ILL-TEMPERED HOCKEY MEN DRAW WITH CLONTARF P22 Observer Digest INTERVIEW Exclusive: Blowing their own trumpets We meet the anonymous authors of the Belfield Bugle P6
COMMENT US of Europe What role can nationalism play in a new federal Europe? P8
FEATURES MARATHON MAN: PETER MOLLOY SHUFFLES THROUGH DUBLIN P12
otwo IS THE ALBUM DEAD? ASH TALK TO OTWO INSIDE
Observer The University
VOLUME XVI ISSUE 5
10th November 2009
NE QUID FALSE DICERE AUDEAT NE QUID VERI NON AUDEAT
IRELAND’S AWARD-WINNING STUDENT NEWSPAPER
Ryan’s future in SU uncertain Ongoing IAB discussions regarding Ryan’s status as a student
FEATURES Infinity and Beyond President of the UFO Society of Ireland, Betty Meyler, talks alien life P14
UCDSU breaches responsible drinking code ALEX COURT The Mature Enjoyment of Alcohol in Society (MEAS) lobby group has criticised UCD Students’ Union for promoting irresponsible drinking during the first week of term. The group last week issued a press release in which it said that UCDSU failed to respect the MEAS Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks. MEAS were concerned that a widelycirculated SU email suggests “an association with bravado, or with violent, aggressive, dangerous or anti-social behaviour; an association with sexual success or prowess; [and encourages] illegal, irresponsible or immoderate consumption, such as binge-drinking, drunkenness or drink-driving.” The email, sent with the subject line “UCD Ents Presents Black Week”, was promoting events running from 7th-13th September, the first week of this semester. It encouraged a comprehensive drinking programme including “UCD Ents suggests… Breakfast Couch (Can Continued on P2 >>
10th November 2009 ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY... 1918: Washington receives a coded message from Europe declaring an end to World War I the following day
BRIDGET FITZSIMONS & CATRIONA LAVERTY
tudents’ Union Campaigns & Communications Officer Paddy Ryan could be stripped of his position if the SU Internal Appeals Board (IAB) finds he was ineligble for election. It has emerged that Ryan’s status as a member of UCDSU at the time of his election in March 2009 may be in doubt. According to new information, Ryan was not a member of the Students’ Union for the 2008-09 academic year, as he was on an unofficial leave of absence from his studies, and was therefore required to apply for Union membership to the IAB in advance of running for the C&C office. The IAB are empowered under the SU’s constitution to grant membership to “any person who has previously been registered as a student with the university, but who has taken leave from their studies during the current academic year.” While Ryan was successfully awarded membership through this channel, a dispute has now arisen on whether this power can be extended to students who have not formally applied to their local programme board for a leave of absence. It is believed that Ryan’s absence had not been formally approved by the Engineering Programme Board and was therefore unauthorised by the university. The news comes just days after Ryan’s ability to complete the duties of his position was called into question after a meeting of Students’ Union Council last
week. SU President Gary Redmond proposed a vote of no confidence in Postgraduate Officer Kimberley Foy, which was seconded by the four other sabbatical officers. The Council heard that among other reasons, Foy had failed to run for election to the postgraduate seat on UCD Governing Authority, which she is mandated to do under the terms of the SU constitution. However it later emerged that Foy had been in contact with Ryan to ascertain the details of when and how she would run for election, but had received no answer from the C&C Officer. As a full time postgraduate student, Postgraduate Officer of UCDSU and Environmental Officer of USI, Foy felt she may miss out on important deadlines due to her workload, and had asked Ryan to keep her informed regarding the Governing Authority elections. The motion of no confidence in Foy was subsequently deferred until the next meeting of SU Council. Foy told The University Observer that it was “a drastic step” to put the motion
UCD AFC Captain Ronan Finn lifts the League of Ireland First Division trophy, securing UCD’s return to Premier Division football. Photo Daire Brennan on an agenda before Council. “You’re essentially ruining someone’s reputation. That’s very serious, and I think that
either they don’t understand that, or they do understand it and don’t care enough.” Continued on P3 >>
Confusion surrounds Commerce Day BRIDGET FITZSIMONS Commerce Day 2010 has been cancelled after the Quinn School of Business withdrew support for the traditional charity event. The reasoning for the cancellation remains unclear however, with conflicting reports coming from those involved in the day’s organisation. QSoc auditor Matthew Gleeson and a university spokesperson have explained that an organising committee was formed too late to successfully plan the day. However Commerce and Economics (C&E) Society auditor Laura Arnold stated that last year’s committee had experienced problems in delivering the funds raised to their chosen charity, Cara Malawi, and reported that the Quinn School were reluctant to endorse any further events as a result. Speaking to The University Observer,
Student collecting at CommDay 2009 Photo courtesy of CPA Ireland Arnold stated that she and Gleeson approached the Quinn School, and told them that they would be willing to take charge and chair CommDay but “there was something to do with outstanding payments.” Arnold also said that the
school stated “that because of last year, when the charity was left waiting for money, they [UCD Quinn School] said that it couldn’t go ahead.” However, Gleeson stated that he and Arnold had “left it a bit late in terms of
planning,” and that the Quinn School told them that “it would have been in the works for about a month or so already and to acquire licences for collecting stuff would be an awful lot of trouble.” A spokesperson for the university echoed these views, stating that the cancellation was “partly the result of students not coming forward to the committee in the time required to plan and organise such an event.” It has since emerged, however, that the organising committee for last year’s event did not hold their first meeting until 20th November last year. Arnold expressed disappointment at the difference in criteria this year, telling The University Observer that “I know that it’s late enough and that we’re coming into exams, but if we get a big enough crew, we have about two months solid to Continued on P3 >>
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
NEWS CONTINUED FROM P1
UCDSU breaches responsible drinking code The Mature Enjoyment of Alcohol in Society (MEAS) lobby group has criticised UCD Students’ Union for promoting irresponsible drinking during the first week of term. The group last week issued a press release in which it said that UCDSU failed to respect the MEAS Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks. MEAS were concerned that a widelycirculated SU email suggests “an association with bravado, or with violent, aggressive, dangerous or anti-social behaviour; an association with sexual success or prowess; [and encourages] illegal, irresponsible or immoderate consumption, such as binge-drinking, drunkenness or drink-driving.” The email, sent with the subject line “UCD Ents Presents Black Week”, was promoting events running from 7th13th September, the first week of this semester. It encouraged a comprehensive drinking programme including “UCD Ents suggests… Breakfast Couch (Can of dutch/bottle of buckfast) LUNCH Student bar, UCD (Fosters)…” The email went on to anticipate a party in “some sh***y little place that sells booze after hours, drink till you puke …” There was also the suggestion that students would wake with “Regret/ Hangover/Who the f*** is he/she?” The press release issued by MEAS stated that the group’s Chief Executive, Fionnuala Sheehan, welcomed the increasing level of complaints being brought to her attention. She said “the vigilance of individual citizens is the most effective way of bringing irresponsible practices in the marketing and sale of alcohol to our attention”. Mrs Sheehan told The University Observer that the role of her group is to “draw to the attention of the public the
Discount driving lessons on offer to UCD students DARREN KELLY UCD Students’ Union have secured a deal whereby students will be able to avail of discounted driving lessons from a local driving school. The lessons will be available to UCD students at a discounted rate for the remainder of the academic year. The lessons will be provided by OB Drive, the same driving school who provided free half-hour driving lessons during the SU Road Safety Week. The free lessons offered to students during Road Safety Week were only available to a limited amount of students due to time constraints, but SU Welfare Officer Scott Ahearn, who organised the free lessons felt the interest level merited a more permanent arrangement.
Students who are interested in the discounted driving lessons can contact OB Drive and must apply for five lessons. Under the terms of the agreement, the first lesson will be free of charge, and students will then pay the normal OB student rate for the remaining four lessons. OB Drive’s normal rates are €32 per lesson, with a regular student rate of €28 per lesson. A UCD student card must be used as proof of identification to avail of the special offer. SU Welfare Officer, Scott Ahearn, told The University Observer that the free lessons during Road Safety Awareness Week had generated a “huge amount of feedback” and he described the deal as a “great discount for students.” Ahearn is expecting a positive reaction to the scheme based on the feedback
received during Road Safety Week, but acknowledges that it will be difficult to predict what the demand for these lessons will be until the scheme has been fully publicised to students. Ahearn expressed satisfaction with the feedback and attendance from students for the road safety campaign week as a whole, citing a “very, very positive reaction” despite poor weather. OB Drive offer lessons for drivers of
all levels, from beginners to advanced. They cater for learner drivers in Dublin, Meath, Cavan and Kildare.
Remembrance pebbles to be Islamic Society raise over €1000 for charity removed for fear of vandalism COLIN SWEETMAN
he UCD Islamic Society raised over €1,000 during their Charity Week, which took place from Monday 26th October to Sunday 1st November. Throughout thewhole of the week, which was run in conjunction with the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS), an estimated €1,200 was raised in aid of orphanages and schools in Kenya, Somalia, Palestine, Gaza and Kashmir. The first event of the week was held in the Student Centre, where the society held a Cake Sale. Volunteers baked or donated cakes in addition to selling henna art and tattoos to any students interested in having body art applied. Other events included a movie night on the evening of Thursday 29th, featuring the award-winning documentary Occupation 101, a film depicting the conflict between Israel and Palestine and a brief history of the conflict. As well as this a women’s-only event called ‘My Fair Lady’ ran the following night and included pampering sessions, ice-cream indulgence, cake decorating, and ‘fear factoring’, amongst other activities. The Islamic Society also held a football tournament in collaboration with the
Islamic Society in the Dublin Institute of Technology. The tournament was held on the 31st October and involved sixteen teams competing on UCD’s Astroturf pitches. To raise money during these events, collections were held in Tallaght Mosque after Jummah, the community congregational prayer. The UCD Islamic Society President, Moosa Patel, said that “overall, [the week] was quite successful, considering it was during the mid-term exams. Our aim at the start was to try raise around €1000, so due to the grace of God, we accomplished just that.” Other aims of the society during the Charity Week were to show Muslim students in a different light and increase the awareness of Islam, rather than “the stereotypes that you see and hear on TV. We want to show that it is part of our faith to give in charity and that we too work to benefit society.” He also felt that it gave members of the society and Muslim students – in both secondary schools and at a university level – the opportunity to get involved and help out, so that “they feel like they are contributing and making a difference.”
ebbles left in the UCD Garden of Remembrance as part of last week’s Remembrance Day are to be removed at the end of the month, following concerns that the stones may be vandalised. The pebbles, which are being used to symbolise loved ones as part of the Please Talk campaign, will be returned to Killiney beach at the end of November. It was feared that the pebbles may be vandalised by students if left for a prolonged period of time. Students’ Union Welfare Officer, Scott Ahearn, explained that such a measure was one of many precautions taken by the Please Talk committee when organising the event. “One of the issues that was brought up in the committee was if something was to happen like that [vandalism], we had to take precautionary measures,” Ahearn explained. “Now if something were to happen then, we’d probably gather the stones and I’d inform the students that they would be available sometime to pick up or if they choose not to, they’d be brought back to the beach where we collected them.” Ahearn also spoke about the concept of
The UCD Remembrance Garden
the rememberance ceremony at which the pebbles were laid, saying that he wanted to arrange something unique that would stand out from previous events. The idea of using pebbles derived from the Jewish religion where they are used instead of flowers to symbolise permanency. By adapting this idea, Ahearn explained, the memory of those who have had a significant impact on our lives will live on. “You don’t lose touch with them,” he added. “They’re there and they’ll always be there within you so it’s a nice representation.” Overall, Ahearn declared himself happy with how the event proceeded, saying that it was received “very positively” and that
Photo Catriona Laverty students reacted well to the initiative. He felt that the day was helpful for those who attended, proclaiming that “[it] allows for a sense of community for students to realise that there is support, there is something that they can come together for and that’s the most important thing.” Remembrance Day was held on 2nd November to coincide with All Souls’ Day. Students were given the opportunity to paint a pebble which would represent a loved one that they had lost. The pebbles will be located in the Garden of Remembrance, situated behind the Tierney building, until the end of the month where they will either be taken by the students or returned to Killiney beach.
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
firstname.lastname@example.org CONTINUED FROM P1
Ryan’s future in SU uncertain
Students face lengthy queues for the student services desk Photo: Stephen Carroll
Student Desk hours cut PAUL FENNESSY
he Student Desk opening hours in UCD’s Tierney Building have been reduced, with cuts enacted in the service from last Monday 2nd November. The reductions mean that the Student Desk will not open until 2pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but will stay open until 6pm on these days. This is a change from the former opening hours, which saw the Student Desk open from 9.30am to 4.30pm five days a week. In another cost-cutting measure, the standalone Fees & Grants desk has been closed, which means that students looking for help in these areas must also queue for the Student Desk. Student negative reaction to the changes has been strong. One PhD student who approached The University Observer stating that she was forced to wait for “at least twenty minutes” to be attended to at the Student Desk. The student also says she received conflicting reasons for the inadequate services. “My complaint was the putting of all the queries into one desk,” she said. “Everybody has to queue, it doesn’t matter what your query is. I pointed [the queu-
ing situation] out a few months ago and I got the form letter, which I understand other people have received, saying it was due to budget cuts. Later that day I saw somebody who told me it had nothing to do with the budget cuts.” The student went on to express her annoyance at being ‘misinformed’ on the issue. “The budget cuts were just being used as cover for what the manager claimed was some survey they did, which seemed to say that students wanted a one-stop place. Therefore, this has been planned as a response to the survey, so it was on the cards before the cuts were ever necessary.” UCD Students’ Union have also received a number of complaints about the issue, according to the student, who voiced her concern about the considerable waiting period involved. “I’ve spent a total of a couple of hours queuing for a couple of minor things that should have been handled by fees and grants.” However, UCD’s Director of Administrative Services, Michael Sinnott, stated that the changes implemented were unavoidable, telling The University Observer that “the Student Desk in Administrative Services is working in a challenging environment which has seen a significant
reduction in staff resources available, both to the Student Desk itself as well as other teams in UCD Registry.” Sinnott believes that the reduction of opening hours for the desk is justified on the basis that it allows staff the opportunity to carry out other tasks, such as replying to emails. He also confirmed that the changes were made in reaction to a student survey. “These changes certainly reduce the amount of time for students to call in. However, in our start of term student survey, this year and last, we see an approximately 60:30:10 balance between direct contact, email and phones as the preferred means of getting support. Our balancing of services reflects this – our order of priority is desk, mail, and phone.” Sinnott also expressed scepticism on any potential return to full hours in the near future, saying that “the current economic climate, its consequent impact on budgets, nationally and within the university, allied with the employment control framework of the Department, and in the general context of an apparent belief that third level administrative headcounts are too high, does not make me optimistic in this regard.”
Foy conceded that she understood why the SU Council members were angry, however she went on to say that she felt Ryan should have taken “five minutes out of his paid day to call me and make sure that I’m doing my job.” Ryan however said that he “never received any emails from Kim about the positions [on GA].” He went on to say that the meeting was an “informal chat” in his office during Freshers’ Week and concedes that as he was “particularly busy” he may not have remembered all the details from that meeting. In a further development, members of Union Executive, minus the sabbatical officers will meet to discuss what, if any, course of action they may take regarding Ryan’s performance in the role of Campaigns & Communications Vice-President. According to
one part-time officer, “the majority of Executive are not happy with the Campaigns & Communications Officer and the job that he’s doing”. The officer went on to say that they will convene to discuss “the job that he [Ryan] is doing and any problems that have arisen and how we’re going to deal with them”. It’s understood that the meeting will take place this week, although details were not available at the time of going to print.
CONTINUED FROM P1
Confusion surrounds cancellation of 2010 Commerce Day work on it so I think there could be a big possibility of it going ahead.” Arnold and Gleeson have expressed interest in running an alternative event to CommDay, and are exploring the possibility of launching a ‘Quinn Day’ to include the whole of the Quinn School of Business. Gleeson said that the societies “just want to try and raise some money for charity,” and that they are “still toying with different ideas at the moment.”
The proposed ‘Quinn Day’ would see Commerce Day adapted from its current university-endorsed framework to become an unofficial, entirely studentled event that would likely see many events moved outside of the Quinn School building. However, the plans are in preliminary stages and Arnold was quick to emphasise that a final plan of action for an event “hasn’t been decided yet.”
Newman Games prove ‘After hours’ supervised study “logistical nightmare” area confirmed BRIDGET FITZSIMONS
Students’ Union Campaigns & Communications Officer Paddy Ryan has described the organisation of the Newman Games tournament as “a logistical nightmare”. The Games have been dogged by cancellations and scheduling conflicts since the beginning of the tournament. Fixtures set for particular days have been re-arranged due to teams not showing up, not having enough players or being unable to play at the designated time due to academic conflicts. Ryan said that he had hoped to have the Newman Games run to a “pre-determined schedule” which he had worked out to allow each team play twice. He explained that he had requested each team to send their timetables to him so he could work around the times that they are free, but that this proved problematic. According to Ryan, this did not work due to “some teams not being free at assigned times.” Ryan stated that he had contacted each team for availability, but felt that his job was made harder by the fact that “some teams never sent me
times which they were free.” Matches in the second week of the tournament were also cancelled due to adverse weather conditions, when Ryan felt that it would have been unfair on the players to play in these conditions. He also stated that “as a lot of teams had mid-term assignments due in the past few weeks, they have had to request for matches to be postponed,” and that he agreed to this request as it is “only fair as some teams might have academic commitments.” He added that he had
tried to facilitate teams as much as possible. Further to this, the rule that each team have at least one female player has been abolished only a few weeks in to the tournament. Ryan stated that this was due to some teams being unable to field a side featuring any female, but that he feels that “there are clear benefits of having a female on the pitch at all times which has been clear from results.” The Newman Games will not comprise of a table quiz this semester, as it has in previous years, although it is unclear whether a table quiz will be held next semester. The games remained unfinished, but Ryan predicted they will be completed within the next fortnight.
COLIN SWEETMAN A new after-hours supervised student study facility will open to students later this month, to be located in the space underneath the campus restaurant, adjacent to the Rendez-Vous lounge area on the basement floor. The facility will initially be open from 11pm to 3am from Monday 23rd to Thursday 26th November, before extending these hours to Friday nights as well as opening from 8pm to 1am at weekends throughout the study week and examinations period. The new study area includes full access to wireless internet terminals, a newly-installed printing and photocopying facility, and ‘Stand up and Surf’ PCs in addition to toilets and vending machines. The facility will cater for approximately 150 students who will be required to swipe in and out of the area using their student cards. The facility is intended to act as an initial pilot programme to assess whether there is a sufficient student demand to
establish a full 24-hour study facility on a permanent basis. The service is intended to supplement the return of full services in the James Joyce Library, which this week returns to full operation from 8:30am to midnight on weekdays, and 9am to 9pm at weekends. Prior to this week, library opening hours had been curtailed in order to save on general running costs during off-season study times. The opening of the new facility has been welcomed by Students’ Union President, Gary Redmond, who had spent time “lobbying senior staff to gain support in reversing the decision” to cut library opening hours earlier in the semester. Redmond commented that “the university is certainly facing difficult times, but we will not stand by and allow library services to be cut.” A spokesperson for UCD cited the lack of weekend usage for the earlier reduction in library hours, saying that “Sundays are the quietest day in the library, and in the current economic climate it was decided to close on Sundays.”
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
Welfare Week Obama “more extreme than Bush”, more “informal” Chomsky tells UCD this year
Professor Noam Chomsky awarded Honorary Life Membership by Lawsoc
elfare Week, officially launched yesterday by Senator David Norris, will take on a more informal approach than previous years according to Students’ Union Welfare Officer Scott Ahearn. He stated that “the main aim for me is to promote the message of Please Talk” so that “people will be aware, if they’re feeling low, that everyone has a hard time during college.” A wide range of events are running this week, including what Ahearn stated he is the most hopeful and excited about – the visit from Irish theatre company Smashing Times, which took place yesterday. Smashing Times place emphasis on raising awareness of suicide and its prevention. Their plays present a range of testimonials from people affected by suicide and their reactions toward it. Ahearn told The University Observer that the play tries to highlight “the reaction of a friend and the impact that suicide will have and the aftermath effects on the family.” Free Breakfasts for students are also running daily from 10am
to 12pm with every day having a theme. Monday’s breakfast featured the Samaritans, Wednesday focuses on Aware and the remainder will have a Please Talk theme. Coffee, tea and food will be on offer to students and there will be counsellors and representatives from the various organisations present also. A relaxation room is in place in the Student Centre daily from 12pm to 3pm. The relaxation room has beanbags, DVDs and games that have been provided by GameSoc. The only fundraising aspect of the week will be a table quiz taking place on Wednesday evening in the Student Bar. All funds from this will go to the Mental Health Association, which is a facet of the Health Service Executive (HSE).
The theme of the quiz is ‘Are You Smarter Than a Ten Year Old?’. Ahearn said that Welfare Week is not primarily a fundraising week as he wants the majority of events to concentrate on “giving something back to the students.” He emphasised the importance of an informal atmosphere at Welfare Week for students. He went on to say that he has noticed that “the Students’ Union in UCD normally do Aware talks or depression talks, like the How To talks,” and that he thinks that it’s “refreshing to do it from a different standpoint.” According to Ahearn, all of the events for Welfare Week were cleared before the Please Talk committee, who are hugely involved in the event.
