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UCD Students’ Union up to €1 million in debt

by Katie Hughes · News Editor

Students’ Union President, Pat de Brún, recently revealed that the SU is up to €1 million in debt. The compiling of accounts, which has been taking place for the past few months, is expected to be completed in the next three weeks. These accounts will include all of the management accounts for the last number of years. According to de Brún, the SU will be applying for external financing from a bank. “We’ve had provisional talks but until we have our full accounts ready we can’t progress with negotiations.” The Union will be seeking to refinance the majority of the sum. Despite promises to do so, a budget was not released at the end of Semester One. De Brún explains that “having spoken to the sabbatical team about it and the Exec, we’d prefer to have a real, one hundred per cent accurate budget and I want to wait until the accounts are available so that everything is one hundred per cent accurate.” The SU is currently in the process of drafting a new constitution, in which they intend to place several measures to ensure financial viability and proper management of accounts. These will include a necessity to have accounts audited every year and “just more robust systems behind [the] management of accounts.” The establishing of UCDSU Ltd is almost complete, “[we’re] finalising who the directors will be and it’s pretty much ready to go. It’s a straightforward enough exercise once that’s done.” De Brún stated that the Union “has been making a huge effort to save money across the board this year, in light of the difficult circumstances.” Cuts have been made across the Union’s activities: “our support staff costs have been cut back massively, saving an estimated €55,000 over the course of the year. On class rep training we saved roughly €5,000. We’ve spent thirty-five per cent less than this time last year on class party drinks tokens. We also saved €4,000 on the Freshers’ Guide. Our transport and exam costs

by Katie Hughes · News Editor

are down by around €11,000. We spent €5,000 on the national campaign this year in comparison with €20,000 last year. Officers have had a reduction in budgets of around forty per cent on average so far. “These are just a few examples that spring to mind and the total figure is much more. Despite the large savings, I believe that most of the money saved has been through efficiencies, with as little impact as possible on students. “Essentially, we have been trying to save money in everything we do. All spending is only approved if necessary and costs such as printing are also way down. This is an extremely testing time for the Union and we are coping as best we can with the reduced resources at our disposal.”

By the end of 2012, almost two hundred PhD students participating in the UCDTCD Innovation Academy will benefit from funding. Bursary applications are accepted in any medium. Pictured is President Hugh Brady with John Hegarty cutting an application in the form of a cake. For full story see Page 2. Photograph courtesy of the Innovation Academy

Medical Director of Health Centre fears privatisation by Katie Hughes · News Editor

UCD’s Health Centre, located in the Student Centre, is currently up for tender. Current Medical Director of the Student Health Centre, Dr Sandra Tighe, was first made aware of the Health Centre being put out for tender in September 2010, “with what I was informed was a view to augmenting the Student Health Service as opposed to replacing the Health Service so I don’t know really, what’s happening in relation to it or how it might impact on my service or my role.” Dr Tighe was assured that jobs would not be affected, however she admits that “we are concerned for both our own future, the integrity of the service and the quality of care that may be there in the future for students.” Dr Tighe explains that a service

SIPTU angered by staff survey

that is part funded by the University is most beneficial to students: “If you’re expecting students to pay out of pocket the full commercial cost for a GP visit, plus enough to generate a profit it would be very difficult to deliver high quality care to students at a reasonable cost and generate a profit. “There’s a perception that private is more efficient than public but I don’t think that there’s any evidence to support that. I think that people need to look at what the evidence is for the outcomes in profit-driven health services, for example what is the evidence of quality of care in say, [the] state system, where it is a profit system, whereas the system we have here is that most practices are a small business; they need to generate a small profit but there isn’t a third party involved that they’re looking to generate money for.”

UCD Students’ Union President Pat de Brún also expressed uncertainty as to whether privatisation would be the most effective option for the Health Centre. “The idea of complete commercialisation of the Student Health Service would concern me so I am trying to find out more information at the moment and trying to work with the Health Centre and the University to find out what the aim of this is and if it would be beneficial or not.” Dr Tighe noted that there are various locations around UCD that provide similar services to the Health Centre, and as such, are its direct competition. These include the Beacon, Blackrock Clinic and Vincent’s Private Hospital. “There’s a lot of people competing for quite a limited private market, so I fully empathise with the college’s position. We’ve co-operated in every way with

the charging, with cost-efficiencies and the rest of it.” “I feel very proud of what we’ve managed to develop since I started nearly fifteen years ago now – we’ve developed the service significantly for students, we provide longer opening hours than any other health service in the country, we have the equivalent of a greater range of services than any other health service in the country and we operate with resources that are equivalently less, due to the budgetary situation.” In August 2011, Dr Tighe put forward a proposal entitled ‘Implement a New Vision of Student Health’, which illustrated an operational plan for the future of the Health Centre. Centric is the only company to have placed a tender for the Health Centre thus far.

SIPTU UCD have recently expressed their dissatisfaction regarding an e-mail being sent out to over one hundred UCD staff members on December 16th asking them to review the performance of a number of named staff in Registry via an online survey. A UCD spokesperson stated that the survey was not part of a performance management exercise, but a “routine customer survey supporting the ongoing development of the services provided by the Programme and School Liaison Team.” SIPTU Representative for Registry, Simon Williams, did not agree with this statement, believing the survey was “essentially a review of staff performance.” The agreed procedure for reviews of staff performance is through the Performance Management Development System (PMDS). Williams stated, “this survey was outside of that system … that’s our view of it.” SIPTU had previously agreed the PMDS system of staff review with University Management. As it is the only agreed system of staff review, Williams explained that “[SIPTU] found this unacceptable, that essentially an arbitrary decision was made by management to review staff performance in ways they decided as appropriate and this was outside the agreement that was in place with the University and SIPTU.” According to an e-mail sent out by the UCD SIPTU Section Committee to UCD members of the union, UCD HR is currently attempting to implement a plan that would link future increments to the outcome of performance reviews. SIPTU maintain “this kind of survey could set a dangerous precedent for future, arbitrary, management decisions, regarding reviews of staff performance.” In relation to this plan, Williams stated that “[SIPTU] would be particularly concerned about this instance because if management in the University decided that they can review staff performance in any way they want … that could be very worrying because staff performance could be linked to increments in the future.” Williams further went on to say that “if the University wants to encourage productivity among staff, the way to do that is to give staff confidence that management respect agreements between SIPTU and the University … This type of thing could potentially undermine that.” SIPTU urged those who received the e-mail not to complete the survey.


The University Observer · 17 January 2012

Observer News

Two hundred PhD Students to participate in Events in place for UCD-TCD Innovation Academy by end of 2012 International Week

by Katie Hughes · News Editor

by Niamh Hynes

By the end of 2012, almost two hundred PhD students participating in the UCDTCD Innovation Academy will benefit from programmes funded by the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI) Cycle 5. As part of their recently formed Innovation Alliance, Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin have launched the UCD-TCD Innovation Academy, which is described as the educational ‘centrepiece’ of the Innovation Alliance between the two institutions. Launched in November 2010, the Academy aims to nurture entrepreneurial thinking in PhD students of all disciplines, helping them convert

their ideas into ‘value’, i.e. social and/or economic benefit. The Academy currently offers a Graduate Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, taught through activity-based learning to create innovative educational experiences. Although most students join the academy while simultaneously doing PhD research, some students come on a part-time basis from industry, whilst others join the programme after their first degree to complete the certificate as a standalone qualification. The Innovation Academy at UCD not only promotes entrepreneurial thinking but also takes an entrepreneurial approach in its own development through student feedback. The

venture is currently in the process of rapidly expanding its activities nationally and internationally, and in October 2011 became an all-island venture with the inclusion of Queens University Belfast. The substantial funding secured for a bursary system means fees will be covered “for those postgraduate students already registered at UCD and who are highly motivated to participate in our modules”, explains Innovation Academy Administrator and Event Manager, Lisa Hogan. As bursary applications can be in any medium, past students’ applications have ranged from letters to images, dance to video, baking a cake to creating a work of art to convey their interest

in participating in the Academy. The Academy houses a learning lab in Newman House on St Stephens Green where students from UCD, TCD and QUB have access to experts in the field of creative design and film making through partnerships with NCAD and IADT, and regular guest entrepreneurs alongside potential mentors from industry and government agencies. The PRTLI offers third level institutions an opportunity to build infrastructure, invest in capacity and facilitate institutional strategies and inter-institutional collaboration. The programme supports research in humanities, science, technology and the social sciences, including business and law. Cycle 5, announced in July 2010 by then-Taoiseach Brian Cowan, who described it as “another piece in our strategy to support Irish start-ups and attract overseas entrepreneurs to Ireland” invests in physical infrastructure and research projects in Ireland’s higher education institutions. The funding for Cycle 5 runs from 2011 to 2015, allocating €347.6 million between the areas of Buildings and Equipment, and Research Programmes and People over the period.

The Students’ Union International Week is set to take place on the week commencing January 30th. According to SU International Officer, Stephen Stokes, the International Week is  an opportunity to  “enhance and promote the cultural diversity  of UCD.”  Most events  will cater for all nationalities, including Irish students.  However, some events  will be aimed specifically at international students to “give them a little taste of Ireland”, such as the day trip to Wicklow on February 4th. Stokes insists that there are events “to cater for all tastes.” Events include movies in the Global Lounge from Monday to Friday at 3pm, a Halal Food Festival, International Student Society (ISS) Table Quiz, salsa dancing, French breakfast, Mord Fustang International House DJ,  Xbox soccer tournament and the Superbowl, with Stokes promising that there is “something for everyone.” “Most of the activities planned are either new or bring a fresh dynamic to UCD life. The Halal Food Festival is arguably the best example of this. It will form the official launch of the week on January 30th and is being hosted by the Islamic Society. Everyone is welcome and tickets are just €5 for a tasty two course meal”, continues Stokes. Stokes explains that the reason behind having an International Week was because “the SU and the UCD International Office  are fully committed to  ensuring international students feel centrally involved in UCD life. International Week 2012 is an excellent opportunity for the student body to celebrate our diversity.” Stokes’ main hope for the week is that everyone has “a fun time, to do this UCD Students’ Union and the International Office have been unwavering in their support to make sure International Week 2012 is as successful as possible. The Global Lounge will be a hub for activity as will the Students’ Union and Student Centre”.

UCD to launch international campaign by George Morahan

UCD International Office is in the final stages of preparation for a new campaign to encourage more international students to study at UCD and promote the University’s accomplishments in the global academic and educational communities. The campaign, called UCD International, is being put into effect in March. UCD International’s marketing manager, Gary Osborne, stated that recruiting more international students would be beneficial to UCD’s Irish students “because they will graduate into a global world and it’s important that they experience part of the bigger, wider world before they get out there” and explained that this process of “internationalisation” was an integral part of the President’s message. The campaign was initially made public in Dr Hugh Brady’s ‘President’s Report to the Governing Authority’ last

December. In the report, the President stated that the focus of UCD International is to “generate awareness of the achievements of the University among academic peers overseas.” Osborne went on to say that UCD’s “successes in research, in particular, as well as successes in leading various different aspects of Irish society; Irish business, engineering, science and so on” will form the bedrock of the campaign’s overseas message. Representatives of the International Office will visit universities in “key markets” such as India and China, and utilise social media and networking sites at a cost-effective rate in the hopes of persuading a greater number of students to study abroad at UCD. The duration of the campaign has not yet been specified, with Osborne stating that he wasn’t sure as to how long UCD would be committed to this project. “How many weeks on TV or radio etc., that detail hasn’t been confirmed as of yet, so I cannot say for sure.

However, there is an ongoing campaign in a more general sense that we are pushing UCD’s message.” In addition to international recruitment, the campaign is also aiming to highlight UCD’s achievements and improve the University’s reputation abroad by focusing on qualities in UCD that international students would find appealing in an educational establishment. Osborne believes that “UCD is an internationally reputed institution, which is high in the rankings, Englishspeaking and research intensive and all of those things are important to international students. So we take the domestic brand values and apply them internationally.” Mr. Osborne said that the campaign was aimed at reaching Brady’s target of twenty-five per cent international students by 2015, “a significant portion of which will be non-EU, coming from China, India, south east Asia and the USA.”

Catch up with Clap your hands say yeah in this fortnight’s OTwo

The University Observer · 17 January 2012

UCD Professor receives Royal Irish Academy Gold Medal for Engineering Sciences

by Denis Vaughan

UCD Emeritus Professor of Engineering, Sean Scanlan was awarded a Royal Irish Academy (RIA) Gold Medal in a ceremony held on December 16th. Prof. Scanlan was awarded this medal in recognition of his exceptional contribution to Engineering Sciences. Prof. Scanlan is widely recognised as one of the leading international living circuit theorists, having made fundamental contributions to areas including electronic circuit and system design, digital circuits and computing, communications and signal processing amongst others. Prof. Scanlan is a former President of the Royal Irish Academy (1993-1996),

a recipient of the Golden Jubilee Medal of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Circuits and Systems Society and a life fellow of the IEEE. Professor Tom Brazil, Head of the UCD School of Electrical, Electronic and Communications Engineering commended Prof. Scanlan on his award, stating that “[Prof. Scanlan] is held in the highest regard by all who know him and is acknowledged as a scholar of the very highest quality. This award is seen as a very fitting and utterly deserved recognition of his academic achievements over many years … As Head of School I am enormously proud of Sean’s achievements and of the enormous regard with which he is held by



the international scientific community in his discipline. I know that these feelings are shared by my colleagues in the School.” He continued to say that despite financial support for research being limited for the majority of Prof. Scanlan’s career, “he showed what could be achieved by sheer  brainpower applied to  fundamental questions of mainstream interest and significance. These central values have even greater resonance  in these current times of financial austerity in Ireland.” Prof. Brazil concluded by saying that Prof. Scanlan was “the inspirational leader of the discipline of Electronic Engineering in UCD for many years. He set the very highest standards of rigour

in undergraduate education and postgraduate research, to which the School still firmly adheres. This award is a vindication of the core values of the School and its commitment to upholding the highest international standards in academic achievement and scholarship.” “The Academy Gold Medals acclaim Ireland’s foremost contributors to the world of learning and science,” said the Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairi Quinn, who presented the award. “The work of today’s recipients illustrates Ireland’s high standing in the world of learning.” International human rights scholar, Professor William Schabas of NUI Galway was also honoured with an RIA Gold Medal at the ceremony.

UCD and Beijing University of Technology to open joint international campus

News in Brief by Denis Vaughan & Aaron Kennedy

Four academics awarded UCD Honorary Degrees Irish novelist, Joseph O’Connor; Italian novelist, Andrea Camilleri; Irish-American novelist, Mary Gordon; and journalist and broadcaster, Olivia O’Leary have all been awarded honorary degrees of Doctor of Literature from University College Dublin. Joseph O’Connor is author of the muchpraised novel, Star of the Sea, the first in a trilogy which has placed the author in high esteem amongst contemporary Irish writing circles. “Some of the happiest years of my life were spent as a student in UCD,” says O’ Connor, “so I am deeply grateful and honoured by this homecoming.” Andrea Camilleri’s best known works are his Inspector Montalbano detective novels, which have been translated into numerous languages and sold millions of copies worldwide. “Mary Gordon is among America’s most admired prose writers. I have long since marvelled at both the scale and depth of her fiction” said James Ryan, lecturer at the UCD School of English, Drama and Film, who read the citation at the ceremony. Gordon’s works include: Final Payments, The Company of Women, The Other Side, and The Love of My Youth. Olivia O’Leary is one of Ireland’s most well respected journalists and commentators. Her speech at the National Convention Centre to honour the Queen’s visit has been highly praised by many as an accurate summation of national feeling.

APC wins NovaUCD 2011 Start-Up Award APC Ltd, a new pharmaceutical research and technologies company, has won the NovaUCD 2011 Start-Up Award. APC provides pharmaceutical processing technologies whose products allow its clients to reduce the risk, cost, and time to market for new and existing pharmaceutical medicines. The company was founded last year by Dr Mark Barrett and Professor Brian Glennon as a spin-out from the UCD School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering. APC already boasts a number of the top ten pharmaceutical companies in the world as its clients. Speaking about the companies that participated in last year’s NovaUCD Campus Company Development Programme (CCDP), UCD Vice-President for Innovation, Professor Peter Clinch, said that, “These ventures will in time also lead to the generation of highly-skilled employment opportunities and I am delighted to see that APC, the overall winner, plans to generate twenty such jobs by 2013.” The NovaUCD CCDP, which is supported by Enterprise Ireland, has been run annually since 1996. High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) Department Manager, Life Sciences, John O’Dea, has stated that “Enterprise Ireland looks forward to supporting the success of this year’s participants and assisting them to realise their full commercial potential.” 185 new ventures and 290 individuals have now completed the NovaUCD Campus Company Development Programme.

