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VOLUME xViI ISSUE 3

Ne quid false dicere audeat ne quid veri non audeat

19th October 2010

IRELAND’S AWARD-WINNING STUDENT NEWSPAPER

FEATURES

COMMENT

SCIENCE

Attitudes to Sex: How Men and Women are Different in our Eyes

Five years after the Ferns Report, has anything really changed?

The truth behind forensics. Can we really trust CSI in court?

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UCD student’s text service wins web award Bridget Fitzsimons Editor

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UCD student has been awarded an Irish Web Award for his work relating to contraception. Chris Rooney, a Business and Law student, won the award for Most Innovative Website along with his friend Liam Ryan, who is a Trinity student. Rooney and Ryan’s website, www.safetext.ie, sends women a daily reminder to take the contraceptive pill. The website has a personalised diary for each user, which notes the days and times at which reminders will be sent out. Reminders are also sent on the week that the woman is not taking the pill, to remind her to get a new pack for her latest cycle. Speaking to The University Observer, Rooney expressed surprise at the award, saying that he and Ryan are “over the moon” and that “we weren’t really expecting it, because we’ve only been set up about a month now, but it was amazing to get it”. He also said that winning the award “reaffirms in our minds that there is a need for the service”. Safetext beat far more established sites, such as the music festival Oxegen, to win the award, but Rooney says that the pair have always been confident about their idea. He explained that he and Ryan “had a chat with the people who were in our category afterward and they saw the potential of it, so I think that could be as good a reason as any as to why we won”. While sign-ups to the website have been modest, Rooney is confident that the award will have a positive effect on the success of

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Cigarette company conduct surveys outside Student Bar Amy Bracken & Kieran McCarthy

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tudents attending the Student Bar have reported seeing two people outside the bar selling cigarettes and asking students to participate in a survey on which cigarette brand they smoked. Speaking to The University Observer, students claimed that PJ Carroll and Company Ltd, a supplier of cigarettes to the bar, were conducting research for their company. Manager of the bar, Declan Hyland, explained: “They don’t approach people, they have no branding on their clothing, and it’s up to people to approach themselves. It’s on for a six-week trial basis where they gather information on a number of pubs around Dublin and we were one of the pubs asked to participate.” Hyland informed The University Observer that the sellers inhabit the smoking area twice a week and will be do so for six weeks. UCD SU President Paul Lynam said of the matter: “There were people from Carroll’s who were in the smoking area. They couldn’t approach students and if students approached them, they could ask them a question.” Lynam contradicted Hyland’s claim that the sellers will be there on a fortnightly basis for six weeks: “We agreed that they could only do it on one occasion and we don’t want it to happen again. It won’t happen again.” On the matter of whether or not a survey was being conducted, Lynam said: “They weren’t getting surveyed per se. It wasn’t random sampling. They had to go up and volunteer the information themselves.” The University Observer spoke to a rep-

Members of UCD SVP hold a bake sale for the charity in UCD Student Centre.

resentative of PJ Carroll and Company Ltd who said of the matter: “It wasn’t a survey. It was kind of direct selling. They wouldn’t have been carrying out a survey.” When informed that students were asked to complete a survey upon purchasing cigarettes from the sellers, the representative replied that they were “surprised to

hear that”. The representative denied any knowledge of a survey or of research being conducted by the company. However, Hyland described the research: “Basically the cigarettes company that supplies cigarettes to the student club are doing research on their brand.”

A spokesperson from the Office of Tobacco Control said: “Anyone selling tobacco has to be registered and they have to display their registration details on their closed containers and vending machines.” It is the understanding of The University Observer that the sellers were not wearing any form of branding.

de Brún defends four-star resort for class rep training Sarah Doran

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CDSU Campaigns and Communications Vice-President Pat de Brún has defended the choice of a four star resort hotel as the location for this year’s class rep training weekend, at a cost of €11,000 in student contributed funding. Around 135 UCD students stayed at the Wolseley Holiday Lodges, located on the grounds of the luxury four star Mount Wolseley Hotel, Spa and Country Club in Tullow, Co Carlow. The location of the training weekend, which was paid for out of the UCDSU Campaigns and Communications budget, was kept secret until the journey got underway. De Brún said: “Over the summer I spent

a lot of time contacting different possible locations to see what ones had the proper conference facilities and the housing. They [the Mount Wolseley] just turned out to be the best value for money, so I went with them.” De Brún insisted that the location “really was the cheapest. We actually have a significant saving based on the last good few years of class rep training.” The University Observer understands that a €4,000 saving was made when compared with the €15,000 training weekend held in Blessington, Co Wicklow in 2009. De Brún neither confirmed nor denied the allegation that class reps were instructed to refrain from discussing or publishing photos of the training weekend on Facebook. “I think it may have been said to them. I didn’t say it myself,” he stated. He acknowledged that there had been controversy in previous years with regards

Lodges on the site of the four star Mount Wolseley were the location for this year’s class rep training.

to photos taken during the weekend which were subsequently published on Facebook. “That’s the kind of thing that we want to avoid,” de Brún said. “We want people to know that this was a proper training weekend, that it wasn’t just

a piss-up as some people try to convey it as and we really did put a lot of work into that and we just didn’t want to jeopardise it,” he stated. De Brún said that the reason the weekend is spent off-campus is that it “creates a better

sense of bonding between the reps which is important for an effective council”. He expressed his belief that the weekend away ensured “a captive audience” for the training programme, stating that it would be “a lot more difficult to keep people there at every module, in attendance” if training were conducted on-campus. This year, the training modules offered to class reps dealt with topics including academic issues and class parties. Reps also took part in modules regarding the benefits of social media, and were encouraged to set up Facebook pages for their classes. De Brún expressed satisfaction at the weekends’ activities: “I was over the moon with it to be honest. It was a real sigh of relief at the end because I feel we really did get the results that we wanted from it.”


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THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 19 October 2010

News News in Brief • A new flagship building for the UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland is to be jointly financed by the Government of Ireland and the Government of the People’s Republic of China. According to the government press office, the institute, which opened in 2006, “will be the first Confucius Institute internationally to receive capital funding from the Chinese Authorities”. The funding was confirmed in September following an official visit to Ireland by Mr. Li Changchun, a member of the Standing Committee of Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The Institute, whose mission statement is “to work with the Irish government, businesses and academia to develop stronger educational, cultural and commercial links between Ireland and China,” offers Chinese language courses, promotes the Chinese language and culture in Ireland and organises educational events in UCD to promote further understanding of China and its people. The building of the new centre will allow the Institute to continue to establish academic links with Chinese establishments such as Renmin University China, which is the Confucius Institute’s founding partner. The Institute’s website states that the new building will be built “at a privileged site on UCD Belfield campus” and will be inspired by “China’s rich architectural heritage”. • Healthy Cooking Competition launched This year’s Healthy Cooking Competition has been launched as part of Health Week which occurred on campus last week. The competition is a joint venture between the UCD Health Promotion Committee and the UCDSU, and was launched on the Healthy Eating Day of Health Week. The launch consisted of a talk and demonstration by Cooks Academy as part of the ‘How to’ series. UCDSU Welfare Vice President, Scott Ahearn, said that the aim was to show students “how to cook on a balanced budget and how to cook healthily”. The competition will have a similar format to last year’s, with the final taking place in semester two and those recipes shortlisted are to be included in the 2011-12 Student Cookbook. Interest was high in the competition this year with between 100 and 150 application forms being handed out at the launch. “I’d love to see 50 or 70 students take part,” said Ahearn. “If we can get around 20 or 30 students to actively take part in the cooking competition it would be fantastic”. • Halloween Ball at the Academy The annual Halloween Ball is to take place in the Academy with Digitalism as the headline act. UCDSU Ents Vice-President Jonny Cosgrove told The University Observer: “Digitalism are playing this year so it’s a really big headliner. It’s in the Academy on the 29th of October and we’re looking for a really spooky night. There’s about 1,100 tickets going on sale, so that’ll sell out pretty quick.” The ball is a Hallowen-themed fancy dress night, with a cash prize for the best dressed on the night and two free tickets to the premier of Jackass 3D. Tickets go on sale this Monday and are available from all SU outlets and on the Students’ Union website. Tickets cost €15.

news@universityobserver.ie

Bursar calls for independent review of new Residences Conor O’Nolan

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ursar of UCD, Dr Gerry O’Brien, has called for an independent review into the mishandling of UCD Residences at the beginning of the semester. It was announced that this would happen at Students’ Union council and was announced by SU Welfare Vice-President Scott Ahearn. The building of the new Roebuck catered accommodation was not completed on time for the new academic year. This resulted in students intending to move into this accommodation facility during Orientation week being accommodated in the original Roebuck Castle accommodation, and students from Roebuck Castle being accommodated in B&Bs. Students were also not allowed to move into residences without their student cards, which caused massive disruption during orientation week due to around 3,000 students having to queue for their card on the one day. Ahearn, expressed his anger at the situation, saying: “what Residences did, is that they destroyed the first experiences for many students coming to UCD. The initial problem was the money came first, before students.” UCD Residential Services accepted responsibility for the confusion, but denied responsibility for the displacement of students. The cross review that the Bursar has requested hopes to review all problems with Residences this year, including post-

The late completion of Roebuck 2 was one of the factors that led to problems in on-campus residences.

graduate students being placed in apartments with first years, the online booking system, and the student card policy. “The Students’ Union and myself are going to be heavily involved, I will be making sure that they won’t be forgetting what happened,” said Ahearn, before adding: “I’m urging students to go out and make your voice heard, and send the message home that what happened this orientation week was not acceptable.”

However, Head of Residential Services, Richard Brierley, denied any knowledge of the Bursars’ Review, saying: “I am not aware of a specific request for an independent review on the Roebuck 2 development. The development has provided the residents with fantastic facilities and the feedback from them is extremely positive. We do however continually review all aspects of our operations.”

Students celebrate another successful Maths Week Jennifer Fitzgerald

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he fifth annual Maths Week took place last week with a variety of events catering for all audiences. The week kicked off on Saturday the 9th with Maths in the Street, taking place at the top of Grafton Street. Maths Society auditor, Liz Hynes, was confident that the event was a resounding success, with students from Trinity College Dublin, NUI Maynooth and even the University of Oxford helping out during the day. Aimed mainly at younger children, the day comprised of puzzles and mazes being laid on the street, orientated towards having fun with maths and building an enthusiasm towards it: “We had a really good response and loads of kids came and played for hours, it was almost impossible to close up at the end of the day.” On October 11th, Professor of Mathematics in Oxford, Marcus du Sautoy, gave a lecture in the RDS. Professor du Sautoy is the Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and is in charge of promoting mathematics in England. The lecture focused on the artistic side of mathematics and catered for a variety of different interests such as music and architecture. Hynes said of the event: “There was definitely an appeal for everybody there.” Some of the Maths Society members were given the opportunity to meet Professor du Sautoy after the lecture, due to some of his team members helping out at Maths on the Street the previous Saturday. Also in attendance was Kjartan Poskitt, the author of Murderous Maths. Tuesday played host to Maths in the Pub

Brierley said that the process had already started, with consultation sessions to focus on online booking and check-in procedures. Brierley said that this was “with the view to ensuring that we are more responsive to our current and future customers’ needs. This process will include representation from residents and also from a wide variety of University stakeholders to ensure the opportunity is optimised.”

Continued from p1>> the website. While he did not provide The University Observer with official figures, he said that the response has been “okay so far”. He and Ryan feel that the next step for the company is to market the service to GPs, who can then in turn tell their patients about it. Rooney hopes that “this could then see a reduction in the number of appointments made for the morning after pill”. While the service has been up and running since mid-September, a launch is planned in February to coincide with SHAG week, USI’s sexual awareness week which runs across most university campuses in Dublin. Rooney explained that the pair were also utilising social media and word of mouth and that they hoped that these things combined would “get [the service] out to as many people as possible”. Rooney also feels that discussing contraception is a “sensitive subject” and hopes through these mediums, women will feel more comfortable signing up for the service. The Irish Web Awards took place in the Mansion House and other winners included The Irish Times and boards.ie.

Author Kjartjan Poskitt was in attendance at one of the Maths Week events

which took place in the Alchemist Cafe, with a number of mathemagicians displaying arrays of maths-oriented tricks. Thursday featured a mathematician demonstrate the workings of mathematical origami, which covers the practical uses of folding paper and how they can be applied in the real world. This took place in the Chester Beatty Library on Little Ship Street near Dublin Castle. The annual Hamilton Lecture on Hamilton Day takes place every year on October 16th in honour of William Rowan Hamilton, the famous Irish mathematician, who

discovered quaternions, which are important in vectors. The lecture this year was being given by Professor Robert C Merton and is focused predominantly upon financial mathematics. The final day of the week saw the annual Hamilton Walk from Dunsink Observatory to Broom Bridge where Hamilton’s formula is inscribed. The aim of Maths Week is to promote the idea that maths can be extremely interesting, as well as fun, as Hynes stated: “Maths isn’t just about doing the really annoying proofs. It’s about solving problems.”