Heightened security as Dublin Bus returns MICHAEL BROWNE Dublin Bus representatives have agreed a deal with university officials to resume full service of the number 10 bus route to the UCD campus after 8pm. The service was withdrawn in late September due to intolerable levels of drinking, violent and antisocial behaviour on board some buses. However, following negotiations between the Students’ Union, Dublin Bus and their trade unions SIPTU and the National Bus and Rail Union (NRBU), the Gardaí and UCD Buildings and Services, the bus service was restored last week. Under the terms of the agreement however, security around the campus bus stops has been increased in a bid to prevent and discourage anti-social behaviour. Members of UCD security staff, Gardaí and Dublin Bus Officials will be present at bus stops for the forseeable future. SU President Gary Redmond expressed his happiness at the achievement, stating that “the Students Union is absolutely
delighted with the return” and gave particular thanks to the Gardaí and UCD Buildings and Services “for all the work they have put in.” Redmond went on to say that he is hopeful the entire student body will co-operate with Dublin Bus and the new security measures. Vice-President for Students Dr Martin Butler also spoke of his satisfaction at the hard work of all parties involved but warned that “repeated instances of anti-social behaviour on the part of students
will result in the permanent withdrawal of route 10 from campus.” The route 10 bus runs between Phoenix Park and Belfield and is frequently used by many students and members of staff. Dr Butler and Redmond were quick to emphasise the importance of good behaviour on the buses, stating that “any student who conducts antisocial behaviour will be disciplined under the UCD student code and their details will be passed on to the Gardaí.”
President Barack Obama’s policy on torture is inept on the grounds that it continues to deny prisoners their basic human rights, claimed leading intellectual and political activist, Noam Chomsky, during a lecture in UCD’s O’Reilly Hall. Chomsky, who has written numerous books criticising US foreign policy, in addition to making significant contributions to linguistics, was in UCD last Tuesday to receive an Honorary Life Membership from the Law Society. When asked by a member of the audience if he was being “too dismissive” of the impact which Obama has made, the professor responded by saying that there has been “almost no change” from the Bush era and claimed Obama’s stance on torture is harsher than that of his predecessor. Speaking in front of a packed audience, the Professor of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology also dismissed the president’s role in shutting down Guantanamo Bay, claiming that this decision was inevitable before Bush left office. “The Supreme Court eventu-
ally decided that prisoners in Guantanamo deserved their rights,” said Chomsky. “They then sent the prisoners to Bagram in Afghanistan... The Supreme Court recommended that their ruling should apply everywhere. [Obama’s] first act as president was to overrule this ruling.” Chomsky spent the first hour delivering a lecture on the history of US foreign policy, before answering a series of questions from members of the audience. A diverse range of topics were addressed, from his thoughts on the recent passing of Lévi-Strauss to his views on the current situation regarding Puerto Rico’s lack of independence from the US. However, the issue of Ireland’s economic crisis was conspicuously absent from the talk, though Chomsky has admitted he does not know enough of its details to comment on the topic. Throughout his speech Chom-
sky described the US as “the mafia” of the world and claimed that they operated under the principle of punishing other countries that “disobeyed their policies”. While he maintained the US was the “greatest country in the world”, the professor also had further criticism for the country’s health care system which he described as “a total disaster”. “If you compare the US to Canada, it’s quite striking,” he stated. The Auditor of the Society, Conor O’Hanlon, said they were “greatly honoured to have one of the world’s leading public intellectuals accept Honorary Life Membership”.
UPCOMING WELFARE EVENTS How to Control Exam Stress
Talk given by Karoline & Ros McFeely November 17th, 1-2 pm, Room 1 & 2 in Student Centre
Discount Driving Lessons
Obdrive are offering UCD Students a special discount for driving lessons. The lessons consist of five and will cost on average €22.50 for each. To make a booking just ring Ollie on 087-6657126 or email him on info@ obdrive.com
Student Welfare Fund
This fund is to offer ﬁnancial assistance to students who encounter unexpected difﬁculties during their time of study in UCD. You can get the forms on www.ucd.ie/ studentadvisors or from your Students’ Union Welfare Officer or your Student Advisers.
Vandalism earlier this year to the 46a bus stop Photo Catriona Laverty
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
Construction on the Student Centre project begins at last
Richard Brierly hands over the cheque to Gary Redmond and Dr Martin Butler Photo Gavan Reilly
€14,000 in res fines donated to Student Welfare Fund CATHY SHIRRAN
Money generated from disciplinary fines imposed on those living in campus accommodation has been donated to the Student Welfare Fund. UCD Residential Services Manager Richard Brierly presented SU President Gary Redmond and Vice President for Students, Dr Martin Butler with a cheque for €14,000, last Friday 6th November. The presentation comes as news of record numbers of applications to the separate Student Assistance Fund was announced. The number of applications received for the Student Assistance Fund has nearly doubled this year, reaching an alltime record in the region of 350. According to UCD Students’ Union Welfare Officer, Scott Ahearn, the spike in applications is due to the current economic climate in tandem with increased advertisement of the fund around campus. The Student Assistance Fund is a scheme that allocates money annually to students who are under considerable financial pressure, while the Student Welfare Fund
considers applications at regular intervals throughout the year to help students who may not qualify for the assistance fund. While Ahearn acknowledged that the recession has hit students and their families hard, he also believes that an increased visibility of the fund on campus has had an effect on applications. He stated that “the recession is affecting students quite badly; not only do students themselves have low part-time job prospects, but those dependent on their families would be adversely affected if they have lost their jobs”, before commenting that the increased applications are “also due to the increased advertisement around campus of the fund.” Ahearn assures that all successful applications will receive financial assistance. The original deadline for applications to the Student Assistance Fund was 23rd October, but Ahearn stated that students feeling under financial pressure should still contact his office. Students can apply for the Student Welfare Fund at any time throughout the year, either through their Student Adviser, a Chaplain or in the SU Welfare Office.
The construction site of the new Student Centre Photo Gavan Reilly
DAVID UWAKWE Construction on the new ‘Centre Forward’ Student Centre extension will finally begin this week after considerable delays. The sod was turned for the building in April 2009, and following the drainage and clearance of the site, construction was due to begin in August. However, the contractor for the job was only appointed two weeks ago. It is understood that the lack of a contractor, coupled with the recent Students’ Union investigation into the overcharging of the Student Centre levy have contributed to the substantial delays in the project. The facility was projected to be completed in early 2011. Located between, and integrating, the current Student and Sports Centres, the state-of-the art, multi-million euro makeover will include a fifty metre swimming pool and expanded gym. Health and counselling services will also be improved, as well as a range of new debating arenas and theatres. Student Centre Manager, Dominic O’Keeffe hopes the development will
result in a more student-friendly atmosphere in the facility, explaining that “the benefits for students will be a more convivial atmosphere that allows for collaborations and crossover between the societies. Hopefully with free access to the gym we’ll see healthier students too.” A student referendum in 2006 approved the imposition of a student levy as a means of partly funding the redevelopment, with the remaining funding coming from the university’s own resources. “We have a funding plan in place that will see the university contribute €13 million, and the Student Centre Levy contribute the remaining €31 million, over twenty years” said O’Keeffe. Talks on how to refund the €7.50 erroneously charged to students on the Student Centre Levy recently ended in a successful agreement between the Students’ Union and the University. The agreement will see the extra charges used to top up the Student Capital Grant Fund, with another €50,000 being donated to the Student Welfare Fund to assist those in financial difficulty. The rest will be split between the Students’ Union, the societies and sports clubs for capital investment. As part of the same agree-
ment, but still subject to final approval, is a commitment to make the President of the Students’ Union a board member of UCD Student Centre Ltd., the limited company with overall responsibility for the building. Students’ Union President, Gary Redmond, said that he is “delighted that we have been able to return the money to students, and while handing back twenty-four thousand cheques may have been a good PR stunt, realistically it wasn’t an attractive option. This way the money has gone back to those who most need it.” The Student Centre redevelopment is part of a €220 million capital investment programme underway in Belfield. Among several major projects due to commence in 2010 will be phase II of the Roebuck Hall residential complex, which will see the addition of 134 beds in a new six story building. Construction has also begun on a new centre of excellence for research and training in dermatology, in a building to link the Conway Institute with the Health Sciences Centre. This project is a joint venture between UCD and the City of Dublin Skin and Cancer Hospital.
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Blowing their own Bugle It’s a mystery that has all of UCD talking, but now you can find out everything you need to know about the Belfield Bugle. The boys behind the curtain talk exclusively with Catriona Laverty
he Bugle, the BB, the Bugler... UCD’s latest publication goes by many names around Belfield, but one thing that remains constant is the curiosity surrounding the fortnightly newsletter and its origins. Last week the Observer sat down – to our surprise – with not one, but two ‘Buglers’, to find out what makes them do what they do. Many theories have sprung up since the first Bugle appeared on campus around six weeks ago. Perhaps the authors were New Era students, struggling to work their way through four years of photocopying credits, or maybe they were disgruntled students unhappy with SU President Gary Redmond’s initiative to donate unused printer credit to the Student Welfare Fund. It is, in fact, neither of these: one of the ‘Buglers’ has never even been a student in UCD. It started, according to James*, when the lads read the satire section of the other UCD newspaper, and found it not quite to their taste. “I was reading the Turbine section of the Tribune, and that really gets to me, it just really gets to me. You know down the side of it they have... ah, I don’t even know what to call them, they’re just wrong.” On this impetus, James and his friend John* decided to turn their hand to writing their own satire, and something resembling the Belfield Bugle was born. The boys had been thinking of starting their newsletter for over a year, but in their own words, “one day we said ‘get the finger out and actually do it’.” Their original intention was to publish the Belfield Bugle every week, but that plan was quickly quashed: “At first, yeah, and then we were like, ‘getting up in the
morning is pretty hard’. We have to up pretty early to get these out safely, it’s just an annoyance.” The newsletter has since become a fortnightly event, although it has been conspicuously absent in the past two weeks. But what makes their publication so different to the other satire pages printed for UCD? “You couldn’t print what we write in a paper... it’s too controversial. It’s probably not the most intelligent stuff we write... it’s probably a bit much sometimes, but that’s what we were looking for.” This taste for ‘toilet humour’, as they call it themselves, is what has divided the populace of UCD into stringent pro- and anti-Bugle camps. Fiercely protective of their anonymity, John and James have limited their search for feedback strictly to trolling on boards.ie. “90 per cent of Boards is negative; the negative comments make us laugh even harder than the positive ones, some of the negative comments are just absolutely brilliant. The last one I saw was brilliant – some guy was like, ‘Oh, I thought the Bugle was satire’, and some other guy just went off the handle, ‘The Bugle is most definitely not satire’.” That much of the response to their material is negative didn’t come as a surprise to the duo, who say they understood from the beginning that most people wouldn’t understand their own unique brand of humour. They haven’t set out to be wildly popular; instead they merely hope to spread some laughs: “If one or two people laugh at it in the morning when they’re sitting in lectures, that’s all we want.” Asked where they get their information, the reply is succinct and refreshingly honest: “Well, most of it’s made up, like! And to be honest, we don’t even
know most of the people we’re writing about, we only write about them because they’re well known figures within the college, ‘cos we figured that will get the most attention. Basically we’re like two ADHD children looking for attention.” They have come to regret some of their early content decisions. The first edition of the Bugle was hot off the photocopier when it reached UCD, and the boys say they regret having printed some of the comments made about Jonny Cosgrove. “That was probably our biggest mistake... we probably hurt Jonny’s feelings. The part where we call him a [...], that was too much, I’ll apologise for that. If you want to put that in, if Jonny’s reading, I apologise for that.” As for the other infamous article regarding an SU staff officer, the link was completly unintentional. “I didn’t know that!” James comments, when the Observer informs him that the name used matched one of the SU staff. “It’s just a name; it could have been Phil Jones or anything. Well, there’s an absolute stroke of luck! You can tell him it was nothing personal.” Intentional or otherwise, their writing has ruffled many feathers within the Students’ Union corridor. With the possible exception of Donnacha Ó Súilleabháin, the sabbatical officers have not come out well in the Bugle. In fact, Gary Redmond has threatened to scouring CCTV footage of the library building, in an attempt to identify the Buglers. “Yeah, we read that! It’s just a waste of money, like, why would they bother looking at the security cameras, why wouldn’t they put the money to good use like? That’s not what the security cameras are there for, they’re there for the protection of the students and the staff, not to be looking for... us!
That’s ridiculous.” Despite this, the lads still take precautions before distributing the Bugle around campus. They change their appearances every week, wearing different clothes, bringing different coloured bags, and getting in and out of Belfield as quickly as possible. The commercial side of the Bugle is perhaps the one aspect students haven’t talked about since it’s inception. The Buglers have been very frugal with their production: so far 1,500 copies of the Belfield Bugle have been printed, at a cost of only €50 in total. John declined to comment on the source of their printing, but did say that it was an off-campus operation. The copy writing itself is a weekend enterprise, as both John and James work during the week; however John is quick to dispel any images of the lads locked in a windowless room, huddled over typewriters for hours on end. “It’s five minutes to write them up, like, then you just have to make the changes. A lot of the time is just sitting there at the printer waiting for all the copies.” At this point, James chips in with “I wrote it in work one day.” As for the name, it was a natural
choice, according to James. They had toyed with the idea of the ‘College Chronicle’, but the ‘Belfield Bugle’ won out in the end and was rapidly constructed using Google Images and some Pritt Stick. Alas, the boys’ partnership will come to a premature end shotly, as John emigrates to Australia within a few days of this article being published. James has vowed to continue without him, though unsure whether he will seek a new co-author. As yet there are no plans to expand the Bugle to a four – or even two-page – newsletter, as James feels that “too many people are going to start knowing about it”, and their beloved and necessary anonymity will disappear. John has said he will continue to contribute via email, and they already have in their sights new material for the Bugle. “We’ve pretty much left Aidan O’Dea alone. That thing where Gary came out with the expenses for last year… d’ya know there was expenditures that shouldn’t have been made? That kind of stuff is good, you can come up with a story for that. We got his mobile number on Facebook. He adds anyone!” Read our exclusive interview in full at universityobserver.ie.
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No more nasty nonsense With public hype surrounding the BNP, Conor Murphy discusses why nationalism is no excuse for racist policies
ick Griffin of the BNP appeared on the BBC’s Question Time show just after the last issue of The University Observer was published. For anyone unfamiliar, the BNP are the British Nationalist Party, sometimes known as the ‘British Nazi Party’ for its policies, that believe all coloured people should leave England. What makes this particularly colourful racist worthy of note is not the protestors labelling him “a disgrace to humanity” outside the gates of his office, but rather the two seats won by Griffin and his party in the European Parliament last summer, and the 22 per cent who now say they would seriously consider voting for the party in a general election. In the ensuing cries of pain by the establishment, there have been calls to inform people that the BNP’s ‘moderate edge’ is just a sham. To show people that the party’s main policy – which essentially entails deporting minorities for the good of the nation – is just an amazing marketing pitch for the British version of the Ku Klux Klan. Firstly, one might hope that some realism would rain down upon the 22 per cent in Britain who would seriously consider voting for the BNP and who think the party are moderate. One might pray that these people would have an epiphany of sorts and see that the BNP are actually hard-right racists, whose leader gives talks to the KKK. Some try to defend the BNP by saying they would clean up politics, not being in it (as many others are) for the money. That’s true – the BNP are in politics to stop what they call a ‘bloodless genocide’: the practice of black and white people having mixed-race children. However the greatest problem is that the BNP’s cover of “national protection” and the protection of “family interests” are not as jovial and easily dismissed as
we sometimes make them out to be. There is nothing moderate about saying that the nationality of a person’s grandfather should determine ones right to step on the soil of that country. Nor is it just to say that no matter how hard an Afghani immigrant or an asylum seeker from Darfur may work, they may never leave that land to escape persecution, murder or simply to seek a better quality of life. Nationalism has been used for so long as a cause for murders which were – and still are – completely unjustifiable, that it has now become a byword for ‘hate with reason’. No one ever seems to stop and point out that the reason behind nationalism is arbitrary geography. The old saying, “you can’t polish things that aren’t so nice”, is true: a shiny veneer fools nobody, all it does is give people the ability to pretend a blunt stone shiny diamond when it’s not. In England this means that the middle and lower economic classes can now say they’re not racist, but merely nationalist. Of course, politicians need votes to save their jobs and so the option of simply labelling a fifth of the entire electorate as racist, ensures banalities and political correctness ensue. If human rights groups were to launch a campaign stating ‘BNP = A Shower of Racists’,
their support would probably halve – not because people would be shocked by the declaration, but merely because they could no longer plead ignorance. In Ireland we are lucky, we seem to have escaped the international tendency to gulp down crap to justify nonsense. Flagrant racism and bigoted words are leaving our country but have skipped happily onto fresher political pastures across the Irish Sea. The underlying message has changed, mutating into an uglier, fiercer beast. Nonetheless the cover remains the same, and has been worn so thin by extremist right-wing groups that not only must we be able to see through it, but also be able to admonish it for its groundless hate. Then nationalism might actually be
If human rights groups were to launch a campaign stating that BNP = A Shower of Racists their support would probably halve a force for good, for strengthening a country as a whole, and not shipping off the hard workers who want to be part of it. In reality though, we can never prevent politicians from spewing populist nonsense. The nice thing about the older generations of crazies was that they at least
tended to be honest about their views, and hung out in dingy bars away from our elevated viewpoint of society. They’re learning now, though, growing up and coming out of their shells, using technology (Holocaust deniers with a Facebook page!) and slogans to make their message more palatable to closet
haters. It is our job to be vigilant. Our job is making it as obvious as possible can that groups like the BNP cannot pretend to be reasonable. Our job is to stop ignorance from inflaming our senses and harming the vulnerable.
The Cost of Living: Campus Accommodation With the current recession and the dive in the Dublin property market causing housing prices to fall, Amy Wall debates whether UCD campus accommodation - where the cost of living continues to rise - is the best place to live If you had to choose one good thing about the recession, what would it be? Ladies: I hear you screaming “SALES!” in union. Pessimists: no, I haven’t actually lost my mind. Granted, within all the economic doom and gloom that is gracing the headlines of our papers day in and day out, there is still a small silver lining that can be found in the ominous black cloud that is the recession. That silver lining is the fact that since September, the price of rent has steadily been on the decline. As all the estate agents in Ireland will tell you, it truly is a buyer’s market out there at present. This is fantastic news if you haven’t been too badly hit by recessionary cutbacks and are in the market for a new home. This is also incredibly good news if you’re a student, and have therefore been constantly stuck in a recession of your own since you began your degree. Landlords are desperate to fill up vacant accommodation, which most definitely works in our favour. No longer are we students the scourge of rented dwellings. September 2009 saw us being welcomed, in fact, with open arms. The average price of rented accommodation around the UCD campus has dropped at least €100 per month – and many students now pay as little as €380, which is around the price we would have paid in 2003. This is good going considering the
majority of UCD students tend to live within reasonable walking/commuting distance of campus, with many residing in the infamous D4 postcode. The best thing is that with the decrease in rent prices, your money goes a lot further. €400 can get you decent accommodation: your own room, all mod cons, and actual internet access (if you’re really lucky). Such decadence was almost unheard of for less than €600 back in the days when the Celtic Tiger roared loudly. Before we had to settle for the lowest of the low – the apartments that still thought it was the swinging sixties outside. We can all remember with terror the era of the run-down student house, with dubious stains on the floor and the obligatory shared bathroom, with a questionable green mould-like substance growing in the bottom of the shower. Of course, as with the beginning of every academic year, affordable and chic accommodation tends to be snapped up incredibly quickly. From August onwards, an influx of returning students and a new wave of first year undergraduates compete for accommodation. It is a known fact that campus accommodation is an elusive thing; it is generally already full before you even
know that you can apply for it. People favoured campus accommodation for a number of reasons. For first years, it offered a chance to get to know people, make friends and really live the college experience (i.e. crawling out of
many students. In fact, it seems that many students will not be returning to campus accommodation for a second semester. “I honestly just can’t afford it”: the words of one postgraduate student currently living in Glenomena.
There’s no oven, the fridges are far too small for six people sharing, and the electricity meters eat money. I can’t find any perks bed and attending your 9am lecture in your pyjamas). For others, it offered convenience and a reasonable price. This year however, fewer people have opted for campus living. Why? Well as the price of living off campus decreased steadily, the price of living on campus has increased, alienating
The Glenomena on-campus accommodation complex is usually reserved for final and postgraduate students. This year, however, saw an increase in the number of first years being allowed to reside there, mainly because final and postgraduate students were opting to live off campus. A year’s residence in Glenomena will
set you back €5,324, working out at a monthly rent of €532 – and that’s only for ten months. If you opt to live off campus, the average yearly rent is only €4,800 for a full twelve months. With off-campus accommodation offering lower prices – and indeed, better facilities – it is no surprise that many students are looking elsewhere for their abode. “I plan to move out after this semester is over. We’re paying all this money and for what exactly? For the convenience of not having to get a bus to college in the morning? There’s no oven, the fridges are far too small for six people sharing, and the electricity meters eat money. I can’t find any perks,” stated a first year student who is also residing in the Glenomena residences. With increasing registration fees, students are finding it hard enough to afford college itself - naturally they are going to flock to the accommodation that provides the best facilities for the cheapest prices. One has to wonder, if the price of accommodation off campus continues to drop with each academic year, will Glenomena, Roebuck, Merville and Belgrove soon become nothing more than ghost towns? If UCD doesn’t want to turn into a completely dead campus, it’s time to stop ripping students off, and starting to offer us a fair deal. Accommodation is the first step in a long, long journey for Belfield.