Newman Building and James Joyce Library undergoing renovations

by Julie Beattie

In a recent effort to increase the resources available to UCD students, an agreement has been signed between the President of UCD, Dr Hugh Brady and the President of Beijing University of Technology (BJUT), with the aim of setting up an International University in Beijing. An International University will be set up in Beijing in two phases. In the first phase, joint degrees will be offered by both universities to enrolled Chinese students, and to some extent, to international and Irish students, and studies

will be on an existing campus of BJUT. In the second phase will take place after four years, when a new independent campus will have been constructed and a full International University established that will award its own degrees. Project Manager, UCD’s Professor Keenan, hopes this will “serve as a high quality study abroad location for Irish students … while there are certainly challenges [awaiting students], the potential rewards are considerable”. Prof. Alan Keenan maintains that although the language barrier can be a difficulty, “there is [a great] enthusiasm among younger people in China

to learn English”. He explains that Chinese students are eager “to look outwards and learn about Western culture, educational systems and business opportunities.” From an Irish perspective, due specifically to the UCD Confucius Institute and the Irish Institute for Chinese Studies, “interest is developing among Irish students too”. From September 2012 the international campus will offer among others, degrees in Science, Engineering, Food Science, Environmental Science, Information and Communication Technology. The partnership will also expand existing opportunities within the

Bachelor of Commerce degree and its international counterpart. “It is envisaged that a selection of approximately five of the [aforementioned] degrees will be on offer to Chinese students also, with the potential for Irish students to take some as part of their Degree programs.” Prof. Keenan expresses hope that “in the future, this will serve as a model for more partnerships like this”. According to UCD’s strategic plan, the initiative was set up in what was described as an “increasingly globalised” society; “university graduates will be expected to live and work across borders and cultures, either physically or electronically, from the day they graduate. This will especially be the case in Ireland, where the success of businesses will depend on their ability to operate and trade globally.” The first degree programs should be available next September, providing applications to government authorities in Beijing are approved on time.

The renovations currently taking place in the Newman Building are, according to a University spokesperson, part of its ongoing refurbishment: “It has been envisaged that the construction of a major atrium entrance sited between the Newman and library buildings could provide an appropriate joint entrance to both buildings as well as enhanced circulation and public engagement spaces. “In anticipation of the commencement of the project, a master planning exercise is currently underway within the library to consider alternative layouts within the existing fabric of the library building. This project is being led by the Librarian with the assistance of the Buildings Office. “A second project is also underway to consider means by which a greater number of teaching spaces can be provided within the Newman building. This project has raised access and fire safety issues within the Newman building that will need to be addressed as part of the greater Newman/Library atrium project and more immediately.”  In 2008, the ‘Newman and Humanities Regeneration Project’ had to be postponed due to lack of funds and the current economic climate.



The University Observer · 17 January 2012


UCD and Teagasc formalise partnership News in Brief by Fachtna Basquille

by Jack Walsh

Bristol students join picket line A significant number of Bristol University students joined an estimated 20,000 strong Workers’ Union strike in peaceful protest against government reforms to public sector pensions on November 30th. Students joined picket lines alongside university lecturers and staff before joining the general public and marching through the city. Demonstrations ended in Castle Park, where several representatives of the main public service unions addressed the crowds. School and university staff are angered at government plans to raise the state pension age to sixty-seven while making public sector workers pay more into their pensions, which unions feel will leave them working longer for less. Politics lecturer Ryerson Christie stated that “[today] is about us trying to protect public education in the face of privatisation. We see you as colleagues; we don’t see you as customers. David Willets [Minister of State for Universities and Science] does”. Indications of public sympathy and support have been given, with BBC figures estimating that sixty-one per cent of people are in favour of strike action, with a total of two million public sector workers having joined the protests. Criticism has come in the form of public figures and students expressing hostile views, with presenter Jeremy Clarkson proclaiming: “I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families.” Protestors have condemned such comments.

Catholic University reintroduces same-sex housing The Catholic University of America will implement a single sex housing policy following the dismissal of a case by the D.C. Office of Human Rights accusing the University of discrimination. The case, which alleged that CUA’s return to same-gender dorms after twenty years of co-ed housing discriminated against women, was raised by George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf III. In its dismissal, representatives of the Office of Human Rights stated that Banzhaf had not demonstrated that women would not have equal access to educational opportunities or be subject to any material harm. Failing these criteria, they ruled that the policy did not violate the District’s Human Rights Act. Citing increased rates of sexual activity and drinking, CUA first announced its plan to reinstate the single-sex housing policy in June. Victor Nakas, Associate Vice President for Public Affairs at CUA stated: “Even as [President John Garvey] began his tenure at Catholic University, he was thinking about the possibility of transitioning to single-sex residence halls, and the prior administration at CUA had begun to study the idea as well.” Leslie Martin, the speaker of the Student Association General Assembly at Catholic University has spoken about her appreciation of the meaning behind the decision, “after hearing the explanation from President Garvey, I understand the policy is supposed to emphasize respect for each sex by giving space between the genders.”

Contingency Plans in Place for Snow The Ontario liberal government is fulfilling a major campaign promise this month by handing down a thirty per cent tuition grant. Those eligible this year will receive $800 if they are university students and $365 for college students, with expected totals rising to $1600 and $700 respectively in September 2012. 31,000 students immediately qualify, with recipients expected to grow annually, according to Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities, Glen Murray. The grant is set under a strict set of parameters and has received criticism from organisations such as the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario (CFS), due to its limited number of eligible applicants. “Despite Dalton McGuinty’s repeated promise to reduce tuition fees, his government is introducing a grant that will reach just over 300,000 of Ontario’s more than 900,000 students,” stated CFS Chairman Sandy. The Ontario Conservatives have also expressed their disappointment with the grant, arguing that a government facing a $16 billion deficit should not be launching such an expensive program. Addressing financial concerns, Murray stated: “The only negative is that we had to find the money within existing funding … The only direct student aid program that’s gone is the technology and textbook grant which is about $150.”

UCD and the Irish Agriculture and Food Development authority, Teagasc, signed an agreement at the end of 2011, which formalised their long-standing relationship and solidified the continuation of their cooperation in research and training. A joint working party of representatives from both UCD and Teagasc, chaired by former Irish Farmers Association Secretary General Michael Berkery, produced the ‘National Agricultural Research, Education and Innovation Partnership’, which was signed

by UCD’s Dr. Hugh Brady and director of Teagasc Professor Gerry Boyle. The programme sees the centralisation of UCD and Teagasc’s efforts under the leadership of a board staffed by three UCD and three Teagasc officials, chaired by an external, independent, chairman in the person of Michael Berkery, with UCD’s Professor Maurice Boland acting as Director. Teagasc had already played an active role in the training of post-graduates prior to the new agreement, in the form of the Walsh Fellowship training scheme, of which a Teagasc represen-

UCD scientist discovers genetic cause for babies born without eyes by Sara Holbrook

A research team at UCD, lead by Dr Sean Ennis, have made a breakthrough in discovering the genetic cause of anophthalmia, a condition where babies are born without eyes. Anophthalmia and microphthalmia are two conditions affecting the eyes where a baby may be born with no eye or only part of an eye. An article published in the December 2011 issue of Human Mutation details the discovery made by Dr Ennis and his team. As Dr Ennis explains “with this it’s usually a double hit so you have to have the same fault coming from both parents; what that means is we look for regions of their genomes that are identically inherited from the mother and the father.” If both parents have this altered gene then each of their children have a one in four chance of being born with these eye conditions. Several generations of a family were tested and it was found that if the child has alterations in both copies of the STRA6 gene then the eyes would not develop properly. The STRA6 gene is responsible for transporting vitamin A to the cells and if this gene is altered, not enough vitamin A can get to the foetus and ensure healthy eye development. New technology available in the genetic field made the discovery of the disease possible using just one family. Dr Ennis explains that this is one of the first times that these new technologies in genetics have been applied to rare diseases and been successful. “It’s hard

to get it across, but to be able to find the cause for a disease in just one family is kind of remarkable; we’re blown away by it ourselves, and we’ve done it.” This new discovery means that a genetic test can now be conducted to see if couples that want to have children have this changed gene. If both parents have this altered gene then counselling can be provided to deal with the impact of carrying this gene on to future children. Dr Ennis highlights that “part of our aim with doing this … is to highlight the fact that you can now think about tackling these diseases, at least getting a handle on what is going on … people just tend to think, even scientists tend to think, that it’s just not possible to look at these things and get an answer. But it is.” The tests are not expected to be commercialised in Ireland. According to Dr Ennis, the developed test goes back to the National Centre for Medical Genetics; “it’s government funded, so they don’t charge for the actual testing, it’s basically a service provided. I mean the university would like you to commercialise it yes, but that’s the field, you put it out in the public domain so people can use it.” Biosensia’s main aim is to achieve FDA approval for their first product by the end of 2012. They also plan to engage with commercial partners to bring additional products to the market. The company was recognised as a new innovator in the Irish Times Innovation Magazine in August as a result of their revolutionary new technology.

tative maintains UCD were the major beneficiaries. This training scheme saw Teagasc staff actively involved in the education of students alongside the UCD faculty, which the new scheme aims to expand and solidify as a permanent feature of the UCD-Teagasc partnership. Teagasc and UCD have previously worked together and so the aim of this agreement is to “strengthen the relationship, putting in place structures that will ensure that the relationship will work much better and that the two organisations will work together both for the betterment of the students in the education area and also for the betterment of Irish agriculture” according to a Teagasc spokesperson. The decline in available resources experienced by UCD and Teagasc as a result of the economic downturn played a major role in the development of the partnership, which sets out for wide-scale pooling of resources such as personnel and facilities. For example, both Teagasc and UCD have few re-

searchers in the area of sheep farming, so the teams were combined to launch a focused programme last October. A similar solution is being looked at in the area of pig farming, where both bodies have few workers. A Teagasc spokesperson explained that “it will ensure that we work closer together, where there are gaps we work together to fill those gaps, that we share equipment, that we share laboratories, we share all of the state-funded facilities that we both enjoy. There is an onus on state-funded organisations to be more efficient and effective in how they do their business; Teagasc and UCD are responding to that.” Teagasc will have an input into the planning of degree courses in UCD, while the University will in turn have input into the planning of Teagasc activities. According to a spokesperson, this will allow Teagasc to “bring their knowledge and expertise as an input into the planning of courses in UCD into the future.” A similar agreement was signed between Teagasc and University College Cork two years ago.

Darcy confirms acts for Semester Two by Angela Clarke

Students’ Union Ents Officer, Stephen Darcy has a number of gigs lined up for Semester Two, including DJ Rankin, Cheesefest Take II, and The Kanyu Tree, with an aim to make events “cheaper for people, make things more interesting, get in quirkier acts to retain people’s interest and keep it fresh.” Cheesefest Take II will take place in the second week of semester, with 5ive and SClub already confirmed. Speaking about the event, Darcy said he felt “it was the right thing to do to bring them back. Everyone was really excited the last time and I felt like I let everyone down.” Tickets are €8 and are available online and in all SU outlets. January 26th sees The Kanyu Tree doing a Redbull Bedroom Session gig on campus. The Irish trio of brothers are set to spend a full day on campus, building a bedroom set on the concourse, from where they will play and promote the gig. UCD act, The Curtain Thieves, will be supporting the band. Week three is RAG week, which despite many details yet to be finalised, is set to see Mord Fustang headline

the bar that Thursday, February 2nd. The electro DJ has recently reached number one on the Beatport Download charts. Keen to maintain momentum, Darcy does anticipate a slight dwindling of participation in Semester Two, as he maintains is usual for the final semester of the year, but he is determined to counter any decrease in enthusiasm by varying events in order to keep them interesting. “I don’t want it all to become stale.” Darcy considered releasing an Ents single for RAG week, however time constraints have prevented this from happening. Darcy remains eager for it to go ahead later in the semester. He recognises it as something that “could potentially catch people’s interest a lot, getting people involved in the music, instruments, recording, production, and general fun … I want to get as many students involved as possible, and it seems like something that could actually generate a bit of money for charity.” The first week back sees DJ Rankin return to the Student Bar for Thursday Night Live with admission €3 at the door.

L&H Team reach World Debating Semi Finals BY Denis Vaughan

Auditor of the Literary and Historical Society, Christine Simpson and debating partner Michael O’Dwyer, reached the semi finals of The World Universities’ Debating Championships 2012, which was held at De La Salle University, Manila, in

which 396 teams competed. This is the first time an Irish team has progressed so far in the competition in over a decade. “Over the course of the tournament we debated a variety of topics across the spectrum of social policy, economics, politics, and international relations,” explains Simpson.

The motion debated on for the semi final was “This House Believes That Images Designed to Even Slightly Sexually Attract/Arouse Viewers Should be Restricted to Specialist Adult Shops/.XXX domains.” Speaking of the team’s performance in the tournament, Simpson stated that “we are thrilled with our success. It’s

an honour to represent the Society and University at an international level and to be able to direct attention towards the strength of Irish debating, especially within the L&H and UCD.” The society plans to send more teams to the championships again next year, when it will be taking place in Berlin.

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The University Observer · 17 January 2012

Observer Features

In Pursuit of Excellence T

Who are UCD’s brightest and best and what does the University do for them? Margaret Walsh explores the workings of UCD’s Ad Astra Academy

he UCD Ad Astra Academy recog- Lambe, a current beneficiary, acknowl- composition competition together with reer in sport or in music may have af- employment. nises exceptional students who edges the importance of such a facility the Contemporary Music Centre.” The fected their performance in examinaProfessor Mark Rogers, Director of pursue excellence in the follow- to her training as a rower. She explains three singers and three instrumental- tions such as the Leaving Certificate. the UCD Ad Astra Academy, Registrar ing three areas: academics, sports and that the “iDXA scanning [provided] ists under the direction of the Ad Astra However, some might argue that and Deputy President, was quick to exthe performing arts. The programme helps me better understand my body Academy will perform at a concert in making such resources available to a plain that he believed the Ad Astra faaims to support students who wish to composition and how this will change the John Field room of the National limited few places other students at a cilities were key to UCD’s “tradition of combine studying in UCD while simul- as I come down to my target weights.” Concert Hall at the end of February. relative disadvantage. O’Hanlon dis- excellence. As Director of the UCD Ad taneously striving to nurture the po- Ann O’Hanlon, Manager of the Elite The Ad Astra Music programme is in putes this premise and believes that Astra Academy, I am delighted to be intential they show in their chosen area Athlete Academy, also liaises with the its first year and has not been without “our athletes have worked extremely volved in encouraging and challenging of interest. nutritionist and catering staff to ensure a few teething problems. Limited re- hard to achieve the highest level in their the Academy’s scholars to develop and The Academy provides financial that the athletes’ dietary needs are met. hearsal space has been an issue because chosen sport. To get to the top requires discover their full potential. My hope assistance in the form of a minimum She adds that being grouped together of the new Student Centre not opening talent, dedication and sheer hard work. is that the UCD Ad Astra Academy will personal allowance of €1,000, fifty per on the top floor of Roebuck Hall Ca- on time, and this has affected instru- Some of them spend up to twenty-five inspire these and all UCD students to cent of the cost of accommodation on tered Accommodation allows students mentalists who can only use the piano hours per week training and they must achieve to the best of their ability. UCD campus and fifty per cent of the cost “to bond as a cohesive group, to share at Memorial Hall in Richview for re- combine this with attendance at lec- has a tradition of producing leaders in of any academic programme for which experiences and to provide support to hearsal. It is hoped that upon the long tures. They take the same examinations all spheres and the Ad Astra Academy the scholars meet the requirements. one another.” This is just one of the awaited completion of the new centre, as all other students. I believe that their is one of a number of initiatives within The Ad Astra Academy also allows for steps taken to ensure that the students these problems will have be overcome. approach to life is an example to others, the University to ensure that tradition flexible admission arrangements, with of the Ad Astra Academy adjust quickly The Ad Astra Academy recruits as they must maintain a steady work/ continues into the future.” some candidates benefiting in the form to life in UCD so that they can focus students through events such as the sport balance. They need to have good Students must undertake a rigorous of a ten per cent points reduction on their attention on their studies and UCD Open Day and career fairs such as time management skills, be able to pri- schedule and demonstrate progresCAO requirements. This is in acknowl- their performance at sports, academics Higher Options at the RDS. The Elite oritise and meet deadlines. Whether sion in both their programme of study edgment of the fact that a number of or music. Athlete Academy also works together they compete as individuals or in teams, and the objectives that are set out for students have sacrificed over twentyUpon completion, the new Student with sporting organisations such as they must be able to think clearly and to the students by the Ad Astra Academy. five hours a week in order to pursue Centre will provide similarly spe- Irish Hockey, Leinster Rugby, the GAA be good strategists. They are wonderful Lambe has set herself the short-term their sport or music. The programme cialised facilities for the Performing and Rowing Ireland, who play a role in ambassadors.” goal of achieving a boat place in the also provides support in a form of a Arts Ad Astra students. One example the recruitment of students who have Lambe provides an insight into the 2012 London Olympics and achieving personal academic mentor and access of this is UCD’s announcement that the potential to perform at a national or high demands placed on Ad Astra stu- “good results in my third year Engineerto facilities that are only available to Ad they entered a deal with Steinway pia- international level. Earley emphasised dents by describing her average day. It ing Christmas and summer exams.” Astra students, such as the high perfor- nos, whereby the University will lease the importance of a strong background starts at 5.45am when she rows six- She has many such short-term goals, mance gym and the high performance a number of Steinway pianos for Ad of prior education in the performing teen to twenty kilometres before her however her overriding ambition is laboratory at the Institute for Sport Astra Music Scholars. Desmond Ear- arts. “Music is a very disciplined thing, morning lectures and then during the to become “the first person to win an and Health at Newstead. Romain De- ley, Artistic Director of UCD Choral from a very early age, and you have to afternoon she may have labs in college. Olympic medal for Ireland in rowing nis, Manager at the High Performance Scholars and UCD Ad Astra Academy, be able to pass on knowledge … that’s In the evening she cycles to the gym by 2016.” Roe describes the possibiliLaboratory, remarks that “this is one of confirms that “one of [the Steinway why they have professional staff run- for strength and conditioning classes. ties that open up once one integrates the best facilities that I know of. We pianos] will be in the new debating ning it.” As a result, the selection pro- Danny Roe, beneficiary of a place in many different interests and says that, take a structured, multi-disciplinary, chamber when the new phase opens, cess for the Ad Astra Academy is for Performing Arts Academy, described in the future, “it’s likely that I will have team approach to the athlete.” which is supposed to be an excellent “much more of a specialised, focused, how the challenges faced and the a portfolio career where I mix solo The facility is accredited by the Brit- venue for solo recital or chamber mu- exceptional group of people that we limited places available encourages work, teaching, concerts with groups ish Association for Sport and Exercise sic.” He continues, “we have commis- want to attract to UCD and to bear the harder work. “It does have challenges and health science work.” Sciences (BASES) and is the first of its sioned a number of compositions from UCD flag going outside UCD.” The ap- but I take them as things that I want It is clear that the Ad Astra Scholarkind in the Republic of Ireland. Claire Irish composers and we have put a plication process requires that students to do … there are so few places that it ship programme will continue to grow have a great body of experience behind is very, very close between who gets in in years to come. At the moment, UCD them before they enter the programme. and who doesn’t. It motivates you even Ad Astra Students are provided with The Elite Athlete Academy requires at more knowing that you are taking a many financial incentives and excelleast junior international representa- very valuable spot.” There will always lent facilities, something that will tion in most sports and the Ad Astra be an aspect of unfairness at such a become even more evident when the Academic Scholars must have at least high level because such a large number long-awaited Student Centre is finally the equivalent of 6 A1s in the Leaving of people are hoping to get a place. The completed. While some might argue Certificate or a minimum First Class Elite Athlete Academy alone handled that there is an element of inequalHonours GPA at the end of their first 140 applications for a total of seventeen ity in the concept of such an acadyear of study. Additionally, many of the available places on their programme emy, achievement outside of academia students of the Academy are mature last year. This is the same competitive should be encouraged and it seems that students who are returning to educa- environment that students are facing the benefits received by students are tion via a programme of study which upon graduating from any university a fair reflection on the sacrifices they recognises that commitment to a ca- around the world today with regard to have made in pursuit of this excellence.