Safe Text founders Liam Ryan and Chris Rooney.


19 October 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER

News

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UCD set to benefit from new transport service AMY BRACKEN

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CD is to avail of the new Blue Line rapid transport service, which is being proposed by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. The new project is expected to be up and running in three to four years, pending approval from the National Transport Association. The line is proposed to run from St. Vincents University Hospital on Nutley Lane, to the Sandyford Business Estate via UCD. Services are expected to be as frequent as every six minutes, on average. At the moment, DART and Luas services to do not directly service UCD. The closest DART station to UCD in Sydney Parade, approximately twenty minutes walk away and the closest Luas stop is Windy Arbour, which is approximately the same distance from campus. In relation to the proposal, Dún Laghaoire-Rathdown County Council said: “It will offer a high quality, high-frequency, highcapacity public transport service featuring all the benefits of a fixed-rail tram system with the flexibility of being able to drive on the road. It will ensure safe, quick and dependable journey times, therefore improving connectivity and reducing dependence on private car travel in Southeast Dublin.”

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University budget approved despite SU misgivings Caitríona Farrell

T The proposed Blue Line transport service is hoped to be completed in three to four years.

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council Manager, Owen Keegan stated on the matter: “Blue Line is a very exciting development in public transport in Dublin. A detailed assessment of the project shows that it can be built for around €33m and that it offers excellent value for money. This makes it a very appropriate public investment in the current difficult economic climate.” Mr Keegan also expressed his belief that the project should be completed within three to four years, on the basis that it offers a cheap and cost-effective transport service when compared to other proposed city services: “There is a lot of talk now as to whether Metro North will go ahead, or Metro West, but this is a low-cost project, relatively low-

cost when compared with a number of the competing projects in that strategy.” Regarding the issue of whether the project would have a direct impact on the students and staff of UCD, Mr Keegan said: “I think it would certainly represent a major improvement in terms of making UCD accessible to public transport. I mean UCD, while it is on a QVC corridor, it’s a bit of a distance away from two major public transport services, namely the DART and the Luas green line.” I suspect that if it was more accessible to those two, it would certainly make public transport a much more attractive option for a significant number of people, students and indeed people working in Belfield.”

he University Observer understands that UCDSU President Paul Lynam has objected to this year’s university budget. However, despite Lynam’s reservations with the budgetary plans, his requests for changes to be made were ignored and the university elected to approve the proposals without his consent. Speaking to The University Observer, Lynam said that he objected to the implementation of these plans on the basis that every area of the budget was to receive a five per cent cut: “I think that certain areas should take priority over others, such as academic support and student support.” Lynam questioned whether the best interests of the student body were being looked after, amid ongoing concerns that the university would impose significant cuts to areas which he deems to be of greater importance than other areas, such as the student support unit. He went on to say: “My main objection is that I have Student Union priorities, which is student support unit, and that should take less of a hit than everyone else.” Concern was also expressed by Lynam

over the deeper impact of budget cuts to UCD students: “If it affects the university reputation, it may affect bringing in numbers next year, which would affect our financial intake.” He went on to state his belief that third-level education is taking a bigger hit than other areas in terms of the national budget, stating that the budget cuts will have a negative impact on the number of graduates produced in this country. “Budget cuts to education are detrimental to the economic future of the country,” he said. In addition, Lynam said that he anticipated further cutbacks would made in education, among other areas, in the future. He explained how the implementation of these cuts was almost inevitable as a result of the country’s current financial climate: “We’re in an era of austerity measures,” he said. “I expect everything in the country to be cut dramatically.” Lynam is pessimistic with regards to the extent of cutbacks being made, as his summary of the overall affect that the budget is likely to have indicates: “Every cut will affect the student regardless of what department, even if it’s from the commercial department and advertising for the university.”

SU order UCD overhauls postwithdrawal graduate fee system of Nightrider L bus service Noreen Moloney

Amy Bracken

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he Students’ Union have taken the decision to suspend its Nightrider bus service as a result of anti-social behaviour from a small group of students. It is understood that the behaviour in question was not carried out by students coming from the Student Bar, but rather, were returning from a night out in the city centre. UCDSU President Paul Lynam said: “It wasn’t people necessarily using the service, in a lot of cases what we have seen was that it was students from Res. It wasn’t students from the Student Bar using the service, which it was supposed to be for, it was students who were not even using the service.” Lynam told The University Observer that “there was a few incidents, obviously a minority of students again, that caused disruption to the service,” and labelled the behaviour “drunken antics”. In addition, Lynam informed The University Observer that he made the decision to withdraw the service on the recommendation of the Students’ Union Entertainments Vice-President Jonny Cosgrove: “The Entertainments Officer felt that for the safety of the driver and for fellow students, that it was best to suspend the service pending review.” The withdrawal of the service has once again brought to light the issue of antisocial behaviour on transport services by UCD students. In the 2008/09 academic

year, Dublin Bus withdrew bus services to the campus after 9pm after complaints of dangerous and threatening student behaviour from drivers. An SU spokesperson said that the decision “was not reached lightly” and that it was taken in the interest of safety to both drivers and students. The spokesperson concluded that the SU are “not going to run a service that risks anybody’s safety.” Lynam expressed the benefits of the service, and that he believed that it was welcomed by students at the Student Bar and that they benefited greatly from it: “It was a nice new initiative. It was €2 to drop you to your local area.” “The Nightrider bus service was established to ensure a safe and cheap journey home for all UCD Students after the late bar events in the SU bar.” The Students’ Union has expressed its desire for feedback on the matter, and in a statement, said: “We welcome all comments and feedback on this matter. The SU is extremely disappointed that a service intended to help all students has been destroyed by a minority.”

Dublin Bus withdrew bus services to the campus after 9pm

ynam and Postgraduate Officer Martin Lawless to lobby for the changes. Changes have been introduced the postgraduate fee structure this year, enabling students to pay partfees for the final year of their PhD. UCDSU President Paul Lynam, Education Vice President James Williamson and Postgraduate Officer Martin Lawless finalised a programme of change, which enables current postgraduate students to pay part fees unless they need to go beyond the average PhD duration. In the extra year they will have to pay 75 per cent fees and full fees for years after that. The measures have been implemented on the basis that PhD students studying for more than four years will rarely use university facilities to the same extent in their final year. Williamson cited further reasons for the restructuring plans: “The problem was that the university wanted to introduce fees straight away, so somebody in their third year of the PhD programme going into fourth was being asked to pay double what they had budgeted for because they were told when they started the programme that they would pay half fees in the final year of their programme and now they would have to pay full.” This sparked postgraduate campaigns and online petitions that attracted a lot of attention earlier in the year: “The postgraduate community last year came together and had mass meetings. They were quite strong and had a very definitive message in what they wanted.” Williamson said that the success of

the postgraduate campaigns were evident even before he took office: “By the time I had taken office, the registrar was already aware of the situation and how unhappy the people were and he was just as willing as I was to get the situation sorted.” He added that the registry figures prove that very few students will be affected by the fourth year clause, and expressed his delight at the restructuring plans: “I think the students got the best deal possible from the situation. These students had entered college with a legitimate expectation and the idea that

they would be paying half the fees. It’s pretty much a contract with the university that you’re going to be paying in such manner. If the university broke that there would be a lot of trouble and not just mass meetings of students.” There have also been further positive changes such as the introduction of the sabbatical semester. Student can now take a semester out of their course by notifying their relevant school. Additionally, postgraduates studying over three semesters can now pay their fee instalments in thirds, as is the case with two semester courses.

Education Vice President James Williamson worked with SU President Paul Lynam and Postgraduate Officer Martin Lawless to lobby for the changes.


News

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Laser card facilities UCD Med Day fundraises to be introduced in for multiple charities SU shops Marianne Madden

Emily Longworth It has been confirmed that Laser card facilities will soon be available in SU shops on campus, as outlined in the Students’ Union Priority list for 2010-11. This is in conjunction with the recent creation of the student loyalty card which can now be used in all SU outlets across campus. Laser cards will be accepted in all SU shops and bars throughout Belfield. UCDSU President Paul Lynam confirmed that cashback facilities will be on offer with the Laser facilities, but that the cash-back offer “will vary depending on the shops and simply how much is in the till”. It is expected that the cashback should facilitate up to the usual €100 standard. A minimum spend of €5 will be applied to each transaction in order to avail of Laser card facilities. “We’re looking at €5, and that would be on the basis that we don’t want students buying a packet of gum on a Laser card.” The SU will conduct a review during the year should this initial sum be unsuitable. Lynam spoke against higher spending quotas for the Laser card facility, saying that anything higher may be unreasonable. “I would not be happy with a €10 or €12 one,” he said.

The SU priority list, formulated last July, aspired to “make financial supports available to students who are most at risk of financial problems and avoid any cutbacks to vital student supports”. “We mean to introduce a loyalty and a credit card simultaneously,” said Lynam. “The shops and bars didn’t have a Laser card facility, and I wanted to change that. It was a simple manifesto promise.” Decisions regarding shops and management are under the SU President’s brief, and the union has worked to establish this new facility in the interests of convenience on behalf of the students and the outlet. This move corresponds to the recent comments by the Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern, who promoted the use of Laser cards for the reduction of high cash amounts being used. “People should be incentivised to use their cards more often in relation to smaller transactions and electronic payments. That way you’ll take out of the scenario a lot of cash.” According to Minister Ahern, heavy use of cash imposes massive costs on banks and the state, in terms of security and cash-handling charges. On a smaller scale, this decision caters for the more direct expenditure of cash for students in UCD, by cutting out the necessity of visiting ATM machines.

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he annual UCD Med Day took place last Thursday, October 14th. The event was organised by the UCD Medical Society and many activities were held both on and off-campus. A city-wide street collection was held in the morning. UCD MedSoc Auditor, Mark Murphy, confirmed that in the run up to Med Day over 700 people had volunteered to participate in collections. Following the collections, an international breakfast was held at the back of the Health Science Building for collectors. Murphy told The University Observer of plans for one hundred Malaysian breakfasts, one hundred breakfast rolls and of attempts to get a crepe van to visit the event. Murphy explained of his intentions to bring an international element to the event: “We’re hoping to diversify it a bit, stepping away from just being in the student bar all day and working it almost as a second event. It’s hopefully going to be bigger and better than ever before.” This year, MedSoc is fundraising for three main charities: Cardiac Risk in the Young, the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland and the Action Breast Cancer Appeal by the Irish Cancer Society. Donations will also go to the two teaching hospitals, St Vincent’s Hospital, and the Mater Foundation. A portion of the collections will also go to the Student Welfare Fund.

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MABs Clinics are starting again this coming Wednesday (20th) and they start at 10am and last till 12pm. Drop in for financial assistance and advice.

The Please Talk Candle Vigil is taking this November 2nd at 5pm by the lake, book it into your calendar. If you’re hit by the mid term blues feel free to drop into me or you can make an appointment with the UCD Counselling service by ringing 01-7163133. Pop into Scott, our Welfare Officer in the Student Centre or contact him at welfare@ucdsu.ie & phone 017163112

Former US President Bill Clinton addressed an audience in UCD last week after being awarded the Ulysses medal

This year’s events were sponsored by Bank of Ireland, the Montrose Student Store, the Medical Protection Society and Promed – a medical supplies company and a new sponsor of UCD Med Day. The Students’ Union also donated a small amount to the making of Med Day t-shirts. The pompom dance in the city centre is a Med Day tradition which was instrumental in raising funds. “The guys dress up as girls and they do a dance on Grafton Street and through the town,” explained Murphy. Med Day last year raised over €43,000,

of which one hundred per cent went to charity. Despite the intentions of the auditor, the Student Bar was the focus of much of the entertainment, with MedSoc members being charged €2 for admission. Entertainment features included inflatable bouncing castles, a rodeo machine and sumo suits. A silent disco and a talent competition were also held. At the time of going to press, the total amount of funds raised by Med Day had yet to be calculated.