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Reunited - and it feels so good Two decades after the reunification of Germany and the collapse of the Soviet Union, David Uwakwe examines the change in politics and dynamic between east and west, and explains some unusual diplomacy ongoing at present
wo important statesmen are busy negotiating, cutting deals, and making friendly reassurances with one another in Eastern Europe at the moment. It’s not the current economic crisis or climate change, however, that has brought US Vice-President Joe Biden to tour the region, or Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to the Serbian capital Belgrade. These twin devils besetting the world today were but a twinkle in capitalism’s eye when the motivating factors behind these current diplomatic manoeuvres were in play. So why does the US now feel the need to make a show of solidarity and friendship with the likes of Poland and the Czech Republic, and what are the historic and strategic underpinnings of the €1bn loan granted by Russia to Serbia? It’s all part of an exercise to tie up some of the loose ends from the fallout of a very 20th century concern – the fall of the Berlin Wall, twenty years ago next month, and the consequent collapse of the Soviet Union. The breach of the Berlin Wall was not in itself the end of the Soviet Union – that didn’t come until December 1991, two years later. Neither, for that matter, was it even the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union; that was probably marked by the legalisation, and coming to power, of opposition parties in Poland and Hungary earlier that year. Undoubtedly however, the iconic scenes of thousands of East Berliners flooding over the wall on the night of 9th November 1989 are the most potent symbol of the demise of the USSR. It was an unforeseen outcome of these seismic events that brought us from there to the flurry of diplomatic activity underway in the region today. That event, or process of events, was the scrambling for NATO membership by the former Soviet satellite states. Seeing what happened in Croatia and
Slovenia – where Serbian minorities, backed by the forces of the Serb-dominated Yugoslav Federation, took up arms against the newly independent states – Poland and the Baltic States feared a similar backlash by their own significant Russian minorities, and sought the protective embrace of NATO membership. Having gained this and incurred no wrath from Russia, they were eventually admitted to the European Union, benefitting from the attendant social and economic progress. Being opposed to these countries joining NATO, Russia was too weak to halt what it perceived to be the growth of an anti-Russian alliance. Since then Russia has been on the defensive – and on the rise. It’s no surprise that Russia now has some clout again; it is standing up for its interests in the region and coming to the support of its allies and ethnic kin. This explains Russia’s support for the breakaway Georgian republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which ultimately resulted in the brief Russo-Georgian war last year. It also accounts for their extremely hostile reaction to the quickly scrapped plans for a missile defence shield based in Poland and the Czech Republic. It is to calm major fears in the region – that the US has abandoned the locals to fend for themselves in the face of Russian aggression – that Joe Biden has been dispatched to the region. It also explains Russia’s support for Serbian claims that Kosovo’s declaration of independence was illegal, illustrated by the billion-euro
November marks the 20th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and with it a changed European political sphere Photo Kristin McKnight
loan granted to Serbia by the Kremlin. Upon closer inspection we see that the circumstances surrounding Joe Biden’s visit to Europe and Medvedev’s to Serbia are in fact very different to those that necessitated the visits in the first place. The acrimony is gone – while Biden is there to reassure the Baltic countries that they can always depend on American
support, relations have already improved with Russia with the scrapping of the plans for missile defence, and so there exists less of a threat in that regard. Similarly, though Serbia is accepting Russian loans and investment in its energy infrastructure, it is also committed to joining the EU and sees no conflict of interest, saying it will be Russia’s best
friend within the EU. The negotiations and deal making going on here are different in tone to what has gone before, because they have the seeds of positive change within them. If handled delicately, we could finally see Europe clearing up the political debris left in the wake of the fall of the Berlin Wall two decades ago.
Telling Porkies As the media frenzy ignites again over Swine Flu, Daniel Keenan questions whether the public hysteria about the virus is justified Media hype has hit fever point about the H1N1 virus, but is swine flu really as dangerous as we’re being told? According to the National Health Service in the UK, the symptoms of swine flu are fever, unusual tiredness, headache, runny nose, sore throat, shortness of breath or cough, loss of appetite, aching muscles, diarrhoea or vomiting. Though these symptoms can be severe, they are no different to the symptoms for the seasonal flu, which are (according to the same source): fever, extreme tiredness, headaches, runny nose (more common in children), dry cough, chills, muscle aches, and stomach symptoms, such as nausea, and vomiting. Diarrhoea may also occur. So when the two strains have basically the same symptoms, why is swine flu being called a pandemic, and seasonal flu being forgotten about? The main reason for this, we’re told, is because swine flu is more easily transmitted from person to person. However, every year there are between 340 million to 1 billion cases of seasonal flu worldwide. There is no official figure for the number of confirmed swine flu cases, but it is estimated that it falls well short of the number of seasonal flu cases.
Figures don’t lie, and these figures show us that the seasonal flu is actually far more infectious than swine flu. After suffering a disease or getting a vaccination, our bodies form memory cells, which remember specific antigens (found on the surface of a pathogen/disease carrying micro-organism) and then create antibodies to attack and destroy the pathogen. This is why it’s rare to suffer the same disease twice. Since swine flu is a new strain of pathogen, our body has no memory cells to deal with the strain, which is why most of us are completely susceptible to the disease. Some people aged 60 or over have immunity to the H1N1 virus because of an outbreak of a disease quite similar to it in the early 1950s. With no immunity to it and its easy spread from person to person, surely swine flu is in fact dangerous. Well, yes – all diseases are dangerous, but the point is that swine flu is no different to any of these diseases. It is, in essence, a mutated mixture of bird flu and human flu. Every day, pathogens mutate, creating new strains of disease. Though most of these will not infect anyone, some do, such as
MRSA, or the seasonal flu. The reason that we can suffer, what we call, the flu, more than once in a life time, is because the virus mutates, creating a different strain of flu. The mutation changes the antigen, which means our memory cells don’t recognise the antigen, and can’t create specific antibodies against it, so if the pathogen does invade our body, we suffer the disease. The similarities between the common flu and swine flu are uncanny, so why do people fear getting the swine flu, and not the seasonal flu, so much? The answer is because of the fear mongering by the media (both local and international), forcing people to believe that getting swine flu might indeed be the end of the world. We constantly read and listen to reports of people dying of swine flu, leading us to draw the conclusion that contracting it is a death sentence. Thus far, approximately 6,170 people have died of confirmed swine flu. The figure is not a pleasant one, but comparing it to other annual deaths of easily contractible diseases, it’s miniscule. MRSA, the antibiotic resistant bacteria, is responsible for 18,000 deaths a year in hospitals.
The regular seasonal flu is far more prevalent – and lethal – than the newer swine flu strain The annual death toll for the seasonal flu worldwide is, shockingly, between 250,000-500,000. Admittedly, most of these deaths are in poorer regions, like Africa or South America, where little or no healthcare is available. It is, in fact, the same case with swine flu: one third of all swine flu related deaths are in South America (Africa has not yet been hit), and most of the rest of the deaths have been as a result of a combination of swine flu and another underlying diseases. Very few healthy people actually die of swine flu alone.
As for the swine flu death toll in Ireland – ten at the time of going to print – it’s worth noting that most of the people who died weren’t in the best of health. The first person in Ireland to die was a cystic fibrosis sufferer; the majority of the rest also had underlying medical conditions. With similar symptoms, a lower death toll, and – in all likelihood – the assurance that you won’t get it again, swine flu, in fact, seems to be the lesser of two evils when compared to the regular flu. Have your say on this article at www.universityobserver.ie
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United States of Europe With the Lisbon Treaty set for adoption, Cormac Duffy asks what role nationalism might play in a new federal European superstate
n the run-ups to the respective Lisbon Treaty referenda, the No side used many arguments to sway undecided voters to their side. The potential for militarisation and the perceived attacks on minimum wage riled those on the left, while the growing secularisation of the EU and a possible legalisation of abortion scared the more conservative elements within the country. In Ireland’s case, though, the best argument put forward by opponents of the treaty was one that saw European federalism as an enemy of Irish nationalism. Cóir posters used images of Thomas Clarke and Patrick Pearse to stir the latent republicanism that all Irish seem to hold deep within. Though the arguments didn’t successfully impact the outcome of the second referendum, they should be taken seriously. The new, post-Lisbon European Union is quite close to a federal state. When Czech president Vaclav Klaus added the 27th ratifying signature to the treaty, he enabled the existence of jobs equating to a EU president, a foreign minister, as well as a single legal personality for the union, and something resembling a constitution in the form of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. No one can really know where nationalism will fit into the new Europe. Some say we are about to become a “United States of Europe”, but comparing us to the USA is futile. Yes, in Dallas they say “y’all” while in New York they say “all of you”, but the US has one unifying culture (Americana) as well as having one language. The EU has 23 official languages, with very few citizens knowledgeable of more than two or three, and identifying
a common European culture is difficult when the continent was divided almost constantly until the 1990s, whether by war or Iron Curtain. Others wonder if each nation will become like the Francophone Quebecois of Canada, or the Basque people of Spain: minority groups whose politics are divided between nationalist and separatist movements on one side, and federalist movements on the other. This is difficult to accept: unlike the Quebecois or the Basque people, everyone in Europe is technically in a minority. As mentioned earlier, there is no majority language or culture for us to combat, and no ‘European culture’ that threatens to repress our values – yet groups like Cóir claimed that European emphasis on liberalism and secularism is at odds with Irish culture. Of course, by Irish culture they mean a dogmatic, Catholic ideology – precisely the culture that modern Ireland has been trying actively to shake off for years. Those dedicated to principles of nationalism and self-determination will have to see how the new European Union will treat minority groups. Would it be willing to upset Spain by supporting the Basque separatists if it felt they had a legitimate platform? If the Scottish Nationalist Party were to achieve its goals, would a Scottish republic become an EU member immediately? Some say the EU has ignored minority groups, not recognising languages such as Luxembourgish and Basque, although on the other hand it has been positive towards Kosovo’s assertions of independence. One way we will probably come to resemble areas like Quebec and the
Czech president Vaclav Klaus signed the Lisbon Treaty last week after eight years of continental wrangling Basque region in terms of politics, is the alignment of our political parties into nationalist and federalist. In terms of Ireland, it is likely to be based on the Yes and No sides of the Lisbon treaty debate. Some on the no side attempt to make a distinction between Euroscepticism (or just opposing Lisbon) and opposing the EU completely, but even Sinn Féin, who claim to be pro-Europe, have never supported an EU treaty. To generalise for the whole of Europe, those in the centre seem to be more supportive of a federal Europe, while
Euroscepticism comes from the far ends of the left-right spectrum. This poses some problems in terms of unifying the movements. In the run up to the Lisbon Treaty referenda, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour put aside their differences and worked together for a Yes vote, while it was difficult to even get members of Sinn Féin and Libertas in the same room together. When it comes to organising across Europe, the federalist side should be able to coordinate efforts, while gathering disparate groups such as the British Conservatives, the French
National Front and our own Sinn Féin to oppose the next EU treaty seems very unlikely to occur. Next time you drive by an area whose council have been too lazy to take down Election posters, look out for the Cóir one referenced at the start of this article. It reads “They Won Your Freedom: Don’t Throw It Away”. Maybe we have, maybe we haven’t. Either way, our Yes vote in the Lisbon Treaty referendum was a clear break with our traditional nationalist ideals, and may have changed the role of nationalism for all European citizens.
Copenhagen – a load of hot air? Though hopes are high of a new international deal next month, a deal to reduce carbon emissions is ultimately destined to fail once more, believes Shane Murphy, due to the intransigence of the world’s largest emitter It was supposed to be so different. In a sharp divergence from his much-criticised predecessor, President Obama vowed to compel the United States into binding commitments to reduce greenhouse emissions in his landmark bid for election. Along with many other promises this new approach heralded a refreshing change in position from the World’s largest emitter. However in what has effectively become the hallmark of the Obama presidency, his best intentions are once again floundering on the rocky partisan politics of the US Senate. World leaders will gather in Copenhagen in December in an effort to hammer out new targets for the reduction of carbon emissions. The result would be a treaty that would replace the outdated Kyoto Protocol. The architects of Kyoto could never have envisioned that it would still be the modus operandi of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) some twelve years
after its first draft. The convergence of global leaders, climate scientists and the world’s media in Copenhagen in just over a month was supposed to be a watershed moment in the global effort to curtail climate emissions. Increasingly, though, it looks like the planet will once again be consigned to diplomatic horse-trading and token
It will be a particularly difficult prospect for the Obama administration to convince sceptical Senators gestures that have come to epitomise these initiatives. There are two main problems for Obama in committing to sizeable reductions in the emissions of carbon. The first will be getting a climate bill passed before Congress in time for the next round of talks in Copenhagen. Were such a bill passed it would invariably strengthen his
position on the issue domestically and allow Washington to commit to specific reduction targets. The current climate bill however remains buried under the weight of healthcare and economic proposals that consume much of the Senate’s time. The effect of this is that it seems increasingly unlikely that any climate bill will appear before Congress in time for the talks in Copenhagen. The latest round of UNFCCC talks held in Bangkok a number of weeks ago revealed the extent of US intransigence on the issue. In essence the US Senate has made clear it will not sign up to any Kyoto-like agreement giving specific targets for countries and punish them financially if they do not meet their respective mandatory target. This makes it extremely difficult for Obama to support a Kyoto-like agreement for Copenhagen, which has drawn consternation from many developing countries. The United States never joined the initial effort to reduce carbon emissions in 1997 under the remit of the Kyoto Protocol. Its ambivalence toward this foundation agreement arose in part due to a lack of mandatory targets for developing industrial behemoths such as China and India. The US is the biggest hurdle in reduc-
ing greenhouse gas emissions. Along with China it accounts for roughly 40 per cent of carbon emissions worldwide. At the recent UN convention on climate change in New York in September, there was much hyperbole and rhetoric but little commitment. Obama outlined no definitive targets, wary of pledging the US to something that would invariably fail in the Senate. The second arduous task needed to reach agreement in Copenhagen is financing. America and other developed countries will almost invariably have to pick up the bill for any significant cut in carbon emissions. The World Bank estimates that developing countries are seeking up to $100 billion a year to convert to cleaner technology to aide them in carbon reductions yet still keep them on a firm economic footing. The question of who picks up this tab will be among the most contentious issues under discussion at Copenhagen. Invariably it will fall to the European Union and the United States to take the lion’s share of this. However it will be a particularly difficult prospect for the Obama administration to convince sceptical Senators, who are already dubious about the merits of such reductions. An ever more cataclysmic scenario has unfolded in recent weeks. Deep rifts have
emerged within the EU as to how to pay for to any new climate bill. Newer accession states such as Poland and Romania feel slighted that they should be ask to stump up money for the pollution of countries they consider wealthier, such as Brazil. There are also deep divisions among the wealthier members of the EU. Germany has led a cohort of nations unprepared to divulge how much they are willing to spend per year on pollution abatement technologies for developing countries. The net effect of such bickering has resulted in the EU Commission stating that it would only commit to its “fair share” of the burden. Had the EU offered definitive numbers on the issue it would have placed enormous pressure on the other naysayers primarily the US and Japan to do likewise. Unfortunately it seems that a new Protocol is ultimately destined to fail even before talks have begun in just over a month’s time. Inevitably there will be much haggling and posturing but little to show for what has amounted to 12 years of lobbying and initiatives by the UNFCCC. Unless the debate moves to Washington it will remain mired in black smoke.
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
Children of the Revolution Yesterday’s anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall was a hugely significant date for the millions of Germans whose lives were changed by the events of 1989 – but what about those who are too young to remember? Writing from Leipzig, Kate Rothwell examines the views of the first generation to have no recollection of this historic occasion
historical anniversary is usually something rooted so far back in the past that it is a matter of ancestral interest for only the few who peruse centennial newspaper supplements, and tune in to once-off television documentaries on the dates in question. The stereotypical student, whose interests lie mainly in the here-and-now, rarely falls into this category. November 2009 however, plays host to the anniversary of an event which took place within the lifetime of most people who will read this article: the fall of the Berlin Wall. Media attention worldwide has focused on how Germany is commemorating one of the defining historical events of the twentieth century, and how those who lived on either side of the Berlin Wall remember the buildup to yesterday’s momentous anniversary. Yet there is a generation of Germans too young to have any personal recollection of 9th November 1989, but have grown up with an ingrained appreciation of its importance. The question remains as to what sort of impression this generation has of the anniversary, and of the intensive media attention and countless commemoration events that have come with it. Students were certainly out en masse as part of the protests that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall, but while their modern day counterparts might not be playing a huge role in the calendar of commemorative events, that’s not to say they don’t acknowledge the importance of such remembrance. Juliane Wicklein, a 22-year-old Masters student from Thuringia, maintains that students have a keen interest in the events which affected the same age group as their own just twenty years ago, especially when the history relates to their home town. “It’s fascinating to find out what happened in the city that you live in.” Julia studies in Leipzig, a city which boasts a particularly remarkable past. Home to the ‘Monday Demonstrations’, the violence-free protests which grew from weekly peace prayers to large scale public demonstrations, Leipzig is often cited as being the place where the revolution began. Robert Friedrich, a 19-year-old History and French student and a native of the city, was one of the estimated 100,000 people who turned out to commemorate the Peaceful Revolution at the city’s Light Festival last month. However, he doesn’t feel that his level of interest is shared by everyone. “Unfortunately there are a lot of people, students included, to whom history and its anniversaries don’t mean anything.” Joachim Schaudt is a 23-yearold student from Pforzheim, near Stuttgart, who believes that the commemoration of events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall is of great importance – especially because it is the remembrance of something positive. “Germany also has some historic dates that we can’t be proud of. Anniversaries are, in my opinion, an emotionally difficult issue for German people. Some people don’t want to remember anything, while others don’t talk about anything but the difference between east and west.” This year’s commemoration has been a topic of great interest for both German and international press, with plenty of media attention being given
to the reflective views and modern day perspectives of former citizens of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). The television footage of mass protests and the joyous first crossing of the borders
some citizens to return to life as it was in the GDR, where they maintained that the lifestyle was simpler and more financially secure. While this is not something that today’s students will ever
of eyewitnesses is gone, the concept of Ostalgie won’t exist anymore.” ‘Ostalgie’ is a sense of reminiscence, but an anniversary is also to do with comparing the past to
Joachim maintains that the terms “are no longer used in daily or polite conversation,” while Bettina occasionally uses them, “but only for fun.” Robert regards the ongoing use of
The Berlin Wall 1989 makes for moving viewing, as 23-yearold-Markus Jantosch from Nord-Rhein Westphalia points out: “It helps my generation to understand what it was like in the GDR a lot better.” Yet there is a sense of overkill tainting the extensive reporting. For Joachim, some of the coverage was just telling people what they already knew. “Every German knows what happened at that time – I hope, at least. The excessive and very emotional reporting of the entire event by the private TV channels was almost ridiculous.” Bettina Poenisch, a 24-yearold student from Dresden, also views the private channel coverage as being somewhat meaningless. “I think that a lot of what is shown on private TV stations has become pointlessly commercialised. The public service stations such as ARD and ZDF have really good documentaries, but the private channel programmes are often just uncreative and stupid.” Commercialisation is, as Robert explains, a contentious issue that always threatens to mar even the most poignant of remembrances. “Anything that is successful eventually becomes commercialised, and unfortunately that includes this kind of anniversary.” Another aspect of this anniversary that has been subject to commercialisation is the concept of ‘Ostalgie’. A combination of the German words ‘Ost’ (east) and ‘Nostalgie’ (nostalgia), it stems from the desire of
be able to relate to, they are certainly aware of the commercial phenomenon. Ostalgie parties, the affectionate remembrance of the ‘Trabi’ (the Trabant, a common family car in the former East Germany) and merchandise shops selling typical GDR grocery products, novelty t-shirts and ‘Hits from the GDR’ CD compilations are all part of the twentyfirst century. For Bettina, the sense of ‘Ostalgie’ fuelled by the release of GDR reminiscent films is the closest that her generation will ever come to understanding the true ‘nostalgia for the East’. “I experienced Ostalgie at the time of the ‘East Film’, when Goodbye Lenin! and similar films were released. Then even people who were too young to have experienced the GDR suddenly wore GDR clothes, bought GDR products, or wanted to watch GDR Films. I can’t remember earlier Ostalgie; my parents never glorified the GDR in that way.” Glorification of the GDR is a matter of concern for many Germans who, as Markus states, realise that the GDR “was a dictatorial state, and not a paradise.” The future of Ostalgie, like any retrospective trend, seems to be limited. Robert views it as being irrelevant to his age group (“Ostalgie has no great meaning for my generation. Why would it?”), while Joachim believes it’s just a matter of time before Ostalgie itself is a thing of the past. “As soon as the generation
the present. The outcome of ‘die Wende’ (‘the change’) was Germany’s political unification, but two decades on the question still lingers: are there notable differences between ‘East’ and ‘West’? The simple answer is yes – but any country with a population of over 82 million is never going to have a uniform culture. As Markus points out, “Yes, there are definitely differences, but not just because of the Wall. Germany has a lot of regional cultural differences.” Joachim agrees that regional variety is important to bear in mind, but also thinks that the stark financial differences between the two regions must be taken into account. “For most people in the West, especially in the south in areas such as Bavaria or Baden-Württemberg, that theme [of the difference between East and West] is no longer relevant and tends to get very little attention. However, that is also to do with the fact that the economic situation in the south is much better than the situation in the east.” The loaded nicknames ‘Ossie’ and ‘Wessie’, used to describe people from the ‘East’ (Ost) or ‘West’ (West), have a history of negative connotations, and are terms that any non-native German speaker would be wise to leave out of their vocabulary. Though oldfashioned, they are still sometimes used by both younger and older generations today, but there is a definite selfawareness of how they are used.
