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SU President raises concerns over Student Bar’s projected losses
Two new societies recognised despite moratorium by Katie Hughes · News Editor
by Katie Hughes · News Editor
Students’ Union President Pat de Brún has raised concerns over the long-term planning of the Student Bar following a Bar Committee meeting held on Monday February 20th at which an estimate of the Bar’s accounts from July to December were made available. He stated that “at the minute the figures aren’t finalised so I can’t say what they are yet but there is some cause for concern and I do have some concerns about the long-term planning for the bar. It just means that there’s going to be a lot of work there for all involved on the Management Committee and the management of the bar itself.” De Brún further stated that despite his faith in the figures presented to the Bar Committee, he was reluctant to give the figure at which the bar was estimated to be at a loss of, based on a preliminary draft. Additionally, he didn’t feel that he had the authority to release the full figures without the consent of the committee “as I have no more authority than anyone else on the committee.” He admits that the Bar is projected to make a loss of less than 50,000 euro, but insists that any figure he could provide would be inaccurate, “all we have is estimates for half a year – it’s July to December: six months – that’s all we have. I have a figure of that and we’re estimating the overall figure for the year based on a simple multiplication by two – but there are plenty of variables with the first and second half of the year, they do varying business. It would be wrong to try and guess any further.” He denied allegations that the Bar, including the wages of Bar staff, was directly funded by the Students’ Union in previous years due to a mismanagement of funds. However, he speculated that due to the manner through which the accounts were managed in the past, a possibility existed that money was lent between various different outlets, such as between the shops and the Union Corridor or vice-versa, which may have included the bars. “I’m expecting something to come back with a balance that’s owed between the various different entities that can be finalised. Potentially, there could have been a time in the past, a week or two weeks, when monies were paid, when the monies weren’t in the bar account. Certainly, they were never funded by the Union, even if they were administered via the Union – that money was the bar money. The Union never in any way subsidised wages for bar staff.” The University declined to comment on the matter.
Candidates for the position of Welfare Vice-President, Mícheál Gallagher and Enda Conway debating their manifestos at the UCDSU Hustings last week. Get everything you need to know in the University Observer’s Election Supplement Photographer: Brian O’Leary
Over 1,200 students march against cuts to allowances for new teachers by Katie Hughes · News Editor
Between 1,200 and 1,500 students took part in a protest on Wednesday February 22nd against cuts in allowances for new teachers. The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairi Quinn, recently announced that allowances for new teachers would be suspended pending a review, which was expected to last up to one month. One of the organisers of the protest, William O’Brien stated that “The cuts that are being made now are going to lead to the segregation of the teaching profession – you’re going to have a teaching profession with teachers on four different types of salary scales and in the long run for both teachers, students and parents, this is in no one’s interest. The other aspect is that it’s a simple issue of fairness – to be asking teachers to do the exact same work for a significantly lesser amount of money, or less of a salary, is simply not fair – that’s our main point.” O’Brien further explained that secondary school teachers find it difficult to find full-time employment when they graduate, commenting that approximately ninety per cent of teachers
graduating next year will not find fulltime work, and will only find part-time “if they are lucky … when you’re talking about the starting salary for a teacher, that’s the starting salary of a full-time teacher. It’s definitely not the norm, it’s the rarity.” O’Brien stated that he contacted both USI and UCD Students’ Union regarding the protest but that he received no reply, “USI didn’t acknowledge what was going on whatsoever despite the fact that they were informed of what was going on and a phone call was made to myself as the protest was marching down O’Connell Street from USI saying they support us – I think that’s a little too late.” USI Deputy President Colm Murphy explained that he only heard about the protest on Monday evening, “It came up across my radar vary late but it certainly is something I would have supported. I wish it had come to us earlier as we could have done more to assist, but fair play to the students for getting out there and organising it.” UCD Students’ Union Campaigns and Communications Officer Bren-
dan Lacey insisted that he had not heard about the protest until contact was made by USI, “I received no communications from William, unless he contacted the front desk and the message wasn’t passed on – I certainly never got the message.” He stated that the Campaigns Officer of USI informed him on the day of the march that it was taking place “but by that point, there wasn’t much I could do to rally a campaign in terms of hours.” O’Brien re-affirmed the importance of the Minister’s decision, which is expected within a week, “allowances make up a significant proportion of a teacher’s salary, to suspend them without consultation with the Union, which is a normal practice, means that new teachers are just being utterly and unfairly targeted by the government – they’re an easy target because they’re a very small minority of the teaching profession. The protest was saying that enough is enough, new teachers have taken a significant pay cut already going back to the start of last year and the recent announcement was just a step too far.”
Despite the Societies Council’s current moratorium on new societies, the Academic Council Committee for Recognition of Student Societies has recently recognised two new societies: the Sinn Féin Society and the Indian Society. The moratorium in place was imposed by the Societies Council, not the Academic Council Committee for Recognition of Student Societies, who, according to committee member and Students’ Union President Pat de Brún, felt that regardless of the position of the Societies Council, they have the power to recognise or de-recognise societies, “that was the position adopted by Committee and we proceeded on that basis.” A policy was passed through Union Council two weeks ago mandating the President and the Students’ Union to oppose the moratorium and “we’ve been following that mandate,” stated de Brún, “with it in mind I made that position clear at the meeting and I’m delighted now that these new societies have been recognised.” De Brún recognises the “divergence of issues” between the Societies Council and the Academic Council Committee for Recognition of Student Societies, but insisted “societies have been recognised and will become official societies, that’s the end of the story.” Chairman of the Societies Council, Stephen Whelan, explained that the Societies Council was “forced” to impose the moratorium due to resource issues, which remains the case. He continued to say, “The Recognition Committee is fully informed of the position of the Council and has affirmed the different responsibilities of the two bodies.” The role of the Societies Council is with regard to the delivery of a “quality society experience by societies and for the members and the University”, while the Recognition Committee has the role of “dealing with applications from new societies.” Societies Officer Richard Butler explained that “the Council has discussed the issue in depth on several occasions, and ... there are quite serious space and resource issues there.” Butler is hopeful that “we are gradually moving towards being able to resolve some of [the issues]”, while Whelan states that the Council would hope to be in a position to lift the moratorium by the end of the year. It is unclear whether the newly recognised societies will receive funding or space in the Fresher’s tent as according to de Brún, “the moratorium does still make decisions regarding allocation of funding between all recognised societies and space in the Freshers’ tent.” Neither Butler nor Whelan would comment on the matter. The recognition of the Environmental Society is pending, but according to de Brún, “would be granted if they could improve their application from the first time around.”
News in Brief by Katie Hughes · News Editor
UCD-Trinity University Challenge scheduled for after midterm break The first ever UCD-Trinity University Challenge is expected to take place after the midterm break. Two rounds will be taking place – one in UCD, in April, and the other in Trinity, the date of which has yet to be confirmed. Profits raised from the initiative will go to the respective university’s St Vincent de Paul (SVP) society. In UCD, the funds raised will go to the Emergency Fund, which is administered by UCD SVP. Students will be charged to enter the competition individually. It will cost approximately three euro to take part in a trial, from which the top four students will be selected to represent the UCD panel. All students will answer the same questions at the same time, without the use of mobile devices, according to UCD Students’ Union Welfare Officer, Rachel Breslin. The quiz portion of the UCD event will be held in either the Astra Hall or Student Bar. Admission is expected to cost around ten euro. “I’ve been talking to people from the Trinity SVP and we’re looking at ways we can organise it and make sure that they have a free date. The way it’s going to work is that we do one competition and then they do another and then both universities hold a competition – one in UCD and one in Trinity.”
€2,000 sponsorship for Cooking Competition O2 Think Big and Headstrong have given 2,000 euro to the annual Cooking Competition to allow the initiative to be run as not only a promotion of healthy eating, but also the benefits of this for students’ mental health. There are two stages to the competition – the first stage is one where students submit recipes, from which the top four will cook their inventions in the Atrium of the Student Centre on March 21st in the second stage, alongside a demonstration from Cooks Academy. The top four entries will receive a cookery-themed prize as well as a gadget, such as an iPod. The four entries, as well as several others chosen from the submissions, will appear in the UCD Cookbook, which is distributed to incoming first years students during their first week at the President’s Welcome. SU Welfare Officer Rachel Breslin confirmed that the competition will have an emphasis on mental health, “Headstrong and O2 Think Big have taken the direction of sponsoring mental health projects and for the next few months their direction is on healthy eating and the role that plays in mental health. We’re the first launch of that so they’re sponsoring our project and giving it money to make it bigger and to really emphasise the mental health aspect. We’ll be doing a lot on the day, at the cook-off, to give out mental health information or have a stand with someone from Headstrong talking about mental health and the connection between a healthy diet and overall wellbeing, including mental wellbeing.” Entries for the competition close on March 2nd.
Social Science Ball raises €1,460 for UCD SVP Emergency Welfare Fund The Social Science Masquerade Ball was held on February 8th in the Arlington O’Connell Bridge Hotel. 1,460 euro was raised for the Emergency Welfare Fund, which is administered by UCD’s St Vincent de Paul Society. UCDSU Arts and Human Sciences Students’ Union Programme Officer, Mícheál Gallagher, organised the ball. He stated that the amount raised was more than he expected, “to be honest, I raised 200 euro more than I expected as I set the ticket prices quite low, at forty-five euro because I wanted to create a socially inclusive Social Science ball, so I was delighted to hear that it was such a success for charity as we kept the margins very tight.”
The University Observer · 28 February 2012
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New committee to discuss library funding by Aoife Brophy
A new sub-committee of the Union Council has been set up to discuss funding alternatives for the library. According to Students’ Union Education Officer, Sam Geoghegan, the subcommittee, which consists of Council Representatives, will strive to “do more with less.” The Council members come from various disciplines and Geoghegan hopes that this will mean the best possible allocation of library resources. “Students made up from Science, Arts, Business, Law - just so I can get a different prospective. The students would know more than I would about the issues on the ground. It’s so I can know what the issues are and can bring them to the registrar. We’re going to have another meeting after the elections.” Recent budget cuts will mean an inevitable reduction in the number of books purchased as well as a reduction in journal and database subscriptions. “They can’t touch their staffing costs. They can’t touch their costs for facilities such as lighting, heat, electricity. So the only area that there would be a degree of flexibility is the issue of funding for books or journal subscriptions
or databases,” said Geoghegan. A Library User’s Committee is set to meet within the next fortnight to discuss the funding and budget issues. This will be their first meeting of this academic year. Representatives from the Student’s Union on this Committee include the President, the Education Officer and the Post-Graduate Officer. “I’ve worked a lot with staff at the library and with the Vice-President for Students, whose responsibility it is to call this meeting. The main reason [for the delay in holding the meeting] is that they’re looking to change the formation of the group but I have had assurances that they’re going to meet in the next two weeks.” Despite some confusion over changes in accessing databases, no database subscriptions have been cancelled. Geoghegan pointed out that the databases subscriptions are paid for by a funding initiative set up by the Department of Education and not the University. ‘Jstor and other journals aren’t funded by UCD, they’re funded by IReL. It’s in all the universities”. In the past, the library has had various initiatives to raise funds, such as selling old books. The library has also
appealed to alumni of the university to buy a book and donate it to the library. Geoghan expressed hope that this will happen again in the future. “The li-
brary has had some great initiatives in the past. They made a couple of grand and the students will see the benefit from that.”
Changes made to proposed constitution by Emily Longworth
Changes to the finalised copy of the proposed new Students’ Union Constitution, which is set to go to referendum this week, were made at the last Students’ Union Council. The changes regard the conversion of Executive Officers to Campaign Co-ordinators, and the addition of two new positions that will be elected independently of Union Council elections. The new positions of Sports Co-ordinator and Societies Co-ordinator will be established under the proposed constitution, making them part of a collective group of Campaign Co-ordinators
who represent the Union. The two new titles were established with the intention of improving the representation of student societies and sports clubs within the Union. De Brún explained that the Sports Co-ordinator is to be elected upon nomination of the Athletics Council, and the Societies Co-ordinator by the Societies Council. “We wanted to make [the co-ordinators] people who genuinely represent the interests of societies and sports clubs within the Union, so we didn’t feel that council elections would be the best way to elect them … that was after some consultation with sports and society reps.”
As the sports clubs and societies of UCD are operated and governed independently of the Students’ Union, the Sports Co-ordinator and Societies Co-ordinator will serve mainly to represent the Athletics Council and the Societies Council respectively to the Union and to improve communication between all parties. By being elected independently, the two co-ordinators are therefore less bound by Union policy than other SU campaign co-ordinators. “There are certain criteria that apply to all the co-ordinators that don’t apply to the Societies Co-ordinator and the Sports Co-ordinator” de Brún said, “in light
of their means of election it wouldn’t be appropriate that council could pass policy that would be binding on them.” The Societies Council of UCD was not consulted on the text of the proposed constitution. De Brún commented on the complicated nature of the Union’s standing with sports clubs and societies, saying that the current position of Sports Officer does not have a constitutional status, which is why it is now being written into the Constitution. De Brún stated that the change was a “housekeeping technicality”, and that no major alteration had been made to the articles outlining the policy.
SU to hire General Manager by Evan O’Quigley
Senna director Asif Kapadia
The Students’ Union are to hire a General Manager for the start of the next academic term. The employee would be considered a senior member of staff within the organisation and would be responsible for assisting in the long-term development of the Union, assuming administrative and financial duties. “One of my priorities between now and the end of the year is to hire a General Manager; it’s part of an overall refocusing of our resources and our structures,” stated Students’ Union President Pat de Brún, “it’s essentially moving towards having better staff structures and better continuity. I think it’s an important role; most well-developed students’ unions across the UK and Ireland have general manager roles.” One of the main reasons for hiring a manager would be to increase support for sabbatical officers, “in order to strengthen the SU”, explains de Brún. “In the past a lot of our focus has gone on officer budgets, where the backup and the staff support for the officers have not been good enough”. [The General Manager] can help from officer training to the commercial aspects, to just having cohesion and some level of continuity in some sort, for long-term projects.” There is currently no General Manager in place, although a Commercial Manager has been hired on
a short-term basis. The Commercial Manager and the SU President are currently carrying out the majority of what will become the General Manager’s responsibilities. “It wouldn’t be suitable to expect the SU President to do this next year or any year after that. I don’t think it’s the focus that we should have”, de Brún said. The addition of a General Manager does not require the Union’s Constitutional referendum to pass, although de Brún hopes that a combination of the two would resolve many of the financial issues surrounding the Union. “If the constitution passes, the financial responsibilities will be clearly laid out. The Finance Committee and the President are ultimately responsible, not the staff members, [and the General Manager is responsible] in terms of the administrations of finances. It’s separate from the Constitution but I would like to view it as part of all of this new change.” The job will be open to applicants both inside and outside the University. Advertising for the position will begin shortly, and interviews will be carried out before the end of term. “There are a lot of good people out there, so hopefully the calibre of candidates will be good”, commented de Brún. The General Manager contract has yet to be finalised but would be likely to last three to five years.
The University Observer · 28 February 2012
Students’ Union Subsidy on STI tests runs out by Katie Hughes · News Editor
The Students’ Union budget allocated to subsidising the STI screening tests has run out. The Union subsidised 250 checks by thirty euro each this year, leaving students to pay the remaining fifty euro. Students’ Union President Pat de Brún stated that the subsidy was smaller than in previous years, “we still subsidised [the STI screening cost] this year but we had to reduce the number of subsidies we could give; unfortunately as we’ve said many times before, our main priority is not to let frontline services be affected and unfortunately they are, but proportionally they’ve been less affected than other areas.” The subsidy expired slightly later in 2011, but this was not due to the amount of funding provided by the Students’ Union. There was a higher demand for STI screening tests this year; the clinics that were run on Wednesday were consistently full, meaning that additional clinics had to be operated on Friday, which led to a substantially quicker depletion in subsidy funding. Due to budgetary constraints, thirty euro per person was subsidised this year as opposed to forty euro last year. As of February 1st, students are expected to pay the full eighty euro fee for the medical consultation themselves, as a medical card does not cover the appointment. Should the student not turn up or cancel a booked appointment, they will be charged twenty euro. According to a recent Union of Students in Ireland (USI) survey of 1,000 students, eighty-six per cent were sexually active, with seventy-four per cent having had unprotected sex and seventy per cent never having had an STI test.