Student Assistance Fund goes online David Farrell The Student Assistance Fund is now available for application online as part of an overhaul of student financial assistance services. The fund went online last Thursday and will be available until the beginning of November for students experiencing unforeseen financial problems. UCD Students’ Union Welfare VicePresident Scott Ahearn said: “The origins of the fund is actually in terms of grants being so late after Christmas. The student could apply to get a little extra income and if anyone was having a rough time, they could get an extra €300 or €400.” Students can access the fund by logging into their SIS Student Web accounts and clicking on the Student Services Tab. Ahearn said: “The online application is simple. It questions who you are, what you’re studying, what your parents do, what your parents earn, what you earn if you work. You do a little blurb in terms of your situation and why you’re applying to the Student Assistance Fund.” Students must then submit a record of their income for the previous year to their student advisor. The Student Assistance Fund is unique in that it is the only one of its kind to

be available for online application. “The student assistance fund is online,” Ahearn explained. “That’s because we have to have an interview process in terms of the others.” A number of new financial assistance services for students have been introduced, and students experiencing financial difficulty can now look to the St. Vincent de Paul (SVP) fund, as well as existing financial assistance funds. The SVP fund, which is run by the society, is to be administered at weekly clinics, offering amounts under €150 for a specific need. The clinics are scheduled to be held from 10.30am to 12.30pm on Tuesdays, and are open to all students who require a small amount of financial assistance. Other funds available are the Welfare Fund, which is for assistance greater than €150, and the Childcare Assistance Fund, both of which require an interview and are not available for online application. Ahearn added: “It’s fantastic; it’s a great fund that helps students in UCD who are in real need of a small amount of money.” In addition to the current funds on offer, the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) will be offering weekly clinics on campus, providing budgeting and loan advice to students.


19 October 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER

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News

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UCD SU attend Oireachtas lobby with USI

SU website receives 25,000 hits since relaunch last year

UCDSU’s website has received 20,000 in the last month.

Elizabeth O’Malley

T USI President Gary Redmond led the lobbying of TDs in Buswells Hotel.

Katie Hughes

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CD Students’ Union Sabbatical and Executive Officers attended the annual lobby day held by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) in Buswells Hotel in Dublin on 13th October. The lobbying involved student representatives being provided with the chance to put forward queries to TDs and Senators. The student representatives had three main issues this year for the Oireachtas: capping the registration fee, graduate unemployment and problems with grants. The registration fee currently stands at €1,500, with a risk of that fee being doubled. This would represent a major increase in the IR£150 students had to pay in 1996, when the registration fee system was first introduced and third-level fees abolished. There was a five per cent cut in the grant in the last national budget, with a further decrease likely to take place in the coming December budget. However, UCDSU President Paul Lynam said that students would not be taking “cutbacks to our budget lying down”. As a result of a decrease in the budget and increase in people applying for a grant, the grant itself will drop to below €3,000.

A statement released by UCDSU said: “Students who are most in need of financial support are being targeted unfairly by the current government.” According to UCDSU, attention was also drawn to the “huge disparity” in grant processing costs between respective county councils, with costs per successful application ranging from €82.79 in Westmeath to €484.25 in North Tipperary. USI has lobbied the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Innovation to make graduate unemployment a high priority. Students have the option of drawing Jobseekers Allowance or emigrating after they graduate. This is, according to Lynam, a needless situation after “the government has spent thousands of euro educating us”. Lynam explained how “banks are not giving out loans anymore as there’s no guarantee of jobs to pay them back,” before adding that “in a time of recession, education should be the way forward”. USI President and former UCDSU President, Gary Redmond, hopes that October’s presentation will “prompt the Government to put in place the measures proposed by USI”. While Lynam states that the issues highlighted by student representatives to Ireland’s TDs and Senators are “the issues we will be marching on”.

he Students’ Union website has received 25,000 hits since its launch – 20,000 of those within the last month. The site is still a work in progess according to Students’ Union Campaigns and Communications Officer, Pat de Brún, but will hopefully be a “useful and good” website by Christmas. Last year’s administration, overseen by current USI President Gary Redmond, made the decision to reconstruct the website, which de Brún said “wasn’t very usable, quite blank and it didn’t really appeal to students” though admitted to not knowing the exact reason why a decision was made to change the site completely. However, de Brún did say of the website development: “It’s certainly not exactly where we want it to be, but it is progress and there are only so many hours in a day.”

De Brún did not deny the necessity for a new website: “I absolutely agreed with the new website because I think that it did need a facelift. I think it wasn’t very usable, quite blank and it didn’t really appeal to students.” The MySU feature was introduced last year, but has only begun to be implemented since the introduction of the loyalty card scheme. Students can sign in and check how much points they have earned from their transactions in SU shops. It also allows users to advertise their services for the Grindsfile and sell their books to the secondhand bookshop. De Brún believes that the success of the website is mostly due to the emphasis put on it by social media such Facebook and Twitter. The website’s traffic has been tracked, with “great success” being recorded in the last month. While de Brún feels that the website is

easy to navigate, students have found that it can become easy to get lost in with no obvious home button. Arts student, Maedbh O’Brien, found the website “tricky to use”, finding herself in the wrong section after misusing the tabs. Other students have found the website very comprehensive and a “central place for finding information”. However, de Brún admits that the calendar “is one area that we are looking at vastly improving”. The website offers people information about UCD, the Students’ Union and Students’ Union campaigns. De Brún stated that “a big emphasis on always having current news about the SU and stuff that’s going on around the college so people can log on and find out” was made with the new site. Much of the information in the SU student diary on health, sexual awareness and how to manage exam stress can also be found on the site.

Inaugural Health Week raises €1,100 for Irish Heart Foundation Aoife Valentine

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he first ever Health Week has taken place in UCD, under the direction of UCDSU Welfare Officer, Scott Ahearn. The event raised over €1,100 for the Irish Heart Foundation. Health Week ran from the 11th to the 14th of October. A different aspect of health was promoted each day with the main focus being on physical, sexual and mental health. This is the first year that the campaign was concentrated in one week. This was done to “set the platform of the three areas I work within,” according to Ahearn, and to “start the themes for what’s coming for the rest of the year”. SU shops also had free fruit available throughout the week in conjunction with this scheme. Monday was Sexual Health Day, featur-

ing an information stand promoting safe sex run by the Marie Stopes Centre, as well as a performance by a sexual health magician. Nearly 2,500 condoms were given out throughout the day and the STI screening service, secured last year, was also advertised. On Tuesday, Cooks Academy prepared a variety of meals that could be made on a €10 budget. This was an interactive event, which allowed the spectators to sample the food upon completion. A Healthy Cooking Competition was launched the same day, along with the UCD Health Promotions Committee who are sponsoring the competition. Wednesday saw a focus on physical health. The charity collection for the Irish Heart Foundation was organised around campus. An information stand in the Student Centre was set up to make students aware of what exactly their food is

made of. A Skipathon was set up outside the library, promoting Ahearn’s idea for the day that “you do feel a little bit better with a little bit of exercise and it’s good for your mental health.” The week finished off with a Duvet Day, as a part of Thursday’s focus on mental health. The Blue Room in the Student Centre was filled with sleeping bags and duvets, with DVDs playing throughout the day, and board games were made available for public use courtesy of UCD’s GameSoc. The free counselling service in the Student Health Centre was brought to students’ attention, with Ahearn explaining how “talking is a positive thing for students to take on”. Ahearn was extremely pleased with the progress of the week and with the amount of turnout to the different events that were staged.

UCD await planning approval for new car park Aoife Brophy

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he University Observer has learned that an application by UCD to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council for extra parking to be provided for students and staff is currently under review. The facility, if approval is received, will provide 583 car spaces, 617 bicycle spaces and 81 motorcycle spaces, as well as changing rooms, lockers, retail spaces, a bus shelter, an underground walkway, solar panels and staff areas. Plans are in place for the parking facility to be located between the new student centre and the water tower. However, it is the understanding of The University Observer that there are doubts surrounding the application on the basis that the building of

this structure will mean the university is required to give up some of its green space. It is believed that the construction of the car park will also mean the takeover of five tennis courts. Additionally, it is thought that the council requires that ten per cent of car parking spaces in UCD should have recharge facilities for electric vehicles by 2020. This policy would be in line with government objectives for ten per cent of Irish vehicles to be run on electricity by 2020 and therefore, lowering Ireland’s sizeable carbon emissions. Concerns were expressed by the council over the increase of traffic in the Clonskeagh region and the lack of incentives for sustainable travel, in contrast with a similar scheme in the UK. UCD bus services to and from many areas of Dublin, particularly on the north

Car parking space shortages have long been a problem in UCD.

side, are leaving students with no choice but to drive to college. Car parking has long been an issue in UCD as it is often used by people who are not UCD students, staff or visitors as a park and ride facility. An increase in students driving has also led to a severe shortage of car parking spaces. A spokesperson for the university stated in relation to the matter: “The planning permission for a commuting facility which included bus facilities, secure bicycle parking, shower and changing facilities for cyclists, motor bike parking, and car parking, has not been rejected. However, additional information has been requested from Dún LaoghaireRathdown County Council. A response to this request is currently being prepared and will be submitted shortly.”


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THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 19 October 2010

News

news@universityobserver.ie

Getting a bad rep? Chief News Reporter

Despite the reduction in the cost of class rep training, Katie Hughes questions whether the event’s efficiency levels could still be higher

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his year’s Students’ Union class representative elections took place at the beginning of the fourth week of the semester. The first Union Council followed at the end of the same week and the newly elected class representatives took to the countryside of Tullow, Co. Carlow, for their training on the weekend of the 8th, 9th and 10th of October. In previous years, class rep training was known, to an extent, as an expensive weekend away for members of Union Council during which numerous damages were incurred, a lot of alcohol was consumed and much fun was had – depending on one’s definition of fun, of

course. However, a great effort was made to re-establish the credibility of Students’ Union class rep training this year, as previous years’ training had led to the event being given the reputation that everything but a relevant educational experience was had by those involved. The atmosphere at class rep training this year will remain a mystery to most of us, as the attendees are not permitted to publish photos of the weekend on Facebook. According to UCDSU Campaigns and Communication Vice-President Pat de Brún, this measure was taken so as not to jeopardise the integrity of the weekend. However, seeing as this year’s training was deemed successful, there should be nothing to hide. Students, who annually pay money to the Union, should surely be allowed to see what their elected representative as well as their Sabbatical and Executive Officers are up to on their cost. As a part of their training, the elected representatives took a series of modules. These ranged from talks by the five sabbatical officers on their respective offices, to modules on the Union’s history, and current schemes that are in place, such as Quinn Healthcare, the loyalty card and a talk about the Union of Students in Ireland (USI). While these talks could all have been crammed into one, albeit hectic and exhausting, on-campus day, there may be a point in de Brún’s statement that the offcampus, three-day stay may encourage the ‘bonding’ of class reps and their Sabbatical Officers. This would serve well for the reps, giving them the confidence to question Sabbatical Officers on the job they

SU Campaigns and Communications Vice President Pat de Brún has defended the cost of class rep training.

are doing during the fortnightly Union Council. Credit must be given to de Brún for turning class rep training into a more credible, organised and educational experience. Hopefully this is a precedent that has been set for future years. However, the transformation made in class rep training this year in no way suggests that there are no issues remaining with the annual occurrence. Whether the event actually merits the €11,000 spent is questionable. Is renting the four-star Mount Wolseley necessary when training could just as well have been held on campus? Renting out the Astra Hall would surely have been cheaper and have resulted in the same outcome. De Brún defends the weekend away,

insisting that due to the “hectic schedule of modules”, keeping a high attendance of newly elected reps is more difficult on campus. Surely these enthusiastic reps, who promise their peers to be so outgoing, attentive and hard working during their election campaign, would want to attend all aspects of the training that would teach them skills required to perform to the best of their abilities. In a time of recession, the cost of the training must undoubtedly be a bone of contention. It must be kept in mind that the Students’ Union is partially funded by a portion of UCD’s student registration fee. As a student, are you happy to see your money going towards three days training, food and accommodation for your class reps? The spending of thousands of euro on

teaching university students how to set up Facebook groups and organise class parties appears to be a waste in some peoples’ eyes. However, it’s up to you to decide for yourself – question your class reps, ask them for help, make sure they do their jobs. If that’s not done, a whole lot of money will have gone to complete waste. Despite this year’s training making a €4,000 saving on last year’s extravaganza, €11,000 is still far too much to be spending on a jaunt to the countryside. There are other facilities that could be utilised closer to home, and for a significantly lower cost. Whether future years’ training will remain in line with this year’s process and not revert back to the previously demonstrated layout and style, or lack thereof, remains to be seen.