The University Observer · 17 January 2012

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The University Observer · 17 January 2012



measure a goal against a set of benchmarks; without the ability to measure, you cannot know whether or not you are being successful in your task. Of course, correctly setting your goals isn’t going to do you much good if you don’t have the motivation and proper rewards to help you follow through on your aims. “It’s critical to have rewards, and I don’t mean that parents will buy a car, or they get a certain number of points in an exam, but […] I think students need to give themselves rewards, however small, for achieving their targets everyday, so that they have that motivational feelgood factor associated with making some progress; it can be as simple as taking a five minute break or buying a bar of chocolate.” Lusby felt that poor goal setting, i.e. setting an unrealistic goal and failing to achieve it, could lead to a loss of motivation. Doing something more incremental however, could prove to be easier and more effective in the long run. In setting out to achieve your goals, it is also important to do a certain amount of planning beforehand. Dr Heavey explained the importance of preparation: “In order to be effective

at goal setting, students need to plan out their semesters. It might seem a little overwhelming and it might seem a difficult task to accomplish but setting out a plan for the semester, a week by week plan and complementing that with a to-do list on a daily basis can help students really move towards their goals. It’s when students fail to do this that they realise, sixty per cent of the way through the semester, that assignments are due and they have too little time to devote to them and that’s where goals fail.” From a more practical standpoint, Lusby felt that “it’s a good idea to write it down, and put it on a spreadsheet”. Dr Heavey recommended the Pomodoro technique, whereby you set aside twenty-five minute chunks of time where you work intensely. Of course any amount of goal making still isn’t going to help you if you spend hours on Wikipedia looking up the current careers of nineties pop stars when you should have been studying thermodynamics. Hopefully, some well-structured goals will make it somewhat easier to wean yourself off those distractions for long enough to finally get something done.

Goals for Life With New Year’s resolutions still in the back of many people’s minds, Jason Quigley sets his own target of writing an article all about setting goals


ou’re up at two o’clock in the morning, that assignment you received two weeks ago is due tomorrow and after much agonising (and several hours on Facebook), you’re only starting it now. Almost every student has surely been in this nightmare scenario at least once during their academic career, and a lot of us continue to find ourselves in similar circumstances right up until the end of college. Obviously this is not a desirable situation, but you still join your friends in comparing how close to the line you got before you turned in that horrendous assignment that took all of three hours to complete in the end. Many academics and educators would describe this common scenario as a failure of goal setting. With

Photographer: Conor O’Toole this in mind, the University Observer It can be very demotivational to set talked to Dr Ciaran Heavey, lecturer yourself a goal of, let’s say, achieving a for the Quinn School of Business for 4.0 GPA. You’re only going to get feedstrategy and entrepreneurship, and Ms back on that goal at the end of the year”. Carl Lusby, International and Medi- Heavey explained that you also need cine Student Advisor. to set those smaller targets in order to Both of the respondents felt that simply keep on track in the meantime. much of the success of a goal comes Heavey continued by defining peodown to how well formulated the goal ple who set and achieve goals successis. Ms Lusby felt that the “people who fully as meeting five criteria; they are: are most successful in keeping goals “specific, measurable, action-oriented, are the ones that break goals down results-oriented and time-bound, usinto small pieces, because sometimes a ing the acronym SMART to summarise huge big goal seems almost unachiev- that.” In particular, he highlighted able, and then you can get a bit discour- measurability, quoting Jack Welch, foraged and disheartened.” Dr Heavey mer CEO of General Electric: “if you added that “one of the major reasons can’t measure it, you can’t manage it, why students don’t achieve goals is be- you can’t manage it, you can’t improve cause they don’t set those milestones. it.” In this sense, you need to be able to

Accident Black Spot With 2011 marking the lowest year in road deaths since records began, Jon Hozier-Byrne looks at why UCD continues to buck the trend


s we moved into the new year, much furore was made about the remarkable statistic that 2011 bore witness to the lowest amount of deaths on Irish roads since records began. This furore was not without merit, as fatalities on our roads, for so long a considerable thorn in the side of the national consciousness, have now dropped consistently for six years running. As little comfort as this information might provide to the 185 families who lost a loved one on our roads last year, this still marks an increasingly positive step in the receptiveness of Irish drivers to the message the Road Safety Authority has been espousing for so long.

Photographer: Caoimhe McDonnell The students of UCD, however, have seen themselves exempt from this positive step, marred as this academic year has been by the deaths of far too many classmates, partners, and friends. UCDSU Welfare Officer Rachel Breslin commented, “It is difficult for us to get any concrete records, but it seems to be, certainly in my time in UCD, the highest amount of people who have died on the roads during the academic year, so far.” Tragically, three UCD students have died in road accidents this year, before the second semester has even begun. This marks the highest amount of student fatalities on our roads in years, with only half the year completed. It

is an element of the job Ms. Breslin did not predict when putting herself forward for the position; “It’s a difficult thing to comprehend, in this role ... Having gone to the funerals, I was really overcome. It was my first week on the job ... that Fintan passed away, and I was completely overcome by this aspect of the job. It wasn’t something you think about when you’re running for election. Students that have come in, during the year, and said that they’ve been affected by one of the three students who have died ... I had to sit down and think, ‘what can I do?’” The student Ms. Breslin refers to is Fintan Traynor, a UCD Commerce student who passed away earlier this

year after being struck by a car in a thority posed an alternative viewpoint; hit-and-run. Fintan was an extremely “In every country there are those for active student, a committee member whom the public roads are their playof QSoc, founder of the Empty Glass ground and they use them as such, putstudent wine-tasting website, and was ting themselves and others at great risk. about to take a sabbitical year as an in- We estimate that about six to eight per tern at KPMG when he was killed. He cent of the driving population will not was twenty years old. He is remem- respond to any educational or enforcebered warmly by his classmate, Regina ment activity.” When questioned as to Brady; “I knew [Fintan] well, he was whether students pose a more statistiin my class for three years. Everyone cally prominent risk on our roads, Mr. in Quinn loved him and knew him re- Farrell responds, “It would be unfair ally well ... He wasn’t ‘one of the lads’, and untrue to label all young drivers as he was just a really nice guy. He was dangerous or being more prone to such really intelligent, he was doing really driving than other groups in the popuwell, and he knew what he wanted to lation. The majority are good drivers do in life.” Regina’s testimony is echoed and it’s important to acknowledge the on Fintan’s personal website, still on- positive attitudes they have in relaline, which outlines his determination tion to road safety. However … Learner to travel around Australia after he fin- drivers are predominantly young drivished his degree. ers and face greater risks on the roads Fintan’s father, Martin Traynor, because of their relative inexperience. spoke to the University Observer about The more training and supervised exhis son, with both the pride and the perience a novice driver gets the safer reservation one would expect in such a they will become. Male drivers aged conversation; “Fintan was an excellent seventeen to twenty-four are in a paryoung lad ... that just covers him. His ticularly high risk group. They reprefamily, his local community; no one sent just seven per cent of the populahad anything derogatory to say about tion but account for one in every five him at all.” Mr. Traynor describes deaths. So they are massively over replife without his son with a sentiment resented when you consider the small mirrored by his classmates; “As you’d population size they represent.” imagine, there’s a massive vacuum. We The Students’ Union are planning are carrying on, that’s just about it.” a road safety awareness week later Why, then, is UCD escaping the this semester, in conjunction with the otherwise rising tide of road safety in several memorial services that have Ireland? Unfortunately, the easiest ex- already taken place. Despite this, the plaination is simple bad luck, a view- campus is still wounded from the loss point to a degree mirrored by Rachel of so many students, and will continue Breslin; “I think the advertising cam- to be so for the foreseeable future. Perpaigns that have been almost forced on haps the overall realisation, mirrored our age group, we’ve had them year in repeatedly by those affected by this year out, have worked. I think someone year’s deaths on campus, is articulated wouldn’t dare get in a car now and not best by Brian Farrell; “Think carefully wear a seatbelt.” Unfortunately, this is about your safety when using the roads just what 13,649 Irish men and women because it’s the most dangerous thing did last year – and that just represents we do every day. Our lives are held by the individuals who were caught for the thinnest of threads and that life the offense. line can be cut in a split second on the Brian Farrell of the Road Safety Au- road.”



The University Observer · 17 January 2012

Postcards from Abroad


National stereotypes are reassessed as Anna Burzlaff discovers another side to the German story


et’s resist the cultural clichés and national stereotypes. Not all Americans are loud, not all Chinese are academic and not all French are arrogant. One of the many great benefits of going on Erasmus is learning to deconstruct the misconceived notions you may have had about various nationalities. Naturally, certain stereotypes can find their perfect expression in some exchange students; the obnoxiously loud Seattleite who frequently spouts about the brilliance of the death penalty is one personal example that quickly springs to mind. However, on the whole, most stereotypes do not apply and most Erasmus students learn early on to wash away any falsely formed ethnic expectations. Of all the stereotypes that have been proven wrong since my arrival in Berlin, it is the stereotype of my host-country that has been the most dramatically erased. The everprevalent German model of efficiency, which is appearing more and more in

the Irish media, undergoes a complete 180 degree turn in the country’s capital. Trains do not run on time, people do not wait for the green man before they cross, and there is not an eerie sense of cleanliness throughout the city. The sometimes smelly, jaywalking, traintardy city of Berlin is the German anticity. The rebellious and prodigal son of the Federal Republic, it is a source of jealousy and disregard from its fellow Bundesländer. While the big bad wolf of German economic supremacy and oppression may be looming in our minds under current circumstances, all those who fear the omniscient German Reich need only take a short trip to the country’s capital to understand that Chancellor Merkel may not have everything under check. Daily, while sitting on the U-Bahn, I am greeted with the farfrom-publicised face of the German economy; the toothless, alcoholreeking, homeless man who practically stumbles in and out of the train

carriages begging for change. I often find myself running to lectures just to ensure I can get a seat, in a theatre which is always overcrowded. Too many times have I stood, on the brink of leg-paralysis, cursing my university for its disorganisation in letting too many people attend the course. These are just a few examples which symbolise some of the many corners where German efficiency breaks down. The paragon of German prowess has clearly not been extended to its capital city, where unemployment stands at thirteen per cent and bureaucratic oversights and disorder riddle institutions. Berlin is more the home of penniless artists and writers than it is businessmen and tycoons. Berlin is in fact the city that plays against every stereotype a foreigner may have of a country, which, in the past few years, has come to exemplify productivity and performance. Naturally, Berlin could be seen as the exception to the rule, with many Germans turning their nose

up at the city as a filthy embodiment of disorganisation and recklessness. However it plays a major role in reconstructing our notion of the German superpower. For a foreigner bracing themselves for a tightly wound, punctual, German experience, Berlin is quite the shock. The people are friendly, eclectic and often slightly insane. They sporadically park on yellow lines and do not spit German words at you when you don’t understand them. Erasmus is as much about learning about the culture and people of different countries as it is about anything else. It has awarded me with the opportunity to deconstruct certain ideas I may have had, ideas which we all have, whether we like to admit it or not, and it is my changed perspective of Germany, which has been the most rewarding of all. Tough economic situations can often

give rise to dangerous stereotyping, and can feed into pre-conceived notions of a nation’s tendencies. For those of you fearing a looming German giant, I can offer only one solution; a trip to Berlin. The capital is sure to remove whatever stereotypes or pre-conceived notions many of us may have about our European neighbour. Overcrowding in lecture halls, unemployment and homelessness, issues with drugs, gang violence, and immigrant integration are but a few of the problems with which Berlin battles. Cultural clichés and national stereotypes do not dominate Berlin. This is not a city where people wait for the pedestrian light to turn green before they cross; this is a city where disorganisation and chaos reign. This is the city where stereotypes are washed away and acceptance embraced.

bhuachan. Thar n-ais go cúrsaí geilleagracha, toradh dosheachanta ar an lagtrá ina bhfuilimid i láthair na huaire ná an cháinaisnéis chrua a d’fhógair Noonan agus Howlin ag tús mhí na Nollag. Mhaígh na hairí nach rabhadar ach ag cloí le clár an AE-CAI agus go raibh feabhas ag teacht ar chúrsaí, ach in ainneoin an bhorrtha faoin earnáil easpórtála, fógraíodh torthaí tubaisteacha geilleagracha roimh an Nollaig agus mar sin tá na saineolaithe ag tuar go

mbeidh orainn tarrthálacha eile a fháil gan mhoill! Agus bliain úr eile buailte linn is dócha go bhfuil roinnt deacrachtaí fós le sárú againn. Níl aon réiteach gasta ar fhadhb na dífhostaíochta. Tá pian na heisimirce le brath i dtithe ar fud na tíre agus tá an t-aos óg scaipthe ar fud na cruinne arís. Mar sin déarfadh daoine áirithe go bhfuil níos mó againn le bheith diúltach faoi ná a bheith dearfach faoi, ach tiocfaidh feabhas éigin ar chúrsaí i mbliana le cúnamh Dé!

Bliain na Cinniúna Agus 2011 tagtha chun clabhsúir faoi dheireadh agus faoi dheoidh, caitheann Séamas Ó Meachair súil siar ar bhuaicphointí agus ar ísealphointí na bliana.


