The Gender Gap
The Ultimate Fighter
with our incoming sabbatical team consisting of four males, what is at the core of the gender problem?
interviews with T.J. Dillashaw on MMA, Paul Kimmage on Lance Armstrong and Mark Keane on his Championship debut
talks living in Phoenix Park, outrageous egg demands and how Irish Students are just the right level of crazy drunk
V O L U M E
X I X
I S S U E
X I I
A P R I L
2 0 1 3
W W W . U N I V E R S I T Y O B S E R V E R . I E
UCD Ball 2013 to be held off-campus BY AOIFE VALENTINE · DEPUTY EDITOR
It has been revealed that this year’s UCD Ball will take place off campus, on the last day of the semester, April 26th, in a venue yet to be announced. Currently, the Students’ Union are hoping to launch the event this Thursday, April 18th, with a limited number of early bird tickets going on sale at the reduced rate of 25. Full price tickets will be available for 35, a reduction in price from last year’s 39.99. Though the Union have publicly announced that the Ball is to go ahead, UCD Students’ Union President, Rachel Breslin is hesitant to reveal the full details of the venue and line-up until final confirmations have been made. She commented: “Plans are currently in the final phase and rather than dripfeeding information, we want to launch all at once so people know exactly what is happening. When we had the basic confirmations and enough to absolutely guarantee to students we would be organising a UCD Ball, we released the information at council so students could book time off work, plan etc.” Breslin is clear that herself and Entertainments Officer Eoin Heffernan exhausted every option before moving the event to off-campus. She says: “There essentially was no decision to hold a ball off-campus, we pursued every avenue to hold it on campus for seven months and unfortunately a number of factors combined to leave no chance of an on-campus ball.” These factors are similar to those that fed into the many concerns raised throughout the year that a Ball would not take place this year at all, as reports emerged that location and licensing issues were causing problems for the SU. Breslin explained: “Our issues within UCD were resolvable and the President gave his approval for the Ball so we were able to secure a site but ultimately the Gardai did not feel that it was safe to have the Ball on campus and that we must move to an indoor venue.” The Gardai’s objections to granting an alcohol licence were based on the alcohol consumption at the previous Balls, coupled with dangers surrounding the N11 flyover being the only entrance to the Ball. Though Breslin states that the Union presented alternatives to “try and reduce these risks”,
BY YVANNE KENNEDY · NEWS EDITOR
Candle of Hope bags lit up during the three laps of silence at Relay for Life. Full story on page 3. the Gardai sent written notice of an objection to the plans on March 27th. She says: “The event had grown in scale while available space on campus had reduced, commercial activities on campus had increased and this year there are much more onerous obligations imposed on outdoor concerts following incidents last summer.” With regards to alcohol consumption at this year’s event, Breslin clearly stated: “There will be thorough security checks at the entrance to the venue, and it’s simple: if you’re too drunk you
won’t get in. We still want everyone to have a great time and to celebrate the last day with their friends but if you’re a danger to yourself or others there is a line.” The Union has been pleased with the reactions from Council to the news, and says: “ It’s a challenge but the SU are excited about the Ball and spurred on by the fantastic reaction... The absence of a bar this year has made the Ball even more of an important socialevent and despite all the problems and setbacks we encountered it made us
more determined to give students a Ball.” Commenting on the future of the event, Breslin is unsure whether it will return to campus, citing a number of issues that would need to be resolved first, such as student behaviour and alcohol consumption. She says: “Next year Ents will have to think outside the box when looking at options right from the beginning of the year and work closely with UCD and the Gardai to find the best solution for everyone.”
Full-time Graduate Education Officer elected with just 42 votes BY EMER SUGRUE · EDITOR
In a by-election held last Thursday, April 11th, MA student Dylan Gray was elected as UCD Students’ Union Graduate Education Officer. The total valid poll was just 68, with Gray receiving 62% of the votes cast. The Graduate Education Office was established in the new Students’ Union Constitution passed last year. While only final year and postgraduate students were eligible to vote in this election, with over 10,000 students falling into these categories, the total poll amounts to less that 1% of the available votes. Speaking on the turnout for the election, UCDSU President Rachel Breslin stated that it was “really really low, unacceptably low… There’s no doubt
SU to intervene as residents afraid to appeal fines
that the turnout was unacceptable, but whether it was unavoidable when you start a completely new position, particularly a Graduate Officer when graduates are a group that everyone knows have a very low engagement with the Students’ Union ... I suppose why would you vote for something you haven’t thus far seen any benefit from? So it might be a chicken before the egg scenario.” Graduate Education Officer-elect Dylan Gray places the blame for the low turnout largely on the number of sabbatical and society elections held in recent months: “There have been so many elections this semester, there’s been massive USI and constitutional referendums, there was Sabbatical and Convener elections, L&H elections and the LawSoc elections and I think there
might have been one other as well.” Gray also cites confusion over the way the by-election was held for the lack of votes. “Normally a sabbat election would be run over two days, and on the second day all faculties would be able to vote in Arts, so I had quite a few people calling in to me saying they didn’t have time to vote today but would vote tomorrow. There were quite a few people in Ag who tried to vote in Arts and were told they couldn’t, but then they didn’t want to go all the way back to the student centre to vote … stuff like that all added up together.” Paddy Guiney, UCDSU Campaigns and Communications Officer, who was in charge of the ‘Get Out and Vote’ campaign for this election feels the turnout reflects the lack of interest in the SU ex-
pressed by older students: “This turnout probably says it the most, with sabbatical elections, 60% of voter turnout is via first years, 20-30% is second years and the final 10% is from 3rd year, final year and postgrad students.” Guiney concluded: “Turnout was so abysmal because it’s a new position, students don’t know what the position will entail so the mandate will be completely unknown to them, so the candidate Dylan has a lot to prove to justify that.” With interest so low, it seems the future of the office is unclear, with Breslin stating that “if that turnout continues then the position needs to change and we need to look at a different structure for graduate representation, no doubt about it.”
Following from a number of issues that have come to light regarding UCD Residences, UCD Students’ Union Vice President for Welfare, Mícheál Gallagher, intends to bring a motion on the issue to the final Union Council of the 2012/13 academic year. The motion specifically addresses the UCD Residences Licence to Reside, and the appeals process for fines. In the past two weeks, Gallagher says that he has “had an unusual peak in casework from students living in UCD residences. This casework was primarily around the area of students feeling they were fined wrongly.” Gallagher notes that there is a “new phenomena .. that students [are] afraid to appeal [certain] decisions due to a line in the Category Two – Internal Appeal Form.” This clause states that while residents have the right to lodge an appeal if they have evidence to show they didn’t deserve the fine. This appeal must be made in 48 hours, and unsuccessful appeals, according to the clause, may result in a higher fine. This has made students “reluctant to appeal decision[s]” for fear their fines will actually be increased,” says Gallagher. Gallagher believes it is “unacceptable that in the current economic situation that students are being asked to pay out 100 for misunderstandings with UCD residences and that if they try to appeal it they have the threat of an increased fine to deal with”. This issue is the latest in a series which have arisen from UCD Residences this year. Earlier problems concerned the nature of the Licence to Reside as distinct from the typical lease afforded to tenants in private rented accommodation, as well as concerns over profiteering as increased numbers of deposits were being retained . There was also controversy over invasions in privacy due to the permission given to Residential Assistants to film inside apartments. The motion to be brought to vote is for a new UCDSU Policy which will give the Union as an organisation a mandate “to call for a renegotiation of the Licence to Reside”. There will be a specific emphasis on a fair system of appeal without the threat of fines increasing is an unsuccessful appeal is made. A formal recognised system of resident representation will also be called for a will a “demand for total transparency in where all monies from deposit retention and fines collected of residents go.” There have been calls for UCD Residences to alter their agreements to reflect the traditional protections of a lease. Following a further incident involving the Blackrock Residences late last year, then Chairperson of the UCD Student Legal Service Patrick Fitzgerald said that: “If UCD Residences adopted a lease, students would enjoy a right of appeal to the PRTB. This would allow students to challenge a decision of UCD cheaply in an independent forum. This would ensure greater transparency than we have now and ensure students enjoy rights as tenants... The present situation where the appeal process is operated by UCD has led to an arbitrary system that truly lacks proper procedure, transparency and independence.”
The University Observer | 16 April 2013
NEWS UCD to reinstate Fashion Show for 2014 IN BRIEF BY PATRICK KELLEHER
Noam Chomsky awarded UCD Ulysses Medal Professor Noam Chomsky has been awarded the UCD Ulysses Medal, the university’s highest honour. The Medal was established in 2005, and has been awarded to those who have made an outstanding global contribution. UCD President, Dr Hugh Brady awarded Chomsky the Medal after a lecture hosted jointly by the UCD Philosophical Society and the UCD School of Philosophy on Tuesday April 2nd. The lecture, entitled ‘Can civilization survive really existing capitalism?’, was followed by a Q&A with the audience of 1,100 people, many of whom had been queuing for two hours to see Chomsky. Chomsky is known across the world for his left-wing criticism of US foreign policy. He has lectured at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in linguistics since 1955. His work was described by the New York Times’ Daniel Yergin as having had an impact “on everything from the way children are taught foreign languages to what it means when we say that we are human.’ He is considered one of the most important intellectuals alive today. His controversial bestseller ‘9-11’ traced the origins of the attack on the World Trade Centre to the actions of the United States, who he described as a ‘leading terrorist state.’
Rás UCD raises 5,000 Rás UCD returned again this year to raise money for UCD Volunteers Overseas (UCDVO). 5,000 was raised from the event, which took place on Saturday April 6th. These funds will be allocated directly to UCDVO’s development projects which will be implemented by UCD student volunteers this summer. This will involve the setting up of four computer labs in schools in Tanzania and summer camps in Haiti, which will cater for 600 children. The funds raised will allow UCDVO to continue its mission to improve conditions for people in developing countries. For further information on UCDVO, visit www.ucdvo.org.
USI Student Achievement Awards recognise UCD students’ contributions The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) will host an event to recognise the achievements of third level students on Thursday, April 18th. The event, which will take place in the Shelbourne Hotel, will celebrate and encourage the work done by students for their college, community and country. The USI hopes to encourage public service and volunteering, as well as creativity in students. Awards will be given across a broad spectrum, including students’ union campaigns, political activism, broadcast and print media, online media and community engagement. A number of UCD students have been nominated in these categories, including Ben Breslin for Student Leader of the Year, Ciara Johnson for Outstanding Contribution to Student Life and Part-Time SU Officer of the Year, Brian McCormick for Entrepreneur of the Year and Jeff M. Poulin for International Student of the Year. The awards will be judged by various industry experts from the Irish Independent, The Sunday Times, The Irish Times, TheJournal.ie, Amnesty International, British Council UK, Campus.ie and many others. UCD voted to disaffiliate from USI last February. Some students that favoured disaffiliation felt that UCDSU needed a more local focus in light of the financial difficulties that had been experienced in the preceding months. Paddy Guiney of UCDSU was recently elected as VP for Campaigns for USI. Guiney campaigned for UCD to remain affiliated with USI, and has expressed desire to see a re-affiliation between UCDSU and USI in the future.
BY AOIFE VALENTINE · DEPUTY EDITOR
UCD have announced plans to reinstate the UCD Fashion Show for 2014. The event, which did not take place this year after reaching its 26th anniversary last year, had become the largest student-run fashion show in Europe, and it is hoped that it will continue that legacy next year. The Fashion Show wasn’t run this year as the University chose to refocus their resources on the UCD Community Musical 2013, Phantom of the Opera. These financial constraints arose because of the size of the production, which was the first of its kind in Europe. The event, planned to take place in the O’Reilly Hall as it has done for the last number of years, will take place next February. As in previous years, the event will be run in aid of charity, with the UCD Fashion Show 2012 raising just over 5,000 for the Marc Owens Medical Fund. There’s no obligation to run the event for the same charity every year, and this year’s charity will be decided at a later date by the organising committee. Though plans are in their infancy and details are only just being discussed, the organisers are putting the main focus now on recruiting a large team of students to run the event. The committee will be chosen by a number of students and staff who have been involved in the Fashion Show in the past. The committee will be responsible for planning and hosting the event, as well
as looking after fundraising and devising innovative ways to raise money. Executive Producer of the UCD Fashion Show 2012 and UCD Arts Coordinator Jason Masterson explained: “The Fashion Show is an opportunity for students to get together, have some fun and really focus on raising funds for a charity that they believe in... A big part of the fashion show is assembling the team to run it, design it, choose a charity and bring it to the O’Reilly Hall next February. The opportunity to run an event this large is rare and we’re looking for talented people to volunteer.” The event will be run with the full support of UCD Students’ Union, as in previous years where UCD Ents helped hugely with putting the event on. UCDSU President-elect Mícheál Gallagher commented: “Following on from the success of ‘An Seó Faisin’ this semester I’m looking forward to supporting the full return of the UCD Fashion Show in 2014. The success of the show always depends on a talented volunteer committee and I’d encourage students to take part in this great opportunity.” Most urgently of the positions, the UCD Fashion Show are looking for student producers for next year’s show. Anyone interested can contact email@example.com.
UCD Students launch Ireland’s first Civic Guide to the Constitution BY YVANNE KENNEDY · NEWS EDITOR
The UCD Student Legal Service (SLS) has published the first Civic Guide to the Irish Constitution. The Guide was launched in the FitzGerald Chamber on April 8th by Supreme Court judge, Mr Justice Donal O’Donnell. The Guide aims to make the Constitution accessible to all citizens, not just academics or those already engaging with the law. The initiative was spearheaded by publication Editor, James Hodgson who says that the “Constitution is [one] of the people; not just of the legal community”. The publication marks an expansion for the group and follows the
success of their Manual on Student Rights’. The society hopes that “the guide shows [the] young generation that they can inspire a renewal within Irish society”. O’Donnell has said that he hopes “that [the Guide] will introduce the Irish Constitution to many more citizens and inspire them to learn of, think about, and perform the obligations it imposes, and to exercise the freedoms it guarantees.” Several other members of the judiciary were in attendance at the event alongside O’Donnell and were joined by members of the Law School faculty and those from the legal community. Director of the Free Legal Advice Cen-
tres (FLAC), Noeline Blackwell, who addressed the society on the ethos behind providing free legal information earlier in the year, also supported the publication on the evening. SLS is run under the FLAC ethos. Hodgson notes that the “hugely successful night [attracted] high calibre guests” which he said was “a testament to the worthwhile nature and great significance of [the] project, as well as the monumental growth and development of the SLS”. The guide is currently available both in hardcopy and online through the SLS website, www.ucdstudentlegalservice.com. A mobile application is currently in development which the
society hopes to launch in the near future. Outgoing Chairperson, Patrick Fitzgerald says that he believes “the publication demonstrates that the students of UCD can apply the skills of their legal education in an innovative and exciting manner.” SLS is a voluntary society run by law students from all years which provides legal information free of charge to the UCD student population. Students are trained in the main areas of law dealt with by the society by UCD academics, post-graduate students and legal professionals. Bi-weekly clinics were held this year in the UCD Student Centre along with information stands set-up around campus.
UCD LGBT promote inclusivity with Ally Week on campus BY YVANNE KENNEDY · NEWS EDITOR
UCD Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Society, in conjunction with the O2 ‘Think Big Project’, is running Ally Week this week, with the festivities concluding this Thursday, April 18th. The event is a week run by the society to celebrate people who identify as heterosexual (or cisgendered) who support issues that affect members of the LGBT community, such as marriage equality and gender recognition. Auditor-Elect, Jack Carolan commented that: “It’s a really great initiative run by the Committee of the 25th Session, led by outgoing Auditor David Healy”. The event aims to not only draw
a new proportion of the campus to UCD LGBT but also to raise greater awareness that the society is on campus. Carolan hopes that people will realize that the society is not “just catering to members of the LGBT community but also to everyone on the UCD campus”. The Week began yesterday with an event run in connection with the UCD Literary and Historical Society and Amnesty International held in the FitzGerald Debating Chamber in the Student Centre. Kasha Nabagesera was awarded the James Joyce Award by the L&H on the evening. Nabagesera is currently campaigning against the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill. This Bill stipulates that being gay is a criminal offence, with
punishments ranging from prison sentences to the death penalty. It also says that citizens who do not “out” people who they know to be gay can be imprisoned for up to three years. There will be a number of coffee mornings during the week on open invitation so that people can speak to members of the LGBT community. Carolan says that the Society found “a lot of people don’t even realise that they could be an ally because they haven’t ever met someone who relates to LGB or T so [they] find that having people come to events like that, in a more relaxed environment, lets them meet and interact.” There are also a number of workshops and “more fun events” like
screenings around LGBT issues. One of the most well received events so far, is that games of Quidditch will be played on Wednesday on the playing pitches by the Student Centre. The LGBT Disney Ball will round out Ally Week on Wednesday, to be held in 4 Dame Lame. Tickets will be on sale outside Theatre L in Arts from 12-2 each day. The Society has also partially branded the event with O2, whose idea it was to provide ‘Pride Not Prejudice’ t-shirts which will be worn by Committee Members so that those attending the events will be aware of who is involved with the events on the day.
Please Talk Day to celebrate sixth successful year BY SYLVESTER PHELAN
To celebrate the sixth year of the Please Talk service, Please Talk day will be held this Wednesday, April 17th in an effort to improve students’ mental health and promote suicide prevention. Various events will be held on the day, such as the Please Talk Annual General Meeting, which will be held at 5pm in meeting rooms 5, 6 and 7 of the New Student Centre. The A.G.M. will allow for the election of a new chairperson and committee for the coming year. In the evening at 7pm, there will be a panel discussion in association with the Literary & Historical Society
and UCD Students’ Union on the topic “We need to talk about mental health”. The Please Talk campaign began in UCD to promote the message that “Talking is a sign of strength, not weakness”. This message was recently backed up by research conducted in the My World survey, which found that those who share their problems enjoy better mental health. The survey also found that not talking about a problem is linked to suicidal behaviour. Please Talk has become a national campaign in recent years, with every third level institution in the country registered on the Please Talk campaign’s website, pleasetalk.org, also on its sixth year having been launched in
2007. UCDSU Vice-President for Welfare, Mícheál Gallagher, commented saying: “The website gives you a list of every support service in your college; a list of student advisors, welfare officers, councillors but also external support services that exist such as Aware and Bodywise.” A mural has been painted by a volunteer UCD student, Alejandro Criadom, for the event, based on the theme “Who did you talk to today?” The basis for this mural theme, according to Gallagher, is “making people think, making them constantly aware that if they do have a problem, there are services here in the college.” “Please Talk day is the joint institute
between the students and the college itself and throughout the entire year the student support team have been so helpful and so supportive; the student advisors, the academics and the chaplaincy, always receiving plenty of support from these people.” Gallagher stated. The theme for this year’s Please Talk day is based on financial stress and its effect on student health. Looking at the My World survey from 2012,” Gallagher explained, “it is evident that money is the top stressor and 60 per cent of young adults report being stressed over their financial situation.”
The University Observer | 16 April 2013
External counsellors hired to help reduce NEWS 8 week waiting lists IN BRIEF NATIONAL
BY ANNE-MARIE FLYNN
BY AOIFE VALENTINE · DEPUTY EDITOR
With waiting lists for the counselling service in the Student Health Service now extending up to eight weeks, an external counselling group have been brought in to help cope with the increased demand on the service. In his report to UCD Students’ Union Council, SU Welfare Vice-President Mícheál Gallagher commented that: “Working closely with the President and the Director of Student Services, I’m happy with the progress we’re currently making in finding creative solutions to the issues surrounding the UCD counselling service waiting list.” The University has purchased 240 hours of counselling from the external
provider, to aid the current counsellors in working their way through the list, in a move Gallagher hopes will “alleviate pressure on the waiting list.” As most students who make an appointment with the counselling service will be booked in for a series of four sessions over a number of weeks, it is hoped that these hours will cater for around 60 students. The external counsellors began seeing students just over a week ago, and all sessions are being held on campus, rather than at the company’s own practices. Speaking to the University Observer, Gallagher was keen to note that students must still make appointments through the UCD Counselling Service, and they will be added to the waiting list, as has been the standard practice
for a number of years. He explained: “This service is helping take some students off the waiting list. The current counselling service continues to operate at normal, and I’d like to take this opportunity to commend them for their great work this year.” Gallagher emphasised how important an issue this is for students. He stated: “In regards to the counselling services long waiting lists isn’t an ideal situation. It is my firm belief that students who identify themselves as being in need for mental health issues need seen to as quickly as possible.” He believes that this is something all parties involved, from the Counselling Service to University Management to relevant officers in the Students’ Union monitor these waiting lists closely and
ensure assistance is provided at peak times of the year for the Counselling Service, such as around October and November, and in the lead up to the exam periods. He went on to say: “Furthermore, UCD mental health policy should reflect that having students seen in a timely manner is a top priority.” This addition to UCD’s counselling service provisions is just one of a number of moves brought in this year help reduce waiting lists in this key area, with the Students’ Union bringing in an alcohol counsellor specifically to cater to students with issues in this area, to help take some pressure off the waiting lists and provide a more specialised service around an issue that effects many students.