Driving us mad In light of confirmation that the proposed “Blue Line” rapid transport service will run through UCD, Amy Bracken asks whether the plan is astute from a financial viewpoint

News Editor

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very day of term, if you happen to be near a UCD car park between the hours of nine and five, you will undoubtedly see a string of cards queuing and hoping that a space will soon become available so that their occupants will be on time for their classes. A student driving to college told me recently that they have to time it so that they are at UCD at least two hours before their first class if they are to have any chance of finding a parking space. The issue of car parking on the UCD campus is hardly a secret, but measures are being taken to rectify it. UCD has made an application to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council for further parking spaces to be added to the campus. Additionally, it was announced during the week that UCD is to benefit from the proposed Blue Line rapid transport service that is hoped to be approved, built and put into operation in three to four years. While both proposed initiatives are still in the debating process, it is expected that the Blue Line will be passed. The question

of whether or not the additional parking spaces will be given the go-ahead is debatable. The plan proposes for the facility to provide 583 car spaces, 617 bicycle spaces and 81 motorcycle spaces, which would arguably have a small but effective impact on the parking problem in UCD. Yet there are undoubtedly issues with the application, notably that it will require the university to compromise on its already minimal green space, which is a necessity within urban areas. UCD already has a reputation for being a concrete jungle, and by sacrificing it’s green space, it would only add to already dull and unwelcoming outlook of the campus. Should the plan go ahead, it is also expected to lead to the removal of five of the campus’ tennis courts in order to provide space for the construction of the car park. Given that the plan proposed would provide only minimal relief to the issue of cap parking, is compromising on all this space really the right way to go? UCD is attempting to maintain an image of a centre for excellence, not just in academic terms, but also in terms of excellence in sports and extra-curricular activities. A campus as large as Belfield with hardly any green space hardly creates an image of excellence. Moreover, placing a car park on what was once a sports ground will not do any favours for it in terms of encouraging interest and victories in sports. In the long run, the plan is hardly worthwhile, as the government is proposing for ten per cent of all vehicles in the country

UCD’s car parking shortage has been problematic for a long time.

to be run on electricity by 2020. For this, UCD will need to ensure that ten per cent of its parking spaces have a recharge facility in ten years time. If time and money are going to be put into the building of a new car park and space is to be allocated for it, how is this plan worthwhile if more money and space will be needed to ensure the recharge facilities (for ten per cent of all those driving to Belfield) are to be implemented by 2020? My scepticism about the project is not just due to the practicalities of the issue, as funding must of course be considered

in the case of any proposal like this. UCD has debts of around €11,000,000. Thus, the funding of this scheme will more than likely have to come from the students, just as is the case with the new Student Centre. Some might argue that as the parking issue mostly affects students, given the proportion of students to staff in UCD, that we should pay for it, as we will be the people who will ultimately benefit from it. Yet this is doubtful if we are to consider that tennis courts are to taken away to pave the way for it. A vital element of university is socialis-

ing and getting involved in extra-curricular activities. If sports facilities have to be taken away for this proposal, then the likelihood is that further sports facilities will be taken away by 2020 in order to create space for the electrically powered car recharge facilities. While we appreciate the initiative of the university in applying for the extra parking spaces, especially given the volume of students who now choose to drive to college, it seems that sacrificing campus grounds and spending money that nobody has is hardly a viable solution to the problem.


19 October 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER

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Features

features@universityobserver.ie

Stop the Presses? In investigating what looks like an inevitable evolution, Roberta Cappieri and Sarah Doran discover that the future of print journalism is more than simply black and white

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n April of this year, the Wall Street Journal reported that in the face of sliding sales, the print media faced an increasingly uncertain future. “Newspaper circulation has been ebbing slowly for decades” the article stated, “but the pace has picked up of late, as more readers turn to a range of digital media such as the Web, smartphones and the iPad.” As technology continuously advances and consumers embrace the rapid evolution of an ever-expanding array of gadgetry which delivers instant information, how will the print media fare in a furiously paced future? “There will be no media consumption left in ten years that is not delivered over an IP network. There will be no newspapers, no magazines that are delivered in paper form. Everything gets delivered in an electronic form,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer claimed in the Washington Post in 2008. Two years later, Ballmer’s predictions of the demise of the print media remain relevant. There’s no doubting it, newspaper sales are falling year after year. The advent of online news sources has pushed the boundaries of how we obtain information, but does it spell the end for traditional print media? Internet enabled mobiles phones, broadband and instant social media and network sites give us a connection to every other internetuser round the clock. With the emergence of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and the explosion of online interaction through activities such blogging and v-logging, a different form of media has emerged: media which engages. Online interaction has indicated that the public are no longer content to allow the latest information to trickle down through the terrestrial channels. They are eager to seek out the story themselves. As the demand for instant information increases, consumers turn their backs on that which is not at their fingertips. Through smartphones, netbooks and computers, access to the information superhighway has never been more simple or convenient. The traditional trek to the local newsagents on a Sunday morning for the paper has been replaced by the leisurely task of reaching for the nearest keyboard or keypad. The ability to access information in this manner has lead to a decrease in newspaper circulation figures worldwide. In Ireland alone, Audit Bureau of Circulation figures released in August 2010 showed that in the daily market, the leading newspaper, the Irish Independent was down 4.8 per cent on the same period a year ago. Circulation of The Irish Times fell by 7.6 per cent to 105,742, while the Irish Examiner dropped 7.3 per cent to 46,687, according to the figures. In the United Kingdom the Sunday newspapers took a particularly powerful hit: titles such as the Sunday Times, Telegraph, Herald, Independent on Sunday and The Observer experienced a circulation decrease of 12.84 per cent on average when compared to the same period in 2009. This decline in circulation doesn’t paint a positive picture of the future of print media. Moreover, newspapers typically get between 70 and 80 per cent of their revenue from advertising. As sales fall, online advertising is seen as a more attractive alternative for companies. Advertisers will always follow the crowd, and websites give access to very specific demographics, thus lessening

Despite creating one of the world’s leading online news sources, Arianna Huffington believes that print journalism is not obsolete yet.

wasted advertising. If newspapers cannot keep circulation high, they will potentially lose that 70 to 80 per cent of revenue, thus forcing downsizing and closures. It could be suggested that this is hardly surprising considering newspapers are often beaten to the story by this new interactive form of media. On this point, we must investigate the growth of instant social network sites such as Twitter and online news sources such as thejournal.ie and TMZ. Twitter is a worldwide real-time information sharing network. It has created a platform for regular people to update the world on what is happening in their lives. Where journalists seek to find stories, Twitter has already been used to get the breaking news, whatever it may be, out onto the world wide web. Twitter and sites like it are not only beating newspapers, but TV and radio also to the latest stories around the globe. In June 2009, American celebrity news website TMZ was the first to break the news of the death of Michael Jackson. News bulletins worldwide based their reports on the claims of TMZ: the world knew Jackson was dead long before any form of print media could break the story. Similarly with Twitter, it was via tweeting that Irish broadcaster Miriam O’Callaghan referred to the death of her colleague Gerry Ryan, before the authorities at RTÉ could confirm that Ryan’s extended family had been informed. At about 2.40pm on June 30th, O’Callaghan responded to unconfirmed reports about Ryan’s death on Twitter, the social networking site. “Tragically it is true,” she said. “So terribly shocking and

sad. Life is just too cruel sometimes. RIP.” As with Jackson, the nation mourned long before the story could hit the headlines. The pace of print paled in the face of interactive media such as Twitter, TMZ and BreakingNews.ie and arguably continues to do so. So, realistically, has the evolution of a technologically-focused generation truly escalated the demise of print journalism? Or, can the print media learn to adapt and evolve in an almost Darwinian fashion in order to challenge its competitors and ensure its survival in the modern world? The current economic climate is less than favourable for the survival of the print media: the economic downturn has inevitably lead to a decline in newspaper sales and subscriptions and has forced publishers to slash their advertising budgets. The Federation of German Newspaper Publishers told German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle that “over the course of 2009, the advertising market in regional daily newspapers dwindled by 12.1 per cent, with a similar decline in advertising-related sales”. This is significant considering Germany is the largest newspaper market in Europe and the fifth largest in the world. However online publishing, the alleged adversary of the print media, may ultimately prove its saviour: Deutsche Well reported that the arrival of e-readers such as Amazon’s Kindle, the Sony eReader, and Apple’s iPad was “good news for publishers,” according to the Verband Deutscher Zeitschriftenverleger (VDZ), Germany’s largest trade association of magazine publishers. An increase

in online publishing will not necessarily result in redundancy for the printing presses. The operation may in fact provide revenue to rejuvenate the floundering industry and ensure that the presses continue to operate. The VDZ’s Director of Digital Media and New Markets, Alexander von Reibnitz, told Deutsche Welle that “e-publishing can be a real game-changer for publishers looking to tap into new sources of revenue from content, reach new target groups, and attract new advertisers.” With advertising accounting for more than half of most newspapers’ income, securing new investors is an achievement which may prove crucial for the survival of the format. In an effort to battle on, many forms of print media have embraced the technological transition: The Irish Times and the Guardian can be counted amongst the publications which have established their own Twitter accounts [not to mention, The University Observer – ed]. The degree to which the market for print newspapers has dissipated can also be questioned. Online media veteran Arianna Huffington doesn’t believe that consumers are turning their backs on print. In 2005, Huffington launched a blog and news site, The Huffington Post. Five years later the site is recognised as one of the most visited blog and news sites online, counting 30 Rock star Alec Baldwin amongst its most popular bloggers and columnists. Huffington informed Forbes Woman in July 2009 that she believed that the predictions of a precarious future for the print media were far from precise. “I believe that the obituaries for newspapers are premature.

Many papers are belatedly but successfully adapting to the new news environment” Huffington said. She maintained that “until those of us who came of age before the Internet all die off, there will be a market for print versions of newspapers.” Indeed, it cannot be denied that there is still a market for print, albeit a declining one. The Wall Street Journal is the best selling news publication in the United States, with circulation of the paper averaging over two million copies per day in the period leading up to March 31st of this year. According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations of North America, the Wall Street Journal has actually experienced a 0.5 per cent increase in circulation in the past year: this achievement is significant considering the Bureau’s report highlighted that overall newspaper circulation in North America had decreased in the same period. The Wall Street Journal’s appeal to a business-focused demographic arguably invokes echoes of Huffington’s assertion of a generational appreciation for print. On Wall Street, much like money, it seems that for now this trader’s print bible never dies. In the 1950s, as the age of television dawned, radio was deemed a format which faced certain demise: sixty years later, radio lives on and continues to evolve and adapt to embrace technological advances. Print media faces an uncertain future. Its demise seems absolute for some, but uncertain for others. Only time will tell if the age of technology annihilates print. However, advocates of print may take comfort in the knowledge that video didn’t truly kill the radio star.


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THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 19 October 2010

FEATURES

features@universityobserver.ie

Oíche Shamhna, oíche staire Breathnaíonn Meabh Ní Choileáin ar an sean agus ar an nua i gcás traidisiún agus stair an bhféile baothchreidimh atá á gcéiliúradh againn le breis is 2000 bhliain anuas

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uair a smaoinaítear ar Oíche Shamhna in Éirinn, ní féidir a shéanadh ach go dtagann tradisiúin áirithe chun chuimhne ar an spota. Mar shampla, níl orainn ach sracfhéachaint ar laethanta ár n-óige agus feicimid go leor íomhánna den phuimcín geal snoite san fhuinneog, dúinn ag tumadh ár n-aghaidheanna i mbabhlaí móra uisce ar tóir úlla agus airgid, agus dúinn ag dul ó theach go teach ag bailiú chnónna agus milseáin ó na gcomharsanna. Cinnte, bhaineamar an-sult as Oíche Shamhna nuair a bhíomar níos óige agus na dea-chumhní go léir a théann leí mar fhéile, ach ní mór an ceist a chur: Cé gur scríobhamar uilig aiste ar an ábhair ag pointe éigin agus muid ar an mbunscoil, an bhfuil stair na féile tábhachtach seo ar eolas againn sa lá atá ann inniú? Creid nó ná chreid, is féile ársa Cheiltigh í Oíche Shamhna atá breis is 2,000 bhliain d’aois. Ní fiú leithscéal atá inti chun cultacha a chuir orainn agus féasta a bheidh againn. Dhéanadh na Cheiltigh céiliúradh ar an gcéad lá de mhí na Samhna, in onóir don bhliain nua, lá a d’fhág slán le laethanta geal an tsamhraidh agus an fhómhar agus a chur fáilte roimh an geimhridh fuar, dorcha. Ceann de phríomhfhéilte na Cheiltigh é céiliúradh an bhliain nua ach dár leis an béaloideas agus na seanscéalta, bhí an –tábhacht ag baint leis an oíche roimhré chomh maith-Oíche Shamhna. Oíche draoíchtúil is ea í Oíche Shamhna agus chreid na Cheiltigh gur bhriseadh na

teorainneacha idir an saol seo agus spioraid na mairbh an oíche baothchreidimh seo. D’fhéadhadh lucht na marbh filleadh ar an domhan arís don oíche seo amháin. Thógadh siad foirm caillaigh, taibhsí, cait dhubha, púcaí nó aon foirm ait eile agus dhéanadh siad trioblóid do dhaoine an domhain seo. Chreid daoine ag an am go ndéanadh solas de shaghas ar bith cosaint i gcoinne spioraid na mairbh, rud a chur tús leis an tine chnámh, ceann de na nósanna is mó atá ann fós. Chuireadh barra agus ainmhithe ar lasadh chun na spioraid ábhailleacha seo a choimeád as bealach. Chomh maith leis seo, ghléas daoine suas ionas nach n-aithneoidh na spioraid iad agus go mbeadh siad slán uathu. Is uaidh seo a thagann nós na gcultacha, cé nach n-úsáidtear cinn ná craiceann ainmhithe na laethanta seo, mar a d’úsáidtí ag an am. Déantar céiliúradh ar Oíche Shamhna i dtíortha éagsúla ar fud an domhain. Cé go gcuireann gach tír beim níos mó ar nósanna áirithe, tá cúpla nós ann atá láidir i ngach áit. Mar shampla, an nós ‘Bob nó Bronntanas’, nuair a théann páistí ag cnagadh ar doirse timpeall na chomharsanachta ag lorg milseáin agus torthaí. Cuireadh tús leis an nós seo nuair a d’fhág na Ceiltigh bia amach do na spioraid chun iad a shásamh. Sa lá atá ann inniú, deir go leor daoine gur nós ciantréimhseach é seo, nach bhfuil mórán baint aige le traidisiún Oíche Shamhna ach spreag rud éigin é mar nós, fiú muna bhfuil an