á bliain chorraitheach eile tagtha chun deiridh agus mar a déarfadh Yeats tá an domhan ina mhairimid athraithe go huile is go hiomlán. Sa Mheánoirthear bhí cúrsaí níos eachtrúla ná mar a bhí le fada an lá tar éis don Túinéiseach óg Mohamed Bouazizi tús a chur le hEarrach na nArabach. Ó thránna na Libia go sráideanna ársa na Damaisce bhí an chosmhuintir Arabach ar thairseach an daonlathais agus iad ag iarraidh an ruaig a chur ar chóras brúidiúil an diansmachta. I mí Mheán Fómhair tháinig deireadh le ré Gaddafi sa Libia agus tháinig na sluaite amach ag ceiliúradh ar Chearnóg na Mairtíreach i gcroílár Tripoli, íomhánna nach bhfacthas a leithéid ó thit an Cuirtín Iarainn san Eoraip. Bliain chorraitheach amach is amach a bhí ann in Éirinn chomh maith. Tar éis don Chiste Airgeadais Idirnáisiúnta teacht i gcabhair orainn ruaigeadh Fianna Fáil agus na Glasaigh as oifig i mí Feabhra. D’éirigh le Fine Gael agus an Lucht Oibre ollbhua a bhaint amach, ach níorbh fhada go raibh gealltanais a “phlean cúig phointe” i smidiríní ag Enda agus a chomhghleacaithe nuair a thosnaíodar ag gearradh seirbhísí agus ag cur cánacha breise orainn. Bhí toghchán uachtaránachta againn chomh maith ar ndóigh. Ba é an Seanadóir Norris rogha mhór na coitiantachta, ach i ndeireadh na dála ba é Mícheál D. a toghadh chun an Árais. Ar an taobh eile den Atlantach bhíodar ag ullmhú le haghaidh toghchán uachtaránachta dá gcuid féin. Agus 2011 ag druidim chun deiridh, bhí na pobalbhreitheanna ag tuar go mbeadh an lámh in uachtar ag Romney, ach tá

sé deacair a rá conas a d’éireodh leis sa toghchán i mí na Samhna seo chugainn. Bhí an Euro go mór i mbéal an phobail anuraidh chomh maith. Chuaigh cúrsaí chun donais ar fad sa Ghréig agus bhí polaiteoirí na Mór-Roinne buartha go dtitfeadh an t-airgeadra aonair go hiomlán as a chéile. Bhí gach cuma ar an scéal go mbeadh reifreann Eorpach eile againn chun leasuithe a dhéanamh ar rialú airgeadais na hEorpa, agus ag deireadh na bliana tháinig ráflaí chun solais go raibh banc ceannais na tíre seo chun an punt a sheoladh in athuair! In ainneoin ár ndeacrachtaí geilleagracha bhí roinnt cúiseanna áthais againn chomh maith. I measc na mbuaicphointí b’é cuairt na Banríona is mó a sheas amach is dócha. Bhí iontas an domhain orainn nuair a chrom sí a cheann sa Gairdín Cuimhneacháin agus ansin i gCaisleán Bhaile Átha Cliath nuair a labhair sí Gaeilge fiú, rud a rinne Uachtarán Obama seachtain níos deireanaí ag Faiche an Choláiste nuair a dúirt sé na focail dhodhearmadta sin: Is féidir linn! Agus muid ag súil siar bheadh sé mícheart neamhaird a dhéanamh do roinnt daoine a fuair bás i 2011. I mí Bhealtaine scaoileadh Osama Bin Laden chun báis sa Phacastáin. Fuair Kim Jong-il a bhí ina Ardcheannaire ar an gCóiré Thuaidh bás chomh maith. Anseo in Éirinn chuaigh Brian Ó Luineacháin ar shlí na fírinne agus cailleadh iar-Thaoiseach Gearóid Mac Gearailt roinnt seachtaine roimhe sin. Beirt eile a cailleadh ná Steve Jobs agus Amy Winehouse. Ó thaobh an spóirt de bhí go leor dea-scéalta le ceiliúradh againn in Éirinn. Ní raibh éinne ag súil go

mbeadh an lámh in uachtar ag foireann chruicéid na hÉireann ar Shasana, ach b’shin a tharla i mí an Mhárta sa Chorn Domhanda! D’éirigh le foireann sacair na Poblachta cáiliú do chraobhchomórtas mór idirnáisiúnta den chéad uair le deich mbliana anuas, bhí an bua ag na Cait in aghaidh na dTiobradach san iománaíocht agus d’éirigh leis na Duibhlinnigh Corn Sam Mhic Uidhir a thabhairt leo den chéad uair ó 1995. Bhuaigh leaid óg ó thuaisceart an Dúin Comórtas Oscailte na Stáit Aontaithe i mí an Mheithimh agus bhí bliain den scoth ag Darren Clarke a bhuaigh Comórtas Oscailte na Breataine chomh maith. Bliain mheasctha a bhí ann maidir le cúrsaí rugbaí. Cé nach raibh an t-ádh leo in aghaidh na Breataine Bige ag an gCorn Domhanda, níor thuar éinne go mbeadh an bua sin ag foireann na hÉireann in aghaidh na hAstráile. Agus sa Chorn Heineken d’éirigh leis na Laighinigh teacht aniar agus an cluiche ceannais in aghaidh Northampton a

Gluais: Earrach na nArabach ................................................................ Arab Spring tairseach an daonlathais .................................. threshold of democracy Cearnóg na Mairtíreach ................................................. Martyrs’ Square Ciste Airgeadais Idirnáisiúnta ........... International Monetary Fund ag tuar ................................................................................................ predicting rialú airgeadais ......................................................... financial regulation An Gairdín Cuimhneacháin ..................... The Garden of Remembrance na Duibhlinnigh ................................................................................. the Dubs an cháinaisnéis .............................................................................. the budget earnáil easpórtála ................................................................. export sector



The University Observer · 17 January 2012

Should UCD introduce positive discrimination?

yes. Positive discrimination, or affirmative action, has long been a bone of contention for many. The idea that women or people of particular religions or ethnicities can be afforded a job or even a place at university based not solely on that fact, but in relation to it, has been met with much criticism. Criticism by people who are now moderately less advantaged than they were before in a world that bowed down to them. They had no problem with it then. So why should we take issue with it now? Equal opportunities for all is supposedly a cornerstone of our society, so how can we oppose a measure that would allow a more equal student body that better represents the Ireland we now live in? The Universities Act of 1997 names the promotion of equality as a function of the university sector and requires it “to facilitate lifelong learning through the provision of adult and continuing education.” Positive discrimination goes a long way towards achieving this and does so in a way that doesn’t shy away from the difficult questions. There is potential for backlash in implementing this type of a policy, but it is something UCD should be happy to shoulder in light of the overarching benefits of an affirmative action admissions scheme. The University itself recognises that “meeting the needs of excluded groups has been at the heart of its mission since its inception” and should be willing to put this ideal into action. Many talented potential students are put off applying for university because of negative perceptions of these institutions. This perception exists in part because of the makeup of the student population – older students or those with disabilities can be fazed by the simple fact they fear they will stand out in an undergraduate crowd. In all reality, as students we can be so consumed by ourselves and the latest gossip that few take real notice of any differences and even fewer care, but it is the perception that matters. Positive discrimination in UCD would be a short-term solution to what has been a long-term problem, but it can be hoped that changing the student body now would encourage an overall change in the future, and eventually allow this practice to be gradually phased out. Affirmative action has proven results. In light of the murder of Stephen Lawrence, the issues regarding racism that were exposed in the Metropolitan Police were swiftly dealt with by the introduction of positive action to boost ethnic minority recruitment.

As UCD aims to increase the number of students currently deemed as ‘underrepresented’, Yvanne Kennedy and Sean O’Grady examine the merits and disadvantages of positive discrimination


Yvanne Kennedy The case of the Police Service of Northern Ireland is an interesting example of positive action practiced over a longer period of time, where quotas were introduced to more adequately represent the numbers of both Catholic and Protestant members of the community. A longer-term solution may be what UCD needs, and this is one of the most effective templates available in the area. Another thing about positive action is that it broadens horizons – something which UCD has always been keen on. Allowing the more ‘typical’ students the opportunity to live and learn alongside people of different ages and abilities is key to our overall experience at university. The fact that UCD can benefit all students with this scheme is surely just another incentive. We do not live in a meritocracy. It may be an ideal we cling to, but the reality is that the most financially comfortable young people are the most well connected and get the majority of the spoils. Positive discrimination in education narrows the gap so that different people may benefit from the services UCD offers instead of it going solely to more of the same. “All are equal but some are more equal than others” - it’s time we levelled the playing field, at least insofar as we’re able.

“Equal opportunities for all is supposedly a cornerstone of our society, so how can we oppose a measure that would allow a more equal student body that better represents the Ireland we now live in?”

Rebuttal by Sean O’Grady

To say that positive discrimination brings about an equal student body is untrue. A truly equal student body would take into account the achievements and dedication of their students, nothing more, nothing less. If these students were truly an excluded group, they would have no representation at university at all. The fear that a student will ‘stand out in an undergraduate crowd’ is a worry that all students face, not just mature, disabled students or students of ethnic minorities. Every potential student has the worry of whether they will fit in and make friends, and as UCD already has several services for those considered underrepresented, this is a weak argument at best. UCD’s new policy won’t do much to broaden the horizons of anyone. Certain students being admitted to a course despite not having enough points in favour of those who did have enough is simply unfair. The minority are being given preference over the majority instead of making the effort to treat them as no different from one another. To say to these students that they need positive discrimination to succeed is nothing more than condescending.

“How would many of these underrepresented students feel, being surrounded by others who were accepted on points and grades, while they were picked because the HEA and UCD likes their background?”

Sean O’Grady

By the year 2014, UCD, following chosen because they may come national participation targets from a lower socio-economic set by the Higher Education background is anything but equal. Authority (HEA), is due to have Instead it encourages divisions implemented a new strategy in and separation amongst students. which students considered to be While having many different ‘under-represented’ will have an types of students represented increased presence on campus. is certainly a good thing and Students who fall into this would bring about a more opencategory include people from minded student population, when lower income homes, mature certain students are shown a clear students and people who may preference based on anything have learning difficulties due other than academics, it cannot to visual or hearing impairment. be considered right. Some of The move echoes the similar the best students may be kept case of affirmative action in out of university as a result of America, where a person’s this policy and many that are gender and racial makeup are accepted will undoubtedly feel taken into consideration for some resentment for students college admissions. The problem who were accepted based on with this is that these students their perceived diverseness. are not being shown a new It seems that the college is most preference because the HEA concerned with being as politically believes they achieve better correct as possible with this new grades, or work harder than the move. The HEA and UCD would rest of the student body. It is both be better off focusing on because they are ‘more diverse’. improving the grades of students In ‘Opening Worlds’, a report on and the quality of college life in this new plan, it is made clear general for all of their students, that UCD have what they call instead of trying to prove to a ‘diversity agenda’ and seek everyone how diverse they can be to double the amount of some with their selection process. After students that they deem to be all, if UCD really want to represent underrepresented within the themselves as a university that next three years. values equality, then they should Anyone who has been around stop believing that some students the UCD campus and interacted be given certain advantages over with their fellow students will others and instead treat each be able to tell you that these student with the same level of students who are considered fairness and respect that they all disadvantaged already make deserve. If the HEA and UCD were up a sizeable proportion of the to do that and dismiss this current student body. They currently policy, that would be something comprise about seventeen per that could truly be called positive. cent of UCD, or just under one in every five students. Making the Rebuttal by entry into university easier for Yvanne Kennedy these students is what is called Being ‘disadvantaged’ as defined ‘positive discrimination’. The term by the HEA and UCD is not a itself is an oxymoron; any form determining factor by which of discrimination is certainly not students will be selected for positive, no matter who may or admission. It is a factor that will may not benefit from it. After all, be taken into consideration by universities have a limited number the admissions officers when of students that can be admitted assessing student suitability. Many annually, and with this policy there students are already admitted to will be many students refused UCD on lower points due to their entry into third level because, abilities in sports or the arts. We frankly, they just aren’t diverse welcome these students with enough, not by UCD’s standards open arms because they enhance the environment in which we learn at least. How would many of these and socialise. An argument based underrepresented students feel, on solely admitting students on being surrounded by others who academics does not hold up in were accepted on points and these circumstances. In my opinion, if anything this grades, while they were picked because the HEA and UCD likes system would encourage all their background? Surely they students to work harder and to would like to think they were produce work of a higher standard. accepted based on their hard This idea is simply another form work like everyone else. The of competition. Perhaps the report on this policy refers to it proposed system is not perfect, as ‘mainstreaming equality’. This but it goes a long way towards is a blatant lie. Some students diversifying and improving our being chosen for their Leaving university and that should most Cert points and others being definitely be welcomed.

Do you think UCD should introduce positive discrimination? Have your say on the University Observer Facebook poll



The University Observer · 17 January 2012

SOPA: Common Sense or Censorship? Following the announcement of a US Congress Act to combat online piracy, Yvanne Kennedy looks at the consequences of curbing the most sacred right to free speech


OPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act, was introduced to the US House of Representatives in October of last year. Now at the bill stage, it expands the ability of US law enforcement and copyright holders to fight online trafficking of copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods. It builds on earlier acts which dealt with the proposed penalties for Online Piracy. The Guardian describes the bill as having “pitched Hollywood and the music industry against the giants of Silicon Valley and the denizens of Capitol Hill,” but what does this bill mean for the wider world? The format of the proposal has changed significantly since it was first introduced but in essence, under the provisions of the bill, uploading clips of movies or television programs to Facebook or YouTube could become a criminal act. Streaming of copyrighted content could land you with a five-year jail term. The bill would also allow the Justice Department to get court orders against the providers of the unique addresses that label every site, known as domain name systems.

Effectively, the bill would be the end of “rogue sites” as we know them. These are sites that happen to be located in a nation more open to copyright infringement than the United States. It allows for a blanket ban on all unauthorised sites, and penalties which will be strictly enforced against those who breach any of the facets of the Act. It allows the US Attorney General to seek a court order against an offshore website that would, in turn, be served on Internet providers in an effort to make the target virtually disappear. It is, in essence, a kind of Internet death penalty. There are few arguments for the bill and many against, but those in favour have strong opinions that it protects revenue for content creators but more vitally, protects against counterfeit drugs. The committee in charge of the bill heard testimony from Pfizer that patients were finding it difficult to tell the difference between legitimate and forged websites selling medication. Whatever may be said against SOPA, this is the single most vehement argument for its implementation. Pharmaceuti-

cal companies other than Pfizer afforded to them under the Conhave noted that the bill does not stitution. allow for genuine websites with Information technology magastringent safety guards, which are zine eWeek states that “the lansupplied by endorsed companies guage of SOPA is so broad, the to sell drugs online. However, this rules so unconnected to the realis a simple flaw in the bill and not ity of Internet technology, and the a reason to shoot the entire idea penalties so disconnected from down. the alleged crimes that this bill Critics argue that going after could effectively kill e-commerce those who provide such address- or even normal Internet use.” Five es would amount to a fundamen- years for illegally downloading ten tal attack on the plumbing of the movies or songs over a six-month Internet – and would in any case period does seem excessive, but be ineffective, since experienced the politicians claim this ensures pirates are adept at finding other strict adherence to the law, which ways to get their sites up and run- is their main concern. ning. The greatest concern is for “Perhaps the most dangerous freedom of speech online. This is aspect of the bill is that the conone of two American touchstones, duct it would criminalize is so one of the few that override the poorly defined,” says the Direceconomy in terms of importance. tor of the Institute for IntellecMany argue that a blanket ban tual Property and Social Justice amounts to censorship, some- at Howard University School of thing that organisations such as Law in Washington DC. There is Fight for the Future are keen to nothing in the Bill thus far that exguard against. It has been said plains how minors who perhaps that “the First Amendment does unwillingly break the law will be not protect stealing goods off dealt with, nor does it allow for a trucks,” but the House must be form of ‘three-strike’ opportunity, careful in their drafting to ensure which might make the punishment that they do not too closely con- fit the crime more adequately. strain the actions of US citizens as Some critics maintain that

SOPA creates building blocks for a Great American Firewall. A total clampdown could threaten Internet mainstays such as Google, Facebook and Youtube. They say it will curb creativity, cost jobs and even stifle free speech. If this were to be the case, the Act would have far-reaching consequences, not only for America but for the wider world. A catchall law allowing for little manoeuvrability and huge penalties could be disastrous in a new economy that relies so heavily on the Internet as a means of communication and innovation. There is no doubt that some sort of reform is necessary in this area, but what remains to be seen is how stringent the safeguards need to be and how much really can be done. If there will always be a way around the limitations, perhaps we need to look to the outer reaches to inform our thinking and attempt to combat those on the fringes instead of those who simply seek to share their new favourite songs online. The House of Representatives is thinking big with this new law, but in the age of the Internet, can we ever really be thinking big enough?

Postgraduate Open Day 2012 Taught & Research Opportunities Meet the experts and discuss your options at the Postgraduate Open Day Date: Thursday 26th January 2012 Venue: Public Theatre/Exam Hall Time: 4pm-7pm FIND US ON FACEBOOK TCD Postgraduate Open Day 2012 00239_TCD_GS_Open_UCD_Jan12.indd 1

04/01/2012 15:09:57

The University Observer · 17 January 2012



The Thirty Year Itch Following the release of British and Irish cabinet papers from 1981, Phillipa White examines the Thirty Year Rule and its latest revelations

The Toxteth riots of 1981 occured due to tension between local police and the black community.


he Thirty Year Rule is a peculiar British idiosyncrasy that has never made an awful lot of sense in my mind. It is a law in the United Kingdom - and one which we have inherited here in Ireland - that states that cabinet papers that were not originally released into the public domain are kept secret for thirty years. Subsequently they are sent to the National Archives, where the fate of these documents is decided. Provided these documents do not reveal anything too sensitive about the days of yore (think lists of government informants, informa-

tion relating to nuclear missiles or capitalist West in the 1960’s, the not have to strike the impossible anything that would capture the British government created an balance between doing what is imagination of Julian Assange), emergency evacuation plan for best for the country and doing these documents are released to London. In the event of a nucle- what is best to stay popular with the public and the subsequent ar attack, the inhabitants would voters. media carnival ensues. be evacuated to a secret locaOn the other hand, there is unIn recent months, some rather tion called ‘Burlington’, located doubtedly something inconsistent fascinating, albeit relatively trivial, south-west of London, in which about a society that encourages details have come to light as a re- a network of tunnels had previ- the freedom of information and sult of the release of such docu- ously been constructed. In true yet allows the withholding of a ments. Firstly, it appears that the action movie style, the Prime Min- multitude of government docucity of Liverpool almost faced to- ister would be transported imme- ments from the public for three tal decline in 1981 after the violent diately to the secret location by decades. The government must riots that occurred that summer. helicopter after having authorised be held accountable for their deciThe Conservative government the operation by using the special sions at the time of making them believed that the city that gave codeword - “Orangeade”. and not afforded the luxury of a the world The Beatles had hit Although the above stories buffer period of thirty years, durrock-bottom and maintained that are entertaining in hindsight and ing which time any blunder or poor neglecting it economically and leave much food for thought for decision can slip quietly into the irphysically abandoning it would historians, the vast majority of the relevant scrapheap of history. be a convenient way to escape documents which have been withMost of the recent documents the city’s many troubles. held for thirty years are unlikely to emerging from the Archives show How such a remarkably lazy leave the average reader quiver- that the Thirty Year Rule is obsopolicy was even conceived, we ing with excitement. To be frank, lescent, primarily due to the sheer may never know. However, we do most of the documents which banality of said documents. There know that the then-Prime Minis- have been released, with some is nothing intriguing about the ter Margaret Thatcher was appar- notable exceptions such as Mar- fact Margaret Thatcher almost ently very close to supporting it. garet Thatcher’s private response had to (but did not) travel with Documents show that Thatcher’s to the Hunger Strikes in Northern the French Prime Minister MitChancellor, Sir Geoffrey Howe, Ireland, are irrelevant today and terand in a taxi without a translaattempted to convince the Iron beg the question of whether the tor present in 1982. Indeed, what Lady that she would be squan- Thirty Year Rule is a redundant difference does it make if the pubdering money if she were to make piece of legislation in the demo- lic is informed in 1982 or in 2012 any substantial investment into cratic and open world of 2012. of Thatcher’s initial reservations the maintenance of Liverpool and The reasoning behind the rule about setting up a Welsh-speakthen suggested that a “managed is quite simple: if the public knows ing TV channel? Either way, it does decline” would be a more appro- everything then oftentimes little not impact on anyone to a great priate future for the world’s capi- gets done. Indeed, with the level degree and certainly does not detal city of pop. of media scrutiny and cynicism serve a slew of analysis from the Another previously unknown, that any strong decision made by media just because it was kept a scintillating sliver of history that the government receives, it is hard secret for all this time. While the has come to the fore involves an not to be in favour of allowing a Cabinet has the right to private emergency plan made during the certain amount of political dis- discussions, they should reconsidCold War. This document is one cussion to remain private. Thanks er the length of time in which they of the more thrilling pieces that to the Thirty Year Rule, when it can withhold their documents. Or have emerged from the archives. comes to making delicate or po- at the very least, they could make It seems that when tensions cli- tentially controversial choices, the them slightly more captivating for maxed between Russia and the government is fortunate and does the general public.

