editor Trinity students voted not to refuse to pay water charges at a debate held by the University Philosophical Society on Thursday night. The motion “This House Would Refuse to Pay the Water Charges” was narrowly defeated following a well-contested debate made up entirely of Trinity students. The sole guest speaker, Mark Egan, a representative from Ballymun Says No, was a late cancellation. Oisín Vince Coulter, a thirdyear student of Classics and Philosophy, opened the case for the proposition, calling the water charge an “unjust and regressive austerity tax” that as a flat rate would hit the poorest the hardest. He described how many in Ireland were already living in poverty and simply could not afford to pay for what, citing the United Nations, should be a human right. He was met with a forceful interjection from Rachel O’Byrne who, likewise concerned with the interests of the poor, argued that refusing to pay now would result in paying double in six months’ time. Vince Coulter disagreed, believing that the protestors could be success-
to ensure that it was possible for the library to remain open to students 24 hours a day. Up until now, the 24 hour library consisted only of the first floor. Work on the project was due to start in January 2014, but instead began in early June of last year. Shenton explains that the delay in opening the facility to the public relates to the installation of CCTV cameras on the second and third floor. They are already a fixture on the first floor. Five evacuation staircases were also installed for the safety of students upon the recommendation of the College Security and Safety officer. More desks, each fitted with light and power points, have also been added to maximise study space.
This new facility has long been called for by students. “This Hall comprises three floors of 24-hour study space for up to 600 students, and it’s accessible throughout the year,” Provost prendergast said in his speech at the opening of the extended library in October. “It enables ‘marathon’ research and study periods, and the demand for it came directly from the students.” Despite the delay in opening the new facility to students, Shenton has said that she remains confident that there are still sufficient study spaces available to cater for every student’s needs, adding that they monitor use of library space very carefully.
Next UT editor to take a pay cut
Former DITSU president announces candidacy for top USI position James Wilson
Extended 24 hour library to open in two weeks
ful and plans for a water charge ultimately scrapped. O’Byrne, like the rest of the opposition, agreed that access to water was a fundamental human right but nevertheless thought that “paying for water is a good thing.” The second-year Law student explained that water charges, though only a “minimal tax”, would provide the funds for the water quality to be improved nationwide, as well as encouraging people to curb their consumption. The second proposition speaker, Peter Gowan, sought to address these points. He argued that however minimal you consider the charges now, “2019 is the point where all these caps will run out.” He argued that there is no guarantee charges would not skyrocket after this point. Of course, with water charges such an emotive issue for many voters, this is something any future government will be wary of doing. The second opposition speaker, Shannon Buckley Barnes, a second-year Law and Political Science student, raised this point. She then called the anti-water charges protesters “violent and vicious” and for this reason didn’t “want to align myself with them, so I’d rather pay.” If people in the countryside take
issue with water charges, Buckley Barnes said, they can “build their own wells.” Michael Barton, the late stand-in on the proposition for Egan, countered, “If you live on the fourth floor, you’re going to have a hard time building a well.” He also contested the idea that water charges would improve quality: in the current proposals, he argued, “there are no plans to fix the quality of the water. It is insulting to be asked to pay for water which is undrinkable.” Cormac Henehan closed the proposition case, and argued that there is a class of people who cannot and therefore should not pay. “We need to stand in solidarity with those people,” he said. The final two opposition speakers, Fionn McGorry and vice president of the Philosophical Society, Hannah Beresford, instead suggested that government itself is the community Henehan imagined. McGorry argued that refusal to pay water charges was a “slippery slope” indicative of a “a future in which the government can no longer rely on the consent of its citizens.” He said that he believed that “this subversion of the state” could be more dangerous to Ireland in the long term than water charges.
The editor of The University Times will be paid ¤80 per week less than the current SU communications officer and will not be provided with campus accommodation next year, Trinity News has learned. The UT editorship will be separated next year from communi-
cations officer, which is being replaced by the new, full-time role of communications and marketing officer. The funding for the extra sabbatical position is coming from surplus SU resources. Current full-time sabbatical officers receive ¤305 per week or just under ¤16,000 per year and are provided with work phones and campus accommodation. The UT editor will continue to be provided with a work phone,
but will be between only ¤225 a week from August to April. Edmund Heaphy, current deputy editor of The University Times, is the uncontested candidate for UT editor and Jemma O’Leary and Aifric Ni Chriodain are the candidates for communications and marketing officer.
College donation to student assistance fund below promised figure James Prendergast Investigative Correspondent College has donated just ¤85,000 out of a promised ¤150,000 to the student assistance fund (SAF), Trinity News has learned. About 70% of SAF funds is given to Trinity Access Programme and the rest to the Student Hardship Fund. The SAF – which is co-funded by both the Irish government and the European Social Fund – has been cut by ¤123,335 or 23% this year. Last term, the fund effectively ran out of money and received emergency funding of ¤2,000 from the Trinity Alumni Office and ¤1,000 from the sale of Ents wristbands. College described the cut as “unexpected” and said it came after College had allocated all of its budget for 2014/15. The decision was made following discussions with TCD Students’ Union and TCD Graduate Students’ Union. Of the ¤85,000, ¤24,667 will go to the senior tutor and ¤12,334 to the Graduate Students Office, which administer the SHF for undergraduates and postgraduates, respectively, fully offsetting the cut to both. The remainder
will go to TAP. College told Trinity News that student representatives and the vice-provost agreed that the ¤85,000 should be “allocated immediately while work continues to identify the remainder of the resource”. It said that the viceprovost will continue to work with the college financial officer and others to help bridge the remaining gap of ¤38,500. It said work will be undertaken “to see if there can be some reprioritisa-
tion within TAP that may help ameliorate the gap”. TCDSU welfare officer, IanMooney, said that College has “promised to do what they can to make up the rest of the difference in the second term, but they figured that it would be better to give what they have collected so far to the SHF rather than wait until they had gathered the rest of it.”
Coffin allegedly used in Trinity frat initiation ceremony Robyn Page-Cowman Staff Writer Members of the Trinity-dominated Theta Omicron fraternity have been using a coffin in their initiation ceremonies in recent months, Trinity News understands. Potential members are allegedly confined in the coffin, which is kept in the frat head’s apartment, as part of their application to join the male-only
association. Last year, individuals were taken into the middle of the countryside at night and severely inebriated, it has also emerged. All forms of communication, and money were taken off them and they were told to make their own way back, undisclosed sources have told this paper. Trinity News also understands that membership fees, which were reported as coming in at about 50e a month back in February
2012, have increased to several hundred euro a month. The so-called “Dynasty” is modelled on the American Greek system and is formally endorsed by the US-based Zeta Psi fraternity, which has over 50 chapters in universities across North America, as well as UK branches in Oxford and St. Andrews. It was established by Trinity students between 2011 and 2012, but now includes students from other Irish universities.
Concern after GMB robbery Robyn Page-Cowman Staff Writer Concern has been building among GMB society members after a bag containing several valuable items was stolen from the building. On the first weekend of the Christmas break, when the GMB was locked up for holidays, Hist committee member Sophie Fitzpatrick had a bag contained her Macbook Pro, study notes and a wallet with bank cards and money stolen from the society’s conversation room. She had felt safe leaving the bag in the building and only committee members of the GMB societies and security had access to it over the break. But during the ten minutes it was left, both the door
had been left open and the bag had also gone missing. This incident reported to GMB security. Later that evening, the bag was found with the contents moved around, and the Macbook and some of the credit cards from the wallet having been stolen. It had been shoved inside the bin of the gentleman’s toilet with a cake squashed inside covering the rest of the contents. Fitzpatrick said the incident greatly impeded on her college work and Schols revision over Christmas after losing all her saved laptop work and her notes being completely spoiled. So far there have been no further thefts reported by students. Hist record secretary Dee Courtney’s camera has gone missing, but at the time of print it is still unconfirmed whether this was
stolen. Another student, Olly Donnelly had reported missing earphone in the building just before the Christmas break, but they have since been tracked down to the lost and found department. No Phil members have reported missing items, but Hannah Beresford (Phil Vice President) has expressed concern about these “unfortunate incidents”. However, many in the GMB have been disturbed that those responsible demonstrated knowledge of the building and its security. “They’re obviously a student,” Fitzpatrick told Trinity News . I would normally be more inclined to trust Trinity students, but not anymore”.
Tuesday 20th January 2015
SU elections: What's at stake? Our news team analyses each race.
Scammed international students still in limbo after school closure Over a hundred English language students are still out of pocket after the sudden closure of Shelbourne College, but efforts to clean up the private college sector as a whole have met with little success so far.. Dave Moore, ICOS communication officer, tells me. “Malawi, which is not a visa required country, entered the college’s recruitment picture very late in the day.”
String of closures
Catherine Healy Editor Mayank Gupta’s worst fears were realised last Monday when Shelbourne College failed to reopen after the Christmas break. The 21-year-old Indian national was told, along with some 60 other recently arrived international students, that classes at the Camden Street-based English language school would resume on January 12th after the school suddenly closed on November 13th. Rumours that it had permanently shut down were incorrect, Adnan Wahla, one of the college’s directors, told them in an email. Gupta moved to Ireland 12 days before the closure. His family had remortgaged their house to pay the ¤5,700 fee required to enroll him in the school’s level 7 diploma in strategic management. He tells me he plans to spend the rest of his time in Ireland, until his visa runs out at the end of the month, seeking compensation. “I don’t have money to enroll in another college. That’s a very difficult situation for me as well as my parents. They told me to come back [to India] but how can I go back with empty hands?” NavDeep Singh, also 21 and from India, is another Shelbourne College victim, despite having never set foot in Ireland. He paid the college ¤3,950 upfront for an advanced diploma in hotel management back in October 2013. He tells me that he has spent the last nine months chasing Adnan Wahla, one of the college’s directors, for his money after failing to secure the required visa to travel to Ireland. “They were playing with me again and again,” he says. “My parents blamed me about my [unrefunded] fee. They think I have done something with the money.” Shanel Jacinto, a 25-year-old Filipino national, says she feels she has nowhere to turn after losing the ¤4,950 fee she paid in May for a level 7 diploma in healthcare management. Her father, who’s working away from home in Saudi Arabia, had parted with his savings to pay for her studies. Her immigration agency told her that Shelbourne College would have to compensate her if her visa application was rejected. Neither she nor the agency have been able to contact the college since it closed in November.
Shelbourne College is alleged to owe over ¤500,000 to students from developing countries like India, Nepal, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. More than 150 international students are now believed to have paid fees of up to ¤5,000 - significantly higher rates than those for previously closed colleges - that have still not been refunded by the college. The large majority of those affected never managed to reach Ireland, as the Irish visa application requires non-EU citizens to pay upfront fees before applying to study here. Many students who weren’t able to travel after their applications were rejected have been trying to get their fees refunded since June, according to the Irish Council for International Students (ICOS). The organisation has highlighted that Shelbourne College focused its recruitment efforts on visa-required countries, instead of non-EU countries like Brazil and Mexico that aren’t visa-required for study in Ireland - even though Department of Justice figures have shown that 85% of visa applications related to the college were rejected by immigration officials over the last year and a half. “For a college to choose to focus its recruitment efforts so squarely on a small group of countries on the visa-required list does raise obvious questions,”
Shelbourne was the tenth English language college in Ireland to close in 2014. Several of the others - including Eden College, Millenium College, the National Media College and the Business and Computer Training (BCT) Institute - were shut down after inspections found that they had offered to falsify attendance records to allow non-EU students to skip classes to work. The practice is commonplace in many English language schools, according to David O’Grady of Marketing English in Ireland (MEI), an association of 54 regulated and inspected English language schools. O’Grady claims that schools have cashed in on demand for the ‘stamp 2’ visa, which allows students to take on up to 20 hours of part-time work a week during term time or up to 40 hours a week during normal college vacation periods, provided they have a minimum class attendance rate of 80%. Many don’t in fact have the resources to handle their number of enrolled students, he says. His own schools, as of December 5th, have offered course places to 565 displaced students for ¤60 per week, a 70% discount on MEI fees.
Photo: Tadgh Healy
Moore estimates that some 2,500 students are still out of pocket as a result of the string of closures, though the figure is complicated by a number of factors. About 4,000 non-EEA students were enrolled in the 10 colleges, he says, but the number of registered students includes those who had just completed their courses and were in a period of holiday. The registered number also excludes students “who had paid for courses but either hadn’t started or had only very recently started at the time of the closures and who had therefore not made their registration with immigration authorities.” A third factor is that Eden College “had some FETAC accredited programmes and enrolled some students to English ACELS language programmes in 2013 before it lost both MEI membership and ACELS accreditation,” he adds. “These are the only students of those affected who had any form of learner protection – i.e. the right to transfer to another programme without additional fees, thereby shielding them from losses. All other students have been expected to pay again to enrol with another college.” For many students, though, the future is still uncertain. Some have reported difficulties getting the Gardaí to take their complaints seriously. Moore confirms this: “The feedback we have received on student experience of trying to make a report to the Gardaí has shown it to be a pretty negative experience for most who sought to do so.” The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) has no telephone enquiry service and its last meeting with students was on May 13th. While schools are legally obliged to compensate students, their directors have no personal liability unless it can be proven that they have engaged in fraudulent or reckless behaviour. “The bar is quite high for this and the problem is compounded if there is a reluctance on the part of the authorities to investigate and pursue complaints,” he adds. ICOS favours the establishment of protected accounts that would securely hold money on behalf of students applying for visas. It points to the private college sector in countries like Singapore, where schools are obliged to protect students’ fees via an escrow bank account or insurance provider. The Department of Justice has said it was open to the idea, but that there are no banks that can currently offer this kind of service. It’s a goal that should surely be achieved this year, Moore tells me. “Other countries have such systems,” he points out. “Just as students have been hurt, Ireland’s reputation has been damaged by the closures. We would see the establishment of solid protections for course fees to be central to the rebuilding of confidence.
For a college to choose to focus its recruitment efforts on a small group of countries on the visarequired list does raise obvious questions. High Court challenges
Meanwhile, efforts to clean up the industry have met with little success so far. Minister Frances Fitzgerald had planned to introduce tighter regulations that would only allow international students to enrol in programmes accredited by Quality and Qualifications Ireland, the national awarding body for third-level institutions outside the university sector, but the move has been delayed by last Tuesday’s successful High Court challenge brought by two English language colleges, Academic Bridge and the National Employee Development Centre, who claimed that the new rules would put them out of business. The focus of their opposition to government plans was almost entirely on the ACELS accreditation scheme - not on the issue of working hours allowed under non-EU visas or the requirement that courses be accredited in Ireland. This refusal to comply with minimum quality standards casts a cold light on those schools largely relying on recruitment from non-EU countries. School directors understand the attractiveness of cheap courses to the would-be student, thousands of miles away, and understand how to make money out of that longing for education, for a better life. The victims of those closed schools, for now, have little comfort. Savings have been wasted and dreams have died. It has been over half a year since Shelbourne applicants first called attention to the college’s failure to compensate fees. Now, seven months later, their common plea is the same: “Please get my money back.”
Rejection rate for visa applications related to Shelbourne College
Estimated number of students affected by Shelbourne College closure
€500,000 Money owed to students by Shelbourne College
Number of English language school closures in 2014
Estimated overall number of students still owed money by the 10 closed colleges Photos: Dave Moore, ICOS
Tuesday 20th January 2015
Why has blasphemy remained in Irish law for so long?
James Bennett Contributing Editor “In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred, we, the people of Eire, humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ …” Question: what document begins with the above words? You might think it is some kind of religious text or prayer book. You would be wrong. These are the opening lines of the Irish constitution.
A DU HIstory member brandishes the 1916 Proclamation at one of the society's club nights, Photo: DU History
The only Ostzone techno night in the Free State Members of DU History, the student society renowned for its tongue-in-cheek historythemed club nights, talk to Trinity News about finding comic relief in historical tragedy and pitch in on the controversy surrounding Channel 4’s forthcoming famine sitcom. Conor O'Donovan Features Editor The dance floor was already caked with juice splash and straw. The ceilidh band's set had come to an end and the pipes had been engulfed by a slap bass groove, only to reemerge sporadically. At the bar, three Junior Sophisters dressed as the Treaty ports were arguing fervently; Berehaven and Queenstown had already gotten a round of drinks in with a group of irregulars, a course of action Loughswilly perceived as a slight. Their recriminations were soon lost amidst the feverish revelry, however, as the Twisted Pepper was filled with the quaint rustle of tweed on tweed. Over ninety years after the plenipotentiaries holed themselves up at 22 Hans Place, an event catering for those unsure of some of the Anglo-Irish Treaty's finer points had finally arrived. It was 19th November 2013, the night of the inaugural, and to date the only, edition of Dublin's anti-Treaty club night, The Wind That Shakes the Party. Fast forward one year, and seven decades, and DU History were hosting a re-unification themed club night to mark the Berlin Wall's dismantlement, entitled The Wall. The Twisted Pepper was at capacity once again as 99 red balloons descended from the ceiling into the melting pot of old school East German techno beats, juice splash, denim and retro sports wear below. The design of the tickets for this year's event, modeled on old East German visas, seemed evocative of DU History's mission: to grant their members temporary access to a space in which engagement with complex moments in world history and good times go hand in hand. If the recent backlash to the proposed Channel 4 sitcom Hungry is anything to go by, not everyone wants to go there. Described by writer Hugh Travers as "Shameless during the famine", the show has garnered considerable backlash, from IrishAmerican website Irish Central in particular, as well as a well publicized, 40,000 signature, petition on change.org and historian Tim Pat Coogan's holocaust sitcom comparison. Much of the outrage seems to boil down to the idea that laughing at an event as tragic as the Famine is not acceptable.
Finding comic relief
I spoke to DU History about finding comic relief in civil war and partition, as well as the potential pitfalls of satirizing the Famine, particularly when many may be unfamiliar with the event they are supposed to find funny.
The promotional material in the build-up to Wind that Shakes the Party seemed to centre on a dual swipe at both the ideology of the Civil War era and modern student drinking culture. An Eamonn De Valera Facebook account announced pre-drinks to be held in the GPO, Boland's Factory, The Four Courts and City Hall, encouraging would be attendees to "drop (him) a telegram!" De Valera was also unable to pick up his "usual" 6 cans of Coors Light as his refusal to recognise a Free State police force made requests to see his Garda Age card somewhat awkward. An image depicting De Valera and Michael Collins holding up the Pamplemousse board together at Diceys' "Thank F*ck it's Easter Monday" event some time in 1916 served to highlight the pathos of their spoiled friendship. The promotional content also satirised other aspects of college life: another image emerged in which Thomas Clarke and Joseph Plunkett, two lesser known figures in the Rising, are seen manning a "Bakesale for Belgium" stand, outside the "Edward Carson" theatre in the Arts Block. This double-edged approach, which combined some times numerous historical references with instantly recognisable student phenomena proved potent as the event sold out in under an hour.
Club night commemoration
Casting a reflection on students is not the only way to get them involved, however, as the Wall examined student life in a different way. The two events differed in their conception: Irish Steph's unique incorporation of traditional Irish instruments into electronic music represented (as well as the ultimate acquired taste) the perfect soundtrack for an AntiTreaty club night, a pre-existing idea. In the case of the Wall, the desire was to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall, which provided the perfect opportunity to celebrate German electro. "Berlin in that period was an absolute hotbed of electronic music. Modern party culture was really in its infancy there. It wouldn’t really occur to us now but up until the mid-80s the idea of a dark room full of people dancing to someone playing someone else’s records was pretty much an alien idea, the only comparable thing to come before that I can think of is England’s Northern Soul scene, or Jamaican sound system culture." It seems rather than critiquing the idea of a club night, The Wall traced it back to its source. "In conceptualising the night I poured over Youtube watching videos. People were elated." says Finnán. By contrast, the promo-
tional video for the event demonstrated a more of an irreverent statement on the discontent of the post-Independence era. The track ‘IRA's Tweed’ by Irish Steph scored reversed footage of Irish troops entering Belfast, The Eucharistic Congress as well as inspired use of a clip from The Wind that Shakes the Barley. The video was intended to represent a bizarre Republican, Anti-Treaty fantasy in which phenomena perceived as direct results of the Treaty's recognition by Dáil Eireann, such as the secularisation of Ireland and the Troubles, are reversed. Another reason the two club nights differed is that there are different concerns to be addressed in representing different events. "Obviously there’s a lot of tragedy associated with the Berlin Wall, but the night that we threw wasn’t about that. The Wall was about capturing the sense of celebration that ran through Berlin as people realised that the city’s division was over," says Finnán. This presented a difference in tone from The Wind That Shakes the Party where "the humour was drawn from absurdity." Finding humour in the Famine era would be different again: "A certain tone will definitely be funny, (but) there most certainly isn’t anything funny about the famine itself. But tragedy/sadness and humour often really do go hand in hand. Humour can be viewed as a human coping mechanism: if you can laugh at something, it hasn’t really conquered you... If Hungry is done right, we won’t be laughing at the starving masses of famine-era Ireland, we’ll be laughing with them."
Travers is yet to elaborate on his outline of Hungry, though his "comedy equals tragedy plus time" formula bears some resemblance to DU History's satirical approach. His most well-known work to date, the radio comedy/ drama 'Lambo' features the late Gerry Ryan relating a fictitious period in his early career: Ryan endures considerable media backlash for killing and eating a lamb during a survival challenge on the Gary Byrne show. Though vastly different in terms of subject matter, the play demonstrates empathy in examining the notion of being a public figure. Another of his projects for 2015 is a stage production entitled "The Big Girl." Described as a reworking of Sophocles' Antigone, the play will focus on the experience of a pregnant teenager who is the niece of a prominent Dublin TD. Despite drawing on a sense of absurdity latent in the Civil War period, there were concerns over
potential backlash amongst the committee prior to The Wind That Shakes the Party. Many of the props, including a selection of rare republican flags and a stone engraving of the proclamation, were purchased in the Sinn Féin store in Parnell Square. When asked by the shopkeeper why he was buying 120 Euro worth of merchandise, Maurice replied that he was decorating his bedroom. Though the use of tact in certain situations may be warranted the events themselves should be designed to provoke a response. Maurice points to a particular anecdote in response to the same issue. During the course of The Wind that Shakes the Party committee members were forced to intervene when an overzealous patron set the Proclamation of the Irish Republic alight. It transpired he'd mistaken it for the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which had also been doing the rounds. "Even if you're getting people involved by means of light arson its still encouraging historical awareness. Therefore Hungry, even if grossly offensive, will stimulate historical debate," he states. At the very least, it seems the patron in question is unlikely to make the same mistake again. Finnán leans more toward the idea of accessibility as an intention behind events such as The Wall: "We’re well aware that everyone doesn’t love history quite as much as us, and might be less inclined to attend a lecture or talk on something like the Berlin Wall, but turning it into a club night makes it that bit more accessible. If people left the Wall with some bit more of an interest in what that night was based on then they had before then I think we did a good job." Finding new perspectives seems to be a common aim, between both events and perhaps Hungry as well. "I feel that the famine is as much the UK’s tragedy as it is Ireland’s and I would love to see it occupy a more public position in Britain," says Finn. Maurice identifies the pervasion of false narratives particularly harmful: " The horror of the famine is a central tenet in cultivating a sense of victimhood. The most visceral demonstration of this is the concept of 'the undocumented Irish’. Where are the undocumented Mexicans or the undocumented Chinese? The concept is inherently racist, it states legalise us because we're white and we speak English," he states, in relation to Irish-American interpretations of the famine. "No element of the past should be sanctified. This is how grand narratives are constructed, there are more statues to the resistance in Austria than there were actual
members." Maurice argues that people would do better to turn their attention to issues concerning the actual study of history, such as the demotion of the subject at Junior Cert level. It remains to be seen whether 'Hungry' will tackle the famine appropriately, or even make it on screen. However, it seems the controversy has touched upon something more profound. Articles published by sites such as Irish Central, demonstrate an inability to think historically, as evidenced by a recent article conflating nineteenth century caricatures of the Irish with Charlie Hebdo cartoons. There even seems to be a misunderstanding of the concept of comedy, as demonstrated by a frankly bizarre attempt at a spoof "leaked" 'Hungry' script. That their resonance is so widespread is disturbing.
De Valera was also unable to pick up his usual 6 cans of Coors Light as his refusal to recognise a Free State police force made requests to see his Garda Age card somewhat awkward. As for Dublin's only anti-Treaty club night, the evening came to a close with the committee leading their members in a round of the Lord's prayer and the Angelus, before a brief rendition of An Dreoilín. Aside from the Treaty ports, who had resumed their argument in the queue for the cloakroom, it was clear from the dumbstruck silence that, despite the residual issue of national memory, DU History had thrown a party, and raised some serious questions concerning PostIndependence Ireland, that their members would not soon forget.
In the 17th century, blasphemy was declared to be a common law offence in England. This law would apply to Ireland as part of the United Kingdom over the coming centuries. After independence, the deference of the new Irish state before the Christian god was enshrined in the constitution. There are two articles in the constitution which legally oblige Ireland to legislate for blasphemy. Article 44.1 says that the state “acknowledges that the homage of public worship is due to Almighty God. It shall hold His Name in reverence, and shall respect and honour religion.” More specifically, article 40.6.1 states that “the publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law.” The last time somebody was convicted of blasphemy in Ireland was in 1855 under English common law, when a man was brought to court for burning a Bible. Although in 1937 the new constitution also outlawed blasphemy, this was never legislated for, as the complications arising from the freedom of religion also enshrined in the constitution were seen as too difficult to deal with. The Defamation Act of 1961, which was enacted under the then Minister for Justice Charles Haughey, was the first piece of legislation to address blasphemy. This act forbade the printing or publishing of any “blasphemous or obscene libel.” The punishment would be a fine of five hundred pounds or two years in prison. The bill never defined blasphemy though, as Haughey insisted that the old common law definition was sufficient. Over the next few decades, various commissions on legal and constitutional reform recommended that the offense of blasphemy be removed from the Irish legal system. No action was taken on these recommendations. Blasphemy had never been prosecuted in the history of the republic, so it was easier to ignore it. This all changed in November 1995 when the Sunday Independent published a controversial cartoon in the wake of the divorce referendum. It showed a priest blessing the eucharist while three politicians waved goodbye to him. It was captioned “Hello progress - bye bye Father” as a play on the famous “Hello divorce - bye bye Daddy” posters that had been used in the referendum campaign. John Corway attempted to bring a blasphemy prosecution against the Sunday Independent in the High Court as a result of this cartoon. The High Court rejected the case, and Corway appealed to the Supreme Court, who made the same decision. The Supreme Court said that because blasphemy had not been legally defined it was “impossible to say of what the offence of blasphemy consists,” adding that “the State is not placed in the position of an arbiter of religious truth.”