The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is supporting three students who are seeking judicial review of the Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn’s decision to change the qualification criteria for the Non-Adjacent Maintenance Grant from a student’s home residence being twenty-four to forty-five kilometres away from their respective academic institution, as well as to abolish the automatic entitlement of mature students to the non-adjacent rate. The students seeking the judicial review are Galway-Mayo IT mature student Iesha Rowan, NUI Galway student Medb McCarthy, and Dundalk IT student Robert Johnson. Both of these changes are not being imposed solely on students who are about to enter the system, but on those who are already in the system, which is one of the main grounds of the judicial review. USI Deputy President Colm Murphy explains that when changes are normally made to the grant scheme,
High Court rules that UCC to make ex-gratia payment to former employee
Photographer: Caoimhe McDonnell
This survey was carried out prior to Sexual Health Advice and Guidance (SHAG) week, which took place in many colleges and universities across Ireland, including UCD, the week beginning February 13th. 40,000 SHAG packs were distributed during this week, each of which contained, among other things, information on contraception. USI President, Gary Redmond, stated that sexual health is an “integral” part of student health, “there has been
a dramatic rise in the numbers of STIs reported in Ireland. Talking about sexrelated issues is still a taboo subject in Ireland and we want to break through these barriers and encourage people to practice safer sex and to look after their sexual health.” The Acting Director of the HSE Crisis Pregnancy Program, which supported the campaign, Dr Stephanie O’Keeffe explained that “Research tells us that eighteen to twenty-four– year-olds know about the importance
of using contraception, but fail to use it consistently and often take risks, particularly when sex is not planned for … By distributing sexual health information and condoms, we aim to educate, provoke thought and heighten risk awareness among students. It is critical that sexually active adults take responsibility for using condoms and other contraceptive methods correctly and consistently to help prevent an unplanned pregnancy and protect against STIs.”
it is only for incoming students, “for example, in relation to the cuts in the Postgraduate Grant that happened in Budget 2012, those cuts affected students who would have been new entrants to the system in September this year. This, unusually, cut people who are already in the system.” USI are arguing that the students had a legitimate expectation that the criteria for grants would not have changed. A provision exists within the new Student Support Act that the legal team are arguing prevents the Minister from making such changes in the first place. “We’re not arguing that the Minister does not have the right to change the rates, clearly he does … Never before in the history of the grant system, which is about forty years old, has distance criteria been changed. For a student who is on the absolute top rate of the grant, one would have to be on a reckonable income of €22,703 or less, some or all of which would have to be part of a specified social welfare payment, so you are talking about the most vulnera-
ble of students … Mature students were automatically on the non-adjacent rate in view of the fact that mature students in general would have other commitments that other traditional students wouldn’t have in the way of child-care, expenses of running of a family.” USI are supporting the three students and the case itself, “we’re providing the knowledge, expertise, and institutional knowledge to the legal team as obviously they would not be as familiar as we would be with the history of the grant system.” Murphy insists that USI’s role in the case has been extensive, “the Minister has sent back a lot of replying affidavits and we’ve worked extensively with the legal team to formulate responses to those. Myself and Gary were in court on Thursday and Friday assisting the legal team in making the case.” Mr. Justice Hedigan has been assigned to the case. The case was heard on February 23rd and 24th and a verdict is expected back soon, though may take over a week.
UCD Students’ Union Postgraduate Officer Martin Lawless proposed a motion for the President and Vice-Presidents of UCDSU to petition the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) to lobby the Government on the potential introduction of a postgraduate loan scheme at a recent UCDSU Council meeting, held on February 14th. Lawless proposed the same motion at last year’s USI National Congress, and states that “The USI fundamentally said they would do something” about a postgraduate loan scheme being introduced and that he has “no evidence to say that anything has happened” on the issue in the eleven months since the USI Congress. Lawless initially proposed the mo-
tion at Congress because he had “an inkling” that the new Fine Gael-Labour coalition government “were going to introduce some cuts, particularly in education grants,” despite UCDSU having “negotiated a fee structure in UCD, which would work over a three-year period” expiring after the 2012-2013 academic year. With regards to USI’s lack of progress on the issue of postgraduate loans, USI Campaigns Officer Colm Murphy said, “Over the past couple of days, the President [of USI, Gary Redmond] and myself were in the High Court, and we’ve had informal discussions with some people from the Department [of Education and Skills], but it primarily comes within Aengus’ [Ó Maoláin, USI Education Officer] brief” and that he knows “Aengus
has been working on it.” Now that the issue has been put down as an Executive motion, Lawless hopes to “form a subcommittee” and talk to commercial banks, the UCD Admissions office, and some government departments, although he has been “informed that the departments won’t talk to us, because we’re not part of USI.” UCDSU Education Officer Sam Geoghegan says he is exhausting alternatives and would hope to possibly echo a similar scheme in place at Dublin City University (DCU), although that would not be the ideal solution in his mind. “DCU have a scheme with Bank of Ireland. Unfortunately, we can’t Freedom of Information the actual logistics and how it works and the feasibility of it, but I’m sure a commercial bank would
In a ruling issued on February 16th by the High Court, University College Cork (UCC) lost its appeal in a case it brought forward regarding the treatment of fixed-term contracts. A previous Labout Court decision was upheld by the ruling given by Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, which directed UCC to make an ex-gratia payment to a fixed-term worker, Dr Naomi Bushin, who had been made redundant. Dr Bushin had been employed as a full-time researcher working on a project funded by the European Union between 2006 and 2009. Following the completion of this project, she was made redundant and consequently received statutory redundancy entitlement. However, Dr Bushin argued that by not receiving an ex-gratia payment, she was not treated as fairly as a comparable permanent employee. The Labour Court used an employee from the third level sector to make this comparison. Following this, the Labour Court ordered UCC to pay Dr Bushin an ex-gratia payment of four weeks per year as well as statutory redundancy entitlement. In its appeal of the decision to the High Court, UCC argues that there was no comparable permanent employee available as no permanent employees had been made redundant. The Irish Federation of University Teachers were happy with the outcome, stating that it would set a precedent for other third-level employees.
Protest against education cuts to be held in Galway on February 29th
Photographer: David Nowak
Postgraduate Officer lobbies for USI action on potential postgraduate loan system by George Morahan
News in Brief by Katie Hughes · News Editor
USI supports students in case against Minister for Education by Katie Hughes · News Editor
A march against all cuts to educational services is being held in Galway on February 29th. The march will commence at the NUIG campus and will continue to Eyre Square, where a rally will take place and Fine Gael TD, Brian Walsh, will be presented with a black wreath to symbolise the death of Irish Education. Secondary schools, teachers and parents, as well as students and anybody else affected by education cuts, have been invited to take part in the event. Organiser of the march, William O’Brien, stated that “we’re trying very hard to position this as a general march against all education cuts, it’s not just third level. We’re trying to get everybody involved with this. “It’s a solidarity march to assert the masses of people in the country that are firmly against education cuts. They’re all being affected in individual little ways and we’re trying to address this and look at the big picture and get everyone involved … I’m getting a very good reception from the people I’m talking to, especially secondary school kids and their parents – an awful lot of their parents are very supportive of the march. These are the people that suffer most under education cuts – they generally have to pick up the bill at the end of it.” Various other events will take place across the country on Wednesday as part of Free Education for Everyone’s (FEE) national day of action against education cuts.
Blood donation service great success be interested in such a scheme ... We want a nationwide scheme [not just one set-up exclusively for UCD].” Geoghegan was critical of USI’s handling of the situation, stating, “There was very little mention of it, if at all, in the first half of the year ... It needs to speed up, especially with Congress in the next five or six weeks,” while Lawless said “We don’t have anything to offer [incoming postgraduate students], and I think that is a tragedy.” Currently, incoming postgraduate students who would have otherwise qualified for a special rate of grant will continue to have their fees paid to the previous limit of 6,270 euro next year, and the next 4,000 most vulnerable students will receive a 2,000 euro contribution towards their fees.
541 students donated blood to the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) during their five-day stay in the Astra Hall last week. Clinical Nurse Manager, Aileen Tevlin, described this turnout as “fabulous”. She explained that the turn-out was lower the last time the IBTS was in UCD due to signs advertising the event not being displayed correctly, leading to students being unaware that the donation clinic was taking place. The IBTS come to UCD twice every academic year, once in September or October and again shortly before exams. They do not come directly after the summer as students who visit the United States are unable to donate blood for twenty-eight days following their return. Overall, Ms Tevlin says that the event was a great success, with an exceptional turnout from students, “we’ve been very busy, it’s been a really great week.”
The University Observer · 28 February 2012
News in Brief by Chris Green
$165 billion for student aid in USA President Obama’s 2013 budget proposal was outlined on February 13th with $165 billion earmarked as federal student aid for those in higher education, an $11.5 billion increase on the previous year. The expenditures are forecast to include $36.1 billion in Pell Grants, $1.1 billion in Federal Work Study assistance and $8.5 billion for the Perkins Loan Program. This combination of programs constitutes the backbone of federal support for students in higher education in the United States. Accessibility of federal funding will, however, be subject to Obama’s Race to the Top programme and a university’s eligibility to receive the funds will depend on factors such as fees, graduation rates, student loan repayments, average student debt, and graduate earning potential. In conjunction with budgetary proposals, Obama has appealed to Congress to extend the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, which caps interest rates on student loan repayments at 3.5 per cent. Were the act to expire, as forecast, on July 1st, interest rates could rise to 6.8 per cent. With Obama’s budget facing a political impasse, there is little expectation that the provisions for higher education will be passed or that the Student Aid Act will be renewed.
Cambridge University students to go to tribunal over unpaid wages Forty-one Cambridge University students have taken the director of the Cambridge College Program Taryn Edwards, to a UK Employment Tribunal in an effort to recover thousands of pounds they claim they are owed for summer work in 2011. As the tribunal operates outside of the court system, it lacks the ability to directly extract payment from the American registered company. However, students are also seeking an official condemnation from the CUSU in order to dissuade potential staff from participating in the program, which is scheduled to run again in summer 2012. According to its website, the goal of the programme is to “not only offer challenging academic courses, but also to incorporate an in-depth course study through lectures and excursions to expose scholars to both cultural and historic venues, which will broaden their horizons during their stay in England.” The target scholars are “high-school age” students who seek to participate in educational and cultural activities in the UK during the summer while the staff are partly recruited from the university student population. Ms Edwards is additionally alleged to owe payments to several other colleges and organisations within Cambridge for services such as accommodation, while also accused of delayed payment to staff in both Cambridge and Oxford in the past, according to the Cambridge University newspaper, the Cambridge Student.
Photographer: Caoimhe McDonnell
Fashion Show raises over €5,000 for Marc Owens Medical Fund by Catherine Murnane
The Fashion Show took place in O’Reilly Hall on February 21st and 22nd. Over 1,100 tickets were sold for the two nights and over 5,000 euro was raised for the Marc Owens Medical Fund. The scenes of the shows were organised into decades, with each one recreating the style of that era. The 180 outfits that appeared on the catwalk were styled by Roxanne Parker and sourced
from a variety of stores including Penneys, Forever 21, BlackTie and new Irish online fashion store iclothing.ie. A variety of dance acts, ranging from ballet to hip-hop, were also incorporated into the theme of the show. The forty dancers involved were members of UCD’s DanceSoc and were choreographed with the assistance of Donking Rongavilla from RTÉ’s reality show Ballet Chancers. A section of the show was also dedi-
cated to up and coming designers, with Maria Lola Roche being awarded the title of Key Capital Young Irish Designer of the Year for her piece, winning a photoshoot with photographer German Collins. Model of the Year was won by Aine Quirke and Oisin Tracey, who received one year contracts with Assets. Event Manager, Jason Masterson, recognised this year’s show as “the most financially successful in the last five years.” With the assistance of the
Newman Fund, along with Champion Sports and Key Capital stepping in as major sponsors, the Fashion Show was capable of being run without any financial assistance from the Students’ Union. The charitable aspect of the show was highlighted by Paddy Casey’s decision to waive his entire fee for the show in order to donate it the Marc Owens Medical Fund. Casey opened the second half of the show on both nights.
Observ er vox pops Will you be voting in the upcoming elections?
“Yes, because I was at the Students’ “I hadn’t planned on voting. I haven’t really paid Union centre and they had debates attention … I haven’t seen how many people are and stuff running for president. There was one girl but I “Yeah, because Lost & Found goes online yesterday and I can’t remember her name and she was the only if you don’t found it really one I know Security personnel at the University of “I am yes. “What election? people will British Columbia have established an interesting so so I don’t online inventory of lost and found items I think Seriously, I’d no annoy you if yeah I will. We know if I’ll in order to help students locate mislaid power to the idea there was you haven’t got belongings. all have a voice.” bother.” Having begun as a BlogSpot initiaproletariat” an election.” a sticker.” tive, the inventory has, according to
staff, become a full time job. With over 1,000 items lost on campus per month, the site has proven extremely popular with students and boasted 6,000 hits in January alone. Manager of community relations for UBC Security Paul Wong, believes the site’s appeal lies in its round-the-clock accessibility. “Two in the morning, you’re studying and you realise something goes missing, you can go online and you can search it. “Sometimes it’s only an hour between lunch you’ve got some time off, so to have to rush over here and be able to report something or to see if something has been found is sometimes a bit challenging.” Possessions which fail to be reunited with their owners are sold, with proceeds donated to United Way, a volunteering organisation which helps community organisations that tackle local problems and issues.
“I guess I will but I’m not really that bothered about it. I don’t think it makes a difference who’s in office. It doesn’t matter.”
Darragh Waters Thomas Cloney
1st Year Midwifery
3rd Year Medicine
4th Year Engineering
2nd Year Commerce
2nd Year Neuroscience
2nd Year Irish & Geography
Voxpops by denis vaughan · Photographs by Conor O’Toole
The University Observer · 28 February 2012
Observer Features firstname.lastname@example.org
With ever-mounting discussions being held on the impact of new media on legacy media outlets, Aoife Valentine examines the continually changing face of modern journalism
he death of journalism as we know it has been predicted for decades, and as we see increasingly well-developed technologies and tools available within the sphere of modern media, it is not exactly ludicrous to believe that such a death is very much within the realms of possibility. With an increase in online media sources and a growing pressure to get the story online as quickly as possible, legacy or traditional media outlets have had to find ways to alter their operations to keep up with their audiences’ demands. It is not the case that media outlets didn’t see the internet coming their way; they did, and a mile off at that. The problem was that rather than embracing and adapting to the changes, all the strategies to deal with these problems were intended to preserve ‘old’ media and failed to take into account that the old newspaper model just wouldn’t cut it, especially not with the capacity for rapid development available in the digital arena. With many questions about how best to monetise online media, and uncertainty looming over the relevance of legacy media in this day and age, it has been sounding alarm bells for journalists for many years now. It has been argued that what worked in the past still works now, just on another platform, or that society doesn’t in fact need newspapers, it simply needs journalism in whatever form that takes.