Hunger for Knowledge Sally Hayden asks whether recent revelations about the 1981 hunger strikes warrant a new investigation into what really happened


ix years ago, I was unlucky enough to get caught in the Dublin riots, a backlash to the scheduled Love Ulster march. At the time I also volunteered in Oxfam. Every Friday at four o’clock a friendly young man would come in and donate part of his paycheque to the charity. The 25th February 2006 saw this same man in the midst of the fighting, throwing bricks and smashing windows. I realised then how deeply anger can lie, and how utterly it can engulf someone. 2011 may have brought us the Queen, donned in emerald and proving genuinely adorable all around, but its closing days also brought new revelations about the historical relationship between Ireland and our nearest neighbours. On the 1st March 1981, using a scrap of toilet paper as his manuscript, Bobby Sands wrote; “I am standing on the threshold of another trembling world. May God have mercy on my soul.” Sixty-six days later he died, causing a surge in IRA activity and an escalation of extremist attitudes and violence on both sides. He was only the first of the hunger strikers to succumb to starvation. Ten political prisoners ultimately lost their lives. The strikes were a reaction to the loss of political status for paramilitary prisoners in Northern Ireland, abolished during the policy of “criminalisation” by the British Government in 1976. This meant that the republicans were treated like normal convicts, hav-

ing to wear uniforms and do prison work, among other differences. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher later stood by this decision, stating that to grant them special status would be “tantamount to saying that they had a licence to kill for political reasons”. Secret British files just released by the National Archives in Kew, dealing with the 1981 hunger strikes, reveal that secret discussions between Downing Street and the Provisional IRA leadership occurred during the weekend before the death of Joe McDonnell, the fifth protester to die. The documents contain details of eight phone calls between an MI6 officer and a Mr Brendan Duddy, and suggest that the Thatcher government were willing to make concessions provided the strike was called off first. This is notable because of Thatcher’s insistence that she would not negotiate with the republicans, tied to the refusal to recognise them as political actors. The projected hard-line British position was for a myriad of reasons, including worries about angering Unionists, controlling international opinion, and fuelling more press. “Better to let them fade into obscurity,” said one Conservative MP, John Farr, but due to the staggered nature of the strikes and deaths this was becoming increasingly impossible. International attention, both sympathetic and critical, was turning on Northern Ireland and the Thatcher government’s method of dealing with the situation. The

Hong Kong Standard said it was “sad that successive British governments have failed to end the last of Europe’s religious wars.” In Oslo demonstrators threw a balloon filled with tomato sauce at the visiting Queen Elizabeth. Iran sent an ambassador to Sand’s funeral. Among the refused proposals coming from the IRA prisoners was that senior republican Martin McGuinness be allowed in to visit them. However, the documents show that the British government considered the more extreme yet “unpalatable” idea of complete withdrawal from Northern Ireland. That the Prime Minister was directly involved in talks is now certain. One statement sent to the IRA was altered in her own hand. The alleged concessions are not unlike those that were ultimately accepted months later when consultations with the strikers’ families led to the hunger strike being called off on October 3rd, seven months after it had begun. The aftermath of the peace process led to bitter debates on where blame lay at specific times during the Troubles. Accu- Richard Hamilton’s The Citizen (1983), currently on display in the Hugh Lane sations that the IRA leadership deliberately prolonged the strike Atkins, the UK’s Secretary of State anger remains dormant in many, and that the prisoners were not for Northern Ireland. the Queen’s visit was noticeable in complete control of their fates Could things have been done for the tolerance displayed, and a have been made, and substanti- differently? Probably. Whether willingness on both sides to begin ated to an extent. Others allege we are mature enough to deal the long process of moving on. If that the British were attempting with what may emerge from an blame cannot be determined, we to stop the strikes by controlling investigation is impossible to tell. must not dwell on the idea of findwhom the hunger strikers were With conflicts such as the Trou- ing it. Let us not forget to learn permitted to see, the suggestion bles, idealistic intentions precede from the past, but let us also reof which was also evidenced by evil actions on both sides, and member that the past can’t be a released letter from Humphrey few emerge innocent. Though changed like the future can.




The University Observer · 17 January 2012


Silk spinning goats? Are you kidding? The weird and wonderful world of genetic engineering has produced many organisms with bizarre new traits. Conor O’Nolan explores this strange area of science

arthritis and it has also been shown to have inhibitive effects against the spread of the hepatitis C virus. In early 2011, a much cuter genetics experiment captivated the media’s attention, when scientists at the Mayo Clinic in America created cats that glowed in the dark when they were exposed to a particular frequency of light. This ‘glow in the dark’ gene was used to show that the organism had taken the gene that was involved in the overall experiment (in this case, the scientists were trying to improve resistance for feline immunodeficiency virus). In 2009, Japanese scientists grew marmosets with the same pigment; this time they were being used to model the effects of Huntington’s disease on a person. This gene is generally taken from jellyfish and is commonly used in genetic research resulting in glow in the dark flies, rabbits, pigs and mice. One of the early controversies caused by genetic engineering was the “Vacanti Mouse”, a particular type of mouse that was engineered to have a compromised immune system and had human cartilage cells grafted onto its back in the shape of a human ear,


he idea of farming genetically engineered animals or produce is nothing new. One of the most widely known examples of this is ‘golden rice’ – a genetically modified type of rice that has had beta-carotene added to it, to try and help vitamin A deficiencies in developing countries. However, one extreme and novel use of genetic engineering has arisen this year: Professor Randy Lewis of the Synthetic Biomanufacturing research group at Utah State University has created goats that produce spider silk when they lactate. In order to produce a genetically engineered organism, scientists must use a lengthy and complicated process to insert the desired gene into the organism in question. Firstly, the target gene is isolated from its original host. Then the gene is combined with other elements to make it work with the chosen target organism. Now the gene is ready to be inserted into the new organism’s DNA; this is commonly done using bacteria or viruses. Scientists have little control over where the gene is actually inserted, which means that this insertion process has to be repeated over and over again until the desired location is accessed. The scientists are then left to hope that the gene is expressed when the organism grows; promoters are often inserted along with the target gene to try and ensure that the gene is expressed strongly. Professor Lewis had a particular interest in studying dragline spider silk, which is an especially strong type of spider silk produced when spiders fall. This silk is incredibly flexible and

cedure very risky. As a result it is seldom performed, despite the number of people dying while on transplant waiting lists. Scientists have altered pigs’ DNA to prevent them producing a certain sugar that can trigger organ rejection in humans. Genetic engineering is often used for some strange but practical effects. A new type of pig trademarked ‘Enviropig’ was created in Canada. This special type of pig secretes the enzyme phytase in its saliva, helping it break down phytic acid. This in turn results in the pig excreting less phosphorous, dramatically lessening the pig’s environmental impact. In early 2011, scientists pinpointed the genetic cause of methane production in cattle and with some careful engineering, it is hoped that cows that produce considerably less methane could be developed (it is estimated that livestock produce over eighteen per cent of greenhouse gases emitted, more than those caused by transport fuels). Genetically modified salmon that reach fully grown size in just under half the time a normal salmon does have already been developed and successfully introduced into the fishing industry, allowing the year-

The Synthetic Biomanufacturing research group at Utah State University has created goats that produce spider silk when they lactate. tough (it is purported to be stronger than Kevlar, a synthetic fibre used in bulletproof jackets). However, farming spiders is next to impossible because they are very territorial and have a tendency to eat one another. So in order to produce a high enough volume of silk, the gene that causes the production of dragline silk was inserted along with the genes that cause milk production in goats. The end result of all of this is that when the goat is milked, the milk is full of spider silk. This silk can be placed on a spool and used for research. The researchers in Utah hope to one day find a way to synthetically produce

the silk, but for the moment, this is a relatively practical way to make the materials for their research. There are many possible uses for this silk, including building artificial ligaments, which could help dramatically speed up the body’s healing of ligaments by providing a structure for new ligaments to grow over. Other possible uses include parachutes and airbags for cars. Other researchers within the Synthetic Biomanufacturing group have engineered E.coli to produce the bile pigment biliverdin. Biliverdin has therapeutic properties that can be used to help treat inflammatory diseases such as

which caused it to be named the ‘Earmouse’. This caused major controversy amongst animal rights groups and anti-genetics groups, who stated that this was horrific cruelty to animals. One of the aims of this sort of experiment was to potentially grow artificial appendages for people who had disorders that left them without ears. The field of xenotransplantation has been around for a long time. Pigs’ heart valves are anatomically quite similar to humans’; however, the rejection rates for transplants of this nature are very high because of the human body’s immune response, which makes this type of pro-

round availability of the fish. While ‘spidergoats’ and ‘earmice’ might sound like the most fantastically unrealistic things ever conceived, the gap between science fiction and reality is closing every day. As our grasp of genetics grows, so does our understanding of ways to manipulate genes of organism. Some day, quite likely in the not so distant future, certain diseases will be a thing of the past, certain inherited disorders will have been wiped out, our livestock will have been optimised for our ever-fragile environment, and our goats will hang from webs on the ceiling…

Vitamin D – do we get enough? Following a recent debate in Scotland regarding vitamin supplementation in staple foods, Ethan Troy-Barnes asks whether Ireland should pursue a similar policy


ecent studies have shown that safe limits regarding the damaging Irish people, during the winter effects of ultraviolet radiation, and months, are at risk of becoming should be obtainable even during the deficient in vitamin D due to reduced darker days of the year. However, scilevels of sun exposure. Dubbed “sun- entists blame bad weather in the colder shine vitamin D” by a well-known seasons, which encourages people to supplemented milk advertisement, this stay indoors, for the reduced time spent molecule is normally absorbed after in sunlight. being produced in the skin by the acThe resulting deficiency could prove tion of ultraviolet light on a derivative detrimental, as vitamin D is crucial for of cholesterol. a number of normal bodily functions The sun exposure required for a – principally in relation to calcium ballight-skinned person is five to ten min- ance, where it enables the body to efutes, two to three times per week, on ficiently absorb calcium in the small their arms and face. This is well within intestine.

Lack of this vitamin leads to insufficient amounts of calcium in the body, and a softening of the bones as a result. In adulthood this is called osteomalacia, while in children, it is known as rickets, as the bones soften while still developing and become deformed. Although not an epidemic since Victorian times, doctors are beginning to see a resurgence of these diseases, especially in children. There may be a solution; vitamin D is also available from certain foodstuffs – especially liver, eggs and oily fish. However, experts are concerned

that the average Irish person’s consumption of these foods is not sufficient to ward off concerns about reduced exposure to sunlight during darker months. As a result, a recent debate in Scotland has brought an important question to the fore: should the governments of places such as Ireland and the UK supplement staple foods (e.g. milk, bread, cereal) with vitamin D to ensure the entire population receives their RDA? In Scotland, the issue has been raised over concerns of a correlation

between high rates of both multiple sclerosis and vitamin D deficiency in the country, despite there being no evidence of a causal relationship between these two phenomena. However, many Irish products, such as selected cereals and butters, already contain added vitamin D. In addition, just last year, the HSE launched a scheme to encourage mothers to supplement infants’ diets with vitamin D to prevent developmental abnormalities. Thus, there may be a place for more widespread, evidence-based supplementation in the near future.

The University Observer · 17 January 2012

Science & Health

Doctor, Doctor?

PhD student Eric Lucking talks to Kate Rothwell about his research in sleep apnoea, and understanding the impact of this disorder What is the official title of your PhD? The effects of chronic intermittent hypoxia on lumber sympathetic vasomotor control. In layman’s terms, what does that mean? My research basically looks at the effects of reoccurring fluctuations in circulating oxygen on a specific nervous system. I use an animal model to replicate a common human condition known as obstructive sleep apnoea and observe the negative/adaptive effects of the nervous and cardiovascular systems. Some unfortunate people suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea, whereby they stop breathing while sleeping as their airway closes, resulting in a lack of oxygen getting into the body. These cessations in breathing can occur hundreds of times a night and have been shown to cause cardiovascular disease. What undergraduate degree course did you do? I did omnibus science (BSc) in UCD and specialised in physiology. The first two years of the science degree programme were quite broad, taking in a lot of different areas (chemistry, physics, botany etc), however I specialised exclusively in physiology for my third and fourth years. My fourth year allowed me to perform a small twelve-week project, leaving me with a taste of the research world. What made you choose to do a PhD? As a child I had always been fascinated by the complexities of the human body, how everything worked perfectly to do such simple, yet complex and intricate things. With the research project I performed as part of my undergraduate degree, I found doing research very interesting and rewarding. This research experience got me thinking, and I had a project that I wanted to do

so I approached my lecturers in UCD about applying for funding from the Irish Research Council for Science Engineering and Technology (IRCSET). Luckily enough I was awarded the research scholarship to do the kind of research that I was interested in doing, rather than to just do a set project that was available for application. Also, it was quite a nice thought that I would get paid to go to college, which is just brilliant! What is the best thing about research? The freedom you have to research something for yourself is quite satisfying. Whilst I do have a supervisor for guidance, I am allowed to manage my own project and decide what needs to be done and when. The success or failure of the research project rests on my shoulders, as it is my project. There are also opportunities to travel to different places around the world to attend conferences. It’s nice to be able to travel and meet other members of the science community and share ideas that may benefit my own research, as well as do some networking. Specifically, the thing I enjoy the most about my research is performing the surgeries, as they have always fascinated me.  What is the worst thing about research? It can be quite frustrating sometimes, to be honest. You could spend a long day or week in the lab and not really have anything to show for it. It can become very time consuming as the hours are long, but luckily I don’t mind putting in the time too much. One drawback for me is that my research is carried out on animals, rats to be precise. I am an animal lover but I know the animals don’t suffer; otherwise I wouldn’t have it in me to do this kind of work.

my small bit alongside the rest of the science world to help understand the cause of the disease so that a more effective remedy can be developed. How do you hope your PhD will affect your career prospects? Doing a PhD gives you invaluable experience. From molecular to whole animal studies, the list of skills I have developed during my PhD is quite extensive. My problem solving skills have improved drastically since I began my postgraduate studies. By attending conferences as a PhD student I can get better acquainted with the experts in my area so that I can ideally secure a job from the best in the field. I would love to become a lecturer, as I like to teach, so doing a PhD is a prerequisite for that. With a PhD I hope to get a lectureship in a well-established college and try progress up the academic tree, slowly but surely.

How could your work make a difference to the world? My research aims to uncover a superior understanding of the maladaptive effects of obstructive sleep apnoea. Thus, my research helps advance the field and search for a better medical alternative. I’m doing

With quitting smoking topping many lists of New Year’s resolutions, Aoife Valentine considers whether there is any benefit in investing in nicotine patches to help you kick the habit

Photographer: Caoimhe McDonnell


withdrawal symptoms, which can range from restlessness and irritability to dizziness and an inability to concentrate, and the body craves another injection of the drug into the bloodstream. These symptoms begin within a few hours of the last cigarette and get increasingly worse if the lack of nicotine isn’t remedied. However, the symptoms peak after twenty-four hours and subside over the following two to four weeks and nicotine cravings peak after three days. It is largely these cravings that NRTs help people deal with, by releasing lower dosages of nicotine into the bloodstream than would be released through smoking. This can help the addict alleviate cravings without allowing them quit

their addiction. A new study conducted by Harvard’s School of Public Health Centre for Global Tobacco Control, entitled ‘A prospective cohort study challenging the effectiveness of population-based medical intervention for smoking cessation’ surveyed 1,916 adults, including 787 people who had recently quit smoking. It found while one third of them had relapsed, the likelihood of relapse was not affected by the use of NRTs in the long-term. While previous studies had celebrated the effectiveness of NRTs, they had all been conducted over a period of a few months, whereas this study considered relapse rates over a period of six years. More than making no difference at all, heavy smokers who used

The Observer Guide to Surviving Body Modification Thinking of getting a tattoo, or maybe a piercing somewhere other than your earlobes? Alison Lee makes you think again.