The blasphemy issue went quiet for about a decade after this. Eventually the inconsistency between the constitution and existing legislation was addressed and a new defamation bill was signed into law in 2009. This stated that blasphemy could be punished by a fine of up to 25,000 euro and de fined the offence as the publication or utterance of “matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion.” The law also stipulates that the accused must have intended to cause such outrage. Blasphemy is now defined in Irish law. Politicians who seem eager to avoid the bother of removing it from the statute book are keen to emphasise that the definitionis so tortured that it wo-
ould be difficult if not impossible to convict anyone. Those opposed to the law say it is a matter of principle. Ireland is a modern European nation, they argue, with no place for such an archaic criminal offence. And then there are those who are quite happy to see blasphemy being outlawed, and would perhaps like an even stronger deterrent.
Politicians eager to avoid the bother of removing it from the statute book are keen to emphasise that the definition is so tortured that it would be difficult if not impossible to convict anyone.
Healthy to mock
People who would like to see religion protected by law from ridicule often point to legislation against hate speech to defend their argument. If you cannot insult someone based on their identity then there is no freedom of expression. So why not protect religions in the same way we protect the potential victims of hate speech? This argument is correct to a point. Any society that has laws against hate speech does not truly embrace the freedom of speech. If you cannot say whatever you want and not be punished, then your freedom is unarguably limited. However, laws against hate speech exist to defend people, while blasphemy laws exist to defend institutions. The people who are the victims of hate speech are usually vulnerable. Society as a whole has decided that it is worth sacrificing a small portion of freedom in order to protect certain people. These laws also have a democratic mandate. If a party at the next general election decided it wanted to repeal Ireland’s 1989 Prohibition of Incitement To Hatred Act, it would most likely find the general public to be unsympathetic. Institutions, on the other hand, do not need such protection. Organised religions are still among the most wealthy and powerful groups on the planet. It is healthy to mock them. It is normal to be wary of power. As for the adherents to these faiths, who as individuals feel like they are being persecuted, there is provision in Irish law for their protection. The Prohibition of Incitement To Hatred Act forbids language or behaviour that is “threatening, abusive or insulting” or “likely to stir up hatred” towards somebody based on their “race, colour, nationality, religion, ethnic or national origins, membership of the travelling community or sexual orientation.” Religious hatred towards people is adequately dealt with by the law. If individuals are already protected, then blasphemy law must by logic have some other purpose. And it does. It exists to protect hugely powerful organisations from being questioned or mocked. Although Irish blasphemy law is little more than a token gesture to satisfy the requirements of the constitution, we still should not have it. Instead of paying lip service to the cartoonists killed in Paris, or the blogger being lashed in Saudi Arabia, we should put another amendment on the ballot paper of our next referendum to remove blasphemy from the constitution.
Tuesday 20th January 2015
Challenges persist for Trinity's student parents High childcare costs, poor centralised resources and strict timetables leave student parents out in the cold. Dee Courtney Staff Writer The exact number of student parents in Trinity is unknown, although a survey conducted in 2012 suggests that the number is more than four hundred. This should give you an idea of the lack of general awareness about student parents and their needs in college. Trinity has no centralised parents service; its policy document on parents refers students to the SU and to their college tutors. I spoke to Lynn Ruane, the Student Union’s first Student Parent Officer, about the unique circumstances student parents can find themselves in. She made it clear that student parents have special requirements, and that college does not provide for those: “The support for parents whether that be academic staff or student is totally inadequate.” These problems also apply to staff with parental responsibilities; Lynn points to the gender imbalance in Trinity’s senior staff as an example of where the demands of parenting are a factor in preventing women from succeeding. Even if we support the men in caregiving roles, we have to acknowledge that women tend to lose out more from a lack of childcare services. Like most businesses, Trinity is slow to move toward comprehensive childcare services for its staff, and for its students. The corporate attitude towards family is that you choose career or parenting, or balance both – but on your own time. Businesses cater for parents at their own discretion, not by requirement. But the difference is that employees are earning and have a chance to make that choice and pay for childcare – provided they earn enough, that is. Academic staff in junior positions are often not, and students without funding have to balance a full-time degree and full-time childcare. College expects students to devote their time to their degrees, but it ignores the special needs of this group.
This year, a survey was conducted by Lynn in her role to assess the support that student parents receive from college. Over 100 people answered the survey; seven men, 94 women and two who did not list a gender. More than half were nursing students and the next largest group was arts, humanities and social sciences. Nursing hours are demanding, especially since it requires work
placement. Childcare costs are not always the biggest concern for parents, but they do play a huge part: costs can be up to 500 euro per week for some parents. The Trinity nursery only accepts children under age five and is still costly, even with the subsidy. It opens from 8am to 6pm during term time. This does not cater for evening lectures, but would be even more problematic for health science students with placements that can start before eight. Some parents also have to pay for their children to be driven to creche or school if they have early starts; this can cost up to 290 euro per week. The Students’ Union is able to financially support just five of the hundreds of student parents. Lynn says that if more funding were made available, childcare could be subsidised and services set up for children over age five. But the budget for student parent services has been cut this year, along with the student hardship fund, putting a further strain on parents. Lynn suggests that there are several low-cost and no-cost measures that could be taken to support student parents, but that this would require the college to be understanding of their circumstances.
Strict and unpredictable timetabling
According to the survey, strict and unpredictable timetabling is the largest concern for student parents. Nurses, who make up the biggest proportion of student parents, are required to attend most lectures and tutorials in order to pass. The policy on lateness, which often applies to arts and social science students as well, is to declare a student absent after a certain amount of time. For some courses, being even a minute late makes you absent. For parents trying to get children ready in the morning and facing unpredictable circumstances – issues with school, their children’s health, the doctor or dentist – this makes them much more likely to be absent. Having to attend every lecture and tutorial – and the stringent restrictions placed on changing your tutorials around – puts an extra strain on parents’ schedules. Aside from the hours themselves, Trinity’s reading week is a week after school midterms, meaning parents with children in school have to make arrangements for the time. Extra childcare or activity camps can cost hundreds, meaning some student parents are forced to take a week
off college. More than that, students in health science and social science are sometimes required to take work placements outside of Dublin, meaning they could be commuting for hours or living away from home and family for the duration of their placement. Lynn suggests that student parents should be able to move between tutorials as it suits their timetables, and that podcasts of lectures could be made available specifically to parents so that they would not lose out by missing the time. She also says that lecturers and teaching assistants need to show discretion and understanding when dealing with student parents. She suggests giving preference to student parents for choosing modules and placement options so that they can schedule themselves more easily.
Lack of centralised services
The fundamental problem is that though Lynn’s suggestions are good and doable, they require college staff to be aware of who student parents are, the problems they face and what they need. The college policy document on student parents suggests that if student parents make themselves and their needs known, college can cater to them by extending deadlines, allowing out-of-hours classes and treating supplemental exams as the first attempt if needed. But the reality is that the lack of a centralised service means relying on every lecturer to show this understanding. Even if your tutor is aware, there is no service that you can register with to specifically look after your needs. Students with a disability that needs to be catered for have the disability service, not only to give them one-on-one support but to represent their interests and raise awareness about their circumstances. Student parents have the SU officer now, but their limited resources make it difficult to provide much.
Without a registry and a centralised service, with student parents relying on different sources of funding and support – the SU, the hardship fund and each other – they have to support themselves to a large extent. In fact, most of the progressive initiatives for parents have come from the society or the students’ union. Lynn has received funding from the equality office for a midterm festival to take the strain off parents in February. ‘This will relieve some of the stress parents endure during this week trying to pay for child-
Illustration: Rebecca Courtney
Like most businesses, Trinity is slow to move toward comprehensive childcare services for its staff and for its students.
care." She hopes other students will attend to make it a day for interaction between parents and the average student. Parents often feel excluded from the college social life, and Lynn wants to create events to correct this rather than relying on student parents to adapt to the difficulty. However, the continuation of such initiatives will rely on parents continuing to organise these things themselves. Though the college website lists plenty of resources for parents, most are disconnected from one another – TAP, the hardship fund, the SU, S2S and the college tutor among
them. At the end of the day, the SU student parents officer and the society are the main resource, working to get support from anywhere they can on a smaller and smaller budget. Lynn says being the first is more of a benefit than a challenge, because it gives her the chance to pioneer a project. “One of my aims for this position was to ensure the visibility of parents within the college community and that will only happen with the support of the college as a whole.” Awareness is being raised and projects funded, and surely there will be more improvement
as future officers build on the work. But it looks as if the support for student parents will continue to come from the parents themselves. They’ll have to work hard to be recognised and understood by staff and other students.
Past Trinity publications showcase forgotten student history Trinity Publications’ history of supporting student media stretches back decades, with magazines of the 1980s demonstrating an almost alien radicalism to those of today..
Matthew Mulligan Editor-at-Large Trinity College has a proud history of student-led activism, counting among our alumni campaigners such as Mary Robinson, Mary McAleese and David Norris. While the yearly marches of the USI have become a familiar perhaps routine sight to present day students, Trinity has seen many contentious issues played out across the pages of radical student publications. The landscape and doggedness of student politics and activism in the early 1980s seems almost alien to that of today; theirs was a time of international condemnation of apartheid, outreach to Dublin’s inner city, the negotiation of sectarian divisions and the fight for the most basic of what we now term LGBT rights. The spectre of political instability both North and South along with a massively inflated currency and dredges of young people leaving the island made the decade one of the bleakest in recent memory. It is not surprising then that the writings and publications left behind by the students of that era are forceful and unflinching in both their determination and sincerity that a better society was possible. Almost entirely run by students, these specialist magazines were produced with grants from the then TCD Publications Committee, and were sometimes additionally funded by advertising.
Securing ad money must have
been difficult at times, though, no more so than for Vortex Magazine, with one issue from 1980 — the same year in which magazine contributor David Norris lost his case for the decriminalisation of homosexual acts in the Supreme Court — focusing on homosexuality in Ireland. In between adverts placed by the National Gay Federation and the Campus Alliance Against Moral Prejudice (C.A.M.P.) is a lengthy summation of the history of the gay movement from Norris entitled “Homosexuals are Revolting” along with something more social; recommendations for those straight bars which drew a gay crowd. The “overwhelmingly gay” BartleyDunne’s received glowing praise along with the now bulldozed Rice’s while Davy Byrne’s seems to have fallen out of favour as it was derided for being the “home of the macho-man and the type of woman who’s never heard of Women’s Liberation”. The playfulness of the magazine is noticeable in comparison to gay publications of just a few years later, as it came out just before the HIV/ AIDS crisis hit Ireland.
1981 was a year scarred by the deaths of 48 young people in the Stardust fire. Strumpet Magazine’s winter edition tried to make sense of the tragedy which had occurred that Valentine’s Day morning, and asked that even though “the truth will out… will the guilty be prosecuted?” Though the current verdict of the investigation into the tragedy states that the cause of the blaze may never be known, the magazine dissects the proceedings of the 120 day long tribunal with an incredible amount of detail for a student publication at the time. Painting an extremely unflattering picture of local businessmen, local politicians and the emergency services at the time, the investigative piece ends with a demand that those guilty in the disaster “must be subject to the same justice that a young person in Coolock would be if they broke the law”. This edition of Strumpet is only
one in a volume which covered Dublin life and history in a way that truly integrated Trinity student life with the city around the college. Strumpet challenged the rise of developers and speculators, laid out welfare rights and highlighted how young people were coping with an all too familiar period of recession. The magazine looked at even the most benign of topics through a distinctly leftist lens, with the subheading on one piece about puppeteering observing that after opposing the pulling of strings in high places, “here we take a look at the artistic pulling of strings in low places”. Among its production team Strumpet lists Joe Duffy and Alex White, both of whom spent time as president of the Students Union in Trinity and were later active in the USI – with Duffy later serving as president of the organisation. Duffy’s name also appears on a magazine partially funded by the Publications Committee alongside the Eastern Health Board entitled “Who’s Right? A Magazine Produced by Young People from the City Centre, Dublin 1”. The publication is a unique project which allowed young people from Gardiner Street Flats, Jude’s Gardens, Liberty House and Mary’s Mansions to put their views and opinions to six figures of authority in their community. The lord mayor, Fergus O’Brien, in his interview encourages the boys to take the initiative to improve their area, telling them that “to have a go at the corpo to build this or develop that is a good thing”. The late Tony Gregory in his capacity as local councillor speaks about how educational and employment policy were out of his hands and foreshadows the deal he would go on to make with Charles Haughey by discussing how politicians can use leverage to get things they feel their constituents have a right to, in this case housing.
The Troubles also found their way into student publications, in the case of a special edition of INSIGHT Magazine as a direct
consequence of the shooting dead of 21-year-old Anthony Harker in Armagh, allegedly by the Ulster Defence Regiment. Harker was described as “a friend of many of [those] in TCD’ through association at marches in support of the H-Block prisoners, and the publication condemns what it perceives to be an avoidance of the issue among student representatives. “That group of Trinity College students who have put forward a motion to the USI national congress that the situation in the 6 counties should not be discussed at this year’s AGM will have to take their share of responsibility for the continuation of this violence,” reads the magazine under the blazing headline “Who are the killers?” Other shootings by British security forces and loyalist paramilitary groups are detailed, including the killing of 15-year-old Danny Barret, with the provocative magazine concluding with a statement that “the cases presented represent only about one third of the innocents killed by the RUC, UDR, British Army”. Hand drawn fadas adorn the pages of Irish language magazine Spike, with one particular cover from 1982 proclaiming support for “Irish political prisoners in English jails”, referring directly to the Guilford Four and Birmingham Six who were imprisoned at that time. The editorial is a call to action for students to take up the issue of prison reform and justifying its focus on prisons: “Léiríonn an iris seo droch-aiste an scéil do na priosúnaigh i Sasana agus mínítear inti an chúis ghearáin ata acu.” These publications provide a snapshot into the politics of the time and the volatile nature of the country, giving young people a platform to put forth what they considered to be essential steps to solve the country’s problems. The forthright nature of the magazines might surprise today’s students, but the sincerity and determination of the writers makes for engaging and important reading.
A special 1982 issue of former Trinity publication INSIGHT Magazine.
Davy Byrne’s seems to have fallen out of favour as it was derided for being the ‘home of the macho-man and the type of woman who’s never heard of Women’s Liberation’
Tuesday 20th January 2015
SU elections: what's at stake? Our news team assesses the key issues at stake in the upcoming students’ union elections, from the shape of campaigns and the press to academic and social concerns. This year’s SU elections are shaping up to be some of the most contested in recent memory. Not only are there a wealth of candidates vying for most positions, particularly in the presidential and welfare race, but this year's incoming group of sabbatical officers can expect to face some of the more unique challenges in recent years. The ongoing accommodation crisis, a possible general election in 2016, and the removal of communications from the remit of the University Times' editor spell a new set of issues that candidates will have the address as campaigning begins in two weeks.
President Fionn McGorry The increase in student fees by �250 next year to �3,000 per annum marks the final increase in this government’s plans to raise the student contribution. However, with the 2016 general election falling in their term, it will be incumbent on the next president to engage with political parties, alongside the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), to ensure the best outcome for students in the next programme for Government. The threat of a more substantial fee increase is one that many stakeholders are encouraging, and the next president will face this issue from a number of fronts. The ongoing shortage of accommodation for Trinity students is an issue that is unlikely to abate any time soon. The announcement in Trinity’s Strategic Plan 2014-2019 of efforts to build college-owned accommodation is something that the president will have to deal with carefully, to ensure adequate services and facilities. Furthermore, in the short term, the president with the welfare officer will have to continue to organise a method of assisting students to find housing for the next academic year, hopefully with the benefit of having appreciated the stressful experience of this year’s accommodation crisis. The term of the next president will begin after the referendum on marriage equality, and the harnessing of enthusiasm for this campaign for the other policy areas which the SU is mandated to campaign for is a significant opportunity for the next occupant of the highest office. The union is mandated to campaign for access to abortion, and with movements nationwide to repeal the 8th Amendment to the constitution, this is one area which the incoming president may find occupying much of their time in office. A similar mandate to campaign for an end to direct provision for refugees, and the prospect of further student-initiated referenda on issues such as water charges, lead to the conclusion that the incoming president will be required to come to grips with a range of social issue. The ability to represent students from all areas of College is one that will serve whoever takes the reins well. The public profile generated by the immediate two previous presidents should stand to benefits Trinity students. Using the position to publicly make claims on behalf of students is an incredibly important thing to bear in mind, and is a quality which is of paramount importance. Primarily what we require of a president is to be a spokesperson, and in an uncertain period, is one which will directly benefit students.
Education Dee Courtney The position of education office will be uncontested this year for the second year in a row. Education is unpopular at the moment perhaps because the issues in the race – the same issues that have kept coming up in recent years – are thankless. The candidate or candidates will have to propose a method of dealing with levies on educational services: the increased commencement fee and the huge levy on supplemental exams. Education candidates tend to zero in on similar problems that are hard to solve; library hours and exam timetables are the big ones coming up year by year. The problem is that when every candidate wants longer library hours and earlier exam timetables, it is harder to distinguish the candidates and focus on policies they’re more likely to change. Every SU will always look for longer library hours, but innovations and ideas you wouldn’t think of could win out over a manifesto that looks like most of the others. Many students are unsure of what the education officer can do in their role, besides asking for things that college has ultimate deciding
power on. Showing students what a candidate will get done in their role, even small changes, could be enough of a statement. More and more campaigns are coming through the SU by way of signature collection; this year’s education officer was in favour of raising the signatures needed to bring a proposal to tighten the number of campaigns and decrease the education team’s workload. Campaigns may be an important issue for those students running them and those who regularly vote, but most students will ignore them in favour of issues that affect them more day-to-day. Like any SU race, if the issues candidates choose are too similar, it will be decided on personality, likability and the number of people who know the candidate well enough to campaign for them.
Welfare Conall Carlos Monaghan Last year, the race for the sabbatical position of welfare officer turned out to be the most tightly contested election. This is unsurprising when you consider some of the roles of the position. Out of all the sabbatical positions, the welfare officer is the one that the average student is most likely to request assistance from. Their role can be very personal, often dealing with the intimate and immediate problems of individual students. These problems can, for example, involve mental health, financial issues, as well as accommodation trouble. Due to the highly intimate quality of some of these roles, students who generally do not pay heed to the elections might decide to keep a close eye on what is promised by welfare candidates, because of what is at stake. A problem candidates are likely to address is the recent issue involving the student hardship fund. The fund, which offers students suffering from financial difficulties biyearly payments, has seen its funding cut by the Higher Education Authority (HEA), despite an increase in demand. Some fear that the combination of these two aspects could mean the fund will be unable to offer assistance to all who need it. Last year’s welfare officer, Stephen Garry, ran a group of successful fundraisers to keep the fund afloat, which Trinity News highlighted as one of the best aspects of his sabbatical year. This year’s candidates might attempt to offer a permanent solution to the maintaining of the fund, or stress innovative and effective ways of fundraising. Last year’s campaign saw both candidates offering suggestions on how to improve the support systems for those suffering with mental health issues. Since college can be a place of high stress, the topic of mental health within the welfare campaign is unlikely to abate. Candidates may take influence from the unfulfilled ideas of last year’s losing candidate Dan McFadden, who suggested the creation of a welfare blog where people can share their own stories regarding mental health. Finally, this year’s Michaelmas term began with an accommodation crisis, causing the Accommodation Advisory Service to take immediate actions in finding more rooms for students. While improvements are in the process of being made, with College having plans to build more accommodation, welfare candidates may decide to offer more immediate responses to the problem. These could possibly include ways to raise awareness for Dublin locals of the benefits of offering rooms in their houses as digs, as well as campaigns offering current and future students advice on how to avoid housing deposit scams.
Comms James Wilson The new sabbatical position of communications and marketing officer was created in the wake of a constitutional review that concluded towards the end of Michaelmas 2013. It recommended the separation of the communications brief from that of University Times editor in order to allow the allow the communications brief to be more fully “exploited”, in the words of then-SU president Tom Lenihan. Whilst some mooted that the role should be merged with that of the entertainments (Ents) office, that change was nixed after the thenEnts officer, Sean Reynolds, and officer-elect, Finn Murphy, spoke against the change at a meeting of the SU Council. Despite opposition by some who believed the new position should not have been designated a paid sabbatical, the changes were passed by students in a referendum held at the same time as last year’s sabbatical
elections. The change makes the SU’s sabbatical team unusual, but not unique, among Irish student unions in that it will have a full time sabbatical officer charged with its public relations; University College Cork has its own dedicated Communications and Commercial Officer, but neither NUI Galway or University College Dublin have a similar position and, in contrast to Trinity’s six sabbatical officers, the University of Limerick’s students’ union makes do with with a mere three; president, welfare and academic. So what will the lucky new officer be doing? The addition of “marketing” to the brief and absence of any predecessors to compare with, means the new officer will have a pretty blank slate to act as innovatively or shoddily as they please. But some things don’t change: the winning candidate will still be paid a generous wage and will probably still live happily ever after in that incestuously large Front Square apartment with the other SU hacks elected next month. As a former sabbatical candidate summarised on social media last week, “It's a free room in the middle of town, [with] a healthy dose of pocket money in exchange for showing up to 6 councils a year and worst case scenario having Vincent Brown make you look like an asshole on TV3.” Despite these perks, the race was at first slow to attract candidates: only a week and a half ago the position had yet to attract any interest, forcing former education officer Jack Leahy to send pleading messages to at least one member of the student body asking them to consider a run. One week later and the race is contested and, usually for an SU race, most of the candidates have emerged from the wider college community, instead of the usual pool of former class reps and faculty convenors. This will be an interesting one to watch.
University Times Lia Flattery The upcoming leadership race will mark the first time that communications officer and University Times editor will be contested as two separate positions, following a review of the SU constitution during the last academic year which concluded that a split was necessary to ensure that both aspects of the job received adequate attention.Now able to focus solely on the paper, there is an opportunity here for candidates to further develop some of the ideas of previous editors who were also juggling the communications officer role. Redoubling efforts to generate revenue for UT through advertising sponsorship is an example of where this could be done, an area in which Leanna Byrne, last year’s communications officer, experienced considerable success. While communications candidates in the past could divide their manifesto promises between plans for UT and the other side of their position, candidates for editor this year will perhaps need more ideas than in previous years. And so, while improving on initiatives already in place would be worthwhile for candidates, it will be the fresh approaches and plans that they offer that really grab attention that will be the decisive factor in the race. Byrne undertook the creation of the UT iPhone app, while Samuel Riggs pledged a new health science correspondent position for UT and a series of writing workshops. Contenders will need to show that they have the innovation and determination to maintain the quality of the paper, as well as to fully exploit the additional time that the editorial role now has to focus on UT. Prior to the move to split the roles, there was some concern that the editor’s job could be compromised by their dual function as communications officer. When the decision was first made, Tom Lenihan, the then-SU President, also recommended the formation of an oversight authority for UT to guarantee transparency in the paper and prevent the SU from interfering if UT ever printed unfavourable information about it. Now that the separation is about to come into effect, candidates may seek to emphasize the paper’s editorial independence from the SU through this or similar initiatives.
Comms Andrew O’Donovan We are privileged at Trinity to have so vibrant a community of
Photo: Kevin O'Rourke
The problem is that when every candidate wants longer library hours and earlier exam timetables, it is harder to distinguish the candidates and focus on policies they’re more likely to change.
societies, the likes of which no other Irish university can boast of so wide a range. Each caters in different ways for different groups within College. The large ones throw elaborate balls and host trips abroad. The small ones run sparsely-attended weeknights catering for a fringe interest (shout out to the board-gamers). Almost every interest and every type of student is catered for. Interestingly, of the large number of the societies falling into the academic category, many concentrate more on the social side than the academic. Engineering Soc, for instance, which could reasonably expect to have a membership of close to a thousand, has put on only three (loosely) academic event this year, one of which was a tour of a concrete factory, no less. (Photographic evidence suggests that as many as twelve people made the trip out.) The business and economic society’s calendar is dominated by its annual trip abroad and the BESS Ball, and you’d be hard-pressed to remember the last time an economist spoke to its members. Given this plethora of societies that often prioritise social events, it’s not obvious why a university-wide entertainments body is required. And it’s even less so when we consider what that body has to-date offered. As it stands, Ents is most relevant in the first and last week of the
academic year – during freshers’ week and come Trinity Ball. During the first, Ents concentrates exclusively on alcohol-fuelled club nights. Freshers’ week can be a very lonely five days for a friendless newbie, and Ents ought to be providing entertainment that encourages interaction with other students. It doesn’t. Filling the void of friendly day-time entertainment has fallen of-late to College’s two society Goliaths on campus, the Phil and the Hist. This year, a treasure hunt, speed dating, cable-tie adventure and all-day movie series were some of the events they put on. For many students, myself included, these provide invaluable opportunity to integrate with often fully-formed friendship groups that continued from school. While officially hosted by Ents, the organisation of Trinity Ball has all but been appropriated by MCD. It therefore has little involvement in it other than promotion. A Ball ticket costs €80 and attiring oneself can cost upwards of the same amount. So the flagship event hosted by the student-funded Ents office costs as much as five-percent of the student contribution that so many struggle to afford. Hardly inclusive. Ents’ relevance on campus wanes during the rest of the year. With so much variety of entertainment existing on campus and
in town, there simply isn’t a need for much of the entertainment it currently provides, so a reappraisal of its role is required. If it can’t offer original entertainment that excites students, what can it? Rather than the “student deals” that invariably are not exclusive to Trinity, perhaps a different Dublin eatery per week could be persuaded to provide a genuinely good student deal (maybe outside of lunch hours) in return for the custom that would inevitably come way. Given financial constraints, many small-to-medium sized societies replicate the same events as each-other – the themed movie night being a favourite. Ents could reinvent itself as a facilitator of societies, helping them to jointly-host events thereby raising the bar of what they can organise. In order to take advantage of economies of scale, the alcohol drunk across all society events could be centrally purchased. In essence, Ents could become the framework of society activities. It is unlikely one person is going to enact these change; it’s going to take a succession of similar-thinking ents officers to do so. The current one, Finn Murphy, has made a step in that direction by promising a film festival, which is set for later this term. It will be interesting to see how successful that is and whether it captures the interest of students.