“Phrasing the debate as ‘old versus new’ media is now moot. It’s all journalism and the future of it is undoubtedly online … Journalism is in a transition phase and it is frightening but it is also exciting”
Editor of TheJournal.ie
Susan Daly, Editor of TheJournal. ie, an online-only Irish news source, believes, despite many concerns within traditional media circles about moving completely away from print media, that online is the best option in today’s market. “The very fact we have chosen to be an online publication from the beginning shows that we have already made our mind up about the most advantageous platform for news and analysis. I have a lot of sympathy for newspapers and what has been referred to as ‘the innovator’s dilemma’, where disruptive technology, such as the internet, or innovation (online news) makes their traditional revenue model less lucrative – but the jump needed to pursue that innovation, and possibly secure their future, means taking a major leap of faith.” Long-form investigative journalist Anthony Summers appreciates what the internet and social media have to offer the profession as a whole, but is less sure about whether it is a positive change in his line of work. “The internet, communication’s miracle, has freed us all but … the internet and electronic media are gnawing away at the
Once the height of newspaper production technology, the Linotype machine became obsolete in the in 1960s with the introduction of computer operated typesetting. core business of in-depth investigative reporting. The old media, the real intelligence is going; some would say it’s already gone, replaced with surface or superficial reporting. It’s not that the market between [book] covers has been condemned to extinction, but it’s been swept to the sidelines by an industry that exists on the assumption that technology is best … I think the book is really well suited [to investigative journalism] and the internet would be really well suited if you had the freedom and budget to produce the material.” One of the most commonly discussed problems with online media is the speed at which it is expected to move to keep up with everything happening across the globe. In an environment where you are uninhibited by distribution schedules, it has become the norm for reports of a breaking story to begin filtering through much earlier than is possible with print media. Daly is quick to agree, stating, “The emphasis on being first with the news is certainly there, and sites like ours, which pride themselves on getting news to people in a timely manner, have to still maintain a responsible attitude to only publishing information … I think it has actually made journalism more transparent. Certainly journalists are under pressure to produce multi-platform content in as efficient a manner as possible, but the real pressure, I think, comes from having to be absolutely able to stand over content before you publish it.” She continues, “I don’t think quality has dropped because of it, I think it’s just made much clearer when someone has made a mistake. There’s a great deal more accountability driven by the fact online users have a voice.” Paul McNamara, course co-ordinator for the MA in Journalism in DCU, is less convinced that speed and good quality journalism are so easily linked. “The speed can result in the journalistic process being foreshortened in various ways, and the full and professional vetting of copy may not take place and when there’s great speed, sometimes errors arise that shouldn’t, and it puts additional pressure on report-
“The internet and electronic media are gnawing away at the core business of indepth investigative reporting. The old media, the real intelligence is going, some would say it’s already gone, replaced with surface or superficial reporting”
investigative journalist and author
ers … The temptation with online media is to put stuff up as fast as you get it, which is quite problematic… [With] an online news service, you simply hit a button and it’s out in the world, so issues can arise there.” Summers has also felt the effects of increased expectations with evertightening deadlines. “With long-form investigative non-fiction writing, it takes a long time and is expensive, and now I find them saying ‘Well they want you to do the same stuff, but they want you to do it in two years.’ They want us to deliver the same stuff in two years and the system can’t do it. My best hope is that somehow society will see that you’re getting an awful lot of crap on the internet – not that all internet is crap – but a lot of crap is being generated.” It has often been argued, notably when blogs and online news sources were beginning to gain popularity, that without traditional news outlets their websites would have been left
devoid of content, and in many ways, not a lot has changed. There often remains a distinct over-reliance on the Associated Press (AP) and other news sources, with many sites simply reproducing others’ content constantly with little or no creative input of their own. McNamara is distinctly against these kinds of practices on many grounds. “If you wanted to categorise them as ones that are heavily dependent on content that has been generated elsewhere and those who create their own content, yes, there is a heavy reliance, and very frequently there is no relationship between the originators of the content and the people who then regurgitate it online and frankly, that is the equivalent of the stealing of content generated by others at great cost … Yes, there are others who engage in the original generation of content, they’re a different group entirely. Depending on the skills of the individuals involved, they can produce a product of varying quality and some of it is very good indeed.” Daly, as the editor of a sixteenmonth-old start-up, is a little more sympathetic and while she emphasises their use of social media and socalled ‘citizen journalists’, she doesn’t deny a degree of reliance on the AP herself. “We don’t have International Bureaux, [sic] and it is worth remembering that the beauty of AP is that it is a co-operative movement of news reporters and outlets on the ground in countries all over the world. That information is a great backbone for international news.” However, when the University Observer speaks to Summers, he is keen to emphasis the key role of face-to-face communication, rather than relying on other sources, particularly relevant in the case of citizen journalists. “Right now we are having better communication with each other, because you are here and I am here, than we would if you had interviewed me on the telephone, even. It’s just a truth of human nature; being on the spot is vastly more valuable. There’s nothing like doing it in person; just because you can do things electronically, doesn’t mean that’s how one should do it.”
With alarm bells ringing and talks of crises in journalism, it would be easy to see how the impact of modern media may have become hyperbolic or overstated along the way. McNamara is quick to agree, stating, “There is a tendency to exaggerate it, most especially by those who are in that area, who are pushing it quite hard. I think the bedrock of news currently is around the legacy media that has been around for centuries, where established routines have been worked out and levels of professional journalism are present.” Daly however, is not sure there even needs to be a distinction between the two anymore. “Phrasing the debate as ‘old versus new’ media is now moot. It’s all journalism and the future of it is undoubtedly online … I think we have new models of discovery and publishing and co-operation to take advantage of. Journalism is in a transition phase, and it is frightening, but it is also exciting.” It is clear that print media outlets are still very much doing a large portion of the heavy lifting, and while operating under the classic newspaper business model, advertisement revenue is slipping away constantly, as the model is undercut by online media sources moving in every day. It remains the case however, that online audiences are growing faster than print reader numbers are dropping off, and while there is infinitely more space and scope for content and analysis online, there is equally more
“The bedrock of news currently is around the legacy media that it has been around for centuries, where established routines have been worked out and levels of professional journalism are present”
course co-ordinator for Journalism MA in DCU
room for what can simply be classed as noise. The two mediums are not binary opposites and to pitch them against one another, as is often done, is somewhat unfair. The fundamentals of journalism do not change when you change platforms; standards and practices must remain the same, whether in relation to accuracy, truthfulness, or basic standards of taste and decency. Credibility is painstakingly gained and very easily lost, meaning the editorial rigors applied to print media should equally be applied to media in any other form. For the moment, the situation is not optimal by any stretch, and it is likely to get distinctly more unpleasant before real solutions come to fruition. However, this is not the beginning; journalism has already come quite a long way in dealing with the impacts of modern media on its operations, and rather than concentrate on how to keep the past alive for another couple of years, it would perhaps be more productive for it to evolve and adapt while setting its sights on the future.
The University Observer · 28 February 2012
Eye on Ireland
In the leadup to St. Patrick’s Day, Jason Quigley investigates how Ireland is perceived abroad in 2012
ho are the Irish? Defining any large group of people is difficult, “It’s a case of ‘far and when you away hills are green’. get to national scales, it beAnd sometimes with comes nigh on impossible. Still, we French people, when are fascinated by identity and are determined to try; there is even a whole they visit Ireland, genre of jokes devoted to the practice. they’re looking Needless to say most of these descriptions of a country are simplistic at best. forward to traditional For example, the Scottish are allegedly live music sessions, cheapskates; the English are apparently posh; and the French are supposedly which you can find a bit stuck-up. Living in a particular in a lot of parts of country, however, it is quite difficult to see how others perceive us. In light Ireland but I think of these stereotypes, it is interesting sometimes they’re a to explore how the Irish are portrayed abroad and how, if at all, this differs bit disappointed when from Irish portrayals of their own identhey go into a bar and tity. Laura Kessler and Rosalía Cárdenas some guys are playing Monsalve are both recent arrivals to cover versions of pop Ireland, but had different expectations of the country. Kessler, a third year songs” History student on exchange in UCD from the University of North Carolina, was of the view that Irish culture was “very lyrical”, with the country overall being “so pretty, it might sound really stupid, but I thought the language was so beautiful, and I’d always have IreEoin land calendars and wanted to go there Campbell, since I’ve been in college.” She says teacher in a French that Ireland has proven to be as beauuniversity tiful as she expected. “It’s so lush here, at home now all the trees are dead and the grass is brown … even on the ugli- A man dressed as a leprechaun beside Molly Malone. He poses for photographs with tourists, a service so popular est days it’s so pretty outside.” As for that a second leprechaun has since joined him. Ireland being lyrical, Kessler admits to being slightly disappointed. “It’s really in my life.” She continued, explaining of parts of Ireland but I think someMathews warns that, although vicHe goes on to describe the portrayal cool to hear the music on the streets “there was this girl that was telling me times they’re a bit disappointed when tims of discrimination when emigrat- of “the Irish character, particularly the and stuff, because it’s not done as much this story, I told her I’m from Columbia they go into a bar and some guys are ing in the past, the Irish still remain Irish male, as slightly unconventional, around where I’m from. I really enjoy and she told me ‘Oh I have a friend that playing cover versions of pop songs.” suspicious of immigration. “Even in our rugged, poetic, not necessarily the most Campbell got involved in a GAA as- own time here in Ireland the language ruthlessly ambitious in the world, but being on Grafton Street, hearing peo- is from Columbia too, and I always call ple play but otherwise the music is a lot him Mexican’ And he asked her ‘why sociation in Lyon and, when asked if around certain immigrant groups is wants to enjoy life, has a loyalty to him of top forties.” do you call me Mexican? I’m from Co- he now enjoyed Irish music and dance something which is not too far back in some way.” Good examples of this Cárdenas Monsalve, Vice President lumbia!’ and she said ‘Oh but I thought more, he said “yeah, I’d say so ... we’re from the actual Irish [experience of can be seen in the movies Leap Year or for Business Development of AIESEC Columbia was in Mexico…’ and she was possibly more proud of it when we emigration], it’s something that always PS I Love You. Back during the Celtic in Ireland and originally from Barran- an Irish student in DCU or UCD.” On move abroad.” Campbell explains that kind of infuriates me. In terms of how Tiger years “there was a kind of glitzy quilla Colombia, had fewer preconcep- the flipside, she has also encountered the Irish expat community integrates people relate to immigrant groups here Irishness, kind of ties in with the whole tions. “My knowledge about Ireland “many people, also Europeans, who well but continues to look out for their mirrors the way in which the Irish Riverdance phenomena, which tended was very low, what I knew is like, the confuse the UK with Ireland and they own. “When I arrived … they were the were often treated in other locales back to attract global attention. There were weather was not the best, that it was don’t know about the Republic of Ire- biggest help to me… you do end up look- in the 1950s so we should know better … also other things that didn’t stand the ing after your own, and since I’ve be- It’s a huge irony.” very rainy, and there’s a lot of green land and think it’s in the UK.” test of time. spaces. That was the only thing I knew On the other hand, there is also of“I think there is a tendency for culAs for Kessler, she felt the Irish come more established here, I’ve done about Ireland before coming.” ten a certain nostalgic ‘Oirish’ vision ture and marketing to get confused and people she had met knew about “Po- the same for new people arriving.” St Patricks Day in Lyon, he feels is of Irish identity, the Americanised ver- in a way, that happened during the TiBoth found Irish people to be very litical [issues] yes, but I don’t know if friendly but also felt a certain degree they know as much about social issues, “the biggest student night of the year sion that has often irked many an Irish ger years. It has kind of happened with of culture shock. Cárdenas Monsalve about welfare or immigration.” She now, it’s established as Saint Patrick’s person. However, Mathews gave it an the new guys too, you often hear the was particularly surprised at Irish laments that “not a lot people knew Night, and if you go into the old part of interesting spin. “The function of Ha- government saying, ‘we need our artgirls “wearing very short dresses … where North Carolina is actually … and the town with the bars and the clubs waii in American culture and the func- ists to help to dig ourselves out of this [In Colombia] we wear a lot of short a lot of other people assumed I was like and all that, it’s a sea of Irish tricolours tion of Ireland in American culture hole, for the artists and writers to go dresses too, but in my city it’s thirty de- a redneck, and that was kind of funny.” and shamrocks. It’s quite amusing to out there and sell Ireland’. I’m not too grees.” In a strange quirk, Kessler was She explained that most people “knew see to be honest, if you go abroad there sure, I think there are dangers associ“[Ireland is] so pretty, also perplexed about how certain Irish the major stereotypes” but these were are places you expect to see that, like ated with that. Culture, literature and girls can wear so little on a night out. “I not exactly part of a “nuanced” overall New York or Boston, or even London, theatre shouldn’t necessarily be coterit might sound really but I did not expect to see it in Lyon.” mean it’s twenty degrees [Fahrenheit] view. minous with a project for marketing an stupid, but I thought Interestingly, Cárdenas Monsalve out, it’s freezing!” economy. We need to be careful before Perceptions of culture often change When asked how Irish people per- after exposure to another form of cul- and Kessler both felt that St. Patrick’s … sending off our writers to do that kind the language was ceived their country of origin, Cárde- ture. For Eoin Campbell, a teacher in a Day was a relatively minor holiday of work. Many of them will balk at that, so beautiful, and I’d nas Monsalve said that the common French university but originally hail- where they were from, being primarily and see that it’s not their role to marperception of Colombia was “cocaine or ing from Belfast, this was certainly the just another night out, with the caveat, ket, it’s their role to hold a mirror up always have Ireland something like that. I can’t blame them, case. He feels that in Ireland “I think according to Kessler, that everyone to society and show the problems and calendars and wanted it’s the only thing that appears in the young people, they reject traditional “wear something green.” the issues and so forth that we need to There is a perception among some newspapers. What I can say is that it’s Irish culture a little bit … Heineken confront.” to go there since I’ve not like that, I’ve never seen cocaine for example, that’s just considered a that Ireland is less cosmopolitan than It is clear that, both at home and been in college” other countries, but Campbell didn’t abroad, there remains two broad confeel this was the case with France. ceptions of Irish culture that compete “Irish people look at the French and for primacy. However, while focus“Even in our own time here in Ireland the they say ‘they’re so cultured, they’re so ing on national identity is certainly language around certain immigrant groups is cosmopolitan’ but you’d be surprised at interesting, Mathews offers a valid how many French men are only interwarning. “Sometimes people say that something which is not too far back from the ested in things that are French. They there’s too much emphasis on the actual Irish [experience of emigration], it’s Laura can be very ignorant about foreign cuiidentity [in Ireland] in the sense that, Kessler, sine. For example, many French men oftentimes, within Irishness there’s something that always kind of infuriates me. In exchange student will never touch a curry.” other kind of issues that don’t surface terms of how people relate to immigrant groups from the According to Dr PJ Mathews, a lecif you just talk about national identity University of North Carolina turer in Anglo Irish literature in UCD’s all the time.” He makes the point that here mirrors the way in which the Irish were School of English, Drama and Film, Irish focusing on the unity of being Irish often treated in other locales back in the 1950s identity has long been associated with allows us to evade more difficult quesnegative perceptions. “From the earliest seems to be very similar, and it seems tions regarding other “difficult quesso we should know better … It’s a huge irony” times, Ireland and the Irish people have to me that in some ways Hawaii ... Ha- tions” of our society, such as differhad to deal with negative stereotypes in waii pops up so much, in the Elvis mov- ences in class. bog standard beer, whereas for me, if English language literature. From the ies are the most obvious example … it’s While Irish stereotypes are well I’m around Dublin, people will tell you time of Shakespeare onwards when Irish almost like an extreme version of the known and occasionally ring painfully ‘well a pint of vitamin H, it’s the best people appear in literary texts, they tend west coast experience and it seems to true, it is difficult to define the true stuff in the world.’ Whereas over here to have a number of … negative charac- me that Ireland is the extreme version characteristics of the modern Irish they consider Guinness a world-class teristics attributed to them, usually to of the east coast experience, in a way. persona. Yet considering how many of PJ Mathews, beer … It’s a case of ‘far away hills are do with violence or inability to speak the And in a sense when you get movies us cringe at the arrogance of the Celtic UCD Lecturer green’. And sometimes with French English language properly or drunken- like The Quiet Man, made about Ireland Tiger era and the brash paddywhackin Anglo Irish literature people, when they visit Ireland, they’re ness; these are the characteristics that … It’s really not about Ireland, it’s about ery touted by the Irish tourism induslooking forward to traditional live mu- tend to come up repeatedly well into the America’s sense of its origins, rather try, perhaps a little mystery is exactly than what Ireland is really like.” sic sessions, which you can find in a lot nineteenth century.” what we need.
The University Observer · 28 February 2012
Postcards from Abroad
As Anna Burzlaff says goodbye to some close and not so close friends, she reflects on what she’s learnt so far from her in time in Berlin
oodbye can be a difficult word to say. As much as Erasmus is an opportunity to say hello to a new life, new experiences, and new people, oftentimes it can be shadowed by the fact that in six months or a year you will have to bid a fond farewell to it all. I am lucky enough to have had the chance to study in Berlin for a year. However, for many, this week has been their last as inhabitants of the German capital. On Valentine’s Day, instead of following my usual tradition of renting Thelma and Louise and feeling pathetically sorry for myself, I opted to attend a farewell dinner for two Dutch friends. The two girls had prepared a delightful three-course meal and supplied ample alcohol to ensure we all left the apartment jolly, upbeat, and committing several ungraceful trips and falls when
the time came to head home. Before I found myself in a state of inebriation, I was capable of noticing that for the first time in months I was reunited with my original group of friends from September; the group of friends I had met at my pre-semester language course and with whom I had shared my first experiences of Berlin. The dinner was the perfect opportunity to catch up and reflect on all that had changed in Berlin since those early Erasmus days. When I sat down to write this article I thought it would be an appropriate time for reflection, not least because it will be the last time you hear from me. Yet I found this, the feeling, was perhaps premature. I am not leaving Berlin, and therefore making any assessment as to how it has influenced or changed me would be presumptuous. Nevertheless, amidst the haze of goodbyes and tearful parting hugs, I cannot
help feeling thoughtful, and considering the events that have come to pass since September.