UCD Students’ Union condemns graduate nurses scheme BY EMMA WALSH
UCD Students’ Union (UCDSU) unanimously voted at Union Council to support those graduate nurses affected by the new payment scheme introduced by Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly TD and the Health Service Executive (HSE). The new graduate scheme, which was announced the Department of Health without any consultation or discussion, will see UCD 2012 graduates, while performing the full range of duties of all registered nurses, paid 80% of the minimum staff nurse scale, on contracts of two years duration. UCDSU states that “Young nurses [and] midwives have already contributed to the countries recovery, with salaries cut by 24% in two years”. The Union sees the continued exploitation of registered and regulated nurses as slave labour and has demanded that the
HSE reverse the scheme. They have called for an immediate meeting with Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin and Minister Reilly, alongside a nationwide lobbying of public representatives, which they wish to commence immediately. There is also the possibility of investigation into the potential legal challenges under the Employment Equality Acts. A statement released on this issue by UCDSU Vice President for Campaigns and Communications, Paddy Guiney, stated that SU Council had “called for the resignation” of Minister Reilly over the incident. Some controversy arose among council members over this headline, as though the motion names the Minister, it did not explicitly call for him to step down. Guiney clarified this statement, commenting: “UCDSU passed a motion
opposing this abhorrent and harmful deal for student nurses, the motion itself didn’t call for the resignation of Minister Reilly. UCDSU stands by this statement and I as Campaigns Officer will be continuing a campaign to put pressure on Minister Reilly as a result of his actions in decimating the position of student nurses in this State... We are not the only area of society calling for the resignation of Minister Reilly following a series of high profile and questionable errors of judgement. Frankly, student nurses deserve better than slave labour and that is the position of UCDSU.” The graduate scheme has also been opposed by Ireland’s Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) who were shocked at the proposed rates of pay and called for graduate nurses to boycott the scheme. Earlier this year as a result, the INMO labelled recruitment
for the scheme a failure with the HSE receiving a low levels of applications. UCD Students’ Union is demanding that the HSE reverse the graduate scheme immediately, stating that the continued exploitation of regular and registered nurses is slave labour and greedy. Young nurses and midwives have already suffered significantly due to cutbacks aimed at speeding up the country’s recovery. The scheme is expected to save 10 million for the Exchequer but Guiney has said that the Students’ Union “believe[s] that funding needs to come from the overused and expensive agencies who have stagnated long-term staff rates in hospitals around the country”. The scheme is aimed at reducing the reliance of hospitals and other health agencies on these more expensive staff provided by temporary agencies across the country.
RAG Week returns to UCD as non-alcoholic fundraising event BY JACK WALSH · CHIEF REPORTER
University College Dublin Students’ Union Vice President for Entertainments, Eoin Heffernan has announced that R.A.G (Raise and Give) will once more occur in UCD. This year, however, the fundraiser will run more as a concept rather than a traditional series of events. All students are encouraged to take part; with RAG starting before the two week summer exams’ process. This year, money will be raised for a yet to be determined charity through students donating old clothes which will then be sold for 7 a bag, therefore generating funds for the chosen charity. The event will be promoted through all of the
usual UCD Ents channels such as posters and social media outlets. University RAG weeks have had a notable trend of pushing the social aspect to the forefront, often to the detriment of the original meaning of charity. NUI Galway for example has had its RAG week banned, with a yearly unofficial event often making headlines. Heffernan noted this as one of the reasons for stripping the event back to its basics: “I chose to do it this way for a number of different reasons. RAG week has a poor tradition in Dublin and so we are trying to bring the focus back to the charity rather than an alcohol fuelled session”. Heffernan also noted that his “main focus over the past few months has
been securing a ball as well which meant a move in focus”. The UCD Ball will be held on Friday April 26th, the last day of term, at an off-campus location, Heffernan confirmed last week. Last year’s RAG event involved a single day of activities in week eight, which had trimmed from a week long ‘Raise a Grand’ format in 2011, and when asked about the new structure, Heffernan stated that his: “main focus over the last few months has been placed on the (UCD) Ball. I had to prioritise what students wanted and the feedback I received was that the Ball means more to students”. In recent years, a popular week-long event run by the UCD Societies Council, simply titled Charity Week has seen
a marked improvement in charitable work where each society on campus must run at least one event for the chosen charity, which this year was the UCD Welfare Fund. Heffernan believes that students will be interested in donating, despite the fact that the event falls in the lead up to the exams. He says that it’s “pretty simple to take part in. When you’re clearing out your room at the end of the year or are at home on study week just donate any old clothes you have. They can be dropped down to the Students’ Union or handed into the SU desk at the exam centre”.
Increased participation at second annual Relay for Life BY JACK WALSH · CHIEF REPORTER
The annual Relay for Life took place in the 24 hour period beginning at 2pm on Wednesday April 10th. The event involved volunteers walking or running around a track for 24 hours in teams, with the Relay raising funds for the Irish Cancer Society. Each team must have one participant on the track for the duration of the Relay, with the idea being to remind everyone that “cancer never sleeps”. Logistics Chair for the Relay Committee, Deirdre Ryan, described this year’s organisation process: “I met with Campus Services and the Sports Centre to speak about holding the event, contacted St John’s Ambulance, organised the PA system, liaised with the local Gardaí and organised the College Launch Day advertising the event.” Ryan explained that having the event in its second year had many benefits in that it gave them “the advantage of having the bones of the event plan already written, that was a great template to work off. It was easier to start off and as last year was such a success, people were very keen to participate so
more teams registered this year”. Ryan described how teams operated to raise the funds to attempt to break the 11,000 raised last year: “All team members were issued Irish Cancer Society sponsorship cards to raise money from friends and family. As well as this, hundreds were raised through the sale of Candle of Hope bags for the Candle Ceremony at the Relay”. No figure for the amount raised this year was available at the time of going to print. UCDSU Vice-President for Welfare, Mícheál Gallagher said that he thinks Relay for Life is a particularly powerful way of getting the message on cancer awareness across communities. He commented: “It’s important that we as UCD students all come together to both remember those that we’ve lost to cancer, and to celebrate those amongst us who are fighting it. It reminds us that we are not alone in the struggle and links us in with informal support networks”. Explaining why Relay for Life has become such a popular event for UCD students, Ryan stated: “First and foremost cancer affects everyone, both young and old. Most people have en-
countered cancer throughout their lifetimes, whether it be a parent, grandparent, cousin, aunt/uncle, friend or neighbour that has been touched by the illness, so students from all faculties were interested in participating. A large number of students were involved in organising the event and Ryan was keen to give those who had given many hours to this event, credit: “Kate O Donnell was our Team Recruitment Chair; Bronte Wakefield, Finance Chair; Emily Pender, Fundraising Chair; Sarah Kelliher, Naomi Keenan, Margaret Higgins, Jess Maguire and Anna Lohikko took great care of our survivors; Emma Geraghty did an incredible job MCing the entire event and helping the rest of the committee with all of their role and Aoife
McEvoy was our Lap co-ordinator”. It is hoped that the event will remain an annual one, and that the figure raised will be announced later this week.
Tutor allowance axed in TCD Lecturers at Trinity College will no longer receive a lucrative allowance of up to 3,000 for providing confidential support to students. Trinity Provost Dr Patrick Prendergast last week confirmed that the tutor’s allowance, paid to lecturers who support students struggling with academic, personal and financial issues, will soon be axed. Over 100 lecturers currently receive an annual allowance of 3,070 a year to act as tutors to groups of up to 100 students. A further 29 lecturers are paid a half-rate of 1,535 for supporting groups of 45-50. Dr Prendergast expressed hope that the university will continue to provide a tutor support service, though lecturers will no longer be paid to act in a pastoral capacity. He said that: “[they] don’t believe the work tutors do is part and parcel of the normal work of a lecturer. Tutors are involved in pastoral care of students, which is not normally[their] work.” The tutor’s allowance has been paid to Trinity lecturers since the 1970s. However, since 1997, the college is required to request permission from the Department of Education to fund its continued payment. Following pressure from Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, permission for payment of the allowance has been revoked from September 2013.
NUIG to lead EU Big Data project Researchers at NUI Galway’s Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) will lead Ireland’s involvement in a 3 million EU project to create a clear strategy for Big Data in Europe. The Big Data Public Private Forum (BIG) brings together industry partners, research institutes, policy makers, and community initiatives from six EU countries to discuss challenges posed by the emerging Big Data economy and develop action plans for addressing these challenges at a European level. Director of DERI, Professor Stefan Decker, believes that the EU has reached “a critical juncture where industry, government and academia must come together to put in place methods to deal with data and maximize opportunities for Europe”. Specifically, the project will increase the proliferation of data technology in Europe by identifying key requirements for Big Data across industry sectors, including transport, energy, finance and manufacturing. Roadmaps developed by the BIG project will help business communities understand the potential competitive advantages…[of]…Big Data technologies. The project will also identify the required technology research and innovation necessary for a European competitive advantage in the Big Data market.
Fundamental movement skills conference to be held in UCC University College Cork (UCC) will hold an interdisciplinary conference on fundamental movement skill development on April 19th and 20th. Fundamental movement skills such as running, jumping and balancing, are the foundation for the development of further sport skills and increasing ability to engage in quality physical activity in later life. The conference, organised by Sports Studies and Physical Education students at UCC and Health Action Zone (HSE), will combine expertise from the fields of Education, Health, Disability and Sport. Over the course of the conference, a first of its kind, participants will engage in active workshops that aim to address the development of fundamental movement skills for different ages, abilities and settings. Dr Susan Crawford of UCC says that “the conference…boasts a huge hands on component, so there will be lots of opportunity for delegates to develop and explore new skills”. Health Minister James Reilly will address the conference to reinforce the importance of fundamental skill development across the lifespan from a health perspective.
The University Observer | 16 April 2013
UCDSU to back Cycle Against Suicide NEWS IN BRIEF INTERNATIONAL
BY KEVIN BEIRNE
BY EVAN O’QUIGLEY
London MET regains license to teach international students London Metropolitan University has regained a license to sponsor Tier 4 visas for international students. Its license was revoked last August, after the UK border agency claimed that one in four students surveyed by the authority did not have legal permission to remain in the UK. Immigration Officer Mark Harper said that “[they] have worked closely with university staff to ensure that London Met standards were improved”. According to a statement released by the MET: “The original withdrawal by the Home Office threatened to leave hundreds of London Met students having to leave the UK through no fault of their own”. The University took their case to the High Court in August in order to regain its license to teach international students and recently found it restored.” International students living in London are happy with the news says international student Emmanuel Egwu, from Nigeria. “I am truly thrilled that London Met has finally got back its licence. I came from Nigeria to study here in the UK and London Met has given me the opportunity to exercise and develop my academic knowledge”.
UCD students from all over the country will be taking part in the Cycle Against Suicide which takes place from the 22nd of April until the 5th of May. The event, which will last two weeks, is open to anyone who registers and will cover a total of 1,400km. The project was set up by Jim Breen, following an appearance on the RTÉ programme, The Secret Millionaire, with the aim of raising awareness for the support options available to those suffering from depression and those who have been bereaved by suicide. Although the cycle begins and fin-
ishes in Dublin, entrants are free to take part in any stage. UCDSU President-elect, and current Welfare Officer, Mícheál Gallagher has announced that he will be doing the opening stage, cycling from the RTÉ studios in Dublin to Bray in County Wicklow, a distance of approximately 16 kilometres. Gallagher says that he may do another stage of the cycle, although he admits that his busy schedule may not allow it. The cycle is set to cover around 100 kilometres a day, and Gallagher says that the main focus of the cycle is “fundraising for a various number of organisations that do work in suicide prevention in Ireland. “Secondly, there’s also that kind of
health awareness aspect to it, so we’re trying to raise awareness that suicide is an issue that’s the leading cause of death in our age-group, between 18 to 22 year-olds. It’s also kind of metaphorical too, in the sense that we’re metaphorically trying to break the cycle of suicide that exists in Ireland.” Gallagher hopes to tie in with Please Talk Day in order to raise awareness of the Cycle Against Suicide, and believes that the added exposure on campus could influence UCD students, who were previously unaware of the cycle, to take part. “We’re planning on spreading the message out there that there is a group of UCD students that are participating
in the Cycle Against Suicide,” he explained. “We know that there are UCD students from all around Ireland and we’re kind of encouraging them to take part in various stages, from around the country, like for example from Ennis to Galway or from Castlebar to Ballina.” He expects there to be some support from students, as it is an issue that is particularly relevant to students, citing the My World survey that found that financial worries are among the most stressful for students. “I do feel that suicide is a student issue and a lot of it is to do with pressure around money due to various issues during a difficult economic climate in Ireland.”
NUS Elects First Non-University President The UK’s National Union of Students (NUS) recently elected Toni Pearce as its President. Pearce won on the first round of counts with 424 of the 732 valid votes cast. Pearce is the first President of the organisation not to have come from a University background, and comes from a Further Education College. More than 450 of the affiliated Student Unions in the NUS are non-University colleges. Speaking following her election president-elect Pearce said she was “really proud to have been given the opportunity to build the student movement around a vision for public education, and to be leading NUS as we build towards the next general election. Between now and 2015 we need to hold a full and frank debate about what education means to society and to properly articulate the public value of education in communities up and down the country.”
Aberdeen University offer ‘Puppy Room’ for stressed out students Scotland’s Aberdeen University has recently opened up a ‘Puppy Room’ for students experiencing stress from college work. Aberdeen is not the first to do so, and has followed colleges such as Dalhousie University, in Canada, US Kent State University in Ohio and Macalester College in Minnesota which have all introduced ‘Puppy Therapy’ to help students trying to cope in times of stress. According to researchers at Hiroshima University in Japan, photos of kittens and puppies make people feel better and also help them to concentrate. At Harvard Medical School and Yale Law School, resident therapy dogs can be borrowed similar to library books for stressed out students who wish to relax. Aberdeen has teamed up with Guide Dogs for the Blind Association to offer this service. Aberdeen’s President of Societies and Student Activities, Emma Carlen, has said they “got a really positive reaction to that from both the guide dogs and the students, it really chilled them out, so that encouraged us to get this set up for the exam period.”
The Ag Day annual milk replacement race was held last Tuesday, April 9th, outside the Agriculture Building. The race is to see who can drink the most milk without throwing up. This year’s winner was 2nd year Larry Kirwan, who drank 9 1/2 pints, half a pint short of the all time record. Other Ag Day events included a tug-of-war, three legged race, reel race, wheelbarrow obstacle course and an egg and spoon race.
Inclusion key issue for Disability Awareness Week BY JACK WALSH · CHIEF REPORTER & EOGHAN REGAN
University College Dublin Student’s Union (UCDSU) will be hosting a Disability Awareness Week, organised by UCDSU Disability Co-ordinator, Paddy Ferrity. The week began yesterday and will run until Thursday, April 18th, with Ferrity leaning towards a: “big focus on awareness more than events”. Ferrity described the difficulty of getting the week going: “Disability week in the past has either been terribly run or has basically been nonexistent, so we really want to make a good effort, and we have the week coming up which will start in the student centre, there will be a photo shoot and then af-
ter that there will be various speeches and presentations made by various members of NGO’s that work primarily helping those with disabilities”. The second day of events features a day in the life of a wheelchair user in UCD. Ferrity explained: “Essentially we’re going to have a cameraman follow myself and UCDSU Campaigns and Communications Officer Paddy Guiney around our day to day student life, just to highlight the struggle that is merely getting around campus, and to promote awareness among students who don’t have a physical disability to take notice of those that do.” Information stands will be available hosted by O2 Think Big and the Association for Higher Education Access & Disability (AHEAD). As Ferrity ex-
plains: “This will be different than the presentation by the NGO’s, as this will have a lot of information for you if you are a DSS student and how to apply to become one [and] what is available, It can be difficult and complicated”. Thursday will feature a talk entitled: “Combating Mental Health for DDS students”, which will be run by O2 Think Big. The week will continue with more lighthearted events such as Wheelchair Basketball and Blind Football. Defining the key messages of the week, Ferrity explained that: “engagement and inclusion is really the best way forward. It’s people not even differentiating from person to person, disability or not. Disability students don’t want to feel pitied and they don’t want
to feel like there’s something wrong with [them]. Students just want to feel like they should have equal access within the college, and DSS students are the same.” Ferrity has expressed his disillusionment from his predecessors, highlighting that the role has been in disarray for several years, aside from the work of Gerard Gallagher; with those affected most being the students the position aims to assist. Ferrity stated: “I believe that the position is solid, it’s just the people who run for the position. You can tell a hack from someone who actually cares. It’s all very well being very enthusiastic but when it comes down to it if you’re not going to perform then be the better person and don’t run”.
USI backs anti-prostitution campaign BY ANNE-MARIE FLYNN
The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) last week announced a decision to support the ‘Real Men Don’t Buy Girls’ social media campaign, which seeks to highlight how young girls are trafficked and forced into prostitution in Ireland. The move to endorse the initiative, organised by the Immigrant Council of Ireland, follows the passing of a motion to support the high-profile “Turn off the Red Light” campaign, at the recent USI Congress. Voting in favour of the anti-trafficking campaign, run by an alliance that represents over 1.6 million Irish
citizens, forced the USI to evaluate its position on prostitution and sex trafficking in Ireland. The USI has now adopted an official stance on these issues. As of March 28th, USI policy “does not perceive prostitution as a ‘service’ in any case”, regardless of whether sex workers work voluntarily in their position. The USI also supports the criminalisation of the purchasers of sex, as it believes these individuals fuel the profits of the sex trade, and perpetuate the exploitation of women, girls, and men. The motion states that the USI supports criminalisation of purchasers of sex, as such legislation forces buyers “to take responsibility for their actions” and emphasises that people should not
be treated as commodities to be bought and sold for sexual purposes. The USI are using this motion to show their recognition of the impact of prostitution on the physical and mental wellbeing of sex workers. The “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls” campaign invites participants to download or design a poster with this slogan and they then upload a picture of themselves holding their poster to Facebook and Twitter, to share the message with friends and colleagues. Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Denise Charlton states that “the message of the campaign could not be clearer and reflects what we know most men believe, ‘Real
Men Don’t Buy Girls’”. Charlton expressed hope that through the social media campaign, the Immigrant Council will lead “young men to reflect on this and ensure they are fully aware of the reality behind trafficking”. In spite of this recent development with regard to women’s rights, National Congress rejected three motions days before which were aimed at securing a greater degree of gender equality within the student movement and society at large. Along with USI, several high-profile Irish males including broadcasters Dáithí Ó Sé and Ray Foley and comedians Bernard O’Shea and Eric Lalor have publicly endorsed the campaign.
The University Observer | 16 April 2013
ation is in no way as bad as the Great Famine, the government must realise that emigration rates as high as these point towards a major issue; namely, that Irish people no longer feel satisfied with this country. The high rate of emigration coupled with the remarks of the IMF and the European Commission all point towards the same fact: something must change. Rather than dealing with the real issues, such as unemployment, they consistently strip funding from various parts of Irish life. Their approach seems to revolve around the belief that once the money is obtained and debts paid off, the other issues can be dealt with. This line of thought is flawed in its assumption that it was lack of money that got Ireland into the situation it is in today. All one has to do is look at the Celtic Tiger to discover that this was not the case at all. If Ireland is ever to recover, the government must look at the Irish situation differently. Five years into a recession, it is evident that austerity has very simply not worked. To see real change, the government must focus on the real social issues that plague the Irish people. Unemployment must be dealt with;
“The rate of emigration in Ireland further shows how austerity is not working. By the end of 2012, it was estimated that emigration had reached heights not seen since the Great Famine of the 1840s”
Observer Comment firstname.lastname@example.org
Cut and recover With the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission’s recent criticism of Ireland’s recovery process, Patrick Kelleher asks if is austerity really is working
t emerged recently that it is not just Irish people who are unhappy with the snail paced reform seen since 2008 when recession first set in; the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Commission have also expressed concern. According to a leaked draft of the IMF’s quarterly report and the European Commission’s recently published quarterly report, there are more issues to be tackled if Ireland is ever to recover. The report was particularly critical of how slowly the government has dealt with problem mortgages and their progress with dealing with nonperforming loans. They also criticised the approach to unemployment, with particular emphasis on the system that can leave people claiming benefits for years without meeting a case officer who could offer help. These observations of the troika are alarming, and show few positive indications for Ireland’s recovery. Since 2008 there have been six austerity budgets and 28.5 billion saved through spending cuts and taxes. One
“These observations of the troika are alarming, and show few positive indications for Ireland’s recovery”
would question why after five years of stringent conditions that have pushed many to breaking point, and many more out of this country, little has changed. While the country was in a better state at the end of 2012 than it had been at the end of the previous year, growth remains slow. The point of these cuts and extra taxes was to pull Ireland out of recession, yet it seems that the money evaporates almost instantaneously into Ireland’s debt. All the while the cuts become increasingly invasive. And while austerity is supposed to bring this country’s economic situation back to its former glory, is it possible that the government are ignoring the social implications? A 2012 survey by the Irish League of Credit Unions said that 20% of adults have no cash left after paying bills at the end of the month, and more than half have less than 100. Almost a quarter of those surveyed said it was unlikely that they would be able to afford the new property tax. Perhaps more worryingly for the government, 43% of those with little or no income left at the end of the month said they saw no future for themselves or their families in this country. And despite a clear pattern emerging, austerity continues, most notably with the aforementioned property tax. Leo Varadkar’s remarks in March of this year that the property tax is ‘easy to pay and hard to evade’ show in crystalline clarity just how detached the government has become from its people, in that it now needs to force austerity measures in such a manner. Essentially, what increased austerity has done is pushed people to the edge. They can no longer afford luxuries. In fact, many can barely afford the
necessities. When people have little money, they don’t purchase, resulting in businesses having to shut their doors for good. Ironically, this results in more people turning to social welfare to get by. It seems that austerity serves only to make people more reliant on the State, which is precisely what the government claims to want to avoid. Irish business owners seem to be split down the middle regarding whether or not a corner has finally been turned in the Irish economy. Almost half said in a recent poll that they did not intend to take on staff in 2013, and is this any wonder? Why would they be optimistic when they too have been pushed to the edge by harsh budget cuts and increased taxes? The recent closure of a company as large as HMV shows just how serious Ireland’s tentative situation remains. The rate of emigration in Ireland further shows how austerity is not working. By the end of 2012, it was estimated that emigration had reached heights not seen since the Great Famine of the 1840s, a period now deeply entrenched in Irish history for the untold death and suffering it brought about. While it is obvious that Ireland’s situ-
Poverty Problems With president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, intensifying calls to reduce global poverty, Anna Burzlaff asks if any meaningful progress can be made in this area
round 1.2 billion people are currently earning under $1.25 a day. That figure accounts for approximately 21% of the world’s population, and is very far off indeed from the World Bank’s goal of reducing global poverty to 3% by 2030. An emphasis on growth and shared prosperity is the only way of changing the statistics and ending global poverty, according to the World Bank’s president, Jim Yong Kim. During an interview with Larry Elliott, Kim referred to the figures of global poverty as “a stain on our conscience,” and that their reduction would be extremely difficult but achievable. So, is this a signal that times are going to change? With such an ambitious move for an 18% reduction in poverty spurring Kim and the World Bank on, is a significant reduction on the horizon? Sadly, it is unclear, as statements emphasising these problems do not always translate into results and the World Bank, and other third-world beneficiary organisations, have, in the past, miscalculated with an over reliance on growth as a means of raising third-world countries above the poverty line. The World Bank as an institution has two functions; supporting development and reducing poverty. While it is also involved in areas such as health care, education, and environmental issues, since its foundation in 1944, its main function has been to lend money, on favourable terms, to the governments of developing countries in order to finance things like roads, bridges, and irrigation projects, all of which is
predicated with the intention of spurring economic growth. This emphasis on growth, with marginal interest in social reform, has proved contentious in the past. Critics have claimed that money from the World Bank has been lent to corrupt governments, and thus, has had little effect in reducing inequality or supporting development. Growth accompanied by corruption can even see the condition of the poor worsen as opposed to improve. Growth does not equal poverty reduction, and an over emphasis on it can be dangerous. By promoting growth above all else, exploitation and inequal-
ity have the potential to become even more pronounced, rather than reduced, as is often claimed. Allowing increases in growth and GDP to take dominance over issues such as economic and social policy ultimately has an effect on the behaviour of global corporations. In an effort to increase GDP corporations can be given free reign by governments, thus establishing unfavourable working conditions and pay to the poor. Similarly, the government following a pro-growth trajectory can ignore social policy, leaving many poor stranded in terms of health care, education and so forth.