Tuesday 20th January 2015
Reflections on death, glory and great prose Measuring our creative output to those our own age can be intimidating, especially when it is that of the recently deceased.
Death has the ability to concrete a writer’s reputation. The fact that they have passed on results in the eulogizing of their existing work, the glorification of their mediocre meanderings. Because their work now has a cap on it, it becomes ever more precious. Whether or not this is a good thing remains to be seen, but in the case of Marina Keegan’s “The Opposite of Loneliness” the work stands just as well on its own without the tragic backstory. Its significance seems amplified, however, by Keegan's proximity to myself in terms of age. Keegan is the best writer my own age that I have ever read and to consider her a peer is a frightening prospect. I have been through a long and rocky road through potential professions. Growing up watching James Bond on a loop I of course wanted to be a spy. The first issue with that was that I told anyone who would listen that being a secret agent was on my cards. I grew out of that and wanted to become an archaeologist (mostly on the basis of watching The Mummy) but this was quelled when one of my teachers asked me how I was going to survive on the pittance the profession yields. This did not stop me from asking whether it was more of a pittance than that which a teacher made. Throughout all these random career choices I have always written. There was something therapeutic about rewriting things that had happened or just writing about off the wall subjects.
and upset my grandmother. My reasoning behind this was that she, being an old woman, would never have heard such coarse language and would hail me a genius. This, of course, did not work; she merely looked at me wearily and said she liked it but that the swearing was unnecessary. I tried to explain it was Latin but this was to no avail. Perhaps I could have channeled the graphic elements of my writing better, as I still miss the days when I drew pictures of the villains in my stories beside the actual writing, should my descriptions not suffice. Despite its It was still a success in my prepubescent mind but will probably never amount to creating literary waves. By contrast, Marina Keegan was valedictorian at Yale in 2012. She had a body of work that most writers could only of dream of having in their lifetime at the tender age of twenty-two. She had acquired a job in The New Yorker, which she had both interned and been published. She had also written an off-Broadway play. She had a bright past and an even brighter future. Sadly, this was cut short by a freak car accident, which left her boyfriend unharmed but killed her instantly. “The Opposite of Loneliness” is a collection of nine short stories and nine essays that encompass most of her work. The introduction to the book, by her professor and essayist Anne Fadiman outlines the motivation as the core of the volume. “Marina wouldn’t want to be remembered because she’s dead. She’d want to be remembered because she’s good.” She is indeed good.
Martin claimed “Dying Young is Lame”. He launches into a polemic about young peoples morbid obsession with the 27 club, living fast and dying young and leaving that clichéd beautiful corpse. Keegan’s death was a tragedy because it was sprung from a freak accident. She would not want to be glorified; she would want to be respected as a writer who never got to peak, who never got to pick up the Pulitzer. Having just turned twenty-two myself, my own personal achievement is having my name called out in a pantomime. There is no comparison, it seems, and it makes me feel small. Precociousness is no longer glorified. We fixate on Mozart writing his first piece of music at the tender age of six, but we don’t ever mention a 21st century equivalent. Sadly Marina Keegan didn’t live long enough to potentially become that figure. Instead we focus on pubescents eating bloody tampons, or 3 year olds arguing for cupcakes at once impressed their tenacity, but also condemning the society around us for creating these monsters. Which begs the question: Can a legitimate apotheosis occur while a figure is still alive? I would hope so. The canonization of someone who manages to produce work as good as Keegan’s at such a young age is a step in the right direction, but it remains to be examined as to whether people bought the book because she died or because her work is to an excellent standard.
I want professional wailers, tearful eulogies from eminent scholars who would mourn the loss of a great voice, an annual day of mourning. My own personal Bloomsday, perhaps, but with less pretension.
Thomas Emmet Contributing Writer
Keegan challenged Mark Helprin, author of In Sunlight And In Shadow, because he spoke to Yale students and discouraged them from becoming writers because of the hardship they would face. She heavily believed that no one should discourage the craft of writing. Reading her writing makes me want to finish all of my unfinished work (beginning with the first story I ever wrote, the ominously titled “Twelve Days of Doom” that I wrote when I was ten). And yet, it is likely, despite writing this piece “Twelve Days…” will remain a mystery unsolved. The story in question was the very advanced tale of three children walking up a laneway to a scary house. It is most memorable for its final line, at least its current final line, which was ridden with expletives. I wrote it in to shock
Keegan will always remain a cypher, a picture of a girl in a yellow coat as she is in her front cover. She wouldn’t even have wanted these pieces published as she was a furious re-editor of her own work. Her personal motto was “There can always be a better thing.” And yet she is reduced to being celebrated as a dead artist, part of a culture that glorifies dying young rather than encouraging and nurturing young people’s talent. Fadiman describes her pitiless re-editing and criticism of her own work as tireless. I tend more towards being happy if I am able to construct a sentence I like, let alone meet a deadline. The volume serves as an inspiration, but not in the wholesome life affirming way that Keegan would have hated. In a recent piece for Vice, Clive
Finding a voice
I am drawn to her work as it is very much the voice and writing of someone my own age, filled with self-doubt and with twinges of self-reference, though these are thankfully subtle. Her voice is unique and that is something to be heavily respected. I take too much trouble trying to ape the tone or metre of other writers, rather than establishing my own. I once had an English teacher who believed in the concept of “The Steal”. This was all about finding phrases, ideas, descriptions that you liked enough to steal. It sprung from the T.S. Eliot quote “Good writers borrow, great
writers steal”. I still keep a notebook of these “steals” but always feel like a hack when I add to it, borrowing others peoples wit and genius rather creating my own. Marina Keegan is the ideal candidate for these steals; her stories’ spines and key ideas are always things I wish I had thought of. Interestingly, Keegan also kept a notebook, but not of other peoples interesting literary paraphernalia, but rather material from her own life. She ended up with 32 single spaced pages, some of which is likely totally useless, but it shows an incredible outward focus on the wider world around her. Most great writers
are voyeurs and this only cements Keegan’s prowess. I cannot pretend to the same way of taking in the outside world. Perhaps that isn't the point, though. That this is Keegan’s only work is sad, but as her sole volume it could not be better. Keegan is unequivocally the best writer my own age I have ever read, and it is sad that upon finishing her book, I could not reassure myself that there would be more coming eventually. Still keeping my fingers crossed there is material undiscovered, within some introverted soul waiting to look outwards.I once wrote a piece that I never ended up doing any-
thing with on my own funeral. I’ve been to a grand total of two, so the piece was not overly realistic. But the point of the article was that I wouldn’t be happy dying until my funeral was big enough. I want professional wailers, tearful eulogies from eminent scholars who would mourn the loss of a great voice, an annual day of mourning. My own personal Bloomsday, perhaps, but with less pretension. In short, you can see why it’s slightly premature to want this funeral in print. Perhaps that is why I feel so sad that Marina Keegan is dead; her funeral just wasn’t big enough yet.
Confronting futility during the scholarship season Many are intimidated by the workload and prestige of Trinity’s scholarship exams. The first step towards success is managing expectations, both positive and negative. Clare Martin Contributing Writer When I asked my friends how they felt about Schols, I received a wide variety of answers, from a comparison between the tests and futility of Sisyphus’ effort to push his stone uphill, to an incomprehensible stream of expletives. I’ve answered every “How did Schols go?” with a simple, “It went.” No matter what, though, there was one overarching theme present in everyone’s assessment: it sucked. I myself took both of the business and politics papers, mostly just to try them. It doesn’t cost anything to take the Foundation Scholarship examinations, apart from your time, blood, sweat, and tears, and - to bust a myth I believed before plunging into the Schols pool – you just have to get an overall 70 in your four papers, with some extenuating technicalities about minimum scores in the 60s. Before I had thought that it was a competition and only a certain amount of the top scorers were awarded the scholarship. Now, achieving an overall 70 in four papers is certainly not easy, but eliminating the element of competition with your peers helps to make Schols less of a cutthroat money grab and instead lends it a more comradely air.
I started off the week on a rough note, returning from my home in the States on the Saturday, with my first test that Monday. Despite the use of strategic coffee naps and brisk walks to keep myself awake, I hardly adjusted to the eight hour time difference during
the week of Schols. Luckily, the presence of my Welsh roommate and her Chicagoan boyfriend, both suffering from jet lag (sympathy jet lag in her case), comforted me in my sleep-deprived state. There’s nothing quite like realizing at 6 am that you’ve all been up since 3 and then eating your roommate’s pancakes until you have to go to your test. However, despite their pancake-making skills, your peers are not always your friends during Schols. Their darker side emerges when they begin spewing facts before exams, completing jumbling your mind and making you wonder what you’ve been doing for the past couple months while they have obviously familiarised themselves with every philosopher since Ancient Greece. Standing outside Politics Paper 1, I was chatting to a couple of my classmates who began to discuss Voltaire and Rousseau as if they were all old chums. The nonchalance with which they threw around the names of old, dead, white men was intimidating. However, once I sat down in the exam hall and saw the questions, I felt fine. Sure, I may not have been at my most Aristotelian, but I didn’t draw a complete blank. I chose to spend my free time watching Netflix rather than memorizing old tomes and I do not regret that decision. Both my poor roommate and her boyfriend were taking the Maths exams. A friend of mine told me that apparently due to a previous plethora of Maths scholars, the department developed a new test that significantly more insidious. I can attest to the fact that my roommate, an erudite
Illustration: Natalie Duda and dedicated student who spent far too much time in the library in the months leading up to Schols, came back from her exams each time fairly dejected and announced that she couldn’t even finish all of the questions. Luckily, her supportive parents told her to have a macaroon to wash away the bad taste of each test. I cannot stress enough how important treating yourself is during Schols. Your mind may be suffering, but your belly does not have to. Just buy yourself some Dominoes to ease anxiety between exams.
Her boyfriend, on the other end of the spectrum, hadn’t studied a lick and casually swaggered about
the house in his ignorant bliss. From this anecdotal evidence, it could be generally surmised that hours of studying positively correlates with levels of Schols anxiety (despite the paradoxical nature of this statement). As someone who studied a medium amount with a fair dose of stress (exacerbated by my sleep deprivation), I can attest to this correlation. However, I don’t really feel up to making a graph to further verify it just yet. I need a break. To relieve my exam stress, I continually found myself taking longer and longer study breaks during the week of Schols. While my roommate was hard at work practicing formulas and memorizing theorems, I started look-
ing at dream houses online, because nothing gets you a dream home like putting off study that could help you earn a lucrative scholarship (for the record, my dream house is an adorable brick cottage in Sandymount). There’s just something so soothing about looking at an idyllic bungalow and being reminded that there is a life after Schols. Sandymount will still be there, even after Politics Paper 2.
Now despite my complaints, I must clarify, I wholly endorse taking on this challenge. Like I said, it’s completely free (financially that is; nothing in life is truly free). It also has no effect
on your grade, and even gives you a head start in terms of end of the year study. I know plenty of people who didn’t expect to get Schols but used it as a chance to get some early revising done. If you’re a moderately capable student with a fair amount of motivation, you should definitely give it a try. As someone who is primarily motivated in life by where my next good meal is coming from, I can tell you that many dull hours studying in the library were driven by the thought of free soup and salmon. Just don’t be intimidated by others and, in always remember to treat yourself. Schols inevitably leads to mild panic and a few stressful tears, but allowing yourself some strategic junk food
and having friends by your side makes it feel less like your brain is soon to implode. We capped off our week of misery with a visit to the Pav. The place was brimming with students blowing off steam after the mental torture we had all just undergone. It was all going well until one of the guys brought back a pitcher that appeared to be leaking beer. “No, no, no, it’s not leaking!” one of my science friends said, “It’s just surface absorption. You see, atoms...” “Dude, stop,” another science student retorted. “It’s over.” That’s the best part of Schols. No matter how terrible it is taking the tests or how pointless all of your efforts seem, it’s all over eventually.
Tuesday 20th January 2015
‘We don’t share your ideas for freedom of speech’ The Charlie Hedbo attack was a symbolic act of retaliation against Western imperialism, according to the former leader of Al-Muhajiroun in Ireland. Michael Lanigan quizzes him.
Michael Lanigan Online Features Editor In the hours following the Charlie Hebdo shootings, footage showing one gunman executing a police officer surfaced online. Pointing his index finger upwards to make the sign of Shahada, the declaration of one god, the masked man bellowed “Allahu Akbar. We have taken revenge on behalf of the prophet Mohammed. We have killed Charlie Hebdo”. It was a shock to the system, albeit somewhat unsurprising as the Independent’s Middle Eastern correspondent, Patrick Cockburn, would write the following day, calling attention to the fact that a spill-over from the conflicts in Iraq and Syria was inevitable, essentially reiterating what he had been saying for months. My first reaction was to get in contact with Irish-born Islamic convert Khalid Kelly, who has in previous years spoken vociferously in favour of these actions conducted by such organisations as Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and ISIS, or their various sympathisers. We had corresponded briefly three months earlier. Afterwards his comments caused a brief uproar in the Irish press and as a result, he stepped off the radar to avoid any inquest from Irish authorities. Our discussion at the time centred on his right to exercise freedom of speech. “It seems that freedom of speech is relative to whether you are a Muslim, or not,” he had told me. A friend said to me a while ago, “you’re innocent until proven Muslim”, but on this occasion, I made contact as the situation had effectively reversed itself. Although the assailants, as we would later learn, were aligned with a Yemeni branch of AlQaeda, Kelly had previously told
me that the acts of any Wahhabi-Salafi based cell were to be viewed in the context of the ideology, as opposed to the means of each individual grouping since their ends were effectively the same. Therefore, and in spite of the fact that ISIS is an expelled branch of Al-Qaeda, for him this signified something much larger than Al-Qaeda's reaction to satire and he chose to comment on the shootings in the context of the Islamic caliphate. Noticeably more upbeat in his response than he was the last time we spoke, he clarified this viewpoint in his opening message, writing, “Alhamdulilah, thank God we have now re-established khalifa. The world has not seen anything like this in recent history. Now things will change.”
I took the opportunity to raise the matter of free speech, picking up where we had left off in our last conversation, as I was curious to see how he perceived the west’s reaction to this form of violent censorship. However, if there were any double standard, it cut very little ice as he justified the actions of the gunmen, stating, “as Muslims, we live our lives by the law of God, not the law of man. In Islam, punishment for insulting the prophet of god is death. This cannot be changed.” “We don’t share your ideas for freedom of speech, i.e. the freedom to insult whoever you like”, he continued. “There is no concept of one law for us and another for you. No, it is the same law for everyone.” Here again he drew my attention to the Islamic caliphate, emphasising that even as non-believers, we were not treated with prejudice, but receiving an equal punishment as those subscribing to Shi’ism, Christianity, and indeed, Sunnism in Iraq and Syria who disobeyed the laws of the caliphate. “Look at the new khalifa, many Muslims are executed daily and why? They too did something to warrant the death penalty by Islamic law.” Contrary to the media narrative, Kelly saw the motive not merely as a reaction towards these controversial cartoons. He saw it as a symbolic act of retaliation for the conduct of the French, British and American governments attempting to intervene in the current Middle Eastern crisis. If these nations, according to Kelly, “were to leave us alone and stop
If a radical jihadist were inspired into action by western intervention, then why was it justified to mimic such behaviour by attacking civilians, rather than those in positions of authority?
killing Muslims, of course no one would come to France. However, they kill Muslims daily so what would they have us do? Would they have us do nothing and allow them to slaughter our brothers, sisters and children? France, like all other countries have been warned for a long time. The message is simple. Leave all Muslim lands and you will be safe.”
Treaty with the caliphate
For Kelly, the solution was quite simple. These nations ought to make a treaty with the caliphate and recognise it as an official state. “Now that khalifa is established, it will work as a shield for this Ummah. We will fight from behind its protection. The sooner the world comes to terms with the fact that the Islamic State is a country with its own army, currency and oil fields revenue, the safer everyone will be.” At this point, I inquired into the action of these terrorist cells and their decision to target civilians. If a radical jihadist were inspired into action by western intervention, which was prone to causing
high levels of collateral damage, then why was it justified to mimic such behaviour by attacking civilians, rather than those in positions of authority? Does this not undermine a moral high ground? “The governments are elected by the people,” he responded dismissively. “If they don’t agree, then they should remove these people. Their leaders are the most well protected people and so, they leave their own citizens to pay for their sins.” “What action is there to continued killing, war and occupations? This evil must be stopped, and how? By using all means necessary, including weapons and bombs. There is no answer to violence, but violence. Whether you agree, or not, still the killers will be punished for their crimes against Islam. This is an all-out war now,” he concluded, echoing Anjem Choudaray’s recent comments that have sparked controversy in the British press. “They have not just attacked Muslims, but also our khalifa. You would not stand by and watch your family being killed, but you expect
us to do this? No, that is not the Islamic answer. As France and all counties continue to kill innocent Muslims, their own innocents will be targeted and killed in order to stop the slaughter.” Here, citing Spain as an example for all western governments to note in planning their next move, Kelly spoke in praise of the nation for withdrawing its forces from Iraq in the aftermath of the Madrid bombings back in March of 2004. “They were not targeted again. Any country involved in the killing of innocent Muslims will be targeted and punished eventually. The Muslims have great patience.”
However, regarding Spain, I questioned the level of truth in that statement, since ISIS has made frequent threats to subsume the Iberian Peninsula into the caliphate. Yet, Kelly emphasised that this was not a case of further warfare, but rather a just reclaiming of the former Muslim territory Al-Andalus. “We will retake all lands," he added. "The prophet
Muhammed said that Islam will have authority in the east and west, meaning that Islam will.” Our conversation ended there, as he expressed his reluctance to comment any further until there were more details released surrounding what was an unfolding situation. We said our goodbyes and I too waited for more information to emerge as the endless glut of rolling news resorted to speculative opinion segments since most reports, for lack of anything else to say, were beginning to do the same. It was not too long afterwards however, that Khalid took to Twitter in order to make one last series of remarks on the situation, which were simply: “The sword of Islam came down swiftly, in France today, upon the necks of those who insult Islam. Remove your soldiers before our soldiers make your daily life into a nightmare.” He concluded: “Muslims did not begin this world wide conflict with you. It was you who started this war and it is we who will finish it.”
The year we started to pay attention to college sexual assault Rape culture is as big an issue in Irish universities as it is in the US and UK. Robyn Page-Cowman
Instead, its business is conducted in secret and the fraternity is not accountable to anyone.
2014 was the year we finally started talking about sexual assault on university campuses. The issue has attracted considerable media attention in recent months, particularly in the US, where it could be considered a pandemic in some universities. Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz sparked a national conversation after she carried her dorm mattress to and from class in a protest against her alleged rapist being allowed to remain in college. Assault rates have sharply increased in the top 25 American universities, where the number of reported sex offenses increased from an average of 12.5 in 2011 to 20.1 in 2013. Four sexual attacks were reported within nine days last autumn at the University of Florida, for instance. It, along with other state colleges, are now having to review policies in an attempt to combat sexual assault. Rape culture is a huge issue in UK universities as well. More than a third of female students there have suffered unwelcome advances in the form of inappropriate groping and touching, according to a National Union of Students survey published in September. Just a month later, the LSE Rugby Club was famously disbanded after their aggressively misogynistic freshers’ leaflet branded female hockey and netball players as “trollops, mingers and slags” donning short skirts to pick up guys and playing sports “just to come out with us on Wednesday’s”. The Greek system of fraternities and sororities also has a lot to answer for when it comes to the promotion of sexual inappropriate behaviour on campuses. Trinity’s own all-male fraternity, Theta Omicron, models itself on the American Zeta Psi fraternity and several of its members were taken on an all-expenses paid trip to visit Zeta Psi chapters at US colleges to understand the structures and mechanics behind it. It is now officially backed by Zeta Psi, but, as it is not an official college society, it remains exempt from answering questions about its procedures, such as initiation ceremonies or membership fees.
Sexual assault can take the form of threats, coercion or physical force. However, it can be much more subtle. A recent ad campaign in the UK depicting a rape showed a teenage couple making out. The boy pushes the boundaries of consent, even after the girl says no, and proceeds to rape her. Rape can also happen within long-term relationships, among friends and at parties. But sexual assault is always an act of violence and must be prosecuted as such. As the Rape Crisis Irish Bureau has put it, “the primary motivation in rape and sexual assault is the meeting of non-sexual needs, such as the need for power and domination and the expression of anger, rather than for sexual gratification.” According to its research, 7.5% of Irish women and 1.5 % of Irish men have experienced rape or attempted rape in adulthood. Similarly one in five women and one in ten men have experienced sexual assault in adulthood.
The most recently published data on sexual assault in Irish universities comes from the Union of Students in Ireland’s Say Something campaign. Its survey, published in September 2013, found that 16% of students have experienced some form of unwanted sexual experience while at college., while 11% experienced unwanted sexual contact. As little as 3% of victims reported this to the Gardai. Meanwhile, as our front page reports, the findings of an SU survey on sexual assault due to be released in the next two weeks indicate that 19% of Trinity students have experienced a non-consensual sexual experience, that 23% have experienced unwanted physical contact, while 8% have experience obsessive behaviour or stalking. 5% of the 1,038 polled students reported being physically abused by a partner in the past. The numbers were higher with female students compared to male and rocketed within those identifying themselves as LGBTQI. Based on these statistics, are Trinity students free from sexual
assault or are we not reporting it? Unfortunately, testimony from sources indicates the latter. For example, a University Times article in October 2014 recorded a revoked sexual assault claim within Trinity Halls. The JCR president at the time made no comment and, after an official Garda investigation was closed, no efforts were made to increase awareness within Halls or on campus. The issue seems to be that cases of sexual assault within Trinity are not being reported or dealt with, and that Trinity students, societies and institutions are turning a blind eye. Moves towards making Trinity a healthier and more vocal environment are being made. Not only does the Trinity Counselling Service provide free individual and group counselling for victims of sexual assault, the SU welfare officer Ian Mooney, is launching a campaign this semester on sexual assault, one of two longterm SU campaigns (the other one being on mental health). The SU hopes the campaigns will aid these “worrying” statistics on student mental, physical and sexual welfare. These efforts are important as many students have no formal education on what to do as a victim, witness or culprit, so we don't necessarily know when we are in any of these situations. Much of our education on sex and assault is warped by popular culture and mass media, which glorify an exaggerated version of maleness and ignores the concepts of consent or consequences. Like many US and UK thirdlevel institutions, Trinity must reiterate its zero-tolerance policy on sexual assault. This should target the gap in students’ consensual knowledge by rejecting both the idea of the “stereotypical rapist” and the encroaching lad culture. The issue can’t be ignored for any longer. If you have experienced sexual assault, you can get support from any of the following:
SU Welfare Team tcdsu.org/welfare
TCD Student Counselling: (01) 896 1407
Rape Crisis Centre:
1800 778888 (24-hour service)
Over 50 US colleges and universities allegedly mishandled sexual assault complains (US Department of Education, May 2014)
1 in 3
Female students in UK universities have experienced unwanted sexual contact (National Union of Students, September 2014)
Irish students report sexual assault (Union of Students in Ireland, September 2014)
Like many US and UK third-level institutions, Trinity must reiterate its zero-tolerance policy on sexual assault.
Illustration: Sarah Morel
Tuesday 20th January 2015
Comment How I’m dealing with caffeine withdrawal I am impatient, and weeks of protracted mild symptoms sounded like a much more annoying prospect than living in hell for about a week and then having it over with.
Don’t rush into college Having to pick a path that will lead you to the rest of your life is a terrifying and bizarre idea.
Naoise Dolan Online Editor I’m Naoise, and I have a problem. A 600-milligrams-per-day problem. As addictions go, caffeine is fairly manageable. Aldi do a mainly-potable instant brand (tip: stick a pinch of salt in it to even out the flavour) that has lit my way along many a dark essaywriting tunnel. Carrying around a carton of almond milk with you is always a conversation-starter they go, ‘What? Why?’, and then you go, ‘I’m vegan and I’m addicted to coffee and I hate drinking it black’, and then they sit back and try to process why the confluence of these facts makes you willing to constantly risk the milk exploding and all of your possessions getting soaked in Alpro’s finest.
D. Joyce-Ahearne Deputy Editor The law states that you must attend school until the age of 16 or until you have completed three years of secondary education. After that point, you’re free to go. Most students today, however, stay on to sit the Leaving and finish secondary school at 18 or 19. At this point, the average person will have been in the education system for 14 years. After the Leaving Cert, for those who can access/afford it, there is the option of third level education. This is, for many, the first opportunity they have to make a major life decision for themselves. Students who decide to go on to third level tend to do so directly after sixth year, beginning a period of further education that usually sees them finish with their schooling at some point in their twenties. An overwhelming majority of our undergraduates finish their university career having spent nearly their entire life in school. On entering the “real world” for the first time they are actually entering the real world for the first time.
Reader, I’d had enough. Armed with facts about the horrifying things caffeine can do to your blood pressure, bullioned by an optimism that 2015 would be the year I didn’t suck, I decided to relinquish coffee until such a time as I could trust myself to drink it only moderation. I was coming from a place of anywhere between five to eight cups a day, which is, to be clear, a lot of caffeine for a fivefoot-three person to process in a twenty-four-hour period. Luckily, though, I’d get a lovely headache to remind me to top up whenever I’d gone too long without my dose. Sages on internet forums and WebMD warned that it was wiser for someone of my dependency level to cut down slowly - cold turkey would be harder to take than a gradual withdrawal. Let me explain three things about myself. One: I am impatient, and weeks of protracted mild symptoms sounded like a much more annoying prospect than living in hell for about a week and then having it over with. Two: I take a sort of pride in my ability to withstand selfinflicted pain (see also: the fact that I developed my caffeine addiction from using coffee to pull all-nighters meeting deadlines). Three: I have no ability to moderate my intake of anything I like that’s bad for me, and generally don’t find it helpful to only have a little of it and constantly remind myself of what I’m missing.