Gluais tine chnámh – bonfire féile ársa Cheiltigh – ancient Celtic festival draíochtúil – magical briseadh na teorainneacha – breaking the boundaries Bob nó Bronntanas – Trick or Treat ciantréimhseach – secular ceangail sin sofheicthe níos mó. I gcodarsnacht leis an bhféile nua-ceaptha, Lá Fhéile Arthur nó Lá Fhéile Vailitín, ní chéiliúradh tráchtála í féile Oíche Shamhna. Ní feachtas fógraíachta rathúil í agus ní dhéanann sí saothrú mhothúchánach ar dhaoine ach oiread. Níor tháinig sí ar an saol ar mhaithe le hairgead a dhéanamh ná leithscéal a thabhairt dúinn gloinne a árdú. Tá stair agus traidisiún saibhir ag baint le Oíche Shamhna, a bhfuil meas againn

orthu go fóill. B’fhéidir gur i ngan fhios dúinn é seo, ach tá na sean-nósanna Ceiltigh fós bríomhar agus muid ag céiliúradh ar an 31ú Deireadh Fomhair. Cé nach raibh tinte ealaíne le feiceáil sa spéir sna seanlaethanta, nó an oiread sin Lady GaGa’s agus Jedward’s beaga ag dul ó theach go teach ach oiread, tá éifeacht scáthánach le brath idir an sean agus an nua i gcás féile Oíche Shamhna, rud a thugann muinín dúinn go mbeidh sí láidir leis na blianta anuas.

feachtas fógraíochta – advertising campaign tinte ealaíne – fireworks éifeacht scáthánach – mirror effect

Private Networking

In light of the sudden ubiquity of Mark Zuckerberg, James O’Connor looks at whether social networking is changing society’s attitude towards privacy

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ith the hype surrounding new movie The Social Network, Facebook and its creator Mark Zuckerberg are being written about at length. Whether Zuckerberg stole the idea for Facebook or not, many seem to have forgotten the controversies surrounding his multi-billion dollar company’s approach to privacy. Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter have completely changed the way we interact with each other. Everyone from Barack Obama to George Hook has a Twitter account or a Facebook page where they can bombard their followers with endless information. Facebook, by its own accord, helps you connect and share with the people in your life – but at what cost? Many view their profile as a statement of their identity, one that they can personalise and show to friends. But Facebook reinvents the word friend. I have hundreds of “friends” on Facebook, but after meeting each of them once or twice I may never again speak to many of them. Third-year civil engineering student Jennifer Collins believes that “even though you are friends on Facebook, if you were to meet the majority of them in the street you wouldn’t have anything to talk about”, yet we call these acquaintances friends. By allowing so many people to be a Facebook friend, we are granting them access to personal information posted online. Content such as photos, videos, interests, comments and sexual orientation are made readily available for all to see. Sit in any computer room across the campus and take note of the phenomenon

that is Facebook “stalking”. People will sit and browse through photos and personal information of “friends” or others who have allowed, through their selection of privacy settings, their content to be viewed. Some of those being viewed could be complete strangers. The general consensus is that even though we may not admit to it, we are all guilty of Facebook stalking at one time or another. Final-year politics student, Gráinne Quinn raised the point that “when you’re on Facebook, you tend to contact the same group of people all the time, which desensitises you to the fact that another 500 people can see your updates and photos.” It is in the interest of privacy that one student recently deleted over 200 “friends”. Others choose to block particular people from viewing their content, with some users blocking older relatives and former lovers from viewing photos. Interestingly, most students said they felt that standards of privacy had not been worsened by the advent of Facebook. Ciaran Hendry, a Masters student in biomedical engineering, suggested that “if you want something to be private, you simply do not share it with the online world”. He continued: “If you are being stalked, you’ve let yourself be stalked. You are putting your life up on the internet and have the option of hiding whatever you don’t to be seen.” Facebook users looking to make personal information private can expect a very lengthy process. To hide most information from the public eye, it is necessary to click through more than fifty privacy settings, each with a wide variety of options

and even then, your profile is not entirely private. Some personal data is also being shared with third party websites. Facebook’s privacy policy is 5,830 words long. While being extremely complex, it is also 1,287 words longer than the United States constitution (excluding any of its amendments). When asked if Facebook had reached a stage where socially it was too important to live without, students’ answers varied. Postgraduate psychology student, Louise Dolphin, felt this was true to a certain extent. “[Facebook] is connecting people who otherwise would not be in touch. It is capable of combining the services other sites such as Twitter, Flickr and YouTube provide, along with an instant messaging service.” Other students cited fear of social exclusion as a reason that they would not delete their Facebook. If Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg is to be believed, privacy is dead. With regularly changing privacy settings, Zuckerberg argues that Facebook is simply adapting to a “social norm that has evolved over time”. Instead, Facebook is a major agent of social change. People are changing the way they treat personal, private information. We readily give information online to a vast number of websites varying from home addresses to bank details. Moreover, it seems that others have no problem discussing personal and private matters loudly over the phone in public places such as on the bus. And so it seems, the Facebook privacy standards are now reaching new heights and unique places.

Facebook has become an active part of many students’ social lives.


19 October 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER

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Casanovas and Jezebels

While societal attitudes to sex have changed, women can often feel stigmatised for having “too much sex”.

With sex an undeniable facet of contemporary society, Leanne Waters investigates just what the issue means today and how it can allegedly make or break the modern woman

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arilyn Monroe once said: “Being a sex symbol is a heavy load to carry, especially when one is tired, hurt and bewildered.” Okay, granted that not all of us can be sex symbols and certainly most of us aren’t your everyday Marilyn Monroe. However, symbolism aside, we can relate to this statement in many ways. Sex by its own nature can be a complicated thing; especially when one adds to the equation the many arduous idiosyncrasies of modern life. And yes, by this we mean the trivial “he said, she said, nobody understands me!” complex. This noted, we can thus come to the conclusion that sex, an apparently heavy cross to bear, can leave one feeling tired, hurt and totally bewildered, in the words of an expert. And with what seems like so much stress derived from this natural occurrence, one could potentially lose sight of the very purpose of sex. Okay, we’re not talking about reproduction; maybe the second purpose of sex. A recent sensation hitting cinemas across the US and soon to filter to our own Emerald Isle comes in the form of Will Gluck’s Easy A. The film, which will be released in Irish cinemas later this month, follows the

misfortunes of a high school teen who pretends to lose her virginity, only to find herself caught in the nightmare of many young women today; the slut-shaming game. Taking the issue light-heartedly, the movie inevitably draws to our attention not only the meaning of sex in contemporary society, but the many stereotypes and stigmas that can haunt the sexually active woman of the twenty-first century. And so, with the traditional concept of “saving ourselves” coming into practical contention more and more, one does beg to wonder, are we attaining greater levels of sexual exploration or, quite simply, are we just sluts? To begin, it certainly seems very obtuse to say that sexually-active women today differ by any standard to the average sexuallyactive male. And yet, even with our Carrie Bradshaws and Olive Penderghasts, it still seems a shocking thing to ascertain that women enjoy sex just as much as men. But surely it is not our thoughts that cause controversy, but our actions. A woman is rarely at issue, for example, for simply thinking about sex. God bless never having to experience the ordeal of an erection in lectures and classes. But a woman who openly engages herself in more than a few rendezvous, as opposed to the same sexual endeavours of a man, is a different story. I carry a condom with me everywhere I go. Yes, tucked in a dark crevice of my purse, there lives a classic Durex reliable. With this, comes the argument as to whether this purse-dwelling resident is simply an incentive to be promiscuous or, alternatively, nothing more than a token of responsibility in light of a potential urgency. If a condom-carrying woman such as myself and many who frequent our UCD campus, happen to find themselves caught up in a once-off (probably later to be regretted) night of passion, what does this say of us? And could the same be said of a man executing similar actions? On the topic of male and female sexuality, The University Observer spoke to one of the leading lecturers in UCD Women’s Studies, Dr. Mary McAuliffe, who was able to share her informed opinion on the matter. “Connected with second-wave feminism is this whole idea of individual choice and sex as pleasure. And the idea that women had control of their own bodies, their own

reproductive rights, their own sexuality, make their own decisions around their own morality. “So it became a matter of choice rather than something dictated to women by the church or by the state or by society. I know that was a very good thing. However, things have transformed in that, now, women are supposed to be available. Women are expected to be sexually available because of course now there’s no issue really of unwanted children [with the contraceptive pill]. So, why not be available?” But it seems that even what has become an anticipated sexual availability still does not meet ever-changing standards. With it, comes a profound contradiction; the modern woman should be sexually available. And yet the woman who sleeps around is little more than a slut. Second-year Arts student Tony Clery had this to say on the topic: “There are definitely double standards for men and women. If a guy has multiple sexual partners, he’s a ledge, but if a girl does, she’s a whore. A key that opens loads of locks is a master key; a lock that gets opened by loads of keys is a shit lock. Women seem to get a lot more abusive stereotypes than lads.” But how very primitive for us to think with such a narrow scope. Sex is not a modern invention. We’ve been practising it, after all, since humans first graced the earth. Surely, it is just the purpose of sex that has transformed. For most of us UCD students – men and women alike – sex encompasses pleasure and exploration. Be it for love, lust, curiosity or just plain hormones, sex is a means of facilitating just one very small aspect of who we are. Clearly, there is certainly a vast difference today between “making love” and having sex. Which one to choose, however, is the decision of only the individual. But this isn’t an easy choice to make with such a vast influx of ideas and beliefs coming from all corners; the media, men and even other women. Dr. McAuliffe talks us through sexual availability, the media and, in a sense, what men want. “There is kind of a derision about virginity or perhaps a certain principled take on your own sexuality. A lot of the young women also say that there’s a double standard operating. Women are supposed to be

available at all times and dress in that sense and I think the media have a lot to play into that as well. “If you look at women’s magazines, it’s about how to dress in a sexy fashion, how to dress to attract men, how to be fully sexual in your own lives, how to be the best you can in bed, how to have multiple-orgasms – all that sort of thing. And it’s all about sexualising the female body; but sexualising it mainly for the looker, the male gaze. “And also, I think at the same time you’ve double-standards that women are supposed to be sexually available; but the woman that you want to, say, have a partnership with or marry, for men, is not that woman. You want to have fun with that woman. The woman you want to marry is actually probably the woman you were jeering at.” With such heavy talk of these things and all the repercussions that sex can bring, it becomes all too easy to lose the fun in the very act itself. Far be it from me to endorse promiscuity and, yes, I mean this in terms of both men and women. But whether it is for love or for one’s own physical pleasure, people today need not be under restrictions in what is an entirely private and personal decision. One like-minded UCD student is thirdyear geography student Fearghal Murphy who commented: “I believe that women and men have equal freedom when it comes to sex. However, there definitely exists a stereotype for women who can be criticised for

“sleeping around” and I don’t totally agree with it. It also works both ways for men and women, after all it takes two to do it “I think sex is a totally natural thing and great craic really! However, I think if people [who] have been unfairly pushed into sex or have engaged in sex while heavily under the influence, it may change their own opinions of why we have sex. Of course it feels physically great either with someone you love or connect with, but I don’t believe that emotional connection is needed for good sex. Once both parties are happy and understand what they are doing, it’s fine.” Indeed, sex is a curious thing. It is natural and, on many levels humble, by nature and yet weighty in its properties. Though the very embodiment of all things earthly, this seemingly sensationalised entity does not lack the possibility of bona fide greatness. We can thus establish that emotions derived from sex have the power to form the strongest marrow of self, soul and spirit. It is a curious thing that sex, so dubious in its very being, remains arguably the most instinctive specialities of nature. And perhaps Jim Morrison of The Doors summed it up best: “Blake said that the body was the soul’s prison unless the five senses are fully developed and open. He considered the senses the ‘windows of the soul.’ When sex involves all the senses intensely, it can be like a mystical experience.” Easy A is reviewed in this fortnight’s issue of o-two.