‘Ossie’ and ‘Wessie’ as a sign that total unification has yet to be achieved. “Yes, they are still used and unfortunately there are still prejudices in my generation. Unification isn’t everywhere, even twenty years after the Peaceful Revolution.” 9th November 2009 wll not be the final chapter in the commemoration of the fall of the Berlin Wall – this is a perennial occurrence that will continue every five and ten years into the foreseeable future. So since anniversaries contemplate the future as well as the present and the past, how do German students envision the 2019 anniversary? Robert sees the potential for another light festival in Leipzig, while Bettina is concerned that commercialisation will have reached a new level, “because by then many of the emotions will have been forgotten.” The fall of the Berlin Wall was a once-off event, but its story still has a future, soon to be retold by generations who have no personal recollection of life before 1989. Yet as that unique 9th November slips further into the past, there is no reason for its importance to fade – as Markus explains, the future will always depend on the commemoration of history. “There can’t be a positive future without remembrance of the past. It should never be forgotten.”
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
Hanging on the telephone Evening after evening during term time, the Niteline helpline acts as a sounding board for Irish students across the east coast. Leanne Waters meets with one of the organisation’s volunteers to find out more about the services
o we’ve all seen the posters as we wash our hands in the bathroom, and we’ve all given the “Sure, that’s a great service!” comment, but what is Niteline all about? After speaking with Niteline volunteer Sarah*, I discovered that the student-run organisation is much more than just an amateur help line. Operating across six major Irish colleges (UCD, Trinity, RCSI, NCAD, DCU and NUI Maynooth) the service caters for thousands of students along the east coast. Celebrating its fourteenth birthday this year, Niteline was set up in 1995 by the Students’ Union of Trinity College with governmental support at the time. There were several similar services already in operation in the UK, and many more having been established since. With Trinity and UCD being the first colleges to get on the bandwagon, Sarah explains how the Irish organisation modelled itself on its British counterparts. “We adopted what was already in place in Britain. They’re all structured very differently. There are – I think – two conferences annually as well, and we send one or two people over there just so we can learn from each other.” The Niteline volunteers themselves undergo an eight-week training programme before taking any calls. This training is loosely based, though not directly linked, on a Samaritans model. And even after training, the volunteers are carefully screened. Sarah talks me through the way in which the helpline’s volunteers deal with the scenarios they may encounter on any nightly shift. “One of the things we do is to give out information. If we think that what they [the callers] are seeking is something we can’t provide, we will often try to give them the name of a service that does offer it. We can’t give direct advice so if there’s a more appropriate service out there, we’ll try to tell them about it.” Volunteers are trained on the basis of four major policies: non-direction, non-judgementalism, confidentiality and anonymity. The most notable of these is Niteline’s uncompromising position on anonymity. “One of the reasons people find the anonymity good is because they know they don’t have to see us everyday. They don’t know who we are. They don’t have to be wary around us.” This raises the excellent point that when people talk about their problems, a certain level
of vulnerability is attained. In this way, as neither the volunteer nor the caller know each other, the vulnerability element is greatly limited and in many ways, removed. Personal reputations and social façades are therefore unaffected, providing a tremen-
dous level of reassurance for the caller. As regards the undertaking of a nondirective approach, Niteline are adamant about not interfering in the lives of their callers, but
to simply provide an outlet for students in which they can extensively or otherwise discuss how they’re feeling. Moreover, they encourage and assist callers in coming to their own solutions about various problems and circumstances. “Only they [the callers] know what’s best for them and the more they come to that conclusion, the better. If they’re having trouble finding out what that is, I think that’s the service we provide. A lot of what people talk about is something they’ve never talked about before, or something they’d never talk to anyone about. Even saying it out loud is a big deal, because they’re admitting to themselves, while admitting to someone else, that they have this issue.” However, Niteline is not a service restricted to just a few facets of student life. While volunteers are qualified to receive calls of a very urgent nature, they also cater to a tremendously broad spectrum
of problems and conversations. Often people mistakenly interpret their problems as perhaps being too small. Despite this, Niteline vehemently maintains that there is no such thing as a small problem.
help. We’re social animals. You need that support.” Today it seems mental welfare is finally being valued on a public health level, not only with help lines such as Niteline, but with many other forms of publication and media. Television advertisements have started urging us all to “take care of your mental health” – now it’s simply a matter of convincing people that this is true. It’s simply not sustainable to say that people in Ireland feel that there’s a stigma on mental health. Depression in particular is a very difficult thing to pick up on, when there is no clear physical manifestation of this illness. Sarah tells me about her own encounters with callers suffering from the illness. “It’s not like an eating disorder where there’s this obvious fluctuating weight and this really abnormal behaviour. Depression is a massive issue with mental health. It’s a very insidious disorder. People just feel down, but they feel like that for a long time. You sort of can’t move or get out of bed in the morning. You just have no motivation or anything. And I think people don’t recognise that as being abnormal behaviour.” Another misinterpretation often made by people is that they feel asking for help is a weakness. Much of what this is down to is that students are always afraid of what their peers are going to think; especially if this is something they’ve been quite quiet about. It’s something they have never said. If they say it to someone, that confidant is often taken aback to think that a person they thought was absolutely fine is in fact struggling with a problem. However big or small that problem may be, there will always be an element of surprise. This is an image of ourselves that we are never fond of: in discussing it with another, one will always have in their mind that a friend’s perception of them is now in some way altered. In this way, sometimes talking to a complete stranger helps greatly. Sarah was particular about the non-judgemental nature of the organisation’s volunteers. “I do think sometimes callers are worried that you’re judging them, but we emphasise any time we think someone is feeling reserved about something that we honestly don’t mind. We’re not going to judge you. This is all about you. This is about the person. This isn’t about anything they’ve done or the kind of person they are. It’s about helping them through whatever problem they’re having.” The fact that Niteline is a noctural organisation also acts as a fantastic bonus. Though initially arranged this way simply for convenience, the night-time hours allow for a much greater degree of confidentiality among volunteers and callers alike. While giving volunteers the opportunity to tend to their other commitments, the Niteline hours also mean that callers can contact the service in their most private moments of solitude. “If you feel that there’s something you can’t do and you continue to do it anyway, trying to manage this thing by yourself, you’re only going to feel that it’s even harder. The sooner you seek help, the better off you’ll be.”
A very corny way of viewing it is that even the tallest buildings need a lot of support. Everybody needs help Sarah is at pains to emphasise this. “We really want people to know that there’s anything they can talk to us about at all. But I think one of the big problems is that people need to feel fine about asking for help. You need to know that that’s okay: there’s nothing wrong with seeking help, in any shape or form. If you need to, you need to.” In essence, Niteline is not only for those who need to talk about their problems, but anybody who needs to talk at all. In the great hustle and bustle of college life, loneliness is rife and unfortunately, often unnoticed. But callers can find comfort in the fact that “you don’t even have to call up because you have a problem; you may just want to chat to someone, just to hear someone’s voice [...] I think loneliness is a big deal. People find themselves feeling kind of down and just don’t know why. It could well be because you just don’t have someone to talk to. And you can talk to us.” It is fair to say that in recent times awareness of mental health in Ireland is more prominent in daily life, a fact made most obvious by events such as Mental Health Awareness Week and organisations such as the newly established Mental Health Ireland. As regards this sometimes sensitive topic, Sarah remarks that “colleges are being very emphatic on it and with health and welfare, I think mental health is really being advertised in Ireland because it’s not something people in Ireland tend to mind. “Everybody does have problems, but you don’t have to deal with them yourself. I think not asking for help is a big thing. People don’t ask for help; they see themselves as having to be strong enough to take care of something alone, and then their needing to ask for help becomes another problem again. A very corny way of viewing it is that even the tallest buildings need a lot of support. Everybody needs
The Niteline phone lines are open on Mondays from 9:00pm-1:30am, and Thursdays to Sundays from 9:00pm-2:30am. Niteline is a free service and can be reached at 1800 793 793. Sarah‘s name has been changed for confidentiality purposes.
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
Chariots of Tired Just what happens when an astonishingly unfit, apathetic, smoker student tries their hand at completing a marathon - with absolutely no training whatsoever? Peter Molloy shuﬄes his way to finding out Peter Molloy Features Editor
The panic didn’t set in at all until Sunday afternoon. It was just after 3 o’clock, and I was walking through the entrance of the Main Hall in the RDS. Being here in any capacity other than as an exam attendee is unusual enough for a UCD student. Normally towards the end of the year, a visit to the RDS means a dog-eared history text book under arm and a jumbo plastic bottle of water in hand; ready for last minute paragraph scanning and the usual scrum at the seat number board. Not today, though. As I make my way inside, it suddenly starts to dawn on me how utterly out of place I am here. From left to right as far as I can see, the hall is filled with lithe, frighteningly fit-looking people. Intense looking stretches and warm-ups are being carried out against the pillars and walls of the hall; the snatches of conversation I can hear as I move through the throng fail to fill me with any sense of confidence. “I made three hours alright, but I’m hoping to crack it this year…”
“Yah, so doing New York as well next week really seemed like a natural progression…” Were that not enough, everyone – and I really mean everyone – is dressed from head to toe in combinations of running gear, leggings, and sweatbands. This is only registration, the day before the race, and everybody is girded for battle already. I glance down guiltily at the telltale bulge of a cigarette packet beneath the distinctly non-sporty pair of faded jeans I’m wearing, and swallow nervously. This is definitely not my bag. I join the queue winding its way up to the balcony of the hall, where I go to a desk to receive my race bib, complete with electronic timing chip. As I move by another desk, a sensor bleeps and my name and race number flash up on a display screen. This is assembly line athleticism. Far more importantly, it means I’m properly committed to this now. No turning back. I move back downstairs to receive my
complimentary goodie bag from one of the female volunteers manning yet another row of desks. “Good luck for tomorrow,” she smiles, handing me a plastic bag full of giveaway boxes of cereal and travel-sized deodorant. I don’t think either of us knows just how much I’m going to need it. *** Bank Holiday Monday begins with the painful realisation that my little Features project will imminently be becoming brutally real. Just after 7:30 in the morning, I’m pacing in a cloud of tobacco smoke in the back garden, desperately trying to remember why on earth I’m doing this. Like many stories with unhappy endings; this one began with what seemed like a tremendously good idea. It was the end of August, and planning for Volume XVI of The University Observer was well underway when our incoming Deputy Editor had a brainwave for one of our first semester issues.
“How about,” he said, looking at me over his desk, “we register you to run the Dublin Marathon in October?” I had to hand it to him – it wasn’t a bad suggestion. I effortlessly make the shortlist for one of the least athletic and competitive people in the Observer office. The outcome of tasking me with an activity that required a significant amount of stamina and commitment couldn’t fail to be interesting. Besides, the last Monday in October seemed a lifetime away on a sunny summer day with the leaves still on the trees. What could I say but yes? Now, however, things were about to get unpleasant, fast. By 8:30am, I’ve slunk in to the very rear of the race formation on Fitzwilliam Street, surreptitiously glancing at the competition ranked around me. The intervening evening hasn’t made things look any better. The steps of the Georgian facades lining the start of the route are cracking under knots of spandex and lycra-clad runners stretching, twitching and breathing in and out in preparation for the off. Here and there, the mass of the crowd temporarily parts to allow some sweatbanded zealot to go through one last warm-up, bouncing through the throng like a bad mime artist. Judging by the array of expensive looking running shoes and singlets on display, the collective stock of Dublin’s sporting goods emporiums must have shot up in the last week. I’m not quite looking the part here. I’ve adorned myself with a faded yellow hoodie and a pair of equally sorry-looking tracksuit bottoms; accessorised by a scuffed pair of Dunnes trainers which I’m depressingly confident won’t be up to par when it comes to arch support. My race number is clumsily sellotaped across my chest. There really is nothing like dressing for the occasion. Ah, well. At least I have my training to fall back on. And I have been training hard. Walking all the way from the Newman Building to the Student Centre. From the Student Centre back to the James Joyce Library. Once or twice, I’ve even hoofed it the entire distance from the Belfield flyover to the Arts Café. This is just going to be a slightly lengthier version of the above… isn’t it? I try to ignore the strains of the Garda Band practising for playing the race off, and attempt to concentrate on getting ready to go. I’ve long since settled on my own particular marathon strategy: it’ll be walking, from start to finish. As recently
as a day or so ago, I’d flirted with the idea of running the first mile or so, purely for appearance’s sake. The aghast responses I’ve been receiving from friends and family have persuaded me to face facts and acknowledge that even that is probably beyond me. Even a chancer has to recognise reality occasionally. Eventually, after a lifetime of anxiously checking and re-checking the time on my phone. and deliberating on whether or not one last smoke will result in me being summarily lynched by the human whippets around me, we’re off. I’m slightly disappointed. I was expecting something dramatic here, like a race marshal striding in to the middle of the road and ceremoniously firing a starting pistol toward the grey October sky. Instead, the mass just begins to surge forward as one solid body. By Nassau Street, things are going well. I’m striding along, not much faster than if I was out for a spot of early Christmas shopping. The MP3 player I’d filched from my sister’s bedroom is blaring a pungent mixture of Abba and Rihanna in to my ears. This is actually quite alright. Famous last words. As part of the only modicum of research or preparation I’d bothered with prior to the event, I’d chuckled over and over again to myself at the YouTube video of Paula Radcliffe getting caught short during the London Marathon in 2005. How quickly the smug do fall. The fractional amount of practical information I’d managed to soak up had left me with a fear of becoming dehydrated during the event. What’s the solution for an enterprising young writer? Why, simply knock back enough mineral water to fill a camel’s hump prior to starting. Job done. Except it isn’t. It’s anything but. As my straggling portion of the procession winds its way past the neon-lit front of the Sinn Féin bookshop on Parnell Square, I’m starting to feel it. By the time we’re passing down the North Circular
I’ve long since settled on my own particular marathon strategy: it’ll be walking, from start to finish
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
Road, things are becoming dire. I start to shoot glances at inviting looking front gardens and alleys as I chug past. Solving things a la Radcliffe is beginning to look more and more appealing. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see the squat plastic frame of a portable toilet in my life. Suitably refreshed, I slump to the pavement and fish into my tracksuit pocket for my sweat-stained pack of cigarettes. This is tough stuff, and this first water station only represents the three mile mark. I clamber back to my feet and keep on going through the wrought-iron gates of the Phoenix Park. Something highly unexpected starts to happen as I continue on over the side roads and avenues of the park. Despite my best efforts at weary cynicism, I’m actually beginning to get in to the spirit of the thing. My phone is shrilling every half mile or so with calls from girlfriend and friends. At first, the inquiries are solidly anxious and curious. “You actually got up? You really are doing it?” As the miles count off, pain-stakingly slowly, the contact takes a more encouraging tone. “Well done – keep going.” From nowhere, the hazy idea I originally had of giving it my best shot for a couple of miles or so and then bowing out is being replaced by a desire to grit my teeth and actually finish the thing. Determination? Drive? This is new and very much unexplored territory. As I lope out of the Phoenix Park and on to the Chapelizod Road, I take the opportunity of another water stop to halt myself for a moment and lean against a stone wall to light a cigarette. I’m exhaling and mentally weighing up the mere twenty or so miles still left when an unmistakeable American accent hails me from behind. “Blow it all over me!” My mind is still frantically working on all the different comic directions this can be taken in when the chirpy, pink tracksuited owner of the voice appears at my shoulder. “I’m a smoker,” she explains, nodding her head at the smouldering coffin nail between my fingers. “I need my fix.” I decide to prevent the situation becoming any more bizarre by simply proffering a Lucky Strike and my lighter. As she takes a grateful first drag, my interlocutor introduces herself as Kim O’Connor, an insurance worker from Kansas. O’Connor – and another half-dozen or so members of her family – are in Ireland for an extended break. The previous few days have seen them tick off tourist staples like the Guinness Storehouse and the Book of Kells; now they’re running a marathon to conclude their time in the capital. I’m tempted to ask where the urge to spoil an otherwise delightful holiday came from, but I decide to keep my mouth shut. Shuffling along beside O’Connor as our wheezy portion of the cavalcade clears Chapelizod and moves along toward Crumlin, she elaborates on what has her out pounding Dublin pavements on a brisk October Monday. She’s there to raise as much money as possible for leukaemia research, “and have a good time here while I’m at it.” Admirable stuff. I’m not quite sure my moral fibre is quite so Kevlar-like, though. For all my newfound sense of spirit, I’m beginning to feel it now. The halfway point arrives mid-phone call update to the same Deputy Editor that started all this in the first place. It’s after half-twelve, and he’s just out of bed. I can’t resist a slight tone of weary smugness, though in his defence he’s been awake until four that morning putting the final touches to that fortnight’s issue. I progress on past Crumlin Children’s Hospital, doing an Oscar-worthy impression of a particularly lethargic pensioner. That’s a rather futile metaphor, though, because here and there along the route I’ve actually seen several pensioners, and they’re not doing half bad. In fact, some of them are out-pacing me. My feet are sorer and sorer now. I
haven’t dared look at any of the water station pitstops, but beneath the protective covering of St Bernard’s best rubber and the double layer of socks on each, I’m beginning to get the distinct idea that I may be doing a considerable amount of damage to them. A refrain starts repeating itself over and over again in my head. “I’m not even paid for this. I’m not even paid for this. I’m not even paid…” The stretch from Terenure to Milltown melds into a bizarre blur of the gates of fee-paying secondary schools. I mark my progress by limping painfully past the entrance to Terenure College, Rathdown, Alexandra College, and on again. It’s well past two in the afternoon now, and I can’t resist mocking myself with the certain knowledge that the winner of the marathon is most likely at home with their feet up by this stage. I try to distract myself from the thoughts of my own athletic inadequacy by craning my neck to assess the company I’m keeping here at the tail end – not that that offers much to soothe my strained ego. I seem to be the notable exception in a group of middle-aged women marching along in determined lockstep. Here and there, intriguing snippets of pre-menopausal conversation prick my nosy ears. “She seems to be studying each night, and the exams do seem to be going OK for her. But, you know, you just can’t force them to study, they have to do it for themselves.” I’d almost struggle forward to concur with Fidelma’s sage advice, if I wasn’t so tired. As we hit Clonskeagh, another subtle change in proceedings asserts itself. This is home ground now, and it cheers me up somewhat. The first sight of the grammatically-trying “University College Dublin Dublin” crest on a gate is a curious source of inspiration. I begin to straighten my back a little bit and square my shoulders on the approach to the N11. This, at last, is the home stretch, but as it progresses, it’s also proving one of the hardest yet. I’ve long since lost count of the number of complimentary 250ml bottles of water I’ve choked down as I go, and my face is a glistening, scarlet patchwork of perspiration. Eventually, I find myself moving with painful slowness past the front of the RDS. Queuing for registration almost exactly a day ago seems only the vaguest of memories now. When the finish line on Merrion Square arrives, I’m too exhausted to even muster a grin. I mutter a greeting to the Observer photographer who’s trekked out on his Monday evening to cover my moment of triumph; and then slouch forward to the finishing official, handing back my race bib and barely even registering the medal that’s pressed into my hand. I struggle to collect my thoughts. I’m not sure, but it almost appears that I’ve completed a marathon. And all in a mere seven hours and forty-one minutes. For the moment, all I can properly focus on is the last cigarette that I’ve been saving and savouring for past three miles, and the hot meal that I can only hope is waiting at home for me. It’s only later, when I’m sprawled in bed well before nine o’clock, post-dinner and lengthy shower, that I can give it some proper consideration. I’m flicking through the souvenir programme that I received as part of my registration pack that long day ago. It’s full of page after page of glossy platitudes about “the world’s friendliest marathon”, and glowing endorsements of the tremendous sense of self-worth that can seemingly only be gained by hauling yourself through forty-two kilometres of marathon course. Yesterday, I would have dismissed it all with a dubious snort. Now, though, it doesn’t seem quite so foreign. I don’t think I’ll be in any particular hurry to strap my runners on again, but perhaps – just perhaps – the athletic types might have been right on this one.