Gap years, seen as a break from schooling and an opportunity to experience the real world for a year before returning to the formal education system, are becoming more common in Ireland. However, the gap year itself is quickly becoming part of the system of education itself, a prescribed year of “selflearning” that boosts your CV and is undertaken with the same end result of “entering the workforce”. In recent years, third-level education has been portrayed as the route into life in 21st century Ireland. The path of secondary school followed by university followed by a career has become so entrenched in our society that the idea of a “gap year” still seems for many to be an absurd waste of time, a delaying of the system.14 years of education offers a very limited exposure to the world and means that most secondary students decide on their undergraduate path with little to no experience of life outside of an enclosed environment of education.
The first day holds few surprises. I’ve tried to cut coffee out a few times before, so the bevy of early symptoms don’t throw me. Oh, there’s the morning headache! Shouldn’t I be getting an inexplicable ringing in my ears right about - now! When exactly will my brain stop craving coffee and sublimate into other caffeinecontaining things like chocolate? Oh, there it goes. Now I’m having trouble finishing my sentences must be about 4pm. Of all the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal, the most widely experienced and best-documented is the headache. This has been a weekly, sometimes daily, feature of my caffeinated life - if you’re highly addicted, you get them not only through conscious detoxes but whenever you don’t have time for your morning coffee. And in its mildest form, it’s virtually painless and - crucially - soluble through recaffeination. But from my previous attempts to quit coffee, I know what happens if you ignore the headache. It starts superficially under your eyes, and, in my case, seems to then travel both up and out until it feels like it’s boring right through the bone. A bit later, it moves down the sides. Then a strange thing happens: the pain doesn’t stay fixed, but fluctuates depending on how I move my head, as if there’s a small amount of lava moving along a set of pipes inside my skull. The result is that you’re desperate to find some angle from which your head won’t hurt, but also scared to move it around too much in case this brings on more pain. Try sleeping through that. No, but seriously, don’t try sleeping through that: I did and it’s terrible. ‘Why didn’t you just take some Panadol?’ Don’t ask me questions I can’t answer. I have a nebulous concept of painkillers as being for wusses, and of myself as not being a wuss. Obviously, those ideas are both deeply flawed in their own way.
Illustrations: Naoise Dolan
If you’re lucky, I’m too lethargic to pay you any attention. If you’re not, picture a snarky person who’s lost their sense of humour but hasn’t lost their desire to put their friends down.
When it became evident that I wouldn’t be sleeping for the first night, I decided to start googling things about caffeine’s effect on the body to stay motivated. Unhelpfully, a load of articles popped up about how it fights this disease and that disease and the other disease, and how it’s totally fine if taken in (ugh) moderation.
Theory of caffeine dependence
But here is my unifying theory of caffeine dependence: the more physically devastating you find it to cut out coffee, the more your current habit is probably ravaging your insides. Cf. the fact that my body apparently responds to caffeine shortage with vomiting. No, actually. That was the next stage of the Hellish First Night from Hell. I started the second day with some choice invective against detoxes and the New Age rubbish surrounding them. ‘Inner cleanliness’ can’t actually mean anything if it makes you feel this terrible. Load of aromatherapeutic Witch Hazel claptrap. My aromatherapy-loving-Witch-Ha-
zel-loving mother commented that the vomiting could have been my body ridding itself of toxins. My headache got in the way of forming what would undoubtedly have been a biting riposte. The same weird ‘tilt your head and the ache moves to a slightly different part of it’ migraine thing continued throughout the day, joined by the shivers and a constant worry that I would fall asleep mid-conversation/midwalk/mid-tutorial/mid-bungeejumping (hypothetically). In addition to caffeine and caffeinated foods, I was now hankering over carbs in general. Is there a scientific explanation for this, or do basic twenty-somethingyear-olds just turn to carbs as an amorphous solution for any problem? Who can say? By noon of Day Three, I am certain of two things: 1. this has been in no way characterbuilding (I’m the same pathetic me, but headachier), and 2. the headache might finally have subsided. I’m proven tragically right about 1. and tragically wrong about 2. Also, I’m thirsty all the time. Memo to brain: water does
not have coffee in it. Making me want water isn’t getting you the thing you seek. We’ve established by this point, however, that my brain isn’t the cleverest of the bunch. On this day, as on the previous days, I am a monster to be around. If you’re lucky, I’m too lethargic to pay you any attention. If you’re not, picture a snarky person who’s lost their sense of humour but hasn’t lost their desire to put their friends down, and so just goes around being overtly mean with literally nothing funny about it. I mean, that’s me normally, but the caffeine withdrawal excuse really offers a convenient umbrella for being totally horrible to everyone at all times. As of Day Four, I have learned nothing and haven’t notably grown as a human. The caffeine cravings have mostly subsided, but the headache remains.
Choosing to go to university at 18 with the intention of picking a path that will lead you to the rest of your life is a terrifying and bizarre idea. Why then is it considered the right thing to do? Why are young people discouraged from delaying their entry to third level in favour of life experience? Going on to third-level education in Ireland is held up as a guarantee of employment and stability. If young people were to flourish outside of that system it would disrupt the primacy of systematic education and so the promote the idea of ahievement outside of the designated “channels to success” . Unfortunately, this fear is swallowed by secondlevel students ignorant of life outside of education, who see third level as the next designated and safe step in life. The desire to go straight to college after secondary school is symptomatic of the infantile society. It’s a want to sustain the sense of sheltered protection that is all we know from the first day of primary school. This fear of leaving the nest has been seized, encouraged, and rebranded as a positive. Students who fear what might be found off the beaten track (the very opposite of entrepreneurship, the buzzword and darling of modern Irish education) are promoted as a driven young demographic eager to quickly stake their place in the workforce. Taking a gap year, though it is only a delay of a year, is considered a major break with the norm, though it seems strange that anyone would want to go anywhere near third level education at 18 and with such
limited life experience. A 10-year gap sounds more appropriate to get a better idea of the world we live in. 30 seems a much sounder age to choose what route to take to sustain one’s life. 18 is the right time to leave the bubble and try the world. The odds are that after university, however long you spend there, you won’t have the same enthusiasm and willingness/naivety to give it a lash that you will on first leaving secondary school. You’re much more likely to try things, fail, and not worry about their impact on your chances at employability.How can anyone really know what they want to do at 18, having had such limited exposure to the world? And even if students are sure that they want to pursue third level education and even know what they want to study, why must they rush into it? Those who know what they want to do would benefit from real life exposure just as much as those who have no idea of what course of study they want to take.
Students who fear what might be found off the beaten track are promoted as a driven, young demographic eager to quickly stake their place in the workforce.
For those for whom university is an impossibility, the option is to enter the real world, whether in Ireland or abroad. Work and travel become immediate realities. They are faced with making it work, without a safety net. For the thousands of students who have the means to go to university, why go straight away if the money is there? If the option of third level is secured, then surely there is no rush to get there? Take off for 10 years, and if you don’t make something of yourself then come back and if nothing else you’ll have given your parents an extra ten years to save for your education. You might even bring some money to the table yourself. Mature students (anyone 23 or older on January of the year of application to the CAO) don’t have to abide by the CAO points system. This itself is telling of a system that assumes that mature students are just that, more informed as to the decision they are making and therefore shouldn’t be subjected to the affront to humanity that is the Leaving Cert points race. Anyone will testify to the confidence of mature students speaking in class compared to those fresh out of secondary school.
One year of university is enough for anyone to realise that it’s a bubble. It’s a bubble that is only different from secondary and even primary school by degree. To go straight into this bubble and then out into the world, knowing nothing but the inside of the education system is a disservice to oneself. The rush to get to university is really a desire to extend the safety of childhood, one that is reinforced by the perception that third-level education is the only path to success. Modern Irish society is one in which a university degree is seen as a safety net that offers a qualification that can be held up to say “look I tried” if things don’t turn out well. With the ease of access that we have to third level today, before committing to university, students should get out and actually see and experience the world and not just for a gap year.
Tuesday 20th January 2015
Reflections on the rise of Syriza The significance of Sunday’s Greek elections may not be in economic policy, but rather what it says about wider changes in Europe politically. Neil Warner Staff Writer
Illustration: Daniel Tatlow
Studying philosophy has taught me nothing expect how to survive misery I have developed a virtue ethics specifically designed to help you not only survive, but thrive in periods of low-level misery.
William Foley Comment Editor When you are stuck in essay purgatory, your perception of the world changes. You burrow yourself like a little mole into your study alcove. Emerging on rare trips from your lair, the sky presses in oppressively, you glare enviously at fellow students, wrapped in the latest rugscarf fashion objects, the merry sounds of banter ring harshly in your ears as you walk to the shop in your tatty study cosies to buy some crap food that you will regret eating. In the Spar you notice your reflection in the mirror. You have forgotten to shave but you can’t grow a decent beard either so you just look like you slept on a pile of dog moulting. As you climb back up the four stories of the Ussher to the philosophy section, your skin desiccating in the dry stale air of the library, your mind pickling in the acrid brine of abstract conceptions, you begin to wonder what is the point of it all.
Philosophy will do that to you. The writer Julian Barnes once said that studying philosophy at university “seemed to consist of telling you one week why the philosophy you had studied the previous week was entirely wrong.” When you do philosophy in college, you’re supposed to be learning the answers to the fundamental questions of the world (sort of, none of our lecturers actually said this explicitly), but there’s no consensus as to what these answers are, and there’s a long list of philosophers going back to Plato, all with distinctive arguments. A recent survey by Bourget and Chalmers of nearly 2,000 leading professional philosophers showed wide divergence in responses to a list of 30 major philosophical questions. So instead of shoring up your worldview you are confronted again and again with a battery of disputed and conflicting opinions about every issue you could possibly conceive of. No assumption, no matter how basic, is left unquestioned, and, faced with trying to establish the truth in the face of conflicting opinions developed by intimidatingly intelligent people who have dedicated their lives to their research, the best response is simply not to care. But that’s not an option when you have to write 10,000 words in a week. So you descend into essay purgatory, trying to wring words from the abstruse and overwritten sentences of philosophy dons, like squeezing lemon juice from a stone. Shocker: this “you” which I have been referring to is actually me.
But philosophy is not entirely useless. This period of essay purgatory has taught me some moderately life survival skills, life hacks I might call them if I were a twat. The skills are not profoundly useful, they are more applicable to circumstances of fairly grim but low-level misery. For example: waiting in the doctor’s office for the diagnosis of a nasty yet minor ailment, or sitting through dinner with your mother’s friend who is a massive loudmouth Lucinda Creighton fan. Virtue ethics is one of the three main schools of moral philosophy. Unlike the other two - deontology and consequentialism virtue ethics does not really care about coming up with criteria for how to act in specific situations. Instead it places an emphasis on how to develop virtuous character traits. Aristotle, its founder, thought that it is only through cultivating excellence in a wide range of complementary virtues that one can become truly happy. I had to do one of my essays on this. Anyway, I have developed a virtue ethics specifically designed to help you not only survive, but thrive in periods of low-level misery. Who knows, it might help you to become truly happy… In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle enumerates a number of virtues which he thinks it necessary to develop in order to become virtuous, such as courage, temperance, and magnificence. Magnificence is a key virtue. My school of virtue ethics, however, has some different virtues in mind.
Virtue 1: Self-pleasuring
Think I’m being facetious? Not at all. Masturbation is a topic of central and enduring relevance in philosophy. Karl Marx, in one of his early philosophical works, said that “Philosophy stands in the same relation to the study of the actual world as masturbation to sexual love.” Nietzsche, meanwhile, boasted of his “dangerously supple wrist.” In a 2005 paper, Young argued that: “Speaking ontologically, Heidegger’s theories can be developed to show that masturbation it is not privative, but “stretched” in time and place. Moreover, masturbation plays a practical role in the creative development of the self, including the self’s essential bodiliness.” It’s free, it’s fun, and in this era of sex-positivity, there’s nothing to be ashamed about. You should definitely many hours cultivating excellence in this virtue.
Virtue 2: Culture
Feeling down? No problem, there are thousands of writers, musicians, filmmakers etc who have created artistic products perfectly tailored to your situation. Suffering from a vague and ineffable ennui due to living in the alienating and atomising culture of postmodern late capitalism? Read Murakami to see how a stoic and stubbornly individualistic young man deals with such problems by cooking delicious food, meditating in wells, and playing it cool with Sheep Men. Were you looking for a job and then you found a job, and are you miserable now? Do you wonder why you smile at peopLe
Masturbation is a topic of central and enduring relevance in philosophy. who you’d much rather kick in the eye? Well those are Smiths lyrics so you should listen to their entire discography so that you can hum a pithy Morrissey lyric to yourself in appropriately glum scenarios.
Virtue 3: Bitter internal remonstration
Has someone wronged you, even in the slightest way? Spend some time developing a thorough scheme for enacting your revenge. Dwell on how you will make them pay for the injustices they visited upon you. How sorry they will feel as they beg for mercy before your fingers close around their neck.
Virtue 4: Magnificence
This is perhaps the most important of all virtues. One must always be magnificent.So that’s it. Follow these rules and you will be virtuous, and therefore happy. Or at least not miserable.
What’s the point of New Year resolutions? If the Grinch had an overlooked younger brother with a vehement disregard for ringing in the New Year, I reckon that I could challenge him for his title. Stephen Cox Contributor The rumble of new trainers on treadmills rings out in gyms across the land. Shopping trolleys are filled with fresh fruit and vegetables, while doughnuts and cream cakes look lonely in the supermarket aisles. All that’s left from Christmas is some ham in the freezer and a lingering sense of guilt. You’d know it was January all right.
Now, at the halfway point in this most miserable of months, seems a good moment to question what it is about New Year that compels people to make resolutions. I will resist the temptation to liken the practise to Oscar Wilde’s maxim about good intentions being a vain attempt to interfere with scientific laws; if anything, I envy those for whom New Year is occasion for festivity and rejuvenation. For me, it is little other than a time for moroseness, and
the awful realisation that we have thirty-one days of January to get through. If the Grinch had an overlooked younger brother with a vehement disregard for ringing in the New Year, I reckon that I could challenge him for his title. To paraphrase Ebenezer Scrooge in saying that every idiot who goes around with ‘Happy New Year’ on his lips should be drowned in his own champagne and buried under a mound of leftover sprouts would be, to my mind, only a little harsh. Part of my dislike of New Year comes from its status as an event: New Year’s Eve is one of those nights, like St Patrick’s Day or Halloween, where common thinking dictates that You Must Go Out And Have The Best Time Ever. This means that everywhere is packed, and the pressure to have fun can make the night something of a disappointment. I would hasten to add, however, that I have no desire to ruin other people’s enjoyment of New Year; I wouldn’t be much fun an-
yway, as is probably apparent by now. Indeed, I underline the fact that I wish I felt the same way as revellers enthusiastically chanting the countdown. It’s never been a night I particularly enjoy, and generally prefer to stay in for it, sad as this may seem. For I have always thought New Year’s Eve to be a curious, downbeat date in the calendar: you’re stuck between ruminating on the past year and wondering what the future might bring. Perhaps I am just in a particularly maudlin mood as I begin the last term of my undergraduate degree. While I don’t regard myself as a particularly melancholic or defeatist person—on the basis of this article, I’ll admit that this is, perhaps, hard to believe—it usually occurs to me every New Year’s Eve that I don’t want the year to end; that there were things I started and didn’t finish, or didn’t even get round to at all.
Karl Marx is alleged to have said
that ‘last words are for fools who haven’t said enough’ (ironically enough, these are also said to have been his last words). Can we say then that New Year’s resolutions are for fools who haven’t done enough? I would disagree. It is natural to wish we had more time for everything, and to wonder about what-might-havebeens. Nonetheless, if I am this dour at 22, I dread to think about how I will feel on New Year’s Eves Yet to Come. But, at the same time, there is nothing to be done for it. Time passes, and my brief annual despondency quickly gives way to the kind of seasonal affective crabbiness that most people suffer from. I know that my New Year’s Eve gloom is irrational; it would probably make more sense, cliched as it may be, to try my best in future to think of New Year as a clean break. However, I find it hard to look past Wilde’s aforementioned teaching on the inevitability of not keeping to our good intentions, and thus turn to another
Irish literary legend for advice. In James Joyce’s story The Dead - set at a party on January 6th, incidentally - Gabriel Conroy notes in his dinnertime speech that, were we forever to agonise over old memories and opportunities not taken, “we would not find the heart to go on bravely with our work among the living.” Bearing this in mind seems more helpful in the light of a new year than paying for the yoga class that you’ll never go back to. There is, in theory, no good reason why New Year can’t be a time for positive reflection for us all. That said, Gabriel does end the story with the knowledge that his wife, Gretta, has never loved him as she did her dead childhood sweetheart, Michael Furey. Maybe this time of year is cursed after all.
Greece is yet again the centre of attention in European political and economic discussion, and again seems to be something of focal point for a much wider crisis. On Sunday, Greece will hold a general election for the third time in three years. Polls indicate that the likely winner will be the insurgent left-wing party Syriza. But nothing is certain. The currently governing centre-right New Democracy party is only a few points behind. But the probability of a Syriza victory was enough to provoke some initial panic in financial markets and among European leaders. In reality, the likelihood of anything immediately momentous, good or bad, coming from a Syriza victory seems very slim. The situation in the Eurozone as a whole is much less precarious than it was during the two Greek elections in the summer of 2012, when Syriza first rose to prominence. More importantly, Syriza itself has made very clear at this stage that it does not want Greece to leave the Eurozone but rather wants to renegotiate its “Memorandum of Understanding” with the Troika and to re-open the question of Greek debt through a European debt conference. This is obviously something which many others in Europe, and most notably Germany, are going to oppose very vigorously. But it is the stuff of geopolitical negotiation, not economic and financial chaos.
While Greece is likely have an extremely hard time getting a better deal from Europe given its fairly weak bargaining position, it is worth bearing in mind that it does have a lot of potential allies as well. Re-opening the terms imposed on Greece could of course be potentially beneficial to other peripheral countries such as Ireland – and indeed Michael Noonan and Joan Burton have welcomed Syriza’s proposal for a European debt conference. It also calls for more expansionary fiscal policy in Europe, which would suit the interests of France and Italy. Both these countries are currently struggling with poorly performing economies under the strictures of the European Fiscal Compact. Deflation is also becoming a major European-wide problem, which purely monetary measures such as coming “quantitative easing” by the European Central Bank may not be enough to solve.
Wider changes in Europe
But the true significance of Syriza’s success may not be in the European economy and economic policy, but rather what it says about wider changes in Europe politically. With the peculiar exception of Cyprus, the rise of Syriza has made Greece the first European country since the end of the Cold War whose major force on the political left has not come from the socialdemocratic mainstream associated with the Party of European Socialists. The traditional socialdemocratic party in Greece, Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok), has collapsed in just five years . Once among the most powerful social-democratic parties in Europe, its credibility was utterly destroyed by its collusion in austerity and its association with the cronyism that contributed to the Greek crisis and that has helped to make its distributional effects so unfair. It is not just Greece that is seeing a resurgence of the harder left however. Ireland will almost certainly follow Greece to some extent next year. The Labour Party will cease to be the largest (allegedly) leftist party in the Dáil for the first time in the history of the Irish state. Most interestingly of all, perhaps, is Podemos in Spain. Podemos is a new party which arose from Spain’s Occupy-style Indignados movement and has come seemingly out of nowhere in the last year to lead in the polls. While these developments are still most marked in Europe’s crisis-weary periphery, they are not limited to it. In the Netherlands, the Socialist Party polls ahead of the Labour Party these days. You could even draw parallels with events in Scotland, where the oncedominant Labour Party seems in danger of being overwhelmed by the Scottish National Party in the post-independence referendum atmosphere there. None of this would be necessarily ground-breaking if it were not part of a much wider and more powerful phenomenon of the disintegrating legitimacy of established parties of all kinds in Europe and the rise of antiestablishment parties of both right and left. “Grand coalitions” between centre-left and centreright seem to be becoming the norm and the only way for traditional parties to secure a majority. A grand coalition is effec-
tively in place in the European Parliament, as well as in the governments of Germany, Ireland, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Finland and now, informally, in Sweden. If Marine Le Pen gets into the second round of the French presidential election in 2017, as currently seems very likely, the Socialist Party will then probably have to unite with conservative UMP to defeat her. This reflects a long-term trend in European politics, best described by the late Irish political scientist Peter Mair in his last book Ruling The Void, in which the declining loyalty of voters to traditional parties has coincided with “hollowing out” of those parties. The internal and external political culture of centre-right and centre-left parties has become emaciated and they have become increasingly ideologically indistinguishable from one another. It is an absurd and damaging paradox that as popular attitudes in the last few decades have become more anti-hierarchical, political parties have become increasingly centralised and controlled from the top down. This trend has accelerated with the economic crisis, and has come to have a much more dangerous quality as populist right-wing parties have become the most common expression of voters’ disenfranchisement in many countries. It is now pretty much unavoidable to conclude that the true division in European politics is no longer between the traditional parties of right and left but is between an embattled centre and various forms of populist right and populist left.
[Centre-left] parties are in danger of suffering a similar fate to many of Europe’s liberal parties a century ago, coming to serve as an adjunct to their historical opponents. Challenge to centre-last parties
While the centre-right are also being affected by this, it is the established centre-left parties who have been undermined the most. These grand coalitions are almost always agreed largely on the terms of a continuing neo-liberal consensus among Europe’s elites. Historic contradictions within centre-left parties – between their radical or at least reforming pretensions and their much more conservative actual instincts, between a voter base that includes the most disenfranchised and disadvantaged and an internal culture that is quite the opposite – may well be becoming unbearable. They are in danger of suffering a similar fate as many of Europe’s liberal parties a century ago – coming to serve as an adjunct to their historical opponents on the right in defence of the status quo, and consequently becoming increasingly irrelevant to the needs of the dissatisfied parts of society that they were once associated with. This is what makes the rise of parties like Syriza and Podemos so potentially significant. That is not to say that they have all the answers. It is fairly impossible at this stage to describe Syriza as anything other than a social democratic party, at least in the sense of what social democracy was assumed to mean twenty or thirty years ago. In fact, Syriza’s programme is substantially less radical than Pasok’s was when it first came to power in the 1980s. Podemos has also recently moderated its economic programme. Both parties may already be social democratic to a fault in being unable to tackle the basic problem that has confronted social democrats in the past – namely the limits which a capitalist economy imposes on possibilities for political action. But they are at least driven partly by organic connection with grassroots dissatisfaction, a libertarian impulse and a suspicion towards Europe’s established political and economic consensus. A genuinely effective future European left needs to have these characteristics at its heart, or it will not be effective, and can hardly be described as “leftist” at all.
Tuesday 20th January 2015
Typical student stance on abortion does not represent me Pro-life views are presented as antifeminist by student groups as well as wider society. I beg to differ.
Identity politics stifles real debate I’m tired of guilt-driven opinion pieces telling you who should identify as a feminist and who you should listen to speak about certain topics. Rachel Graham Online Comment Editor Etes-vous Charlie? N’etes-vous pas Charlie? Are you a feminist? Are you not a feminist? Do you “check your privilege”? Or do you not understand whose privilege it is, exactly? Whatever your opinion, you’ve probably formulated an answer to one of these questions in the last year, and if you’ve read a single newspaper, you’ve been bombarded with other people’s answers to them. Identity politics has been a driving force in conversation about political and social issues in Trinity since I arrived in 2012, and with articles in this publication such as “Dear white people: stop listening to white people” (Naoise Dolan, Dec 18th 2014), the trend doesn’t look set to disappear any time soon. I spent the first two years of my degree in the debating chamber, so it may be that my view of the conversational landscape was skewed by the prevalence of identity politics rhetoric there. But with that taken on board, you don’t have to look far to find examples of the kind of discourse I’m talking about. The #thisiswhatafeministlookslike profile pictures that were popular before the t-shirt embarrassment of last year, and the recent debate about whether protecting the role of TCDSU LGBT officer as one which had to filled by someone identifying as LGBTQ was “exclusionary politics” belie a similar background assumption: that the personal identity of individuals is (and should be) indissolubly linked with the political aims they have and activity they undertake.
Development of identity politics
Identity politics is a loose term that covers a vast array of activity and schools of thought. The phrase is relatively recent, and what it is most famously used to refer to are the civil-rights movements of the 60s and 70s that focused on emancipation for specific social groups, namely African-Americans, LGBTQ people, and women. Such movements grew out of a realisation that the equality promised by liberal democracies was not being felt by those outside of the dominant social group. Western liberal democracies are strongly influenced by a philosophical tradition that imagines each person within them as a sort of characterless, roughly similar blueprint, and tries to formulate a political system in which all of these blueprints will do equally well, or at least have equal opportunity to do so. By the middle of the 20th century, it was clear that this model citizen was actually someone with a specific identity – white, male, wealthy and educated,
and it was these people that liberal political systems provided for. This led to a move towards campaigning for rights and protections on the basis of specific identities that did not fit this mould. Doing this meant switching from campaigning for ‘abstract’ values like equality for all, or economic demands made along traditional class boundaries, to campaigning for specific legal rights and social recognition as someone of a certain identity - a black person, an LGBTQ person, a woman, an aboriginal person. Identity politics focuses on analysing the ways in which the societal structure inherently disadvantages members of marginalised social groups, and acts to overcome that oppression. While many people consider the focus on securing rights and social protections on the basis of being a distinct group with distinct demands a philosophically or politically dubious project, it has no doubt been a successful strategy for many groups that employ it. Whatever your opinions on the essentialism, reductivism and divisiveness entailed by identity politics, it is impossible to argue that certain groups do not face oppression on the basis of their identity, and difficult to see how the situation for these groups would have improved without drawing attention to their distinction from the mainstream. The gay liberation movement of the 1960/70s especially required people to come out, openly and pointedly identifying themselves with a particular identity not just as a show of pride but also to make it clear that the issues they brought to public attention affected large numbers of people who were usually overlooked.