I would be lying if I said that Valentine’s Day at my estranged friends’ apartment was my first choice for the evening. Naturally it trumped a lonely night in with only Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis, and my bitter tears for company. On the other hand, I would undoubtedly have preferred dinner with my much closer group of friends instead. A feeling of obligation more than desire brought me to the Dutch girls’ dinner party. I had not seen many of the attendees for months and there were sporadic moments of palpable discomfort throughout the night; reminders of how little time we all now spend together and how many of us have moved on to newer and shinier things. One of the greatest aspects of a study year abroad is the openness of the people. You find yourself more easygoing than ever as you give out and accept invites for things you would never dare agree to back home. You often find yourself spending time with people you have very little in common with, or perhaps aren’t even particularly fond of, but you say ‘to hell with it’ because you’re on Erasmus. As time develops and you grow more accustomed to your surroundings you begin to find your feet personally, academically and socially. I have been lucky enough to have found myself a group of friends that have become nothing less than a second family to me. However, my social circle did not form instantly and at many stages throughout my time here,
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I found myself feeling alone and worried that things would not work out. It has been the city itself that often provided me with the greatest solace and companionship. Its never-ending stream of exhibitions, litany of cafés, and innumerable charming bars have not just given me a way to pass my Sunday afternoons and evenings; they have introduced me to new people and solidified my friendships. When I read over my first article on my initial impressions of Berlin I still feel as passionately about the city. Perhaps the summer months will cause that passion to fade, but I think if over sixty days of cold winds, snow, and minimum daylight hours have failed to diminish my excitement, summer evenings spent drinking beer will only add to my love of Berlin. Hearing the clink of bottles as I toast to some of my closest, and not so close, friends’ time in Berlin and their imminent departures, I feel extremely relieved that my days in the city are not quite so numbered. If I were to assess the benefits of my experience here thus far; fantastic friends, a greater understanding and insight into countless things, and a new found confidence in myself would be but a few of the many progressions I have made since the beginning of autumn. Of course, there is a lot more to learn and see during the rest of my time in Berlin. Perhaps the most exciting aspect is indeed that it is only half over, and there is still so much more to come.
The University Observer · 28 February 2012
Catering to the wrong needs Photographer: Brian O’Leary
With the First Restaurant’s future up in the air, George Morahan speaks to its staff and examines whether privatisation is really the right course of action “It is a very lucrative business. This is a cash cow and completely sustainable”
ike many of the nation’s indebted institutions, UCD is in need of a sense of direction as it attempts to climb out of a hole dug by a reckless Celtic Tiger. The confusion over whether to progress as a public service or to adhere to pragmatic business sense is one that has stymied growth, and is no better exemplified than in the ongoing plight of the First Restaurant. The Restaurant is now the only catering service on campus that has not been put out to franchise after Kylemore bought the rights to every other restaurant and café, excluding those run by the Students’ Union, last summer. At this point it seems inevitable that the Restaurant will follow suit, despite the efforts of its staff and their argument for the maintenance of the status quo. In a note entitled ‘UCD – Where is the Love?’ that is plastered across the Restaurant, it is stated that outgoing Catering Services Manager Michael McCabe was assured that his contract would be “reviewed and extended” if he made the failing Restaurant profitable once more. McCabe himself explains the situation further. “It was a two-year contract, but it was conditional on three factors: sales being increased, costs being reduced and the overall deficit being reduced. All three of which have been achieved.
“The deficit would have come down from €470,000, which it was two years ago, to just over €100,000 at the moment. It has come down by almost €400,000, and it’s heading in the right direction.” In fact, McCabe states, “We expect the deficit to be eradicated by September – that’s what our figures would show.” Despite McCabe’s five-year plan clearly showing a turnaround, it appears that the University is intent on forcing the issue, and in McCabe’s professional opinion this would not be the right time to do so, “for a number of reasons.” “We have Olympic training camps, the Eucharistic Conference in June, which is a once-off event, and we have an international football tournament at the end of August, which is taking place in the Aviva Stadium.” All these events will require the space and services afforded by the Restaurant. “Even last November, if I was asked my opinion on whether this was the time to do it, I would have said no; the best time would be May 2013. At that stage, we only had seven bookings, whereas now we have fifty-eight confirmed bookings, and that’s outside of our day-to-day business.” UCD is riddled with problems beyond the financial, and surely academic shortages and administration issues should take precedence over the question of
the Restaurant’s ownership. If we view the Restaurant as a legitimate business instead of as solely providing a service for the staff and students of UCD, then it seems to make sense to unload one more problematic asset, so as to free up the University to focus on its most pressing issues. However, UCD’s handling of the situation deserves to be rigorously inter-
“They haven’t even bothered telling us who will be taking over [from McCabe]. There has been no consultation throughout the whole process”
Head Chef at the First Restaurant, UCD
outgoing UCD Catering Services Manager
rogated. UCD’s Commercial Manager Gary Moss declined the opportunity to The matter has been further complicomment on the Restaurant, stating that this was a “sensitive situation.” It ap- cated by UCD’s own plans and ambitions pears that this type of response typifies for the Gerard Manly Hopkins Centre, in which the Restaurant is located. McCabe worker-management relations. As Head Chef and Assistant Head argues that the removal of a conference Chef respectively, Gregory Whelan room with built-in audio-visual technoloand Brian Langsdorf have been left ex- gy to make way for the International Office asperated by Moss’ handling of the Res- staff has hindered his attempts to market taurant. The staff have been told they the Restaurant for external custom after will keep their jobs should the Restau- an initial spike in day-to-day business. Adrant be privatised, but they remain sus- ditionally, the moving of the sandwich bar picious of the uncommunicative man- from where the UCD College Collection agement. “They haven’t even bothered gift shop is currently situated to its present telling us who will be taking over [from position on the first floor has proven to be McCabe]. There has been no consulta- a negative decision. According to Langstion throughout the whole process,” dorf, “They used to take in €2,500 a day. says Whelan. “When we pushed that, The new one takes in €500-€800 a day; it we were told they didn’t have to answer doesn’t make economic sense,” he says. Despite UCD stating that it wished anymore,” he continues, while Langsdorf states, “It’s like there is a deliber- “to retain a catering service to meet the demands of its students and staff” in Noate policy to run the place in the red.” This is a sentiment echoed by McCabe, vember 2011, the staff seem certain that with regards to the Bursar’s Office and privatisation is the next step, and considHuman Resources, who decided against ering the Restaurant’s current prosperan extension of his contract. “There has ity, any move to privatise would be a step been a noticeable lack of communication backwards in McCabe’s mind. “We don’t at all stages of the process. Blame for the have the same level of overheads; we lack of communication doesn’t just rest don’t have the same level of commitment on [Moss’] shoulders, however, there’s in terms of having to pay back a fee to the a lack of communication from HR, and College, because we are the College ... It there’s a total absence of communication is a very lucrative business. This is a cash cow and is completely sustainable.” from the Bursar’s Office.”
Civil liberties up in smoke? With the possibility of a new anti-smoking scheme targeting smokers from disadvantaged areas being introduced, Krishna Srikumar explores the legitimacy of such selective measures
egislative attempts to combat and restrict smoking have traditionally either had limited success or none at all. Whilst there is a textured and convoluted history related to such laws, the link between smoking and cancer was only delineated in the second half of the twentieth century, beginning with a revolutionary study in 1950 by physiologist Richard Doll. Smoke-free laws only exerted considerable influence in Europe in this century, for example the 2004 Irish law that banned smoking in the workplace. Whilst that law did incite minor controversy, especially amongst publicans, it was still regarded as a massive breakthrough. Now, almost eight years later, waves are being made by a recent and more ambitious British scheme, which has already received the support of the Irish
“The more you tell children that [smoking] is something you can do as an adult, the more they want to do it”
Professor Eugene Milne,
Deputy Regional Director of the NHS North-East
Cancer Society (ICS). It is known as He argues that it doesn’t promote the FRESH (Smoke Free North-East) and “forbidden fruit value” of cigarettes as it was devised primarily to discontinue an elusive property only accessible to the influence of tobacco companies grown-ups. “The more you tell chiland black markets on the inhabitants dren that this is something you can do of largely impoverished towns in the as an adult, the more they want to do it.” north-east of England. The project’s This is, in his view, a cynical ploy detightly-organised media campaigns vised by tobacco companies and their and educational programmes have led supporters to clandestinely “recruit an to a decrease in the North-East’s adult immense number of smokers.” smoking rates. Its leading champion is Professor Eugene Milne, the Deputy “That’s pure Regional Director of the NHS Northintolerance, it’s East, who recently delivered the annual Charles Cully lecture for the ICS. anti-democratic in a Milne also met with a delegation comfree society and it’s prising of representatives of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Garda blatantly wrong” Photographer: Caoimhe McDonnell Síochana and Revenue Commissioners to discuss FRESH’s potential in Ireis predominantly directed by “middle tains “elements of social engineering” land. Milne, who is also the honorary class” interests and “expensive profes- and does not see the need to apologise clinical senior lecturer at the Institute sional lobbyists.” FRESH was, as far as for this. “There is a big social class graof Ageing and Health in Newcastle Unihe was concerned, a “big media event”, dient in smoking”, he argues, “one of versity, expressed gratitude towards expending vast quantities of money the problems for people from more deIrish counterparts and their advanceand imposing greater encroachments prived backgrounds who want to give ments, stating that “Ireland led the way John Mallon, on the individual agency of the smoker. up is that they are far more exposed to on things we were trying to do [for] a spokesperson for “That’s what’s wrong with them: they far more opportunities to fail. So quite decade or so; it’s good to have the kind Forest Éireann don’t want to see anyone smoking,” ar- a lot of what we’ve been doing is trying of mutual support in these things begues Mallon. “That’s pure intolerance, to support them in having the option of cause there is a lot that can be learned it’s anti-democratic in a free society giving up when they want to.” He does, from Ireland and the approaches it has taken.” This new scheme is still, under- and it’s blatantly wrong.” He continues, however, roundly reject the aforemenWithin FRESH’s expansive struc- standably, the subject of much con- stating, “these are unelected people de- tioned depictions of FRESH and other ture, involving the voluntary sector troversy. One vociferous opponent is termining the laws of the country cur- anti-tobacco campaigners as being and figures in big business, there is an John Mallon, spokesperson for Forest rently. I think that’s frightening … it’s “profoundly misguided.” “What we do”, Milne assures, “Is protect other people educative system that encourages pro- Éireann (the Irish equivalent to the actual social engineering.” The pertinent issue for both sides of … If somebody says, ‘I want to smoke and active engagement from young people. UK-based Freedom Organisation for According to Milne, “We’ve had kids the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco), the argument revolves around wheth- you can’t stop me’, I’d [say] ‘Fine, that’s from Sunderland working on adverts an organisation that supports smokers’ er or not these smoke-free laws will ok’. But you can’t do it to anybody else. from quite deprived backgrounds rights. Although Mallon readily em- act as impediments on individual au- You shouldn’t do it in such a way that it which have done very interesting braces the educative programmes cen- tonomy. Even Milne, who asserts that induces others to adopt the habit.” For things. Very powerful messages.” For tred on very young children as “worth- FRESH is largely modelled on the pio- Mallon, the future inspires foreboding Milne, this is what really distinguish- while”, he is not convinced by FRESH’s neering Californian smoke-free initia- and suspicion. “Make no mistake,” he es FRESH’s educative approach from “woolly explanations” and believes that, tives of the late 1980s and early 1990s, warns, “these people won’t rest until tothose backed by the tobacco companies. like most anti-smoking campaigns, it acknowledges that the scheme con- bacco is banned in Ireland completely.”
The University Observer · 28 February 2012
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The University Observer · 28 February 2012
Observer opinion Allons Sarkozy
As France enters election season, Hannah Dowling gives a rundown of the challenges faced by President Nicolas Sarkozy in his re-election bid
n politics, a week is a lifetime, three months an eternity. President Nicolas Sarkozy has three months in which to turn his record disapproval ratings around if he is to have any chance of being reelected. While some think that he has little to no chance, it would be premature to rule him out entirely. France’s presidential campaigns
are known for being volatile and susceptible to immense changes, thus at this stage it is unwise to declare Sarkozy’s campaign as dead in the political water. Sarkozy’s first major challenge is getting his support to the level of his main opponent, the Socialist Party’s François Hollande. Although Hollande is leading in the polls, he has considerable diffi-
cultly in inspiring the French public, and as such it is likely that his approval ratings stem from the ‘anyone but Sarkozy’ mentality. The staid and lackluster Hollande is the Socialist Party’s second choice, a late replacement for their original candidate, former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, before the events of May 14th 2011 lead to his downfall. While untested and not the most dynamic of personalities, Hollande is considered by many to be a good bet in ousting Sarkozy out of the Élysée. Another key player is Marine Le Pen of the far right National Front Party. A more presentable character than her father, the former party leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, Le Pen is achieving for the party a prominence that cannot be dismissed by the French political establishment. The increasing popularity of the National Front is also damaging to Sarkozy as it undercuts the conservative voter base upon which he previously relied. It has become increasingly obvious that the difficulties Sarkozy is facing are himself, his record and his relationship with the French public. Any race in which a sitting politician is seeking reelection is seen as a referendum by the nation on that incumbent. Here lies Sarkozy’s greatest problem: gaining popularity with the French public is personal, not political. In the words of the French Interior Minister Claude Guéant, when it comes to the national mood, the President has an “af-
fection deficit”. This is in contrast with his American counterpart, President Barack Obama, whose personal popularity bolsters his polling numbers despite the public not liking his policies. Sarkozy is suffering due to his immense unpopularity with the French electorate, who like neither his policies nor his personality. The French are impatient and frustrated with Sarkozy; they dislike his closeness with the super rich, his courting of the extreme right and his exhibitionist soap opera life. Adding to their grievances is the downgrading of France’s credit rating, which further cements the fact that France’s economy is coming into trouble, with rising unemployment and mounting debt. Indeed, Sarkozy is quoted as having said, “I am dead” if France loses its triple A rating. Marry this with the fact that Germany has retained its credit rating; it feeds into the unpopular idea of Germany being Europe’s undisputed leader with France as its junior partner, a notion that is humiliating for the French. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s endorsement of Sarkozy is unlikely to have been entirely welcomed by the French public. Despite the overwhelmingly negative factors that have troubled his re-election chances, Sarkozy’s campaign isn’t as hopeless as it appears. It is vital to remember that despite his limitations as a leader, he is an incredible campaigner with a record of overcom-
ing numerous setbacks and securing surprise victories. As a talented debater and campaigner, Sarkozy may prove that he has a chance after all. His party, the Union for A Popular Majority (UMP) has been working aggressively to dent Hollande’s credibility as a candidate. Combine this with a ruthless campaigning style characterised by confrontation, blatant calculation, and a dogged determination and we see a candidate with what it takes to pull it off. In the meantime, the re-election campaign is working hard to distance the candidate from the public’s image of him. Indeed, it is believed that Sarkozy announced his campaign early so as to create as much time as possible for his team to distance the President from his record and history. Already Sarkozy is trying to create and project the image of a more statesmanlike President, giving off an aloof air while keeping his personal life firmly in the background. Firsttime candidates must seduce the electorate; incumbents must work to prove that they are the only serious option, and this is what Sarkozy hopes to convey. Three months is a long time in politics, particularly in an unfailingly volatile race such as a French presidential campaign. Anything is possible in this time period. A skilled and canny campaigner such as Sarkozy, who thrives in adversity, may yet find himself overcoming what currently seem like very poor chances.
Chinese veto has indisputably created a hurdle for people in the West, who are demanding dramatic and immediate interference. To add another twist to this already complex plot, Assad also has a convenient alliance with the Iranian government. Speculation abounds that Iran has piped money into Assad’s failing regime and it would be a gross understatement to say that Iran desires a free, democratic Syrian state next door to it. Without going into further detail, it is sufficient to say that the Iranian involvement creates another treacherous dimension for anyone contemplating getting involved in this mire. It may seem like there is less political and indeed media atten-
tion being paid to the civil war in Syria, particularly when you compare it to the hype that surrounded the Arab Spring revolutions last year. However, to be under the impression that the world has grown fatigued and bored of the seemingly relentless instability in the Middle East would be misguided. While everyone knew and indeed was interested in what was going on in Egypt during the fall of Mubarak, this was thanks to a few unforgettable moments during the protests in Tahrir Square that were captured on camera phones and uploaded and shared across the internet almost instantaneously. Unfortunately for the Syrian revolutionaries, few cinematic snippets of their efforts are available to us because of the danger involved for the foreign press entering the country at the time. In other words, it is not because the press are not interested in the Syrian war, it would appear that it is just too dangerous and too difficult for them to cover it. The lack of media coverage is forgivable to a degree, but it would appear that the absence of more forceful interference by the outside world is beyond excusable. On average fifty citizens are being killed daily by their own government in Syria. These are citizens who are fighting for some of their most fundamental democratic rights and paying for it with their lives. Russia and China may have created a stumbling block for the UN resolution, but we need not look back far in the history books to be reminded of how little heed some of the global powers actually pay to these agreements. Some think that to ignore the Russian-Chinese veto would be dangerously absurd, but with the kind of manpower and resources at Assad’s disposal and the vulnerability of the people trapped in his regime, it seems that to leave Syria to its own devices for much longer would be equally senseless.