Greim na Grimes Maria Ní Shíthigh Le teacht an gheimhridh gach bliain, caithfidh daoine rud éigin a fháil chun na hoícheanta fada, dorcha a líonadh. Leis an gcúlú eacnamaíochta agus an chaint faoi bhuiséad agus rátaí dífhostaíochta atá ag síormhéadú i mbliana tá siamsaíocht saor, taitneamhach níos tábhachtaí anois ná le blianta beaga anuas. Nuair a smaoiním ar a leithéid de rud ní thagann ach rud amháin chun chuimhne dom, sin The X Factor agus na deartháireacha Grimes ach go háirithe. Tá ‘Jedward’, mar a thugtar orthu, mar chuid lárnach do mo sheachtain anois agus leis The X Factor ag fáil mairnéalaigh thart ar 11 milliún go rialta tá an chuma ar an scéal nach bhfuilim i m’aonar! Dá gcuirfeá ‘John and Edward’ isteach i Google ceithre mhí ó shin ba é an rud a thiocfadh ar ais chugat ná eolas faoi John Edwards an polaiteoir ach sa lá atá inniu ann tá cúrsaí athraithe go hiomlán. Ar Facebook tá breis is 3,000 grúpa faoi Jedward. Is léir go bhfuil daoine ann gur fuath leo garsúin na gruaige airde ach ar an taobh eile den bhád is cinnte go bhfuil an-chuid daoine ann gur bhreá leo iad mar maítear go bhfuair siad i bhfad níos mó vótaí ná aon iomaitheoir eile coicís ó shín. Ach cén fáth a bhfuilimid gafa leis na buachaillí bithiúnta seo? Nuair a chasamar orthu don chéad uair ag na héisteachtaí, nuair a chan siad ‘I Want It That Way’, bhí náire an domhan orm ar a son agus nuair a d’fhreagair John ceist Cheryl “Cá bhfeiceann sibh sibh féin i gceann 15 bhliain?” le “Bhuel, feicimse me féin níos sine”, ceapaim go raibh náire ar an tír uilig! Bhí mé ar buile go bhféadfadh buachaillí aineolacha, gan tallann an cheoil acu dul ar aghaidh go dtí Boot Camp in áit duine eile. Fuair siad an-chuid drochíde ó na meáin i dtosach báire. Scaoil an lucht éisteachta leo agus iad ar
an stáitse agus is gá cuimhneamh nach bhfuil siad ach ocht mbliana déag d’aois ach is féidir a rá gur chabhraigh sé sin leo go fadtéarmach mar in ainneoin na ndeacrachtaí ar fad tháinig siad amach agus thug siad taispeántas muiníneach agus rabairneach do ‘Rock DJ’ le Robbie Williams don chéad seó beo. Anois tá rudaí difriúil, admhaíonn Louis Walsh féin, nach bhfuil nóta ina gcinn acu ach cuireann siad taispeántas spreagúil ós ár gcomhair gach uile Shatharn. Tá siad éagsúil ó na hiomaitheoirí eile a bhíonn ar chláir mar seo. Ní gá dúinn a bheith neirbhíseach dóibh má chanann siad nóta as tiúin nó má tá taispeántas nach bhfuil foirfe acu agus is é sin an bua is mó atá acu i mo thuairim. Siamsaíocht éadrom atá iontu, is féidir linn ár scíth a ligean agus taitneamh a bhaint as an léiriú. Is faoiseamh é
ón ngnáth shaol mar bíonn d’aird ina hiomláine dírithe ar an stáitse agus ar na buachaillí eisceachtúla seo. Fiú ma chuireann siad déistin ort bíonn beagnach gach duine fiosrach faoi chéard a dhéanfaidh nó céard a chaithfidh siad don chéad taispeántas eile. Is feiniméin suimiúil iad Jedward, ceapann daoine go bhfuil siad thar barr nó uafásach ar fad. Tá t-léintí agus geansaithe ar díol ar fud an idirlín ar a bhfuil ‘Is aoibhinn liom Jedward’ nó ‘Is fuath liom Jewdard’ agus toisc go vótálann daoine ar an duine/daoine a thaitníonn leo seachas an duine a bhfuil siad ag iarraidh fáil réidh leo is dócha go mbeidh an cúpla conspóideach linn ar feadh tamaill eile. Ag deireadh an lae an féidir leo an comórtas a bhuachan? Dar le t-léine a chaith Peaches Geldof le déanaí, ‘Jed We Can!’
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
Infinity and Beyond Intrigued by the notion of an Irish society dedicated to spotting the appearance of UFOs, Matt Gregg adjusts his tinfoil hat and looks for advice on the extraterrestrials who may be periodically visiting the Emerald Isle Everybody loves a good conspiracy theory. Ask the man in the street and you’re guaranteed he’ll question at least one of history’s accepted facts. America’s moon landing in 1969? Never happened: all just filmed in a Hollywood basement. Fluoride in our water reducing tooth decay? More like fluoride, the Government mind-control drug. Global warming? A sinister plot to spread socialism. But none of these is nearly as enthralling as the search for UFOs and extraterrestrial life. People just can’t help but be fascinated by what, if anything at all, is out there amongst the star-speckled sky. A quick search on Google reveals over thirty million hits and an astronomical number of sites, offering to reveal all. The only problem is that, to anyone with a healthy dose of cynicism, it can be very hard to trust even half the things you hear on the subject. The study of UFOs is a field renowned for hoaxes and lunatics. For men still living at home well beyond their thirties and women with an unhealthy attachment to cats, finding people with serious and sincere claims can be an uphill struggle. To help me sift the chaff from the wheat, I turned to the president of Ireland’s UFO Society. Thirteen years ago, Betty Meyler was reading a copy of the Sunday World when an article piqued her interest. There had been a mysterious crash in the Curlew Mountains near where she lived in Boyle, County Roscommon and rumours quickly spread that the vehicle in question wasn’t just a car or a van, but a UFO. In fact so many conflicting reports emerged that an investigation was launched by two UFO researchers, who presented their findings in one of Boyle’s many pubs. Though their findings were inconclusive, Boyle was bitten by the UFO bug. “Talking to the townspeople afterwards, I was surprised to find that quite a lot of people who had had experiences of some description or another,” explains Meyler in a voice that’s in equal parts sincere and reassuring. “So we decided to form a little society called the Western UFO Society.” Originally, the group was hugely popular but very quickly attendances started dropping off and the group petered out before the end of the year. Meyler feels this was because people felt that once they had described their own experiences, there was little more to discuss. The stigma attached to being part of a group that believed in UFOs certainly didn’t help its longevity either. “People were getting embarrassed being seen going up to a meeting labelled ‘UFO Society.’ That was considered for the weirdos,” she says, the disappointment in her voice barely concealed. “Don’t forget that this was 1996 and people have expanded their ways of thinking a lot more since then.” That could have been the end of Meyler’s brainchild. Instead, three years later, her society witnessed a dramatic revival after the magazine Woman’s Way ran a piece on her. Suddenly, radio stations across the country were calling her in to explain Ireland’s official UFO situation. The response was overwhelming, and Meyler was flooded with stories from across the country of people’s everyday encounters with UFOs. “Everybody around here knows me so they know who to contact where as if they see something in Galway or Cork they don’t know who to contact. I felt it was
silly for me to just confine my activities to the west of Ireland so we became nationwide. Overnight I had become President of the UFO Society of Ireland.” Somewhat surprisingly, these stories were not limited to your average stereotypical UFOers, but included down to earth pillars of the community. In fact, it was while receiving oncology treatment that she heard some news that might solve one of the great unexplained mysteries in ufology. “We know that the starship Capricorn has been circling the Earth for a good long time and every now and then it sends down these sort of probes,” she explains matter-of-factly. “But what they send them down for, we’re not quite sure.” Her hospital consultant, on the other hand, appeared to have the answer. “He says that UFOs use radon to fuel their craft, which I thought was very interesting. Nobody I’d spoken to seems to have heard of that but if it’s true, that’s what they come down for: to collect the radon.” Now in its tenth year, Meyler explains that the main aim of her organisation is to bring awareness of the UFO scene to the general public and act as a forum for those who are interested in searching out the truth. The centrepiece of their calendar is the annual conference, this year held in Boyle’s King Hotel on the third of October. It attracted prominent speakers in the field from across the globe and Meyler now feels her function has become an important part of the international circuit. A quick perusal of their latest newsletter had left me intrigued. Just what was this ‘portal’ she’d discovered off the coast of Church Island? “There’s something there but it’s nothing structural. It’s like an esoteric thing that they go into. But it does explain the many sightings around the Lough Key area.” The discovery was quite by accident.
“Overnight I had become President of the UFO Society of Ireland.” An acquaintance of hers had been photographing Church Island to use as a screensaver for his computer. But when he developed the photos, he found more than the idyllic background he’d been looking for. “He saw a big white light in the middle of the island. Nobody had seen it. So he phoned me and asked if I’d like to take a look at it because everybody around here knows I’m ‘Mrs UFO’,” she beams. “As he was leaving he said, ‘There’s a portal there.’ And I thought, ‘That was a very strange thing for him to say’.” Her interest aroused, Meyler began investigating.
“Are you familiar with pendulums?” she suddenly interjected. I was stumped. Racking my brain, I could only manage to stumble out an embarrassingly stuttered “no”. “I have a rose quartz pendulum on a little silver chain,” she continued, undeterred. “For me, if I ask it a question and the answer’s ‘yes’, it will go round and round. If the answer’s ‘no’, it will go up and down. That’s it for me, but pendulums behave in different fashions for different people. Anyway, I checked out his claims with my pendulum.”
After ascertaining that there was a UFO presence, Meyler continued her line of questioning until she discovered that the light indicated a portal in place roughly twenty five feet in front of the island. With this hypothesis in place, she took a boat out to the spot to investigate first hand. “As we went over this particular spot, the pendulum went round, and as we left it went up, to say we were going out of it. So that confirmed what I had been thinking.” Church Island is not unique within Boyle as a link to the extraterrestrial. Meyler believes that the Knocknabrusna mound, just off the N61 Boyle to Roscommon road, is also very important. “It’s obviously a very sacred, ancient mound. It used to be the coronation ground of the McDermott clan who are very big in this area,” she explained. “This mound is reputed to be the burial place of Cezar, the granddaughter of Noah. Noah put her out of the Ark for some reason and she found her way somehow to Boyle. This is recorded, apparently, in the annals of Ireland.” “So I went up with one medium who found a direct ‘layline’ from this mound to Mount Ararat. And can you remember what’s reputed to be on the top of Mount
Ararat?” she continues excitedly. “The Ark of the Covenant! That’s interesting, isn’t it?” But that’s not all. A couple of years later, some friends of hers were driving past the mound when peculiar lights in the distance began to follow them. “Every time they stopped the car, the lights stopped. As they went on, the lights went on. When they turned round to see if these lights would follow them, a big light came down and the little lights seemed to go up, then the big light whizzed away. I think that would have been a mothership and makes me believe that mound is like a UFO hangar.” Meyler was quick to point out that the pendulum wasn’t her communicating with aliens directly but rather a way for her to gain knowledge. “I can use it for anything,” she explains, “from discovering if I had a milk allergy to predicting where the next UFO sighting would be. My source of information is wherever I wish it to come from. For example, if I’m doing UFO stuff, I’ll call
beings created by God, and to say they didn’t exist was to put limitations on God. They’ve know it all along but now they’re coming out to admit it.” According to Meyler, the Church is not unique in covering up the existence of extraterrestrial life. Governments have been equally guilty. “They have to stop sending up their jets to shoot them down,” she declares before explaining that, until then, it is highly unlikely that aliens will be able to openly land on Earth. However, she did reveal that government efforts haven’t been completely successful. “I do believe there are extraterrestrials walking amongst us. You’ve probably seen some people and thought that person looks a bit strange – slightly sort-ofpointy ears, pointy nose. You see them and notice that they look different,” she begins. “And I’m beginning to find that sometimes autistic children have, shall we say, ‘come from another planet’, which is why they find it very difficult to adjust to life on this planet. They don’t want to
go to school because they know it all.” At this point, scepticism makes a flaring return and I start to wonder if there’s any truth in what Meyler has to say. I try to broach the subject tactfully but I needn’t have bothered. She is remarkably open about the fact that many people would consider her mad and doesn’t seem bothered in the
on Commander Ashta. Commander Ashta is the commander-in-chief of the intergalactic forces.” Perhaps sensing the seeds of doubt blossoming in my mind, she quickly qualified the statement. “You see, what I say is a lot of my own spiritual beliefs. It’s not scientific at all – either you believe it or you don’t believe it, in the same way you believe Jesus is the son of God, or you don’t believe it. There’s nothing to prove that he was.” I had always thought that religion and alien life were diametrically opposed, but Meyler had no problem in reconciling the two. Instead, she described how her local priest took a keen interest in her work, and how the Church was increasingly open to the idea of there being extraterrestrial life near the west. “Perhaps six or seven months ago, the Church came out with an encyclical saying that extraterrestrials are real, they are
slightest. “Everybody has their own beliefs. I respect their views but you don’t need to tell me what to believe and I don’t tell you what to believe,” she chuckles gently. “But I’ll tell you one thing: when Galileo told everyone the Earth was round, everybody called him mad. Anything new, people will not accept. I mean they didn’t even accept Christ, they crucified him. So if they can’t accept that, how do you expect everyone to believe me?” As I hang up the phone, I can’t help admiring such an honest and passionate woman. Her friendliness and warmth are willing me to believe yet the hard facts just won’t let me. I set out to debunk the myths of ufology and find the truth but it’s just not that simple. Personally, I need more proof than pendulum permutations to accept the existence of alien life but who knows – in a hundred years time, I may be eating my words. Listen to Matt’s interview with Betty Meyler at www.universityobserver.ie.
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
With student misbehaviour causing constant interruptions to transport services to UCD, Slightly Molliﬁed is tasked with sorting things out
The inspector from Donnybrook Garage has lent me his hat for the occasion, and it really does feel appropriate. It’s a Soviet Commissar-style thing; a tall peak with a brim wide enough to eat a meal from. Before I left the house earlier in the evening, I made sure that Mammy Mollified burnished the brass Dublin Bus badge on the front to within an inch of its life, and now it looks the business. As I stride purposefully across the grass by the Student Bar, it’s all I can do, both as a result of costume and natural inclination, to prevent myself breaking into a GDR-esque goosestep down the concourse. But there still might be opportunity for that later. I’m delighted with myself for ensuring that Mollified & Mollified Inc. have secured the contract for this little number. In reflection, the pitch was easier than I thought. Donnybrook’s Chief Inspector was dubious at first, but when I outlined things to him in his office, he began to come around to my way of thinking. I use “office”, of course, in the loosest sense of the word. I’m sure the man has indeed worked from home at one point or another in the past, so it wasn’t all that unethical of me to have confronted him in his living room the previous evening. With a meticulously-sharpened HB pencil pressed lightly against his jugular. Still, that’s the cut and thrust of entrepreneurship, and I do need to carve out a career for myself when my decadelong sojourn as an Arts undergraduate eventually comes to an end. In fact, that’s exactly the witty turn of phrase I used in explaining to the transport official why I felt my new company should be hired to solve UCD’s bus difficulties. “But,” he gasped, once he’d eventually calmed down a little and stopped shaking, “even if I do say yes and you let me go, what on earth could this one-man show of yours actually do to solve things?” “Ah, well that’s the thing, you see,” I replied, idly rolling the pencil across my palm. “I’m exactly what you need.” “You?!”, he replied, incredulously. “You’re nothing but a student hack!” “That’s were you’re wrong, Inspector Hostage!”, I exclaimed. “What this situation needs isn’t simply someone who can get things done, it’s someone who also knows just the right people. It’s all a matter of contacts…” I let the words hang for a moment in the suburban quiet, and then continued. “Over my years of student journalism, I’ve come across more than a few interesting characters. Give me a free hand in this, and I absolutely guarantee you that I can solve your campus problems in a single evening.” He eventually said yes, of course. They usually do. Now it’s twenty hours later, and yours truly is about to kick-off his very own careers week. As I near the 10 bus stop, I can see I have my work cut out for me. It’s just after half-ten, and the usual assortment of adolescent student miscreants have dragged themselves out of the warm fug of the Student Bar and apartment parties. Almost everyone has alcohol of some sort clutched in their hands, and I can even
On the Buses
see one reprobate doing his level best to deep-throat a full bottle of Buckfast. God bless our country cousins. No matter; my guest list for tonight will serve admirably. As I reach the stop, I can see the crowd staring suspiciously at me. It’s time to make my presence felt. If this were a dinner party, I’d politely tap a butter knife against the side of a
“The instant his stream of thinneddown Tuborg hits the metalwork; there’s a flash of bright light.” glass to get their attention. It isn’t though – it’s a windswept South Dublin approximation of an Eastern Bloc airport, so other means will have to suffice. I grasp the meatiest looking Ag Science student I can see and bodily heave him against the side of the bus stop. The hollow metallic clang as an immovable object meets a thick skull gets their interest all right. I stride forward, leaving my dazedlooking victim to sit up and wonder whether he’s pulled before they’ve even arrived in Copper’s. “Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… Bruce Forsyth!” They instinctively snigger, before one of the Pulse testosterone bags, whose salaries I’ve just offered to double, steps forward with the BBC presenter in tow. The laughter tails off as they realise that he really is here. I might have overdone myself here, but there’s nothing like a touch of class. Brucey looks nervous, but he’ll do the job. I know he will, because I’ve made it quite clear that I won’t be stitching his pacemaker back in until I’m happy with his performance. He clears his throat, his foxy white moustache twitching, and speaks. “Thank you, thank you!”, he begins, forgetting for a moment that he hasn’t got Tess Daly holding his geriatric hand now. “Our first guest tonight is very, very special. All the way on temporary loan from United States Military Detention Centre Fort Huge, it’s a lovely little lady with a neat line in dog training! Please welcome Private First Class (Dishonourably Discharged) Stacey H. Goonbaker, III!” Most of the yokels and So-Co airheads at the bus stop don’t seem to get the reference, which fails to surprise me. Newspapers don’t tend to have much utility to these types beyond the medium of rolling paper. They rapidly get the point though, as Goonbaker lunges forward with her Alsatian in tow. She’s been out of practice for quite a while – ever since the war crimes trial, in fact – but, boy, she hasn’t lost the magic. In an instant, the mass is cringing
up against the walls of the bus stop, Fido snarling furiously at the end of his rope. Goonbaker’s eagerly making ready to start stripping our prisoners and arranging them in her patented human pyramid sculptures when I gesture for her to halt. I think it’s time to switch to more persuasive tactics. Stepping forward
again, I signal for Brucey to continue. “And now everybody… it’s time for our favourite part of the evening: getting on the bus!” The crowd starts obligingly making for the nearest double-decker, casting nervous glances at the lurking form of Goonbaker, when I bellow for them to halt.
“Not that bus! That bus!!” They follow my pointed figure over to where a rather different looking bus sits forlornly behind the line of pristine Dublin Bus vehicles. Different is indeed the only word for the thing. It looks like a giant Mechano construction; all bare metal framework and exposed wiring. It doesn’t even have a roof, but I’m not too concerned. Comfort isn’t really the name of the game this evening. The pimped-out bus is exactly what I was looking for, and God knows I paid enough to the body-makers in Clare to alter it. I remind myself that you have to spend money to make money, as I select a victim from the crowd waiting hesitantly by the steps of my bus. “You!” I growl. “Pee on it!” The callow-faced student gawps back at me, uncomprehending, until Goonbaker’s mutt rears up on its hind legs, snarling. Panicked, the inebriated scholar stumbles forward to the side of the bus and obediently unzips his flies. The instant his stream of watereddown Tuborg hits the metalwork, there’s a flash of bright light. My unwilling volunteer is physically picked up and flung backwards by the force of the electric shock. As a faint sizzling sound lingers in the air, I turn to face the rest of the group. “Just try it,” I invite, as sweetly as I can. “Anything you like, not just bodily fluids. Lager, wine, alcopops… so much as moisten the paintwork and you’ll be halfway to being a mentally-impaired Florida Death Row inmate before you can blink.” It’s a real Road to Damascus moment. Immediately, I catch the sound of smashing class and aluminium clinking as bottles and cans are dropped to the ground post-haste. Sheepishly, the crowd straightens its clothing and lines up meekly for the trip to Harcourt Street. I love it when a plan comes together. As I saunter happily home later, past the ongoing construction works around the Science Building, I begin to ponder Mollified & Mollified branching out into the construction industry. Onwards and upwards; that’s the name of the business game. Strictly Mollified offers insults by appointment. For availability email email@example.com
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
TALLEYRAND Regimes may fall and fail, but I do not… Talleyrand does love Fridays. Not, as you might suspect, because that Friday night feeling represents an opportunity to join the rest of UCD’s student population in terrorising late-night transport drivers and head-butting bus stops, but rather because it occasionally offers your correspondent a break from living cheek by jowl with the denizens of the Sallow-skinned and Unloved corridor. This week, the sorry quartet of faces only a mother could love took themselves off to the Foundation Day Dinner, where our jumped-up adolescents could rub shoulders with the great and the good. Or, at least, that was the plan, had not Rusty Redmond opted to lead the gang through a round or five of tequila first. God only knows the cretins are hard enough to stomach at the best of times, but Talleyrand feels that the troubles of Brian Cowen and Co. are pressing enough at the moment without having to indulge in smalltalk with the pissed-up faces of the Seriously Ugly. Speaking of unfortunate appearances; Martin “Grey Owl” Butler had the temerity to chide Arklow’s attempt at Machiavelli for not managing to find himself a female date with a pulse in time for Friday’s festivities. Judging by the slew of execrable musicals which have marred the run-up to Christmas over the past years, Talleyrand has long suspected the inveterate e-mailer of being an incurable optimist, but looking at Redmond, surely this was daring to hope too far for Marty? Scottie “Boogle” Ahearn couldn’t quite seem to decide whether the highlight of the evening was shaking the limpid, geriatric hand of Dr Garret Fitzgerald or being introduced to the Taioseach’s personal bodyguard – someone, as the Tipperary Trouble breathlessly described the next day – trained to shoot anyone in the room dead within a mere seven seconds. Talleyrand can only hope that Ahearn’s newfound obsession with firearms doesn’t lead to the Welfare Office taking any psychiatric care tips from the US Army. That might not be such an unlikely development though, as Scott-with-an-ie has been most busy over the past fortnight fermenting plans for his little fiefdom. The highlight of The Bespectacled One’s week came with the delivery of box after box of shiny board games – resources which will apparently help draw troubled students back from the brink. Given the rather creative spelling recent Welfare posters have displayed, Talleyrand is dubious about the exact utility to Scottie of Scrabble and Boggle sets, but hope springs eternal. In any case, your observer was reassured to note that Scottie’s unique orthography hasn’t prevented him from sending group-texts warning hacks-about-to-crack not to co-operate with any student media enquiries. How faintly menacing of He With the Double-Glazed Face. Still, it’s always good to see a Welfare Officer doing their best to dispel stereotypes – never let it be said that a card-carrying Blueshirt has attempted to interfere with the freedom of the press. Even with all that peace and quiet, though, it can still get awfully lonely in the Student Centre on these November weekends. And Talleyrand couldn’t help but notice that there aren’t many corners of the corridor more lonely than the empty office of Caligula Ryan. Caligula because of vague ambitions to succeed Redmond as SU despot? Have a care – if the smouldering wreck of the Newman Games is anything to go by, rising to the top would require leadership and organisational skills out of the stratosphere for young Master Ryan. No, Caligula because the knives are definitively out for Paddy, and only a miracle can save his reign from ending in a palace bloodbath now. Talleyrand hears that Paddy was officially spending the weekend watching his sister compete in jarvey-racing, or something equally rustic like that, but the word on the street is that Scottie’s Tipp compatriot is actually enjoying his last few days of holding any kind of SU position. But the situation isn’t all bleak. Just when Talleyrand was beginning to despair of the Student’s Goonion ever managing to hit upon a plan for all those brightly coloured remembrance pebbles that have been collected over the past fortnight, light appears at the end of the tunnel. Talleyrand’s toenails were beginning to curl at the prospect of the entire ghastly gang decamping to the West to spend some quality time walking along the shore, pebbles in tow. Now, at least the pebbles can be put to good use helping to weigh down the evidence when “Thin Ice” Ryan is eventually sent to sleep with the fishes. Let’s just hope the fishes can remember the cherished Ryan rule of one female per team. It’ll be a long stay down there otherwise. Talley-ho, Talleyrand
Quotes of the fortnight “Certainly it was an example of, I think, how not to do it” Fionnuala Sheehan, CEO of MEAS, criticises the Ents ‘Black Week’ email...