In contemporary political discourse, this practice of placing an emphasis on a particular element of the identity of oneself and other people in order to make political claims has become an obsession. The rhetoric employed by identity politics - the set-up of an identity with which to relate, the claims to that identity and the implicit conditions for membership - invites rapid, passionate response and rebuke. Recently, this type of language seems to be infecting all spheres of politics. In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shooting, #jesuischarlie swept through the western world on placards, newspaper headlines, cover photos and in George Clooney’s Golden Globes speech. This was almost immediately followed by a backlash, first in blog posts and followed by articles such as Roxane Gay’s “if je ne suis Charlie, am I bad person?” in the Guardian, subtitled “nuance gets lost in groupthink”. Whether or not you agree with her hyperbolic framing of
the issue it does hit the nail on the head in terms of what goes wrong in the rush to identify with a (real or abstract) persona on either side of a political debate. Using an identity slogan to stand for solidarity with the victims not only as victims but also as champions of free speech meant that many possible reactions to the events were discouraged. When someone says “I am Charlie” the response left to people who do not want to commit themselves to everything that statement could possibly entail is to say “I am not”. This makes a complicated issue into an oppositionary one, where people who do not want to subsume themselves under a vague identity but rather express particular opinions have little space to do so and face being branded as “against” whatever the amorphous positive identity comes to denote. Although the problems with the #jesuischarlie phenomenon have been well addressed, many of its critics fell back on the similarly reductive #jenesuispascharlie. This personalising, oppositionary rhetoric is not necessary to make a point, as Peter Gowan demonstrated in his exceptional article for this newspaper, published online on January 9th.
It seems unlikely that people will ever be as concerned about aligning themselves with genuine minority issues as they are about whether they can still be a proper feminist if they like Disney princesses and shave their vaginas religiously. Entering into political debates as a warrior from a certain predefined and recognisable camp is a far more welcoming prospect than doing so with nothing
to say for yourself except your opinions, and it allows you to be visible as a supporter of one side or the other while remaining almost completely passive if you wish. This is potentially a great advantage of identity politics rhetoric: it gets more people involved. I am much more likely to see myself, and vaguely present myself, as a feminist and LGBTQ ally, than I am to get involved in specific debates or projects to do with either women’s or LGBTQ issues. Having a large group of people who will ‘like’, share, and post things on Facebook or Twitter creates both an image and environment of support for those issues and makes them easier to talk about in a casual way, creating more visibility and subtly affecting the views of usually disinterested people. If you see that most of your friends post a viral status or picture about being a feminist, you might passively assume the same identity for yourself, and be more inclined to accept the views presented under that guise in the future.
Moralising binary of positions
This phenomenon of creating large, relatively passive communities who buy into identity statements about themselves or others stifles real debate though. People identifying with a certain group mind set are likely to accept the views of the vocal minority within that group in a relatively unconsidered way. Once an identity binary, such as feminist/antifeminist has been set up, one is discouraged from doing things or saying things which would trouble one’s identification with the chosen camp. Thus when you go to see a debate on abortion, most people will accept the dominant ‘feminist’ view, that the issue boils down to a woman’s autonomy and nothing else, not just on the basis of the arguments but also on the basis that in the chamber it is clearly seen as the view that ‘feminists’ have. People who deter even slightly are viewed as ‘anti-feminist’, deviant feminists, or people that don’t understand what feminism is about. This results in an air of hostility towards people who might express other viewpoints because they are seen as a threat to the dominant identity within the room. Debates on emotive topics can end up very one-sided, with students on the less popular side often apologising for their position or arguing for the popular side in a roundabout way. What is notable about identity politics rhetoric is that it encourages conversations that have little to do with current events and consequences of actions taken in response to them, and all to do with personal morality. This leads to the guilt-driven opinion pieces that flood the web, telling you who should identify as a
feminist (all women ever or else they are evil, by the way), how you are privileged by whatever specific identity characteristics you happen to have, and who you should listen to speak about certain topics. These stances are not inherently guilting and patronising, but become so when people refuse to recognise that the identities they talk about are far more complicated than fits their purpose. This happens when female celebrities refuse to take on the ‘feminist’ label. I am not arguing that they usually have good reasons for the decision, but when their critics fail to accept that ‘feminist’ does not simply mean ‘believing in equality for all genders’ and in fact carries a vast array of competing meanings, implications and historical baggage that might accord for the stars’ problem with the label, they gloss over the implications of identity labels and enforce a moralising, artificial binary of positions.
Ignoring minority minorities
This focus on taking up positions which reflect on personal morality also results in certain things getting talked about while issues that don’t easily fit this mould are neglected. Travellers are probably the most disadvantaged group in Irish society, but you will hear scarce discussion on this topic from even the most social justice-focused young people around. Organising political activity around the needs of specific groups requires those groups to have a certain amount of people belonging to them, as well as a certain amount of social capital with which to attract allies (as has been so successful for the LGBTQ movement). The most minority of minority groups are incredibly unlikely to possess those things, meaning their issues are overlooked by the people who would ordinarily be interested in them on the grounds of a general social justice concern. Intersectionalism seeks to address this problem, but in an environment where most discussions play out in a digital social realm it seems unlikely that people will ever be as concerned about aligning themselves with genuine minority issues as they are about whether they can still be a proper feminist if they like Disney princesses and shave their vaginas religiously. So identity politics seems to have some weighty advantages in its ability to foster popular, visible movements and draw attention to formerly invisible, harmful social structures. But at its worst, it is a form of expression so easy, so blunt, and so social-media compatible that it gets entered into thoughtlessly, supporting hostility to nuanced debate and dissenting opinions.
they can fend for themselves.
Abuse of gender equality argument
Much media attention is given to the pro-choice side of the abortion debate. One would think that the young population of Ireland are almost all completely in favour of it. But the pro-life contingent is under-represented in these one-sided debates that challenge the Irish law. Moreover, this stance is virtually nonexistent in college life, apart from obvious societies such as the Christian Union. The Phil held a debate entitled “This House Believes That Abortion Rights Are Necessary For Equality”, and the referendum held last year returned a vote allowing the Student’s Union take a prochoice stance in the long term. But it is important to remember that this verdict is not representative of the entire student body, just the majority. It is incorrect to assume that all students have the same viewpoint. One does not have to look very far to find a well articulated argument in favour of abortion. This is a response to the ample publications in favour of abortion, and an attempt to level out the debating field. To be clear, this article is not about berating those who are pro-choice, its aim is not to condemn. It is to voice an argument in favour of the unborn, whose voice is rarely heard, and to bring to light some long-term effects of abortion. It is often assumed that all pro-life supporters are raging religious types, who are out of touch with the 21st century, and do not support gender equality. This is not true. Has it been considered that perhaps the pro-choice side is out of touch and has not considered the full picture? Because in an era where freedom and autonomy are among the core principles that we cherish, it is surprising that we do not respect the autonomy of the unborn.
The argument used by the prochoice side is that denial of this service is contrary to female autonomy. Yes, it can be said that pregnancy can limit choices, but we should not fail to regard the autonomy of the being inside the womb. There are two parties involved in a pregnancy, not one. The Constitution protects the right to life, regarding the life of the unborn as being equal to that of a person-born. But even despite this disputed legal protection, why do people struggle to see the moral wrong involved in abortion? We have certain fundamental human rights from which moral duties undoubtedly flow, and the crux of this debate is that while the pro-choice side argue that abortion is a human right central to our personal autonomy, the pro-life side argue that life is a human right that should be protected with utmost sanctity. With rights come responsibilities. Our existence is based on the premise that life is a fundamental human right. Without this protection, our existence would not be guaranteed or safe, so we ferociously protect any such violations in the criminal law. Why do we fail to deliver on this protection? Our lives were clearly protected during pregnancy, or else we would not be here. Accordingly, do we not have a responsibility to do the same for future generations? We do not suddenly become human upon the moment of birth, we are human from the moment life begins. Hence, should the rights accorded to humans outside of the womb not be enjoyed by those yet to be born? Abortion disregards the value of the life of the unborn while raising the living to a status of superiority, as it is they who hold the power to end the life of another. Every life is a gift, and so just because they cannot vocally express their wishes and exert their own autonomy does not weaken their person hood. They are still humans with rights that we should duly respect. There is a lot of controversy surrounding the question of when life actually begins. Is it from the moment of conception, or when brain activity commences? Despite people’s personal opinions, scientifically, life begins from the moment of conception. The embryo is a human being and nothing extra is needed for its growth. It develops from that single human cell into a fully grown human. Place yourself back in the womb for a moment, and consider how you would feel if your life were to be abruptly ended? Injustice is the word that comes to mind. What makes it even more inequitable is that the unborn child has no opportunity to resist and no chance to exercise their autonomy. Humans are at their most vulnerable during pregnancy, meaning that we have a duty to protect and nurture them until
Another rationale used to support abortion is that without it, we cannot achieve gender equality. But it is not just an issue of gender equality, it is an issue of human equality, that is, the equality of men, women, and children alike. It is an abuse of the gender equality argument to use it to defend abortion. The pro-life argument represents and protects unalienable human equality, while the pro-choice argument seeks to undermine it. Pro-life feminism is a social movement who support gender-equality, but which opposes abortion on the basis that the principles which govern their support of gender-equality also call them to support the right to life. According to Serrin Foster, the founder of FFL (Feminists For Life) in the US, abortion is an act of violence, which violates the basic principles of feminism. Pro-life feminists assert that abortion supports “anti-motherhood social attitudes” which imply that motherhood is a harmful burden to bear, similar to disease. It encourages society to see pregnancy and parenting as obstacles to full participation in life activities, which is counter-intuitive to helping women achieve equal status to men. Prolife feminism aims to promote parenting not solely as a female role, but as a role involving men and women, which would eliminate the perception that we need abortion to free us of responsibility and thrive as a gender. Pro-choice feminists argue that access to abortion is a key part of feminism, therefore implying that to be a feminist, or even just a modern day woman, one must be pro-choice. I beg to differ. Susan B. Anthony was a 19th century suffragette who was instrumental in passing the nineteenth amendment of the American constitution which extended the right to vote to women. Although she did not publicly express it, she was also pro-life. There are anonymous articles published in Anthony’s newspaper that critique the practice, and calls for a more equal version of marriage. This call for equal marriage is the equivalent to today’s call for not only equality within a marriage, but gender equality outside of one too. A change in attitudes to parenthood can bring more people to the pro-life side, and better respect the right to life that we are all due. Some reasons women undergo abortion include because they are unsupported by the father, or because of the perceived shame they feel will be brought on their family. The fact that women think like this is oppressive, indicating that we have a long way to go before genderequality is reached. It suggests that although women are making progress in the workplace relative to men, social attitudes are slower to change.
Studies have shown that the long-term effects of abortion on a woman can include depression and other mental health issues. “Psychological Consequences of Abortion among the Post Abortion Care Seeking Women in Tehran” was a study carried out in 2011, finding that at least onethird of the women surveyed experienced long term psychological side effects. Abortion is an extremely traumatic life event involving huge loss to the human being and to the mother. It can be impossible to escape the grief and guilt that follow. In current times there is far less stigma attached to unplanned pregnancy, single parents, and young mothers than there has been heretofore, so abortion is a short-term solution to a long term difficulty. Adoption is a good option where the child has a chance at life, and the woman is less likely to suffer depression. It also gives the woman a chance to stay in contact with her child, a happier solution for both parties. It deals with the issue so that it is resolved, rather than relocated. Moreover, we never know how life will turn out. It is a bleak reflection of our society that so many people can justify and endorse this practice when human life is at stake. Contemplate for a moment that it could have been your life that was taken against your will. It is a pity. A pity for the lost talent that person could have offered the world, a pity for the love they will never give, and a pity for the human not given a chance.
Tuesday 20th January 2015
What we can learn from Wittgenstein about the art of living well By correctly attending to the ways in which we use language, we may become more tolerant, respectful, and happy.
Conor McGlynn Deputy Comment Editor Ludwig Wittgenstein was perhaps the most important philosopher active in the 20th century. Wittgenstein’s main concern in his philosophy was with language; how we use it, and what we can and cannot say. As a ‘linguistic philosopher’ it may seem that Wittgenstein doesn’t have much to tell us about the good life, or any other practical advice that would be useful in our own lives. This is not, however, a completely accurate assessment. Wittgenstein can inform us about how we should approach disputes in life, and how to be more tolerant of the opinions of others.
Limits of language
Wittgenstein’s first work was the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. In this work his concern is with the limits of what we can say in language. What we say concerns facts about the world, and we use language to ‘picture’ states of affairs in the world. It is only these sentences, sentences that concern facts about the world, that can have meaning or sense. Any attempt to say something beyond these facts lacks sense, and will either be senseless tautology, or else will be ‘nonsense’. We speak nonsense when we fail to picture a really existing state of affairs in the world, and thus fail to attach meaning to certain words we use, such as ‘God’, ‘evil’, ‘soul’, or ‘beautiful’. Wittgenstein differentiated between things that can be said, and things that can only be ‘shown’. Nonsense statements arise not when we talk about things that do not exist, but rather when we attempt to say things that can only be shown. Any attempt to name what cannot be said will, by definition result in nonsense. However, things we cannot say may be able to be shown. Under this view, metaphysical issues around about morality, religious experience, and the ultimate nature of reality cannot be said.
This does not mean that they cannot be shown. Wittgenstein’s views on language changed as he grew older. In his later work The Philosophical Investigations he accepts that we can meaningfully use words such as ‘God’ and ‘good’ in our discourse; they are just used as part of a different ‘language game’ from scientific statements about the world. This view of language isn’t so narrow; it doesn’t just involve using sentences to picture states of affairs in the world, but rather accepts that the uses for which we use language tend to be multifaceted.
Wittgenstein tells us that many of the things we argue about do not involve genuine disagreements, but rather occur because we attend ncorrectly to the proper uses of language. Living well
What can any of this tell us that will be of use in our own lives? Many of the most bitter and heated debates in public and personal life concern moral issues, and issues of religion. People appear to disagree on the facts of the matter when they disagree, for example, about the morality of abortion or about the existence of God. Wittgenstein, however, suggests that these are not genuine disagreements at all. If people understand what they can actually express in language then such debates may never arise in the first place. We often get angry when other people behave in ways that we consider irrational, or when they fail to see the truths that are so apparent to us. Wittgenstein tells us that many of the things we argue about do not involve genuine disagreements, but rather occur because we attend incor-
Illustration: John Tierney rectly to the proper uses of language. The early Wittgenstein would say that arguments about issues in religion or morality, for example, are attempts to put in words something that can only be shown. An understanding of what the limits of language are can help us to be more aware of what we can ultimately achieve in these sorts of disputes, and of what use they therefore have. We may be well-off to take his
advice that what we cannot speak about, we should pass over in silence. The later Wittgenstein, taking a more holistic view of language, would see many of disputes people get involved in as arising because they are involved in different language games, which might have different criteria for meaningfulness and significance. Having different conceptual schemes means that two
people who appear to be disagreeing are really interpreting the world in radically different ways. This doesn’t just apply to disputes about the ‘big’ issues of morality and metaphysics; it also holds in everyday disputes with our friends and family. By attending to the fact that the person we are disagreeing with may conceptualise the world radically differently, and hence that the words they use
don’t have the same meaning for them as they do for us, we can have more sympathy for their position, even if we don’t fully understand or agree with it. The insight we can take from both early and late Wittgenstein is that correctly attending to the proper uses of language can help to end disputes, and foster a greater level of respect and tolerance in our private and public lives. This respect and tolerance
is essential for healthy relationships and a functioning civil society. At the very least a greater level of understanding may decrease pain and humiliation for those with marginalised views. At best, it may help us to live better, happier lives.
Time for government to formally apologise to gay people As Australia moves to erase all historical convictions for offences associated with gay sex, the Irish government should think about not only pardoning but apologising to those that have been so abused by this state.
Fionn McGorry Deputy News Editor Last week, the government of the Australian Capital Territory erased all historical convictions for those offences associated with gay sex. It follows the Australian states of Victoria and New South Wales, and the United Kingdom, in allowing individuals convicted of charges such as these to appeal to have these convictions removed from the record. In the case of the Australian Capital Territory, homosexuality was illegal until 1976, and the implications of a conviction on access to justice and employment remained in place until the convictions were erased. In this sense, it is clear why there would be tangible benefits to erasing the convictions for those still living, but it is important not to consider it in these merely mercenary terms. The pardon should be an admission that what was done to people with these policies was absolutely incorrect, and a disgraceful way to treat citizens. It is unclear why these policies, intended to atone for past wrongs, would exclude those whose lives ended with these convictions still attached to their names.
The British government’s par-
doning of World War Two codebreaker Alan Turing in 2013, for a conviction of gross indecency, was a peculiar way to thank him, and a perverse way to apologise. Chemical castration, amid climate of fear and intimidation which led to his tragic suicide by cyanide poisoning, are not something that can be considered an isolated incident, unique to Turing. The achievements of Turing, now depicted in the film “The Imitation Game”, are such that it is fully understandable that a modern, more enlightened British public, would want to celebrate them. However, to single Turing out for a posthumous reprieve, suggests, as discussed by Ally Fogg of the Guardian at the time of the pardon, that the state only values those historical gay figures who are exceptional, be they war heroes, or other “national treasures”. The pardon had followed a formal apology by Gordon Brown for Turing’s treatment a few years earlier, and indicates the positive power of historical revisionism for the pursuit of truth. As Fogg argues, all people convicted for having the audacity to express love deserve a pardon. In acknowledging that what was done to Turing was wrong, the British government neglects those other people.
Stain on our history
All gay people in both Ireland and Britain deserve not merely a pardon but a formal apology. The climate of hatred and shame which these people were made to live in, with raids on gay discos and on the homes of suspected offenders, and treatment with brutality and force by the state, is something that no reasonable person can defend. To target someone in this way, regardless of whether one believes that their acts are moral or not, is a stain on the pages of the history
books of these islands. In recent years, the role of the government in legislating for morality has been questioned repeatedly, with the suffering encouraged by this legislation clearly evident. Successive parliaments and governments of this country have permitted people to live in this climate, and the full weight of this suffering can’t be truly measured. In the year of the referendum on marriage equality, Taoiseach Enda Kenny assures us that he will be an active participant in the campaign, and the introduction of a gender recognition bill shows a more mature approach to LGBT issues by this government.
Mine is the first generation of gay people in Ireland to be born after the decriminalisation of homosexuality. It is important to remember that the taoiseach has been a TD for nearly four decades. His election in 1975 came a full generation before the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Ireland. Though Kenny is not uniquely guilty for this, it is important to consider the importance of his active and sincere participation in this campaign, and to hold him to his word. The announcement by Minister for Health Leo Varadkar on the weekend that he is a gay man, merely serve to indicate that this Oireachtas is different from the others, with
Varadkar the fourth TD to come out since 2011.
Though some may question what practical benefits such an apology, separate from a pardon, would have, it is an incredibly important step for Ireland to take in this year in particular. If Ireland is truly to introduce full equality, then an acknowledgment of past wrongs is completely necessary. In recent years, formal apologies have been issued to those women who were made to endure the slave labour of the Magdalene Laundries, and those World War Two veterans who had deserted the Irish army to enlist across the Irish Sea, for the treatment they faced on their return. My view as a gay person is that, for young and old LGBT people, the vision of the head of Irish government reading out a formal apology in the Dáil, accompanied by a vote of the Dáil in affirming the sentiment, would carry significant weight which would certainly be worth the fuss. The recent flurry of violence against gay people in Dublin’s streets is a significant cause for concern, and a formal statement by the government that these laws were unjust would give clarity to the government’s message. Mine is the first generation of gay people in Ireland to be born after the decriminalisation of homosexuality. It is important, when campaigning for equality in all areas of the law, to remember the struggles faced by others, and such an event would be a symbolic step toward equality in Ireland.
1982 Declan Flynn killed in Dublin homophobic attack; killers charged with manslaughter and let walk free
1988 European Court of Human Rights finds Irish criminalisation of male homosexuality to be violation of the European Convention on Human Rights
Ireland decriminalises same-sex sexual activity
Civil partnership legislation passed
Illustration: Mubashir Sultan
Tuesday 20th January 2015
Any move to introduce new student charges must be opposed College’s possible introduction of new, non-means tested student charges without any meaningful student consultation sets a deeply worrying precedent.
Domhnall McGlacken-Byrne President of TCDSU In searching for an illustrative analogy with which to provide some context to this article, I am disappointed in myself to find nothing higher-brow springing to mind than a particularly compelling scene from Interstellar, which I saw recently. We’ll go with it. Despite critically inadequate government funding of the higher education sector on which hopes of economic recovery are staked, Trinity at present is embarking upon an ambitious five-year agenda, with commitments ranging from a profound shift in the student profile towards international and online students to four new buildings. This state of affairs reminds me, a little ominously, of the gripping moment where the crew of the Endurance attempt to harness the crushing gravity of the nearby Gargantua by manually steering their spacecraft around rather than into the black hole, somehow keeping their mission and the hopes of all mankind alive in a feat of impressive joystick control and tremendous overacting. Thankfully, our beloved provost, Patrick Prendergast, is not burdened with quite as much pressure. Nonetheless, the stakes have never been higher, and Trinity is under intense strain. The facts speak for themselves: the staff-student ratio in Irish universities has slid from 1:15 to 1:19 in the last eight years. The average for top-200 universities is 1:11.7. Overall state funding of third-level institutions has fallen by a drastic 32% in the last six years and a recent HEA study found that 40% of the sector’s infrastructure is unfit for purpose. As Winston Churchill reminds us, now that we have, quite clearly, run out of money, it is time to start thinking, and college authorities have put a great deal of effort into exploring innovative new sources of revenue. Unfortunately, what I have learned so far this year has confirmed that an increasingly convenient source of such revenue is: you.
You are about the be charged a lot of money
As SU president, I sit on a disheartening number of College committees. The two most important committees are the university Board and the Finance Committee, which reports to the Board. The last Finance Committee in the term of my predecessor, Tom Lenihan, took place on the morning of the 12th of June 2014. While you were perhaps setting off on a J1, Tom was checking his e-mails. At 18.56 on the 11th of June, 2014, Tom along with the other members of Finance Committee received a message stating that a late addition had been made to the next day’s agenda. This late addition consisted of a one-page memo from the Academic Services Division that expressed the “intensified need” to “examine all costs and potential for raising revenue,” helpfully providing these six suggestions: •
• • •
An increase in the commencement fee from ¤114 to ¤135, which would “generate additional income of ¤84,000” annually. A ¤75 fee for diploma and certificate awards ceremonies, which would “generate ¤112,500 annually.” An increased postgraduate application fee which “would generate an additional ¤105,000.” An increase in the price of a new student card from ¤6 to ¤20. To set the price of degree and diploma parchments at 100. To introduce a “flat fee of ¤250 for students sitting supplemental exams, regardless of how many papers are re-taken - giving a projected income of ¤419,750 [based on last year’s figures].”
Crudely adding up the numbers on the page yields an approximate figure of ¤800,000 per year, from your pockets. Now, it’s
worth noting that the consultation on this issue amounted to a generous 15 hours. The memo does not define any destination for the monies raised, let alone confirm that it will actually go directly to what is being levied. No consultation, no means-testing and indeed no end-result in sight apart from attempting to plug a financial void the size of Gargantua. Tom and his student colleagues dissented at Finance Committee, then Board the following week, while contacting USI and any media outlets that would listen. Once the word got out, a deluge of emails from outraged students succeeded in deferring negotiations to this year. After a series of meetings and negotiations with high-level Trinity staff, led by the Vice-Provost, Prof. Linda Hogan, my SU and GSU colleagues and I have the impression that the issue is coming to a head once more. We need to open the conversation. What do you think?
Nine reasons I disagree
Unsurprisingly, I have a few objections to this whole affair. I’ll keep it to nine: There is a major disparity emerging between College’s officially stated and actual revenue-generating practices. College’s Strategic Plan and accompanying documents attempt to articulate precisely where our money is going to come from: non-EU students, online courses, commercialisation, research income and philanthropy. Each of these strategies has been agreed upon at a high-level. However, charging students for arbitrary facets of their educational experience as soon as these strategies fail to plug the gaps, quite simply, is not one of them. These charges and the ethos they represent set a deeply worrying precedent.
Above (L to R): Provost Patrick Prendergast, Vice Provost Linda Hogan and SU President Domhnall McGlacken-Byrne at the launch of College’s 2014-9 Strategic Plan in October. Photo: tcd..ie
€250 Proposed flat flee for supplemental exams
In a presentation to SU Council on this topic before Christmas, I provided a helpful diagram of soil creep I sourced from a Junior Cert Geography grinds website. Taoiseach Enda Kenny attended the launch of Trinity’s Strategic Plan earlier this year, with much fanfare. Three short months later, I am concerned at how very early in the lifetime of this plan these measures have occurred. An alarming and asyet unacknowledged trend is emerging whereby levying students is becoming an acceptable and convenient recourse when financial pressure begins to tell. Thus, I am concerned not only for current students, but for generations of students to come who – like soil creep – realise too late that a new status quo has developed, one that puts a price-tag on much of what we take for granted in College and leaves students in a very different position to where we thought we were.
The comparisons drawn with other higher education institutions are highly selective.
if you don’t like tourists walking around your campus, you can lump it, because we already agreed that Trinity needs to commercialise and that’s that. For context, the College commercialisation director outlined in detailed to Finance Committee in November just how a ¤3.7m growth in commercial revenue will be achieved in the next five years. This Commercialisation Strategy will be kept under close scrutiny to ensure that its all-important KPIs, key performance indicators, are being met. In contrast, in June a proposal to scoop ¤800,000 a year from your pockets managed to fit neatly into a one-page memo.