Ignorance is bliss As the ongoing atrocities in Syria fail to garner much public attention, Phillippa White examines the apparent media blackout and the international reaction to the crisis
yria is in a state of turmoil and uncertainty. Internally, there is a divided population who, aroused by the revolts of their Arab neighbours last year, are increasingly yearning for the democratic seeds of change. The grip that its President, Bashar alAssad has on the country is tenuous, although seemingly not sufficiently so to bring about a hasty collapse of his regime. Outside of Syria, affairs are equally complicated. The vast majority of the West are staunchly anti-Assad but intervention is proving difficult. A UN Security Council resolution on the subject of an intervention was vetoed at the beginning of this month by both China and Russia, thus leaving the West temporarily impotent in the midst of the crisis. The media coverage of the civil war in Syria is markedly different from that surrounding the events that unfolded in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia in the last two years. Rath-
er than being an indicator of a disinterested world however, it is a reflection of a more embroiled and disordered battle that is occurring. For a start, Egypt’s Mubarak and Libya’s Gaddafi had a strong and focused opposition. In Syria however, the discordant cries of revolt are coming from the scattered collection of voices of gangs, militias, and soldiers who have defected from the regime. They are not united, no leader has prevailed among the rebels, and even if a strong opposition existed they would certainly be unable to match the Syrian army in terms of numbers or armaments. Thanks to a combination of conscripts and superior arms, Assad will likely remain in control for the foreseeable future.
Furthermore, unlike in Egypt and the other countries of the Arab Spring, Assad has some key alliances that make intervention from outside the country extremely challenging. Russia’s veto of the Security Council resolution in early February was not motivated by some noble ambition to respect Syria’s sovereignty, but out of personal interest. Syria houses Russia’s only naval base outside of the country, and if the UN were to intervene and topple Assad, Russia’s possession of this base would be jeopardised. Although trade restrictions have been put in place - American exports are no longer reaching Syria and Europe is no longer importing Syrian oil - the Russian-
The University Observer · 28 February 2012
With opposition reaching a fever pitch, Yvanne Kennedy deconstructs the household charge and asks whether it really is the big, bad monster it is being made out to be
Tax evasion: From 1696 the financially unstable English Government taxed windows. In 1851 this was replaced by House Duty; “Evade this!” they said.
n the last number of months, the controversy surrounding the bringing into force of a flat rate household charge has caused great upset and outrage. There have been regular marches to Leinster House and ‘town hall’ style meetings have popped up across the country. There is no denying that one more levy could be the one to break the taxpayer’s back, but can this reaction be justified? One hundred euro is all that has to be paid. Most people, in days gone by, wouldn’t blink twice at dropping that on a pair of shoes
but as the story goes, we’re in different times now. This hundred is on top of all the others, for the Universal Social Charge, the pension levies and general taxes. It has been the final straw for many, as protest websites and TDs alike are calling on householders to boycott the payment. The Government are proud of the fact 97,000 people have already signed up to pay the charge, but this is only a fraction of the nearly 1.5 million eligible in the State. “It is morally wrong, unjust and unfair to tax a person’s home” said Enda Kenny in 1994, so why in 2012 did he not deem it so to apply a household tax uniformly to every family, singleton or couple in Ireland? Desperate times call for the most desperate of measures, and the Government needs income. The source of that income is of small concern and while the flat rate of the charge is “not fair across the board,” that hasn’t stopped it being implemented, if only for a short time until it is replaced by the property tax. So why can’t we tax the rich in this instance as we do in all others – they make more, so shouldn’t they pay more? We aren’t talking simply about that elusive “one per cent”, so how exactly do we determine a fair share? It has been said that the wealthiest one per cent of the population make twenty per cent of the pre-tax income but they also pay twentyfive per cent of the tax and make thirty per cent of the charitable
donations. A uniform tax may not affect everyone equally, but it treats everyone equally and assumes everything will even out. It may not be a perfect formula but it is the one Revenue are employing and it’s the one we’re stuck with, for now. According to the Economist, hitting the well-off where it hurts will only damage us in the long run. The principle of higher taxes for the economic elite should take a leaf out of any history book that “suggests that low taxes on the rich encourage investment and growth.” With the current state of our economy, it may not actually be the best time to saddle them with greater taxes in any area “particularly since the rich are among society’s most mobile.” If we were to lose any of our more mobile investors, they will take all their taxes with them. A few hundred extra is nothing compared with how much we potentially stand to suffer. This may be one relatively small tax but it is, literally, the principle of the thing. There are whispers among those in the know that say the fifty per cent top marginal tax rate in Britain is doing lasting damage to the British economy. If we start with the household charge, we set down a precedent, one which many in the Dáil would be more than happy to extend and expand. You give them an inch, they’ll potentially take down the country. Yet there must be an argument in there somewhere. The biggest problem is implementation. For
some reason, the Government has implemented the household charge “for right now”, until they can properly assess criteria for the differing pay scales associated with the property tax. It beggars belief that they couldn’t have simply introduced that to begin with. It operates in the same way as regular taxes – slightly more for slightly larger homes, irrespective of how many live in them. It is a failing cornerstone of Irish society that we can have the fantastic ideas but actually getting them enacted is where we stumble. Coherent proposals put before the Houses of the Oireachtas did not fall on deaf ears; they know what their options are. In fact, the average property tax will be €300. I’m no mathematician, but none of these figures add up. It has been said that the issue lies in assessing the situation – why can’t we just essentially estimate, based on the degree of the gap these plans hope to bridge, how much we all have to pay? Why can’t a property tax be based on the number of rooms per house, declared by the home owner and corroborated by random auditing of every dozen or so households, both to dissuade misinformation, and apply penalties to those who attempt to buck the system? Why is a Census readily achievable, but this a Herculean endeavour? If we need money, why not do what we’ve always done; just take it? Perhaps, as F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “The rich are different from you and me.”
tainly lies in the perception of the Apple brand. Apple is a computer company with a slightly hipster origin story. They have a focus on aesthetics. They seem to be honestly concerned about their environmental impact, and actually act on this concern. Their products are often seen as a fashion accessory and are highly sought after, despite cheaper and equally functional machines being readily available. They are seen as a ‘cool’ brand, and there is a daft expectation that every ‘cool’ brand must
have completely ethically sound manufacturing and assembly processes. Microsoft, for example, was not a ‘cool’ brand to begin with, despite endless attempts to change their image, and as a result, no one seems to be angry that Xboxes are made in a similar way to iProducts. A comparison can be drawn between Apple and American Apparel, and the controversy surrounding their CEO, Dov Charney. AA are a sort of ‘ethical Penneys’, manufacturing and selling low cost, high quality clothes, while operating exclusively out of America, paying all of their factory workers a fair wage and treating them well. AA is another ‘trendy’ brand and when reports surfaced that the CEO had sexual harassment lawsuits taken out against him, there was an intense backlash from the public. While this backlash probably wasn’t helped by some of the more creative advertising decisions made by the Charney over the years, the concept of boycotting a company who are renowned for treating their workers so fairly seems strange in the context of allegations of staff exploitation on the part of some competing corporations. Are Apple evil? Not really; they are as guilty of exploiting foreign workers as almost every other electronics company. They have recently released ‘Apple’s Supplier Code of Conduct’ and seem genuinely intent on improving the conditions for the workers making their goods, and considering their environmental policies and how well they treat their nonoutsourced staff, it would appear that they are not such a bad Apple after all.
rotten to the core? Apple have recently been criticised for their attitude towards workers’ rights, but Conor O’Nolan explains that the company is perhaps not as unethical as it seems
pple have come under fire in the last few years for their attitude toward workers’ rights, particularly in relation to their involvement with a company named Foxconn. Foxconn assemble a large proportion of Apple’s products, with some components coming from other suppliers. Foxconn also build products for Sony, Samsung, Intel, Dell, HP, Microsoft and a large proportion of the other main industry giants, to the point where it is almost difficult to own products that have not been in part manufactured by Foxconn. What exactly is the problem with Foxconn? Foxconn is the world’s largest manufacturer of electronic components. They employ over 900,000 people spread over three continents. Their largest complex is based in Shenzhen, China, which is where the majority of the controversy surrounding the company originates. A multiple of one hundred thousand people (exact counts are impossible to obtain) are employed in this factory. Working conditions are terrible; staff are routinely mistreated and are forced to abide by an exceptionally severe code of conduct that can result in their wages reportedly being docked for simply not walking at the right speed. Those that chose to live in the compound (and a least a quarter of them do), live in immensely cramped dormitories which of-
ten have barred windows to prevent workers from jumping out of them. Employee suicide is not an uncommon occurrence, and earlier this year a group of 300 workers threatened suicide if they did not receive a pay rise. Apple cannot be accused of inaction in this area. They have approached Foxconn in an effort to increase the workers’ base wage, which Foxconn then raised. However, Foxconn subsequently raised daily quotas for each employee and started to place extreme controls on employee abilities to claim overtime. Apple attempted to solve the problem, and in turn, Foxconn’s greed undid any progress that appeared to have been made. Apple’s reasoning behind operating out of China is fairly reasonable. The costs are infinitely cheaper and the supply chain is much more accommodating. If Apple were to operate out of America, the average manufacturing worker would be paid about thirty-four dollars an hour as opposed to the average manufacturing wage in China, which is approximately two dollars an hour. Operating solely out of China also allows for incredible flexibility in manufacturing. The classic example of this was the late Steve Jobs’ decision to make iPhones have glass screens. This decision was made just a month before the iPhone was actually due to launch, so it required a major overhaul of existing iPhone stocks. If this were
to be done in America, the costs would have been astronomical and the turnaround time would likely have been a great deal longer. Yet why does Apple take so much flack, while their competitors and industry colleagues receive little or no attention for their usage of the Chinese supply chain? Why does Apple have protests organised against them when others with an equal or even greater market share don’t receive any attention for the same issues? The answer almost cer-
science The Observer Guide to Surviving sexually transmitted infections
The University Observer · 28 February 2012
Heart Disease: How, What and Y The mysteries of heart disease have begun to reveal themselves, as evidence sheds new light on the ailment’s predilection for males, writes Ethan Troy-Barnes
In our latest installment of mothering, Alison Lee talks to you about something your mum probably won’t bring up in conversation: STIs Most students believe that catching an STI is like winning the lottery or catching a glimpse of the Loch Ness Monster; “it’s just not something that’ll ever happen to me.” Sadly your chances of catching an STI are a lot higher than your chances of winning the lotto (valid statistics on Loch Ness Monster sightings were unavailable at the time of writing). The Union Of Students in Ireland recently published the results of an extremely embarrassing survey which revealed that students (i.e. you) are regularly having unprotected sex. The survey revealed that nearly three-quarters of students have had sex without condoms, but only thirteen per cent did so because their judgement was impaired due to alcohol. That means that eighty-seven per cent did so while perfectly sober, with full understanding of what they were doing, or in fact, not doing. The reasons cited include “being in a long-term relationship”, “partner on another form of contraception” and “spontaneity”. This means a lot of students are at risk of contracting infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, genital warts, genital herpes and HIV, never mind pregnancy. That applies even if you’ve been with your boyfriend/ girlfriend for ages and you’re in love (excuse me while I throw up), because many of these infections remain symptomless for a long time. And the contraceptive pill (surprise, surprise) doesn’t protect against STIs. But if you do screw up (and let’s face it; no one’s perfect) and have unprotected sex, what should you do? Taking an STI test is a good start. Technically speaking, it’s recommended to take an STI test every time you sleep with a new partner. However your average ‘typical promiscuous student’ would be hardpressed to afford this, since even on campus an STI test costs eighty euro (thirty euro more than usual since SU funding has been cut for the rest of this academic year since the start of this month). Free tests are available in St. James’ Hospital but walkin clinics only run on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, and the queues are ridiculous. If you go private, expect to fork out over 100 euro for a screening. Thankfully, most STIs can be easily treated with antibiotics (including chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhoea) but some, such as genital herpes, persist and may ‘flare up’ repeatedly. And needless to say, HIV is incurable, but drugs are available to control the infection, allowing patients to live a relatively normal life. But let’s try to avoid getting to the point where we need to worry about HIV. Let’s just be mature, use condoms, and save up for an annual screening. Or why not try the failsafe method that works every time, abstinence? No? Well, don’t say the sensible staff of the University Observer didn’t warn you…
ere’s a thing: medics like risk factors. They tell us that somebody is more likely to acquire a certain type of disease, and that something should be done to prevent it. In the realm of heart disease, doctors are quite certain of one element that invariably places a person at a higher risk of developing a problem: being male. Simply put, up to and including middle age, heart disease is sexist, and in otherwise healthy people, targets far more men than women. Unfortunately, as straightforward as this causative association might seem, the exact mechanisms behind this phenomenon have mostly evaded clinicians up to now. It’s thought that a multitude of factors contribute to the issue – so it’s not as simple as men simply being born with frailer hearts than women. For instance, one of a great many theories is that women’s unique hormonal status (high oestrogen and progesterone levels) has some sort of protective effect upon their cardiovascular system. This idea is supported by the fact that females’ risk of developing heart disease approaches that of a male later in life, when, following the menopause, the levels of these hormones decline. However, recent evidence has emerged which may help to shed some new light on the issue. The report in question, published in the Lancet a few weeks ago (and rather fittingly close to Valentine’s Day), studied a total of 3,233 British men comprised of three different groups or ‘cohorts’ – the participants being taken form British Heart Foundation Family Heart Study, West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study, and Cardiogenics Study, respectively. In these men, researchers looked at the relationship between the Y chromosome and the incidence of coronary artery disease – one of the major causes of heart disease, and the number one cause of death worldwide. Coronary artery disease, for those unfamiliar with it, is a disorder affecting the arteries supplying the heart muscle. When these arteries become blocked (often due to an atherosclerotic plaque – basically a cholesterol deposit in the wall of the blood vessel), much-needed blood flow to the heart walls can be restricted – depriving the tissue of oxygen, and eventually impairing the heart’s ability to pump blood, causing heart failure and death. The investigators employed a relatively sophisticated method of genetic analysis, which enabled them to sort the participants into a handful of genetically-related groups (called haplogroups) based on subtle similarities between their Y-chromosomes. This is made possible thanks to the fact that, unlike other chromosomes, the Y-chromosome does not have its information jumbled (called ‘crossing over’) dur-
ing gamete (sperm cell) development. mechanism as being the reason why As a result, the information housed by the high-risk Y-chromosomes are so this chromosome is remarkably well lethal, and further research will most conserved between generations, and definitely be required to confirm or diswe can sort vast swathes of males into prove this. Above all, it’s important to assess thirteen distinct groups, which each arose from a single, unique genetic an- the validity of this study. First of all, cestor. Think family tree, but on an an- the report studied quite a large number of people. In addition, the participants cient, millennia-spanning scale. When all the data was sorted out, were taken from three separate groups. researchers found that of the thirteen The two factors, known to epidemioloancient lineages, an astonishing major- gists as ‘large sample size’ and ‘multiity of ninety per cent of participants be- centre’ respectively, guarantee a high longed to one of two haplogroups. What degree of accuracy and tick two of the the study found was this: of these two major groups, men who belonged to the first group (imaginatively termed Haplogroup 1) had a far greater (fifty per cent increased) risk of developing coronary artery disease than the any of the other groups – before even factoring in the effects of diet, smoking, other environmental factors, and other genetic factors from other chromosomes. Once this was confirmed, investigators then aimed to focus on exactly what made Y-chromosomes from Haplogroup 1 so deadly. They identified a number of key genetic variations between Haplogroup 1 and the other groups, and Are you a third level student with found that genetic ala novel idea for a new business? terations present in Do you feel your idea has got real the high-risk group commercial potential? If so, then correlated with a total of nineteen this competition is for you. There’s molecular pathways an incredible first place cash prize involved in inflamof €10,000 to be won to potentially mation and immunihelp turn your enterprise idea into ty. This is important, a business reality. So get a team because the developtogether for the most exciting ment of atherosclerochallenge of your life so far... sis (a major cause of coronary artery disease) is fundamentally an inflammatory disorder, where a malfunctioning of the immune system is what causes the plaques to form in the first place. Thus, these sorts of genetic variations, which facilitate errant acwww.thinkoutsidetheboxawards.com tivity of our immune system, can be dangerous. However, this study has far from confirmed this
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most important boxes on the ‘How reliable are the results of this research?’ checklist. Thus, the results of the report should be regarded as quite significant. Sexual dimorphism in heart disease has, for a long time, confounded medics – everybody knew it existed but nobody knew why. While we still know very little about why this is the case, this study provides important evidence to further our understanding of a very clinically significant phenomenon.