“People will be aware, if
they’re feeling low, that everyone has a hard time during college” …while Scott Ahearn shows a canny awareness of the student psyche.
“At first, yeah, and then we were like, ‘Getting up in the morning is pretty hard’” The Belfield Buglers bemoan the harder side of life in the campus press
“There are clear benefits of having a female on the pitch at all times” Another classic quote for the Paddy Ryan scrapbook...
“The current economic climate, its consequent impact on budgets, nationally and within the university, allied with the employment control framework of the Department, and in the general context of an apparent belief that third level administrative headcounts are too high, does not make me optimistic in this regard” Michael Sinnott of UCD Administrative Services discusses the improbability of an increase in Student Desk hours
A ballot box of red tape Important as the appointment of the EU’s first full-time President might be, Gavan Reilly believes picking a new Commissioner will be a more pressing concern for an FF government living on borrowed time
aking any appointment is never easy. Every candidate for any position has their own merits and choosing any single person from a cackle of appointees-to-be, whether for a high-flying executive position or – sadly all too frequently these days – for the most expendable of McJobs, is a difficult thing to do. Transplant this difficulty onto that most complex and intricate hotbed of bureaucracy, the European Union. One can’t begin to imagine how difficult it must be to navigate a political appointment through the thickest of red tape, accommodating the unique needs and whims of more than two dozen political cultures. Such is the task now facing the EU as it seeks to appoint its first full-time President of the European Council, a de facto foreign minister in the form of the High Representative on Foreign Policy, and a European Commission that, thanks to Ireland’s somewhat misplaced stubbornness, will have nine more members than was first intended. While Europe at large will busy itself with the more prominent full-time roles, Ireland’s own politically peculiar setup will likely make the nomination of an Irish Commissioner so difficult that Ireland are likely to exert little or any influence in the appointments of the more prominent jobs. Ireland, unlike any of its fellow member states (with the enormous exception of the UK, where David should already have the curtains measured) is quite literally teetering between governments at the moment. That Fianna Fáil have clung onto power throughout the publication of the NAMA legislation, the second Lisbon referendum and the long-overdue renegotiation of the Programme for Government is a remarkable feat in itself, but with the worst budget in memory on the horizon and a by-election over the following hill – it can only be a matter of time before Micheál Martin finds himself acclimatising to Enda Kenny’s old stomping ground to the Ceann Comhairle’s immediate right. So what of Ireland’s international appointees then, and what of Ireland’s European Commissioner? First things first, the notion of “Ireland’s European Commissioner” is one that needs discussion. While it’s true that each member of the Commission takes an oath of neutrality upon taking office, no Commissioner will ever be totally unbiased in their approach;
aside from being most intimately familiar with the native political habitat they cut their teeth in, a Commissioner cannot help but consider the needs of their own land when push comes to shove. Consider the Minister in an Irish cabinet – there mightn’t be a Department of Meath, but Navan would be much less likely to see its rail corridor introduced if Noel Dempsey wasn’t the Minister for Transport. Neither can one expect a Commissioner to turn a blind eye when presented with the chance to benefit the constituents they likely once served, and who set their political careers in motion. So, with a change of Government a mere formality and with the nomination of a Commissioner a chance to ensure a vested – though veiled – interest at the top table, it becomes Pat Cox played an enormous role in the incumbent upon the Taoiseach recent Lisbon referendum to choose a unifying figure commanding respect across the to be Ireland’s first female Taoiseach, it is floor of Leinster House. Such difficult to see how a two-time member of characters are few and far between, and so the EU Court of Auditors – a job so dull it the difficult appointment procedure begins makes even John Bruton seem animated – for Brian Cowen and company. Pat Cox? might stir any major enthusiasm across the Máire Geoghegan-Quinn? Perhaps even Oireachtas. Geoghegan-Quinn has spent John Bruton? fifteen years out of cabinet; one would think Let’s start with the latter. John Bruton her time has passed. has an impeccable record; as Taoiseach he Pat Cox, however, presents a strong propundoubtedly contributed to the birth of the osition. Not only was Cox still President of Celtic Tiger, and Bruton commands great the European Parliament in 2004 when ten respect and admiration from European of the eastern states joined the Union, makambassadors to Washington and American ing him a familiar face across the continent, statesmen alike. One could indeed argue but his role in confidently and expertly that his outward lack of vigour and dynadismissing anti-Lisbon conspiracy theory mism is perhaps exactly what a workplace in the past months was vital in ensuring the as glacial as the European Union demands. treaty’s safe passage at the ballot box. However, after two fraught referenda where Garnish with Cox’s corporate experiIreland once again asserted her right to a ence on the Board of Directors of too many Commissioner, a candidate who took no companies to name, and the only obstacle active part in campaigning for Lisbon and would be Fine Gael’s support – unlikely to who has been out of his nation’s public eye prove problematic given Cox’s role in the for five years is unlikely to capture Irish referendum campaign. imaginations. In declaring his hand for the If only making the real decision were Council Presidency so early, Bruton will fall so easy. Unsurprisingly given Ireland’s between two stools – and all of this comes penchant for bickering and Europe’s knack before having to win over the Fianna Fáil for slowing things down, the smart money party he so despised while in opposition. will be on a decision being drawn out a As for Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, an little longer, even if only as a pre-budgetary impressive minister who once looked likely diversion.
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
Photo of the fortnight
10th November 2009
Should the events reported on our front page story come to pass this week, then November 2009 will long be remembered by UCD Students’ Union. Not since 1986 has a Students’ Union sabbatical officer been forced out of office against their will. If the Union’s Independent Appeals Board rule that Paddy Ryan was not eligible to run for the position of Campaigns & Communications Vice-President, his election will be considered void and he will be forced to vacate the office immediately. Should Ryan be forced from office through this avenue, UCD Students’ Union will find itself in uncharted waters. A lobbying organisation who have pledged to continue fighting for an adequately funded higher education system, and for social justice and equality in wider society, can ill afford to find itself without a Campaigns officer. Indeed, it will surely be a source of some relief to those involved that the internal turmoil brewing in our Students’ Union didn’t boil over at the climax of the struggle against third-level tuition fees. The practicalities of a vacant C&C office aside, UCD Students’ Union faces turbulent times. Proposing a motion of no confidence in an Executive Officer is a
sign of extremely fractious times and whether heads ultimately roll or not, the fallout from the dispute will be hugely damaging to the SU’s public image, and will surely cripple the Union’s hopes of achieving further goals in the remainder of the year. *** The jubilant scenes last Saturday in the Belfield Bowl as Ronan Finn lifted the League of Ireland First Division trophy, before a cheering capacity crowd, are a terrific reminder of what this university really could be. Hundreds of students and staff turned out to watch UCD AFC return to Premier Division football, celebrating the triumph of our local team. Our local team... While so many of us still see this campus as simply somewhere to study, somewhere to work, or somewhere to spend as little time as possible before getting on with life, UCD and Belfield have an underground community just waiting to flourish. For those who work here, live here, train here, Belfield is not just a campus, but a town of sorts. Every town has its local team, its local club or society that they turn out to support no matter what. We have the team, the team don’t have our support. How many of us can say we’ve
Letters to the Editor Letters should be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to: The Editor, The University Observer, Student Centre, Belfield, Dublin 4 All letters are subject to editorial approval. The Editor reserves the right to edit any letters.
Belfield FM finances Madam, In a recent issue of the Observer, your story about Belfield FM (News, issue 3) gave a misleading picture about the status of the radio station and about its current practices. I would like to clarify the situation. Belfield FM is part of the Students’ Union and its status and its management is as defined in the Constitution of the Union. It is not a Student Society and, therefore, it has no membership, other than the right of all members of the Union to participate in its activities. It is governed by a Board of Directors whose membership is defined by the Constitution. It is managed by a management team, including a Station Manager, which is selected each year in accordance with procedures laid down by the Constitution. It is financed solely by the Union, apart from any monies raised by sponsorship and a small contribution from the Student Consultative Forum. Its finances are managed by the financial administration of the Union. All the management team are fully aware of and in agreement with this structure. The goal of Belfield FM is to provide news and entertainment services for the students of UCD and, insofar as it does not conflict with this objective, to provide training and experience for students of UCD in the operation and management of radio stations. The long-term policy of the station is to build up its expertise so that, when the Media Centre in the new Student Centre building becomes
available, it will be in a position to offer a fully professional service to the UCD community.
The O’Briens Sandwich Bar in the Health Sciences building closed last Friday, following a staff strike as part of ICTU’s national day of action.
Photo Catriona Laverty
made the short journey to the Belfield Bowl on a Friday night to support the boys in blue? I’ll raise my hand and say I have personally never seen UCD play soccer in Belfield Bowl or anywhere else - and for that, this week, I felt rather ashamed. It must be disheartening for a team to turn out to a half
Editor Catriona Laverty Deputy Editor Gavan Reilly Art & Design Director Kristin McKnight otwo Editors Jake O’Brien & Colin Sweetman
Paddy O’Flynn Chair of the Board of Directors Belfield FM
News Editor Bridget Fitzsimons
Lighting on Belfield
Comment Editor James Fagan
Yours etc, Phyllis Black BA (Evening)
they’ve already won, but whenever we can, as often as we can. Maybe this way, in five or even ten years to come, Dr Butler’s grand dream of a true Belfield community might finally be headed down the right track.
Contributors: Volume XVI, Issue 5
Madam, With the clocks turning back and the evenings become darker far earlier, I unfortunately find myself having to write to complain about the totally inadequate lighting around the Belfield campus. As someone whose studies require evening attendance in UCD, I cannot help but be shocked at the woeful lighting of the campus as students leave buildings at night. Apart from the main concrete spine of the concourse, the campus is a frightening place to be after dark, with lampposts barely emitting any light at all, and the area beside the Computer Science and Health Science buildings pitch black altogether. If UCD still harbours any ambition of become a 24-hour campus or building a real village atmosphere, defending the safety of its students after dark must be a major priority.
empty stadium week after week, especially knowing that entrance is free for UCD students. If UCD is to become a true community, as per the aspirations of our VP for Students, then as a first step we need to come out and support our local team - not just when they’re winning, and not just when
Features Editor Peter Molloy Chief Features Writer Matt Gregg Science & Health Editor Farouq Manji Sport Editor Killian Woods Film & TV Editor Conor Barry Fashion Editor Seán McGovern Image Editor Colin Scally “I’m so hungry I could eat the scab off a knacker’s lip”
Contributors Agony Anto, The Badger, Eoin Brady, Michael Browne, Richard Chambers, Fintan Collier, Alex Court, Cormac Duffy, Grace Duffy, Caitríona Farrell, Paul Fennessy, Sean Finnan, John Gallagher, Sam Geoghegan, Kris Goodbody, Sally Hayden, Jon Hozier-Byrne, Daniel Keenan, Darren Kelly, Fearghal Kerin, Alison Lee, Sophie Lioe, Nicola Lyons, Ryan Mackenzie, Jamie Martin, Michelle McCormick, Diarmuid McDermott, Shane McIntyre, Corbmac McKay, Mystic Mittens, Slightly Mollified, Theo Morrissey, Conor Murphy, Shane Murphy, Maria Ní Shíthigh, Vincent O’Boyle, Hugh O’Connor, Lauren O’Hanlon, Quinton O’Reilly, David Reilly, Kate Rothwell, Cathy Shirran, Emer Sugrue, Ekaterina Tikhoniouk, Selva Unal, David Uwakwe, Amy Wall, Leanne Waters, Louis Westwater
Photographer Daire Brennan Special Thanks Richard, Graham, Malcolm, Ian, Tim, Dave, Jonathan, Ade, Emma (and the robots) at Trafford Park Printing; Paul at Higgs; Eilis O’Brien and Dominic Martella; Colm, Claire, Rory and Danielle at MCD Promotions; Dan and Orla at Friction PR; Laura and Darren at Warner; Bernie Divilly at PIAS; Rob Lowney; Giselle Jiang; Dave Carmody; Dominic, Grace, Mark, Sandra, Charlie, Jason, Paul and all the Student Centre staff; Bombay Pantry, Domino’s Pizza, Bistro Bianconi, Superquinn handmade chocolate caramel shortbread, David Haye’s right hook, Jonny Evans’ right knee, central heating, Fairy Liquid, Haribo, @big_ ben_clock, those phone recorder thingymajigs.
Clarification & Apology In the 27th October issue of The University Observer the headline on page four incorrectly stated “French teaching attacked in quality review”. The headline should have read “French teaching staff attacked in quality review”. It is the policy of The University Observer to rectify any errors as soon as they arise. Queries and clarifications can be addressed to email@example.com.
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
SCIENCE & HEALTH
Coping with those Wintertime Blues While many people might feel down as winter sets in, Ekaterina Tikhoniouk examines the wider issue of clinical depression and suggests that the problem might be more widespread that we realise
o what is depression? Is it a phase, an illness, or a symptom subconsciously made up to get attention? Everyone’s opinion differs: in the time of older generations it was considered a mental illness, while in the minds of youths, it will forever be associated with goths and emo kids that wear eyeliner and skulk around the place, hiding from the searing rays of the sun and moaning about how the world hates them. But depression is a serious mood change that involves persistent and severe feelings of sadness and worthlessness, often along with problems sleeping, changes in appetite, and unsociable behaviour. According to statistics, depression is on the rise, with recent studies suggesting that roughly seven per cent of people aged 21 and over will suffer an episode of depression at some point during their lives. The US is greatly affected, with one in five American adults suffering from some form of depression. The statistics for children and youths are much more worrying: in Ireland, as many as 0.5 per cent of children and 15 per cent of adolescents aged 13-21 experience a major depression, and suicide is the third leading cause of death for adolescents in this age group. As evidenced by these worrying statistics, teens and young adults are much more likely to suffer from a mood disorder, be it depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety or mood swings. Depressive disorders are exhibited earlier in life with every passing generation. This is happening because although the standard of living has soared since our grandparents’ times, the life of the average teen has become even more fraught with worry and strain. While our grandparents, and maybe even our parents, dealt with a simpler and shorter list of stresses, the modern youth is faced with a never-ending series of trials and hardships such as bullying, peer pressure, relationship problems, exams and much more. Teenagers at secondary school and young adults starting college are especially at risk, as they are still adjusting to society and trying to find own place among their peers. At this time they are most vulnerable to mood disorders and anxieties. But depression is in no way limited to angsty teens and college Freshers. Depression doesn’t discriminate between boys or girls, young or old, poor or rich – it can happen to anyone. Everyone has, at one stage or other in their lives, experienced some form of what psychologists call a ‘mood disorder’. Every single person has felt demoralising days of frustration or sadness, either after a wearisome week at work, when cramming for an important exam, or when faced with a tough decision. For many people, these episodes pass with time; for others there is a chance of them developing into full-blown mood disorders. It is, in fact, estimated that around 17 per cent of people will experience a major episode of depression at some point in their lives. Mood disorders appear to be prevalent in college though, with many students feeling overloaded with work, worrying about assignments, project deadlines and exams. Many have also
reported feeling alone and friendless, especially in the bigger colleges. With almost 25,000 students, UCD can feel daunting and impersonal, especially to first years just finding their feet. Another problem is that it’s considerably harder to make friends in courses such as Arts where any class can have up to 500 students. Depressed people can’t always put a finger on exactly why they are depressed: in some cases it is a general feel-
There are also other causes – depression appears to have a genetic component. People whose close relatives have a serious mood disorder are ten times more likely to develop one themselves. In addition, women are twice as likely as men to develop depression, although why this occurs remains unknown. Another factor that affects mood disorders is the individual’s location. Studies recently found that those living in densely populated areas are 30 per cent more likely to develop depression than their rural counterparts. Depression can have a severe effect on people. The afflicted often feel they’re ‘not good enough’, that they are being punished for their mistakes, and that every negative event is their fault. People with severe depression often delude themselves into thinking that they are worthless and are disliked. The sad thing is, that the depressed person is caught in a vicious, unbreakable circle: the worse they feel, the more they withdraw from people, which in turn makes them feel even more unpopular and alone, which only serves to strengthen their negative outlook. People with mood disorders don’t have the same outlook on life. All events are
“15 per cent of Irish adolescents aged 13-21 experience a major depression” ing of low self-worth and helplessness, while in others it has a definite cause. Depression can be caused by both larger negative events, such as the death of a close friend or relative, the loss of a job or failing an exam, or by many small events that contribute to the negative mood, such as a friend forgetting to text back, or being turned down by a member of the opposite sex.
coloured with a negative tint. Negative events are overemphasized; a scratched car or a failed mid-term are seen as the end of the world, while positive events such as getting an A in an exam are attributed to pure luck. In some situations this low self-esteem leads them to blame their miserable situation on their own inadequacies, as well as shutting themselves off from friends and family. So how can you tell if your friend or relative is not just grumpy or stressed out, but actually clinically depressed? There are five main symptoms of depression – a prolonged sad and apathetic mood, feelings of worthlessness, desire to withdraw from other people, difficulty getting to sleep and waking up very early, and either a loss of appetite or overeating. Once identified, depression has a number of treatments. The main treatments are therapy or anti-depressant drugs, but the support of family and friends is also crucial. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy tries to change the individual’s negative way of thinking, while anti-depressants deal with the physical side of the depression. Although quite effective, these drugs treat the symptoms, not the actual causes of depression. This means that some people begin to relapse once their medication is withdrawn. But on a brighter note, statistics show that nearly 80 per cent of all depressed people who seek treatment have a significant improvement within a couple
of weeks. Such treatment rates make anybody wonder why of every three sufferers, only one might seek professional help? The main reason is that, to this day, disorders are still thought of as a taboo subject. The flawed idea that depression is a mental illness is hard to shake, and many still believe that a depressed person is somehow abnormal or different from everyone else. Thus many sufferers never seek help, instead choosing to battle it out alone. But this decision can have dire results. There are currently about 400 deaths from suicide per year in Ireland, but for every death, there are an estimated 10-20 suicide attempts. Statistics also show that almost 70 per cent of these deaths occur in men. These figures are an average for Europe, but unlike others, Ireland has a shockingly high rate of youth suicide. The sad thing is that many of these deaths could have possibly been prevented. So, if you notice that a friend, a housemate, or even a casual acquaintance, constantly seems gloomy, withdrawn or struggling with despair, don’t ignore their situation. Depression is a serious disorder, which in some cases can be fatal. If you think that you or someone you know might be depressed, the UCD Student Health Centre can help you speak to a counsellor or psychiatrist. 01 716 3133
Teens and young adults are the most vulnerable to depression
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
SCIENCE & HEALTH
The Great Bee Freeze
ny number of people with apiphobia, the fear of bees, might tell you that the mass disappearance of bees isn’t such a bad thing. However, many species – including humans – depend on the pollinising role of bees for their very survival. The word apiphobia is derived from the Latin word ‘apiary’, meaning beehive, and it so happens that all over the world, for no apparent reason, beehives are being found totally abandoned. The phenomenon of bee disappearances has been termed Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), and it has baffled beekeepers and scientists. In over 30 American states, several Canadian provinces and a number of European countries, entire colonies – each with up to 40,000 bees or more - have vanished without a trace. What is more puzzling is that they have left their Queen, eggs and honey behind – very uncommon behaviour in such social insects such as honeybees. There are no corpses to be found, and no clues as to where the bees have migrated. Strangely, predators of beehives such as wax moths – which would normally relish the opportunity to feast on unguarded honey – will not enter the hives for several weeks or longer. Historically, bees have been used to pollinate crops since ancient Egypt, when they were sent down the Nile. In America each year, roughly $14 billion dollars worth of crops depend on bee pollination to survive – which include seeded fruits such as apples and oranges.