Going up in smoke

recent study has revealed that smokers who use nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) such as nicotine patches or chewing gum to quit smoking have almost equal chances of relapsing as those who quit cold turkey. Nicotine, the drug found in tobacco, is highly addictive and it has been proven that it is just as difficult to stop smoking as it is to break the cycle of addiction to heroin or cocaine. Nicotine inhaled from smoking tobacco immediately makes its way into the bloodstream and will have stimulated the brain to produce the neurotransmitter dopamine, which controls feelings of euphoria, in a matter of seconds. When nicotine levels fall in blood, the smoker develops


NRTs without also attending counselling were twice as likely to relapse as heavy smokers who used neither. The key to quitting any addiction is self-motivation and the belief that you can succeed, and it is easy to see why NRTs can promote the idea that you can quit without the necessary commitment or that you can’t do it alone. Without the required motivation from the moment you decide to smoke your last cigarette, the likelihood of relapse is ninety per cent when quitting cold turkey, or ninety-three per cent with the aid of NRTs. While NRTs may help ease initial cravings when you first quit, in order to remain off the cigarettes forever, preparation is needed before you stop using the patches.

Body modification is one of those things that a lot of people don’t appreciate, and a few people appreciate a little too well. This general term includes the piercings and tattoos we’re all familiar with, as well as more hardcore alterations including ‘tongue splitting’, ‘eyeball tattooing’ and, for the Tolkien fans, ‘ear pointing’ (also known as ‘elfing’). Well-known historical forms of body modification include foot binding, a practice widespread in China until 1949, neck lengthening, practised by the Kayan women of Thailand, and cranium binding. Luckily, most forms of modern body modification aren’t as extreme, but they still pose risks. A recent study published in the British Medical Journal revealed that twenty-eight per cent of people with piercings suffered complications, thirteen per cent of which required them to seek advice from their piercer or a doctor. Tongue piercings resulted in the most complications, followed by genital and nipple piercings. Unsurprisingly, people whose piercings were done by a non-professional (a.k.a. a drunken friend with a toothpick) were associated with the most adverse effects. These commonly include redness, swelling and pain, but infections also occur (especially in surface piercings like naval piercings), and all piercings run the risk of being accidentally ripped out. Avoid getting pierced with a piercing gun - these instruments apply excessive blunt force to the body that impairs healing, and contain parts which are impossible to sterilise properly, increasing the likelihood of infection. Instead, hollow, single-use surgical steel needles should be used. If your piercing is carried out by a professional who wears gloves and uses sterile instruments, and if you carry out the recommended after-care properly, there is no reason why things should go wrong. Tattoos pose similar risks. Infections can be acquired when the surface of the skin is broken by the tattoo gun and cases of MRSA acquired from tattoo parlours have been recorded in the USA. To date, no reports have been made of HIV being contracted from tattoo needles. Obviously, tattoos carried out by untrained individuals in unhygienic surroundings are more likely to get infected - bear this in mind if you’re ever in prison, or a pirate. A few very rare cases of allergic reactions to tattoo ink have been recorded - a test patch can be carried out if you’re concerned. There are also rare cases of tattoos containing large amounts of black ink causing burns in MRI scanners, due to the iron oxide in the ink. The main problem is the lack of industry regulation, especially in Ireland. Here the best way to choose a piercing or tattoo parlour is to browse internet forums or to ask experienced friends for recommendations (bikers and goths are a good bet). If you do some research first and follow the advice on aftercare there’s no reason why you can’t indulge in body mod and remain happy and healthy.


The University Observer · 17 January 2012

Observer OpEd editor @

IFI Irish Film Archive

Kasandra O’Connell “Film is history. With every foot of film that is lost, we lose a link to our culture, to the world around us, to each other and to ourselves.” Martin Scorsese Introduction

Most people recognise the uniquely accessible quality of the moving image; they acknowledge its ability to speak to audiences in many ways and on many levels. They see that it is a multifaceted medium that can simultaneously be an historical document, an aesthetic work, a means of entertainment and of cultural expression. Yet equally most people give little thought to its physical fragility or the methods and reasons for ensuring that it is preserved. This article looks at the history of moving image preservation in Ireland, particularly the role of the Irish Film Institute and the reasons why it is important that we preserve our moving image heritage for current and future generations to learn from and enjoy.

Why preserve our moving image heritage?

In these straitened times when funding and other resources are scarce it is easy for ‘non- essential’ activities such as moving image preservation to become the victim of cutbacks. But this material is fundamental to our perception of history and of our cultural identity. The film and television material that survives from today will affect how our era is viewed by future generations, much as the filmic representations that survive from previous generations have coloured our view of the past. For example, compare our conceptions of the Famine with the War of Independence. Although both are equally rich in written records the newsreel and actuality footage extant from the latter fundamentally enriches our understanding of this period of history, enabling us to connect with it on a more dynamic, visceral and human level. The things we have chosen to record and the stories that we commit to film* tell much about our interests and beliefs, our hopes and fears. Preserving these visual records of our activities and endeavours enables us to examine ourselves through film and explore our cultural identity.

A late starter

Although the value of the moving image and its role in democratising our understanding of society, culture and history has been recognised since the 1930s, when the International Federation of Film Archives was established (FIAF), Ireland has been slow to recognise and address the need to preserve its film heritage. The lack of indigenous production in the first part of the twentieth century has often been blamed for this, but ironically it is this lack of production that makes filmic representations in the period before a national TV station was established all the more valuable and worthy of protecting. Although the first moving images of Ireland were recorded in 1897 by the Lumière Brothers on a visit to Belfast and Dublin, and calls for the establishment of a national film archive had been made by influential Irish film practitioners such as Liam O‘Leary and George Morrison since the 1950s, it was the late 1980s before any practical steps were taken to address the issue. The Irish Film Institute (previously National Film Institute) had been founded in 1943 with a predominantly educational remit, producing public information and cultural films up until the 1970s and maintaining a distributing library that supplied IFI produced material and other educational films to community organisations and schools around the country. In 1986, recognising the importance of creating a national film archive and cognisant of the fact that Ireland was the only country in Europe not to have one, the IFI embarked on setting up the IFI Irish Film Archive. The Institute and Archive received an official home in 1992 when the Irish Film Centre (as it was then known) was created in the newly regenerated Temple Bar, and for the first time in its history, Ireland had a dedicated film archive boasting climate-controlled vaults created specifically for the long-term preservation of film and tape materials.

The IFI Irish Film Archive

The IFI Irish Film Archive is one of Ireland’s most remarkable and unique cultural resources; as well providing a record of Irish film culture in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, the material we safeguard is a vivid and tangible document of Ireland’s past and present,

chronicling the development of modern Ireland at a time of unprecedented social and political change. The cameras of amateur and professional filmmakers have captured the changing landscape of our nation alongside changing attitudes, customs and social conditions. The core of the Irish Film Archive’s initial collection was made up of selected titles from the Film Institute’s lending library, but it has grown in last twenty years to over 27,000 cans of film, 10,000 broadcast tapes and an extensive document collection which includes original film scripts, production notes, photographs and publicity material, making it the most comprehensive resource dedicated to Irish film in the world. Contemporary Irish film and television production is also held via archiving agreements with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, Irish Film Board and Arts Council. As a national resource it is important that the material in our collections is shared with the public in as many ways as possible and students, teachers, filmmakers, researchers and film enthusiasts are amongst some of the groups that avail of the on-site viewing facilities and consult the Archive’s reference collections on a regular basis. We provide material to filmmakers to include in documentaries exploring Ireland’s culture and history, undertake an extensive programme of public screenings of material in our collections on site, regionally and internationally, as well as collaborating on research projects with third level organisations, and publishing DVDs of key titles from the Archive’s holdings.


When the IFI Irish Film Archive was set up in the early 1990s, it was expected that within a short period the State would recognise the value of the Archive’s activities and that government support would be secured to develop a comprehensive national moving image archive, complete with the necessary financial and legislative mechanisms required to implement a national policy in this area. However, in the twenty years that have since passed this has not been the case. The State funding the IFI receives is a much appreciated annual grant from the Arts Council, but the amount granted makes up about twentyseven per cent of the funding the IFI needs to operate. The rest of the Institute’s budget comes from the profits made in the IFI cinemas and café (a means of financing that is wholly unpredictable) and through fundraising and partnership agreements with partner organisations such as the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and the Irish Film Board. The modest level of funding received and the lack of a state policy on moving image preservation have resulted in the IFI Irish Film archive being unable to develop in the way it had originally envisioned. Although we are Ireland’s national film archive, we still do not have statutory recognition and we operate with a fraction of the resources available to our equivalents in

other cultural areas. The Archive’s main building in Dublin city centre reached its storage capacity a number of years ago and we have been seeking cost-effective ways to address this problem for almost a decade. Through an innovative partnership with the National University of Ireland at Maynooth we have the opportunity to build a much needed new Preservation and Research Centre – which would not only provide a safe home for the collections, but would also, through collaboration with NUIM’s digital humanities department, help us find new and inventive ways to engage with audiences throughout the world and allow us to tackle the challenging, time consuming and resource intensive issue of digital preservation.

The IFI Archive Preservation Fund

Unfortunately, although this exciting new project is ready to go, due to the recent economic downturn the State is unable to provide sufficient capital funding to enable us to complete the new archive facility in Maynooth. However, rather than let such an exciting and practical solution to the Archive’s developmental needs pass us by we have been proactive in seeking support from the film industry, our strategic partners and the public. In November 2011 we launched The IFI Archive Preservation Fund, a campaign that asks the public to help us raise the shortfall of €300,000 we need to develop our new home for the Archive on the campus at NUIM. To launch the campaign a short promotional film featuring Oscar nominated Irish actress Saoirse Ronan was made by Director Nick Kelly and Piranha Bar. The film shows the actress being digitally transported into some of the best loved moments from films that are preserved in the IFI Irish Film Archive, including scenes from Once, My Left Foot and iconic documentary footage such as the arrival of JFK at Dublin Airport. Screened throughout cinemas in Ireland and available to watch on the internet, the aim of the film is to raise awareness of the importance and variety of the material held in the Archive’s collections and impress upon the public the importance of ensuring this material is preserved into the next century. If you would like to support our campaign and help us build our new Preservation and Research Centre you can donate on line or in person in the IFI; also proceeds from Archive screenings and from the sale of Archive DVDs (which feature red preservation fund stickers) will go directly into the fund. If the campaign is successful and we raise sufficient funds by the spring to meet the shortfall in our budgets the new facility is scheduled to be completed by the first quarter of 2013. We are genuinely excited about this new phase in the IFI Irish Film Archive’s history and we hope you will help us to achieve it.

*Note, film when used in this article means moving image, both amateur and professional, television and cinema.

Talleyrand Regards, reprobates! Did you have a nice holiday season? Did you gorge yourself on flightless bird, Bird’s powdered custard, and that bird from home who you wouldn’t have looked twice at back in your secondary school days? Well, enough of that, you’re back in the real world now, or the safety-bubbled version of the ‘real world’ your Arts degree represents. Ah well, never mind, only 104 days until exams start (he said from behind the wryest of smiles). It seems that our Education Officer Sam “Bin Head” Geoghegan has had a much nicer Christmas than you, jetting off to New York, New York for a sexy jaunt amongst the world’s cultural elite. Always careful to put your money to good use, Sam was seen arriving via limousine as a ‘surprise’ for his beloved girlfriend, before she was treated to a spare-no-expense stay in the swank-ilicious Fitzpatrick hotel. Rumours as to his procurement of Beluga caviar, Dom Pérignon and an exclusive box of solid gold prophylactics remain unproven. SU President Pat “Spiky Head” de Brún has been busy, as always, cleaning up the filthy mess last year’s SU President, Paul “Dick Head” Lynam made of the Union’s finances. Lynam, who has again proven himself the exact opposite of King Midas (everything he touches turns to shit), finally has the ability to put a monetary label on how bad a President he was, and one million euro in debt is quite the ridiculous amount of being bad at your job. Nice work, Mr. Senator, nice work. What has SU Campaigns and Communications Officer Brendan “Throbbing, Purple Head” Lacey been up to? Playing football and smoking while leaning against a wall. That is all. And what of Welfare Officer Rachel “Head Girl” Breslin? Well, word on the corridor is that she has been spending her Christmas manning the Niteline phone service, and telling sad people that no-one loves them. Why would she do this, I hear the suicidal of the world cry (cry as they might)? For the power, she says. For the power, and the sexual thrill. The real Students’ Union goss this week, however, has to come from that minstrel of mirth, that Sabbat of succour, Entertainment Officer Stephen “Lots of Head” Darcy, about whom rumours have been flying like terrifying winged monkeys, their low hanging testicles skipping along the foreheads of all they pass. Yes, we’ve all heard the rumours. We’ve all seen the suspicious photographs on Bebo. But the question remains, is Stephen Darcy secretly banging the office hoover? That remains to be seen, but you know what they say, no smoke without fire, and no blockage to the dust filter without a wang in the nozzle. One thing is definitely true, however – Stephen has been seen coquettishly dragging Mr. Henry into his office more often than is normal, with a crazed, lustful gaze in his eyes. Is he banging the vacuum? Is the vacuum banging him? We may never know. One thing we do know, however, is that Stephen Darcy is banging the vacuum. In other, particularly brilliant (and actually true) Ents Officer news, Stephen Darcy is considering recording a charity single for the SU. A charity single. Where am I to begin? Firstly, Stephen Darcy is not Bono. He’s not even Larry. Sure, he’s played drums in the student bar - at events he organised, no less – but who does he expect to purchase a charity single sung by the SU? Mr. Darcy is a long way from Sting, regardless of how much time he spends practising solo tantric sex in front of a mirror. Secondly, we know the SU are broke, but do they really need to stoop so low as to sell a charity single? Talleyrand knows not who the intended benefactors of this enterprise are, but I would have to imagine it is the hungry mouths of the plush corridor. Someone needs to pay for all the skinny jeans, snoods, and replacement hoover bags. Talley-ho! Talleyrand


The University Observer · 17 January 2012

Observer Editorial editor @

Quotes of the Fortnight

“Perhaps the most radical change to this national identity emerged with the work of Mary Raftery, and it must be concluded that it was her work in cinema that brought about this change”


cross the page and the one adjacent, a running, increasingly poignant theme can be seen to have developed. Our remarkable op-ed piece this week, from Kasandra O’Connell, Head of the IFI’s Irish Film Archive, outlines the importance of maintaining our cultural heritage and social history through the optics of the Irish filmmaker’s lens, while elsewhere, Sally Hayden remembers one of Ireland’s greatest journalists, Mary Raftery. Although the sorely-missed UCD alumna worked in print media with the same conviction and capability she applied to her entire professional career, it would be shortsighted, and perhaps unfortunate in the context of this editorial, to ignore the fact that it was her work as a filmmaker that provided the catalyst for real national social change. As such, this editor feels it behoves us, as a people, to acknowledge the special role the cinematic mode plays in not just

our day-to-day lives, but in the construc- and even debatably the fictive films tion of our very national identity. As Ms of the likes of Aisling Walsh and Neil O’Connell aptly illustrates in her piece, Jordan, Raftery’s work in moving imthe most spiritually pertinant, the most ages is what brought the clerical abuse culturally meaningful events of our his- scandals, if not to the public’s minds, tory are those recorded by our national then more importantly, to their lips. cinema. Perhaps most importantly, only There is little doubt in my mind that the moving image is able to convey the it was cinema that brought about this tone, the feel of a time or place to an au- change in our society, one that might dience, and without that most emotive well be considered the most profound in of historical records, we are isolated, our nation’s short history; a recognition permanently removed from our own of the gross injustices of our past, and cultural and historical context, and as importantly, a turn away from the linsuch, from our very national identity. gering ghost of a cultural ecclesiarchy. Perhaps the most radical change to Perhaps most importantly, is that it this national identity emerged with the is us, our generation and in our Univerwork of Mary Raftery, and although I sity, that must continue on this tradition, am at pains to speak its praises too ar- if not for the sake of its own continuadently lest you throw this paper down tion, then for the continual re-invention in search of a more contemporary form of a cultural self-identity. It pains this of media, it must be concluded that it editor, perhaps more than any other was her work in cinema that brought aspect of our University’s governance, about this change. Along with the work that our arts faculty, and in particuof Neasa Ní Chianáin in her startling lar, our film department, is so grossly documentary Fairytale of Kathmandu, under-funded. Indeed, under-funded

does not do justice to the continued malaise and disregard displayed by the University towards both the department and the art form it represents. Indeed, this is not a trend unique to our campus, as illustrated by the IFI’s appeal for funds currently underway, for something that, by rights, should be nothing short of a cultural priority. In the absence of such rightthinking, it will remain the task of the devoted, under-funded few in the IFI, Filmbase and various film departments throughout the country, for whom the continuation of the study and production of the art form is still a worthy endeavor. What is crucial, however, is that the young people who are reading this and have an inclination towards filmmaking take the ample opportunity a student’s schedule and a well-stocked and overtly generous Film Society provides, and continue in the tradition that the work of the UCD alumna, Mary Raftery, has proved to be so crucial.