The University Observer · 28 February 2012
Science & Health
and the use of radioactive labeling agents and/or electron microscopy. All of these images are then painstakingly ordered to build a three-dimensional model. Extremely powerful image processing software is required to order the images and mesh them into a 3D model. While slicing up brains works for creating the connectomes of other animals, it’s not so clear-cut with humans. The techniques used to map connections in animals at the cellular level work just as well in humans, however, simply mapping the connections in a human brain is not the end goal. The main reason for mapping the human connectome is to facilitate research into injury and disease states. In order to do this, we need to map the anatomical and functional connectivity within a healthy, living brain. Non-invasive imaging methods are therefore also required. The two most frequently
used are diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (diffusion MRI) and functional magnet resonance imaging (FMRI), both working at the macroscopic level. Diffusion MRI works by tracing the diffusion of a molecule, usually water, through biological tissue. It is particularly useful in tracing nerve fibres through the brain. FMRI measures brain activity by detecting changes in blood f low within the brain. By combining both MRI techniques with behavioural tests carried out on subjects undergoing MRI imaging, associations can be made between discrete brain regions and behaviour. The next and final step is to reconcile the microscopic with the macroscopic, and as such the anatomical with the functional. Achieving this would revolutionise neurology and psychiatry, and possibly even philosophy. The abstract concept of mind would, ultimately, be made physical.
What is the worst thing about research? Your general mood depends on how your research is going. A failing project makes you feel worthless and stupid, but when things work you feel like you could turn lead to gold. What was the stupidest mistake you ever made in the lab? While reading my manual, I scratched the back of my head, forgetting that I was holding a beaker of acid and poured it down my back. It was dilute acid, so I was okay, but all first year students are now warned not to be as stupid as me.
cines cheaper for the third world! Realistically, I am only developing new routes to make phosphorus compounds used as chemotherapies and anti-viral drugs, recently used to make blue organic LEDs for monitor screens, and hopefully to replace heavy metals in drug manufacture.
Mapping the human brain could unlock the secrets to curing diseases, writes James Kelly
ne of the most complex structures in the universe, the human brain, is a wonder shrouded in mystery. Comprised of approximately one hundred billion neurons, forming hundreds of trillions of dynamic intersections, it is a network of unparalleled diffusion and precision. So how is it that all of our mental faculties, from speech to our ability to contemplate the structure of reality, lie within this small mass of organic matter? An emerging area of neuroscience, connectomics, aims to answer this question. Connectomics is the process of producing and studying connectomes. Connectomes are maps of the connectivity in all or part of the brain. They can range from maps of every neuron and synapse at the microscopic level, to maps of the structural and functional connections between different brain regions at the macroscopic level (visible to the naked eye). It is hoped that by developing and understanding a model of connectivity within the brain, moving from the individual synapses along a continuum of complexity to the complete network, we will gain greater insight into most, if not all, neurological and psychiatric disorders. The communication between neurons is essential for brain activity, and this communication occurs through the physical connections between neurons, called synapses. The neuron is comprised of three parts: the soma, which is the body of the cell; dendrites, projections from the soma which receives signals from other neurons and relay them to the soma; and axons, projections from the soma which carry signals to other neurons. Different types of neurons vary in the number of dendrites they have and the amount of connections each dendrite forms. While neurons have only one axon, its
Making a connection terminals can form thousands of synapses. Neurons can be either excitatory or inhibitory, meaning they increase or decrease respectively the activity of the neurons onto which they project. Signals can also be temporally and spatially graded, meaning the distance of a synapse from the soma, and the time of signaling relative to other signals, are factors affecting activity within the soma. Considering the degree to which neurons affect each other, and the fact that proper communication is of paramount importance to normal brain function, the value of connectomics is obvious. The first complete connectome to be developed was that of our distant cousin, the worm, 300 neurons, forming some 10,000 connections, C. elegans’ nervous system pales in comparison to our own. In spite of its relative simplicity, however, it serves as an excellent research tool. From information about the connections formed
by neurons of a particular type, to the level and strength of connectivity within a region and between regions, C. elegans’ connectome has a lot to teach us. Partial connectomes of various brain regions, including the eye (which is considered part of our central nervous system as it extends out from the front of the brain during embyronic development, and performs some of the early stages of visual processing), have also been developed for a number of species. The limiting factor in connectomes research is the sheer amount of physical work it takes to create a connectome. Synapses are usually only nanometers in width, and there are thousands of them orientated in every direction, within a cubic millimeter of brain tissue. It requires the application of various imaging techniques, carried out on slivers of tissue that are virtually transparent and extremely delicate. These imaging techniques include staining
PhD student Adam Molloy talks to Conor O’Nolan about his research in novel chemical reactions and their potential uses
What is the official title of your PhD? ‘Investigations into Novel Phosphorus and Magnesium Reaction Mechanisms.’ Explain the official title in English, please. I discover new chemical reactions and figure out how they work. I concentrate on phosphorus, because it is medicinally and industrially important and magnesium because it is very cheap compared to the rare, toxic metals used in industry. What undergraduate degree course did you do? There was no modularisation in my first year; it was a general entry science BSc in 2003. I did Physics, Chemistry and Computer Science in first year, Physics and Chemistry in second year, and chose Chemistry for my degree. I made friends in my Chemistry lab group and that built into a big troop of friends in second year and we copped on to study more by third year. Nearly all of us are doing PhDs somewhere or are already doctors, and we are still close friends. I was sad to drop Computer Science and Physics, but I still use a lot of physics in my research, ‘physical chemistry’ for analysis. I kept Computer Science as a hobby, and I am the current auditor of the Computer Science and Internet Society (Netsoc).
What made you choose to do a PhD? I have wanted to be a scientist since I was a child, mostly because I wanted to be one of the guys on documentaries with keys to a room full of lasers who explains how the universe works. I applied for the Science Foundation Ireland “Ureka” Scholarship in third year and spent three months working as a research student with Prof. Gilheany. His group were trying to work out the mechanism of a reaction they had commercialised through a spin-out company, Celtic Catalysts. I came up with an idea to use silicon to stop the reaction halfway, to see what was going on and that became my summer project. It didn’t work at all but I learned a lot. I returned to Prof. Gilheany’s group to do my PhD after fourth year. I was thrilled to have my work included in a recent patent massively extending the scope of that reaction. Describe your typical day of work. Ten ‘til ten, a long day but I don’t break a sweat; there are a lot of tea breaks as we wait for our chemicals to react and things like that. Most of the work is done in the evening. I start a typical day by collecting my reaction samples from the NMR machines which run overnight; they’re similar to the MRI machines in hospitals: giant, helium cooled, superconducting, doughnut-shaped magnets with robotic arms. Strange how quickly you can get used to working with futuristic technology. Each student has their own desk and fume hood. Before I can do any work
each day I have to set up my nitrogen/ vacuum line, because all of my chemistry is sensitive to air, so all my reactions take place in closed flasks filled with nitrogen. The work is very similar to undergraduate labs, but there’s no lab manual. You design the experiments yourself and when you isolate a product, you have to analyse it yourself. There is a lot of satisfaction in proving you invented a new chemical compound. Every six weeks I present my results by slideshow to my labgroup and professor. I am in final year now, so the system is breaking down as I have to write a lot more, but it is typically sixty per cent experiments, twenty per cent analysis and twenty per cent writing up. What is the best thing about research? The people; the atmosphere is lively and interesting, because everyone is interested in what they do and what other people are doing. There is a lot of camaraderie among students and staff, especially after you realise that a professor is just someone who has been doing their PhD for thirty years. You also have a lot of freedom with your time because you are your own boss, to an extent.
How could your work make a difference to the world? Cure cancer, AIDS and the common cold, improve computer screen resolution and make medi-
Magnesium in its crystal form
How do you hope your PhD will affect your career prospects? I hope to continue a career in research. My PhD opens doors to post-doctoral research positions all over the world. I might even get to use a laser or two!
The University Observer · 28 February 2012
Observer OpEd editor @ universityobserver.ie
Following the publication of their planned landscape for Ireland’s third level system, Tom Boland, Chief Executive of the Higher Education Authority writes exclusively for the University Observer about what is next for Ireland’s academic institutions
t would be difficult to write an article for a UCD publication without quoting its animating spirit, Cardinal Newman. Fortunately too for the purposes of this article, both the National Strategy and Newman’s text agree that the student is the centre of the higher education endeavour. While there can be much talk about structures, systems, accountability, regulation etc., it all boils down to these questions: “Is the student experience a good one and is the outcome for the student a quality one - one that supports the development of the generic skills critical for personal development, life and career?” How to ensure that that is the outcome from all the noise and fury of the higher education system is the key focus of the National Strategy – all else is merely a means to an end. In this short article I’d like to highlight some of the key measures now underway to achieve this objective. Shortly, a National Student Survey will commence which will identify student views on their learning experience. Every higher education institution will be expected to have an anonymous feedback system in place and mechanisms to address serious concerns that are identified.
“It is a great point then to enlarge the range of studies which a University professes, even for the sake of the students; and, though they cannot pursue every subject which is open to them, they will be the gainers by living among those and under those who represent the whole circle. This I conceive to be the advantage of a seat of universal learning, considered as a place of education.” John Henry Newman, ‘The Idea of a University’
Teaching and research are to be afforded parity of esteem and quality of teaching to be taken into account in staff promotions, in performance assessment and in resource allocation. We are fortunate to have so many excellent teachers in our system, but their contribution needs to be acknowledged, and underperformance, where it arises, challenged. Funding models will, over time, be reformed to support a more diverse range of access to learning, including part-time and distance learning. Work placements will be encouraged and should be recognised through credits – the same with engagement by students with their community. Greater emphasis will be placed on induction and support programmes for first years, and the spirit of Newman is very clear in the Strategy recommendation that first year courses should be more interdisciplinary. In practice, this would mean that first year students in the sciences should experience aspects of the humanities, and vice-versa. A Leaving Certificate student in Ireland this year has almost 900 honours degree programmes from which to choose (compared to 220 a decade ago). That will cease to be the case. The course that he or she chooses will be
less specialised in first year and more interdisciplinary. He or she will also benefit from greater co-operation and collaboration between higher education institutions. This is already happening, particularly in research (the UCD/ TCD Alliance being a good example). The implementation of the National Strategy will see the development of new co-operative arrangements between higher education institutions within geographic regions, known as regional clusters, and across disciplines nationally. In this way, it is proposed to make better use of existing resources by better integration of planning between institutions, eliminating unnecessary (and wasteful) duplication, and generating outcomes where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Shared services and procurement, joint academic teaching or research programmes, exchange of academic staff, and better progression routes for students who can transfer easily between institutions to pursue their chosen area of study are all part of this scenario, and all with the objective of improving performance and quality outcomes for students. Ultimately, the learner is at the centre of what we are doing.
Digital Arts and Humanities (DAH) structured PhD programme Information Evening 6-7pm Thursday 8th March 2012 ATRL building (corner of Macken St and Pearse St, Dublin 2)
• If you have completed an undergraduate degree in arts or humanities and would like to step into the digital world come • Part-time options will be available for full time employees who wish to take part in this programme • Part-time schedules can be discussed with management (private and public sector) who may consider placing an employee on the programme An Roinn Post, Fiontarwww.tcd.ie/longroomhub/DAH/ agus Nuálaíochta For more information please visit Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
An Roinn Post, Fiontar agus Nuálaíochta European Regional Development Fund
An Roinn Post, Fiontar
Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
agus Nuálaíochta The Digital Arts and Humanities structured PhD programme is funded by the HEA Programme for Research in Department Jobs, Third Level Institutions (PRTLI CycleofV) and co funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Enterprise and Innovation
“Higher education students of the future should have an excellent teaching and learning experience, informed by up-to-date research and facilitated by a high-quality learning environment, with state-of-the-art learning resources, such as libraries, laboratories, and e-learning facilities.” The first recommendation in the National Strategy for Higher Education
The University Observer · 28 February 2012
Observer Editorial editor @ universityobserver.ie
“Both the role and the medium of modern journalism are not just changing, but totally and irreversibly changed.”
empting as it may be to soliloquise about the UCDSU elections that go to the polls tomorrow, and comment on the importance of a vibrant student democracy or the various insular dramas that have dominated so much of our time spent idly procrastinating this week, nothing I could say has not been said before, nor said better than in the Deputy Editor’s letter on the inside cover our Election Special supplement this issue. One might only wish all the candidates the best of luck, and beg their pardon as I quietly retreat beyond the remit of clamourous canvassers. Years may pass, and in the words of our longstanding political satirist’s non-fictive counterpart, regimes may fail and fall, but little ever changes. With that said, one small yet extremely notable change in this year’s election has been the media coverage surrounding it. While we are immensely proud of the supplement we have produced this issue, and I am equally immensely proud of and grateful to our editorial staff who produced it, in conjunction with a full sized paper and culture supplement no less, we recognise the limitations of the additional printed pages. As Aoife Valen-
Talleyrand Bonjour Bastards, What is that offensive odour pervading the Horridor, you ask? While the remnants of snivelling Camp Pain minions’ overindulgence while ‘working’ late are rather retch-inducing, there
Letters to the editor
tine rightly points out in her excellent feature this issue, both the role and the medium of modern journalism are not just changing, but totally and irreversibly changed. In years gone by, an additional supplement regarding the SU elections would have been more than sufficient coverage of such an event. Today, without the addition of exclusive, daily online content and video interviews of each candidate, it might be construed we were ‘slacking off’. This does not just reflect election season, nor is it isolated to student media; we are facing, or indeed, have faced, a paradigm shift with regards media itself. I feel I can state confidently that our University’s student media, incorporating all operations on campus, has made leaps and bound this academic year. Belfield FM, despite (or indeed, perhaps, because of ) the uncertainty surrounding their future, have been producing higher-quality, more journalistic content than I have ever seen of them, and loathe as my occupation obliges me to be of them, the College Tribune has seen an undeniable increase in both the quality of their work, and their passion for same. Beyond the considerable effort that goes into producing a print edition, both publications on campus have
been indulging in video content, live blogs, social media and online content. For better or worse, the thin black-andwhite broadsheet is a thing of the past, and we are now expected, quite rightly, to compete on an international level with fully professional media sources for the attention of not just bored Belfield denizens, but for the attention of readers worldwide. Media is changing, and slowly but surely, so are we. Our two last Otwo centres have been read by thousands of people worldwide, and reproduced in different publications across the globe (with proper citation, of course). We have represented Irish student media at the European Commission in Brussels, and should we find time to do so between frenzied production weekends, we hope to do so again in London later this year. We try our utmost to post new content online every day, and are even commissioning a student film crew and videographer to keep our Youtube page growing steadily from this point out. Perhaps most importantly given the current economic climate of the University, this issue is turning a record profit, as we have generated multiples of our production costs in net profit. The budgetary re-
alities of the University as a whole has changed in just as remarkable a manner as the media, and we are endeavouring, continuously, to embrace those changes. However, one thing that should not, indeed, cannot be lost in this change is the essential nature of print media, be it during election time or not. Somewhat paradoxically, it is print media, and not online content, that endures permanently, both literally in the archives and in the National Library, and metaphorically, in the sway print media holds over both the readers, and more importantly, the administration. In any closed campus, most notably one without any real recompense for those representatives who mismanage, mislead, or manipulate the electorate, the only distinguishing factor between unpalatable opposing opinion and a legitimate threat in the eyes of the aforementioned administrators, is the newsprint on one’s hands after the message has been delivered. Long may the increasing engagement between the students and their papers continue, and to return to the words of our previously mentioned continental colourist, “Without freedom of the press, there can be no representative government.”
is something even more pungent than usual in the air this week: the smell of fear. Sam “Hey look, my vide… oh” Geoghegan has been busy panicking about his impending unemployment and informing other candidates that his experience of hackdom means he can confirm that nothing is achievable. Despite this cheery mantra, he is obviously checking out other options, as he has been seen handing numerous CVs in to the Student Bar. It’s always good to stick to what you know, right Spam? Just a little further down the hall of shame, Brendan ‘YouTube is harder than you think, guys’ Lacey is panicking about upcoming C&C candidates being able to live up to their promises of spending more time on Facebook than him. Don’t worry Spacey, no one could top your mature approach to online interaction.
Defending yourself in person is overrated anyway. The stench of fear is particularly strong in the Ents corner, where Stephen ‘Marina and the who?’ Darcy has taken to cowering. Having spent the remainder of his budget on a f leet of Henrys, he is planning on holding a ‘Stars in their Eyes’ night at the bar to see what Ents Crude members he can pass off as authentic to an audience of two and a half pissed students. Rumours have it that David Guetta is set to take his solo drumming act to the stage for a good three hours, followed by a karaoke/wet t-shirt competition in which only first year girls are eligible to participate. Save the date and try not to die of sheer anticipation. Meanwhile, Rachel ‘Condoms cost how much?’ Breslin is getting increasingly concerned about her competition in the race to be Queen
of Shit United. Who is this Ron guy anyway? She’s pretty sure that he doesn’t even go here. The only person who does not reek of fear is Pat ‘Never mind that million, check out my clavicles’ de Brún. He instead is simply sweating with excitement, gleefully anticipating the moment he can throw a folder labelled ‘accounts, lol’ at Preslin’s head and run for the hack-free hills. His plans to disguise himself once it comes to light that by ‘accountants’ he meant ‘whores’ may be tarnished by the facts that he is still struggling to adopt the classic, untraceable D4 accent and has already exhausted the option of dressing like a lady. As for the eleven disciples, Talleyrand has yet to find any reason for your existence. Back to the bottom of the lake with you. Talley-ho! Talleyrand
Letters should be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to The editor, The University Observer, UCD Student Centre, Belfield, Dublin 4
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University Observer Volume XVIII Issue X
Telephone: (01) 716 3119/3120 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.universityobserver.ie The University Observer is printed at The Guardian Print Centre, Longbridge Road, Manchester M17 1SN.