Bee disappearances around the world are puzzling scientists – and worrying those involved in agriculture, reports Farouq Manji
Science Editor Farouq Manji
Mass disappearances have plagued pollinating honeybees all over the world In Ireland, it is not uncommon for farmers to import bee colonies from mainland Europe to help pollinate crops to improve their yield. Crops such as oilseed rape and strawberries benefit from the active introduction of colonies. The constant use of bees in an everexpanding and demanding industry, however, takes its toll on the colonies. Forcing bees to continuously visit commercially cultivated crops exposes them to pesticides, parasites and other pathogens, as well as causing them the stress of constantly being shipped around. Since their natural habitat has been taken away, they are often undernourished, feeding only on one of several crops rather than the multitude of plants they would encounter in a natural habitat. All of these stresses are likely to weaken their immune system, form-
ing the basis of one of several theories that have been put forth to explain this strange behaviour. One theory portends that all of these stresses are making the bees more susceptible to viruses and parasites such as the varroa mite. A predominant theory is that pesticides, specifically a newer type referred to as neonicotinoids, are largely responsible for CCD. These pesticides were partially banned in France in 1999, and have been banned in other European countries intermittently over the last decade. Research indicates that in high doses, these pesticides can interfere with the navigation system in bees, which relies on a complex array of inputs, including the position of the sun, the magnetic field of the earth and the unique scent of the hive. These pesticides have also been the focus of a new documentary released
in the UK, which attempts to draw a connection between the use of these pesticides and CCD. One of the principle manufacturers of these products, Bayer CropScience, denies the association between CCD and their product, and roundly refutes the claims made in the film. The film is slated to be released outside of the UK in the near future. There are less credible – and plainly ludicrous – theories as well. One is that Osama bin Laden has somehow planned and executed a honeybee massacre to devastate American agriculture. Another is that genetically modified crops containing a specific pesticide are killing bees. And one study suggesting mobile phone radiation might be involved, was blown out of proportion and became a media frenzy in America. One of the most intriguing theories revolves around the discovery of a number of newly discovered viruses, which have been found to affect domesticated bees. One of these, the Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IPAV) causes paralysis and bizarre behaviour in bees, however there is no conclusive research to suggest a strong association between it and CCD. Furthermore, some suggest that viruses carried by Varroa mites may have become more virulent to bees – maybe because of their weakened immune system. It has therefore been suggested that a new strain of virus may have infected bees, and are causing these mass desertions. Most likely, it is the combination of one or more of the above factors, plus the inordinate stress places on bees, that
create the specific circumstances for CCD. Others however, argue that the only reason new viruses are showing up in bees is because their immune systems are being weakened by something larger and more sinister. It is likely that it will take years before any convincing evidence is found to discern its cause. In the meantime, most experts are hoping that it is not due to an infectious disease – otherwise the picture may look very bleak indeed. Mass disappearances have occurred before, and have been dated back to the 1800s, but their causes have never been fully determined. Most recently they were reported in the 1920s and 1960s. Is it possible that this phenomenon is part of a natural cycle? If so, it must be taken into account just how far this might go – to date, some have estimated that approximately 34 per cent of American bees have been affected by CCD. Dr Maria Spivak of the University of Minnesota agrees that bees are largely quite stressed, and believes that they provide a sensitive reflection of the environment and our impact upon it. When they collect and return food to their nests, they concentrate the contaminants in the foods and create a toxic living environment. Pollinating bees are responsible for the growth of up to one third of the world’s food supply. Perhaps bees are serving as a microcosm of the general world we live in – and if this is the case, it makes it all the more important to understand what is happening to our honeybees.
How pretty normal stuff works: Leaves Caitríona Farrell, inspired by autumn’s vibrant yet vanishing hues, explains why nature transforms its leafy decor The rich shades of terracotta, amber and burgundy are a hallmark this time of year: Autumn really basks us in that golden warm glow despite bringing our days to a shorter close. Scattered around the place is some remaining evidence of last season’s bright styles. The planet’s fashion trend luckily is very predictable and this autumn gone by proved no different to any other. Earth’s biological cycle doesn’t fail to fuel our greenery with the over-familiar hints that signal autumn’s arrival. The green leaves of the summer months saturated in the pigment of chlorophyll, reflects the underlying process of photosynthesis. The removal of chlorophyll uncovers autumn’s spectrum of oranges, yellows, browns – even reds and purples – that leave any artist or onlooker in awe. Leaves sweat through pores called
stomata on the high surface area to exert a force of suction through the tree, and draw water from the ground in summer. Wintertime poses a different scenario: these leaves could cause the trees to dry out and die. As a natural defence mechanism, the trees need to shed the leaves with a process called abscission. In autumn many chemical changes arise and the abscission zone begins to swell, preventing the flow of nutrients from tree to leaf and vice-versa. Following this, the zone begins to tear and the leaf falls off or is carried by the wind. A protective layer seals the wound, preventing water evaporation and any entry of bugs. The shorter days which stimulate the abscission process also initiate another process in the leaves of certain trees, to produce a group of chemicals called anthocyanins, which are deep red or purple in colour. The red colours are used to
“Trees are a monkey puzzle – a puzzling natural structure – and we still haven’t figured them out to their full extent”
Leaves, Mother Nature’s most striking invention conceal the shades of yellow which attract aphids. Effectively trees which are more susceptible to aphids, or are native to habitats where aphids are a problem, are able to confuse their enemies and survive until another spring. While evergreen trees have adapted to defend themselves like this, more deciduous trees like the majority of those found in Ireland instead shed their leaves, but first try to retain important nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. Leaves contain carotenoids, a kind of natural pigment, which produce yellow, orange, and brown colours in plants. These carotenoids are always present but their colours are easily disguised by green chlorophyll, until autumn brings with it a shorter day and reduced temperature. Factors influencing nature’s rate and general operation such as soil moisture and weather ensure that no two autumns are identical.
Cooler temperatures, shorter days, and the changing angle of the sun’s rays upon the plant leaves are indicators for the plant to stop producing chlorophyll. The internal process being carried out in the leaves ceases, reducing the amount of green pigment. As the green pigment decreases, the other pigments play a more predominant role such as xanthophyll (a yellow pigment) and carotene (an orange pigment). Observers have long noted, however, that the predominant colour found in autumn foliage in North America contains shades of red, while Scientists have long questioned why the main autumn leaf colour in North America is red and in Europe, yellow. The reason is that North America and East Asia contain mountain chains that run north-south, so animals and insects migrated southwards as the glaciers advanced as a result of the Ice Age. In Europe, the mountain chains run east to
west, and insects and animals could not possibly migrate to escape the ice age. Over time, the trees adapted to the insects, the red leafed tree surviving better in the United States. In Europe, however, the lack of migration meant that trees that couldn’t survive the ice ages died, along with the insects dependent on them for survival. Therefore these trees maintained their common yellow colour in the autumn opposed to the predominant red colour visible in the U.S. In other words, North American trees had adapted to repel insects and thrived to produce red leaf colours. In Europe, there was no need for the red to survive and the yellow emerged as predominant. Trees are a monkey puzzle – a puzzling natural structure – and we still haven’t figured them out to their full extent. Leaves’ veins are effectively networks communicating with the surrounding ecosystem.
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
WELFARE WEEK: 9-13 NOVEMBER
Free breakfast every morning in the Student Centre from 10am-12pm.
Free fruit and bottle of Nash’s water with every purchase in the SU shops while stocks last.
‘Relaxation Room’ open in Meeting Rooms 1 & 2, upstairs in the Student Centre, from 12-3pm each day. Bean bags, massages, tea/coffee and board games will be available.
Wednesday, 8pm: ‘Are You Smarter Than a 10-Year-Old?’ table quiz, based on primary school text books.
Thursday, 9pm: Delorentos playing the Student Bar, tickets only €5.
EDUCATION AND WELFARE SERVICES
You may start feeling under pressure with the semester one assessments approaching. The Education Officer, Donnacha, and Welfare Officer, Scott, are always available to help you out in any way. Drop in to see them in the SU offices on the ground floor of the Student Centre, or ring/email them (details below). Don’t let exam stress drive you mad - talk to someone about it.
The SU Exam Guide will be out in Week 11. It’s your handy guide to eveything you need to know during this exam session. It’ll be complete with study tips, study planner, maps to the RDS exam centre, details of the SU exam shuttle bus, and much more. They’ll be available all across campus to pick up.
ARE YOU A MATURE STUDENT?
Being part of an inclusive environment develops confidence and the ability to cope with the rigours of student life combined with the challenge of home life. Many mature students need support in these trying circumstances. The SU Mature Students Officer holds a clinic every Thursday in the Boardroom in the SU offices on the ground floor of the Student Centre from 12-2pm. Tea and coffee will be provided and all are welcome.
ARE YOU A GRADUATE STUDENT?
The SU Postgraduate Officer holds clinics every Wednesday evening at 5pm in the Boardroom in the SU offices on the ground floor of the Student Centre. It’s the perfect opportunity to raise any graduate-specific issues.
Union Page Issue 5.indd 1
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
Ireland’s ICC bid may fall on deaf ears Ireland’s bid to become a fully fledged member of the International Cricket Council is an ambitious move, writes Hugh O’Connor
hether as a player or a supporter, cricket in Ireland can be easily frustrating. Ireland’s national team take to the field, play some great matches, take some great scalps, and then go back home to their full-time jobs and regular work. Ireland, unlike the stronger cricketing nations of the world, has no senior Test team, meaning that Irish men and women cannot represent their country at the highest level of the sport. Our strongest players are lured across the water in pursuit of a Test career with the England side – and while this is infuriating for Irish fans, it is easy to see things from a player’s perspective. If a cricketer wants to play at the highest level and to make a living doing it, only a career with a Test nation can satisfy them. Moving across the water hasn’t worked out just yet for Ed Joyce, perhaps Ireland’s best ever batsman, and although Eoin Morgan has had a promising start in the England XI, he’ll undoubtedly find it tough to hold down a regular place in the side, especially with Kevin Pietersen – cricket’s own David Beckham – returning from injury. The move this week from Cricket Ireland to apply for Full Member status from the International Cricket Council – allowing them to play Test match cricket – is a hugely positive move. But will it be crowned with success?
Ireland’s performances on the pitch have certainly given them a good platform for application. Unbeaten in first-class matches since 2004, with qualification for the Super 8 stages of both the One-Day and Twenty20 World Cups, and with victory in the 2011 World Cup qualifying tournament and three successive Intercontinental Cups, nobody can say that Ireland don’t have a competitive, passionate and ultimately successful team. The performance against Bangladesh in the Twenty20 World Cup this year was composed under pressure, and a perfect example of how to pace a run chase. The ultimate problem is that the governance of cricket is all about money. The ICC and the national boards of the major nations are money-mad; whether it is their association with Sir Allen Stanford or in the scheduling of endless ODI series, much of world cricket is focused on the next payday. If Ireland wants to break into the game’s top flight, they’ll need to prove that they can bring money to the game and not just be a financial drain. Warren Deutrom, Cricket Ireland’s CEO, has identified the need for Ireland’s games to guarantee a television audience as a key factor. Currently Ireland don’t hit television screens, except when taking part in various World Cups. Bangladesh were the last team to be elevated to Full Member status, back in 2000. However, they have a much larger population to draw from and are
helpful to their former colonial partner India as a voting partner. The politics of cricket are finely balanced, and don’t be surprised if the sub-continental teams vote against an application by Ireland for entry. Commentators have also pointed to Ireland’s facilities. Could we host Australia in a test match series in a decent ground? The ground in Stormont is a good facility and is suitable for ODIs, but the facilities there and in Clontarf will need substantial work if top-class cricket is to be played – though Cricket Ireland have already sought planning permission for a major regeneration of the latter. Given the importance of getting fans to the matches from a commercial point of view, Ireland will need bigger stands that the side can fill. Sadly it’s difficult to see Brian Lenihan’s budget sending a lot of money to improve cricketing facilities. The odds are that Ireland’s application will be refused. However, even the application process is a big move in the right direction. It shows the world that Ireland have the ambition and drive to play with the big boys, and at the very least the ICC will offer Ireland specific targets to reach before being admitted to the top table. It may not happen straight away, but we have shown our intent, and no one can deny that Irish cricket has a bright future ahead.
Olympic shuffle-up bodes well for Ireland Prospects of increasing our medal tally in Rio De Janeiro look bright, though it won’t be without competition, writes Daniel Keenan On 9th October, it was confirmed that golf and rugby will return to the Olympics at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro World Games. Golf ’s campaign to be included was as a result of a lobby formed by top officials and players, while the IRB headed the rugby campaign as part of their global expansion initiative, which includes sending the 2019 World Cup to Japan. However, both sports have been forced to make concessions to enter the Olympics. Golf will hold no major tournaments over duration of the games, while the Rugby Sevens World Cup has been cancelled completely. Smaller, more rugby-orientated countries, will certainly be happy with the inclusion of rugby sevens. Indeed, rugby may shake up the medal table, which is dominated by the countries with the largest populations, like China and the US, but neither boast teams of any quality when it comes to rugby. Fiji, though, are a powerhouse of sevens rugby, and will be looking to get their first ever Olympic medals in 2016. New Zealand, too, will be looking to add to the nine medals they won in 2008, while South Africa, who only won one medal in the 2008 games will also be buoyed by rugby’s inclusion. Golf, though, is a different story. It is a sport primarily dominated by countries from the higher end of the medal table, like the United States and Great Britain. Tiger Woods will surely be looking to claim gold (providing there is no relapse to the injury he sustained to his anterior
Rugby sevens is likely to give smaller countries a chance to earn medals in 2016 cruciate ligament) adding another accolade to the American haul. If the present world ranking table is anything to go by, with Americans Phil Mickleson and Steve Striker lying second and third respectively, America will look to claim silver and bronze too. The entrance of both sports is exciting from an Irish perspective. Padraig Harrington, as he showed with his back-toback British Open wins and his victory at Oaklands to claim the 2008 PGA Championship, is well capable of challenging for what could become the ultimate prize in golf. Rugby is going through a golden age in Ireland. Even though it is the 15-a-side game which is prospering, and not the smaller sevens format, there is no reason
why Ireland can’t send a strong team to the Olympics. They aren’t completely opposite games and Ireland could field a strong team of upcoming talent and AIB league stars. The biggest issue in including these sporting codes is the fact that they are two completely male-dominated sports, with little emphasis put on women’s rugby or golf. Unless this is changed in the next seven years, the female participants in these two new sports can expect to get little press time, especially in comparison to their male counterparts. Despite this though, golf and sevens rugby should make the Olympics a bit more exciting, especially for the smaller countries.
‘Fearghal’ on Sport Derry City’s financial woes, Australia’s great back line, and Rafa Benitez’s poor management are all under fire from our semianonymous columnist Fearghal Kerin
The end of the domestic soccer season might be celebrated within Belfield for the return of UCD to the top flight, but for the most part, it’s hard to envisage there having been a crisis like this before within the Irish game. The farce involving Derry City’s finances see the club ejected from the League of Ireland, and the club’s long term future could be in grave doubt. If a club like Derry can get into this level of financial trouble, what hope is there for the rest of Ireland’s clubs? As anyone who lived in Merville during the Belfield Park days will know, the Candystripes have the loudest and most passionate fans in the league, and attendances at the Brandywell have always been high, unlike at many other grounds. In addition, Derry are based in a large city with a strong footballing history. Sectarian issues aside, one would have imagined the club would find sufficient backing from its sponsors. Thus, the only conclusion can be that Derry City have been horribly mismanaged from the boardroom. Greed and short-sighted planning seem to have caused every problem in the country at the moment, but it certainly rings true for Derry. Just as it did for Shelbourne and Cork City, the bell is tolling for Derry and the solution will not be pretty. The whole sorry affair raises many questions about the future of the League and the viability of the professional game in this country. Whether the answer is an amalgamation of some of the Dublin clubs, an All-Ireland League, or even an inter-county system, the only thing for sure is that the current League of Ireland structure is a danger to the future of the domestic game. ~~~ Australia’s win against England in the Cook Cup opened the Autumn International series, and gave Declan Kidney his first look at Ireland’s opening opponents. This columnist has long been a fan of Robbie Deans from his days of dominating the Super 14, and believes the Aussies were unlucky not to have made a greater impact in the Tri Nations.
However, I seem to be the only one that believes that. Either way, the past couple of months have seen them defeat New Zealand, South Africa and now England. These are no mugs, and in Matt Giteau and Adam Ashley-Cooper, the Wallabies have a perfect dovetail in the back line. Giteau alone could cut any team to shreds. Then there’s Rocky Elsom, who as captain is well known on these shores as the man who galvanised Leinster into a formidable defensive outfit and with it brought a first Heineken Cup. It will be interesting to see the contrasting athleticism of Wallace and Elsom at the back of the scrums. The bookies have it more or less spot on with both teams starting off at evens. Against almost any other test nation, Ireland’s dearth of props would hand the victory to the others, though the Wallabies have their own problems at the set piece. It’s one to look forward to, and will be a great test of just how good the Champions of the Northern Hemisphere are. ~~~ Out of Europe, and that’s a fact. It’s great to see arrogant people fall on their own sword, so great pleasure was had from Rafael Benitez’s recent spate of balls-ups. Not to hark back to the Robbie Keane saga, but a lot of Liverpool’s problems can be traced back to it. Rafa might not have wanted Keane at the club, and yes, he may not have been good enough, but if Robbie Keane was to be let go, he needed to be replaced. Torres has been injury prone from the beginning at Liverpool, so having a young player like David N’Gog as second choice striker doesn’t make sense when Torres misses as many games as he plays. What’s more, it is abundantly clear Rafa doesn’t rate N’Gog, since he’s so reticent to allow him the rest or surgery that he clearly needs. Oh Rafa – it’s hard to know whether to love him or hate him.
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
The Importance of being Giovanni The advantages of possessing a top international manager will be showcased as Ireland’s World Cup qualifying comes down to the wire in a two-legged head-to-head with France, writes Ryan Mackenzie
t is profoundly ironic that it should be France to once again stand in Ireland’s path to the World Cup finals. It has been four years since Les Bleus broke Irish hearts in Lansdowne Road when a moment of true brilliance by Thierry Henry prompted a crippling 1-0 defeat that all but ended the nation’s hopes of making the trip to Germany where the French eventually lost the final to Italy. Though, this time Raymond Domenech’s star-studded side will encounter a revitalised Irish team under new manager Giovanni Trapattoni, who remain unbeaten in their current World Cup campaign. The French have stumbled out of their group as runners up to a Serbian team that few thought would surpass the
True but Strange
Facts and figures for Ireland’s playoff with France
4 – The number of survivors from the last meeting between the Irish and French sides, when the teams met at Lansdowne Road in 2005. Robbie Keane, Shay Given, John O’Shea, Kevin Kilbane and
world’s ninth-ranked side to take the top spot in an otherwise weak group. It would seem inconceivable that a team boasting such superstars as Thierry Henry, Nicolas Anelka and Frank Ribéry could lose 3-1 to Austria and struggle to beat a feeble Lithuanian side, but this underachievement has been an unfortunate trait of the French national side for some time. Despite their incredible success at the turn of the century when they won the World Cup on home soil in 1998 and completed the double by winning Euro 2000, they have consistently failed to perform to their potential, often appearing to survive solely on individual ability. It has been this trend that has placed manager Raymond Domenech under intense pressure and scrutiny from the French public since he took over in 2004. Damien Duff took part in the 0-0 draw in Dublin. 12 – The number of goals scored by Ireland in World Cup qualifying so far. France have hit the net 18 times; Andre Pierre Gignac and Thierry Henry have both notched four goals, one behind Robbie Keane. 20,000 – The estimated amount of Irish travelling supporters due to arrive in Paris next Wednesday for
In complete contrast to the situation in France, the Republic finds itself with a manager who has led a rather ordinary squad of players to indeed surpass expectations. Since becoming manager in February 2008, Trapattoni has rejuvenated what had become a lacklustre and uninspired Irish unit. For the first time since the 2002 World Cup, the boys in green, while lacking the flair of the French, have demonstrated a real unity of purpose together with a strong work ethic on the pitch. Applying these traits, they have returned to a standard of play that has enabled them to once again compete with some of the world’s topsides, as they showed against the Italians during qualification. It appears clear that Ireland’s hopes lie with their manager. Man for man, the
the second leg of the playoff. 33/5 – The odds that neither Cristiano Ronaldo nor Thierry Henry will be playing in South Africa next summer, according to Paddy Power. 703 – Combined international caps of the Irish team, compared to the 603 appearances shared between the members of the French squad. Zodiac signs – A deciding factor in whether French players are
21st November: Moneybags fly into town, and in a smash-andgrab movement will leave the Kop in shock. 24th November: You think it’s all over? It is now. While Harry Redknapp Jr sits in his chair preaching to Eng-er-land that “Ya know what, this Torres kid ain’t bad at all. I tell ya, he must’ve been watching Theo Walcott a bit”, Liverpool will be conceding goal after goal in the Puskás Ferenc Stadium. The Merseysiders will be out of the Amalgamated Platini Cup. 29th November: The derby that means so little to footballing folk outside the realms of Merseyside spawns more bad luck for the Pool. There is pride at stake, and Liverpool are bottlers. Result: draw.