Journalist and UCD alumna Mary Raftery passes away I

again and again in tributes to her is “relentless”. This relentlessness led to her producing and directing States of Fear, a documentary series that revealed the physical and sexual abuse suffered by children in Irish industrial schools and residential institutions. Such was the immediate reaction to the programme that before the third part had even been broadcast, the then Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, publically apologised to victims of institutional abuse on behalf of the State. The Ryan Commission and the Residential Institutions Redress Board, which has to date compensated approximately 14,000 victims, were both set up as a result of her work. Cardinal Secrets, her 2002 exposé on which she worked alongside Mick Pee-

Letters to the editor

Letters should be sent by email to or by mail to The editor, The University Observer, UCD Student Centre, Belfield, Dublin 4


lo, examined the cover-up of child sex abuse allegations, and led to the establishment of the Murphy Commission of Investigation into clerical abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese. Her last documentary Behind the Walls, which she worked on while she was ill, was broadcast in September 2011, and examined the history of Ireland’s psychiatric hospitals. During her career she also exposed the plight of residents of Magdalene laundries, deaths in Garda custody, medical negligence and the activities of property developers. Probably the most remarkable Irish journalist of the last twenty years, Raftery’s works instigated huge changes in our society. She shined a light on the darkest corners of this

University Observer Volume XVIII Issue VII

Telephone: (01) 716 3119/3120 Email: The University Observer is printed at The Guardian Print Centre, Longbridge Road, Manchester M17 1SN.

country, fearlessly fighting against both injustice and ignorance, while giving a voice to those who had been silenced. And despite all that she uncovered, she never lost faith in the goodness of humanity. “The most refreshing thing about what I do is the fact of how good people are”, she said in September. “It’s amazing to see how they are fundamentally driven to help others, and that they will do so by revealing themselves and their adversities and their challenges. And it’s wonderful. You really do see the best of people … The most important thing you can do is to give a voice to people who have been silenced …what else would I be doing?” Mary Raftery is survived by her husband, David Waddell and their son, Ben.

It is the policy of the University Observer to rectify any errors as soon as they arise.

Sports Editor Daniel Keenan

Deputy Editor Kate Rothwell

Irish Editor Séamas Ó Meachair

Art and Design Director Conor O’Toole

Music Editor Cormac Duffy

Otwo Editors George Morahan Aoife Valentine

Film Editor Dermot O’Rourke

Features Editor Matt Gregg Opinion Editor Emer Sugrue

Prof. Keenan on proposed joint international campus between UCD and Beijing University of Technology

“I think thinking is one of the worst things to do when you’re doing something so epic in your life” Christina Perri in conversation with Otwo

“UCD is an internationally reputed institution, which is high in the rankings”

Queries and clarifications can be addressed to

Editor Jon Hozier-Byrne

News Editor Katie Hughes

“China is a major world player and Irish graduates need to get involved”

Stephen Darcy on the proposed Ents single

Clarifications & Corrections

The editor reserves the right to edit any letters. All letters are subject to editorial approval.

Pat de Brún on trimming the SU budget

“I’d also love to do an accompanying video”

Journalist, documentarian and former UCDSU Education Officer Mary Raftery is remembered by Sally Hayden once asked Mary Raftery for tips on being a good journalist, and she said to always start your articles with a short sentence. So here it goes: Former UCDSU Education Officer and UCD student Mary Raftery has passed away. Student politician turned journalist, last September she spoke in an interview of her time in UCD which she spent “doing a lot less engineering than I should have and getting a lot more involved with the Students’ Union and the student newspaper.” She worked as a sub-editor and writer for the In Dublin magazine, before moving on to work for the current affairs publication Magill in 1984, and later for RTÉ until leaving in 2002. The word that has been mentioned

“Costs such as printing are also way down”

Fashion Editor Sophie Lioe Food & Travel Editor Elaine Lavery Online Editor Ryan MacKenzie

Science & Health Editor Conor O’Nolan

Copy Editors George Morahan Aoife Valentine

Chief Science & Health Writer Alison Lee

Chief Photographer David Nowak

Contributors Ciara Andrews The Badger Steven Balbirnie Fachtna Basquille Julie Beattie Elizabeth Beecham Kevin Beirne Stefan Bracken Anna Burzlaff Angela Clarke Dixon Coltrane Lorraine Haigney Sally Hayden Sara Holbrook Niamh Hynes Aaron Kennedy Yvanne Kennedy Colm Lakes Mark Malone Kevin McGahern David Moloney Dan Moriarity Matthew Morrow Mystic Mittens Emily Mullen Sean O’Grady

Séamas Ó Meachair Rob Mac Carthy Jason Quigley Cormac Reddin Talleyrand Ethan Troy-Barnes Denis Vaughan Margaret Walsh Jack Walsh Phillipa White Illustrator Olwen Hogan Photographers Caoimhe McDonnell Emer Sugrue Aoife Valentine Special Thanks Peter, Ian, Tim, Malcolm, Ade, Jonathan, Dave, Emma, Ged, Bob, Steve at GPC Manchester Eilis O’Brien Dominic Martella Colm, Sabrina, Rory and

UCD International Office

Guy at MCD Promotions Mary-Kate at PIAS Priscilla at Universal Giselle Jiang Dominic, Grace, Charlie, Jason, Gary, Stephen, Mark, Sandra, Paul and all the Student Centre Staff Very Special Thanks Amy Bracken, Donna Doyle, Bríd Doherty, Paul Fennessey, Bridget Fitzsimons, Nicholas Lawrie, Danielle Moran, Joe Murphy, Dave Neary, Quinton O’Reilly, Rob Lowney, Ruth McCourt, Gary Kealy, Gav Reilly, Natalie Voorheis and all other friends and family who have supported and encouraged us during our seventh issue


The University Observer · 17 January 2012

DJ RANKIN IN THA MIX!!!!! 19TH JANUARY // LATE BAR // ADMISSION €3 ROAR // GOV ID REQUIRED // TRACKSUIT OPTIONAL UCD Ents, proudly sponsored by 8713_Student_UCD Footer_A2_EH_V1.indd 1

19/09/2011 17:04

The University Observer · 17 January 2012



his parking tickets, to his house fire, to throwing darts at a youth team, right to his awarding of £1,000 to a homeless man after a casino win. The actions are Balotelli’s, not an act. While not all of his actions can be laughed at and passed off as a bored, petulant young man with too much money, such as his apparent mafia associations and the incident with the darts, his actions are keeping football interesting off the field, as well as on it. As a youth, he picked up numerous

awards, as well as picking up a European accolade for best young layer in Europe last year, after which he said only Messi was better than him, and that he had never heard of the runner up, Jack Wilshere. Balotelli has begun to show his undoubted talent in the Premier League this season. If one thing is to sum up the Italian in a nutshell, it is his goal against Norwich, where he shouldered the ball into an empty net. Just to be different. Just to be interesting. Why always him?

Strike a Chord As we enter the second half of the season, Daniel Keenan looks at the strikers on a roll, on and off the pitch


trikers have been traditionally the focal point of a football team. Previously judged purely upon their goal tallies and goals per game ratio, the position has evolved to incorporate the Emile Heskey type figure; a player who scores little but can cause problems for opposition defences and create goals by presence alone, without even touching the ball. A manager’s dream, but any fan’s nightmare front man. One trend which has been developing at Europe’s top clubs is the abolishment of what has become known as a traditional Number 9, or poacher: a striker whose primary objective is to score, to play off the back foot of opposition defences and apply the finish to a team play or opposition mistake. The poacher Number 9, the likes of Alan Shearer, Ruud van Nistleroy and Michael Owen, are becoming scarce at the top level, as teams steadily abandon a 4-4-2 system in favour of a 4-3-3 (with two attacking wide men, and a centre forward) or 4-2-3-1 formation, wherein a more complete forward is required to lead the attacking line. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo do this job to great effect for Barcelona and Real Madrid, respectively, while Wayne Rooney often occupies this lone striker position for Mancester United, when fitness allows Sir Alex Ferguson to play his full team. Danny Welbeck has leapfrogged Javier Hernandez in United’s pecking order. When injuries dictate that Rooney must play in midfield, because of his more physically imposing presence and ability to hold the ball up for attacking players running towards goal, Hernandez is an out-andout poacher. In Robin van Persie, Arsenal have followed the trend of dropping a poacher, though whether this was due to the failure of Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh to score enough goals is up for debate. Chelsea have always preferred a powerful striker, and have continued this in their positioning of Daniel Sturridge or Didier Drogba at the heart of their attack. Roberto Mancini’s attacking options means that his Manchester City frontline is often changed, but even at that, Edin Dzeko, Mario Balotelli and the forgotten Carlos Tevez are not poachers, and to call Sergio Aguero simply a goal scorer would be an insult to his immense skill. The change hasn’t exactly staggered goals, as the change to 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 formation means much more attacking opportunities. Ronaldo and Messi average about a goal every game, while van Persie and the collective Man City attack have been scoring goals for fun in recent months. Strikers are now a hotter commodity than ever, so inflated transfers are now the norm. Since Chelsea opened their chequebooks to buy Andrei Shevchenko, who was probably the best striker in the world at the time, for £30 million, the price for strikers has shot up.

Young English strikers are incredibly overpriced, as exemplified by Connor Wickham’s £13 million move to Sunderland in the summer, as well as the combined totals that Tottenham, Sunderland and Aston Villa have paid for the services of Darren Bent. Nowhere is the inflation more obvious than with Liverpool’s £35 million buy of Andy Carroll, whose value probably shot up by £10 million because he has won an England cap. Since arriving in the north west, he hasn’t looked half the player he did at Newcastle. Liverpool put the pressure of one of the highest transfers in the world on Carroll when he was in the best form of his life and recovering from an injury. When his form dropped, so did his head, and it seems the pressure keeps mounting on the Tyneside native with each passing game; no matter how many Liverpool players claim that he’s as good at training as he was on the pitch with Newcastle last season, the chance of him reclaiming the form he was in last season is questionable. Liverpool managed to offset the massive transfer fee in receiving £50 million for Fernando Torres. Chelsea has become a graveyard for big name strikers in their prime in recent years; Hernan Crespo, Andrei Shevchenko and now Torres have all failed to fire at Chelsea after huge transfers. Torres, as an out-and-out poacher, could be feeling the effect of the football world evolving without him, although the remarkable Demba Ba’s goal scoring form in the last year squashes that theory somewhat. Like Carroll, Torres could be failing to live up to his ability because of his massive price tag, but he has looked drained of confidence since the World Cup in 2010, when a spat of injuries prior to and during the tournament limited him game time. It seems that Andre Villas-Boas and the football world is losing interest in Torres quickly, and his star is undoubtedly falling. One striker who is certainly not disappearing is Machester City’s Mario Balotelli. He is like the human equivalent of Marmite in the way he divides opinion; he has provided football fans with numerous talking points in his football and personal life. Fans either love of hate the Italian, but whatever the feeling, nobody can deny his entertainment value. His domination of back pages has finally taken away from the usual stories we hear about footballers. Players’ private lives, mostly conducted in public nowadays, are notoriously repetitive when the story leaks. Sticking to a tried and tested formula, glamour models or wannabe WAGs go to to the tabloids to tell of their late night meeting with a married footballer. The tabloid in turn prints the story, calling the player a love rat, and calling their source every synonym of the word ‘gorgeous’ that was ever coined. The annual story of Rooney’s dissatisfaction at Manchester United has sprung up again, while the story of Te-

vez has been played out so many times that people have begun to forget that he can kick a ball. Homesick and unhappy with yet another employer, on numerous occasions the Argentine has made noises about moving home, before being linked with clubs further away from home. Balotelli meanwhile has been accidentally hilarious and fascinating in his actions. There is no doubt that what we see on a regular basis from the Man City striker is the real Balotelli; from



The University Observer · 17 January 2012

Sports Digest by Cormac Reddin

Soccer With the start of the new season less than two months away, UCD have confirmed that four players have put pen to paper and signed new deals. The club have also confirmed that three players have departed. Goalkeeper Ger Barron has re-signed for the Students after missing the end of last season with a foot injury. Robbie Benson and David O’Connor will also appear again for UCD this season. The club was also glad to announce the arrival of new player Gary Burke; the promising twenty-year old makes his move from Bohemians. Despite this positives news, the club will have to make do without the services of right-back Sean Harding, who has decided to pursue his football career in Australia. UCD will also be losing talented duo Darren Meenan and Darren Marshall, who have left to join St Patrick’s Athletic and Drogheda United respectively.

The Badger

Basketball UCD entered the Fresher’s Basketball Tournament last month, managing to win all of their games. Their opening group game was a tight affair, but UCD defeated their opponents IT Cork 39-33 in a nail-biting finish. They then eased through to the semifinals with a convincing 39-10 win over opponents NUIM in their second and final group game. Going into the semi-final, both UCD and UL knew that it could go either way. In what was always going to be a tight game, UCD managed to prevail with a 34-23 win to book them a place in the final. In an unexpectedly onesided final, UCD managed a huge win over NUIG in a 70-25 victory.

Handball The UCD handball club had much to celebrate in Wexford last month. At the end of the weekend, UCD had won three of the titles that they had contended for. The men’s A team performed well, beating UL to set themselves up for the final against DCU, which they also won, ensuring the cup would be returning to UCD for the first time in forty-eight years. The men’s C team also took home the C cup after beating TCD in the final. The ladies’ A team doubles were unlucky in two tough matches against UL. The third title was won when the pairing of Aoife O’Leary and Sophie O’Connor overcame several tough matches, including a tight final against UL. In addition to this successful weekend in Wexford, Dublin hurlers opened two new handball courts in UCD ahead of the 2012 World Handball Championship in October.

Hockey Despite a spirited second-half performance by UCD against Railway Union in the Neville Cup Final on St Stephen’s Day, they were unable to overcome their fellow South Dublin opponents. Karl Chapple’s fortunate strike twelve minutes from time killed off UCD, making the final score 3-1. Goals from Fiachra Maher and Rob Abbott gave Railway a 2-0 lead, before UCD’s Nick Burns made up for the sin-binning he received earlier in the match by coolly tucking away his penalty. Chapple’s strike buried any chance of an outcome from the Belfielders.

The Badger questions football … again

T Photographer: Caoimhe McDonnell

UCD break Laois but are tamed by Dubs UCD overcame Laois in the first round of the O’Byrne Cup but were comprehensively beaten by Dublin, writes Daniel Keenan


nter-county football has an unusual start to the season. In no other sport can universities play regular teams in competitive fixtures. An NFL franchise wouldn’t play a college football team, nor would an international team play a club in a competition. It seems strange that, considering the National Football League garners so little interest among fans and players, the GAA would continually push ahead with this unusual tournament in each province. However, the O’Byrne Cup’s (Leinster’s start of season competition) appeal is rooted in just this: its unusualness. On paper, the O’Byrne Cup makes little sense. Players are forced to choose their university ahead of their county, causing endless frustration and arguments between managers. The gulf in class between a county team and a university should make the games uncompetitive but the gap is shortened because counties lose out on some of their best players because of their college commitment. The scheduling of the tournament also shortens the gap in quality between college and county teams. For county teams, the O’Byrne Cup is a warm-up to the National Football League, which is essentially just a warm-up for the Championship. Colleges meanwhile have their most important tournament, the Sigerson Cup, starting in the next few weeks. This combines to make a surprisingly competitive tournament (DCU even won the O’Byrne Cup in 2010), even if there is not a large fanbase for the tournament in any of the four provinces. UCD decided to waive their right for first preference on players with Peter Kelly, by releasing him to play for his native Kildare for the tournament. The 2010 All-Star damaged his cruciate

playing with UCD just over a year ago, though he will return to Belfield for the first round of the Sigerson Cup. “Kildare wanted me to play from the start of the year because I’ve been out for so long. UCD are fine with it, and I’ll be playing with them in the Sigerson,” said Kelly earlier this month. First up for UCD was Laois. Donie Kingston was the tormentor of his native county, as UCD claimed a four

pions, as Carlow kept up with them for most of the match, before dying off in the last ten minutes. In truth, the Dubs never got out of third gear yet, still created dozens of scorable opportunities, and with better shooting, could easily have broken the twenty point mark. Tomás Quinn and Diarmuid Connolly were particularly impressive in the 0-17 to 0-10 victory.