Throughout our discussions with college representatives, numerous comparisons have been drawn between Trinity’s current practice and that of other institutions: UCD charges ¤230 for repeat exams, for example, while NUI Maynooth charges you ¤20 if you lose your student card. These comparisons are inconsequential for two reasons. Firstly, other universities who charge, for example, for repeat exams unanimously have different and more modernised examination structures incomparable to our own: sitting 15 exams in two weeks at the end of second-year science is incontrovertibly a contributor to failure of exams that a student in UCD does not face. Secondly and more importantly, Trinity throughout its history has sought to exceed and to indeed set educational standards in this country. Justifying an egregious practice solely on the basis of it happening elsewhere is incompatible with this ethos of excellence. If UCD jumps off a bridge, should we jump too? It’s also worth noting that we are the only Irish university with a commencement fee. While the revenue to be garnered from these measures is immense, comparable sources of income to the college have been preceded by extensive discussion, approved formally at Board level and accompanied by an extensively researched strategy. Each of the revenue-generating strategies I outlined above has been debated and agreed upon at a high level. In other words,
Proposed commencement fee
€75 Proposed fee for diloma and certificate award ceremonies
€20 Proposed new student card fee
The measures – most notably the supplemental exam fee – accounts for no means-testing whatsoever. The very first page of the full text of Trinity’s Strategic Plan declares that through our “access and admissions policies, Trinity seeks … to create a diverse and cosmopolitan community,” explicitly committing both to increase the proportion of students coming from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and to improve the retention rates of these students. Taking again a supplemental exam fee for example, charging students “a flat fee … regardless of how many papers are re-taken” constitutes a glaring and deplorable divergence from these commitments. At present, Academic Registry is in urgent need of reform, but this stabilisation must follow and not precede charging students more for our interactions with it. Be it timetabling, difficulties
with SITS or simply obtaining grade transcripts, Academic Registry is among the commonest cause of complaints from students to TCDSU. It has been acknowledged that this is an area where reform is needed in Trinity, but charging students more for our interactions with it before any reform has actually occurred is distinctly unfair. Student representatives have been frequently told that this is the first time students have been targeted, which is false. In numerous meetings, student representatives have been assured that the student experience has been preserved right throughout the financial crisis and that this is the first time we will have been tapped as a resource, so to speak. However, the student experience has, by definition, been impacted upon by every one of the innumerable cuts to Trinity’s academic and pastoral services. The student experience has not been the last to be affected, indeed definitionally the opposite is the case: from cuts to the counselling service to spiralling rents, our experience in university is the sum total of our interactions with every facet of it and thus has been impacted upon in literally countless ways by the financial constraints on every aspect of the sector. This is not the first time College has asked us to cough up; it’s just the first time we’ve been asked so bluntly. Our outdated examination structure is actually conducive to students failing exams. Several years ago, a now-nearlyforgotten TCDSU referendum was passed by 94% in favour of
semesterised exams. TCD’s Strategic Plan, meanwhile, commits to “introducing flexibility in our programme patterns”. More relevant to the proposed introduction of a supplemental exam fee, the institutions which ostensibly provide us with benchmarks have uniformly less punishing examination structures: the butUCD-does-it argument is weakened by the fact that no UCD student is required to sit 15 exams in two weeks to represent their entire year’s progress. If meaningful progress was made on this issue that made passing your exams solely about your academic ability and less about your physical fitness, fewer students would fail and those that did could feel less hard done by. But the lopsided current examination system, for which we are to be charged a great deal more for failing to navigate successfully, is conducive to that failure. This is the entirely incorrect way to deal with the issue of high failure rates. This is effectively another way of articulating the above point, but quite a lot of people fail exams in Trinity. I don’t have figures comparing us to other institutions to hand, but if you know anybody who does science you’ll know that quite a lot of people fail exams in Trinity. Our failure rates can be interpreted in two ways: as a symptom of the underlying issue of Trinity’s outdated examination structures or as a source of handy revenue. In this instance, the powers-that-be have very much opted for the latter.
Unfortunately, I admit that, in life, a problem is a lot easier to present than a solution. If I
had nine perfect alternatives to match my nine gripes about this issue, I probably wouldn’t feel the need to write this article. Like Matthew McConaughey and the crew of the Endurance, our university and its crew are under unbelievable pressure. We’re constrained in every direction: by government-imposed pay agreements, by chronic underfunding and by costly past mistakes (not to mention by our lofty new set of goals for the next five years). However, despite this pressure and despite the direction taken by other institutions, Rudyard Kipling’s famous advice reminds us to keep our head and to remember that this institution exists for and is defined by its students. It is not simply specific alternatives that are needed to combat these decisions, but a refocusing of the perspective from which they are made. Of course, it is the provost’s job to see the big picture, to steer the ship. Many of the initiatives in the Strategic Plan will take longer than your own lifetime in Trinity to come to fruition. Indeed, earlier this year the Provost wrote that “we must guard against putting the short-term ahead of the long-term”. However, crucially, the reverse is equally true. While I deeply appreciate the need for a long-term vision, I am worried that the means currently being taken to achieve that vision are so damaging in the here and now that they risk sacrificing a generation of students entirely: our results, our development as individuals and our future prospects as ostensible recipients of a supposed “Trinity education.” Ireland’s unpleasant experiment with austerity teaches us that deferred stability must always be balanced with present
responsibilities: indeed, the very first sentence of the Strategic Plan itself is rooted firmly in the present tense as it declares that the “Trinity community is ultimately defined by those who are enrolled as students”. We redefine this community at our peril. I’ll provide, briefly, an example. Money, at present, is being poured into the Trinity Business and Innovation Hub (the ¤70m new business school). From LaunchBox to proposed mandatory modules in every course in “creativity, opportunity recognition and risk-taking”, it goes without saying that innovation and entrepreneurship are the order of the day at present in Trinity. However, students already innovate in Trinity. We always have: whether it’s the glittering array of speakers at Paddy Cosgrave’s bizarrely massive Web Summit this year or the antics of the Collapsing Horse company led by Aaron Heffernan, Jack Gleeson and crew, the vast majority of renowned innovation from Trinity graduates in recent years has come from our societies, from our side projects, from ourselves. Cutting back on the student experience in order to improve it is self-defeating. There is an (admittedly cheesy) saying that, in times of famine, the one thing we must not eat is our seeds. Rather than cutting back and back in hope of perpetually deferred benefit, it is now those seeds must be sown: students flourish if and only if active investment is made in the facets of our education that most effectively enable us to do so. Now is the time to build our campaign.
Tuesday 20th January 2015
Official Palestinian leadership does not reflect democratic will of Palestinian people Are we are on the edge of a third Palestinian intifada? Guy Bell Contributor
What it’s like to grow up as a young Muslim in the west Rupert Murdoch recently said Muslims must “destroy their growing jihadist cancer.” Why should I be held responsible? Mohamed Tayib Contributor Growing up as a young Muslim in a western society was not an easy task. Once you place your feet on foreign soil, you need to take time to understand their culture, customs and identities. Although I felt like an outcast at the start, I gradually started to have a sense of belonging and felt accepted. Are you or are you not Charlie? That’s the silent question on the minds of people in France and all over the world in the last two weeks. If you are, then you shall be regarded as open-minded and a liberal human being. But if you are not, then you better hope for the best when being judged by others.
In the wake of recent terrorist attacks on Paris, French Muslims and other immigrant communities have become victims of misguided reprisal attacks across the country. There have been several attacks on mosques and
prayer centres, and a bombing at a kebab restaurant. Last week, I went into a kebab restaurant near my accommodation for lunch. This restaurant usually does a busy lunch trade, but that day it was empty and the shawarma stick had hardly been touched. I was advised on multiple occasions by close relatives not to go near a mosque or any “Arabian areas” just to avoid being in the “wrong place at the wrong time.” These anti-Islamic attacks are relatively small-scale in comparison to the Charlie Hebdo massacre, but it has created fear in the French Muslim minority community and added to the already-existing tension within the country. Having lived in both the Middle East and Europe, I’ve been exposed to two different and overwhelming cultures. Many westerners believe that those from the Middle East come from a strict, narrow-minded background, and blame this on Islam. This is a simply a stereotypical imagine planted in our minds by of the media. I come from a family where debate and dialogue are encouraged not just because
this is basic human nature, but because these are the teachings of Islam. We have reached a stage where whenever an explosion or some sort of an attack takes place in the first world, the first word that pops up in one’s mind is “Muslim.” This has placed a stigma on Muslims which has made me afraid to speak out and make my voice heard. Many Muslims are afraid of being labelled as “radical” just for expressing their point of view.
People did not leave their homes and families behind to “Islamify” the west.
There have been unprecedentedly large anti-Islamic demonstration in Dresden, Germany, in recent weeks, organised by the anti-immigration group PEGIDA, a German abbreviation for “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West.” I was disgusted by some protesters holding brooms signifying the action of “cleaning” Europe of Muslims. We did not come with a prepared agenda. People did not leave their homes and families behind to “Islamify” the west. My family came for better living standards and a brighter future for us. We wanted to attend the best schools and universities, in the hope of rebuilding our oncebright country, now destroyed by civil war and ignorance. We believe in the holy Qur’an and, in it, there is a verse that reads: “O mankind, surely We have created you from a male and a female, and made you tribes and families that you may know each other. Surely the noblest of you with Allah is the most dutiful of you. Surely Allah is Knowing, Aware.” It is the words of Allah
and the teachings of the prophet that oblige the followers to follow the concept of coexistence. It is because of ignorance that Islam is considered a danger today, and the media isn’t helping either.
Why should the peaceful French Muslim community bear the burden of the victims of the Charlie Hebdo massacre? Why should I be blamed? Rupert Murdoch said we (Muslims) should “destroy their growing jihadist cancer.” The Paris attacks were not acts of jihad and those terrorists are not martyrs. The actions of the French police officer Ahmed Merabet, who died defending the right to ridicule his religion, contain the true definition jihad. The martyrs are the innocent people who were killed. I am not trying to convert you, but rather invite you to learn the differences between us. We should start viewing one another as ordinary human beings, and not just tag each other with unnecessary labels.
Trading justice for peace in the North Achieving lasting peace in Northern Ireland does not come without costs, particularly when it comes to justice. Callum Trimble Jenkins Staff Writer Tony Blair told Westminster’s Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee last week that without the letters sent to so called ‘On The Runs’ (OTRs) the peace process may have failed. This is a crucial insight into the decision making of a key architect of an end to violence in Northern Ireland. In a very polarised debate it raises the question as to the cost of peace. The price we all must pay to walk our own street without fear of violence is heavy. Under the Good Friday Agreement convicted paramilitaries were released on license. OTRs are those suspected or wanted for such activities but are not covered by the Agreement, due to either a lack of conviction or their escape from custody. As with prisoners, OTRs were important leverage used to bring Sinn Fein into constitutional politics and thus end the IRA’s campaign of terror. Thus, in 1999 a series of letters began to be sent assuring these individuals that they were no longer being actively pursued by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). Peaking in 2007 over 200 suspects were sent such letters. While it was later ruled that the letters were not secret, they certainly fell outside of public knowledge. That was until February last year, when the trial of John Downey collapsed after a judge ruled that such a letter gave him immunity from prosecution. Mr Downey had been charged in connection with the 1982 Hyde Park Bombing which left four soldiers dead. As one would expect, a suspected murderer being acquitted due to an official guarantee that the police were not actively seeking him caused uproar. Peter Robinson
even threatened to resign if there was not a judge led inquiry. This was promptly established under Lady Justice Hallett. Lady Justice Hallett’s review found that while the letters did not amount to a general amnesty, serious mistakes were made in the implementation of the programme. In particular, the assurance given to Mr Downey by the PSNI that no British police force was seeking him was done without checking with their colleagues on the mainland. As has now become clear the Metropolitan Police wanted him in relation to bombings in London which left a total of twelve dead. The judge led review has not been the end of the matter, with the British Parliament subsequently getting involved.
Black and white
Many readers will be unused to a debate about whether the police should continue to seek justice for crimes no less grave than murder. It is black and white. This reasoning is based on the luxury of being brought up and living in a normal society. Unfortunately Northern Ireland is not this society. Things are not black and white in a country with such a troubled and violent past. Nevertheless, the major political parties would have us believe that things are clearly defined. In the case of OTRs, the DUP have taken a strong stance against it while the policy was a key demand of Sinn Fein. A similar divide emerged when Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams was arrested last year in connection to the murder of Jean McConville. It would be easy to assume, especially given Sinn Fein’s past, that the divide would always be such, yet Northern Ireland is never short of paradoxes. Sinn Fein have been very vocal in pushing for criminal investigations on the back of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, while the DUP have been equally steadfast in op-
posing any such moves against members of the security forces. This is not an easy topic and I will not pretend I have all the answers. My moral compass tells me that a murderer is still a murderer. I find it absolutely abhorrent that people who did unspeakable things walk the streets free. Justice would see them stand trial, convicted if guilty and punished accordingly; whether they did it in the name of orange or green. Nonetheless, I support the OTR letters, just as I support the prisoner releases after Good Friday. I do so for the same reason that the British Government agreed to suspend justice, that they were necessary steps towards achieving peace in Northern Ireland. Consequently, the cost of peace is that I must walk the same streets as murderers (convicted or otherwise) and indeed see convicted terrorists serve in government. To use an utilitarian argument such as this is dangerous. The ‘greater good’ has been used throughout history by brutal regimes as justification for terrible deeds, in particular when it was expedient to ignore justice, either legally or morally. Usually this results in the loss of life, making it easy to reject its philosophical basis. However, what happens when bypassing justice preserves lives like it undoubtedly has done in Northern Ireland?
Costs of peace
This is a difficult trade-off for anyone to accept. Being taught the difference between right and wrong is an important part of growing up, as is learning how wrongdoing deserves punishment. Without presuming guilt, what the OTRs are accused of undoubtedly represents wrongdoing. This is even more clear when it comes to paramilitaries released as part of the peace process, all of whom were convicted in a court of law. Loyalist terrorist Michael Stone,
for example, was released after only 13 years of a 684 year sentence for the murder of three. This was a heinous crime, and justice would involve Stone spending the rest of his natural life in prison. While in prison he became a key leader among the loyalist prisoners, acting as a representative on their behalf to Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Mo Mowlam in 1999. This was part of efforts to get loyalist paramilitaries to give up violence. Their reward for renouncing terror was freedom. The same was offered to republicans. The result of this was twofold. Not only did it sign the prisoners, an important opinion group for both sides, up to the agreement; it also ensured their continuing support. Since their release is conditional on their respective terrorist group remaining inactive, it was in these prisoners’ own self-interest to became major advocates for continued peace. The same logic works for OTRs. The case of Michael Stone also illustrates the conditionality of release. After attempting to assassinate Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness at Stormont in 2006 his license was revoked and he was returned to prison.
Price paid by victims
Although the suspension of justice is a burden on those who never participated or supported violence, this pales in comparison with the price paid by victims. In 2010 I was at a conference in Belfast which finished with a discussion of reconciliation on a divided fictitious island, a quite obvious allusion to Northern Ireland. The debated heated up over prisoner releases, and I’m sure had the OTR letters been public knowledge they would have been part of the discussion as well. As the only person in our group who supported prisoner releases (on the purely practical basis of achieving
peace, rather than on reconciliation or more militant grounds) I was challenged on a number of issues. One person asked whether I would feel differently if one of my family had been murdered and I had to see the person responsible walk free. At the time I couldn’t answer the question, but having thought about it many times since I now have an answer. Of course I would think differently, and I can never truly understand the suffering many families continue to feel. For my part, I am very thankful that I have never experienced their loss, and hopefully never will. Peace means no more victims; dissidents are still active but not on the same scale as 1999. Thus achieving peace stops us experiencing the loss and the fear experienced by generations before. Tony Blair reminded us last week that this could only have been achieved by putting this end goal above all other issues of morality. People from across the world study the peace process in Northern Ireland to find the ‘secret ingredient’ in resolving their own conflicts. Rather than study the institutions, the mechanisms or the personalities involved, the lesson they should take is peace can only be achieved by putting it above all else. In Northern Ireland this occurred as weariness set into to paramilitaries, the public, and the State. The settlement was far from perfect, and had many bumps along the way, but it ended the vast majority of violence. For instance, neither Palestinians and Israelis should expect a just outcome, just a peaceful one. Until both sides are willing to accept this there can be no end to the cycle of violence. This is the real lesson Northern Ireland has for the world.
As has recently been seen, the level of violence and conflict in Israel and the Palestinian territories has increased to a worrying scale. The question that needs to be asked, it seems, is whether we are on the edge of a third Palestinian intifada, or most worrying, will we look back five years from now and come to conclusion that the third intifada has already begun? Intifada is an Arabic word which literally mean ‘shaking off’, it is often used in the context of an uprising or a rebellion. The previous intifadas that have been seen are what made the IsraelPalestine conflict world famous. The first intifada lasted from 1987 until 1993 and cost the lives of around two thousand three hundred people, (two thousand of them Palestinian). The second or ‘Al Aqsa’ intifada lasted from 2000 until 2005 (some differ on its end date). This uprising cost the lives of just under five thousand people. Now these conflicts are defined as the Palestinians within Israel and the occupied territories rising up and attacking the Israeli armed forces, state, and civilians. This may be the case from an isolated viewing of the large scale violence that takes place in these periods of time, this assessment fails to take account of the causes of these uprisings and the amount of tension which exists in the region.
As even the least informed viewer of the news will know the Israeli government has for years sanctioned the building of settlements in Palestinian areas in both the West Bank and in areas of East Jerusalem, most notably in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan. It not necessarily these settlements which account for the unrest and disenchantment among the Palestinians in these areas the problem is somewhat more complex than this. It involves the methods used by settlers and the Israeli armed forced tactic’s in dealing with the Palestinians. In the past five years there have been several changes in both Israeli policy towards the Palestinians as well as the actions of settlers in these contested areas. This is significant since what is often covered in the news media is the number of suicide bombings and attacks by Palestinian Islamist militants as the main inflammatory action in this conflict. This assumption fails to take account of the views of the majority of Palestinians on the ground as well as their daily lives under the occupation of the Israeli armed forces and armed settlers. What is portrayed in the news media is the Palestine Authority currently under Mahmoud Abbas as the legitimate, elected and recognised government of the Palestinian people. This is quite far from the case. Among Palestinians the Palestinian Authority is nearly as unpopular as the Israeli government and after the most recent fighting in Gaza is less popular than Hamas, who after a long period of fraught relations with Fatah can now openly fly their colours in the West Bank after a long absence and negative feeling among normal Palestinians. From what scant polling data we can find on Palestinian preferences, the PA is now at its lowest known level of popularity.
Rejection of leadership
There is a very clear reason for the Palestinian people’s rejection of the PA and their now wider affinity for Hamas. It is not that they are agreeing in greater numbers with the hard-line Islamist ideology of Hamas, it is rather that Hamas to the people on the ground is, in their eyes the only Palestinian party that stands up to Israel. It has been the policy of the PA since the end of the second intifada to take a nonviolent and diplomatic approach through peaceful protests and petitioning international institutions like the United Nations and most recently signing up to the ICC. It has becomes apparent to a large number of Palestinians that this international posturing and negotiating through the overtly pro-Israel and wildly unpopular United States has done almost nothing to prevent the spread of illegal settlements and repression of civil and human rights. This is seen by many as the reason for the rise of more hard-line elements within the Palestinian territories including but not limited to Hamas and Islamic Jihad. These groups are enjoying a sharp rise in recruitment and popularity and the only reason for this is the lack of international recognition of the conditions faced by Palestinians who
seek international recognition of what the United Nations has already decided as of the 1970s is their right to a two state solution and an end to the annexation of their land.
There is a very clear reason for the Palestinian people’s rejection of the PA and their now wider affinity for Hamas. Oppression of Palestinians
The Israelis have done comparably well in the post-1948 conflict that created their state. The Palestinians have been left in limbo as a result of what can only be described as the perfunctory attitude of the United Nations to Israeli abuses and continual flouting of UN resolutions and international law with no consequences. This is no more apparent than the coverage in the media of the most recent Gaza conflict. What was constantly referred to in every media outlet available in the West was the number of rockets fired by Hamas from the Gaza strip into Israel. Can I at least ask the question which has been bothering me for some time when considering this conflict: when in the history of warfare has the number of shots fired by one side been counted in such a way as to justify the bombing and invasion of a civilian area in one of the most densely populated parts of land on the planet? It seems ridiculous that when we hear about the Gaza conflict a hospital being deliberately targeted in an airstrike is mentioned in the same breath as x amount of rockets fired into Israel, as if this creates some kind of obvious justification. There is a further problem with this, the airstrikes by the Israeli forces cause real human damage on almost every occasion, rockets fired by Hamas reach their targets only three per cent of the time and not all of that three per cent results in death or injury to Israelis. The airstrikes and destruction of Palestinian homes is also made even worse due to the embargo on building materials imposed by the Israeli navy on shipments to Gaza. This says nothing of the dayto-day lives of Palestinians living in the West Bank side by side with Israeli settlers. In recent years there has been a sharp rise in what are known in the area as ‘price tag attacks’. These attacks consist of settlers burning and vandalising Palestinian homes in the areas of their settlements as well as blocking the roads around more isolated Palestinian farms to prevent their owners from accessing or leaving. What is even more troubling is that these attacks are carried out by Jewish settlers who are given assault rifles by the Israeli government and even more worrying these settlers carry out these attacks often under the protection of the Israeli Army meaning that these acts more often than not achieve their desired effect; the further extension of Israeli settlements and more Palestinians displaced or killed. Price tag attacks are probably the crudest of Israeli efforts to land grab in the West Bank, what has occurred with more and more frequency is the discovery of Jewish heritage all over the West Bank. This may sound a strange method of annexation but it is even more effective than intimidation and force. What will happen is Israeli ‘archaeologists’ will enter an area and begin digging in a field that just so happens to be in an area earmarked for new settlements. They will very quickly discover some piece of Jewish heritage, like a well or some old piece of jewellery. Within days there will be many Israeli pilgrims coming to see this new artefact and lo and behold overnight this place is turned into the new Jewish Lourdes. Soon after this the land will be built on by settlers with the protection of the Israeli army and another Palestine village will be living in the shadow of an Israeli settlement.
Tuesday 20th January 2015
Bridging the gender gap requires structural changes
Catherine Healy Editor
Women’s reluctance to involve themselves in the public sphere is less of a personal shortcoming as it is a reflection of a society that gives them no reason to feel confident about themselves.
The fraught history of female participation in Trinity life is well documented. Long after their admission as students in 1904, women remained limited in their ability to pursue the kind of academic and extracurricular activities enjoyed by their male counterparts. They were prevented from remaining on campus after 6pm, joining the major student societies or being elected scholars, as anyone reading through this paper’s own archive will note. But, even after most of these particular restrictions were lifted in the 1960s, societies and publications continued to be dominated by male students. The problem has been particularly pronounced in student politics. To this day, a woman has never been elected SU president as a first-time candidate in sabbatical elections, with the four female presidents holding office since the union’s founding having all previously served in a different sabbatical role before running for the position. As Katie Byrne, the current SU education officer, pointed out at the launch of the union’s Women in Leadership campaign back in November, only 24% of sabbatical roles since 1996 have been held by women, despite 56% of the student population being female. In most cases, the lack of female student leaders derives from the lack of female candidates running for office. Indeed, Byrne, who has spearheaded an effective campaign to address the under-representation of women in student leadership position, was one of only two women to compete alongside nine male candidates in last year’s SU election. The so-called confidence gap that has traditionally divided the sexes goes some way towards explaining the frequent reluctance of female students to raise their hands in the most public of college forums. It is a phenomenon I know all too well as the editor of a student newspaper. When I opened applications for Trinity News editorial positions at the end of the last academic year, I heard back from three times more male students than from
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Students and staff at the launch of International Women’s Day in Trinity in 2014.. female. While male students often ask me to read the opinion pieces they’ve written, women hardly ever send in their own thoughts, and, when they do, their pitches are often prefaced by an apology for perceived flaws in their writing. Another common deflection: “I understand if you don’t want to want to publish this.” We are fortunate to have a vibrant public sphere in Trinity that facilitates often thoughtful discussion of gender issues. Sexism is regularly called out by both male and female students in online discussions and newspaper columns, at SU events, and at GMB debates. Even in progressive spaces, though, official lines can often be undermined by the everyday treatment of women. Men tend to dominate discussions and social interactions more often that women just as they dominate positions of power. Self-described male
feminists are not unaffected by the discourses that oppress women - and the very male students that are loudest in their public support of women’s issues are no less likely to routinely undermine and abuse the women around them. In this sense, the confidence gap arises out of women’s awareness of just how little they are valued as human beings. The front page story of this issue demonstrates just how pervasive rape culture remains among students. There is little hope of justice even for those 3% of students that do go on to report sexual assault, with Irish courts not infrequently finding reason enough to let brutal rapists off the hook with suspended sentences and compensation packages for victims. Our bodies are not are own own. This is a country, after all, in which a brain-dead pregnant woman can be kept alive as an incubator against her family’s
will. Sexism is reflected in economic policy as well, with vicious government cuts to payments such as the family income supplement, one parent family payment and carer’s allowance, among others, disproportionately affecting women. Women’s reluctance to involve themselves in the public sphere is less of a personal shortcoming as it is a reflection of a society that gives them no reason to feel confident about themselves. There are plenty of brilliant women out there with important contributions to make. Tips to improve confidence are important, and initiatives that find and nurture female leaders are to be commended, but we also need structural changes from society that address the treatment of women. Without those demands, any effort to improve gender representation is little more than a vanity project.