India is a prime example of growth gone wrong. Averaging an annual 8% GDP growth in the three years before the global financial crisis, India is now the 11th largest economy in the world, yet the disparity between rich and poor is alarming. During these three years India had 50 dollar billionaires who together controlled wealth equivalent to 20% of GDP and, reportedly, 80% of the stock market capitalisation. At the other end of the spectrum, the annual per capita income in India stood at around $1,000. That’s not to say that India hasn’t seen a reduction in its poverty rate, but that reduction is not anywhere near where it should be. Between 1981 and 2005, the poverty rate in India dropped from 60% to 42% according to a report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Compare this figure with China, which during the same period saw its poverty rate drop from 84% to 16%. Why such a disparity between the two? Well, according to the OECD, China looked at poverty-reducing growth and India didn’t. China followed a track of pro-poor growth,
businesses and entrepreneurship must be encouraged, and most of all, education must be invested in, in an attempt to create strong future leaders, who can try to prevent a recession as great as the one we find ourselves in today from ever happening again.
which combined social, economic, and political reforms, and demonstrated that policies that promote growth as well as policies that improve the income distribution (and do not suffer from large short-term trade-offs) will promote both pro-poor growth and poverty reduction. That a focus solely on growth can be highly detrimental to poverty reduction, is something that the World Bank is, perhaps, finally beginning to realise. Kim co-authored a book entitled Dying for Growth: Global Inequality and the Health of the Poor, in which he questioned the very premise of economic development, stating in the introduction: “The studies in this book present evidence that the quest for growth in GDP and corporate profits has in fact worsened the lives of millions of men and women.” Implementing growth in isolation rarely helps in reducing poverty, and the World Bank president seems to realise this. Economic and social policies, institutions and political arrangements are mutually supportive. Therefore, the pursuit of policies in one development domain, while neglecting others, is likely to undermine efforts to combat poverty and inequality. Equitable distribution of wealth can only occur if the parameters (social, political, and economic reforms) of change are in place. In essence, the terminology needs to be shifted from “growth” to “pro-poor growth”. Poverty reduction will always be on the agenda. What matters most is how that attempt at reduction is approached. The formula of growth above all else appears to be failing. Billions of dollars have been spent on aid and lent to governments, but global poverty still remains high. The light now needs to be firmly shone in the direction of where this money is going. The key words facing poverty reduction are corruption and inequality. And until you tackle the two, it seems that the loans of the World Bank and aid organisations will make little more than a dent in statistics of global poverty.
The University Observer | 16 April 2013
In sickness and in health With Patrick Nulty TD criticising the government’s approach to healthcare reform, promised by both parties in the last general election, Claudine Murphy examines what has been achieved so far
here is no doubt that our healthcare system is in need of urgent reform. A two-tier system of health apartheid and inequality persists. Those who cannot afford private health insurance wait months and even years for vital medical procedures while those who can afford health insurance can access medical services that should be provided to everyone,” Patrick Nulty TD recently wrote. Nulty, a member of the Labour Party, currently sitting as an Independent in the Dail for losing the party whip, has regularly criticised the government for its actions since he was elected in 2011. The government has plans to implement a Universal Health Insurance, an innovation which many in Ireland appear to welcome, disillusioned with the current two-tiered healthcare system of public and private care. In a recent article penned by Nulty, he stated his support for this new system, however he encouraged further discussion regarding which type of Universal Health Insurance will deliver the best healthcare outcome for Ireland, while also making the best use of Ireland’s limited resources. Universal healthcare is defined as a single-tiered healthcare system characterised by a mandatory universal health insurance (UHI), equity of access to health care services would be determined by need rather than payment, risk equalisation and chronic disease management in the community. This has become an issue of growing focus, and has escalated with the new Government proposing that our current two-tiered system will evolve into a one-tiered, universal healthcare system over a five-year period using the Dutch system as a model. Fine Gael has previously advocated a multi-payer
model of competing private insurance companies based on the “Dutch” model. The Labour Party, in contrast, advocate a single-payer model. According to the new programme for government, insurance with a public or private provider will be compulsory by 2016 and payments will be related to ability to pay and not by gender or age or health status. This risk equalisation ensures that health insurers will be unable to refuse any applicant. As part of the new system, registration with a primary care team will be obligatory for all patients as soon as the UHI has been implemented in Ireland. There are however, some potentially detrimental consequences leading from the introduction of the UHI. Firstly, Universal primary care will replace GP fees with annual capitation fees. There is also a planned reduc-
“The Dutch system ranked third last when patient-centred care measures were reviewed, which may reflect this target driven system where effectiveness is improved at the cost of patient satisfaction”
tion in GP income, which may prove difficult for practices already coping with a number of significant reductions in capitation and support fees in the recent years of economic recession. Reports from the UK would lead us to believe that waiting times for appointments in general practice are shorter in Ireland versus the UK and it is possible that this may be one of the inevitable trade-offs if this system is introduced. This system promotes a more structured approach to chronic illness care; however it might also lead doctors to treat the test result rather than the patient. The Dutch system ranked third last when patient-centred care measures were reviewed, which may reflect this target driven system where effectiveness is improved at the cost of patient satisfaction. The 2010 Dutch Healthcare Performance Report discusses the fact that insurance companies are mainly competing to limit the cost of health care services, with quality of care being of limited influence and this is undoubtedly a worrying feature of an insurance company dominated health service. Another consequence of such an insurance company controlled system, would be as insurers try to source the cheapest generic drugs, many patients may receive pills with different brand names every three months. Such inconsistency has proved to be distressing for patients, especially the elderly, where compliance is compromised as a result. The introduction of compulsory health insurance provided by competing private insurance companies has led to an incredible level of bureaucracy within the Dutch system, reports Nulty, stating that every healthcare provider must establish an individual contract with each insurance company for the provision of each medical pro-
Patrick Nulty TD cedure and consultation. This resulted in some 30,000 separate Diagnostic Treatment Combinations being established, which each had combinations to be administered and regulated. Nulty emphasises that with the introduction of competition there needs to be increased regulation, quality control assurance and information provision to ensure that basic standards of care are met. These are all important to have within a healthcare system but become increasingly necessary when a profit motive is introduced. This leads directly to an increase in staff required for these functions and therefore will inevitably lead to an increase in costs. All of these are significant factors which must be considered when debating the proposal of a prospective Universal Health Insurance system in Ireland. If the government in Ireland choose to adopt the Dutch model, increased costs will be likely. Nulty also enforces the point that if this model is used, as costs increase under a private health insur-
ance model, medical treatments and procedures can often become de-listed and sometimes sections of the population can be left without any cover or with heavily reduced cover. Although Nulty considers the pros and cons of the implementation of the highly reviewed Dutch model of the Universal Health Insurance system, he states that Ireland desperately needs a fresh debate on the direction of our health services. He also is fearful of increased government costs, leading to a renewed two tier system, or a three tier system, in which one tier would be covered by state financed Universal Health Insurance, covering only basic procedures, a second tier with no health cover at all and a third-tier who would be able to purchase sufficient insurance to cover all of their medical needs. To prevent the implementation of such a system and to introduce a health system that seems fair to everyone, discussion and debate on this subject is greatly encouraged.
The University Observer | 16 April 2013
drug policy, and advocates full decriminalization of drugs, including heroin. He has pointed out that it is not laws which prevent people from abusing narcotics, sarcastically asking an audience of Republicans at a primary debate last year: “How many people here would use heroin if it was legal? I bet nobody would”, the audience responded with applause prompting moderator and FOX news host Chris Wallace to remark: “I never thought heroin would get applause here in South Carolina.” Paul’s argument, though perhaps unconventional, is absolutely true however. It is not the case that relaxation of drug laws leads to an increase in their use. Rather the opposite has been shown to be the case. In Portugal, where drug use is treated as a medical problem rather than a criminal one, use of narcotics such as heroin has rapidly decreased over the past decade. It has also led to a decrease in the countries HIV rate. In the 1990s use of hard drugs became a serious problem in Portugal, which had the highest number of drug related AIDS deaths in the EU. The Lisbon government originally responded by increasing sentences for convictions and increasing spending on prosecuting drug use, before discovering that this had only made
matters worse. In 2001, they made a drastic change in policy, opting to fully decriminalise personal drug use, and steadily the numbers began to decline instead of increasing. Compare this to the United Nations Estimates of Annual Drug Consumption, which estimates that from 1998 to 2008 Opiate use increased by 34.5%, Cocaine by 27% and Cannabis by 8.5%. This isn’t to say that Portugal has become an anarchy wherein drug use is happily permitted. This is far from the case. Dealers are still prosecuted and imprisoned appropriately, and those caught in possession of drugs summoned before a body that deals directly with addiction, and are offered treatment from doctors, psychologists and other drug-related specialists. In 2009 alone, 1.66 million Americans were arrested for drugs, 80% of them for simple possession alone. With the Prison-Industrial Complex in the US completely out of control, the War on Drugs to minority groups has become a new form of slavery, with one in 15 black men behind bars, and one in 13 unable to vote because of prison convictions. Perhaps, in light of these facts, the US could show an example to the world and follow the Portuguese and end the War on Drugs.
not just feeling down from time to time. In some cases, depression can cause a person to be physically ill or it can lead to insomnia, just to name a few of the physical side effects. That is not to say that only people who exhibit physical side effects are suffering from depression. Depression is a notoriously silent disease, with many sufferers hiding in broad daylight for fear of what their peers might think of them. Despite what many of us say out loud to others, it is common for someone to refuse to admit that they are suffering from a mental illness and see asking for help as a humiliating admission of a weakness in themselves. No matter how many times it has been said, it can always be said again: seeking help for a mental illness is no different to seeking help for a physical one. There seems to be, to some degree, a belief that mental illnesses are something that people can simply push through by sheer force of will. The idea persists that someone who is able to have a laugh can’t possibly be depressed. But that’s the thing about mental illnesses; unless you are constantly showing the symptoms of your problem, it is easy for others, and yourself, to dismiss it. A broken bone is a broken bone, clear for all to see, but that is not the case for many milder forms of mental illness. Even our attitudes to addiction are wrong. Perhaps it is part of our Catholic heritage that we feel the need to attach blame to everything. We blame alcoholics for letting themselves become alcoholics, as if alcoholism is caused simply by drinking too much. We confuse a symptom with a cause and so we end up blaming the person who desperately needs our help to get sober.
“No matter how many times it has been said, it can always be said again: seeking help for a mental illness is no different to seeking help for a physical one”
We are at War With the War on Drugs raging on, Evan O’Quigley examines its consequences
ast month representatives from many nations across the world met in Vienna for the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs. While many topics were likely discussed in relation to global policies related to drug use, like every other year, it continued to ignore the reality of the ‘War on Drugs’. This ‘war’ has led to unimaginable numbers of human rights abuses and in reality has not worked since it was first launched by Richard Nixon in 1971. So began a system of strict prohibition, increasing incarcerations, (mostly of Black and Latino Americans), and increased military and foreign aid to countries that would willingly put the boot down on drug use, mostly in the Americas. Perhaps Nixon’s biggest mistake in launching the horribly misguided war on narcotics was portraying drug users as immoral criminals rather than alienated addicted youths who had been troubled by poverty, racism and urban crises. In fact, all of these problems were acknowledged by Stephen Hess, appointed by Nixon as the Na-
“Mainstream opposition to the War on Drugs does seem to be finally finding its footing in recent years, with more politicians willingly speaking out against it”
tional Chairman of the White House Conference for Children and Youth. Nixon appointed Hess with the task of listening to young Americans all across the country in order to understand how so many had become disaffected and turned to crime, including drug use. Rather than Nixon stressing the need to correct the root causes of the alienation that had led so many disaffected youth to drug use, something which would have involved acknowledging the underlying institutional racism in his ‘Southern Strategy’ and the widespread urban poverty of Americans who had missed out on the so-called ‘Dream’. Nixon decided to double down on intolerance of drug use, in his rhetoric heavily linking it to crime rather than as a medical or societal problem. Drug users were portrayed as criminals who lack the moral fibre of the American moral majority. The War on Drugs today is a global phenomenon, affecting every continent across the world. Fernando Henrique Cardoso, a former President of Brazil who has also chaired the Global Commission on Drug Policy, has been a vocal critic of global drug policy, arguing it has caused more human rights abuses and deaths than lives it has saved. Although recently, two US states legalised recreational marijuana use, federal law remains as strict as before. In 2006, Mexico announced its own ‘War on drugs’ similar to the US, and since then 60,000 Mexicans have died. Human Rights Watch have also documented 149 disappearances in Mexico at the hands of the army and the police, likely a conservative estimate at that. Since Nixon, the situation has only worsened. Barack Obama, despite saying he would not use the term ‘War on Drugs’, finding it counterproductive, has not made any significant changes to global or domestic policies regarding drugs, and every US President since
the beginning of the Great Depression has had much the same stance on drug related issues. In 2011, the Global Commission on Drug Policy released a critical report on the Drug War, stating that “The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. 50 years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and 40 years after President Nixon launched the US government’s war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed.” Yet despite this criticism, there has been little change to government policy, both in the US and abroad in relation to narcotic prohibition and use. Although there has been no progress in terms of policy, mainstream opposition to the War on Drugs does seem to be finally finding its footing in recent years, with more politicians willingly speaking out against it instead of repeating the same Nixonian rhetoric in relation to policies in this area. Ron Paul, a US libertarian Republican politician who although largely considered outside of the mainstream, and holding unconventional if not bizarre views on many matters, has been one of the most fierce and outspoken critics of global
Matters of the mind Kevin Beirne wonders why mental health issues are still so taboo in modern Ireland
f the hundreds of people you see and interact with every day, it estimated that one in four of them has suffered from a mental illness in their lifetime. Whether it is depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or something else on the wide spectrum of mental illnesses, you can probably think of someone close to you, maybe even yourself, who is part of that quarter of society. With so many people carrying these invisible illnesses around with them in their day to day lives, why are we so afraid to talk about them? No one would hesitate to tell anyone who will listen about the time they broke an arm
or how a last second appendectomy saved their life, but when it comes to issues of our mental health, we are expected to ignore any problems we have. This is not an issue that is unique to Ireland, but it does feel more prevalent in our society. We live in a country where more than twice as many people take their own lives than die on our roads each year. In 2011, there were 525 reported suicides in Ireland, compared to 186 road deaths for the same year. As a culture, our attitude towards mental health is disgraceful. We somehow managed to label mental illnesses as both shameful and quirky simultaneously by self-diagnosing ourselves with serious conditions like OCD or de-
pression, and then telling those who legitimately suffer from these afflictions to just get on with their lives. Whether you alienate or envy those with mental illnesses, you are not giving them and their illness the respect they deserve. Mental illnesses are no different from physical illnesses, in that they need to be treated correctly in order to minimise the pain of those who have them. The only way in which physical and mental illnesses are not alike is in the fact that we cannot simply look at someone and tell that they are living with bipolar disorder. Make no mistake, those with mental health problems have to live with those issues every single day. Depression is
“We live in a country where more than twice as many people take their own lives than die on our roads each year”
We ignore the fact that an addiction is often due to an underlying psychological issue, while other times it can just be down to the dumb luck of a genetic predisposition to addiction, often both. Alcoholism, in particular, does not seem to be taken as seriously as it should by our society since we do not like to be told that we drink too much. Still, there remains much ignorance of how to treat those suffering with a mental illness. There are those who claim that pills and medicine cannot possibly be the answer, that they will only make things worse, while others will swear by the medication route and encourage you to take a pill for any ailment. As ever, this is an entirely simplified version of the story. In effect, the mental illness spectrum is so large that it is impossible to just give one cure. You can’t expect to mend a broken bone through chemotherapy; much like treating a case of depression will require something different than it would to treat pyromania. Even within a particular illness, we seem to forget that every case is different and different methods will work for different people. It is truly baffling how differently our society treats mental and physical illnesses. As we move further into the 21st century, we are working hard to remove the stigmas surrounding so many things, like homosexuality and sexual promiscuity. We must extend this action further, as we cannot afford to keep treating mental illness with the same ignorance and fear as we have done until now.