In no other sport can universities play regular teams in competitive fixtures. An NFL franchise wouldn’t play a college football team point scalp from the 2005 O’Byrne Cup winners. Things started brightly for UCD against what was an experimental Laois squad containing nine debutants. Lorcan Smith and Kingston gave UCD an early lead, before Laois hit back through Colm Kelly and Sean Ramsbottom. Both teams exchanged scores, and Laois went in 0-6 to 0-5 up at half-time, after a superb Damien O’Conner score. Laois took their foot off the pedal in the second half, allowing Kingston to score six unanswered points, with scores also being added by Smith and Giles. UCD then faced All-Ireland Champions Dublin in Parnell Park on Saturday night. Whatever confidence gained from the Laois result was well and truly smashed, as Dublin would go on to win the game by fourteen points. Dublin got to the second round by way of a flattering seven point win over Carlow. The performance wasn’t overly convincing from the All-Ireland Cham-

All-Ireland winners Rory O’Carroll, Craig Dias and Colm Murphy lined up for UCD against their native county, in a match which Dublin dominated from start to finish. Dublin were 0-4 to 0-2 up after ten minutes, but a goal from All Ireland final hero Kevin McManamon early in the first half seemed to end the contest prematurely. Dublin went in at half-time 1-11 to 0-5 up after impressive scores from Michael McCarthy and Ross McConnell among others. Dublin started the second half as they finished the first: by dominating their opponents. Goals from Bryan Cullen, and subs Sean Murray and Diarmuid Connolly, truly buried UCD, who also couldn’t deal with man-of the match Tomás Quinn. A heavy loss such as this isn’t the ideal preparation for UCD going into the Sigerson Cup, but Dublin are AllIreland Champions, so it is unlikely that this loss will prove to be too much of a setback.

he Badger imagines that the inventors of sport dictated that it shouldn’t be just for the elite skilled athletes, so they invented nascar, tiddlywinks, and hurling in Kerry. The chunkier person would also have to be catered for (no pun intended), so they invented props in rugby union, darts and goalkeepers. As children, the fattest child is always put into goals, presumably because their large frame covers most of the goal (and the Badger suspects that children keep at least one of their friends overweight by preventing them from exercise, in case a Lord of the Flies situation arises). So when David de Gea arrived in Manchester, with a frame that would make Victoria Beckham look like a sumo queen, the Badger looked on with raised eyebrows (which should show you how shocked the Badger was, considering badgers don’t have eyebrows). The Badger will point out something about David de Gea; upon his young, scrawny shoulders was placed the pressure of guarding goal for one of the world’s biggest teams, and he also had the burden of following the legacy of Edwin Van der Sar. If de Gea were to last as long as long as Van der Sar and stick with United, he would be United’s goalkeeper for the next twenty years. Pressure indeed, when he could be expected to guard goal until the year 2031, when Ferguson will undoubtedly still be managing Man Utd. But football is now a world where twenty-year olds are no longer considered young, and de Gea is being laughed at. Sometimes football just doesn’t make sense to the Badger, but thankfully there’s Liverpool FC to shine the light of undeviating sense. The Badger is all for player support, so when one of your players all but admits to racially abusing another, the only logical thing to do is sport t-shirts supporting him. If all else fails, then a total pigheaded unwillingness to look facts in the face will see them through. Stewart Downing is lucky to be involved with such a caring club. He is sure to be supported after his recent nightclub arrest, where his ex-girlfriend allegedly had the audacity to run into poor Stewart’s fist. The Badger looks forward to the “Support Woman Beating” t-shirts that are sure to be hauled out for their next match.

The University Observer · 17 January 2012



Anyone for tennis?

Aaron Kennedy looks at the year ahead in tennis, and to the first Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open

Roger Federer

Andy Murray


ith the excitement of the 2012 London Olympics to look forward to, as well as the regular drama which comes with Grand Slam play, the year ahead looks set to provide a feast of entertainment for tennis fans. The Australian Open is the first Grand Slam of the year and the build-up to it has been fascinating for each country that holds out hope for their player. Nations passionate about tennis will bask in the opportunity to watch their fellow countrymen and women competing in the Olympics and Davis Cup. Coming into the new year, things look promising for some players, and shaky for others. 2011 provided the first real sign of Petra Kvitova’s extraordinary skills, highlighted by her monster serve. Kvitova won the last year’s Wimbledon Championship, becoming the first Grand Slam winner to be born in the 1990s. Her powerful left-handed groundstrokes, as well as the excellent variety she has in her arsenal, will once again aid in her being one of the few dominating women in the sport. Things are looking less promising for Caroline Wozniaki for the Australian Open. The number one seed has yet to win a Grand Slam, but has shown her incredible knowledge of the game in her short career so far. A wrist injury picked up during her loss to Asnieszka Radwanska could hinder her progress for this coming Grand Slam. Wozniaki’s best ever finish in this tournament to date was the semi-final. Serena Williams is also carrying a small ankle injury, which could hamper her hopes of progressing in the Open, but her 51-6 career

Novak Djokovic

“Novak Djokovic will go into 2012 with a gleaming sense of confidence after the most successful year of his career” mark shows how successful she has been Down Under. Maria Sharapova’s lack of ability to show her undoubted talent throughout an entire tournament is always going to be an issue for her. The number four seed, who last won the Australian Open in 2008, had a rejuvenation of form during the summer, but still failed to win another Grand Slam. Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, will go into the year with a gleaming sense of confidence after the most successful year of his career; winning ten tournaments,

Petra Kvitova

There Goes the Pain Daniel Keenan looks at what the future holds for the UFC and Brock Lesnar after his retirement from the sport


FC has been in search of a big name in its heavyweight division since Mixed Martial Arts took off in the US. Boxing had Tyson, and all of UFC’s other divisions have or have had dominating champions. The heavyweight title meanwhile, has never been defended more than twice in a row by one fighter, with Brock Lesnar, Randy Couture and Tim Sylvia the only people to have defended it more than once to date. Upon the arrival of Lesnar, it seemed that UFC had found its draw: a powerful-looking fighter who could attract an audience and cut promos. Fans were sceptical of Lesnar at first because of his professional wrestling background, not helped by his first round loss to Frank Mir in his debut match, but a victory over Heath Herring and title win over Randy Couture silenced his critics. The only thing in UFC bigger than Lesnar was the money he drew in. He was the ideal face of the company and continued to live up to his billing, with a dominating victory over Mir for the Undisputed Heavyweight title. Lesnar’s next two years were mostly spent fighting something else: infection. He fought off bouts of glandular fever and intestinal disease for a year before returning to defend his title against Shane Carwin. He then dropped the title at UFC 121 to Cain Velasquez. UFC kept Lesnar at the centre of the company, bringing him in last January as a coach for The Ultimate Fighter 13, from which Lesnar had to leave because of illness. His match a year later against the man

who is likely to replace him as UFC’s heavyweight stalwart, Alistair Overeem, ended in Overeem winning by technical knock-out in the first round. Due to illness and pressure from his family, Lesnar retired from UFC after the fight, leaving UFC President Dana White in need of a Pay-Per View draw. The obvious contender is Lesnar’s conqueror, Overeem, who is likely to beat Junior dos Santos for the title in their upcoming bout.

UFC’s decision on who to push will be decided by the title fight between dos Santos and Overeem. Lesnar’s future meanwhile, is not so clearcut. MMA retirements traditionally never last too long, as the fighter normally declares that they feel like they still have a fight or two left in them. However, Lesnar’s retirement is based on family concerns for his health and well being in the ring, and an illness that has plagued him for two years.

“The only thing in UFC bigger than Lesnar was the money he drew in” At 6”5 and 256 lb, he fits the billing as the poster boy for the division. He is a solid fighter as well as a kick-boxing specialist, but accusations of anabolic steroid use have dominated his media persona. The accusations are based on the fifty pounds he has gained since his Light-Heavyweight days, despite passing every drug test he has taken. Should Overeem fail to shake off the unfounded rumours, or lose to dos Santos, UFC may not view him as a PPV draw. Dos Santos, should he retain his title, will remain the man in the spotlight. Heavier promotions and more PPVs in Brazil would be more likely if that is to happen, since dos Santos, Middleweight champion Anderson Silva and Featherweight Champion José Aldo are all Brazilian. While Cain Velasquez is still a contender, it seems likely that

Whether he has completely overcome his illness is up for debate, so an extended break from public life is possible. Coaching fighters or wrestlers is a possibility, while a return to the less physically demanding WWE has been rumoured, although his high earnings at UFC, estimated at $5.3 million for 2011 alone, will probably lead to lengthy contract negotiations should it come to pass. Lesnar’s possible return to WWE could have a hugely negative effect on UFC. UFC fans generally disregard professional wrestling as a sport, but should Lesnar make a return to the pro-wrestling circuit, the floodgates could open for other UFC stars to make the switch to the WWE. Chael Sonnen, one of UFC’s top middleweights, is synonymous with a pro-wrestling style of cutting promos and taking interviews,

including Grand Slam victories at the Australian and US Opens, and Wimbledon. For the first time in seven years, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are on the same side of a Grand Slam draw, making for a potential blockbuster semi-final, and ever so slightly clearing Djokovic’s path to the final. This situation has not occurred since the 2005 French Open and will no doubt provide a fantastic spectacle if it comes to pass. Nadal’s hopes don’t look too promising due to recent injuries

even calling out Middleweight champion Anderson “Spider” Silva in a WWE-esque style, which earned him a title shot in 2010. His talking style has led some to suggest him as a possible WWE candidate. Later this month, he faces Mark Munoz in Chicago, in a match where Sonnen will be accompanied to the octagon by WWE Champion, CM Punk. The winner of the bout will face Anderson Silva, so should S o n n e n lose, and subsequently slip down the pecking order for another title shot, he could follow in the footsteps of Ken Shamrock, and sign for the WWE at the height of his UFC career. Should either, or both, join the world’s largest professional wrestling franchise, it would reverse the recent cycle of WWE wrestlers switching to MMA , which include Lesnar, Dave Batista, and Bobby Lashley among others, and set a dangerous precedent for UFC midcarders looking for a wage increase.

and inactivity. Should he and Federer face each other in the semifinal, Federer should have the advantage over the Spaniard. Federer and Djokovic have both been tipped as favorites to reach the final as both are in great form coming into 2012. The current world number one, Djokovic, holds a 4-3 advantage in the pair’s meetings. Andy Murray’s failings have been well documented by the British press, and fans have become accustomed to his falls at the last hurdle. The Scot has had his fair share of disappointment and success throughout his career, and he will be looking to find that killer edge that the likes of Nadal, Djokovic and Federer already possess. The year ahead is an exciting one in both the Men’s and Women’s grade. There are signs that women’s tennis will continue to throw up a number of different top seeds claiming trophies across the board. Petra Kvitova seems the most likely candidate to end this pattern, but her inexperience could prove her downfall. Novak Djokovic can use the confidence he gained from his victories throughout 2011 to carry into his game. If Nadal recovers from his small injuries, he will once again be a tough test for any man that steps out on the court, particularly on clay. Andy Murray will hope for some luck to go his way, while Federer will try to silence those who say that he’s passed his peak. It all starts in Melbourne, and it is the best place to kick-start what could be an extraordinary year of tennis.


OSbserver P O R T

The University Observer · 17 January 2012

First half proves decisive as Belfast beat Collidge UCD RFU

22 Belfast Harlequins 39

UCD were left ruing a poor first half performance in Belfield on Saturday, writes Kevin Beirne

Inside... We look at the strikers on a roll, on and off the pitch


CD rounded off the Christmas period with a tired 22-39 defeat to Belfast Harlequins in the Belfield Bowl on Saturday afternoon. Collidge have played three games over the Christmas break, recording one win, one draw and after Saturday’s games, one defeat. Overall, it is a nice haul of points, as UCD look to establish themselves in Division 1B. They currently lie seventh of the ten teams, having picked up six points in their last three games. Collidge opened the Christmas period with an impressive 24-20 win over UL Bohemians at home, and followed that up a month later with a hard-fought away draw against Ballynahinch. UL Bohemians currently lie one position above UCD, in sixth, while Ballynahinch now occupy top spot in the division. Saturday’s opponents, Belfast Harlequins, were too strong for the home side as they picked up a five try, bonus-point victory in Dublin. Collidge managed three tries in a spirited, but ultimately indisciplined, performance. Belfast took an early lead from a first minute penalty, following that up with a soft try for flyhalf Stuart Olding, which raced the visiting side out to a ten point lead after only seven minutes. Collidge hit back with a penalty of their own from Niall Earls almost immediately from the restart. Five minutes later, David Doyle made a strong run through the heart of the ‘Quins defence which brought play up inside the visitors’ 22. Two slick offloads later, and Danny Kenny was in to touch down, much to the delight of the home crowd. An Earls conversion levelled the scores at 10-10. Unfortunately for UCD, this was not

UCD Marian’s Conor Meany in possession during their 59-65 loss to DCU Saints. Photographer: Caoimhe McDonnell

page 17 The Badger attacks someone his own size; at least in terms of weight

Action from UCD’s match against Belfast Harlequins on Saturday. Photographer: Caoimhe McDonnell the momentum changer that they were searching for, as an eighteenth minute penalty gave ‘Quins a lead which they never relinquished, mainly thanks to the dominating play of their halfbacks. It was the visiting scrum-half who sowed the seed for the game’s next try. Ian Porter took the ball off the back of a ruck and brought play into UCD’s half. His kick ahead was not met immediately by any UCD player, and ‘Quins were allowed to recover the bouncing ball deep inside the UCD 22, only to be held up over the try line. This hardly mattered however, as Neil McComb, Belfast’s gigantic number 8, scored directly from the ensuing scrum. The away side continued to apply pressure on the hosts but were penalised for not wrapping in the tackle, giving Earls a chance to clear his line. His penalty, however, did not find touch and Belfast counter-attacked with incredible conviction, eventually sending McComb over for his

second try from short-range. Collidge rang in the changes with James Tracey, Risteard Byrne and James Thornton replacing Brian Hall, Keelan McKenna and Niall Earls respectively. The changes seemed to energise the home side, but their attack was foiled by their own players entering from the side of the ruck. Back-to-back penalties put Belfast close enough to the UCD line to score their fourth try, and therefore secure the bonus point, with a simple backline move which eventually sent their openside flanker, Laurence Babe, over to touchdown. A failed conversion meant Collidge went into halftime twenty-two points in arrears, with the score at 10-32. Peter du Toit replaced David Lynch at the halftime break and for the first twenty minutes of the second half, UCD were a team reborn. They found their rhythm and unleashed a thrilling off-loading game

upon the visitors. This quick-tempo attack paid dividends in the forty-fourth minute when Sam Coughlan-Murray, UCD’s most potent attacking option all day, went over in the corner following an impressive series of forward and backs interplay. James Thornton missed the conversion from far out on the touchline. Although it looked like ‘Quins were slowly losing control of the game, they kept their cool and continued to threaten. Collidge pulled out their best last-ditch defence to keep the scores close and even found another try through match captain, Brian Cawley. It was all too little too late for the home side, and a last minute try from Stuart Olding, which was almost identical to his first, ensured that Harlequins left Dublin with all five points and the top spot in Division 1B, while UCD were left to rue a long list of unforced errors and missed opportunities.

UCD fall short of Saints

UCD failed to overcome their North Dublin rivals in Belfield, writes Colm Lakes


UCD Marian


DCU Saints


CD came into this game as underdogs, having already been beaten twice by the high-flying Saints this season. Under the guidance of Dave Donnelly, DCU have lost just two games this season and look destined to finish with the best record of both conferences. UCD suffered the disadvantage of having to play Belfast Star only the night before this fixture, but their victory over the northern club should have bolstered confidence ahead of the clash with their Dublin rivals. The return to action of Daniel James boosted the squad’s offensive punch, though he was on the bench as UCD got off to a flying start. After some excellent defensive showings, UCD took an early advantage. Conor Meany came off the bench with some stellar defence, pressing DCU guard Emmet Donnelly up the court. UCD were able to punish their opponents lacklustre defence and finished off the first quarter with an emphatic 11-0 run to make the score an impressive 23-13. Compared with Saints’ relatively aged starting five consisting of Mike Trimmer, Emmet Donnelly and ex-UCD man Pat Glover, UCD had a very youthful team, which offered energy early on through Cathal Finne and Conor James. DCU came out with a new-look zonal defence for the second quarter, which limited UCD to outside shots. Coach Frank Ryan quickly called sharpshooter Daniel James from the bench in an attempt to tip the balance in his favour.

However, having spent weeks on the sidelines with injury, he was unable to contribute consistently. UCD’s Donnie Stith provided the bulk of scores with some impressive displays inside. He reeled in many offensive rebounds which helped UCD to fend off the trailing Saints for a period. However, the zone defence was working for DCU, and they successfully looked inside for their scores. Martin Provisors was the main offensive threat, and he created scores with some quick passing. Keith Anderson added to the Latvian’s effort with some clever drives and cuts, resulting in easy scores. As the half drew to a close, DCU forward Pat Glover scored three straight unanswered jump shots as Marian’s lead was cut to one. Both teams came out in the thirdquarter knowing that they could not afford to give away cheap scores in such a low-scoring game. Cathal Finne showed guile as he led the way for UCD with a number of good scores off drives. However, DCU were still able to create scores for themselves through Anderson and the veterans Mike Trimmer and Emmet Donnelly. Trimmer, one of the oldest players in the league, came up with a big block and a long jumper in the space of two plays. UCD’s outside shooters were having little luck however, as the James twins and the Meany brothers were unable to connect from the three-point line. A low scoring quarter ended in the game being deadlocked 45-45.

page 18

UCD break Laois but are tamed by Dubs in GAA

page 18 In the fourth quarter, DCU demonstrated why they are currently the best team in the country. They showed cool heads and collected score after score to pull away from their less experienced Southside rivals. Some unpopular decisions from the referee gave DCU added momentum as they increased their lead to double digits, however, UCD continued to press in an attempt to regain the advantage. Saint’s star Martin Provisors was fouled out and suddenly DCU looked vulnerable and tired, committing turnovers and making unforced errors, allowing UCD to claw their way back to within one shot of them. However, Marian’s poor shooting from downtown continued and they could not get the scores required, despite Daniel James being brought back on. Saints gathered points on the board and held on for victory, their thirteenth in fifteen games this season. Donnie Stith was the game’s top scorer with twenty-two, but more important was Keith Anderson’s eighteen. He created the scores just as they were needed for Saints who proved that experience is more valuable than youth. UCD’s performance was far from disappointing against the most in-form team in the country and their play-off qualification is assured. Frank Ryan’s team will no doubt be disappointed with this loss, as they try to play catch up with Killester and earn a better seeding for the playoffs in March.

University Observer, Volume XVIII - Issue 7  

University Observer, Volume XVIII - Issue 7

University Observer, Volume XVIII - Issue 7  

University Observer, Volume XVIII - Issue 7