Time to introduce basic incomes
Matthew Mulligan Editor-at-Large
Arguments in favour of basic income can be made to appeal to just about every political stance
With the general election looming in the United Kingdom, the politicians are busy setting out their stalls. The continuing rise of smaller parties is sure to rock the traditionally two-party parliament, and one of the most interesting to watch is the Green Party. One of their recently announced policies is to guarantee to give a “citizen’s income” to every adult whether they be employed or out of work, with leader Natalie Bennett claiming that such a payment will provide security for people who need it. Bennett later claimed that the payment would be withdrawn once an individual reached a certain level of income, something which disappointed many basic income campaigners. Can a basic income system be a viable alternative to our current system of benefits and taxes? I’m not completely sure, but it’s definitely not an idea to be laughed at. When looking at the wide packages of benefits and taxes we have in Ireland, some unusual complexities stand out. Tax credits are essentially cheques written to you by the government, but aren’t considered benefits while the social insurance charges are just taxes in disguise. A basic income combines the tax benefit model we have now into a much more integrated system. In America, right-wing commentators are urging the Republicans to score wins by reformatting the system keeping in mind the old adage “keep it simple, stupid!” Arguments in favour of basic income can be made to appeal to just about every political stance too. Socialists obviously visually salivate at the idea, but the simplicity and minimalist nature of the payment could also be used to woo neo-liberals. Libertarians would do anything to keep big government from collect calling with its tax book, and a basic income would undermine the traditional and somewhat outdated male breadwinner policies we have on our books, keeping the feminists happy. Even those who want the blood of the public sector will be satisfied knowing that an enormous apparatus of inspectors, clerks and surveillance would be disbanded (reason enough as to why no government would even want to introduce basic income!) because of the lack of need for it, saving money in the process. People who might be against a blanket basic income are probably in favour of it in other areas of life. Child benefit is often a battle ground whenever the prospect of means-testing rears its ugly head. Are the children of wealthy parents less entitled to benefits than those less well off? Ireland’s blind belief in the necessity of giving every child the same amount of money re-
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Grassroots campaign must drive passing of marriage equality referendum
D. Joyce-Ahearne Deputy Editor
“ gardless of their parents’ means is a distant cousin of the basic income argument. Personally, I feel like a basic income would be a great thing. How many people do you know who have said that they’re better off on the dole? When someone at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder decides to work a few hours a week, their marginal losses are increased incredibly as many benefits are stripped away from them. You mightn’t care about this, but you probably definitely want people in the marketplace working and putting money back into the economy. A basic income encourages this, it doesn’t penalise those who leave the benefit system for a zero hour contract, because they will quite simply always have more money if they choose to work than if they don’t. It gives them a safety net, cajoling people to become participants in society. As it is a lot of young people feel that social insurance is out-
dated, unfairly applied and of extremely little benefit to them; I know someone who has worked and paid PRSI since they were 16, but if they became unemployed anytime up until their 26th birthday their contributions would account for nothing. This despondence and lack of motivation has been felt more since Joan Burton cut the dole for those aged 25 and under in a purely ageist move. Moral arguments come into play when talking about the possibility of “permitting” people not to engage in employment. I myself feel that cutting the dole for those aged under 25 was an immoral decision, and others may believe that giving money to people who don’t work to be the most immoral thing of all. But the fact is that many thinkers equate freedom with guaranteed economic security, and I don’t just mean those found on the walls of the SWSS room. In 1973, Friedrich Hayek wrote
that, “There is no reason why in a free society government should not assure to all, protection against severe deprivation in the form of an assured minimum income.” Milton Friedman stood by the idea of a negative income tax, which he described as “a proposal to give poor people money — which is what they need — rather than is now by requiring them to come before a government official and detailing all their assets to be told they may spend X amount on food and be given a hand out.” This is not some madcap idea thought up by the Monster Raving Looney Party, but rather something which people have been debating and thinking on for decades, and if the biggest proponents of basic income I can trot out are Friedman and Hayek then it’s definitely something worth talking about more.
Marriage equality, if brought in, will be done against the will of a large portion of Irish society. The politicians know this and the referendum will be a political game as much as anything else.
On Sunday morning, Leo Varadkar, minister for health, became Ireland’s first openly gay government minister. Two days prior, in the US, the Supreme Court announced that it will finally decide on whether or not the Constitution guarantees marriage equality for same-sex couples. In May, our government will be holding a referendum on marriage equality, in which all major parties will be campaigning in favour. Two weeks ago, the distribution of leaflets warning against exposing children to the “sounds of sodomy” highlighted that the discussion around the referendum will be as ill-informed and absurd as it will be intense. Ireland, as the sound of sodomy leaflets show is still a very conservative country and those opposing the referendum will be relying on some very dark ages logic. In the interview in which he publicly came out, Varadkar said he wanted to make it clear that he had no “hidden agenda” with regard the upcoming referendum. His “hidden agenda”, presumably, would have been the desire for the equality that he lacks as a gay man. Though he is considered a possible future leader of Fine Gael, Varadkar still felt the need to separate his motives for equality as a politician from his desire for equality as an individual. Though all major parties are in favour of equality that doesn’t mean it will pass. The fact that a gay Fine Gael minister has felt the need to clarify that he will be approaching the referendum as a politician first is worrying. That others will take the same approach could mean that, though they are all ostensibly in favour of it passing, the extent to which they “campaign” might be decided with their electorate in mind more so than those who would actually benefit from marriage equality. Marriage equality, if brought in, will be done against the will of a large portion of Irish society. The politicians know this and the referendum will be a political game as much as anything else. There will need to be incredible grassroots work from people who genuinely care in order to make sure that the referendum passes.
Tuesday 20th January 2015
Science in Brief
‘Awareness is important, almost more so than funding’ Dr. Shaun Boomfield, the Trinity physicist leading a novel space forecasting project that was awarded €2.5m in EU funding last week, talks to us about his research work. Dylan Lynch
Fully functioning human intestine grown in lab mouse A section of fully functioning human small intestine tissue has been grown and successfully isolated from a laboratory mouse by researcher Tracy Grikscheit and her team at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. The team managed to isolate the tissue after just four weeks of growth in the mouse. TESI, or tissue-engineered small intestine, offers a new treatment for short bowel syndrome (SBS) which is a form of intestinal fail-
SciTech Editor For Trinity researcher and senior research fellow Dr. Shaun Bloomfield, the European Commission’s commitment to fund FLARECAST, a project aimed at forecasting solar flares, to the tune of ¤2.5m is about more than money.“Awareness is important, almost more so than funding,” he tells me. “Not just raising public awareness, but that of the policymakers and the government.” The forecasting system he is working on with Trinity colleagues as a lead scientist aims to accurately predict solar storms that impact our everyday lives on Earth through extensive research into the origin of solar storms. The service, Flare Likelihood and Region Eruption Forecasting (FLARECAST), “is of definite interest to the European space weather community by providing accurate predictions of these solar flares,” Bloomfield explains.
ure found in newborns. SBS affects over 2% of infants admitted to neonatal intensive care units and, according to research published in the Journal of Paediatric Surgery in 2004, accounts for the deaths of onethird of babies affected within five years. This form of treatment offers a reliable alternative to the usual method of intestine transplant surgery.
New computer programme can beat any human at poker A research team led by Michael Bowling at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada claims to have created a program capable of beating a human player in every move in the game variant of poker called “Heads Up Limit Hold ‘Em”. The program, named Cepheus, is one thousand times faster than the team’s previous program, Polaris, and can calculate and play the perfect strat-
Solar storms are caused by huge gas explosions from the sun that have the potential to damage living organisms on Earth and destabilise radio communications and electrical power systems. They travel at the same speed as light, and so to traverse the 93 million miles between Earth and the sun only takes them about eight minutes. The flares release huge amounts of energy - about equal to the energy produced by over 2.7 billion of the largest and most powerful hydrogen bomb, Tsar Bomba, being detonated at the same time. Bloomfield explains that “solar flares can impact systems such as telecommunications and aviation here on Earth, so naturally there is a lot of interest in when these events occur. While CMEs are generally higher in energy, it can take a day and a half to three days for them to actually reach Earth. However, this isn’t the case with flares.” While solar flares can impact navigation systems and telecommunications here on Earth, it is important to realise that the radiation from these eruptions also pose a serious hazard to astronauts performing spacewalks, or satellites who could be at risk of destruction if they are in just the wrong place at just the wrong time. Public interest in solar activity and space weather has increased in recent months. For example, the recent exhibition ‘Strange Weather’ run at the Science Gallery in College gave visitors the
egy for every scenario possible in this two player game. Bowling claims that even if someone played for one entire human lifetime, they would not beat the machine. The algorithms alone for the program amount to over 12 terabytes. If you’re feeling lucky, the team has a public webpage - poker.srv.ualberta.ca where you can challenge Cepheus at the game.
Illustration: Natalie Duda chance to give a futuristic mock forecast of solar and space weather in the style of an evening news broadcast. Dr. Bloomfield also says that the research has already made an impact on a governmental level. “After a recent meeting involving Dr. Gallagher, myself and other research scientists, the Office of Emergency Planning is considering the potential impacts of adverse solar weather,” he says.
There have been attempts at forecasting solar flares before, but Bloomfield explains that this project will be different. “One of the problems [with current forecasting programs] is that there are different time periods in the solar cycle used between research groups,” he says. Different teams carry out their experiments and data collection at different points through the cycle and, as Bloomfield jokingly puts it, “It’s very easy to be right when there’s nothing there”. One of the advantages of this project is the interconnectivity established between universities in other European nations. The FLARECAST research team com-
prises of the research scientists at the School of Physics in the Fitzgerald building and SNIAM building in College, but the connectivity of the research extends far beyond Trinity’s walls. The coordinator of the project is based in the Academy of Athens in Greece and there are also partners and research scientists in Universita degli Studi di Genova and Consiglio Nazionale delle Recerche in Italy, the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and the Universite Paris-Sud in France, the Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz in Switzerland, and the Met Office in the UK. There is a tight coupling between the UK and the Trinity research team. “The Met office is relatively new to space weather but highly established in terrestrial weather forecasting,” Bloomfield explains. “They bring a certain pedigree to being able to give forecasts, and we bring the knowledge of the sun and flares.” He tells me that there’s currently a PhD physicist from the School of Physics researching how the solar storms can affect the Irish power network, while working closely with EirGrid.
In relation to the funding the project has recevied, Bloomfield says, “We’re doing really well for the current Irish economic climate. Most funding for these projects has to come from Europe, as space weather research is not really part of the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) remit. The Irish Research Council can provide funding for PhD students, but not for projects of this scale.” The grant was obtained under Horizon 2020, which is the EU’s ¤79 billion programme for research and innovation. The Irish support network is currently run by Enterprise Ireland. FLARECAST is in fact the first Horizon 2020 project in Trinity and one of the first in Ireland. With novel technologies and methods for forecasting the space weather of our 9 billion kilometre wide solar system, who knows what the future of heliophysics and astrophysics holds? It may not be long until Dr. Shaun Bloomfield and the other scientists of FLARECAST allow us to check our flare schedule as easily as checking the tides when going out for a swim in the sea, or figur-
ing out the next DART home on a night out.
One of the problems [with current forecasting programs] is that there are different time periods in the solar cycle used between research group. If you’d like to stay up to date on everything going on in College’s School of Physics, such as the famous pitch-drop experiment which has been running since October 1944, you can follow them on Twitter - @TCD_physics - or visit their websit, www. tcd.ie/Physics.
Monarch butterfly could be added to endangered species list The Monarch butterfly could soon added to the US government’s endangered species list. The world’s population of this flagship orange invertebrate has dropped by almost 90% in the past couple of years and now stands at just 35 million individuals. The Monarch must make a 4,800km migration during its life cycle and during this time it lays its eggs on milkweed from which the caterpillar will sequester defensive toxins and feed upon. Milkweed is also one of the only sources of nutrition for
Monarchs. This milkweed usually grows in corn and bean crop fields however novel herbicides are becoming increasingly common for use by farmers in these areas. Herbicides containing the active ingredient glyphosate completely destroy milkweed growth and thus the butterflies no longer have suitable laying grounds. If the species is in fact added to the endangered species list, it is possible that glyphosate herbicides – such as those from the Roundup brand – may become harshly controlled.
beckoned for more than two centuries. It holds secrets from the dawn of the Solar system,” Rayman said.
planet is changing. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has been cruising to Pluto since January 2006 and is destined to arrive in July 2015. Later in 2015, a growth chamber unit will land on the moon with Arabidopsis, basil and turnip seedlings to test the lunar environment for plant germination. This will be the first life science experiment conducted in space and if plant growth prevails over lunar gravity and radiation then this will undoubtedly have farreaching implications for our future. It’s certainly going to be a profound year for discovery and adventure in our corner of the Milky Way. Hold tight and watch this space!
Exciting year ahead for NASA exploration Coming up in the year ahead: some thrilling space exploration milestones. Linda Jameson Contributor 2015 marks an exciting year for unprecedented space exploration in our solar system. Right this moment, as you are chilling on Earth, over a million kilometers away (three times the distance from the earth to the moon), NASA’s unmanned space probe Dawn is hurtling through the asteroid belt- the region in our inner solar system located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Launched in September 2007, its primary mission was to gather images and data about the protoplanet Vesta and the recently termed dwarf planet Ceres-the two largest objects in the asteroid belt. Ceres being the largest object in the asteroid belt and the only dwarf planet residing in our inner solar system, it is believed to have a rocky core with a 100km thick icy inner mantle. This makes Ceres a potential candidate for harboring life with astronomers estimating that it has more water than earth, a whopping 200 million cubic kilometers of water - almost seven times the volume of the Antarctic ice sheet.
The Dawn spacecraft looks like a typical satellite you would imagine hovering in orbit around Earth - 65 foot (20 metres) wide, composed of two long panels or ‘wings’ joined in the middle by a busy mechanical body
with numerous instruments attached, a framing camera which is equipped for navigation and obtaining a global view of Ceres, a visible and infrared mapping spectrometer (VIMS) to take pictures in wavelengths of colour far greater than the human eye can detect (between 300 and 5100 nanometres), and a gamma ray and neutron spectrometer to provide Information about the elemental composition of the planet’s crust, to name a few.
I quiver in my Doc Marten boots with excitement about the secrets it may reveal. After completing a 14-month survey of Vesta in September 2012 and having collected an astonishing array of high-resolution images, permitting researchers to map its geographical topography and determine information about its atmosphere and gravitational field, the $466 million probe is now en route to Ceres and I quiver in my Doc Marten boots with excitement about the secrets it may reveal. So what’s the story with this 950 km wide sphere of icy rock orbiting our sun? Ceres
was the first of its kind to be recognised - a smaller class of planetlike Pluto - and relative to the size of the universe is pretty much located on Earth’s doorstep. Discovered in 1801 by the Italian astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi, he named it Ceres after the Roman Goddess of agriculture and fertility. It is only now over two centuries later that NASA is finally investigating this mysterious entity.
Origin of water
“It’s a big place. It’s a whole alien world,” states Marc Rayman, Dawn’s mission director and chief engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California. Too right, Marc. Not only that but an alien world whose surface composition is a mixture of ice, water and hydrocarbons and emits clouds of water vapour! Bizarrely enough, in January 2014, the European Space Agency (ESA) reported “localized sources of water vapor” being emitted from Ceres. Detected by their infrared Herschel space telescope, researchers speculated that this may be an anomaly caused by heating from the sun causing its ice to be transformed into a water phase, a process called sublimation. Reported in the scientific journal Nature, Dr Michael Kuppers postulates that the water evaporation could be a result of “cometlike sublimation” or due to “cryovolcanism” whereby volcanoes on Ceres surface erupt water instead of molten rocks. Very cool indeed, as we can take this as hard-
Illustration: Sarah Larragy core evidence that water exists on this planet. This occurrence may even point to underground bodies of water such as lakes or oceans. Bearing many similarities to Jupiter’s icy moon Europa and Saturn’s geyser-spouting moon Enceladus- Scientists are hopeful Ceres could unlock questions about the origin of water in the cosmos and the evolution of our solar system. Anticipation is mounting as Dawn is now less than 400,000 miles from enigmatic Ceres with it’s ion propulsion engine thrusting it steadily along at 450mph (725km/h). It works by electrically charging Xenon gas, causing the now charged Xenon particles or ions to be expelled through a
metal grid into space at speeds of up to 90,000 miles/hour. In zero-gravity space, the longer the trajectory- or length of time the engine has been thrusting (in Dawn’s case 5 years) - means that the space probe is gradually accelerating with time, accumulating a super high velocity. Scheduled to arrive early in March 2015, it will be permanently stationed in Ceres’ orbit, destined to voyage no further. NASA haven’t released a new photo of Ceres since 2004 and I can’t be the only one curious to see it up close. “Before the Dawn mission, Vesta and Ceres were among the last unexplored worlds in the inner solar system. We are about to unveil a mysterious orb that has
Another notable NASA missions taking place this year is the launch of a Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) instrument on January 29th, which will measure the quantity of water in the earth’s soil. SMAP is NASA’s response to the threats posed by climate change. By measuring Earth’s vital signs, scientists are optimistic that accurate maps of global soil moisture should help predict weather patterns, floods, drought and landslides and provide a clearer picture of how our
Tuesday 20th January 2015
New bacteria-killing antibiotic discovered in major breakthrough
Time for scientists to think about how they communicate
Brian Conlon, one of the microbiologists behind the recent discovery of the world’s first antibiotic in 30 We all need to explain the impact years, talks to Trinity News about its implications for the treatment of antibiotic-resistant diseases.
we have our society as funding programmes shift from basic to applied research.
Dylan Lynch SciTech Editor
Ever since the accidental discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming in the basement of St Mary’s Hospital, London, antibiotics have become a core defense against bacterial infections. Mass production began in the early 1940s, primarily due to war efforts which necessitated a way of decreasing the deaths on the front line caused by infected wounds. What most people don’t know is that a huge portion of the common antibiotics prescribed in the past 60 years or so have been penicillin or penicillin derivatives. Even if you’re allergic to penicillin, you’re still just taking one of its family members, which is extremely similar. While penicillin works very well, there have been a number of problems in recent years – primarily the evolution of multi-resistant bacteria. These microbes are the juggernauts of the microbial world and are relatively unfazed by courses of antibiotics, withstanding wave after wave of penicillin, amoxicillin and the like. The most infamous of these is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA which puts hospital patients with weakened immune system at particular risk. The evolution of MRSA and other resistant bacteria is partly due to misuse and overuse of antibiotics to treat things like the common cold or nonbacterial infections, and also unfinished antibiotic courses. More and more bacteria are becoming resistant to penicillin and its relatives which is quite a worrisome state of affairs. However, a research published recently in Nature has heralded a new age of antimicrobial agent discovery with a novel antibiotic: teixobactin.
Contributor As a Linguistics PhD student, I believe there are several different reasons (laziness, desire to live up to the ‘boffin’ label, force of habit) why academics don’t often communicate well with the general public. But if we are not going to communicate any of our subjects effectively, then how do we expect non-experts in our field to understand a) what we’re talking about, and b) why what we’re talking about is important?
Explain or inspire?
Dr. Kim Lewis of Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, and Dr. Slava Epstein of the same university ventured into a grassy area in Maine and, using a new technology called the IChip, discovered a bacterium now known as Eleftheria terrae which produced the teixobactin antibiotic. The IChip machine is a small device which basically turns the earth into a petri dish, allowing microbes to be directly cultivated form the soil. As attempts at synthetic antibiotics have failed before and the last major antibiotic discovery was over 20 years ago, microbiologists across the globe have delighted in the news. Professor Tim Foster of College’s microbiology department last week told Trinity News that “the discovery highlights a new method for getting soil bacteria to grow in the lab, upping the [growth] number from 10% to 50% using an enrichment technique.” He said, “The drug is of interest because it has a novel mode of action. It targets a lipid rather than a protein of ribosomal RNA (a building block which makes up ribosomes in cells) so resistance cannot arise by mutation.” However, Professor Foster also
Illustration: Emer O’Cearbhaill
Resistance to teixobactin may not develop, and if resistance does develop it is predicted to take at least 30 years of clinical use before it will be observed.
offered insight which may but the importance of the discovery in a more realistic perspective; “(the novel mode of action) does not preclude antibiotic resistance acquired by transfer from other bacteria. This is the most common force of resistance.” In contrast, Brian Conlon, a senior research scientist who worked in Kim Lewis’ lab and performed the antibiotic killing experiments in the recent paper, told Trinity News that he was confident of the potential of teixobactin. “No resistance to this antibiotic could be detected using a variety of experimental approaches,” he said. “Resistance to teixobactin may not develop, and if resistance does develop it is predicted to take at least 30 years of clinical use before it will be observed.”
Elimination of resistant bacteria is an extremely important goal as up to 5% of patients in U.S health care facilities are infected with MRSA and in Ireland it is estimated that up to 200,000 members of the general public are infected
with MRSA according to a recent report by drug company Pfizer. Furthermore, the current treatments of MRSA and other resistant bacteria involve long courses of heavy duty antibiotics and invasive treatments such as syringe drainage. If teixobactin makes it through clinical trials, according to Conlon, the novel drug will be able to “treat highly antibiotic resistant strains of important pathogens such as M. tuberculosis and S. aureus”. There are of course factors involved in whether or not teixobactin will make it to the mass distribution stage other than its suitability for human use. Foster explained that the public and broader scientific community should be aware that there are many reports each year of novel antibiotics. “To reach the clinic is a long journey and many/most candidates fall by the wayside,” he said. “One issue is that pharmaceutical companies have stopped developing antibiotics for a variety of reasons – low profit, restricted usage, the high cost of clinical trials and the expense of production.”
At the moment, experts in the field of microbiology have estimated that clinical trials will begin in two years and, if it is approved, may be available for prescription in less than six years time. The drug will most likely have to be injected rather than taken in tablet form. Most synthetic chemists and biologists will tell you that getting a drug on the market is a feat accomplished by relatively very few scientists. It is not uncommon for someone in drug discovery to not have a single compound which makes it out of clinical trials throughout a 40 to 50 year career. However, with novel technologies, greater communication links being established between laboratories around the world and much higher pressure being placed on health services to offer defense against ever-evolving pathogens, a new age of reliable drug discovery and research may just be around the corner.
You see, it is ultimately up to us as the scientists (be they cultural, social, human, physical or computational) to explain our subjects to the public in such a way that they understand without being patronised. It is not the responsibility of the public to work hard to understand us. Now, there are many who might disagree. In fact, Professor Brian Cox, he of the ‘wonders’ (and D:Rream, because apparently it’s compulsory to mention his pop career when writing about him), has spoken out about the BBC asking him to ‘dumb down’ in his scientific jargon to make it easier for the public to follow his programmes. His response during an interview in The Telegraph back in January 2013 was: “But I don’t want everything to be clear – I want to confuse people a little so that they go away and read a book.” And you can see his point, perhaps the point of communication for the sciences is to inspire non-experts in their pursuit of knowledge and challenge opinions and perceptions, rather than just handing them information on a plate.
Who are we inspiring?
When I say non-experts, of course, I don’t just mean nonacademics. Experts in the books of Margaret Atwood are (generally) not also going to be able to understand the intricacies of String Theory, nor would we expect an immunologist to be able to explain Role and Reference Grammar (in all honesty, not all linguists can explain that one!). Ours is a wonderful and vast world of knowledge, ready for anyone to take a peek inside and find something new to discover. No one person can know everything, so of course us ‘boffins’ (if we choose to call ourselves that) are not experts in everything. Which is why it is important to not only educate the general public as to our subjects, it’s also important to inform our fellow academics. I had a conversation recently with a colleague working in the field of digital curation. We had begun by discussing the importance of communication in the light of the recent ‘Discover Research Dublin’ event, which ran for its second year here in College in September. Her project is
multidisciplinary and she works closely with computer scientists. She was expressing her ire at the inability of her colleagues at ‘the other end of campus’ to understand the needs of the humanist. Her point was that it was their responsibility to learn about our subjects. This is partially true. When working on a multi-disciplinary project, it is of course useful to learn a little about all the subjects within the project in order to gain a more rounded viewpoint. The lack of funding is driving more and more collaborative projects between the humanities and the information sciences, so the need for a more holistic approach to research may well be necessary. But is it entirely the sciences’ responsibility to learn about the Humanities and Social Sciences, or shouldn’t some of the responsibility rest with us AHSS researchers to make our subject understandable? There is a perception that AHSS subjects are ‘easier’ than Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) subjects. After all, you can’t perform brain surgery or rocket science without a considerable amount of training. But it is entirely normal to read a book without having to take an exam in the art first. The practical and logistical barriers to further opportunity within the fields of both are a little different. What isn’t obvious, though, is the training an AHSS research undergoes in order to do what they do. Of course anyone can pick up a book and successfully read it.
What an AHSS researcher does, though, is directly apply lateral thought to the context of that book, its place in society, the potential impact of the book, the actual impact of the book, and why that book is significant. Even if the caterpillar turns into a beautiful butterfly at the end, or the female protagonist goes willingly to the gallows after killing her abusive husband. That lateral thought is the kind of thought that more and more technology companies are looking to recruit. Google has already rolled out a programme to recruit more doctoral graduates from the Humanities, citing the strong transferable skills that a PhD can bring in any subject. The ‘soft skills’ of the Humanist, those skills that obsess over the minor plot point, or grammatical element, are the skills that can make a piece of technology not just useful, but necessary. So perhaps it’s time that scientists in all fields start to reflect on how well they are communicating, and who they are communicating with. Because with a shift in funding programmes across Ireland and the EU from basic to applied research, we all need to be able to explain the impact we have on society, and inspire our colleagues and the public in the same things that fascinate us.
What next for the Large Hadron Collider? Our resident physics expert assesses the importance of CERN’s particle collider, the biggest in the world, which is due to re-open in March. Katarzyna Siewierska Staff Writer In December 2014, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) announced that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is being prepared to start running again in March 2015 for the next three years. This is very exciting news in the field of particle physics, because half of the world’s particle physicists go to CERN to conduct their research.
The LHC is the largest and most powerful particle accelerator in the world. In other words LHC is physics paradise. It is a 27 km ring, made of superconducting magnets that control the particle beams inside the ring. The superconducting magnets are made from coils of superconducting material. This material needs to be cooled to extremely low temperatures using liquid helium and can conduct electricity without any losses of energy. (Indeed, superconductors could solve the energy crisis, but we don’t yet have superconductors operating at room temperature.) Inside the ring, there are two pipes, kept at an ultrahigh vacuum, in which two particle beams can move in opposite directions. The particle beams are accelerated until they reach velocities close to the velocity of light (the
universe’s speed limit). Then magnets are used to focus the beams to increase the chances of collision. Finally the beams are made to collide at four locations. At each location, a different detector collects data from the collisions. The detectors are called ATLAS, CMS, ALICE and LHCb. Hadrons are the family of particles smashed in the LHC. These are particles that are composed of more fundamental particles called quarks.