The University Observer | 16 April 2013
Observer Features The gender gap
With our incoming sabbatical team consisting of four males, and female participation in students’ unions a hotly debated topic at the moment, Aoife Valentine seeks to get to the core of the gender gap problem “I do wish there was a female on the incoming sabbatical team, and every year,” says UCD Students’ Union (SU) President Rachel Breslin, the first female sabbatical officer in this University since 2007/08. Breslin is one of four women to have ever served as President, the most recent of whom served over almost 15 years ago. In the 38 years of the SU’s existence, there have been 30 female officers (counting Breslin twice as the only woman to have been successfully re-elected) which amounts to roughly 17% of all sabbatical officers. Though this is slightly above the national average of 15% for women elected to the Dáil, it is still very clear that there is a problem. While it is acknowledged that this is an issue
for women this seems to extend further. People judge appearance, how you dress, how you talk, how ‘emotionally involved’ you are... This was something which I found to be quite shocking and startling. One person said to me at one stage that they would not vote for a woman as they would become too emotionally invested in the position and would most likely ‘end up in tears at least once a month on their hormonal roller coaster’. At another stage speaking passionately was interpreted as ‘aggression’ which was an unladylike quality. One male student told a canvasser that if I ‘lost a few pounds’ and did myself up, I ‘wouldn’t be too bad’ and another commented that if I ‘got [my] tits out’ he’d vote for me. I am pretty sure; in fact
“One person said to me at one stage that they would not vote for a woman as they would become too emotionally invested in the position and would most likely ‘end up in tears at least once a month on their hormonal roller coaster’. At another stage speaking passionately was interpreted as ‘aggression’ which was an unladylike quality. One male student told a canvasser that if I ‘lost a few pounds’ and did myself up, I ‘wouldn’t be too bad’ and another commented that if I ‘got [my] tits out’ he’d vote for me” by most, many believe that it is something that is improving, with first year Union Class Representative (UCR) for Stage One English, Film and Drama, Ellen Mae Metzger pointing to a largely female group of Conveners (part-time officers) elected last month, stating: “When you look at the Convener elections, there are quite a few candidates who show potential for sabbatical positions in the coming years. So yes, I would say that, with regards to the future of women in sabbatical positions, it is improving.” This is something that UCDSU Gender Equality Co-ordinator Ciara Johnson refutes, commenting: “To be blunt, no. I think that can be seen from this years’ elections, while women may have run for positions, they have been hesitant to enter races which are contested or those for sabbatical positions.” On this matter, it’s interesting to look at the list of past officers and note that it was a relatively regular occurrence for two women to be elected in a given year 20 years ago. While there were still many years where the Students’ Union was made up of all men, in the last decade, only four women have been elected to office, out of 49 available positions. Next year’s team contains no women, and it is hard to argue that things are improving when faced with numbers such as this. Why then, is the Union becoming an increasingly unattractive prospect for female students? Breslin believes that the Union’s perception has a large part to play, stating: “It’s probably a selffulfilling prophecy. When you look at the poster of the sabbatical team and you see five guys, it becomes subconsciously or consciously ingrained in you that that’s a man’s job, that there must be something particularly male about that job if it’s coincidentally five guys, so I think that’s the start of it.” Union of Students in Ireland (USI) Equality Officer Laura Harmon agrees, naming one of the key issues as being “visualisation, so if you can’t see yourself in a role, then you’re not going to put yourself forward.” This is something she feels the statistics back up for student politics nationally. “In general there’s about 20% of sabbatical officers in students’ unions, excluding USI Officer Board, who are female... There are some notable statistics, like there are just five female full time presidents within students’ unions at the moment and there are nine students’ unions that have no female sabbatical officers at all.” Johnson believes this is one of a number of factors that make women “hesitant to put themselves forward”. She cites women selling themselves short and not being as readily encouraged to run for election as their male counterparts, along with being more risk averse as some of these reasons, though she places an emphasis on the criticism and judgements women receive while running an election campaign. She explained: “As a woman running, you are scrutinised and analysed in every single way, and while I agree that every candidate should be tested on their policy, experience, ideas and aptitude,
I am positive that none of this would have been said had I been male. If women witness this kind of behaviour and attitude towards other women, why would they want to run?” It seems these experiences are more universal than we’d like to think, with Harmon also citing judgements based solely on looks or clothing being common, and Breslin stating: “Rather disappointingly, it’s easier for the guy to be seen as the cool candidate... I think women have to prove more of a point that they’re hard and can negotiate difficult situations and lead. Males are seen more as natural leaders, more naturally hard line, and more able to hold their ground, where females are seen as more emphatic and caring and not as able to deliver.” Former SU President Pat de Brún took a similar stance, stating: “Objectively... no. All candidates are subjected to the same rules... In terms of perception however, it’s a different matter entirely. I do believe it’s true that women who put themselves forward for election are often scrutinised more negatively than their male counterparts. Why that is exactly is not easy to answer, and I suspect it has deeply embedded cultural reasons. Around elections you often here the truism that women don’t vote for other women, or tend to be more critical than they would be of male candidates. Maybe that’s true, or maybe it’s just a bullshit excuse to blame women themselves for being discriminated against.” Metzger however, believes that campaigns are difficult for everyone. She commented: “I can understand where the media, and anyone else with that perception, is coming from but I don’t hold that belief myself. I view it as being equally difficult for anyone running a campaign.” Given that many people believe that barriers do exist to women getting elected, it is unsurprising that a number of motions were discussed centring around encouraging female participation in students’ unions at the USI’s annual policy-making conference, Congress. What is interesting to note however, is that a number of these motions fell. Harmon is keen to highlight that many delegates found that the motions weren’t far-reaching enough, as she explained: “People found the term ‘participation’ to be quite tokenistic, as opposed to saying female representation, participation seems to indicate something lesser. I think that that might have been one of the reasons why people voted against it.” However, it is impossible to ignore the fact that a number of female delegates spoke against the motion, stating that they felt it was insulting to suggest that women needed more encouragement than males. Metzger was one such student at Congress, and she believes it is necessary to encourage everyone, of all genders, to run for election: “I don’t believe that there should a separate campaign for encouraging women. If someone male or female wishes to run for a position then they will, I think more needs to be done with regards encouraging people in general to run. In my opin-
“Around elections you often here the truism that women don’t vote for other women, or tend to be more critical than they would be of male candidates. Maybe that’s true, or maybe it’s just a bullshit excuse to blame women themselves for being discriminated against” ion putting an emphasis on getting women to run could not only discourage men from running but also add pressure to female candidates.” De Brún is adamant that encouragement is necessary, pointing to other countries as examples: “I do believe that there are things that can be done, and they need to be done... It’s not a coincidence that socially progressive countries such as in Scandinavia have much better levels of female participation than we do. For me, that is proof enough that positive action can lead to greater participation.” This is echoed by Johnson, who says: “Every year, I hear people argue that women have just as much of an opportunity to run. If you asked me a few years ago, I may have agreed, but this attitude completely fails to acknowledge the continued dearth of female candidates and totally ignores the potential barriers that discourage women from putting themselves forward for election. We as a Union need to take an active approach in understanding why it is that we have only had four female sabbats in the past ten years. Continuing arguing that women have equal opportunity is ignoring the underlying problems we clearly have and merely attempts to sweep them under the carpet.” Breslin believes that we need to go one step further and impose gender quotas in politics. This suggestion is often met with much controversy, but she feels now it’s necessary: “I was previously very much against gender quotas but now I think when we need a cultural change and we need it fast, then I think quotas will achieve that, but they’re only a short-term thing. When children grow up and see female TDs and females in all different areas of power and public positions, I think that will make a real difference. I was always of the opinion that, ‘Well I made it and it was fine, it wasn’t a big issue’ but that forgets... the women who aren’t there to make those arguments, because of one of these barriers, tangible or intangible... Just because one person makes it, doesn’t
mean there is no glass ceiling... I don’t think it is insulting at all that there are additional factors that would need to be put in place, because it’s never long term... It’s only insulting if you’re saying it’s the solution, but I’m saying it’s just a step in the solution.” This is something that Harmon agrees with, stating: “USI doesn’t have current policy on gender quotas, but on a personal level, I am in favour of affirmative action,” though Johnson and de Brún both believe that putting in the “groundwork” that is very actively encouraging women to run for election through visible campaigns and workshops, and introducing the concept from a young age, will result in women being more confident putting themselves forward for election. Metzger however, believes this will result in lesser candidates being elected: “If someone, male or female wishes to run then they will. Installing gender quotas, in my opinion, could make someone with better qualifications and more passion for the position, be disregarded.” It’s clear that there is no solution universally agreed, or indeed proven, to mend the gender gap in politics, and indeed many other industries. De Brún posits a curious point on this when he says: “An interesting difference is the fact that many people argue that women don’t get ahead in politics (and business, for example) due to conflicts with family commitments. These concerns play a much smaller role in the university environment, but despite that we see equally bad or worse rates of participation. This leads me to believe that the issue is not about opportunity, but rather about how the role of women is perceived in society on an extremely subtle level.” This is something Breslin touched on, when she stated that often it comes down to society “valuing male opinions over female opinions” and viewing men as “a safer bet”. It seems that reforming how society views women, down to their basic competencies, is at the base of what needs to change if women are ever to be seen equally. It is somewhat a chicken and egg argument however, as views are difficult to change without women proving themselves, but it is difficult for them to do just that, in the current social climate, where women aren’t being elected. While both Breslin and Harmon emphasised their wishes to work with organisations like Women for Election, to help increase the numbers of female names on ballot papers so they’re in with a fighting chance of election, perhaps work needs to be done to convince the electorate that their bias is unfounded, as well. Johnson sums it up when she says: “I don’t think women should be under-estimated; the ability and talent of any person will to come to the fore, irrespective of their gender, provided they are on a level playing pitch with members of the opposite sex. But, this can only be done by creating a cultural change, whereby women are expected to and are encouraged to have the same role and active participation in politics as men.”
The University Observer | 16 April 2013
The Cold War against Global Warming After the snowiest spring Ireland has endured in recent history, Emily Longworth explains how the cold snap is another one of the many unfavourable effects of climate change
ir, I’ll believe in global warming when I don’t have to turn on my central heating in mid-June. Yours, etc,” These are the words of a disgruntled Irish Times reader in a letter to the paper’s Editor last summer. Although made in good humour, his comment embodies the increasingly more common disregard that many Irish people have adopted towards the signs of global warming. In the last month these sentiments have seen a revival, after the unexpected cold snap that arrived with Spring. But contrary to what it might seem, the April snow showers have been a direct result of rising global temperatures. It appears paradoxical; snowfall in April being caused by global warming. It becomes too easy for many to dismiss the claims of a global climate crisis on the basis of this contradiction. But extreme weather patterns have always been a symptom of global warming. This recent cold snap is the latest unpredictable turn our weather patterns have taken in the last few years, after several summers of torrential rain and winter freezes that have topped the meteorological charts for coldest on record for decades. Our uncharacteristic seasons have been the result of the changing pattern of the Jet stream, the strong winds that circulate between the tropics and the Arctic. In the last decade, the direction of the Jet stream winds have been gradually drifting off their usual course. This is owing to Arctic ice melt, and ultimately, to the global temperature increases that have melted it. When glacial sheets of ice melt, oceanic temperature is increased, and this affects the atmosphere which dictates the pattern of the jet stream. Jennifer Francis, a research profes-
sor at the Rutgers Institute of Coastal and Marine Science, explains the correlation between the two: “The sea ice is going rapidly. It’s 80% less than it was just 30 years ago. There has been a dramatic loss. This is a symptom of global warming and it contributes to enhanced warming of the Arctic. This is what is affecting the jet stream and leading to the extreme weather we are seeing in mid-latitudes, it allows the cold air from the Arctic to plunge much further south. The pattern can be slow to change because the [southern] wave
“The world might reach a tipping point where the process will escalate sharply and will be irreversible, with severe social and economic effects”
A call for help 40 years since the first mobile phone call, Nicole Casey examines how positive advancements can come with crippling addictions
ownloading songs in a millisecond. Making transatlantic video calls. Capturing pictures of a better quality than a semidecent camera. These are just some of the gifts mobile phones have given us since their invention in the 1970’s. However, with positive advancements in technology, it is almost inevitable that the list of not so positive repercussions will be twice as long. In America, there are more mobile phones in circulation than there are people. On a smartphone you can download everything from books to bookies, making online gambling an ever growing problem. And, for the first time ever, people are starting to enter rehab for technology addiction. All of this, coupled with the millions
“Smartphone technology has revolutionised the whole mobile market, but at the moment, from a technological point of view, smartphones can pretty much do everything that’s possible”
of the jet stream is getting bigger. It’s now at a near record position, so whatever weather you have now is going to stick around” She is not the only one who maintains there is a direct link between ice melt and our Baltic winters; numerous research papers have demonstrated her theory, and it is supported by the international community of climatology researchers. It’s a pity, then, that the phenomenon completely evades the notice of the average Irish person. It would undoubtedly help the cause of global
warming prevention if more people entertained the idea of its existence. During his recent visit to UCD, the esteemed American linguist and political critic Noam Chomsky outlined the detrimental backwardness that climate change denial promotes. This is not to say that the commonly-heard expressions of ‘Bring back global warming ha ha ha!’ during obligatory conversations about Irish weather are an intentional denial of climate change, but they certainly represent a distorted awareness, at the very least. In his address, Noam Chomsky examined this culture of denial that has dominated the climate change debate in the states. “Media reports commonly present a controversy between two sides on climate change. One side consists of the overwhelming majority of scientists, the world’s major national academies of science, and the professional sci-
of germs that touch screens harbour on their shiny surface, means smartphones are finally starting to show their true, sinister colours. On April 3rd 1973, a Motorola employee Martin Cooper made what was widely regarded globally as the first mobile phone call on a Motorola DynaTAC. This phone, referred to as a “brick” due its size, comprised 30 circuit boards, had 35 minutes of talk time, and took ten hours to recharge. Nowadays, even a “brick” mobile phone has a lot more to offer. Average mobile phones can take photos, play music, and even send emails, as well as possessing the basic talk and text functions. But what advancements can we expect from mobile phones over the next 40 years? According to UCD Management Information Systems lecturer Matt Glowatz, very few. “Smartphone technology has revolutionised the whole mobile market, but at the moment, from a technological point of view, smartphones can pretty much do everything that’s possible. You can’t smell on the internet, you can’t touch on the internet…so I don’t actually see any ground-breaking revolutions [happening].” “What may happen over the next few years is the integration of mobile payments, where you actually start using your phone to make payments. [This technology] is called Nearfield Communication, and it’s already used quite heavily in Asia and America.” While there is no doubt that the smartphone has revolutionised the modern world, it is unfortunately having more detrimental effects in developing countries. A recent United Nations survey has stated that more people on earth have access to mobile phones than toilets. Out of a world population of seven billion, six billion have
access to mobile phones, while only 4.5 million have access to working toilets. This shocking statistic raises the question: Are we too focused on technology development, letting basic problems such as sanitation fall by the wayside? It seems these are the problems people just don’t like to talk about. Companies are focusing most of their time on developing new technology, while people in the developing world are lacking the most basic of services. Technology does not only cause problems in the developing world. The problems caused by smartphones and constant internet access can be seen everywhere. In 2010, Britain opened its first Internet Rehab Clinic, amid fears that children as young as 12 were addicted to the internet. Glowatz explains: “What defines technology addiction? You can’t live without some-
thing, or you’re so used to living with something that if that something is going to be taken away from you you’re going to end up like a cold turkey, getting withdrawal symptoms. It’s all about media addiction, rather than internet addiction. If you take for example online gambling, online gaming, compulsive surfing, eBay, online auction addiction, social media addiction. All of those applications are based on the internet. The internet is just the infrastructure. So we just have to take it one step further and see [which you are addicted to].” Our constant internet access is what makes these media addictions so much easier to engage with. Long gone are the days where your only access to internet was when you were safely ensconced at home with your personal Wi-Fi. Dublin County Council are currently working
ence journals... They agree that global warming is taking place, that there is a substantial human component, that the situation is serious and perhaps dire, and that very soon, maybe within decades, the world might reach a tipping point where the process will escalate sharply and will be irreversible, with severe social and economic effects.” And the other side? Opposition consists of the unshakeable group of sceptics, some among them scientists, who claim that we can’t know enough about global warming to say that it will impact as hard as many predict. But there are further groups of sceptics, the majority of Republicans in US congress among them, who adamantly deny the evidence for climate change, dismissing it as a “liberal hoax”. This makes short-term economic sense, if corporations profit from the large-scale practices which damage our planet but earn revenue, it would defy the direct interests of all the investors to accept global warming. This is what Chomsky describes as an institutional paradox; in that the purveyors of denial are acutely aware of the risks of that denial, but they are bound by it, and it generates a culture of ignorance. “It tells you something about the nature of our society; those same CEOs and managers that are trying to convince the public that it’s a liberal hoax know perfectly well that it’s extremely dangerous, they have the same beliefs that you and I have, and so they’re caught in an institutional contradiction. As leaders of major corporations they have an institutional role and that is to maximise short term profit.” This is a valuable insight into the government policies that dictate our nation’s response to its own damaging actions. The misinformation that downplays climate change in the media may be more digestible for the reader, but it propagates a dangerous disregard for the truth of the issue. Unfortunately it may take weather patterns more extreme than the cold snap to waken people up to the reality of global warming.
“Out of a world population of 7 billion, 6 billion have access to mobile phones, while only 4.5 million have access to working toilets”
on making the city a Wi-Fi zone, buses and trains have installed Wi-Fi, and almost every mobile payment plan comes with a vast supply of internet data. Our access to the internet is constant, and so too are our addictions. Youth website Spunout.ie believe the internet is responsible for a recent surge in online gambling addiction: “With the click of a mouse, people can play poker and bingo, bet on sporting events and have fun with online casinos. Sometimes things go so far that people neglect their personal health, their family/friends and their work or studies. As with all addictions, the person’s life may become a complete mess as a result of the gambling, yet the person becomes unable to stop.” Glowatz believes addiction should be dealt with if it becomes a problem: “You can actually do an online addiction test, its www.netaddiction.com, it will tell you if you are addicted. I don’t think I’m addicted to the internet. But I think it’d be tough to live without technology for one week. One day fair enough, but one week, no.” The positive aspects of the advancements in mobile technology in the last 40 years are undeniable. We can keep in touch with friends and family far away, we can access endless information, we can even preserve our whole life online. But we can also become victims of cyberbullying, slaves to online addictions, and lifeless husks of our previous selves, as we focus all energy into cultivating the perfect online personality. Hopefully, as mobile technology continues to advance over the next number of decades, so too will our ability to engage with it in a safe and fun way.
The University Observer | 16 April 2013
END OF YEAR REVIEW Rachel Breslin President
his has been a year of crisis and change for the Students’ Union. Breslin lists her biggest accomplishment as managing the financial situation, and this is a fair assessment. At the beginning of her term, the SU was in debt to the tune of 1.4 million, and the its future was very uncertain. One of her main goals in her manifesto was to develop a four year commercial plan, and she not only did this, but was approved for a 1.1m loan on the back of it. To tighten up financial controls she also instituted several new financial structures outlined in her manifesto; requiring a finance committee to approve large expenditure, presenting audited accounts to students and having a detailed budget where deviations must be reported. In addition to overhauling the financial structure of the Union, Breslin and her team also helped secure 1m of extra funding for the library, over 500,000 extra for the Welfare Fund, and negotiated the mini-
mum registration deposit needed from half down to a third. This was a greater achievement for Breslin, when you consider that UCDSU has had no General Manager this year, leaving Breslin to fulfil both roles. Being the political, financial and commercial authority for the Union has been a huge strain, and Breslin is looking forward to the the President not being “the only person really who has an authority on the Union”. “My role since I took office has been both the General Manager and the President,” she explained. “We’re paying a separate General Manager a whole separate wage, way in excess of the President next year... It’s fine being the political authority... but particularly being the commercial authority is very difficult and long term that’s a very risky situation for a student President to be in. I think it’s very important there is a General Manager that takes a huge amount of the responsibility that I had this year in terms of organisation and commercial, and places that in the hands
he role of the Welfare Vice President is generally accepted as the most important sabbatical position within the Students’ Union (SU); even surmounting that of President at times. This elevated responsibility is partly due to a change in direction a number of years ago. “I think that a number of years ago Welfare took a step in a direction that could have been right at the time but one that we need to move away from now,” says Mícheál Gallagher. “That was a step towards too much service provision. We’re taking men and women in their early twenties and late teens and burning them out over the course of a year. I think we need to be turning the Welfare and Equality Officer into a role where they are campaigning for better service provision across the entire campus.” That is a development that Gallagher will be able to act upon as President-elect of the SU. However, casting a thought back over the year and looking at his achievements, he focused on the financial accomplishments throughout the year: “I guess the biggest accomplishment would be twofold. It would be in the financial remit of my job. When I say two-fold I mean number one, dealing with the SUSI crisis that grasped the entire country. I felt that we dealt with it particularly effectively here in UCD. Number two, in the aftermath of SUSI by addressing what is wrong with our welfare funds and reforming them in such a way that it is streamlined, easy to access service.” Gallagher keenly notes that addressing the teething issues with the SUSI grant system were problems he foresaw developing before his election to the role in spring 2012. Dealing with these issues unfortunately falls at the feet of the Welfare Officer, and though he counts how he dealt with it as one of his biggest successes, it is equally part of the cause of what he lists as his biggest failing: not having the time to run many campaigns. “I’d have liked to campaign on more kind of varied topics this year. This year was particularly challenging
“We’re taking men and women in their early twenties and late teens and burning them out over the course of a year”
Mícheál Gallagher Welfare
in terms of office hours between 9am and 5pm. I’ll stand over it that I always prioritise casework over my campaigning, but if I could go back and do it again, I would have preferred to have more time for campaigning on welfare issues.” This shortcoming didn’t stop Gallagher fulfilling his other remits and promises made before he got into office last summer. His first reach clinic that advised students who were unsure about seeking counselling was a welcomed service, while also developing UCD’s relationship with the eating disorders organisation Bodywhys and
of someone that is a full time staff member and accountable to the board of directors and has continuity and a qualification.” Perhaps because of the necessary focus on financial issues this year, many of the objectives outlined in her manifesto were not achieved however. Breslin describes her biggest failing of the year not being able to secure a bar for the campus. The Student Club was closed last June after suffering heavy losses of up to 156,000 per year. The University provided 750,000 to settle the Student Club’s debts, but the bar was only opened for one night this year under an agreement for the SU to fully cover it’s costs. This, however, proved too expensive.“I simply couldn’t ever have comprehended that it would be 3,600 for a night... I thought it would be much much lower so it wasn’t sustainable. I think maybe we should have taken a financial hit and opened it more nights. The Union would have covered it and I think other year that definitely would have happened but this year, notwithstanding our loan, cash flow is still very very tight. I’m sure there is something that I could have done better along the
“Sometimes there are a lot of politically popular decisions that you can’t make when you’re actually in the position of responsibility and you have to take the bigger picture and take the more realistic approach” bringing AWARE on campus for the first time were significant achievements. These achievements highlight the importance that Gallagher places on mental health awareness: “I do feel that this year was a particularly strong year in terms of talking about mental health and reducing the stigma. A lot of people in UCD do see me as a mental health activist, someone who is very much ready to pick up the mantle in this cause.” However, the Welfare Officer’s brief does not just incorporate mental health and dealing with financial worries. Dealing with problems that arise in Residences is a huge remit undertaken, and one that Gallagher takes seriously: “We do need to start playing hard-ball with Residences. As I said, one of the key themes from my manifesto is that I want to scale everything UCDSU does and start campaigning at the local level here that students give a damn about.” While this is something he promises to continue work on, one clear downfall is not only failing to stop the practice of Residential Assistants (RAs) filming in students’ apartments, but allowing it to be introduced in a clause of the Licence
way, but still in hindsight I’m not sure where that point was.” Several other promises also failed to materialise, from creating a part time jobs database, to having assessment dates and deadlines published in academic calendar at start of semester. A scheme to provide cheap external doctors for students, something which has run successfully in NUI Maynooth, could not go ahead as doctors were unwilling to offer their services for low prices. “I emailed and posted letters to probably around 15 doctors surgeries, and some of them got back... but they were all very set letters, offering reduced rates of maybe around 40, so I was disappointed by the number of replies that came back and also the rates they were quoting and it didn’t really work as intended, so the focus came back to trying to deliver the health service here.” More promises, although not achieved in Breslin’s term, are in the pipeline and should be in place by next semester. Her plan to give space in the Arts tunnel to students to run their own business or charitable event has not come about, however the funding for the project has come through from the HEA. With this funding available, Breslin feels it is important that students get the most value from this, and wants to make sure that the original idea is what is most wanted before pressing ahead. The plan to expand the UCARD to the SU shops is also in progress, and will be in place for next semester. A proposal for a ‘Opt-in box’ for donating to the Welfare Fund has also been sent off as part of a wider review of applications for student support services. While many of Breslin’s campaign promises were not fulfilled, she has inarguably left the Students’ Union in a stronger position than she found it. The financial measures taken have stabilised the organisation, and it is now in a position where it can start to grow again. In terms of Union time being spent well, it’s hard to justify implementing small promises to tick boxes, when such huge, and at times detrimental, issues needed to be solved, in order to ensure the Union’s continued existence. Speaking on what she learned over the year, Breslin stated: “The level of responsibility, I thought I understood it, but I actually didn’t fully appreciate the importance of managing a 24,000 person representative organisation with 4m turnover... Sometimes there are a lot of politically popular decisions that you can’t make when you’re actually in the position of responsibility and you have to take the bigger picture and take the more realistic approach... I had great times and really horrible times, so overall I couldn’t do it again but I don’t regret it at all and even though you don’t enjoy every day, it’s such a hugely beneficial experience that it’s worth it. I think.” to Reside, and allowing it to remain. In response he says: “The sabbatical team and myself brought this up with Hugh Brady last semester saying that this is borderline breaching human rights at this stage. Some of the feedback we got said that this would only be used in extreme situations and that it is impossible to write into license of residences that cameras may be used in extreme situations so they’ve left it as it is.” When questioned about being too ambitious in his objectives involving Residences throughout the year, Gallagher rebuked: “In my Welfare manifesto, in the Residences section I think I was a bit ambitious, I think you should always be ambitious. You should always aim for the very top. They were difficult to deliver on, and if you look at my president’s section you’ll see that I’ve scaled it back and focused it all round, focusing on residences rights.” Though a number of his promises remain unfulfilled, it’s difficult to fault Gallagher’s year in the Welfare Office. There is no questioning his work ethic, as one of few officers who work almost around the clock, and this is something that will stand to him next year as President. With unforeseen crises arising, such as the SUSI fiasco or ludicrous counselling service waiting lists, Gallagher has been quick to react, and put in place solutions to these problems to ensure all students get the assistance they need. In this role at least, that is almost more important than election promises. Looking back on his year as a whole, Gallagher was keen to emphasise that despite being a testing year, he enjoyed representing and helping the students of UCD. “It’s just been an amazing eye opening year in terms of seeing how many students do need help with mental health issues and being a person that can point them in the right direction and bring organisations in to help them.”