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THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 19 October 2010

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Old-Fashioned Attitudes After witnessing student behaviour on a recent Dublin Bus trip to campus, Sean Finnan investigates student attitudes towards the elderly

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hey fumble with their change while paying for shopping, control back and country roads with exaggerated care and sway slowly along pathways agitating shoppers. Yes, along with the economy, weather and traffic, the elderly are up there in the top five of daily complaints. The national view of older people is changing from one of respect for our elders and the idea that we can learn from their experiences, to one of ignorance descending from the economic notion that all of our elders are reliable on the state for their economic well-being. When on buses or other public transport, it is no longer the norm to give up your seat for an elderly person. When did we lose our respect for the elderly and begin to regard them as an inconvenience? This perception raises unconscious contempt for the elderly, as if they are a burden on society. Are these prejudices shaping our attitude towards the elderly and making us forget to show the courtesy and respect that older people deserve? Where once a simple “ah, bring us some sugar for the tea love” was greeted with all sorts of affection, it is now met with a blunt grunt of “get it yourself, y’aul codger”. The old  mantra of “respect for one’s elders” is drowned out amongst the sound and fury of modern day living. The University Observer  spoke to a number of students to find out about their relationships with the elderly.  “I speak to them very rarely,” replies modern languages student, Adam Blanck,

Senator David Norris is a vocal supporter of age awareness charity Age Action.

when asked how often he is in contact with the elderly. “Generally not a lot of contact, not in the past few years, no.” On the same subject, maths science student Paul Sharkey says: “It would probably be about once a week, as I am only home at the weekends. My grandmother is in a nursing home, so I go and visit her about every two weeks, but no, I would never have any contact with any older person that’s unrelated [to me].” Based on our findings, it is evident that the majority of students have little contact with the elderly and most of the opinions and prejudices that are formed on older people are often as a result of the unfair attitudes towards elderly people afforded to them by society. They are described in many circles in the same breath as children. Their contribution to society from previ-

ous employment, community work, caring for spouses/children and their spending power is ignored when we categorise older people in this way. Older people’s experiences and knowledge bear little relevance to people’s lives nowadays, as they are deemed to be “behind” in the world. “They bump up the numbers at mass,” says Julie Seagrave, a second-year music and sociology student. “They keep the churches going.” From these interviews, confusion surrounds the role of the elderly in society. While it could be said that children and adults each have a perceived role (education, career, family etc.), students find it difficult to define their perceptions of elderly in society, mainly because of a lack of contact between the two groups.  Stories and traditions are becoming lost

in the ever-widening chasm that exists between students and the elderly. The generation gap may seem insignificant, but when there is an estimated 23,000 people in Ireland subject to ageist abuse ignorance and a lack of tolerance towards older people seems much more worrying. Over the past years, investigations have uncovered the horrendous neglect and abuse of older people in care. In 2005, a Prime Time investigation uncovered the shocking state of patient care in Leas Cross nursing home in Dublin and since then, more scandal surrounding the basic care of the elderly has come to light. Even more daunting is that over 1,800 cases of elderly abuse were reported to the HSE last year and approximately half of these claims were made by older people against their own children. The most com-

mon type of abuse was psychological abuse, followed by neglect and financial troubles. The abuse of older people and the general ambivalence shown towards the elderly community is on the rise in Ireland. A gap is appearing between this generation of students and elderly people that consists of more than just years. Ideas, morals and faith are just some of the issues that divide a new generation’s philosophy with that of their peers. However, difference shouldn’t mean isolation between generations. Reach out to those in your community, or volunteer with a charity such as Age Action. You’ll find that the elderly are a far more interesting group than our generation gives them credit for. We should not feel that this is a chore. After all, it will be us fifty years from now who are maintaining the traditions of today.

Postcards from Abroad: Shanghai As the weird and wonderful become an everyday occurrence, Daryl Bolger adjusts to all that Shanghai has to offer

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had this column fully written about three weeks ago. I spent hours working on it and was quite content with what I had written. Then I found myself in Hong Kong, poolside at the Kowloon Cricket Club last week. I was chatting to an 80-year-old gentleman who had just retired and had come over to Hong Kong for a week. The nicest man I’ve ever met. He said something to me that will stick with me for years to come. I had to rewrite the column. I’d arrived to a ferocious heatwave in Shanghai a month earlier. Having done all the things to be expected on arrival in a new city – find an apartment, my bearings, and the closest cheap bar – I got settled into things here quite quickly. Except, you never really settle in Shanghai. It keeps you on your toes 24/7. Through classmates and the local Irish community, I’ve found myself in some bizarre situations, almost on a daily basis. Take, as an example, my experience at the Kunshan Beer Festival. I’d travelled to China’s version of Oktoberfest after playing football for the Shanghai Gaelic

football team in nearby Suzhou. Exhausted mentally and physically from the twelve minutes of Gaelic football I’d partaken in, I reluctantly started drinking the €7 pitchers on offer at a rapid rate. From there, events took a turn towards the bizarre. Having somehow found myself backstage at the Qingdao main stage (Qingdao is to China as Guinness is to Ireland), I was approached by the stage organiser. She proceeded to ask myself and my friend Dave to dance about, like the drunken fools we were, on the stage beside a ‘famous’ Chinese singer. As if things weren’t strange enough already, a man then broke through the barrier, baby in hand, and asked Dave to hold his newborn. This same man had just witnessed Dave obliterate a pitcher of beer seconds earlier. I’d like to say “only in China,” but having read of the deeds of one Brian Cowen from afar, I don’t think such a statement carries much clout. Hot on the heels of our Qingdao odyssey, we found ourselves at the 70th birthday party of an Irish community legend the next weekend. The main sponsor of the GAA team (Barry, we’ll call him) actually hailed from Scotland and had spared no expenses for his birthday. Free-flowing Jameson, Smirnoff, Malibu and beer, along with opulent amounts of food and bands flown in from South Africa and the Philippines, not to mention the marching band from Scotland, meant it was always going to be a good night. And it was. Seeing a 70-year-old man skilfully chatting up women fifty years his

junior is something that I wish I’d seen a lot more in my life, as is a fully-clad marching band play ‘O Flower of Scotland’ in the middle of a packed dance floor. Undoubtedly, the best moment of that night though was simply getting to know the rest of my Gaelic football team – something always likely to happen with an open bar to take advantage of. It was there and then I decided to take the lunge and commit to the team on a regular basis, on both a financial and training/playing basis. This meant a trip to Hong Kong had to be taken. The All-Asia Gaelic Games 2010 took part in Hong Kong, with teams flying in from as far afield as the Gulf states, Japan, India and Jakarta. Shanghai, in comparison, was only a two-hour flight and short bus journey away, a modest distance, but still financially debilitating for the fifty odd teams who took the trip. It was at the opening ceremony that I met the gentlemen referenced earlier. I got chatting to him about the weekend and was about to leave when he said: “I’ll see you on Sunday.” “Why?” I replied. “I’ll be presenting you with an All-Star,” came his reply. “I’ve only been playing the game a month, it’d be an awful leap up,” I offered as rebuttal. “Take the leap. Take the leap,” he said. Never have someone’s words had such an impact on me. I didn’t quite make the All-Star team, but we did reach the semi-finals, punching well above our weight. I took the leap. The gentleman’s name was Micháel O’Muircheartaigh. The nicest man I’ve ever met.


19 October 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER

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A Room of One’s Own While it may have failed to win the Booker last week, Room is the novel everyone’s talking about. Paul Fennessy interviews its author, Emma Donoghue

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magine you’re a precocious child whose just turned five-years-old. Now imagine a constricted shed which you inhabit with your mother is the only reality you have ever known – a reality which is offset by a heightened knowledge of pop culture and in particular, cartoons. Furthermore, imagine that the sole male presence in your life is a nameless occasional occupant of the shed, who consistently beats and rapes said mother. Such is the premise for Room by Emma Donoghue, a novel which is in equal parts brutal and uplifting, and which was published to rapturous critical acclaim – praise which increased once the novel was shortlisted for 2010 Man Booker Prize. Donoghue was even installed as favourite to win the prize by Ladbrookes. “There’s a large percentage of fluke to these things,” Donoghue modestly claims. “I was lucky that Room appealed to enough of the judges to get me onto the shortlist; it doesn’t mean that I’m carrying the torch for my generation.” Room – like many of Donoghue’s previous novels – was inspired by real-life events. It appears to be influenced around Josef Fritzl as well as other recent discoveries of harrowing stories in which kidnappers kept victims in solitary confinement for prolonged periods, such as the Jaycee Dugard and Natasha Kampusch cases. However, Donoghue stated in a recent interview that to say her book was based on Fritzl case would be “too strong”. With this in mind, The University Observer enquired as to whether the novel could be considered in more of a loosely autobiographical vein and as a metaphor for the type of solitary, claustrophobic lifestyle in which novelists are often obliged to live. “Good point there!” she exclaims. “I’d say Jack’s situation is an analogy for any human conscious locked in the bone-box of the individual skull, but perhaps a writer glimpses that because so much of her time is spent in one chair”. “Actually, when writing Room I often felt in the position of Old Nick rather than Jack, in that I was the sometimes merciful, sometimes cruel Bringer, deciding whether to allow Jack and Ma vitamin pills, sunlight, books, treats.” The novel is told from the viewpoint of Jack, the five-year-old-boy, and it thus adheres to a long lineage literature using child narrators. This tone is also reflected in everything from the early parts of James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man with its slightly surrealist though unmistakably child-like tone, to the sheer innocence and naivety which permeates language employed by the child protagonist in Cormac McCarthy’s 2006 novel, The Road. Donoghue explains how the novel would have been inconceivable in any other form and says that the child’s perspective was integral to the narrative, also enabling her to gain further insights as a human being: “No, I wouldn’t have written a word of it from any other perspective: the child’s-eye was the whole concept. And yes, the task gave me a lot of insight into, a sympathy with, kids, especially my own; it made me slow down and smell the roses with them.” Yet irrespective of the inspiration from which it was derived, Room has captured the hearts of readers and critics alike. It has sold well, with a further increase expected

Emma Donoghue’s Room is the subject of much critical acclaim.

in the coming days amidst the final trinkets of post-Booker hoopla. However, such success is well deserved, based on critics’ reaction to date. For example, Eileen Battersby of The Irish Times described Room as “an important novel,” adding that it “seethes with the fears, injustices and courage of victims who refuse to be beaten. It is inspiring.” However, Donoghue has not always been the toast of the literary critics. When asked to name the nastiest comment which a critic has ever made about her work, the author’s memories are vivid, as she recalls her earliest taste of criticism which she received at the tender of 23. “Reviewers have said much worse than this one,” she says, “but it’s the one that always sticks in my head because it was about my first novel, Stirfry. I don’t even remember who wrote it but it always makes me howl in mirth and anguish: “‘The narrator has many things to say but none of them are very interesting.’” She adds: “As for the nice things, I’d blush to repeat any. Let’s just say that since Room came out, I’m feeling a lot of love.” Few people would begrudge Donoghue her belated acquisition of mainstream success, having the travailed the perilous world of semi-literary-obscurity for seventeen years beforehand. However, Slammerkin, her first novel in the historical fiction genre, would be regarded as her first brush with a mainstream audience, as it became a surprise bestseller despite its dark subject matter (it was based on a real-life murder)

and was a finalist in ‘The Irish Times Irish Fiction Prize’. In contrast with the majority of her recent works, Donoghue began her literary career with novels that possessed a decidedly more autobiographical feel. One of the most prominent themes of books such as the aforementioned Stirfy (1994) and Hood (1995) was homosexuality and the lack of lack of tolerance for it in pre-Celtic Tiger Irish society. As her literary career flourished, she swiftly emigrated to Canada, where she has lived since 1998. Donoghue explains how she has few regrets about leaving her native country behind. “Well [the move] helped me as a person, in that I could forget about being a lesbian, most days, and get on with my life. So yes, you could call Ireland’s neurosis about homosexuality one of those nets that Joyce said writers need to fly through.” While her formative Irish years were not exactly pleasant, Donoghue retains a certain level of affection for the time she spent on these shores. In particular, she talks glowingly of her three-year tenure in UCD in which she secured a first-class honour degree despite, as her website curiously notes, not “learning to actually speak French”. Donoghue also reserves high praise for the doyens of the UCD English department: “Well, the study of literature doesn’t lead directly to the writing of it,” she says, “but I think it can help; it can let you name and analyse your mistakes, at least. My inspiring professors included Tony Roche,

Eibhear Walshe, Lance Pettit, Mary Montaut, Redmond O’Hanlan. “But the best thing my undergraduate degree [in English and French] and then my PhD [at Cambridge] did for me was, they gave me years and years of time to write, which a proper job wouldn’t have.” Donoghue’s emphasis on the importance she placed on writing continually, encapsulates her nature as somewhat of a disciplinarian and pragmatist, who consciously eschews the haughtier and more romantic notions to which novelists are often associated. Such refreshing lack of pretentiousness regarding her occupation is evident throughout the interview. For example, unlike many other writers, she has no bizarre rituals which she goes through before or during the process of writing. “Not only do I not have these rituals but I try to avoid the mindset behind them: the rather precious, ‘my holy vocation’ sort of attitude. Of course it is a holy vocation, in some sense, but I find that it’s more useful in practice to think of as a craft. Anthony Trollope described it like carpentry, I seem to remember.” Donoghue reiterates and develops the explanation of her anti-sentimental approach to writing fiction while discussing the mechanics of the experience and her earliest memories of becoming a writer. “The main obstacle was my own ignorance of how to write a book. I overcame this by practising in solitude: Stirfry wasn’t published till the seventh draft,” she reveals.