All this particle smashing has provided us with a great insight into what are the building blocks of matter. One of the first major achievements was the discovery of Z and W bosons. The existence of these particles provided evidence for the electroweak theory that describes two of the four forces in the universe: electromagnetism (interaction of charged particles) and weak nuclear force (responsible for radioactive decay). The other two are gravitation (interaction of massive bodies) and strong nuclear force (responsible for binding the protons in the atomic nucleus). The understanding of these forces is at the heart of physics research and the authors of the electroweak theory received the Nobel Prize in physics in 1979. Another important achievement was the creation, isolation and maintaining (for 15 minutes) of antihydrogen atoms. In the beginning, there were matter and antimatter particles. They col-
lided and annihilated each other, releasing energy. In the end, some matter was left over and it now makes up you, me, the newspaper you are holding in your hands right now and everything else in the universe. Hence the creation and study of antimatter particles is an amazing achievement. In 2011, the news of particles moving faster than the speed of light shocked the physicists all around the world. This would have been a ground breaking discovery, disproving Einstein’s theory of special relativity. However, it turned out to be a false alarm. The most recent major achievement was the discovery of the Higgs boson. This particle was predicted by a theory called Brout–Englert–Higgs–Guralnik–Hagen–Kibble Mechanism proposed in the 1960’s. This theory is important because it explains how some particles gain mass. In 2013, Peter Higgs and François Baron Englert shared the Nobel Prize in physics for their work on this theory. All the scientific discoveries are wonderful, but are these experiments safe? In the future it may be that the most powerful accelerators may produce black holes. Such an event is predicted by the superstring theory. Superstring theory is a model that unifies the four forces and the particles in the universe by modelling them as vibrations of extremely tiny strings. Superstring theory is considered ‘hardly science’ to some physicists. To others it is a promising
candidate for the ‘theory of everything’. So what if a black hole is produced? Will we all get ripped into molecules? In the November Issue of Trinity News, I wrote about Hawking Radiation. Hawking’s theory predicts that the small black hole produced in the collision would evaporate very quickly by emission of Hawking radiation.
I hope that you are convinced about all the wonderful science that comes out of the LHC. However, particle accelerators also have many important applications outside of the realm of particle physics. Particle accelerators are widely used in industry, research and medicine. In industry, particle accelerators are used to produce shrink wrap for food items, DVD’s, CD’s, etc. Accelerator technology is also used in semiconductor manufacture to implant ions in silicon chips. Semiconductors are used in many electronic devices such as computers, phones, etc. In medicine, accelerators are used to produce radioisotopes for diagnostics and treatments in hospitals all around the world. Particle beams are used in treating certain kinds of cancer. Also, x-ray beams are used in the pharmaceutical research to analyse protein structures accurately which leads to the development of drugs. In the future, particle accelerators could be used to treat nuclear waste. All of these applications have a strong impact on our lives and
I’m not sure how we can live without particle accelerators. At the beginning of last year, a group of Trinity students launched a campaign “to promote the benefits of CERN membership to Ireland”. Member states give financial support and have special privileges. It is quite hard
to believe that a developed country like Ireland, still isn’t a CERN member state. Hopefully, this will soon change. The research at CERN addresses some of the most difficult questions about the universe. The accelerator allows us to probe the universe to uncover its fundame-
ntal structure. I look forward to the research that will take place at CERN in the next three years. I hope the world will learn some new interesting physics and that Ireland will soon join other European countries in becoming a CERN member state.
Tuesday 20th January 2015
23 Former Trinity wing Niyi Adeolokun talks to Alicia Lloyd about life with Connacht. p.24
FIFA Ballon d’Or ceremony nothing short of farce The glitz and glamour associated with the annual Ballon d’Or award shows how out of touch FIFA is with reality. Louis Strange Online Sport Editor
DU American Football Club facing the Dublin Rebels in July. Photo: Rachel in Ireland
American football gaining ground in Irish universities
David Lunn from Trinity’s American Football Club, Conor Whelan from UL and Padraig O Fearghail from UCD talk to Michael Foley about the progress made by college football teams competing in Ireland. Michael Foley Contributor American football is a developing sport across Europe. Maybe it’s the sheer spectacle of the Super Bowl. Or the combination of perfect planning and execution by some of the most physically gifted athletes on the planet. Or, the chance to watch ridiculously muscular superhumans collide at full speed. Whichever it is you fancy, American football is an undeniably compelling form of entertainment. O Fearghail attributes this to the influence of American popular culture. “We see the sport in all the American TV shows and films we watch but generally don’t know too much about it,” he tells me. We can all recall Forrest Gump heroically running the length of the field for an Alabama touchdown. However, many of us are just as confused as Forrest about how the sport actually works. Fortunately, due to a steady increase in popularity and excellent foundation work, American football may become a more common part of our collective sporting lexicon.
The IAFA (Irish American Football Association) is the body that
governs American Football in Ireland. Recognised by the Irish Sports Council, the IAFA created the IAFL (Irish American Football League) in 1984 and it has grown steadily since its inception. There are three collegiate teams currently participating: Trinity, UCD and UL with DIT set to join next year. The most obvious comparison to make is to connect American football to rugby. Lunn notes that both sports “have many positions requiring different body types and skills.” As the vast majority of college players in Ireland play the sport for the first time as students, skills learned through rugby can be a significant advantage. Whelan said that a number of skills are highly transferrable from rugby including “strength, speed, agility, athleticism and sheer brutality.” American football certainly has the chance to grow faster as a college sport in Ireland given the widespread popularity of rugby. Although, it must be noted that many rugby players decline to play American football in college due to fear of injury. Whelan emphasised that “dedication to other sports” could hinder growth. Logically, rugby takes precedence for students as they’ve invested more hours. Lunn believes that the fact that American football “has to com-
pete with rugby, GAA, and soccer” makes it difficult particularly because it “isn’t played in schools.”
However, it doesn’t take a particularly long time for beginners to reach a competent level. Whelan believes it takes about “three or four months to properly develop.” This is a remarkably short period of time, particularly for such a tactically demanding sport. Although, Lunn asserts that certain positions such as offensive line and defensive line take longer to learn due to certain rules and “subtle techniques”. Whelan stresses that “you have to learn to read the game” by studying the playbook to see meaningful improvement. It would be extremely difficult to successfully pick up something like soccer or hurling in such a small time frame which gives American football an advantage over other pursuits for newcomers. For example, Ezekiel Ansah, a highly rated professional football player in the NFL, began playing for the first time in college, something unheard of in most professional sports. The variety of positions, each with their own specific set of skills allows players to effectively maximise their individual talents and assets. Lunn emphasises the fact that in American Football “you have to
learn to do one or two things really well” as the positions require specific skills, ultimately giving the player “a real identity” and an advanced appreciation of the position they play.
American football is not a massively popular spectator sport in Ireland at the moment and this can be attributed to a number of factors. As a significant portion of the matches take place during the graveyard hours of the morning, it’s often not feasible to actually watch matches regularly. Stylistically, the presentation is anomalous for European viewers, from gung ho, overly brash commentators to jarring, overt advertising. (Even the coin toss at the beginning of the game is typically sponsored by some American multinational). The frequent intermittent stoppages can be grating and seemingly arbitrary to a newcomer. Indeed, we frequently hear the complaint that American football is too drawn out. Typical match length is over three hours long yet the ball is only in play for 11 minutes on average. And yet, those who watch the sport religiously embrace these annoyances as endearing quirks, which contribute to the sport’s unique status. A larger audience would
certainly create more interest in American football at all levels, including collegiate. One of the largest obstacles to American football breaking into mainstream sporting culture is its reputation as a niche sport. O Fearghail said that hopefully with increased interest, American football could be “viewed as a viable option to play rather than the kind of novelty choice it is now”. Many view it as a kind of “alternative” sport, similar to something like Ultimate Frisbee, a great number of students aren’t aware that Trinity even has an American Football team. Although it currently lags behind major Irish sports on campus there is cause for optimism. Whelan emphasised “Derry and DIT starting up this year” and “the revival of the Irish team” as encouraging signs which demonstrate that the popularity of this sport can only rise.Lunn is equally optimistic, mainly due to the attitude of his teammates. He stresses that they “do a great job in introducing new players” and “passing on their passion for the game”. Due to a culture of active and passionate promotion of the team, the team’s popularity will continue to rise. Or as Lunn says “I think that the future is in the hands of the students and for that reason the future is bright”.
What weightlifting means to me Trinity’s weightlifting club captain reflects on how the sport has changed his outlook on life. Luke Daly-Ronayne Contributor When you hear the word “weightlifting”, what’s the first image that comes to mind? For most, the word conjures up pictures of grunting, gurning bodybuilders with bodies like brown balloons stuffed with golf balls. The reality is a lot less cartoonish. To give an example, here’s my story: I started lifting at age 18, after doing long-distance running for a couple of years. I was an emaciated (6’2” and 70kg) guy with very little talent for athletics, so I didn’t have high hopes for getting big. At first, I did lots of “aesthetics” work and spun my wheels trying to get big arms and sick abs. Then one of my mates lent me his copy of Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe, a guide to heavy lifting for beginners. Most strength trainees begin by drinking the Starting Strength Kool-Aid, and I was no exception. A mixture of no-nonsense training advice, incredibly technical descriptions of lifts and bizarre macho wisdom (“Strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general.”) really took me in, and I started
drinking a gallon of milk a day (!) and doing my squats and bench and deadlift 3 days a week. My plan to gain weight was very successful: I put on 40kg in eight months. But when faced with the prospect of buying a whole new wardrobe because my shoulders, neck and “posterior chain” were too big for my old clothes, it was time to cut down. I am now a fairly lean 95kg, and intermittently training for powerlifting meets. Here are a couple of changes lifting made to my life (aside from getting bigger)
First things first, people treat you very differently when you’re bigger than them. Aside from the constant jokes about “gains” and how you live in the gym, you’re a lot more noticeable and tend to be treated with a mix of respect and subtle envy by lads (because muscles are worthy of respect, apparently?). It doesn’t actually have much of an effect on women or anyone who isn’t a competitive teen/twentysomething guy. Nobody really cares how much you can bench - unless they have some sort of investment in outbenching you. Another thing that changed a lot was my behaviour an outlook on life. I was immediately more
self-confident, stress and anger were far less of a problem for me, and I had a greater sense of perspective on life. The confidence was largely due to the fact that being big and muscular is seemingly a requirement to be a “real man”, so you’re dealing with one less silly source of insecurity as you go through life. The relaxation and reduction in anger was completely unexpected, because the stereotype of lifters is one of shouty, grunty anger. But one of the most incredible things about lifting is that it acts as a counterweight to the stuff life throws at you. No matter how frustrating or upsetting your life is, you can get out of your head for a few hours every week without needing to get drunk or high. When you’re psyching up for a big lift (and you’ll see this among the greats of powerlifting and weightlifting like Dan Green or Ilya Ilyin), there is an intense concentration and singular purpose you don’t get out of most other activities. This can be quiet and meditative, almost being “at one” with the bar. It can also be a raging externalisation of negative emotions, using fury to explode the weight up off the floor and damning the consequences. Both of these experiences are powerfully cathartic, and the colossal endorphin rush that
follows a personal record needs to be experienced to be believed. But it’s not just some weird form of meditation or therapy, like yoga with more testosterone and beards. Lifting also teaches seriously important habits and lessons, like the value of selfcontrol, the use of visualisation to motivate and plan, and the ability to knuckle down and push yourself past your limits. If you read a list of “things that will make you awesome at lifting”, it’s a laundry list of things that would probably make you awesome at life if you applied the same principles: be consistent, set achievable goals and constantly work towards them, get outside your comfort zone, believe in your ability, learn to plan and how to improvise when plans fail, know when to stop, and remember that one failed attempt doesn’t matter as long as you try again. Sound like decent life advice? It sure does to me.
In short, weightlifting actually means a whole lot more than it initially seems. Big muscles and heavy weights are the tip of an iceberg of dedication, self-belief and a constant desire for improvement. The results come pretty quickly if you eat enough
and follow a sensible programme, and the gains in confidence and general emotional wellbeing are almost as satisfying as the regular kind of gains. You also make incredible friends in the process. Both powerlifting and weightlifting are niche sports in Ireland, so the community is incredibly tight-knit.. I was recently appointed captain of DU Weightlifting, and while we’ve had some administrative issues as a nascent society, the level of support and engagement from our members has been incredible We’re sending a contingent to the Irish Drug-Free Powerlifting Association’s National Single Lifts competition on the 21st and 22nd of Feburary in Cork IT, so let us know if you’ve got some previous experience and you want to compete! If you’re completely new to the sport, we’ve put up some great online resources on our page (DU Weightlifting and Powerlifting) that should help you no matter what your fitness goals are. We accept everyone from brown-balloon-bodybuilders to people who just want to look good in their skinny jeans/yoga pants/obscurehipster-clothes-I-haven’t-heardof. And you don’t have to worry about getting too big. See you at the squat rack.
Here at Trinity News, we are, of course, well acquainted with shadowy, profit-oriented administrative bodies with little regard for those far beneath their lofty pedestals. So it is only natural that we would want to keep a watchful eye on that shadowy, profitoriented administrative body which presides over the world of the round ball: FIFA. Looming over the sport like a bureaucratic behemoth, FIFA joins the likes of Fox News as one of those entities that manages to be a constant source of amusement, while simultaneously scaring the shite out of you when you stop laughing long enough to reflect that it is an actual thing that some people take seriously. And so it was that, last week, while most of Europe was still in the midst of trying to come to terms with what happened in Paris, and then with the intense and voluminous reaction to what happened in Paris, FIFA held their annual Ballon d’Or bonanza. If many were pointing out that the Charlie Hebdo attack was given media coverage which dwarfed that afforded to the Boko Haram massacres in Nigeria, which saw as many as 2,000 people brutally murdered, where does this leave coverage of Cristiano Ronaldo in a tuxedo clutching a (largely meaningless) award for having been the shiniest footballer of 2014? This is the constant, nagging problem faced by sports journalism: why, in the grand scheme of things, does any of this matter? How can you justify giving column inches to Cristiano Ronaldo’s hair when there are, fundamentally, more significant events taking place around the world?
The entire apparatus of the FIFA Ballon d’Or underlines the need for perspective. Seen in isolation, though, the Ballon d’Or ceremony – where the “best” male footballer of the last twelve months (ie. invariably either Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo) is presented with a trophy certifying their status as, well, either Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo – is still nothing short of farce. With the original award – the Ballon d’Or, awarded by France Football – having been taken over in the footballing equivalent of a hostile takeover in 2010, the award now comes in new packaging, rebranded as the FIFA Ballon d’Or and handed over in the course of one of the most bloated and unjustifiably self-back-patting ceremonies ever devised by mankind. A ceremony which, like those of all good dictatorial regimes, serves no other purpose than to cement the status quo, to reinforce the order that exists and maintain it as it is. Everyone of course knows that one of Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo is the best male player on the planet, but, apparently, it needs to be made official – after all, nothing is real until given the FIFA seal of approval. The glitz and glamour of the ceremony demonstrates just how out of touch FIFA is not just with modern football, but with modern society in a general sense. As much as everyone loves watching white, male, millionaire footballers strut around a stage in an expensive tuxedo, the idea that anyone in this bracket needs even more praise lavished upon them is hard to understand. In this country, at least, many people got genuinely excited about Stephanie Roche’s prospects of winning the Puskás award (for the best goal scored in world football each year). Up against James Rodríguez of Colombia and Real Madrid, and Robin van Persie of the Netherlands and Manchester United, whose goals unsurprisingly came during FIFA’s own-brand World Cup last summer, Roche offered a breath of fresh air, something different and which provided welcome relief from the norm. But even this potential fairy tale-ending for Roche was not to be: beaten to the award by Rodríguez, this seemed symbolic of FIFA’s disdain for anything or anyone remotely outside the elite (and the men’s elite, at that).
And this is perhaps the biggest problem with the whole show. The Ballon d’Or, and the Puskás award along with it, are little
more than a marketing exercise designed to elevate the few above the many, feeding a cult of personality which emphasises the individual value of one player over the worth of a whole team. Arsène Wenger has himself come out in opposition to the Ballon d’Or, claiming that he would refuse to vote on the grounds that he is a “team lover” (we’ll just skip the potential for mischief with the phrase “team lover” for the time being). And if the most intellectual man in football – they don’t call him Le Prof for nothing – is against it, then surely there must be something in that. The whole FIFA circus seems so irrelevant compared to other events – in fact, pretty much any event – taking place around the world today. If you want proof of the ability of a bloated, corrupt organisation driven by corporate greed to distract a large section of the media, then look no further.
As much as everyone loves watching white, male, millionaire footballers strut around a stage in an expensive tuxedo, the idea that anyone in this bracket needs even more praise lavished upon them is hard to understand.
But maybe, just maybe, the “distraction” is the whole point: diverting attention away from the harsh realities of modern society in favour of a much easier spectacle, wrapped up nicely with a bow on top. Having to weigh in on the issue of whether the Charlie Hebdo attack fundamentally throws into question the basis upon which European society functions is not exactly approachable; Cristiano Ronaldo in a bow-tie, on the other hand… Well, that’s just click-bait waiting to happen. Much more palatable. Looking at the FIFA Ballon d’Or ceremony in this light, it looks a little different. Farcical as it is, the fault may not lie with FIFA; it is the media who should be held to account. FIFA’s Ballon d’Or ceremony only works because it is reported in every newspaper, in every sports section, all over the world, it must be seen and talked about to achieve its fundamental purpose. In a way, even giving column inches to it here makes us complicit. And so it turns the spotlight back on the media, reactionary and driven by the need to sell newspapers and attract clicks online, whatever the story may be. There was much talk of the sanctity of the Fourth Estate in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, yet relatively little of the responsibilities of the media in a more general sense, outside of the rights and wrongs of the depiction of religious figures. If the media continue to treat Sepp Blatter and co. as real boys rather than the cartoonish wooden puppets which they really are, sooner or later they will start to believe it themselves, until you arrive at a situation where the FIFA Ballon d’Or is treated with something approaching seriousness, as a real news story rather than as the sham which it is. That is unfortunately where we seem to find ourselves today.
Tuesday 20th January 2015
24 American football gains ground in Irish universities. p.23
Niyi Adeolokun in action against Newport. Photo: Connacht Rugby
WONDER BOY’S METEORIC RISE Former Trinity rugby player Niyi Adeolokun talks to Alicia Lloyd about his quick rise to professional rugby after signing a two-year deal with Connacht in November.
Alicia Lloyd Sport Editor One of my all-time favourite quotes about the game of rugby came from former sports journalist Alfred E Crawley: “The tactical difference between association football and rugby with all its varieties seems to be that in the former, the ball is the missile, in the latter, men are missiles.” I couldn’t help but think of those lines when thinking of the rugby wonder that is Niyi Adeolokun. Adeolokun, now recognised as one of the fastest players in provincial rugby, Crawley’s missile personified. No doubt his speed is part of the reason he was spotted by Connacht’s Nigel Carolan, the Academy manager, and subsequently head honcho Pat Lam. Adeolokun is a talent, now playing at the highest level, to which Trinity can proudly lay claim, having played for our firsts for five years before being handed a development contract with Connacht.
His meteoric rise from playing club rugby with Trinity to being signed by Connacht, is in itself an impressive achievement. He cites Tony Smeeth, director of rugby at Trinity, as instrumental to this transition. Smeeth got in contact with Carolan, who after watching Adeolokun play, invited him to play for Connacht As. Pat Lam happened to be at a Connacht A game against a touring Russian team, when he saw more than just a spark of talent in our Niyi. It’s been a whirlwind of sorts since then. In November of last year, Adeolokun signed a two-year professional contract, keeping him with
the province until June 2017, and he has featured prominently for Connacht all season. It was a great achievement for Trinity rugby. Having fostered and developed Adeolokun’s talent, it was always the goal to see him play professionally. When asked who has inspired him most as a rugby player, Adeolokun cites the great people he worked with at Trinity: “My most influential teammate would have to have been Scott La Valla, or Dominic Gallagher. But also all of the coaches who helped me in Trinity over the years, and Tony Smeeth, because they always believed in me and always went the extra mile for me.” While the rugby world has stood to attention and marvelled at Adeolokun’s speed and the pace he injects on the wing, there’s a lot more to him as a player. He has looked strong in defence all season and his work rate and ability to read the game effectively have seen him lauded as one of Connacht’s break out talents of the season. Also earning him praise is the manner in which he’s upped the ante physically, having bulked up considerably. Lam has been quick to extol Adeolokun for his efforts and it’s clear that he possesses genuine admiration for the 24-year-old: “Niyi is an example of someone who was given an opportunity and took it with both hands. From day one he has impressed us all, players and coaches, with his work ethic and desire to succeed. He has put on nearly ten kilos in weight and is the fastest member of our squad. But what is so great about Adeolokun is that he is an extremely hard working individual. He has gone from an amateur to a full pro in a year and he fully deserves the recognition.” Adeolokun’s work ethic and desire to succeed are traits that no doubt set him apart from the pack. The approbation goes both ways however, and Adeolokun gives us great insight to the type of character Lam brings to his role as coach. “Working with and meeting Pat was definitely the best thing that could have happened to my life professionally because Pat is not just a coach to me; he’s also like a dad, with the way he advises me and talks to me about issues not only in rugby but outside it,” he tells me. “I give huge credit to him, and each and
every player and manager in Connacht for helping my quick transition and making me feel very at home in Galway.”
The quick transition made by Adeolokun from playing his rugby with Trinity in the AIL to playing with a professional outfit is no mean feat. He seems pretty chilled about the changes in his life however: “Apart from moving out of home for the first time and now living in Galway, very little in my life has changed.” Some further probing needed perhaps. What has been the biggest challenge in making the transition? Or in other words, the biggest challenge in being a pro rugby player: “The biggest challenge would probably be bringing the right mentality to every session everyday. After a couple of days training, your mind and body tend to get weak but in the professional environment the guys are self driven and mentally very strong.” While it’s obviously been a step up physically, there was also a big leap mentally: “That would probably have been my weak point. Scott, Dom and Tony all identified that I just needed to toughen up mentally and things would be a lot easier for me.” Adeolokun is keen to stress the strong mental resolve that must accompany the tough physicality of a pro rugby player. Mental resilience is as vital as physical prowess. Mental nerve and vigour must be developed just as strength and sinew of body. This is all part of the pursuit of becoming a stalwart of professional rugby. It’s like French player Jean-Pierre Rives always said: “The whole point of rugby is that it is, first and foremost, a state of mind, a spirit.” While Adeolokun may have had to hone his mental finesse somewhat, his skills on the field of play were never an issue. Having grown up in Nigeria, rugby was not his primary sport of interest: “To be honest, like every kid growing up in Nigeria, football would have been the biggest sport. Every kid wanted to be a footballer. It wasn’t until I got to Ireland that I began to take notice of rugby.” Adeolokun was also a great gaelic footballer in his day, which always makes for a skilful back in rugby. Watch him play
rugby and you can’t help but feel that he was fated to do so. Rugby deserves a player like Adeolokun, just as Adeolokun deserves a sport like rugby as the outlet for his talent. During his time with Trinity, Adeolokun was also an integral member of the 7s squad. Does he feel as though playing 7s with Trinity was beneficial to his skill set as a winger playing Union? “Yeah, certainly playing 7s tests your skills in every aspect of the game and I feel like it brought the best out of me as a player, from little things such as passing accuracy to tackling and, most importantly in 7s, especially my fitness,” he says. Adeolokun’s mastery of the wing has earned him a sizeable and already established fan base in the West. Connacht, with the exception, perhaps, of their disappointing display against Edinburgh recently, have this season been playing with a passion and energy unprecedented in the province. Their season so far has been defined by the employment of varied and diverse game plans. Perhaps the injection of capable youth in the form of Jack Carty and Niyi Adeolokun has given them a new found puissance. The western province has most certainly seen worse days. Yet they can lay claim to some of the most loyal and devoted fans on this island, an asset that Adeolokun must find the most powerful of motivating forces: “Yeah Connacht fans are without a doubt some of the most loyal fans I’ve ever seen or heard of. In the past win or lose they were very firmly behind the team and it’s great that this season is going well for us so far. When we go out on to the pitch we always talk about doing the fans proud and hearing them cheering us on gives us the extra bit of motivation to get us through most games.” Adeolokun first got a taste of this type of stimulus in his very first game for Connacht, against Dragons. It must have been an inimitable feeling. “The game against Dragons was surreal,” he says. “I still very clearly remember our jog into the dressing room after our warmup, the crowd were so loud and deafening as we jogged in. It is a day I will not be forgetting anytime soon. Playing against former Lions like Andy Powell and Lee Byrne were also what made
that day incredible for me.”
The most interesting thing about talking to Adeolokun is the insight he gives into how special it is to play for the cohesive group that is Connacht. I ask him to describe the playing culture at the province: “The culture in Connacht is a family culture, really. We strongly believe in our ability and that we all need to work as a team in order to be as successful as we can. We also like to engage with the public at Connacht as much as we can.” Adeolokun is clearly a hard working, astute and gifted rugby player. He values team work and preparation as key aspects of the game, including the use of analysis: “I would value the use of analysis very highly. It helps you prepare and confirm whatever you see on game day so you won’t be caught off guard. Of course you still have to just play off the cuff sometimes but with the help of video analysis I feel a lot more comfortable because I sort of have an idea of what to expect.” In addition to his playing capabilities, however, it is his attitude that sets him apart. I ask him what he would like to achieve most as an athlete and as a rugby player. “Physically I just want to be one of the best athletes in the sport,” he tells me. “At this very moment. though, I just want to learn as much as I can from my teammates and opposition players and above all to be a valuable asset to my team.” In making that his greatest goal, he is just that, an asset, and one to be cherished. Connacht have found a real treasure in Adeolokun, and they’re lucky to have him, just as Trinity were for those five seasons, a time which saw them promoted from division 2A to 1B in the AIL. Finally, as we part ways, I ask Adeolokun what he loves most about his sport, about the game of rugby. “I love the relationship you build on the rugby field with your teammates and with the guys you play against,” he says. For him the spirit of rugby is the spirit of friendship. What he says next however, is the very essence of rugby: “It’s a beautiful game, a game where everyone with different talents and of different shapes can find their position on the field.”
ON GROWING UP:
“ “ “
Like every kid growing up in Nigeria, football would have been the biggest sport. Every kid wanted to be a footballer. It wasn’t until I got to Ireland that I began to take notice of rugby
ON TRINITY: The culture in Connacht is a family culture, really. We strongly believe we all need to work as a team in order to be as successful as we can.
ON CONNACHT: My most influential teammate would have to have been Scott La Valla, or Dominic Gallagher. But also all of the coaches who helped me in Trinity over the years, and Tony Smeeth, because they always believed in me and always went the extra mile for me.
Physically I just want to be one of the best athletes in the sport. At this very moment. though, I just want to learn as much as I can from my teammates and opposition players and above all to be a valuable asset to my team.