END OF YEAR REVIEW
The University Observer | 16 April 2013
hane Comer will be the final Education officer, with Dylan Gray and Adam Carroll splitting the position as Graduate and Undergraduate Education officers respectively, next year. Comer has seen this as indicative of the importance of the role, and praised the constitutional committee for allowing the Education brief to thrive. Comer’s work with the Library has emerged as his personal stand out achievement, particularly, he says because: “Finding out a week or two weeks before term starts that there would be no Sunday opening hours gave us very little time to mobilise on the issue.” Though an eventually successful campaign was run to reopen the library on Sundays, many students will not be able to forgive the delays in making this happen for the first semester. The vast problems and incapable nature of the SUSI system has not only been the main talking point of the academic year, yet also may prove to define Comer as a sabbatical officer: “Obviously I couldn’t get money to the students quicker, what I did was work closely with the Welfare Officer on the outset to ensure that the Student Assistance Fund was set up and advertised sooner to those affected by SUSI, additional funding through the welfare fund was offered to students.” In relation to his promise to lobby against the increase in fees, Comer was honest in his assessment of the Gilmore 250 campaign: “It did fail, fees did rise, we can’t argue on that point”. Comer believes the campaign was worthwhile, however: “I put a lot of work into it. Do I regret the amount of work I put in? No, I do think the time I spent on the
Gilmore 250 campaign was well spent”. Comer succeeded in running study skills seminars for mature students, along with organising clinic hours, which will continue for the duration of the term, especially centred around exam time. A non-mentioned manifesto goal achieved by Comer includes building links with the Careers office and the continuation of a heightened sense of the need for internships for students by the SU: “Having worked very closely with the university a taskforce has been set up by the university, to look into the possibility of work placement into courses and they have also hired a director of internships, a new staff member that has been hired upon my recommendations”. While this is an interesting development, and certainly relevant to students, it’s difficult to ignore the simple fact that of all the officers elected, Comer made the fewest promises, and many of them remained unfulfilled. Throughout the conversation, a recurring excuse emerged for many of these, where Comer claimed that he had brought an issue to the University to be told ‘No’ and it seems that is where his input ended. The Postgraduate Lounge and Erasmus Fund promises suffered here, but two larger issues that this is applicable to include his promise to remove the 50 fine for forgetting your student card at exam time, about which he says: “It was in place for the Christmas exams and it will be in place for the summer exams. The possibility of having it reduced was a possibility as well. When it comes to things like this every avenue is explored, as I said to you the deterrent of the university, they are reluctant
Eoin Heffernan Entertainments
addy Guiney considers that he has “expanded the role of Campaigns Officer” during his time in office. He is proud of the stance UCD Students’ Union has taken on perhaps less-traditional campaigns such as the Equality campaign which began in August. Having said this, it’s difficult not to see Guiney’s focus, and by extension, his year, as more than a little scattered. Something that stunted the growth of Campaigns and Communications during the year was the lack of interest in the Union Class Rep recruitment drive which Guiney puts down, in part, to changes in the role’s parameters. Guiney also cites class rep training as something of a disappointment. The event was cut down to a one day event instead of an overnight trip, due to financial constraints. Though he feels they “covered a lot”, he says there was “not a lot of buy-in from the reps” themselves. He is conscious that reps cannot become a “clique” but thinks a relationship needs to be fostered early on to allow for better work throughout the year, aided by a trip away. Though the work ethic of those who participated in the national campaign against the increase in fees is not in question, Guiney does feel that the Union “should have taken a stronger stance” on the issue. Having promised repeatedly that this would be a yearlong campaign, it is disappointing to note that it was virtually forgotten after Christmas, something that Guiney weakly excuses by saying he ran three of the local campaigns he’s mandated
to run, before the USI referendum took place. Being a student-run organisation, Guiney does feel that the Union could become “more professionalised” due to one its fundamental purposes being a “campaign and lobbying group”. Though he believes that it will “interesting to see” what challenges face the Union without the position of Campaigns and Communications, Guiney thinks that if “the Convenors are planned properly, the Union would get more popular in those buildings and become more grassroots” which would be assisted by training. This will put them in a better position to run campaigns in their own areas. Guiney says he has learnt this year that: “If you want something done, you have to go do it yourself” but he may not have always followed this mantra. A list of ‘Top 5 priorities’ appeared in his manifesto last April, but their success has been mixed. He puts this down to the fact that “the role is very different when you get into the job” but Guiney feels that his brief was successfully expanded far beyond these initial goals. From the communication end of things, Guiney is of the opinion that this has been very effective, though the media and many of his co-ordinators may beg to differ. Though his plans for this area may have changed since last year, he didn’t want to “run everything in [his] manifesto, just to tick boxes”. Many of the plans Guiney had at the start of his term in July have been modified over-time to help them better fit students and their needs. Though the
Shane Comer Education
to see it moved.” The other issue, that of the 24 hour study area, is something which was close to being implemented, as Comer explains: “When the new student centre was opened the agreement that had been in place between the SU and the student centre management and University authorities wasn’t followed through on.” Though he is still sourcing alternative locations along with SU President Rachel Breslin, this is something he says his successor will have to take the mantle on. Though it could be argued that Comer had invested much of his time in the library opening hours, it is also difficult for many students to ascertain where the rest of his time was spent, as no further actions or visible campaigns took place to put pressure on the University to offer a better deal to students. With so few concrete promises, this is a more valid concern now, than in other years where visibility has often been a noted issue. Given that the one running theme throughout his manifesto was to appear more visible, even through social media, it’s disappointing to note that ultimately his uses of social media appeared sparse, and he himself lists communication this year as one of his biggest failings: “Communicating enough with students, and with media as well, just being able to communicate what’s going on is something I need to work on.” Comer summated his own term in relation to his three priorities, saying: “Accessible? Most definitely. Active? Yes. Visible? Not as much as I should have been. Being visible and being accessible often counteract each other.”
ue to the fact that this year’s referendum did not reach quorum, Eoin Heffernan will be the last elected Ents Officer in UCD. Next year, his role will be filled by a professional Ents Manager in an attempt to increase the accountability of the Students’ Union in UCD. Heffernan has been given the unenviable task of entertaining the students of the largest university in the country without a student bar in which to host any events, but he has taken it in his stride, refusing to describe it as anything more than “a curveball.” Not everything can be blamed on the Bar however, as he did still fail to deliver on a number of promises that had little to do with the Bar. He described his idea to organise trips to festivals such as ‘I Love Techno’ and ‘Snowbombing’ as being infeasible once all the costs were considered. Of his plans to put on fortnightly classics in the new cinema, he says that he would have just been taking credit for the job that FilmSoc and the cinema itself are already doing, but it’s hard to fault him on that. Honesty, he says, is one of the biggest things he has learned this year. “When you’re under the spotlight, you can lie and deflect,” he says. “But if you lie to people and they catch you out, they’re going to be pissed off. If you’re honest
with people off the bat all the time with what you’re doing and what’s going on, people are much more receptive to you and they understand that you’re still a student and you’re doing your best.” He says that this year’s An Seo Faisin was the highlight of his term, calling it an exciting new experience in an area he had never been in before. But he is also proud of the many non-alcoholic events that were held on campus throughout the year, particularly the mature students’ family day. Due to the lack of an on-campus bar, Heffernan describe this year’s Ents as “virtually alcohol-free”, but was quick to point out that this does not mean there were no events. Stand-up comedy from the likes of Des Bishop, as well as shopping trips to Kildare village and the DJ Academy were among the many events he deemed successful without alcohol. He hopes to keep this trend going as he looks to take RAG Week in a different direction than recent years, saying: “The issue with RAG Week is that, all over the country, it’s seen as a big piss up. But the whole idea behind it is to raise and give, so we were looking to find a way in which we could get the most people involved, and at the same time raise the most money.” His handling of the finances this year has been impressive. In his mani-
festo, he outlined his desire to raise around 30,000 in sponsorship for the Ents Crew. He exceeded that target by 4,000, which meant a reduction in prices of ticketed events, reducing the price of the Mystery Tour by 5 and the Freshers’ Ball, which made a profit, by 8. He brushes this off however, saying: “I don’t know if it’s anything special; it’s just down to budgets and knowing that students are a bit more stuck and they might appreciate cheaper events.” Looking forward to next year, he says he is sceptical of the professionalisation of Ents, though he says: “Overall, I do think that a professional Ents is going to boost the college, and it’s going to be more accountable; there’s going to be a full-time person there, employed to do this role.” It’s difficult to criticise Heffernan for failed promises that were outside his control, or indeed compare his performance to any of his predecessors. While he failed to deliver on a number of promises unaffected by the Bar, it is obvious that most of his year has been focused on negotiating to get the Bar reopened, and ensuring the UCD Ball went ahead. He has achieved both of these, to an extent, and managed to keep Ents ticking along as well. It’s difficult to ask for much more in these exceptional circumstances.
idea of ‘Credits for Life’ extra-curricular programme never came to fruition, there is now the possibility of recording volunteer work through student SIS accounts. Promises for extra parking spaces were not directly achieved, though a bike scheme was introduced to encourage more students to commute without cars. Though there is a feeling that both the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) and UCDSU “really dropped the ball” as regards a campaign for Postgraduate loans, Guiney is proud of producing a “well-utilised jobs” list as well as a number of peer tutor group opportunities across campus. Whether these make up the lack of campaigning on postgraduates’ behalf, is another question. “To the best of [his] ability”, Guiney felt he was “open and accountable” and that any and all campaigns which were run throughout the year were those important to students. Though there were many “highs and lows”, he does not “regret a minute” of the Union experience. While his intentions may have been good, there are many areas where Guiney fell short this year. There is no doubting his enthusiasm for campaigns, but it often seemed as if he was more concerned by looking like he was doing something, than actually doing something. Hopefully, his flexibility will make his time in the national union a more productive one.
Paddy Guiney Campaigns & Communications
SCIENCE & HEALTH
RESEARCH IN BRIEF BY JAMES KELLY
New strain of Bird Flu identified in humans Bird Flu is making a comeback, as a strain of influenza A virus, H7N9, has recently been identified in humans for the first time. The virus, which is from the same family as the famous H1N1 and deadly H5N1 strains, was detected in pigeons for sale at a market in Shanghai last month. 20,000 birds from the market have already been slaughtered in an attempt to curb the spread of this no-yet-understood variant. Chinese authorities have confirmed nine deaths and 33 infections, as of last Friday 12th. Chinese Epidemiologists are keeping track of those who came in contact with the infected, to determine if per-to-person transmission is occurring – which could lead to a flu pandemic. Fortunately, H7N9 seems to be susceptible to the flu drugs oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza). Should the virus show signs of personto-person transmission, a vaccine will have to be developed. A modification of already existent H7 vaccine may prove useful.
Dried Eggs: Just add water A new technique for processing and storing ova has been developed by Irsaeli company, Core Dynamics, which could see women who want to guard their fertility doing so with a sachet of powered eggs. The process was developed to overcome some of the limitations of coldpreservation techniques. It involves soaking the eggs in a liquid mixture that removes most of the water from the cells and protects them from cold damage. A key ingredient in the mixture is trehalose, the sugar that enables extremophiles like tardigrades survive at temperatures close to absolute zero. Following that, the eggs then undergo vitrification, leaving them in a glasslike state. The final step is storage at -55C for 24 hours at low pressure, allowing any residual water crystals that could damage the cells to sublime. Provided the eggs are then stored in a vacuum, away from oxygen, water or light they should last indefinitely, according to Core Dynamics. The process has been tested on cow ova, with 23 of the 30 eggs tested found to be viable. Further testing is required before the process can be seen as a real alternative to freezing.
Curiosity experiments show Mars is losing atmosphere NASA’s Curiosity Rover has recently carried out a serious of elegant experiments that indicate the Martian atmosphere is blowing away. Curiosity has been measuring the relative levels of two isotopes (types) of Argon, Ar-36 and Ar-38, to determine if atmospheric loss is occurring on Mars. The ratio of Ar-36 to Ar-38 on the Sun and Jupiter, which is used as the baseline from when the solar system formed, is 5.5 to one. By comparison, the ratio on Mars is 4.2 to one. Mars has no magnetic field to protect the top of its atmosphere from being carried off by solar winds, and it’s the lighter types of each atom and molecule in the atmosphere that are most easily eroded, hence the decrease in Ar-36 relative to Ar-38. Similar experiments have been carried out with oxygen, carbon dioxide and water vapour. However, chemical inert argon is the gold standard because of its stability. There is no way that the ratio could change other than through the preferential loss of Ar-36 into space. This finding add to the possibly that there was once water on the surface of Mars. At the current level of atmospheric pressure, any water would boil off almost instantly, but given that as much as 95% of the original atmosphere may already be gone, it probably wasn’t always that way.
The University Observer | 16 April 2013
Different, Not Less Following the visit of the legendary animal welfare advocate Temple Grandin to UCD this month, Alison Lee examines the importance of her lifework, and how it has shaped the treatment of animals in the food industry today
t’s easy to be pro-animal welfare when it comes to issues like puppy farming or mistreatment of circus animals. But many of us shy away from confronting the welfare concerns of farm animals such as cattle, sheep and pigs. Most people happily eat meat, eggs and dairy products, and use leather and wool. However, most of us would prefer not to dwell on how our desire for such products (preferably at low prices) impacts the lives and deaths of billions of
alise the massive role played by animal health in our lives, our health, and our economies. Born in 1947, Grandin was diagnosed with autism at the age of four. Despite doctor’s advice to place her in an institution, her mother Eustacia persisted teaching her daughter to talk and at age four Grandin finally spoke. Thanks to her mother’s tireless efforts, she attended school, obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and both Masters and Doctoral degrees in Animal Sci-
heavily involved with the promotion of autism awareness, writing books and holding conferences all around the world to help de-stigmatise this condition. Grandin travelled to Ireland to speak at the All-Ireland State Veterinarian’s Scientific Conference, but Veterinary School staff and students familiar with her work crowded into Health Sciences to hear her speech, “Humane Slaughter and Auditing”. Anyone who has seen Mick Jackson’s
“When you consider how foot and mouth disease effectively shut down the UK in 2000, or the panic caused by swine flu, bird flu and BSE, you may begin to realise the massive role played by animal health in our lives, our health, and our economies” creatures every year. Contemplating the moral and ethical minefield that is the process of animal slaughter makes us especially uncomfortable. But these issues must be confronted because the health and wellbeing of farm animals is inextricably linked to the health and wellbeing of us, the humans who consume them. Luckily not everyone turns a blind eye to the facts surrounding the process of animal slaughter. One extraordinary woman who has dedicated her life to improving the welfare of farm animals in their final hours is Temple Grandin, who spoke to the staff and students of UCD’s School Of Veterinary Medicine on April 5th. She came to UCD at the invitation of senior animal welfare lecturer Doctor Alison Hanlon and the “One Health” Club, an organisation initiated by veterinary medicine students to build awareness of how animal health has an enormous impact upon the health of people. This concept may seem alien, but when you consider how foot and mouth disease effectively shut down the UK in 2000, or that 60,000 people bitten by dogs die of rabies annually, or the panic caused by swine flu, bird flu and BSE, you may begin to re-
ence. This was extraordinary enough for a woman in the ‘60s and ‘70s, but to think Grandin accomplished such academic feats while dealing with the stigma and difficulties brought on by her condition, her achievements are nothing short of miraculous. That said, her autism gave her many advantages. Grandin is not just autistic, but an “autistic savant” who has excellent spatial skills and a photographic memory. She channelled her ability to “think in pictures” into her research on cattle, and designed handling facilities for animals in stockyards and slaughterhouses. Perhaps this is a career path more gory than glamorous, but Grandin’s efforts mean that animals going to slaughter can be handled calmly and quickly with as little stress and suffering as possible. This also makes sense economically: fewer handlers need to be employed and the risk of accidents and losses caused by frightened, panicking animals is enormously decreased. Today over half the slaughter facilities in the USA are built according to her designs, she is considered the world’s foremost expert on the welfare of cattle and pigs, and lectures at Colorado State University. She has also been
biopic “Temple Grandin” would recognise her immediately: a tall, middle aged woman with cropped grey hair, a flamboyant cowboy-style blouse and a broad Southern accent isn’t exactly the kind of person you stumble across on campus every day. An extremely practical individual, Grandin didn’t waste time with formalities but leapt straight in and explained everything from how to move and restrain animals in a welfare-friendly fashion to what parameters to measure to asses fear and pain in slaughterhouses. Her innate understanding of how animals move was demonstrated time and time again as she told listeners “Animals tend to go from a dark place to a light place but they won’t go into blinding light” and “animals don’t like air blowing in their faces, reflections shining on wet floors, seeing people up ahead, changes in flooring…” This knowledge doesn’t just stem from intuition but from walking through slaughterhouses seeing everything from the animal’s perspective: “You got to look right at the animal level, while the plants are running. I had to get down on my hands and knees”. These insights have allowed simple but effective changes to be made to
slaughter plants the world over to allow them run more effectively and safely and the animals to be killed in less fearful surroundings. Tiny things like shielding humans from view, installing lights at doorways, or eliminating shadows from floors can have a massive impact on the stress levels of animals, but it takes a visual thinker to realise these changes need to be made. Grandin told her audience of would-be vets and vet nurses “I wanna get you more observant… you gotta see what they’re seeing”. Even the kill-boxes and captive bolt guns don’t escape her scrutiny, as she told listeners “The number one problem of captive bolt guns not working is lack of maintenance. When it’s done right it’s going to instantly make an animal unconscious”. Maybe this doesn’t seem like the most savoury of topics for a Friday afternoon but surely everyone would rather know that the animals they consume die under safe and humane circumstances. Grandin’s view on the agriculture industry is refreshingly open. She freely admits that “there’s been a tendency in agriculture to cover things up” and refuses to gloss over what she does with more “politically correct” terminology, stating “I don’t agree with calling slaughterhouses ‘harvesting plants’, that is just B. S. I’m proud of my work”. It’s also refreshing to encounter an animal welfare advocate that is willing to come to terms with the harsh economic realities of the 21st century. Grandin is willing to sit down with the much-maligned “evil fast food corporations” to try and make things better, and in her opinion, significant improvements have indeed been made. Animal transport, a topical issue in Ireland recently, was also discussed: “If you pay truck drivers for how many animals they can jam on a truck, you’re gonna get more bruises. You need proper economic incentives. Pay him for the amount of animals he delivers in good condition.” But where does the future lie for animal welfare? Grandin’s main concern is “’biological system overload’: We’re pushing animals’ bodies so hard they’re falling apart metabolically and physically”, citing high-producing dairy cows that suffer from lameness and reproduction problems as a prime example of this issue. Not all of us can think in pictures like Temple Grandin, but we most certainly can all accept responsibility and face up to the facts behind our food. We can all demand “optimum, not maximum” animal production, and hence proper health and welfare for the animals we eat.