Irish Editor Séamas Ó Meachair
Deputy Editor Kate Rothwell
Music Editor Cormac Duffy
Art and Design Director Conor O’Toole
Film Editor Dermot O’Rourke
Otwo Editors George Morahan Aoife Valentine
Fashion Editor Sophie Lioe
Features Editor Matt Gregg Opinion Editor Emer Sugrue
Food & Travel Editor Elaine Lavery Chief Games Writer Steven Balbirnie 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
Sports Editor Daniel Keenan
“I don’t know much about the protest at all other than it was the Professional Diploma in Education students. I don’t know much about the issues even” Brendan Lacey on being uninformed about the February 22nd march
“It’s fabulous, it’s great”
Aileen Tevlin on the number of students who donated blood
“There is some cause for concern and I do have some concerns about the long-term planning for the Bar”
Pat de Brún on Student Bar finances
“Societies have been recognised and will become official societies, that’s the end of the story” Pat de Brún on the recognition of two new societies
“A phone call was made to myself as the protest was marching down O’Connell Street from USI saying they support us – I think that’s a little too late” William O’Brien one of the organisers of the February 22nd march
Editor Jon Hozier-Byrne
News Editor Katie Hughes
Quotes of the Fortnight
Contributors The Badger Julie Beattie Elizabeth Beecham Kevin Beirne Stefan Bracken Aoife Brophy Anna Burzlaff Joseph Callan Dixon Coltrane Stephen Connolly Shauna Daly Hannah Dowling Chloé Duane Martin Gilroy Chris Green Sally Hayden Sara Holbrook James Kelly Aaron Kennedy Yvanne Kennedy Colm Lakes Alison Lee Emily Longworth Allan McKee Mystic Mittens Dan Moriarty Emily Mullen Catherine Murnane Carl Murray
Saoirse Ní Chiaragáin Colm O’Grada Caitriona O’Malley Evan O’Quigley Jason Quigley Ashley Redmond Krishna Srikumar Talleyrand Ethan Troy Barnes Denis Vaughan Duncan Wallace Jack Walsh Phillippa White Illustrator Olwen Hogan Photographers Caoimhe McDonnell Brian O’Leary Conor O’Toole 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
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, Sarah Doran, Donna Doyle, Bríd Doherty, Paul Fennessey, Bridget Fitzsimons, 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 tenth issue.
The University Observer 路 28 February 2012
The University Observer · 28 February 2012
Man behind the horse
Davy Russell riding Bog Warrior
Gordon Elliott after the 2007 Grand National
Joseph Callan talks to Irish trainer Gordon Elliott about his preparation for the Cheltenham Festival
ordon Elliott is a man who has soared to success since becoming the youngest trainer to win the Aintree Grand National. At only twenty-nine years old, the Meath native trained Silver Birch to come home clear of the rest of the field in the 2007 renewal of the race. Since then, Gordon Elliott’s career has reached unexpected heights in a short time. In August 2010, Elliott showed that his interests didn’t just lie in National Hunt racing by winning the prestigious flat race, the Ebor Handicap, at York racecourse with Dirar. Now approaching Cheltenham 2012, Trim’s Capranny Stables is one of the yards Irish punters will be watching closely. Gordon’s interest in racing began at a young age. “Suzanne Finn trained up the road from me, and I started going there at a young age; from there I went on to Tony Martin’s yard and picked up my interest.” Elliott’s interest in racing developed relatively early in life, but he is a firm believer that it is never too late to get into the sport: “I didn’t get into horses until I was thirteen or fourteen, so I don’t believe it would be too late for someone in college to develop a strong interest in the game. Racetracks should be letting students in for free a lot more, and having more fun days for students at the races. I mean, at the end of the day, students will be the ones who will eventually keep the sport going.” Elliott was lucky enough to enjoy success as a jockey as well as a trainer, most notably winning the Punchestown Champion Bumper on the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained King’s Road in 1998. Both jobs have their thrills and fair share of letdowns, and Elliott has worked with some of the best trainers in his time as a jockey, where he would have learned a great deal before eventually becoming a trainer. “As a jockey after a ride, you can walk away. Training is a 24/7 job, but it is a very good buzz when you’re training a good one. I always rode as an amateur jockey, and training was something I always wanted to do. I can’t say any one person was my inspiration to take out my training license, but Martin Pipe was always somebody I looked up to.”
Gordon Elliott and Davy Russell after Grey Soldier’s victory in Naas
With Cheltenham just around the corner, Gordon Elliott is preparing his horses for the trip to the festival, where the best horses, trainers, and jockeys in UK and Ireland meet to battle it out for the most prestigious prize in National Hunt racing: “This year I plan on bringing ten horses over. Horses like a routine, and with Cheltenham coming up, I try to keep their routine the same. I will gallop them differently some days, but we try keeping everything as simple as we can for the horses. When we get to Cheltenham, we will keep the horses in stables that are on the racecourse. We try to have them there two days before they run and in Cheltenham we are able to canter the horses around the inside of the track in the days leading up to the races.” Last year at Cheltenham, Irish horses and trainers put on a spectacular performance, and won a record thirteen races. This year, hopes are equally high. Elliott hopes that this achievement can be repeated, but the Irish owners and trainers wait in anticipation to see what handicap mark their horses have been allocated for this year’s festival, stating, “A lot depends on how the handicap weights come out next week; we will just have to wait until next week for a better idea” Many Irish punters will be hoping to come home from the festival after backing a few winners and making a profit. At any bookies office or racetrack at this time of the year, everybody will be listening attentively for tips. Elliott expresses his own hopeful expectations for the week; “For me, Hurricane Fly is the banker of the festival. I hope to have good runs from all our horses, but Shadow Catcher in the Triumph Hurdle on the Friday is what I believe is our best chance of the week.” The days are counting down until the starter’s flag is dropped in the first race, at the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on the March 13th, when the cheers of the crowd will bellow across Prestbury Park, marking the beginning of the elite racing festival. Hopes will be high for all Irish jockeys and trainers involved, as will be, undoubtedly, the hopes of their supporters.
In the saddle
Ashley Redmond talks to Davy Russell, a jockey riding for Gordon Elliott, about the Cheltenham festival
here’s Bethlehem and Once I’m finished at the track, I get evCheltenham.” These erything organised for the next day’s wise words, sung by racing. Then I just go back to my acChristy Moore, sum up commodation, sit down, watch a bit of the importance and em- TV and just relax.” phasis put on the ChelWhether Russell will have to lose tenham horse racing weight for the festival will depend festival. Apart from perhaps the Aintree on what horses he’s riding. While the Grand National, it is probably the best ritualistic time of Lent is now upon us, known horse racing spectacle, attract- and many of us strive to give up those ing millions of spectators from Ireland treats we crave so much, our efforts reand further afield. At Cheltenham, ev- ally do pale in comparison to a jockey’s erything is done on a mammoth scale; diet. It’s a well known fact that what big money, big names and big wins. jockeys lack in height they make up for There is also an element of rivalry and in strength and stamina, however this tradition between the English and Irish, is not enough, as they need to mainas each camp tries to gain the greatest tain a very low weight. Russell is not number of winners over the four cli- any different: “I’d probably go for a matic days. walk around the track [before a race]. Cheltenham is as much a platform I would never go there with any huge for judging horses as it if for assessing amount of weight to lose; I’d have a cup jockeys. Speaking to the University Ob- of tea rather than something more subserver, Horse Racing Ireland’s National stantial and then I’d go have a hot bath Hunt Ambassador for 2012, Davy Rus- and sweat it off that way.” sell, gave an insight into his daily rouCheltenham is renowned for its retine at the festival. Russell is a jockey verberating atmosphere, and the roar of with a reputation for being a great Cheltenham has a lasting effect on those horseman and skilled rider, having nar- that attend. They arrive back exhausted, rowly missed out on champion jockey with hands in empty pockets, uttering titles in the past few years, beaten by a phrases like ‘You had to be there’. Russhort head by the likes of Ruby Walsh sell believes that Cheltenham isn’t just and Paul Townend. Russell is first jock- an event for the winning punter, “It’s ey to the famous Gigginstown House about speaking to the owners and stuff Stud, owned by Ryanair boss, Michael like that and meeting people and kind of O’Leary. This highly productive team enjoying the atmosphere there too. You yields great results on the race course, really need to just get out and enjoy it.” and any horses they send across the waWith the biggest event in the National ter will definitely be watched closely by Hunt racing calendar around the corner, racing punters. Russell would be forgiven for feeling The much publicised road to Chel- nervous, but instead looks forward to it: tenham can be a long one, and when “I’d be more excited now than nervous. I asked about his plans for the historic think the nerves are kind of gone out of sporting event, Russell said, “I’ll prob- it like, especially when you’ve a number ably go over there on either Sunday of horses to ride. I’d be nervous maybe night or Monday morning, get my ac- if I only had the one ride. It’s more lookcommodation, get myself sorted and get ing forward to it than anything else.” everything I need ready for the week To ride at this level and compete at and kind of try and treat it as if I’m back such a fast pace in horse racing, nerves home riding out. I’ll go in and ride out of steel are a prerequisite. On the back every morning and then do some media of continued success from the Gigginstuff as well. One of the days I have to stown House Stud, each of their horses go on Channel 4, for the Morning Line have a strong chance of winning, and on interview, so I’ll have to pencil that in! their back will be an excellent rider.
The University Observer · 28 February 2012
The Badger stars in ‘Merseyside Burning’
by Kevin Beirne
Football UCD AFC claimed their third Collingwood Cup in four years after they saw off NUI Maynooth with extra time in the quarter final and the Royal College of Surgeons in the semi final, enroute to last Thursday’s final, in which they beat Mary Immaculate. Niall Hanley scored the only goal of the game early in the first half, with an unstoppable header from close range.
Kayaking UCD Canoe Club achieved its best result in recent memory at the 2012 Kayaking Varsities, held in Castlebar last weekend. A total of sixteen medals was good enough to see UCD finish second overall, with Rachel Molloy winning gold for her performance in the women’s grand prix.
Lacrosse UCD will have a strong representation at this summer’s European Lacrosse Championship in Amsterdam. The Irish women’s team will include six current UCD students: Rachel Blake, Amy Clarkin, Meabh Kavanagh, Aisling Casey, Orla McCourt and Maria Sheehy, as well as UCD coach Katelin Billups. UCD will have one current student, Cillian Murphy, as well as eight graduates in the men’s team.
Hurling A strong first half wasn’t enough for UCD to see off the challenge of UCC in the Fitzgibbon Cup in Cork. UCD will not be involved in the finals weekend after UCC overturned a 2-8 to 0-13 deficit to win comfortably by 1-23 to 2-13. The last twenty-seven minutes of the game saw UCC dominate, scoring 1-10 to UCD’s disappointing 0-3, as the host’s half-back line took over.
Sailing The Irish University Sailing Association (IUSA) Sailing Intervarsity National Championships took place in Westport, Co. Mayo across four days from the 15th-19th February. UCD came out on top in both the Silver and Bronze fleets. UCD 5 beat NUI Galway 2 2-0 in the Bronze final, while UCD 3 beat NUI Galway 1 in the Silver final by the same score. The Gold Fleet Finals had to be postponed due to dangerous conditions. They will now race on March 31, the same day as the Colours headto-head between UCD and Trinity in Dún Laoghaire. UCD 1 (Simon Doran and Aoife Cooney, Barry McCartin and Eimear McIvor, Aidan McLaverty and Bella Morehead) will face UCC 2, while UCD 2 (Michael Harrington and Ciara Browne, David Fitzgerald and Zoe Flood, Alyson Rumball and Caitriona Ni Mhurchu) will take on UCC 1 in the quarter finals.
Men’s Hockey UCD Men’s team played Corinthians in Belfield on Saturday afternoon. The game finished 1-1, which was enough to see UCD climb above Fingal into eighth place. Corinthians controlled much of the play as the students sat back and looked to counter. This backfired when, in the twentieth minute, Corinthians playercoach Lucas Piccioli weaved his way into the circle and his deflected shot rolled past UCD goalkeeper Conor Quinn. Keith Kenning levelled matters for the home side by grabbing his first goal of the season, from a Nick Burns sideline ball. Neither side could diffuse the opposition’s defence from there, and chances were few and far between, eventually petering out to a 1-1 draw.
George Hook, Line and Sinker Daniel Keenan talks to broadcasting legend George Hook about his work in sports media and the state of Irish rugby
ne of Irish sport’s most outspoken pundits, it seems that George Hook has been around forever. The fact is that he has only been mainstream for about ten years. With a talk show on Newstalk, a column for the Irish Independent, and probably most famously, a place on the panel for the Six Nations opposite Tom McGurk and Brent Pope, it is easy to see why George Hook is a household name. He grew up in a rugby school, and “adored the technical part of the game,” which is what drew him to rugby coaching. The majority of his life was spent outside of the media, coaching London Irish, Connacht and the USA National team among others. He also ran a catering business, but his ventures ultimately failed. It wasn’t until 2000, when a two minute segment on RTÉ turned into a much longer affair, followed by numerous fleeting television appearances, that he was put on the panel for the Six Nations. Hook’s love of language is the reason that written journalism is his favourite medium of communication. “With writing, there’s this whole idea and then you have to construct it, and you have to have full stops, and commas and semicolons. I mean I just adore language.” He says what he likes least “is television. We can be on the air for five hours and what will my involvement be? Ten minutes? What television makes you do is talk in sound bites.” It is on television that Hook has coined many of his famous phrases, some of which he admits to coming up with live on television, others he has prepared, such as “If Reggie Corogon’s sell by date was written on my yoghurt carton, there’d be trees growing out of it.” Hook is well known for his critique of Irish players and management, but
Photographer: David Nowak
“My perfect departure from this earthly coil would be to hit Tom McGurk a box live on television, then keel over dead.” his criticisms also extend to his fellow pundits. He says that “there’s no liking in the RTÉ panel” and hates any comparison to another opinionated sports broadcaster, Eamon Dunphy: “I dislike him more than any other human being on the planet. He criticises managers, he’s never managed; he criticises coaches, he’s never coached; he’s criticised administrators, he’s never administrated. He’s played twenty-three times for Ireland. Have I ever played for Ireland? No, but I’ve coached in the Rugby World Cup.” His criticisms of pundits also extend to former players, as he got into a Twitter row with Brian O’Driscoll, who voiced his preference for having ex-players on a rugby panel, rather than just sports journalists and broadcasters. “All the players would prefer to have players in the panel, because they get an easier ride. No near current player will criticise any of the players they played with.” “My opinion is not necessarily right, but interestingly to fair-minded people, it would’ve been right more than it’s wrong.” For a man who refers to his opinion as a separate entity in itself, it’s no surprise that Hook will stick to his guns. He says that people prefer to focus on when he’s wrong rather than when he’s right: “When O’Gara was nineteen years of age, he wasn’t on the Munster squad, I said I thought this guy was the best fly-half since Ollie Campbell; nobody else even knew who he was. What happens far too often is that I say Ireland will beat Scotland, and Scotland win, and then hey presto, George is an eejit.” As for the present Irish rugby team, Hook is, predictably, not shy in voicing his opinion. To the bemusement of some, he “takes the piss” out of O’Driscoll more often than anybody
else: “He [O’Driscoll] reads the paper every day, he listens to the radio, and it says ‘Brian O’Driscoll you’re wonderful’, and then there’s this curmudgeon who says maybe you’re not wonderful, maybe you’re not perfect. Understandably, he’s not happy.” Of O’Driscoll, Hook says that he’s an “average captain”, but despite the criticisms, he ranks him alongside Jack Kyle and Mike Gibson as the greatest Irish players of the game. The selection of this year’s Irish Six Nations team has rightfully come under a lot of scrutiny. Hook is an advocator of having O’Gara at fly-half, and has interesting ideas on how to solve Ireland’s openside flanker dilemma, believing Jamie Heaslip is the only current Irish player with the on-pitch intelligence and work ethic to fill the problematic No 7 jersey. And what about the man in charge of the Irish team? “Kidney is a very interesting guy, in that I think even he would not suggest he’s a great technical coach. He is undoubtedly one of the best managers Irish rugby has ever had. The problem is that the game is moving at a fantastic rate of change.” While every top rugby nation is finding new ways of defending, attacking and utilising players, Hook says Ireland are falling behind under the tutelage of Kidney, stating, “We’ve been slow to change, because essentially we have in Kidney someone who’s slow to change.” Now at the age of seventy, Hook still doesn’t contemplate retirement. He is a self-confessed workaholic whose “perfect departure from this earthly coil would be to hit Tom McGurk a box live on television, then keel over dead! RTÉ won’t fire me, I will leave. I’ll make that decision to leave when I know in my heart that I can no longer look at a rugby match and access it.”