“Sometimes young writers do more talking about writing than writing. Others get a third of the way into a book and then lose their way. The best cure for that is to plan a lot: it really doesn’t kill the magic to sketch out your plot in advance and decide more or less what will happen in each chapter; it’s like using a blueprint so your house won’t fall down.” A far cry from the characters in Room, Donoghue seems as if she could not be happier at this moment in time. With a happy, settled life with her family in Canada and heap of Booker prize-related praise to both, one suspects she cared little when Howard Jacobson secured the coveted award a few hours after this interview took place. Indeed, a sense of optimism infiltrates Donoghue’s. She is currently working on a novel set in “1870s San Francisco” which revolves around “an unsolved crime”. And she dismisses commentators who claim the novel is either dying or dead: “The novel seems to me to be alive and kicking. It’s a commodious and flexible form; it can take on all sorts of experimental qualities without having to shed that fundamental power to make people laugh and cry.” However, despite her obvious passion for literature, it is no longer the number one priority in her life, as the dedication at the beginning of Room attests. “I have an 8.30 to 3.30 existence,” she admits. “Those are the limits that daycare and school set to my writing time.” Room by Emma Donoghue is out now.


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THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 19 October 2010

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Right to Life?

With the execution of Teresa Lewis, the first woman in almost a century to be executed in Virginia, Bríd Doherty and David Farrell debate the ethics of the death penalty

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omicide is the killing of a human being, under any circumstances. It is never acceptable. Capital punishment is merely homicide under another guise. It is the planned and coordinated termination of a human being’s life, and to support it is morally defunct. It is unjustifiable. The right to life is an undeniable and inalienable human right. No matter how heinous the crime, death is never a permissible form of punishment. It exacts a swift but incomplete retribution. No human being has the right to decide if someone live or dies. If any person kills another they will face the fullest extent of the law but this should not, either today or in the future, include death. Can a modern liberal western society really be just that if it enforces a death penalty? Is it not fair to say that if we as a society legalise or implement the death penalty, we become as bad as the murders we endeavour to halt? We take it upon ourselves to heartlessly exterminate a fellow human being’s life. It may be the life of a murderer, but we ourselves should not be complicit in that death. We then take on a power which people can use, but on moral grounds, never should. It is the job of our justice system to punish those who disrupt the peace, not to kill them. It is absurd to expect our judges or jurors to accept the responsibility to end a person’s life when such an act goes against the very laws that are set out to protect it. The death penalty also offers the criminal a way out, a way without any real longlasting effects on their conscience, because unlike a life sentence, they are not given the time to acknowledge the gravity of their misdeeds. We need to endeavour to rehabilitate them while ensuring they are never again free to roam the streets in light of their crimes. Surely we can see the obvious morality of this stance. We must accept that to kill a person is the ultimate crime, the ultimate wrong and a defiance of human nature. We should not be convinced by some financial cost that it is fair to end a person’s life – that is a cold and callous justification of death more akin to the killers who commit the very deed of murder. They should be encaged, punished and rehabilitated indefinitely, rather than be freed of all moral obligations, but left to spend their days suffering in isolation. In 2009, 52 people were killed by way of the death penalty in the USA. It may be a small number, but it is a harrowing thought none the less that the USA, a world superpower, would execute 52 members of its own society. It’s even scarier when we look at the claim by Amnesty International that, since 1992, 15 people were sentenced to death with two of them being wrongly executed, having later being exonerated by conclusive DNA evidence. Even gloomier still; the cost of appeals against sentences of death, the act itself and security for the vociferous protests often costs much more than a lifetime in jail. The death penalty serves little or no real purpose. It is a net drain upon finances and an idea which is morally abhorrent to the vast majority of our citizens and people across the world. The waters become murkier still with regard to secretive countries which use the veil of capital punishment to cover up executions of supposed criminals. We look at

Teresa Lewis was recently executed in Virginia for paying for the murders of her husband and stepson in 2002.

China, a country which is becoming more and more open, but is notoriously harsh towards those who oppose the state party. While no official figures are available, Amnesty International estimates that 1,700 people were killed in China by way of the death penalty in 2009. Pictures of public executions in the notoriously secretive North Korea were once leaked to the western media, and the defending claim was that those shown had committed grave crimes. The problem is that such actions are lent a shred of legitimacy by the fact that in parts of the USA, the leading democracy of the western world, capital punishment is also enforced. It is never acceptable for a country or government to enforce the death penalty. By doing so, we become as bad as the criminals themselves. In the words of the great Mahatma Gandhi: “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” - Brid Doherty

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he death penalty is something so divisive that it procures a schism in society, with people on both sides vehemently believing that they are correct. Some feel that the death penalty should not be abolished and that it has an important place in society. The decision to employ the death penalty is not one that is taken lightly. There is a rigorous process by which it is decided whether it may be utilised. In determining whether the death penalty should be imposed on anyone convicted of first-degree murder, juries are authorised to hear and consider additional evidence whenever the murder was committed – as part of an act of terrorism, or by someone with two or more prior serious felony convictions. Upon the conviction of the defendant, a separate sentencing phase is conducted during which the original jury, or a new jury under special circumstances, weighs the facts of the case. The jury must consider the defendant’s

Opponents of the death penalty too often ignore the victims and make martyrs of the murderers prior criminal history, mental capacity, character, background, state of mind, and the extent of his or her participation in the crime. It then compares this evidence with the facts. The jury must reach a verdict unanimously and beyond a reasonable doubt. This, combined with advancements in forensics and DNA testing, leaves very little in the way of ambiguity as to whether

this person deserves to pay the ultimate price for the crime they have committed. It isn’t possible to bring back a loved one lost to violence, but bringing peace of mind to victims’ families may be the only true consolation a legal system can provide. It may also be said that opponents of the death penalty too often ignore the victims and make martyrs of the murderers. As the date for the execution of Stanley “Tookie” Williams – convicted murderer and alleged co-founder of LA Crips gang – drew close, many celebrities campaigned to have him exonerated. News coverage rarely mentioned Albert Owens or the Yang family, all gunned down by Williams in a series of crimes in 1979. Williams told the BBC in a 2003 interview that his imprisonment was the result of “bad karma”. His comments were unwittingly accurate. Karma is the consequence of choices freely made. Williams chose death for a lot of people, without justice, without appeal, without consideration of anything other than his Machiavellian goals. Williams killed multiple victims, he has never taken responsibility for his crimes and he had decades to fight his death sentence. Did his victims have the same luxury? Many opponents argue that the death penalty cheapens the value of human life. Yet as Edward Koch, lawyer and former mayor of New York City, said: “It is by exacting the highest penalty for the taking of human life that we affirm the highest value of human life.” When we reduce the penalty for murder, we are lessening our regard for the victim’s life. As the mother of a victim of serial killer Nathaniel White said: “I have to go to the cemetery to see my daughter. Nathaniel White’s mother goes to jail to see him and I don’t think it’s fair.” When a convicted murderer is released from prison, is it a rehabilitated and pacifistic individual that we see before us? Statistics would say no as it is estimated that over half of convicted murderers reoffend within the first six years of release. One such example is convicted murderer Jack Abbott, who made an application for parole that was supported by renowned writer Norman Mailer. His application was successful. Six weeks later, he murdered a young aspiring actor named Richard Adan. There is also the matter of the death penalty acting as a deterrent for those on the cusp of committing a heinous crime. The perfect example for this is the state of Delaware, which executes more murderers per capita than any other state in the USA and also has low homicide rates. The highest murder rate in Houston, Texas occurred in 1981, with 701 murders. Texas resumed executions in 1982. Since then, Houston has executed more murderers than any other city and has seen the greatest reduction in murder, from 701 in 1981 to 261 in 1996. The facts speak for themselves. We work ourselves into a frenzy about a convicted murderer’s right to life, but we seem to forget the rights of the innocent victims whose lives were cut short, making their deaths mere numbers on a newspaper page. A hardline stance is necessary for the end results of deterrence and prevention of murderers reoffending. Anything less than the death penalty is an insult to the victim and to society. It says that we don’t value the victim’s life enough to punish the killer fully. Murder should not be tolerated in society, and the death penalty is the ultimate means of showing that it isn’t. - David Farrel


19 October 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER

13

Comment

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Losing Our Religion Comment Editor

Five years on and the revelations of the Ferns Report are still frighteningly relevant, writes Kate Rothwell

F

ive years ago, in October 2005, a report was released that would shock and appal the Irish nation in a way that was previously unimaginable. The Ferns Report detailed the findings of the Ferns Inquiry, a team established by the Minster for Health and Children in 2003 in order to investigate, as stated in the report, “allegations or complaints of child sexual abuse which were made against clergy operating under the aegis of the Diocese of Ferns”. The report identified more than 100 allegations of child sexual abuse made against 21 priests between the years 1962 and 2002. Some local papers in the County Wexford area took on the task of being the bearers of the worst possible news, and published the report in full. Forty years of silence had finally been broken. There was no denying, no avoidance of the fact that heinous and irreparable wrongs had been done to those who had suffered at the hands of paedophiles masquerading under the then-trusted title of priest. The publication of the report itself was however, just the tip of the iceberg. Victims of clerical sex abuse finally knew that they were not alone and that they could speak of the horror they had experienced. Be it ten, twenty, thirty years ago, or

Pope Benedict XVI has been criticised for not openly apologising to the victims of clerical sex abuse.

within the last number of weeks, their story could be heard and acknowledged. Two days after the publication of the report, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre already had an increase of 30 per cent in calls to its counselling helpline. The following day, charity One in Four reported an increase of 70 per cent in calls to its office. Those who had been abused could now let their story be heard. But a just punishment of those who ruined their childhoods can never be calculated, let alone administered, not least because six of the priests named in the report had died before any allegations were made against them. It was, if possible, even more shocking to discover that the perpetrators were not the only ones at fault. People in positions of power, such as the Gardaí and the health authorities, were unsuccessful in doing their duty of paying heed to complaints and protecting vulnerable members of society.

The failure of ‘the powers that be’ in the Catholic Church to stop known abusers from being free to repeat their offences, and the revelations in last year’s Murphy report of abuse being covered up by the Dublin Catholic archdiocese and other church and state authorities, stunned the nation once again. Earlier that year, the Ryan report brought to light the abuse suffered by those in Irish Catholic church-run industrial schools and orphanages. After so many deplorable scandals, it is no surprise that a great number of Catholics, be they already lapsed or not, have decided that they no longer want to be associated with the Catholic Church. The organisation Count Me Out made the process of defecting from the Catholic Church simpler by providing access to the necessary documentation on www.countmeout.ie. Over 12,000 people have downloaded the required documentation, but the service has recently been suspended due to

a change in the canon law governing defections, which, at the time of going to press, had yet to be clarified. A number of defections have not yet been processed, and the Church’s unclear status as to what this change means for those wishing to defect, hardly implies a fear of a mass exodus of members from the church. This battle that has already long been lost. Instead, it indicates a steep drop in the numbers that the Church can claim as making up its congregation, even if the last time some of them saw an altar was the day of their baptism. That said, there are still many practicing Catholics who have retained their faith in the Catholic Church despite the actions of some of its clergy. Pope Benedict XVI was greeted by thousands of such believers on his recent visit to UK, a visit where his commentary on the child abuse scandal was yet again keenly anticipated. The Pope has acknowledged the church’s

failure in not being “sufficiently vigilant and not sufficiently quick and decisive to take the necessary measures” when dealing with reports of clerical sex abuse and extended sympathy to the victims, but as ever, an outand-out apology was not to be found. Yet how can anyone expect an apology from a man who is elected to his position on the assumption that his teachings are without fault? Apologising doesn’t really fit the job description. Catholicism has been a defining part of the Irish psyche, society and culture for hundreds of years, but in the twenty-first century, the Catholic Church has come to be defined by its gross and unforgivable failings, rather than by the faith of its members. Not everyone is pleased by the fact that we are living in an increasingly secular society where religion is a choice rather than an assumed necessity, but at least there is safety in secularism.