“You got to look right at the animal level, while the plants are running. I had to get down on my hands and knees”
The University Observer | 16 April 2013
SCIENCE & HEALTH
Big Barnes Theory: The Time Of Your Life With science advancing at an increasingly rapid pace and becoming cyborgs seems like it wouldn’t be impossible, Ethan Troy Barnes asks would it be worth our while to live forever
e have an obsession with death, or rather how to avoid it. Throughout history, the quest to prolong life has waged wars, crippled empires and spawned whole industries committed to ensuring we don’t die before our time. In some respects, this was achieved over a century ago, when the discovery of antibiotics, the implementation of better population-wide sanitation and dietary practices and the introduction of vaccinations ensured that individuals from all walks of life could live past 40. This may not seem impressive but in reality, from a purely evolutionary point of view, the whole reason for an organism’s existence is to live long enough to make new, smaller versions of that organism and ensure these smaller versions don’t die before they can do the same. Thus the continuity of the species is preserved. So, the fact that in the early 20th century people were already manag-
“It’s possible that after a few centuries of life, a human’s brain might get full up like a computer’s hard drive, with old memories being written over to make way for new ones”
ing to outdo their own biological clocks literally defies nature. We did good. (Seriously, if you want to bring a population to its knees, take away its vaccinations and see what happens, the ill effects of smart people doing stupid things like refusing the MMR vaccine are still being felt here and in the UK.) How does a person go about living forever then? The cyborg route might be a good start. The big reason, today, that people die is because one or more of their vital organs gives out. So the idea goes that if we can replace these organs with something more permanent, like say a steel set of viscera that does all the work of the heart, kidneys and liver combined, then a person could live on, conceivably forever, with minor repairs being made to their new cast iron forms whenever the need arose; a doctor’s visit would become no more unusual than just another NCT test. In such a scenario, the brain would probably remain organic, and simply be kept afloat by the mechanical components around it. You’d also probably want to retain the sensory organs to allow the individual to continue to be able to interact with the outside world and prevent the locked-in induced insanity that classically comes with being a Cyberman. Cybernetic implants could offer all sorts of improvements on quality of life too. A steel exoskeleton could provide improved grip strength for elderly people or replace the limbs of an ALS sufferer. While some of these enhancements continue to trickle slowly out of the merely experimental domain and into public utility, I wouldn’t hold my breath for an upgrade any time soon. Although British scientist Kevin Warwick has, rather ambitiously from a research point of view, declared himself the world’s first cyborg by simply
inserting a computer chip into his arm, this is very much future science. The cyborg route is also fraught with difficulty, namely the fact that biomechanical grafts are often either rejected or open up the individual to a whole swath of infection. An alternative might a Doctor Who-esque regeneration. It might be safer and more effective to replace our bodies with brand new ones when they fail, rather than go through all the hassle of a cybernetic conversion that may not work or be all that pleasant to boot. Obviously we could replace the whole thing in one go like The Doctor does, but this would require vast amounts of energy and far more than a few seconds to happen. For proof of this, you need look no further than your nearest pregnant woman. It takes them at least nine months to make a new human body, and that’s only a mini-sized one. While it’s possible in theory, it would take a lot longer to regrow all your organs and body parts on the spot, and time isn’t something you tend to have in abundance when you’re on your deathbed. However, when an organ is failing, you don’t need to replace the whole body, only the part that is diseased. With the way stem cell research is progressing, it may one day be possible to take some stem cells from your body (e.g. the bone marrow), embed them into a collagen husk in the shape of the organ you want, season the whole thing with the mixture of hormones and growth factors necessary for the cells to form the right kind of tissue and presto: you have your very own set of pre-made replacement organs ready to go whenever you need them. The idea of living forever does inevitably throw up the question of consciousness, and whether a mind would still manage to function properly after an eternity. People don’t usually die of degenerative brain failure like with other organs (unless you count dementia). However, we all know that old age is associated with memory loss and reduced cognition, so it’s not known how long our minds are built to last. It’s possible that after a few centuries of life, a human’s brain might get full up like a
computer’s hard drive, with old memories being written over to make way for new ones. An inability to remember who you once were kind of nullifies the whole immortality thing... The only way to overcome this might be some sort of cybernetic brain capacity expansion. With this in mind, many might opt to go the whole hog and cheat death altogether by digitising their minds indefinitely. While there are many ways you might choose to go about it, immortality is certainly easier said than done.
However we’re living far beyond our years already, so we might crack living forever one day, given enough time. Why are we so fixated on not dying anyway? Surely eternity gets a but boring after a while, and posterity can’t really be worth centuries’ worth of bother... Isaac Asimov had an idea, that maybe it’s the death we’re avoiding, rather than the life we seek to gain when he wrote “Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.”
“Drug regulators have licensed a small number of labs to produce MDMA for research purposes, which has led to the positive results”
But it has taken years to overcome the stigma and bias that surrounds the use of psychoactive drugs to finally begin to overcome it. “The current legislation is stopping the benefits of these drugs being explored and for the last 40 years we have missed really interesting opportunities to help patients,” says Prof Nutt, who maintains that Government and EU policies should change to facilitate the possibility of future trials. “What we are trying to do is to tap into the reservoir of under-researched ‘illegal’ drugs to see if we can find new and beneficial uses for them in people whose lives are often severely affected by illnesses such as depression.” With hopes that they will source a manufacturer of psilocybin who could produce the compound according to EU regulations, it’s possible that trials could start within the next 6 months. Until then, Prof. Nutt will bear the brunt of the outdated policies that stop him from carrying out his research.
Shroom to improve Although psilocybin is proven to be effective in clinical trials, Emily Longworth examines why EU laws still prohibit further research into the therapeutic potential behind magic mushrooms
he Medical Research Council in the UK recently granted a research team in Imperial College London a grant of $844,000 to fund a clinical trial aiming to treat severe depression with the use of a class A substance, psilocybin, or more commonly as magic mushrooms. The project however, was ceased before it began, owing to strict EU regulations which control the licensing of illegal drugs. Professor David Nutt of Imperial College had expected the trials to begin later this year. Now they have been stalled indefinitely until the policies change, to the dismay of Prof. Nutt and many of his colleagues. There is a strong body of previously conducted research that supports the medical application of the psychoactive compound psilocybin, in that it decreases brain activity in the medial
“The UN 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances classifies it as a Schedule 1 drug, which defines it as a drug with potential for abuse and no medical or therapeutic use”
prefrontal cortex (mPFC), an area of the brain that is associated with hyperactivity in depression. This unique property of psilocybin makes it a prime candidate for a clinical trial on patients who have not experienced a positive response from other conventional treatments for depression or anxiety. “We found that the more that part of the brain was switched off under the influence of the drug, the better the patient felt two weeks later,” says Prof. Nutt. “There was a relationship between that transient switching off of the brain circuit and their subsequent mood. This is the basis on which we want to run the trial, because this is what you want to do in depression: you want to switch off that over-active part of the brain.” It is a loss to the cause of the research then, that EU and UK license regulations prevent the further investigation of psilocybin’s use in clinical treatment. Government legislation in the UK prohibits the use of psilocybin, labelling it a Class A drug, and similarly the UN 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances classifies it as a Schedule 1 drug, which defines it as a drug with potential for abuse and no medical or therapeutic use. Even if an amendment were made to these policies, the EU still maintains strict guidelines on Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), which would impose a stringent set of rules on the safe production of the compound if it were to be used in a clinical trial. This is something that Prof. Nutt regards as a crucial set-back to the progress of the study. “Finding companies who could manufacture the drug and who are prepared to go through the regulatory hoops to get the licence, which can take up to a year and triple the price, is proving very difficult. The whole situ-
ation is bedevilled by this primitive, old-fashioned attitude that Schedule 1 drugs could never have therapeutic potential, and so they have to be made impossible to access,” he said at the most recent Festival of Neuroscience in London, hosted by the British Neuroscience Association, where Prof. Nutt is the currently President. His policy to dismantle the present atmosphere of prohibition is supported by the work of many US researchers, who have been independently developing the applications of other psychoactive drugs in the treatment of mental health conditions. The non-profit group Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) has been collaborating with independent psychotherapists to treat Post-traumatic stress disorder patients with doses of MDMA – the purer form of ecstasy. So far there have been positive responses, with 80% of patients in one study reporting that the initial benefit they received from treatment ten years ago carried over for several years after treatment ended. “There is a tremendous need to study novel medications,” says Dr. John H. Krystal, chairman of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine. He includes MDMA in his description. In a response to a 1989 study that slammed the neurotoxicity of MDMA, a team of psychiatrists and medical professionals claimed that the apparent dangers listed by the study were exaggerated, and undermined the importance of potential benefits of the drug for therapeutic use. They wrote: “Claims have been made that MDMA enhances the processes of psychotherapy by facilitating empathy, heightening introspection, and lowering defensive anxiety. Because of concerns of possible neurotox-
icity, however, rigorous clinical trials designed to validate these claims have not been performed.” Since then, drug regulators have licensed a small number of labs to produce MDMA for research purposes, which has led to the positive results that are reported today.
The University Observer | 16 April 2013
Observer Opinion Kill.i.an: The bewitching witch
The Valentimes: Donation failure
Her death has enchanted the British and Irish public alike, writes Killian Woods
ver the last year I’ve enjoyed writing this column in The University Observer. It has been a welcome eye-opener for myself that for the most part I do very little in my life worth putting pen to paper about and lots that I’m not willing to write about. My main method of brainstorming on what I could possibly write 900 words on has been to flick front to cover of The Irish Times and The Guardian once every fortnight and plagiarise, no, borrow a topic from the headlines. It’s a nice way of staying topical and most of all being newsworthy. With that in mind, it is fitting, more like inevitable, that this week’s column is destined to be about Margaret Thatcher. The extent of the Iron Lady coverage was so overwhelming that both publications that as I scoured for subjects over a sticky microwaved Danish with raisins, I felt they did well to find enough images of the women that none conflicted with a picture on a different page. Others might remark that they did well to find so many images that hid the horns. It’s those“others”who need to reassess their motivations for ding donging that The Witch is dead. I’m not pro-Thatcherite, if that is even what her supporters are called, in any shape or form, I just hate tastelessness. And no matter what angle you look at it, the celebrations surrounding her death are tasteless. Everyone in the media seems to have decidedly specific anecdote about Thatcher. Whether it’s Russell Brand in The Guardian reflecting about the occasion he spotted her watering roses in the gardens of Temple, or Financial Times columnist Susie Boyt musing about seeing her wrestling with a lamb chop in a restaurant not so long ago, anyone with a by-line seems to have a story about the woman. Those are two of the less unsavoury anecdotes that emerged after her death. For the most part the media have been commendable, threading the water lightly and focusing primarily on deciding once and for all if she was any good or not. The main gripe I have is with the juvenility of some people’s reactions to her death. Every death is a crisis to one family or another, and the general reaction from people kowtowing for cheap likes on Facebook and pandering for retweets on Twitter typifies the YouTube generation’s ideology that they are untouchable and that it’s okay to churn out witty puns about what they like, when they like and about who they like. It’s not just Thatcher who has succumbed to this ridicule in death, as this has become a trend with notable deaths recently. Kim Jong-Un became
the pun a minute #hashtag candidate when he passed away. From an Irish perspective, knowing how keen we are to get our pun broadcasted instantly over social media, I think the Haughey estate should count whatever blessing they have that Twitter was fewer days old than the characters it allows for a tweet when himself passed away in 2006. No doubt #TheGreatHoudini would have trended right up alongside #whatthefluich. Maybe the true time to celebrate the woman’s passing was not in death, but the day she left office. Maybe that was the day for the cacophony of pints glasses jingling and jangling; not this, the aftermath of a brittle old woman who died of a stroke. Personally, I think that as much as Thatcher did believe her political decisions were the correct courses of action to be taken, in a perverse way she also enjoyed the hate directed her way and got a kick out of being loathed. Like a troll in some ways. Once an article that I wrote for The University Observer was blu-tacked to the wall of a person’s office in UCD, and I highly doubt it was for positive reasons. That person enjoyed knowing that their name was in a headline for angering other people and somewhat relished it as a certificate that they clearly had power if they were being blamed. The what, the when, and most certainly the who of that narrative don’t deserve their name in lights again lest they happen across this piece during their semi-monthly task of Googling their own name, but the message resonates with me. Some people like to be hated, and maybe Thatcher was one of them. In such case, maybe it would be best to starve her of the attention she clearly wants, or at this stage ‘wanted’. She loved being in the spotlight and whether consciously or subconsciously, her passing remark in politics:“It’s a funny old world,” is uncannily akin to that of the true Wicked Witch of the West who after the iconic “I’m melting, I’m melting” line snarled: “Oh, what a world, what a world.” As I said, “uncanny” in the Urban Dictionary has a new port of reference. I suppose it is fitting that all the clowning about her death should end up with anti-Thatcherites using the timeworn UK Singles Charts as a final weapon to wallop the old lady with. A pointless protest using a pointless institution that was scalped by the internet many years ago. Although I don’t agree with the agenda of the campaign to get ‘Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead’ to number one, if it does reach those lofty heights, I do think the BBC should play it. But at least play the Barbra Streisand and Harold Arlen version. Thanks.
In the aftermath of Organ Donation Awareness Week, Aoife Valentine explains why Ireland needs to change its attitude
I “There are 650 patients currently waiting to receive transplants, and only an average of less than 250 transplants are taking place every year”
“She loved being in the spotlight and whether consciously or subconsciously, her passing remark in politics, “It’s a funny old world”, is uncannily akin to that of the true Wicked Witch of the West who after the iconic “I’m melting, I’m melting” line snarled: “Oh, what a world, what a world”
had other intentions for my final column, a light-hearted end to an amazing academic year. However, as a friend popped up in my Facebook newsfeed pleading for people to discuss their views on organ donation with their parents, partners or whoever else will listen, my 900 words found a more more worthy cause. Perhaps your perception of the issues people have around organ donation change according to your experiences, but for the last 12 months, a friend’s sister has been in and out of hospital every other second as her Cystic Fybrosis worsens, and she has been placed on a transplant list, as she’s desperately in need of a new set of lungs. It really makes it crystal clear exactly what people mean by giving the gift of life through organ donation, when someone who is so clearly suffering could be in with a chance of having a normal and productive life that potentially barely involves hospitals, at the very least relative to someone in this girl’s current rate of occupancy there. I have gone about trying to obtain an organ donor card in the last number of months, something that I then believed would be respected upon my death. I downloaded the app onto my phone, and almost ordered the physical card before considering that they hadn’t really asked for very much information at all, and surely with something as serious as organ donation, you would imagine they would at least ask your blood type. It turns out that our country is as backwards about organ donation as it is about everything else. The debate here doesn’t rage over whether we should have an opt-in or opt-out system, as we currently have don’t even have a real system. Ordering an organ donor card actually guarantees very little about the future of your organs. There is no way, in Ireland, for you to declare your wishes with regards what happens to your organs after you die, with doctors obligated to ask your next of kin whether they would like to donate your organs regardless of how many cards you carry, apps you download, or boxes you tick. Even if your next of kin completely agrees with your decision to donate your organs, it still must be extremely difficult for them, almost immediately after your death, to have to tell a doctor that they have permission to take your organs. While in a normal, rational conversation, they may be quick to say that they will protect your wishes, it is a whole other story in the moments after your death, when emotion and a need to hang on may take over all rational thoughts. While people believe in opt-in and opt-out systems for different reasons, mostly Ireland needs to start with just having a live register. In 2010, there was a record low for organ donation here, while 2011 was a record high. These kinds of dramatic swings in donation numbers aren’t seen in other countries with the proper infrastructure and systems in place to deal with organ donation. I don’t believe Irish people aren’t
willing to donate their organs, at least not in the majority. The problem really lies in the fact that it isn’t something they consider or have to consider. Optout systems make the most sense to me. I cannot understand people being precious about their organs when all their plans for the rest of time revolve around being dead, and either buried underground or cremated. What use are your organs to you in either of those situations? You could save up to nine lives with your organs, giving a new life to many very ill people whose last chance is a transplant; or your organs could lie in the ground, doing absolutely nothing for anyone. Beyond just that I don’t see any need for organs beyond the grave, it’s very hard to take arguments around opt-in systems seriously. It seems to come down to a petty battle between which side should have to go to the effort of declaring their preferences. When those preferences have the potential to save so many lives, surely the onus to make the effort should fall on those who feel so passionately about their dead organs, that they can’t bare to let them go? For those who aren’t pushed either way about the future of their organs, if they don’t take the time out of their day to make sure they’re on the list, they probably equally won’t take themselves off it, and that is hundreds, quite probably thousands, of lives saved. For those who argue that this is the theft of organs, I say that this is ludicrous. With an opt-out system, people are forced to consider, and by extension choose, whether or not they are happy to donate their organs. If they don’t care enough to tick a box, surely they don’t care enough about their organs to deny nine people potentially life-saving transplants. These are really insignificant arguments however, in light of the current situation in Ireland. According to organdonation.ie, there are 650 patients currently waiting to receive transplants, and only an average of less than 250 transplants are taking place every year. While carrying an organ donor card offers you little guarantee, it is signed by your next of kin, so obtaining one allows you to at least open discussions on the matter. It’s a bizarre concept at first, and certainly for a long time I had a weird belief that I shouldn’t donate my eyes/ corneas, but then when I actually thought about why that was, it was mostly to do with my eyeless face looking weird than actually having any need or value for my eyes after I pass away. No one is going to see my eyeless face, and even if that was an organ they could harvest in Ireland, they’d close my eyes after. No one wants to see the open eyes of a dead person, regardless of whether their corneas are there or not. If you’re against organ donation, that is for you to decide, but at least first consider why that’s the case before you rule yourself out of helping others long after you can gain any use from your organs. It’s a discussion we all need to start having with our family and friends, and there’ll never be a moment too soon for that.
The University Observer | 16 April 2013
Observer Editorial editor @ universityobserver.ie
“They all worked hard to bring a bit more colour to the campus, something which has been lacking in many ways this year”
y time as Editor is coming to a close and while at times (okay, regularly) I wished the paper could be put on hold for a while so I could have a long sleep, it has been an incredible year. It’s been busy, but immensely good fun. Though I am looking forward to having fewer emails to respond to, it will be very hard to say goodbye to the University Observer after four years of writing and editing, and though I hope it’s not goodbye to all the wonderful friends I made this year, I’ll be very sad not to be working with you any longer. I’d like to thank all the former editors of the Observer. Your years of experience were invaluable, and it was extremely comforting to know there was a wonderful group of people to ask for help. I never could have navigated the mazes that are journalism and UCD bureaucracy without you. Aoife, you are most most dedicated, hard working and talented person I have ever met. You taught me so much this year, and it has been an absolute pleasure working with you. You are one of very few people I could spend so many late nights in a small office with without going mad, and I very much enjoyed our delirious production weekend giggling. I know you will excel at anything you decide to do in life, and when you do, I hope you’ll write me a reference. Conor and Gary, without you guys there quite literally would not be a paper. You both worked such long hours to make the paper look beautiful, that even if all the text had been lorum ipsum, I think just as many people would
be enticed to pick it up. I’d also like to thank all our section editors. Without the amount of degreedestroying work you all put in this year, the paper could not exist. You were an amazing team, and you made coming to the office each day a pleasure. To my news team: Yvanne, starting the year as Senior Reporter, you managed to become News Editor by semester two. The amount of work you put in to the Observer is astonishing, and you will surely take over the world one day. Danny, though you couldn’t stay until the end, you put a lot into the paper while balancing an extreme workload, thank you for all you did. Sean O’Grady, you were an excellent Deputy News Editor and it was a pleasure having you on board. Jack, you have been an absolute powerhouse this year. Other than possibly fashion, there isn’t one section you have not helped out with, on top of being our chief reporter. It has been a honour to work with you this year. Evan, as my successor to Comment, I tip my hat to your excellent work this year. You were always very on top of your section and bursting with ideas. You always put together a fantastic section, and your habit of assigning more articles than we could fit came in handy so many times this year when other pieces fell through and it made production weekends infinitely less panic-filled. Sean Finnan, you had one of the trickiest sections to deal with this year, as both the amount of work involved and allure of Comment scared many contributors, but you always pulled it off and created wonderful and insight-
ful pieces. Nicole, though late in to the editorial team you have been a valuable member. You’ve worked very hard putting together features and helping Sean, and we couldn’t have done it without you. Emily Longworth, you put together an amazing Science section this year, achieving the almost impossible balance informative, understandable and enjoyable articles and amazing pun headlines. You also added so much to the colour and insanity of Otwo, and your drawings have been one of the highlights of my year. Not to mention we all would have died of dehydration without you constantly putting the kettle on. Charlotte, you helped make the Irish section the strongest it’s ever been, and though I couldn’t understand a single word of it, the feedback from all around UCD was incredible. Kevin, I can quite safely say that we literally could not have done a sports section without you. While I may still be sceptical about the spelling of collidge, your dedication and willingness to take on as many articles as necessary saved the paper more times than I can count. Otwo may have been the most hipster its ever been, but it was also the funniest, cleverest and most eclectic I have ever seen it. Conor and Anna, you have absolutely bonkers taste sometimes, but somehow you always made the magazine enjoyable, whether it was about obscure museums, obscure djs, obscure bands or obscure attempts. You both have been a delight to work with, and you both have a very quirky and bright future ahead of you.