Photographer: Caoimhe McDonnell
he Badger made a genuine attempt to see the good in footballers recently. Unfortunately, after tuning into Ford Super Sunday on Sky Sports he realised that this is a futile feat. If Gary Neville’s pitiful floundering in the commentary box doesn’t make you want to cry for countless reasons, then the blatant ignorance of those that play the sport, and indeed those that organise it, will. Let’s focus on the latter. Racism seems to be the buzzword around the footballing world these days, or rather, a certain ‘n’ word does. Players and fans alike are being accused of verbally abusing one another about their race, rather than sticking to the good oldfashioned sexism and homophobia that worked so well for as long as the Badger can remember. The big bad wolf is Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, who, on a side note, is doing a rather good job of taking the heat off his equally abhorrent teammate Andy Carroll. The Uruguayan said nasty things to Manchester United defender Patrice Evra, and the Frenchman got upset. He told on Suarez and got him in lots of trouble. Rightly so. How dare Suarez veer away from the script. Football players are allowed call each other ‘cunts’ and ‘wankers’ and spit at each other as much as they like but not mention anything to do with one’s skin colour. Why? Because. Suarez got banned from playing football for a while and, after having watching Mississippi Burning on repeat and listening to countless 2Pac albums, came back a new man. Befittingly, he encountered Evra once again. The perfect opportunity to bury the hatchet, no? No. The smarmy-looking Uruguayan decided he wouldn’t shake Evra’s hand before the match. Just like that, Evra became a modern-day Rosa Parks, only better because he’s good at football, while she always got put in goals because she had no first touch. The little Frenchman ran ragged and helped his team to a 2-1 victory – Suarez getting the goal for his side. He reminded us all that footballers really are just better than the rest of us. You could really tell he was doing it for everyone who’s ever suffered from the venom of racism; footballers are righteous like that. After the final whistle, Evra ran around and celebrated with the type of humility and class we have come to expect from French footballers. It wasn’t just three points for United, it was a victory for civil rights… Actually, the Badger takes all that back, Evra’s just as big a moron as the rest of them. Various other claims have been made in the past few weeks, namely racist chants from Porto fans towards Manchester City players Yaya Touré and Mario Balotelli, and claims that City fans in turn chanted that Porto striker Hulk isn’t actually incredible. The Badger isn’t sure which confuses him more; that morality is all of a sudden important in football, or the fact that people are surprised by these allegations, as though footballers and fans had been anything other than ignorant scumbags prior to now.
For those of you irritated by the ironic endorsement of racism in this column, remember, the Badger is both black and white, and therefore immune to criticism.
The University Observer · 28 February 2012
A very British brawl
Dereck Chisora and David Haye’s actions have left the reputation of British boxing in tatters, writes Aaron Kennedy
It is evident from the reaction of the Klitschkos and the foreign press that British boxers are becoming quite antagonistic
Chisora slaps Vitali Klitschko in the build-up to their fight
ritish boxer Dereck Chisora has been fined $100,000 from a $500,000 purse by the German Professional Boxing Federation (BDB) over numerous incidents surrounding his February 18th WBC Heavyweight Title fight with Ukrainian boxer Vitali Klitschko. The bosses of British boxing are also vowing to discipline Chisora following his unacceptable punch-up with former champion boxer, David Haye, in Munich. His antics have further damaged the already tarnished reputation of British boxing, and have led the Klitschkos to state that they will never fight British fighters again. The controversy surrounding Chisora arose at the pre-fight weigh-in
for his title fight. After weighing in at 17 stone 3lbs, the eccentric, Londonbased fighter turned up the heat. Chisora, donning a Union Jack bandana over his face, squared up to Klitschko and slapped him with force to the left side of his face. Chisora is quoted as saying “I ain’t come here to play games; I come here to fight.” Even his own trainer, Don Charles, labelled the slap as “unacceptable”. Chisora also spat water at Wladimir Klitschko inside the ring shortly before the fight began. Just hours after losing his Heavyweight title bout with Vitali Klitschko, a brawl erupted between Chisora and his fellow countryman David Haye in the middle of a press conference. The
Zimbabwean-born boxer also threatened to shoot Haye. This led the German authorities to take him in for questioning on the matter, but he was later released without charge. The German Boxing Federation is recommending that the WBC and British Boxing Board of Control also fine Chisora, as well as issuing him with a lifetime ban. The British Boxing Board of Control has confirmed that Chisora may face the possibility of a lifetime ban and have set March 14th as the date of his hearing. Chisora has since apologised in a statement released earlier last week, and said that he “let my family, my team, and worst of all, the sport I love, down.” The 15-3 fighter is not new to scandal. On May 22, 2009 at the York Hall in Bethnal Green, Chisora was suspended for four months for biting Paul Butlin during the fifth round of their bout. He was also fined £2,500 for his misconduct. In November 2010, Chisora was convicted of assaulting his then-girlfriend; he narrowly escaped a jail sentence and was ordered to pay £2,000 and take part in 150 hours of community service. The court was also informed that the fighter had previous convictions for public order offences, assaulting a police officer, and possession of an offensive weapon. Robert Smith, the secretary for the
Haye and Chisora square off at a press conference British Board of Control, believes Haye and Chisora have ruined their chances of fighting the Klitschko brothers again for the world titles. He stated, “It was just crazy and unacceptable. It’s a shameful night for British boxing, and they should be ashamed of themselves.” Due to Haye’s recent retirement from the sport, he no longer holds a license, which means the Board cannot deal with him. On the other end of the spectrum, the Klitschkos were so shocked by the disconcerting scenes in Munich that they have vowed never to fight a British boxer again. The Klitschkos’ manager, Bernd Boente, said any deal with Haye to fight Vitali is highly improbable, “With the bad experience we’ve had with British fighters we will now look for other countries. Wladamir will never fight Haye again and RTL (German TV) will never accept that fight again.” It is evident from the reaction of the Klitschkos and the foreign press that
Czech-List for Euro 2012 As Ireland prepare to play Poland and the Ukraine in June, Stefan Bracken looks ahead to tomorrow’s warm-up game against the Czech Republic
Prediction: 3-0, with Keane and McClean to score “Trapattoni will not be testing out new players, so much as solidifying his starting XI, and possible substitutes”
his is probably the most exciting of eras in Irish football. Ireland’s present success is only comparable to previous qualifications for major tournaments in ‘88, ‘90, ‘94 and ‘02. While all these events carried with them their own individual splendour, the difference under Trapattoni is that Ireland has the capacity to cause an upset against any team in Europe. As was shown in the many clean sheets of 2011 (which included eight in a row), Ireland have a well-organised and formidable defence, as well as some young, exciting attacking talent. The team’s biggest disadvantage is Trapattoni’s dislike for experimenting with these young players. The Republic of Ireland’s first Euro 2012 warm-up game opponents are the Czech Republic, who they play tomorrow night at Lansdowne Road. The Aviva has already seen some very special moments, including most recently, a tense, necessary win over Armenia to secure second place in Group B, as well as entertaining the party atmosphere of the playoff success against Estonia. The atmosphere this Wednesday night will be more much relaxed than any group game, yet the crowd’s anticipation will be almost palpable. After all, this is not just a ‘friendly’. A convincing win over a fellow participant in Euro 2012 would do wonders for the Irish
British boxers are becoming quite antagonistic. This animal-like behavior has no part in the sport but has recently occurred more frequently. For example, in the build-up to David Haye’s heavyweight unification fight for the WBA (Super), WBO, IBF, IBO and Ring titles against Vladimir Klitschko last July, Haye wore a t-shirt depicting him holding the heads of the Klitschko brothers while standing atop their decapitated bodies. More recently, a scandal involving WBC Champion, Carl Froch looks set to rock British boxing. It has been reported that Frock admitted to delaying his knockout victory over South African Ruben Groenewald so that family and friends could make money from betting on the bout. It is up to the British Boxing Board of Control to stamp out the disappointing behavior of their boxers. These incidents are just another blotch on the record of British boxing and on that of the increasingly venomous world of British sport.
team’s confidence and, as Trapattoni has repeated since the beginning of his tenure as Irish boss, will improve Ireland’s FIFA ranking, which is always important for any international team. After breaking into the World’s Top 20 this month, for the first time since the dark ages of the Staunton Era, a win would push Ireland further up the table. James McClean has been called up to the squad, and he may be the only one of the non-regulars who could squeeze into Trap’s trimmed-down squad of twentythree for the June tournament. Trapattoni will not be testing out
new players, so much as solidifying his starting XI, and possible substitutes. He will stick to the men who served him well in the twelve matches it took to get here. The Czech Republic are a depleted team and do not possess the quality they had several seasons ago. In Euro 2004, they were widely held as outside favourites to take the trophy. Despite being the only team to win all their group matches, they bowed out to the eventual winners, Greece. They only needed two wins against Liechtenstein, a win and draw against Scotland and a win against Lithuania to get
to the play-offs. They managed to comfortably beat Montenegro in the play-offs, and despite being tipped as possible winners of Euro 2004, Ireland beat them 2-1 in Lansdowne Road in a warm-up game, before the two teams were drawn in the same group for the qualifications for Euro 2008. Ireland drew their home game before losing 2-1 in Prague. For the first time in recent memory, Ireland will come into such a game as favourites. Ireland will also play Bosnia and Herzegovina in Dublin at the end of May and Hungary in Budapest, before jetting off to their training
base in Gdynia. Three wins should be the result of these warm up games, against good quality, if not spectacular teams. Changes are unlikely: Keane will lead the attack as usual, the defence and midfield will be largely the same, and pardoning the pun, the goalkeeper’s spot is a Given. Darron Gibson has been ruled out, clearing the way for Keith Andrews and Glenn Whelan to continue their partnership in midfield. The Republic of Ireland are doing well at the moment, with qualification for their first major tournament in ten years, one of the best defensive records, one of the most experienced managers in Europe, as well as a large array of attacking options to choose from. With a home crowd and momentum from a strong 2011, anything less than a win will be disappointing from an Irish perspective.
OSbserver P O R T
The University Observer · 28 February 2012
UCD succumb to superior Eagles
Inside... We talk to Gordon Elliott and Davy Russell in our Cheltenham special
After a season of highs and lows, UCD Marian fall to the remarkable form of UL Eagles, reports Colm Lakes
CD Marian fell to another defeat at the hands of the UL Eagles in their final home game of the season. With the playoffs fast approaching, UCD went into this game hopeful of stifling the red hot Eagles, who have been the best team in the country since the arrival of American Robert Taylor. The guard has been inspirational since his arrival into the country, playing a big hand in UL’s National Cup glory and being presented with the MVP award. The Limerick team have now won an impressive five of their last six league games. UCD themselves were introducing a new American to their home fans today with Owen McNally replacing the frequently ill-effective Donnie Stith, who was sent home. UCD will be hopeful that McNally has a similar impact to Taylor. However, from looking at the result of this match and the loss to Killester in his debut, it could be wishful thinking. UL started the game the better of the two with former Irish international Jason Killeen proving to be a very tough task. At close to seven foot tall, there is very little that can be done to stop him. Marian struggled to stop him as the big man had a thirty-one point game, proving the difference in a contest that could have gone either way at certain points. UCD were not sharp in the first half and were lucky to be in the game by the end. McNally was quiet early before he went to work. Niall and Conor Meany were UCD’s main scorers as they combined for a forty point game. By halftime UL
had built a fourteen point lead and appeared confident of their ability to push on in the second half. UCD missed Donnie Stith’s height as they failed to successfully guard Killeen. After a tormenting twenty-four minutes of play, UCD’s fans finally saw signs of a revival as their team began to improve. McNally went to work, making up for his disappointing start. Having trailed by as much as sixteen points in the third quarter, Marian managed to trim the deficit to three points with four minutes left in the quarter with a very impressive comeback. A subdued crowd were now right behind their team as the game looked as though the momentum had swung. However, the Eagles were not prepared to let all their work from the first two quarters go to waste. They stepped up their defensive efforts and managed to push on again, with big scores coming from Killeen, Taylor and Eoin Quigley. UL coach Mark Keenan was relieved to see his team increase the lead to seven by the end of the third period, and they were lucky not to have thrown this game away to a hungry UCD team. Despite UCD’s efforts, they could not recreate their third quarter performance as they looked for something to close the gap. UL looked like a team preparing to complete a league and cup double and were too good for Marian, as they have been for many teams of late. The Eagles pulled ahead by double digits and while UCD always possessed the threat of a comeback, they never executed it, and UL ran out victors 90-81.
page 17 The Badger talks about races, and we don’t mean Formula 1
UCD can take some positives from this game, however, ahead of the playoffs. Owen McNally announced his arrival with a big second half that left him with twenty-one points, a sizable contribution for only his second game in the country. He has shown the commitment that Stith never did, which is exactly what UCD were looking for when they brought him over. UL’s Jason Killeen proved his international pedigree with an emphatic performance, scoring thirty-one points and adding many rebounds to that. Eoin Quigley and Robert Taylor also had twenty-point games for the cup champions. UCD look ahead
81 UL Eagles 90
UCD student Martin Mulkerrins had a massive victory in the US on Sunday, writes Declan Smith
breaker victory to secure the title and the number one spot in collegiate handball in the world. The first game of the final was a torrid affair, with both players attempting to lay heavy markers for the rest of the match. Mulkerrins’ phenomenal power was on display, while Cordova’s mesmerising speed and dexterity around the court demonstrated why he is regarded as one of the best collegiate players in the world. Mulkerrins pulled away in the first game thanks to some fine kill shots, taking the first game 21-6. Cordova came out firing in the second game, taking an
Martin Mulkerrins in action against Daniel Cordova in the US Collegiate Handball Open final early lead. It looked ominous for Mulkerrins, as Cordova appeared unfazed by his first game defeat, outscoring Mulkerrins 10-2 in the first ten minutes of the second game. Following a time-out, the UCD man made a flurry of forty-foot kill shots from the back court and tied the score at 10-10.
George Hook talks to Observer Sport about hitting people
to their next game away to UCC Demons on March 4th. A win against the Cork side would be ideal as their focus switches to the playoffs.
Mulkerrins wins US Collegiate Handball Open
artin Mulkerrins won the United States Collegiate Handball Open title last week in Springfield, Missouri, becoming the first Irish champion in over seven years to win the prestigious prize. Mulkerrins, a first year Agricultural Science student, overcame a number of top American and Irish players during the week. In the final held last Sunday, the Galway native showed experience beyond his years in dispatching University of Texas at El Paso’s Daniel Cordova in a thrilling 11-10 tie-
From then on, the players became tentative, trading roof shots as neither wanted to concede easy points. Cordova’s low power serve became Mulkerrins’ undoing, as he reeled off a number of points to lead 20-16. The final point of the game saw a 55-shot rally ensue, as both players put their bodies on the line, with Cordova finishing the game with a coolly executed corner kill despite the long rally.
This brought the game to a tiebraker, which Cordova controlled for large periods, eventually finding himself one point from victory at 10-6. Mulkerrins, at this vital stage, showed phenomenal cool, firstly regaining serve and rattling off five quick points to win the title. Mulkerrins has become the youngest winner of the event since Arizona’s Luis Moreno won the collegiate title in 2007. Since then, Moreno has cemented his place as the United States’ number one pro player, which is a positive omen for the UCD man. The arrival of Mulkerrins has seen a renaissance of sorts for the GAA Handball club, as they became the Irish Senior Collegiate Team Champions early in the year, defeating DCU in the final. Following his victory, Mulkerrins, who captured the World U-17 title in Portland, Oregon in 2009, pinpointed the U-19 event in the World Handball Championships as his ultimate goal. Other UCD players competing at the event included second year Radiography student Alan Armstrong, and first year Agricultural Science student Sean Foley, both of whom recorded some fine victories before finishing in the top thirty in the event overall. To round up an impressive week for UCD Handball, Diarmaid Nash has reached the All-Ireland Senior semi-final following his quarter-final victory over Mayo’s Joe McCann, and will play Westmeath’s Robbie McCarthy in the semi-final.