19th December: Christmas has come early for Manchester United fans as Portsmouth overtake Liverpool in the Premier League, though somehow Liverpool are still in with a shot of claiming the title should they win the rest of the league games 3-1. 2nd January: Liverpool draw English 34th Divison Sunday League side “Glasgow Celtic” in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup, and are beaten in a brutal encounter in the shock of the tournament. King Kenny’s position looks precarious.
30th November: Rafa clocks out, citing a “lost” dressing room as the prime reason for his departure. Kenny Dalglish steps in to fill the globular void.
10th January: A new look Liverpool will take on Spurs as the season meets its midpoint. New signings such as free-scoring centre forward Clinton Morrison and box-to-box-to-box midfielder Kevin Nolan do little to improve Liverpool’s form.
9th December: They thought it was all over… it was back then, and still is. Liverpool fans flock to Florence thinking their side still has a chance of progressing through to the next round of European Cup. They will not be happy when they
11th January: Morrison and Nolan are released after a clash of views with the management. Rumours spread that the two players wished to enjoy success and challenge for trophies, contrasting with Liverpool’s ambitions for failure.
UCD denied by late equaliser Sport Editor
The Badger taught Derren Brown everything he knows about trickery and fooling the public, but recommended shaving off his silly beard thing... realise that the fixture is actually being played at Anfield, and that all pubs in the cultured city will be showing the Inter Milan crucial match against Rubin Kazan. Benitez, meanwhile, is found still idly wandering around Anfield searching for his lost dressing room.
South Korea. Ireland’s play-off history is less than flattering, with losses to Spain, Holland, Belgium and Turkey respectively causing European and World Cup competitions to elude. A 2-1 aggregate win over Iran in 2001 still stands alone as our only play-off success. The two sides meet in Croke Park this coming Saturday, and Ireland will be hoping to capitalise on home advantage before making the trip to Paris and the magnificent Stade de France, an always daunting task. Ultimately, Ireland’s changes will come down to their ability to cope with the French flair, France’s temperament and mentality over the two legs – as well, as ever, as a rub of the green. Best of luck, Ireland.
The bottom placed two teams in the league faced off in Belfield last weekend, as Killian Woods watched on
The Badger In a completely original idea, The Badger has decided to look into his crystal red beach ball, to map out the Scousers’ calendar up to the midpoint of the season:
French undoubtedly trump the Irish in almost every position on the pitch (excusing maybe in goal, where Shay Given stands as one of the world’s finest shotstoppers). The question remains whether Trapattoni’s superior managerial skills to France’s Domenech can play a significant enough role on the pitch where ultimately the Irish players will have to contend with intense pressure and nerves, and the potentially overwhelming blue wave of some of the worlds finest players. Fortunately for Irish fans, Trapattoni has a rather impressive managerial pedigree at the top flight, where he has won numerous leagues with some of Europe’s top clubs, including seven Serie A titles and a European Cup with Juventus, not to mention taking his native country Italy to the 2002 World Cup finals in Japan and
Note: All above predictions state the worst-case scenario, which usually corresponds with Liverpool’s luck. ~~~ We are just under two months away from football’s own January sales, and The Badger can let you in on some of the big deals taking place during the window. Since the CAP (that’s the Court of Arbitration for Platini) overruled UEFA’s transfer ban on Chelski, expect the left-wing Londoners to stock up on players before another ban lands in their laps. Liverpool will also be on the lookout for a substandard, Spanish-speaking misfit to prance around moaning and unplayed for eighteen months. A hero’s return for Antonio Nunez? Meanwhile, Manchester City will be continuing their usual hiring policy – “if Spurs want them, we’ll buy them” – to appease their opponents’ Premiership success, while Bandwagon United will pull off the real coup of the window by finally – seriously! – managing to offload perennial Row Z spectator botherer Nani. Unfortunately, Rangers’ midseason bid to bring the formerly talismanic Christian Vieri to Ibrox will fail, as no bank will accept the cheque for his £200k signing-on fee.
UCD 3 Clontarf 3 UCD’s Mens Hockey first team took on Clontarf at the National Hockey Stadium in Belfield last Saturday in closely contested match between two sides battling against relegation from the All-Ireland League this season. The game was competitive from the start with UCD hoping to gain an early advantage over their visitors. Pressure in the opening minute put UCD in a good position to open the scoring through a penalty corner. The ball was quickly whisked out for John McInroy to fire home the students’ first goal of the afternoon. Some careless play in midfield, however, allowed Clontarf to create scoring opportunities of their own. Ben Grogan saved UCD from conceding an equaliser, clearing off the line as Clontarf started to step up their game. After eleven minutes the match was already becoming a scrappy affair. Clontarf were relying on the counter attack, while most of UCD’s play was focused up the left hand side with Grogan and David Quinn linking up well. UCD couldn’t maintain their intensity, though, and Clontarf began to boss proceedings after twenty minutes when good one-touch play opened up UCD’s defence for the equaliser. Seven minutes after their equaliser, Clontarf took the lead following a goalmouth scramble. UCD’s goalkeeper Ross Gribbin saved an initial shot, only for a tap across goal from a Clontarf forward to be slotted in by his teammate. The second half started in the same manner as the first, with both teams hoping to take the initiative. Clontarf were indebted to their goalkeeper, who was the sole reason that UCD could not level the game: less than ten minutes into the second half, two close-range double saves had kept the Students at bay. The play at the start of the second half all belonged to UCD and in the 45th minute, John McInroy finally levelled for UCD, leaving the game delicately poised at 2-2.
Illdiscipline on the Clontarf side was beginning to set in, as the home side were awarded another penalty free. From the resulting penalty, Clontarf had a player sent off for breaking the defensive line before the ball had been passed out. Clontarf appeared to be falling apart and from the retaken penalty, Ben Grogan gave UCD the lead for the second time. UCD now had control of the game and began to counterattack consistently as Clontarf pressed forward in search of an equaliser. The home side were effectively holding off their visitors, though, and looked to be on their way to a hard-earned win – but it was Clontarf who were to have the last say. UCD gave away a penalty corner in the last minute of the game and Clontarf spotted a chance to sneak away with a draw. After appearing to ruin their initial chance to score, the visitors slotted home to end the match on level terms. The draw was a fair result considering the varying spells of domination by both teams throughout the match. UCD would have benefited from taking all the points against their likely bottom of the table rivals this year, but now look likely to be involved in a lengthy scrap with their dogged visitors to avoid relegation this year. UCD: Ross Gribbin, Gavin O’Halloran, Hugh Butler, Ronan Flannery, Ben Grogan, Karl Smyth, John McInroy, David Quinn, Rob Lynch, Tim Hill, Jamie Tobin. Substitutes: Shane O’Donnell, Robbie McFarlane, John Brennan, Ronan Motyer, Tadhg Walsh Peelo
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
Limerick Ladies overhaul UCD UCD’s ladies footballers were unable to turn first-half dominance into a win over UL, watched by Fintan Collier
CD’s senior footballing ladies lost at home to University of Limerick in Division One of the All-Ireland Ladies League last Thursday, in an encounter that saw the home side dominate the first half. UCD were the stronger side at the opening of the game and gave UL few opportunities to advance past their 20-metre line. Noelle Healy showed great pace attacking UL’s defence and opened the score with a goal in the eighth minute. UL still managed to score a point from tight play, but UCD responded with right corner-forward, Caoilfhionn Deeney, scoring another goal. UCD continued their intense play and scored two more points, one from play and a free. UL’s Shona Curran made some great opportunities for her side, kicking several long balls into UCD’s backs. Her teammates, though, could not
make this possession impact on the scoreboard, as UCD’s full backs kept their visitors at bay and defended against numerous incursions from the UL attack. UL’s midfielders managed to scrape back one point in the closing minutes of the first half to leave the half time score UCD 2-3, UL 0-3. UCD started the second half strong, with Natalia Hyland scoring a great point after just two minutes of play, though following this the home side lost focus and conceded two goals in less than a minute. UL continued their newfound attack and went on to score a further two points from open play. The home side won three frees, but failed to convert these into scores and only got one point for their efforts. A fortunate deflection for UCD off the post almost saw another goal for UL, but the loose ball was calmly controlled by UCD’s goalkeeper Deirdre Kelleher and cleared to safety.
Ireland primed to send challengers home Declan Kidney must use the Autumn internationals wisely if he is to continue Ireland’s success this season, writes Richard Chambers
UL were the stronger side in the second half and played consistently as a team, working the ball into dangerous positions in UCD’s half. The home side nearly came back with another score, but a powerful shot ricocheted off the cross bar and was scrambled clear. UL closed out the game with another point built on good work in midfield, leaving the visitors convincing winners on a final scoreline of UCD 2-8, UL 4-9. The home side will need to reorganise and reestablish their focus if they have a chance of winning the O’Rourke Cup this year. UCD: Deirdre Kelleher; Nuala Mohan, Aisling Ní hAmriadh, Lorraine McNulty; Aoife Herbert, Sinead Goldick, Andrea Bowe; Siobhán McCeowan, Natalia Hyland; Noelle Healy, Roisín Friel, Orlaith Doherty; Caoilfhionn Deeny, Ciara Murphy, Lisa Cafferky
Crucial period for Irish rugby hopes The upcoming international tests need to be approached with an open mindset by Irish rugby’s figureheads, and youth is the word, according to Sam Geoghegan The so-called ‘Golden Generation’ has – finally – delivered on its talent with silverware. Now the question to be posed is whether Ireland can continue in their stride and stand toe to toe with the World Champions in Croke Park on 28th November. Unfortunately, all signs appear to be ominous for Ireland this forthcoming year. Declan Kidney did a wonderful job during his first year at the helm, especially after the debacle of Eddie O’Sullivan’s tenure. The mediocrity of winning three Triple Crowns in four years was simply not good enough for a team with unlimited capabilities, both internationally and on a provincial level. O’Sullivan wasted his opportunity with the players he had at his disposal, and one can only imagine what obstacles would have been overcome if Kidney had been appointed in 2001 after Warren Gatland’s dismissal. The emerging youth of Luke Fitzgerald, Rob Kearney, Keith Earls, Cian Healy and Jonathan Sexton are, no doubt, extremely talented. However, they are not yet as competent a grouping as Brian O’Driscoll, Ronan O’Gara, Paul O’Connell, Denis Hickie and Gordon D’Arcy, who would have excelled further under proper guidance from Kidney. These upcoming internationals are pivotal to the future success of the Irish rugby team. This is an ideal occasion for Kidney to experiment with the talented youth he has at his disposal. Adhering to this, Kidney must be complemented that nine out of his 39-man squad are uncapped, although it is a little baffling why the Ulster fly half, Ian Humphreys, was left out considering the age and deterio-
rating skills of Ronan O’Gara. With the World Cup approaching in less than two years, Kidney hopefully is realising that in order to compete with the southern hemisphere sides, he must build his teams with New Zealand 2011 in mind. Ireland now has the taste of success with Heineken Cups and Grand Slams, therefore leaving the Webb Ellis Cup as the one trophy left vacant from this island. While Munster and Leinster are in decent shape in the Magners League, their Heineken Cup form has been far from impressive. Neither province, having lost one of their opening two pool matches, can afford to drop any more points. The fact is, that while the Grand Slam was a tremendous achievement for Irish rugby and Ireland as a whole, we were fortunate to play considerably weakened English and French teams at home. England and France are teams which both strive for success in World Cups while Six Nations Championships are mere bonuses. Now the question is whether Kidney might use the 2010 and 2011 Six Nations’ as a breeding ground for the World Cup in 2011. In order for Irish rugby to evolve, the core of this team in 2011 cannot still be the triumvirate of O’Driscoll, O’Connell and O’Gara. The IRFU must learn to value long-term prosperity in World Cups, rather than short-term success in the Six Nations. It will be intriguing to see the line-ups for the Australia, South Africa and Fiji test matches, though this writer fears it will be the usual tried and tested.
Cian Healy looks set to make his senior international debut against the Wallabies in Croke Park this weekend The autumn internationals are upon us and represent a welcome respite for the members of Declan Kidney’s 31-man squad. The provinces have endured a middling opening to their Magners League and Heineken Cup campaigns with no province having lived up to expectation levels thus far. Heineken Cup champions Leinster have found it difficult to recapture the tremendous fluidity that served them so well last year, while Connacht yet again find themselves at the bottom of the league table despite some impressive showings culminating in deserved victories against Cardiff and the Ospreys. Ulster have faired reasonably well to date partially due to the outstanding halfback partnership of Ian Humphreys and Isaac Boss. Meanwhile, after losing four of their opening eight games, Munster found themselves facing the usual talk of crisis and dressing room rifts, both of these claims swiftly rebuked by Lions captain Paul O’Connell. Of course the Lions Tour may be liable for some of the problems encountered by the provinces. The largest Irish contingent for a Lions tour in recent years has meant a shortened preseason for many, and new combinations have been blooded as a result. For the most part these have had limited success although the continued development of young players, such as the dynamic Donnacha Ryan and former UCD back-row forward Séan O’Brien in their already crowded respective packs, bodes well for the future. One factor to the slow starts experienced by Ireland’s Magners League teams has been an unusual number of injuries in key areas. Currently Munster find themselves unable to field a sufficient front row, a mystery ailment to Marcus Horan making him the most prominent absentee. Meanwhile, Leinster’s Rob Kearney, arguably the most striking performer in
the Lions tour, has suffered a number of minor setbacks to a recurring hamstring problem. The upbeat nature of a Declan Kidney training camp will surely bring some much needed positivity to the squad regardless of any issues of form or rustiness. The psychology graduate has proven to be a fine motivator as a coach and he will seek to recapture the buoyancy that typified the Grand Slam campaign. Facing a youthful Australia – a side with ambitions of a Grand Slam of their own – on 15th November will present Kidney with a multitude of selection dilemmas, not least problems with the props. After being forced to cut Marcus Horan from the 31-man squad for the Australia game, the path has been paved for Cian Healy to make his debut this Sunday in a packed-out Croke Park. The opportunity to engage these youthful prodigies is a welcome by-product of the form of the habitual provincial XVs, and one that will not be lost on Kidney. Whether it is in the Ireland ‘A’ environment or in the senior squad, the double Heineken Cupwinning coach has proven to be more than willing to alternate his line-ups on occasion, not always making the easy choices but the merited ones. The chance for the players to rejoin their international teammates will not be lost on this squad who will be eager to concentrate on matters on the field. Listening to criticism laid on the squad by some media elements, you would scarcely believe that members of this team won the Six Nations only eight months ago. Regrouping for tests against Australia, Fiji and the world champion Springboks will benefit them – and potentially the provinces – by extension.
“After being forced to cut Marcus Horan from the 31man squad for the Australia game, the path has been paved for Cian Healy to make his debut this Sunday in a packed-out Croke Park”
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
Daniel Keenan looks forward to an Olympics with golf in 2016
Champions capsize in season finale UCD 2 Waterford Utd 3 A horror show in defence almost spoiled UCD’s victory parade against a plucky Waterford United side eager to ruin the champions’ party, watched by Shane Murphy
aterford United spoiled what was meant to be a coronation in front of an adulant and expectant capacity crowd at the Belfield Bowl. Expecting an easy victory to complete a coronation worthy of champions, the home support instead witnessed a Jekyll and Hyde performance by the Students. Both sides had little to play for, allowing for an open game. The visitors formed an admirable guard of honour for the champions, before the hosts sprang into action, starting brightly only to be denied by a stern United rearguard. The home side pressed for an opener, going close on several occasions before breaking the deadlock after 21 minutes. An incisive pass by midfield maestro and UCD captain Ronan Finn set up Ciarán Kilduff, whose neat touch on the edge of the box allowed him to ghost past the United defence and rifle a volley of clinical efficiency past the helpless Kevin Burns in goal. As the half wore on, Waterford began to impose themselves and should have levelled the proceedings ten minutes later. A long ball from midfield caught the UCD offside trap exposed, enabling Paul Walsh to bear down on goal unmarked and unchecked. His tame shot, however, was easily saved by Gerard Bannon. Finn continued to be imperious in midfield, once again setting up Kilduff with a penetrating pass, only for him to be outmuscled by Kearney in the United defence. College continued to press with Finn himself spurning a glorious opportunity in the 37th minute to double the champions’ lead; a great pass by Robbie Creevy across the goalface left Finn to miscue from six yards. Waterford also continued to press, egged on by the vociferous away support eager for an equaliser. They very nearly got their reward in the 38th minute, as great work by John Kearney on the right
wing left a teasing ball flashing across the UCD goalmouth before College scrambled it away. By half time the Students were offering value for money, showing much of the emblematic flair of their successful title pursuit. However, whilst creative and incisive play may have been the hallmark of their season it seemed to have been left in the students’ dressing room. The first half was perhaps Jekyll; the second was almost categorically Hyde. In a brief three-minute period, United seized the initiative and put paid to any victory parade in front of their expectant crowd. The three-minute madness began on 59, as United scored controversially. A cross swung in from the right wing looked to have been handled before being toe-poked by Willie John Kiely into the UCD net. The goal stood, much to bemusement of the UCD rearguard. Less than a minute later United grabbed a second in equally bizarre circumstances. A long-range shot by Vinny Sullivan struck the post and rebounded off Bannon, giving United a freakish 2-1 lead. United compounded Bannon’s misery three minutes later and killed off any chance of a winning end to the season for UCD. Slack defending in the students’ rearguard allowed Sullivan to slice open the defence and fire past Bannon, giving United a commanding 3-1 lead. The Bowl was stunned into silence, barring the ever more vocal support of the colourful visiting contingent. The boisterous away section was mired in smoke as a result of a number of flares being released, causing confused parent and toddlers to relocate to more gentile surroundings. Things only got worse for the Students, however, as right-back Evan McMillan heroically intervened to stem the tide and deny United a fourth, only to be injured in the process. Emboldened by their rapid-fire brace and a weakened UCD rearguard, with their tails up United continued to press until
write caption here the final whistle. On 77 minutes a piledriver from United’s Alan Carey hit the underside of the crossbar; an inch separating United from an elusive fourth. The game would not see another goal until stoppage time when David McMillan belatedly pulled one back for the Students – his glancing header finishing off an inch-perfect cross from Chris Mulhall – to leave the final score at 3-2.
One could forgive the students their apathy; with the title already won, many seemed to have their minds on forthcoming home games against the likes of Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians. UCD – lacking the guile, invention and much of the creative flair that delivered the title – will ultimately care little about the defeat in the wider scheme of things; there are bigger fish to fry in the coming months.
What a difference a season makes... Amidst the celebrations, Killian Woods caught up with UCD players and management to discuss their league victory and promotion This time last year, UCD were the Premier Division’s bottom team and a side in disarray. Now, the college team sit atop of the First Division table with a league winners’ trophy and guaranteed promotion back to the Premier Division. Following the champagne and presentation of the trophy, the First Division champions chatted and shared memories of the season with the fans on the pitch, whilst posing for photos to cherish the moment. Speaking to The University Observer after the match, UCD’s captain and
playmaker Ronan Finn wasn’t letting the night’s defeat detract from the occasion. “It’s great; we knew it was coming, obviously winning the league before the game. The result takes some of the shine off it, but it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day.” The celebrations would be a perfect send-off for the inspirational captain, should he decide not to renew his contract with the College, though the midfielder’s statement that “if I can stay, I’ll stay,” can only be positive news. Forward David McMillan shared
Finn’s assessment of the team’s rise back to Premier Division football. “It’s been a long hard season… disappointed about tonight, but at the end of the day it’s about the season. I’m absolutely delighted.” Unlike the uncertainty surrounding Finn’s future with the college side, there is little doubt of where McMillan plans to spend 2010: “I’ve got another year on my scholarship, so [I’m] looking forward to next year.” UCD’s top marksman with 14 league goals, Ciarán Kilduff, will also be staying with UCD for another year. The achievement of this young UCD
side should be acknowledged for the mean feat it is: a core of experienced players left the squad last year, leaving an adolescent team to cope in Ireland’s second flight. The achievement is made all the sweeter being the first season at the helm for Martin Russell. Assistant manager Diarmuid McNally stressed the difficulty of UCD’s task in gaining promotion: “To break into the top four would have been an achievement. The likes of Sporting Fingal, Shelbourne and Waterford would have been rightly favourites, considering their budgets and
squads.” Looking forward, McNally declared himself “hopeful of keeping the squad together. The bulk of the team is made up of scholarships, who give the squad a strong college base and they are tied up for two or three years… while it is unlikely that we will see any new players coming in.” The jubilant feeling around the UCD camp is a complete contrast to the depression of last year’s campaign. Let us hope the team can sustain their success, and retain their place in the Premier Division next year.
Issue 5, Volume XVI of The University Observer, published 10th Nov 2009.