Adieux are in order. Yet another academic year has slithered by and with all things considered, it has been Talleyrand’s pleasure to once more be the individual to set the agenda for contempt of everything that occurs within the confines of this institution. The Guineypig has been in top form over the fortnight that was, threading the baseline performance required of a Campain & Communication Officer so lightly that he nearly managed to creep past the vicious SU predator, El Bresidente, unnoticed. If it wasn’t for the sound of his furrowing brow creasing under the confusion of not being able to access his vacant email, he may have gotten away with just playing solitaire. Alas, Whiney was forced to interact with the denizen of UCD and breathe the stale concourse air to encourage you scoundrels to vote in an election that the majority of you weren’t eligible for. Talleyrand wishes you the greatest of tidings in the not so distant future Paddy LADdie. And remember, by the time you burrow out from all the corruption of USDie, everyone will be a year older
and Bennetton will be looking for a new line of kids to model their summer children’s chinos collection. Onto Shane “Soon to be” Comb over; akin to all Education Officers, it’s difficult to distinguish if you were horrifically inept at your job or great at being terrifically incompetent. So many adjectives, yet none quite fit the brief. Oh well, these are the fine margins that the big boys need to worry about dear Shamey. Well, at least now that you don’t have to look like a grown up anymore, you can quit lighting up outside the back entrance of the Students’ Centre every 15 minutes. Everyone who smokes doesn’t necessarily assume the mannerisms of Mad Men actors. You may look in the mirror and see Don Draper, in which case, you need to buy a new mirror. As for the Breslinator, it’s difficult to say a bad word about a woman in politics. fundamentally because any such appraisal would be beyond harsh. After relations with the UCD students last year were De Bruined because Pat the Quaker insisted on firing two elderly women and kicking them onto the street, the Bresident performed amicably to redirect students’ worries from a copy print bureau onto more important things, like watching USWhy drift off into the abyss and worrying what venue
Editor Emer Sugrue
University Observer Volume XIX Issue XII Telephone: (01) 716 3835/3837 Email: email@example.com www.universityobserver.ie
The University Observer is printed at Webprint Concepts Limited Mahon Retail Park Cork Ireland
Deputy Editor Aoife Valentine Art, Design and Technology Director Conor Kevin O’Nolan Chief Designer Gary Kealy Assistant Designer Aoife Valentine News Editor Yvanne Kennedy Deputy News Editor Sean O’Grady Comment Editor Evan O’Quigley
Steven, you have been so on top of things this year it was scary. While it always put us to shame to see you assign article two issues ahead of where everyone else was, your organisation and dedication this year was astonishing, and I’m so glad you were on board. Despite having no resources you managed to create an amazing game section, going from one page to sometimes four an issue, all while doing a PhD. If we had a few more issues left we probably would have ended up with your face on the cover. Casey, despite not only being new to the paper but to the whole continent, you have headed an incredible film section. Your features somehow managed to be very detailed but completely understandable and fascinating for amateur movie enthusiasts like myself. I always looked forward to reading what you had to say, and I’ll miss pretending that I know things about films. Laura, your TV pieces were always unique and incredibly insightful, and though your vodka tampon story traumatises me to this day, it was great fun having you on the team. Emily Mullen, while I deeply question your various celebrity attractions, it has been an absolute pleasure having you as Music Editor this year. You continually highlight my lack of knowledge of what the young people like, and if it wasn’t for you the paper would be almost entirely comedians. Sophie, your taste and skills are, as last year, impeccable, and you brought a new shine to each theme that I wouldn’t have thought possible. Caoimhe, your year as Chief Photographer has brought new style to the paper,
particularly with your fashion photography, and you and Sophie made an unstoppable team. Killian, while not a section editor, you have helped out this year in every way imaginable. You have written amazing articles and columns in every part of the paper, you proofread late into the night, and even stepped to help sub-edit when things got too much. You never had any obligation to do these things, but did so as a friend and a supporter of the paper. You have been around the Observer even longer than I have, and your passion and dedication to it is second to none. Dave, you have been of immeasurable help and support to me this year. You were not only always there to give me a hug when things went wrong, or write a last minute review to fill a space, but you have patiently listened to me talk about the paper in excruciating detail for over a year. Thank you for everything, I’ll try my best to come up with a new topic of conversation now. This has been a rollercoaster of a year, and without the work and help of every single person above, and dozens and dozens of dedicated contributors, this paper could never exist. They all worked hard to bring a bit more colour to the campus, something which has been lacking in many ways this year. The University Observer has given me not only a ton of amazing friends, and a fun hobby during college, but it’s given me a life goal: to write. I do not exaggerate in the slightest in saying my time here has been a life changing experience, and I wish the best of luck to Volume XX and beyond.
could possibly cater for the last UCD Ball. Which, happily enough directs the conversation towards Europe’s biggest private party that no one will be invited to next year. Poor Eoin “Biffo” Heffernan. The evaluation of his performance as Entertainments Officer will all hinge on one event. Talleyrand would love to grade you by taking into account other proceedings, but he can’t seem to find any. Relax, all is not lost yet dear Heffo. Your Ball in a community hall will be a splendid as long as you’ve got The Saw Doctors on board singing about green grass in Galway and baling hay. The Galwegians presence has come to define the success of a UCD Ball. Wait… you do have The Saw Doctors, right? Tallyho and adieu Talleyrand
Features Editor Sean Finnan Deputy Features Editor Nicole Casey Science & Health Editor Emily Longworth Irish Editor Charlotte Ní Eatún Sports Editor Kevin Beirne Chief Writers Ethan Troy Barnes Jack Walsh Killian Woods
Staff Writers James Kelly Alison Lee Claudine Murphy Donal Woods Contributors The Badger Sean Craddock Anne-Marie Flynn Shane Hannon Patrick Kelleher Claudine Murphy Sean O’Neill Sylvester Phelan Robert Ranson Eoghan Regan Emma Smith Talleyrand Chief Photographer Caoimhe McDonnell
Special Thanks Eilis O’Brien Dominic Martella Giselle Jiang Deirdre Carr Dominic, Grace, Charlie, Jason, Aifric and all the Student Centre Staff Tony, Laura and all the Webprint staff Very Special Thanks Balazs Pete, Sam Dunne and all the robots at NetSoc, Teresa Alonso Cortes, Dave Connolly, Jon Hozier-Byrne, Killian Woods, Lucy Montague Moffatt, Kevin Beirne, Yvanne Kennedy, Jack Walsh, Geraldine and Shane O’Nolan, Sheila Valentine, Joe and Andrea Kealy, Karen, Mark and Sheila Sugrue and everyone who helped us in the last year.
The University Observer | 16 April 2013
The University Observer | 16 April 2013
Preview: British & Irish Lions tour 2013 T
his summer’s British and Irish Lions tour to Australia has become all the more significant as the touring side has not returned home successful from each of their last three trips to the southern hemisphere. For the first time since 1997, the Lions will enter the test series as marginal favourites. In the last three series, they have faced the reigning world champions twice, and in 2005 they faced an AllBlack team who were the best side in the world. With so much talent across the four nations, Warren Gatland’s selection will be crucial. One position in which this abundance of talent is evident is at fullback. Rob Kearney, Leigh Halfpenny and Alex Goode were all top performers for their respective sides in the Six Nations, with Halfpenny to be selected for the first Test match on the basis of his impressive form towards the end of the Six Nations.
his summer’s Tests against Australia come at an interesting time. It has been said that the heart of the Lions side will be crimson after Wales secured their fourth Six Nations Championship since 2005. Leigh Halfpenny is a dead-cert at fullback after his performances in Wales’ campaign earned him the Six Nations Player of the Tournament. Although youth may not be seen as the best way to win Test matches, Welsh duo Toby Faletau and George North would be inspired choices at number eight and on the wing respectively. If anyone is going to make the call on this duo, it is Wales and Lions coach Warren Gatland. The New Zealander was the forwards coach for the Lions during their 2009 tour of South Africa, and this time round his promotion to head coach has only improved Welsh players’ chances of being involved. Welsh centre Jamie Roberts was probably being slightly wishful when
he Lions’ tour down under is older than the World Cup by around 99 years, and one of the greatest traditions in sport. This year, Warren Gatland takes his team to Australia to take on an exciting Wallabies side. With more than two months go to before that first game, it’s hard to predict who will be on the field that day. Injuries, form and a player’s ability to fit the game plan are all factors which
“In every Lions tour, there is a relatively inexperienced player who steps up to the plate, and this time around it will be Justin Tupuric at seven”
The two wing positions look more clear-cut. Chris Ashton appeared to be out-of-sorts during the Six Nations, so Alex Cuthbert and George North are the clear choices after Wales’ demolition of England, although Tommy Bowe could sneak in if he recovers on time. In the centre, Brian O’Driscoll seems nailed on for the number 13 jersey as he attempts to banish the memory of previous Lions defeats and Jamie Roberts looks likely to take the insidecentre position, as his size and strength will compliment O’Driscoll’s agility and genius. The question of who should be the starting flyhalf in Brisbane is also being keenly debated, with Sexton getting the nod on the basis of his form over the last three years. At scrum-half, Mike Philips did not look at his powerful best in the spring so Ben Youngs could be Gatland’s choice to control the pace. In the front row, Cian Healy and Adam Jones seem the only options for
the prop positions while Rory Best looks to be the most efficient hooker in the northern hemisphere, with a possible captain’s role. If Paul O’Connell, also a potential captain, can prove his fitness over the coming weeks, he is a certain starter. His partner in the second-row must be the imposing Richie Gray, with the Scot impressing at the set-piece in the Six Nations. The back-row is an area where many world-class players look likely to lose out, as this is unquestionably the strongest sector to choose from. Tom Croft was his side’s best forward until their Cardiff mauling, but still deserves the blind-side role, while Sam Warburton is a certain starter at open-side. Jamie Heaslip’s form suffered significantly during the Six Nations and he looks to have relinquished the final position to teammate Sean O’Brien, who simply cannot be left out of the side based on his consistent form and ability to break the gain line constantly.
he said after the final Six Nations game that “it would be great if we could get all 23 (Welsh players) on the plane”. With Gatland indicating his wish to take 37 players with him, that possibility may not be all that hard to believe. It must be remembered, however, that Wales lost all three of their tests in South Africa last summer and Lions teams have always performed better when all four nations are properly represented. In fact, there could well be an Irish captain, as it would be a fitting tribute if Brian O’Driscoll was given the role. The 34 year-old captained the Lions for the 2005 tour of New Zealand, and it would be a testament to the man if he were given a farewell captaincy this summer. With 131 Test caps to his name (the second most-capped player in rugby union history) he will leave an unprecedented legacy not just on the Irish, but on the world stage. The Irish may not have had the best Six Nations in recent memory, but there are players in the side who you couldn’t look past for the Lions tour. The likes of
Cian Healy and Rory Best will be difficult to leave out of the team, and Sean O’Brien’s ball-carrying abilities make him a very attractive prospect at blindside flanker. Paul O’Connell would be an influential figure to have in the Lions dressing-room, and having him on the pitch would do wonders combating Australia’s physicality. England’s Owen Farrell is a very reliable goal-kicker, something which is so vital at this level of Test rugby. One thing’s for sure, this summer’s tour will be keenly contested and watched very closely. It will provide the springboard for young players to prove their worth and launch themselves into the spotlight, while for the likes of many of the older players, these games may be the perfect end to stellar careers. All will be revealed; let’s hope the Lions can find their roar.
will ensure that this proposed starting team will not be accurate, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun to speculate. In the front-row, it’s hard to look past Cian Healy and Adam Jones as the two props. Rory Best seems to be the favourite for hooker, although his inconsistent lineouts mean Tom Youngs could sneak in to the team. Paul O’Connell’s performance against Harlequins showed his value as a leader and a player, and a partnership of himself and Alun Wyn Jones is an exciting prospect. Scotland’s Richie Gray will hope that he can crash the party, but his lack of big-game experience could cost him a place. The back-row is probably the most interesting area of selection for Gatland. A cruciate ligament injury to David Pocock will allow the Lions coaching staff a few more hours of sleep a night, as they will expect to dominate in this area. In every Lions tour, there is a relatively inexperienced player who steps up to the plate, and this time around it will be Justin Tupuric at seven. Sean O’Brien should take on the number eight shirt over Jamie Heaslip, who has struggled to find the form that made him the Lions’ starter in 2009. There are an abundance of options for blindside flanker, and Stephen Fer-
ris is arguably the most talented of the lot, but his inability to stay fit means he is unlikely to play. It would not be a surprise to see Tom Wood picked, but Gatland will probably stick with what he knows and choose Dan Lydiate. The halfback positions are both two horse races, with Philips set to battle it out with Ben Youngs for the number nine shirt. Youngs is in the better form at the moment, but Philips is a personal favourite of the coach. At outhalf, Jonathon Sexton will start ahead of Owen Farrell, if he can overcome his recent injury woes. A centre partnership of Brian O’Driscoll and Jonathan Davies seems to make the most sense, although there is a case to be made for Manu Tuilagi’s inclusion, while Leigh Halfpenny is the best choice for fullback at the moment. On the wings, George North is surely set to start, but his partner remains less clear. Craig Gilroy, Tommy Bowe, Chris Ashton, Tim Visser, Simon Zebo and Alex Cuthbert are all in the running, with Bowe’s experience winning out.
Starting XV: Healy, Best, Adam Jones, Hamilton, O’Connell, O’Brien, Warburton, Faletau, Phillips, Farrell, North, Roberts, O’Driscoll (c), Hogg, Halfpenny
Starting XV: Healy, Best, Adam Jones, Alun Wyn Jones, O’Connell, Lydiate, Tupuric, O’Brien, Philips, Sexton, North, Davies, O’Driscoll (c), Bowe, Halfpenny
“The back-row is an area where many world-class players look likely to lose out, as this is unquestionably the strongest sector to choose from”
Starting XV: Healy, Best, Adam Jones, Gray, O’Connell (c), Croft, Warburton, O’Brien, Youngs, Sexton, North, Roberts, O’Driscoll, Bowe, Halfpenny
“While Jonathan Davies is the best option at insidecentre, Gatland will most likely persist with his favourite battering ram, Jamie Roberts”
ions coach Warren Gatland admitted recently that 24-25 players are consistently featuring in his meetings with his coaching staff, meaning there are roughly ten spots yet to be filled. However, some areas of the squad are more crystal clear than others. Only Rob Kearney and Leigh Halfpenny are in contention for fullback. While Halfpenny deserves the berth for his consistency, Kearney could be a better tactical choice depending Wallabies’ game plan. On the wing, Alex Cuthbert and Tim Visser are the inform players and both will present the Australians with an array of questions to answer. Similarly, the battle for the two places at centre should be straight forward. Brian O’Driscoll deserves the captaincy, let alone the outside centre role. While Jonathan Davies is the best option at inside-centre, Gatland will most likely persist with his favourite battering ram, Jamie Roberts, at 12 who, regardless of the praise he received during the Six Nations, was average at best. Jonathan Sexton is another player who deserves a starting berth, but injuries have supplemented his rivals to boost their credentials; none more so than England’s Owen Farrell. The 21year old’s kicking game is metronomic, although his ability to link play is not of the same quality as Sexton’s. If he appears to be making a bigger impact on the European stage, then he may establish himself as the starter over Sexton. Meanwhile, there is no doubt that supplying either Farrell or Sexton from scrumhalf will be Mike Philips. He may be divisive, but Gatland trusts him, and his trust is not misplaced. Moving into the pack, the Lions are particularly weak at number eight due to the waning form of Jamie Heaslip and Toby Faletau, although, that deficit is balanced by the strength in depth of the flankers available. Both positions will be hotly contested and will depend on performances during the warm up games. Tom Wood deserves the blindside role, but any of Robshaw, O’Brien or Warburton all have valid arguments for their inclusion on the opposite side. The big question about the pack is about Paul O’Connell’s inclusion. His heroic performance against Harlequins a fortnight ago puts him in the running, but his history with Gatland will probably count against him in the end. One of Richie Gray or Joe Launchbury will probably be paired with Alun Wyn Jones, who was astounding during the Six Nations. There is a feeling that the front three is one of the main areas in which Gatland is completely undecided. Due to his work in the loose, Cian Healy would be an excellent option, while Adam Jones is a stalwart in the scrum and would bring a wealth of experience to the front-row. At hooker, the Lions appear very weak. Tom Youngs deserves the chance due to his international form, but Rory Best will probably trump him due to Gatland preferring experience in such a key area of the scrum. Starting XV: Healy, Best, Adam Jones, Gray, Alun Wyn Jones, Wood, O’Brien, Heaslip, Philips, Sexton, Visser, Roberts, O’Driscoll (c), Cuthbert, Halfpenny
The University Observer | 16 April 2013
Football, fascism and freedom of expression In light of the controversy over Paolo Di Canio’s fascist sympathies, Robert Ranson wonders why anyone cares
aolo Di Canio’s time at Swindon Town was described by former chief executive Nick Watkins as “management by hand grenade.” He could just as easily have been describing the recent actions of Sunderland owner Ellis Short. Without a win in eight games, Sunderland were steadily sliding towards the relegation berths. There was a clear and identifiable trajectory and the importance of trends is not lost on Short. As co-founder of Lone Star Funds, an American private equity firm, he had made his fortune analysing and reacting to them, so when Sunderland succumbed to another meek defeat against Manchester United, he was decisive and replaced Martin O’Neill with Paolo Di Canio. He lit the fuse, stood back and waited. The reaction was explosive. Within hours, non-executive vice-chairman and out-going Labour MP Davd Miliband had resigned, citing Di Canio’s previously expressed admiration for fascism. Cynics have chalked his decision down to political expe-
“Suppose Short had appointed a self-proclaimed communist as manager, would this incumbent have received the same level of vitriol as Di Canio?”
diency, but it remained a significant statement. Given Miliband’s Jewish heritage and political ideology, it is perhaps understandable that he would wish to distance himself from any association with fascism, although the hysteria from other quarters is harder to justify. Suppose Short had appointed a selfproclaimed communist as manager, would this incumbent have received the same level of vitriol as Di Canio? Presumably the usual suspects at The Daily Mail et al would have immediately denounced such an appointment with wonderfully helpful and wholly irrelevant references to Stalin and Mao. However, the liberal left would be just as quick to affirm that true communism radically differs from the abhorrent form of state “communism” implemented by authoritarian dictators. Despite the fact that even Di Canio’s initial endorsement of fascism contained pointed criticisms of Mussolini’s regime, there has been a conspicuous absence of voices suggesting that perhaps Di Canio’s beliefs might be more nuanced. At the very least, they appear more benign. The unspoken truth is that a number of Italians possess a more sympathetic view of Mussolini and Fascism than the rest of Europe. In a country where modern politics has been defined by instability and corruption, there is a temptation to engage in mental gymnastics and to romanticise the past. Right-wing rhetoric predicated on national pride and traditional values can have a certain allure for impressionable young ears. As a boy at Lazio, Di Canio was initiated as an “Ultra” and later returned to the club where he was photographed performing fascist salutes, in transparently populist attempts to pander to their far-right fan base. In response to
Whistle blower Kevin Beirne talks Paul Kimmage, the journalist who had been trying to warn us about Lance Armstrong since 1999
n 1989, Paul Kimmage retired from professional cycling. His career had been largely unspectacular, with a completed Tour de France in 1986 being his proudest achievement. For all intents and purposes, Paul Kimmage was not going to be remembered as anything more than a former team member of Stephen Roche, former Olympian and the winner of the 1981 Dublin Road Race. During his time in the peloton, Kimmage had not only seen, but experienced the effects of doping first hand.
He knew that there was a problem with the sport that he loved so dear. It was a sport that he had been born into, with his father and his brothers competing in it too. In 1990, he released a book called Rough Ride which details his exploits as a professional cyclist, including the dirty little secrets of doping. He admitted to using amphetamines before three exhibition races (in which the outcome is usually fixed) and was subsequently ostracised by the cycling community. In 1998, the Tour de France rode through Dublin. It was nicknamed the
“His assertion that Mussolini’s “actions were often vile” is less widely reported. The picture that emerges is of a confused man with a less than coherent ideology” questioning about the salute, Di Canio revealed that he considers himself a fascist but not a racist. His autobiography expresses his belief that Benito Mussolini was “deeply misunderstood” and “basically a very principled individual” and these quotes were widely published in the past week. His assertion that Mussolini’s “actions were often vile” is less widely reported. The picture that emerges is of a confused man with a less than coherent ideology. His comments suggest a belief that the principles underpinning fascism are fundamentally sound, but that Mussolini just went off the rails a bit, presumably around the time he met that Hitler fella. He may be guilty of ideological inconsistency, historical revisionism and cognitive dissonance but as he says himself “I am not a political person, we are in a football club and not in the House of Parliament.” This fact seems to be forgotten by many. Di Canio is employed to coach footballers, not to oversee the NHS, or to teach GCSE history. Many say that we cannot allow a self-proclaimed fascist to hold such a prominent and public
position, but why not? He is not using it as a political platform. He is not goosestepping along the side line. In fact, he has attempted, in vain, to reject all opportunities to discuss politics at all. This seems to be a test of whether we truly belief in freedom of expression. Noam Chomsky articulated the principle most eloquently with the maxim that if you do not support free speech for those you despise, you do not support it at all. One could argue that the issue is even more fundamental than freedom of expression. It is about freedom of belief. There are a limited number of sensible restrictions to pure freedom of expression, as even the most ardent of liberals tend to accept laws governing hate speech and incitement. However, it is imperative that there remains no scope for restrictions on a person’s right to their personal beliefs and convictions. There may be sound footballing reasons to object to Di Canio’s appointment at Sunderland, but
his personal politics is irrelevant. The mere implication that the unpopularity of a person’s private political beliefs might endanger their job is dangerous. When you are so affronted by a differing political view that you argue for their dismissal you begin to sound almost, well, fascist. Alas, the irony is lost on most. Of course, Di Canio has since professed that he does not support “the ideology of fascism”. Whether it was a lesson in politics or public relations which prompted this apparent repudiation of belief is open to speculation. Perhaps he has simply mellowed with age. The adage is that men grow more conservative with age, although one must be loath to assume Di Canio conforms to any convention. Perhaps he’s taking the pragmatic view that the only philosophy he has a chance of implementing is a football one. Fascism gives way to Realpolitik. A week is a long time in football.
‘Tour du Dopage’ (Tour of Doping) due to the doping scandal known as the Festina affair, named for the Festina team whose soigneur was arrested in for attempting to bring large amounts of doping products into France. The next year, Lance Armstrong completed an incredible recovery from the brink of death to win his first Tour de France. In the wake of his victory, many analysts said that it was too good to be true, but Kimmage meant it. He began to openly question Armstrong’s doping status. Kimmage had been aware of Armstrong since his brother competed against him in the 1992 Olympic road race in Barcelona. He had been tipped off that Armstrong was a contender to win it, and he remembers: “He didn’t win that day, but he was obviously very good. He turned professional straight after that Olympic road race, and won a stage at the Tour [de France] in his first year as a professional. He was World Champion in his first year, and had exceptional ability and was a fantastic racer. But he was a racer who was fan-
tastic for one day. He was never, ever, ever going to be a Tour de France winner.” He continued: “When he came back in 1999… I think he’d only ever finished one Tour before then. To come back to win, having had cancer, it was remarkable, inverted commas, and it just didn’t stand up… The key thing for me was that Armstrong had competed as a professional from ’93 until ’96, when he got the cancer, and those were some of the worst years for doping.” Another factor that alerted Kimmage to Armstrong as a potential doper was the fact that he was happy to sweep the previous doping cases under the rug. As far as Kimmage was concerned, any genuinely clean rider would have been enraged by his fellow professionals trying to cheat him. He says that: “If [Armstrong] was what he purported to be, he would have been outspoken about the doping. He would have been vicious about it, almost. Instead, he tried to pretend it hadn’t happened and it wasn’t there. It was the classic signs of someone who
had doped before and was still doping. It was actually very easy for me to call it.” Kimmage never held back in his attacks of Armstrong. Over the years, he became increasingly frustrated with the powers that be, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), and their failure to do anything in the face of a doping problem that he felt was destroying the sport. In an interview with Newstalk when Armstrong announced his comeback, Kimmage famously quipped that cycling had been in remission since Armstrong left the sport, but now the cancer was back. He knew how it would sound to people on the outside, but he also knew the truth of his statement. “I’ve always likened the problem of doping in sport to a cancer, which is what it is… He just represented that in so many ways. He has his first Tour win in 1999, when there was a chance that the sport could move forward, and he dragged so many fellas back into it,” he says. The irony was not lost on Kimmage that he was now using the word cancer as a weapon, much like Armstrong had used it as a shield for so many years. His words, as ever, drew a mixed response from the public, but he does not regret them to this day. The UCI, however, began a case in January of 2012 to sue him for defamation for his work for the Sunday Times. Led by his former team manager at the 1984 Olympics and current UCI President Pat McQuaid, they hoped that by suing him instead of the paper he wrote for that they could shut him up once and for all. What they didn’t count on was the unveiling of Armstrong’s doping regimen by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). But UCI did not drop the case, so a fund was set up by cycling fans all over the world to donate to Kimamge’s legal fund in order to thank him for his hard work over the years. UCI have since dropped the case, but Kimmage has now taken one against them, thanks to the supporters’ fund. Looking to the future, he doesn’t know if he will ever get back the innocence he once had with the sport, but he hopes that the next generation will have that chance.
“The key thing for me was that Armstrong had competed as a professional from ’93 until ’96, when he got the cancer, and those were some of the worst years for doping”
The University Observer | 16 April 2013
SPORTS DIGEST Football UCD AFC remain without a win this season after they fell to a 1-0 defeat to St. Patrick’s Athletic last Friday night in the Belfield Bowl. Anthony Flood scored the only goal of the game two minutes into stoppage time of the first half, five minutes after James Kavanagh was sent off for his second yellow card in four minutes. Flood thought he had given the visitors the lead after 21 minutes, but instead he was booked for using his hand to get the ball into the net. The Students were unable to pull back an equaliser, and could well have lost by more. The loss leaves UCD with only one point from their opening eight games. The Students have been unable to continue their good finish to the end of last season into 2013. For their next game, UCD travel to Hunky Dorys Park to take on Drogheda United on Friday 19th, kick-off is at 7.45pm. Meanwhile, UCD scholarship student Eric Barber has been snapped up by Swedish Fourth Division side Ytterhogdal IK. Barber was a member of UCD’s Leinster Senior team and is a final year economics student.
Sailing The University of Limerick played host to Irish University Sailing Association (IUSA) Sailing Intervarsity National Championships last month, although the event actually took place in Tralee, Co. Kerry. UCD went to the championships as defending champions, although they could not replicate their success of last year. The hosts, UL, took home the trophy after beating UCD in a best of five final. UL ran out to a 2-0 lead, but UCD looked to have pulled level at 2-2, only for an infringement to hand the trophy to UL by a score of 3-1. The Silver Fleet was won by UCC, while Queen’s University Belfast came out on top of the Bronze Fleet. But UCD did not leave emptyhanded, as they claimed their fourth consecutive colours title over Trinity College Dublin. The colours races had been postponed due to poor weather. UCD now look forward to defending their title at the Student Yachting World Championships in France. As defending champions, UCD qualify automatically, while the rest of the Irish qualifying is ongoing.
Becoming the ultimate fighter
The Badger gets serious about the far-reaching effects of sport
O Ahead of his meeting with Hugo Viana, rising MMA star T. J. Dillashaw talks to Jack Walsh about the life of a fighter
.J. Dillashaw is just a single fight away from being recognised among the top ten ranked bantamweights in the world, a fight the Team Alpha Male product will face on short notice against Hugo Viana on April 20th, which is set to be broadcast as part of UFC on Fox 7. He is a part of the new generation of collegiate wrestlers now finding avenues of competition through MMA. “It was just a form of competing after wrestling,” he explained. “There’s no wrestling after you finish college unless you go to the Olympics… I’ve always tried to be the best at whatever I’m doing, so this really is just another outlet.” Dillashaw’s coach in college was none other than Mark Munoz. Munoz is an MMA fighter himself, ranked number seven in the world for middleweights. He introduced Dillashaw to Urijah Faber, the number three ranked bantamweight in the world, who drafted him in to Team Alpha Male in Sacremento, giving Dillashaw the platform to become a finalist on The Ultimate Fighter 14 (TUF), under the tutelage of Michael Bisping. Following his stint on the hit TV show, Dillashaw rattled off three
Lacrosse The UCD men’s lacrosse team thrashed the Dublin Bay Prawns by a score of 10-2 to secure the Irish Lacrosse League title last Saturday. The impressive win for the men’s team adds to an already successful season for the club. At the start of the month, UCD Lacrosse took the Dublinfest Mixed Lacrosse Tournament trophy back to Belfield. While, back in March, the women’s team were victorious in Italy as they won the VI Roma Leones Tournament, while the men’s team were unable to replicate the feat of the women, as they narrowly lost to Roma by a single goal.
“I stay ready all the time, I have so many team mates that I have to train and keep them ready, so I’m always in shape and always ready to go… We don’t get ready, we stay ready.”
straight wins. His latest win was by knockout against Issei Tamura at UFC 158. Of course, there is much more to a fight than just attacking the opponent, and Dillashaw played Tamura perfectly. “He kind of set it up for me.” He explained. “You can’t always just know exactly how things are going to play out; I set it up earlier in the fight… He was circling to my left the entire time, circling away from my takedown and the power hand and right body kick. “He really didn’t want to engage, and so I just wanted to let loose a strike and it just happened the way it happened with a left head kick… I sold it pretty well with some strikes and he tried to dip out of the way of a takedown signal and made a big mistake.” He admits that taking fights on short notice has become a regular part of his short life as a fighter to date. “I’ve taken short notice fights my whole career. I did it before TUF; that’s just how it is when you’re starting out. TUF itself was all short notice, really. It was three fights in six weeks. “I stay ready all the time, I have so many team mates that I have to train and keep them ready, so I’m always in shape and always ready to go. This is just another pay day for me, so the closer the better. As long as I’m healthy I’m prepared to stack these fights up back to back. We don’t get ready, we stay ready.” This staying ready assumes keeping injury free, something that is becoming harder and harder within the sport, something the fans will have to get used to. “It’s something we’re always going to have to deal with. We are, after all, training to physically go into combat… I do feel we can control injuries to a point where we won’t have as many, but, no matter what, we will see it in this sport.” A new addition to the team is former muay Thai world champion Duane Ludwig, who Dillashaw credits with creating a sense of order in a sometimes chaotic gym environment. He says that Ludwig demands that they prove that they are better than their opponent, encouraging them to “be creative, throw some good strikes and push the grind on this guy. He’s going to be overwhelmed. I’m going to finish this guy, I want to get paid; I want that bonus.” Now that he’s knocking on the door of the top contender’s list, Dillashaw knows what’s required of him. “Keep winning, that’s rule number one and I can never forget that. I don’t think I’m too far away, but it all depends on who you beat and how. “I always want jumps in competi-
“Keep winning, that’s rule number one and I can never forget that. I don’t think I’m too far away, but it all depends on who you beat and how.”
tion, to be the best you have to constantly challenge yourself, and you have to do that by fighting the guys who are the top ten in the world. Whoever they want to throw at me and however, then that’s who I’m going to fight. My job isn’t to pick fights, it’s to fight.” News of the demise of Olympic wrestling has spread quickly and painfully through the world of MMA, with athletes such as Dillashaw understanding the clinical benefits of the sport. “It’s such a pure form of competition. I believe a lot of underprivileged kids can use it to get them out of trouble and put them on a different path, and it’s very sad to see it be cut from the highest level of competition.” With the now intertwining relationship of the sports, questions have arisen to how the effects of will ripple into MMA. Dillashaw is confident that “it may even bring more attention to our sport. A lot of wrestlers are going to look at that after college, just for the fact that there isn’t anything else to go to. “Everyone will understand how important wrestling is for fighting, so it won’t go anywhere as our sport requires that people understand wrestling. MMA wrestling will be different than collegiate, freestyle and Greco Roman, but it’s still going to be very important in the world of MMA.” T. J. Dillashaw hopes that he will be too.
ne of the biggest criticisms people make of Formula One racing, besides it being completely inaccessible to those without money and totally illegal to play with your friends on your road, is the way in which the heads of the sport aren’t interested in anything but money. There has been a hugely vocal opposition to the Bahrain grand-prix, but Bernie Ecclestone and co. don’t seem to see the issue people have with a few minor human rights abuses. There is no way that by bringing Formula One to Bahrain, they are implicitly supporting those in power, right? The Badger rather enjoys any opportunity to get high and mighty about pretty much anything, but this is one of those situations where even The Badger feels a little uncomfortable. This isn’t a case of being right or wrong about someone taking some drugs, this is a clear cut example of how sport can do real harm to people’s livelihoods. But of course we see this in a sport so elitist and out of touch with the average person as Formula One. You’d never see this in football. Everyone knows that the beautiful game transcends these silly things we call “human rights” and unites people no matter what. Except that it doesn’t. Over the weekend, Manchester United announced their plans to push ahead with a training complex in Bahrain for young players. For some context on this decision, this is the same country in which a woman was tortured by police for requesting that Manchester United hold a minute’s silence at the start of one of their matches. What was the minute’s silence for? Nothing major, just in memory of a 15 year-old boy who was wearing a Manchester United jersey when he was shot dead by Bahrain police during the violent uprising of 2011. Dr Fatima Haji, who recently had her five year prison sentence for treating injured rebels overturned, requested that the club honour Ahmad Shams before one of their matches. She then deleted the email. When police took her computer, a reply from the club’s press office was enough for them to interrogate her, demanding to know what her connection to the club was. The Badger strongly believes that sport is an incredibly important part of our world, and that it has power to effect a real change. The Badger remembers a time when all the major nations in the world boycotted South Africa’s sports teams because of apartheid. It’s something that’s worth considering. As sport becomes more commercialised and the higher ups become further removed from the fans, we need to be aware of the negative consequences our passivism can have. At the very least, it’s another reason to hate Manchester United.
OSbserver P O R T
The University Observer | 16 April 2013
UCD show their class UCD RFC 38 - 7 Malone RFC
CD RFC continued their strong vein of form in this year’s league by defeating Malone RFC in their final home game of the season, showing real class and an indomitable spirit. The UCD side demonstrated their superior offloading skills and precise kicking; converting all five of their tries. The win puts them within seven points of league leaders Ballynahinch, with only two games remaining. Although the final score was 38-7, the victory was not as easy as one might think. The wet and windy conditions were not ideal for either side, with rain contributing to a lot of handling errors, particularly under the high ball. Thankfully, the pitch held up and so both sides were able to scrum and run successfully, providing the crowd with a thoroughly enjoyable game. Malone got off to a great start, when an early slip up in UCD’s defence allowed their winger to make a break for the line, dodging at least two UCD defenders to plant the ball over the try line. Coupled with a successful conversion, it was apparent that UCD could not cruise to victory. It wasn’t until the 11 minute mark
when James Thornton seized a scoring opportunity after being awarded a penalty, putting UCD on the scoreboard for the first time in the game. The next few minutes saw both sides trading attacks, as they each opted to kick and chase. Neither side was able to find any joy from this disjointed passage of play. It was not until the 21st minute when Sam Coughlan Murray ducked and weaved through the Malone defence, scoring a much needed try and pushing UCD into the lead. The score definitely awoke the home side, as they dominated Malone for the rest of the half. The visitors spent the second part of the opening half desperately defending against an unrelenting UCD attack. Eventually, Collidge’s sustained efforts brought about a final product; as Luke McGrath edged over the line to bring the score to 17-7 to UCD. Malone attempted a counter attack just before the end of the half and succeeded in driving UCD back to their line. It looked certain that they would score, but for a valiant defensive effort. Following a fortuitous turnover, Alex Kelly was on the receiving end of a brilliant offload and ran the length of the
pitch for UCD’s third try of the game. James Thornton was in flying form and successfully kicked another conversion leaving the score at 24-7 at the end of the first half. UCD started the second half in the same spirits as they finished the first, forcing Malone to defend their own half for the best part of 20 minutes. The away side’s defence was eventually worn away, allowing Emmet McMahon to punch through the defensive line to score UCD’s fourth try, securing the bonus point and hoisting UCD’s lead to 31 points to seven. Malone then fought back and managed to push UCD into their own half, but the feisty visitors were held on the precipice of the try line by the superior UCD defensive effort. Eventually, UCD took advantage of a Malone side who seemed to cracking under the pressure of an unassailable deficit, by overturning the ball. This forced their opponents scramble back to defend, after some of the forwards broke a couple of tackles, allowing Stephen Murphy to run the ball in for the final try of the game. The try was successfully converted by James Thornton giving him a perfect record for the game. Malone refused to give up, but with the score at 38-7, there was a feeling of it being too little and too late. Their final attack was foiled by UCD, ensuring a comfortable victory. UCD continue to excel this season, with good play from all of the back
Keane to impress UCD student and Race 2 Race winner Mark Keane talks to Seán Craddock ahead of his Irish Touring Car Championship debut
otorsport isn’t the easiest sport to get into; even if you have the talent, you still need deep pockets if you want to become a racing driver. So when the Race 2 Race competition came along last year, third year Mechanical Engineering student Mark Keane jumped at the opportunity. Keane has always had an interest in motorsport. He raced when he was younger, but didn’t get the chance to progress from karting. “I did two full years racing before running out of money. My highest achievement in that was second in the national championship for the Rotax Mini Max Championship. Other than that, I haven’t done any motorsport since, until this competition came along.” The competition was set up in 2012 in order to find skilled drivers and make their dream of becoming a professional racing driver a reality. The competition is still relatively new and Keane found out about it too late to enter the first year. “I hadn’t even heard about it last year until it was after the entry date and then obviously heard about it throughout the year when the last winner John Greaney was having a great season.” He says. “He was winning races and won the championship in the end. So I entered the Race 2 Race in July or August last year. “The first round was just indoor
“I’m not expecting to win this weekend, but I wouldn’t say no to it either!”
“It’s not the easiest sport to get into, but the Race 2 Race is definitely one of the best ways at the moment.” karting in Kylemore and everyone is split up into weight classes, and I won my weight class and went through to the next round. The next round was again in Kylemore, it was down to two weight classes and it was the top four drivers from that event went through so I won that event overall and went through to the final which was just last Thursday [April 4th].” Having already had two years of experience racing karts, the first two rounds were familiar territory for the young Dubliner, but the final took place at Mondello Park in Kildare, a track that Keane had only a handful of laps experience at and it would be his first time racing in a car. As Keane explains, it was not simply a matter of being the fastest of the four drivers on the day; you had to show a number of different skills, saying that “it wasn’t an outright race, it was based on lap times and consistency. “We had an instructor sitting in the passenger’s seat just taking some notes on how we were driving; just sitting there in silence. I was told at the end there were two tenths of a second between the top three drivers so it was pretty close.” At the end of the day Keane was named the winner, having shown his consistency over the eight lap run. The prize is a racing contract for this sea-
son’s Irish Touring Car Championship worth 30,000. Keane gets to drive the Honda Integra that John Greaney won the championship in last season after winning the R2R competition. The car is run by the race team, with all entry fees included in the prize; he can just turn up and drive the car at the weekend. Keane admitted that he is excited for his début, and doesn’t think nerves will be an issue. “I’m used to racing head to head, so I’m over the nerves. I was nervous when I first started racing but I’m over that now. I’m just excited, so I’m looking forward to it.” Last year’s R2R winner, John Greaney, raced karts after his ITCC success and was able to give Keane some tips of what he can expect in the car. “It’s much less grip than what I’d be used to. A go-kart has a huge amount of grip. I mean you can take corners at 60-70 miles an hour with ease in a gokart and in a car the back end is always sliding around.” The car won the ITCC last season, so Keane is ambitious ahead of the opening round claims he is “aiming to be up towards the front... I aim to be winning throughout the season. I’m not expecting to win this weekend, but I wouldn’t say no to it either!”
“It’s not the easiest sport to get into, but the Race 2 Race is definitely one of the best ways at the moment.”
line and especially James Thornton. Thornton’s kicking was perfect, giving his team plenty of opportunities to use their numerous set plays from the lineout. Their lineout provided a stable platform, from which they successfully mounted attacks. The UCD backline showed true class with their offloading ability, especially impressive considering the wet condi-
“The visitors spent the second part of the opening half desperately defending against an unrelenting UCD attack” Considering the opportunity he’s been given by entering the competition, Keane had high praise for the R2R competition and would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in racing. “The entry this year was around 120; which isn’t a lot considering what you’re going for. “At the end of the day the worst you’ll get is one grand prix in indoor karting which costs 55-60 euro anyway, so you’re not losing a huge amount... and then you could be in my position. It’s not the easiest sport to get into, but the Race 2 Race is definitely one of the best ways at the moment.” Keane wants to keep his options
tions, which contributed to almost all of the tries. They were equally strong in defence, barring their initial slip up, keeping Malone from scoring again for the rest of the match. Malone showed early promise, but failed to capitalise on their excursions into the home team’s half. They were particularly bad when catching the high ball, which was unfortunate as they seemed dedicated to kicking and chasing. This ultimately led to them giving away possession and points as UCD ran in the tries around the halfway point of the game. UCD will take a lot of confidence from their performance on Saturday, while Malone will need to go back to the drawing board. UCD’s brand of exciting fast paced rugby seems to be paying off, and with only two more games left in the season, it remains to be seen if it can push them to the top of the table. The game itself was a great demonstration of how rugby should be played, bringing continual excitement throughout the whole game to the crowd. Both sides should be commended for not giving up. In spite of the score, UCD kept pressing and Malone kept defending right to the end. Hopefully UCD will continue to play in this manner in their upcoming games as they look to sneak into first place in the Ulster Bank League Division 1B. By Dónal Woods
open for the future, admitting “I still haven’t quite decided whether I see myself racing touring cars or single seaters in the future. I do like the idea of being in a car, so whether I’d go British Touring Cars and then a long way away might be World Touring Cars. But I’ve driven Formula Sheane before and I like the whole idea of being out in the open as well.” The UCD student has a big season ahead of him. Whether he can replicate John Greaney’s debut year remains to be seen. Whatever happens, the R2R competition has undoubtedly opened new doors for him and hopefully this is just the start of his racing career.
Issue 12 of the University Observer