Mess is More for HSE

Drastic action is needed when it comes to our confused and disorienting health service, argues Conor Murphy

T

he recent HSE-related scandals about missing training funds and money not spent on care was really a more-of-the-same story, and the media reacted with familiar enthusiasm. The way they see it, death sells. For papers, newsagents and TV stations, nothing makes a good political scandal like a few dead people – women and children first. If you can toss in a few heartbroken husbands or mothers, then all the better. The problem with these town-crier-style headlines is that they draw away from the real complexity of the issue; the issue of the many layers of gross incompetence in our health service. To start a rational debate on this matter, you must not give a damn about that one sick mother or father or child. You

must look uncaringly at human pain and decide what is best, for the numbers alone., because sob stories just make bad policy. Simplicity is key. A streamlined service with a simple chain of command is a must. But this chain is far from simple at the moment. At the top rests the ineptitude of Minister for Health Mary Harney. Watching her defend herself in the Dáil is watching a person who seems oblivious to her failings. You start feeling physically pained every time she says that something is “the responsibility of the HSE”. Any good manager knows that your subordinates’ failings are your own. The HSE is simply her cast aside responsibility. The Organisational Review Programme noted something similar last week, saying that management was poor and that staff were unevenly allocated. I have parents who worked in separate Health Boards. They had different forms and rules for the exact same procedures before the HSE was created. This doubled paperwork, and hence increased the number of civil servants employed. But then the HSE arrived, and the forms and the procedures stayed as they were. The letterhead did change to a wonderful new marketing-made

logo. Why does an administrative body that needs real change only get a new logo? What has the HSE simplified? Make no mistake, simpler always means cheaper. The Chief Executive was Professor Brendan Drumm, before eventually stepping down on September 1st of this year. But why was a doctor ever made head of the biggest company in Ireland? I don’t want my head of health to specialise in individual patient care. I want him to care about dividing resources as well as possible and to be an expert in that field. In the Organisational Review Programme last week, it was noted that the best managed, yet most understaffed sector, was the Revenue and Tax Office. This is because organisation is their professional occupation and training. In my wildest utopian fantasies, Michael O’Leary is Chief Executive of the HSE. Whatever reservations certain people may have about his character, he is a brilliant manager. Hand him the current health budget with one objective – the lowest death rate possible, for example – and he would more than likely achieve said aim. O’Leary would ignore the publicity surrounding dying tabloid-attracting patients to secure the funds for the survival rate of the living. He’d stare at the lines of doctors protesting for “changes in work practices” and turn every newspaper against them with his brutal media tactics. Furthermore, O’Leary would reduce most of the endless

Minister for Health Mary Harney has deflected responsibility for the HSE.

form filling which doctors are obliged to do, so they can get back to actual work. He would also ignore the proposed and pathetic “retrain the useless” program of Fine Gael and just fire the useless. If you can’t figure out what your job is, then say so, and stop stealing taxpayers’ money. The Minister for Health has consistently ignored calls for simple cost cutting. While cutting payments to pharmacists, the pharmacists pointed out that cutting one simple law would save far more. Did you know that pharmacists legally could not tell you of a cheaper branding of the exact same drug? Two years later, Mary Harney suddenly announced this same law reform as a new amazing policy. That’s more than a year of millions being lost during a recession. Who would notice that a paltry four million of training funds going missing among

the mess of bodies and ministries? The new chairman of the HSE, Dr Frank Dolphin, has started on the right path by targeting simple absenteeism to save “easily more than €100 million” and the moves to cut 6,000 voluntary middle management and administrative staff. But this needs to go much further. Firstly, cap pay for the next four years at a generous €200,000 for everyone, including bonuses and overtime. Secondly, make a rule that any head of any department who fires anyone for not being useful enough in the next year gets that wage plus ten per cent back in their budget for actual treatment of patients. Finally, hire a group of the biggest businessmen and women you can find to run the behemoth. Only cold, non-caring number crunchers can beat this level of human incompetence.


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THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 19 October 2010

COMMENT

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What Yuan About? Politicians, entrepreneurs and economists across the world are currently getting particularly het up about exchange rates. Eoin Brady explains why

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ack in primary school, currencies were a simple affair. If the punt was strong, we were happy, because it meant we could buy more Orangina and Haribo on our summer holidays in France. When the euro arrived on the scene, things got even easier: now we knew how much Orangina and Haribo we could get without having to multiply exchange rates in our heads in the supermarket. Back then, that was as complicated as currencies got. However, if you happen to be in the business of manufacturing goods for export, exchange rates are rather more contentious and emotive. If your company makes a product to sell abroad, it is in your interests for it to be as cheap as possible for your buyer, so they buy more. The price they pay will be determined not only by things within your control – for example, how much you pay your staff – but also by

the exchange rate between your currency and your buyer’s. For example, imagine you make bicycles in Manchester, and you can afford to sell them for £100. You want to sell your bikes to French cyclists. One of your bicycles would cost them, say, €120. But if the euro suddenly weakens against sterling, our French person would have to pull together €130 to get the same £100. This means that your bicycles have become considerably more expensive, and less desirable, to the French person, and it’s completely outside of your control. This scenario is being played out on a grand scale at the moment and people are not happy. In the US, populist rhetoric abounds: Republican representative Mike Rogers declared that the Chinese “cheat to steal our jobs”. The Brazilian Minister for Finance Guido Mantega has declared that a “currency war” is underway. A Chinese spokesperson colourfully described the US as the currency war’s “tomb-maker,” meaning – in Chinese idiom – “one who sets a bad precedent”. The reason for all this hot air is that some countries believe that others are engaged in the act of currency manipulation. This means deliberately acting, over a prolonged period, in a way that causes the currency of your country to be undervalued in com-

This is a problem for which there is no simple solution

China’s current currency policy has been criticised

parison to that of other countries. In the bicycle example, it would be like the Bank of England making £100 be worth €110, and thereby making its producers’ bicycles more desirable in France. France’s bicycle manufacturers would be unable to compete, and would go out of business. In reality, there are two key forces behind the conflict here. First, there is China’s currency policy. China is currently keeping its currency pegged to the US dollar. This means that China acts to keep the exchange rate between the two currencies fixed. The way it does this is first by deciding what it wants the exchange rate to be. Then it goes to the exchange rate market, where it sees that yuan are actually more valuable than it wants as there is an excess of buyers of yuan at the set price. It then buys dollar-denominated financial instruments, like US government bonds, with yuan. This puts out more yuan and mops up the surplus dollars, and keeps the system

going, making Chinese exports artificially competitive on the global market. Nobel laureate Paul Krugman characterises China’s behaviour as “predatory and beggar-thy-neighbour”. The reason the actions can be reasonably described thus is that currency exchanges are an example of a zero-sum game. A zero-sum game is a situation where every gain a competitor makes brings about an equal loss for someone else. This contrasts with a positive-sum game, where certain actions lead to the creation of wealth. Every gain China makes by weakening its currency is offset exactly by an equally large loss incurred by its trading partners. The second issue is that of quantitative easing in developed economies. In order to stimulate the US economy, the Federal Reserve has effectively printed money, and may do so again. This increases the supply of dollars, making the price of dollars fall. In turn, this makes the dollar’s exchange

rate to other currencies fall. And with yuan pegged to the dollar, it falls too. Having two of the world’s largest economies’ currencies weakening makes life very difficult for everyone else that would like to trade globally. Other countries, including South Korea and Switzerland, have attempted to keep down their currencies – a portent that a global game of beggar-thyneighbour could be in the offing. This is a problem for which there is no simple solution. China has moved, under US diplomatic pressure, to allow its currency to appreciate slightly since June. At present, a bill awaits approval by the US Senate and President Obama that would enforce punitive tariffs on certain imports from China. The balance that needs to be struck is between taking an excessively delicate approach with an assertive new global power, and further stoking its ire. Much more complicated than Haribo and Orangina.

Style Over Substance In light of American Apparel’s recent financial troubles, Bridget Fitzsimons questions whether or not the company deserves to be saved from financial ruin

A

merican Apparel is a name that is synonymous with a certain type of style. The tight leotards, plain t-shirts and leggings serve a certain purpose. The company claims to provide a service; plain multi-functional clothes that are made by workers who are often migrants and paid fairly. Similarly, the company produced an iconic t-shirt that read “Legalize Gay”, and donated it to several thousand people in an effort to raise awareness of the problems and issues facing the gay community. It is for these reasons that you may think that American Apparel produces items that will fit in your wardrobe and assuage your conscience. Financial troubles have plagued the company in recent times. However, it was recently announced that their main creditor would be renegotiating the terms of their loan to the company, so it seems as if American Apparel are safe for now. However, the company seem to think that their good work on behalf of migrant workers and the gay community gives them a free pass to treat women as objects, demeaning and using them however they see fit, both in advertising and in the workplace. American Apparel’s advertisements have long faced the wrath of feminists. Usually depicting lithe young woman in various states of undress, the company’s advertising seems to thrive upon constantly reaching new levels of objectification and bad taste. One ad features several snapshots

of a woman lying apparently topless on a bed, with different expressions of sexual excitement. The main image features the woman sitting on a sofa, topless, her kneesock-clad legs covering her breasts. The slogan reads “Safe to say she loves her socks”. This is one of several advertisements that blatantly uses the pornified female body to promote clothing, with little other justification than wanting attention. President, CEO and founder of American Apparel, Dov Charney, is also not known for promoting American Apparel as a brand that is inclusive or respectful of women. He has been accused of sexual harrassment several times and in 2004, Claudine Ko of Jane wrote an article that painted Charney as a sex-obsessed man, obsessed with women, and having little respect for personal and sexual boundaries. She notes how he relates everything back to sex and how she eats dinner with Charney, while he refers to her constantly as his “date”. His personal assistant refers to herself as “his bitch”. This is not the behaviour of a man who has healthy attitudes toward women or sex. Upon glancing on American Apparel’s website, the Legalize Gay section reads like a passionate statement standing up for human rights. Similarly, the Legalize LA campaign, which fights for immigrant rights, is also a manifesto for real social change. These two articles read like a slap in the face for women everywhere. With campaigns for immigrants and the gay

community, did American Apparel run out of respect for other oppressed groups? It seems that Charney believes that American Apparel cannot support women. If you are a gay or immigrant woman, it would seem that Charney has a certain amount to offer you, but don’t count on any form of respect, from him or his company. The worrying part is that American Apparel has completely infiltrated our university mindset. UCD Fashion and Design Society (FADS) is sponsored by American Apparel and it seems to have become the uniform of choice among certain groups of students. It is worrying that the company’s presence on campus has gone by with little or no comment from students and staff. By allowing American Apparel a forum to advertise in UCD, FADS is supporting a company that has no respect for women and allowing them into a place that is supposed to be free from objectification and degredation. The simple fact of American Apparel is that their good work for migrant workers and the gay community will forever be overshadowed by their constant disregard of women. If you buy the clothes produced by this brand, you are supporting a company that proudly markets itself as sexist and demeaning to women. You may feel that you are doing good by supporting migrants, ethically sourced clothing and the gay community, but the constant objectification of women by this company cannot be ignored. It is up to

American Apparel’s CEO and founder Dov Charney has become notorious for the large number of sexual harassment lawsuits brought against him.

consumers to stand up for what they believe in, and only by avoiding American Apparel and other morally objectionable companies can we send out the message

that the treatment of women as objects is intolerable, as is university advertising by a company that promotes a pornified and demeaning image of women.


19 October 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER

15

SCIENCE & HEALTH

science@universityobserver.ie

Forensically Speaking

Old Wives Tales Debunked: Is the DaddyLonglegs Really Poisonous?

Alexander Litvinenko made international news during his fatal battle with polonium poisoning.

Just how reliable is forensic science? Science Editor Alan Coughlan weighs up the pros and cons of this phenomenon

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yewitnesses have always been called on to identify criminals. Their accounts are invaluable to police investigations and lawyer’s cases respectively. They can visually tie a suspect to a crime scene and this adds weight to an argument against the accused. What, though, of the victim themselves? In the mid-nineteenth century, a strange practice borne from so called ‘optography’ was used to try and identify criminals. The thinking was that the human eye functioned like a photographic plate, continuously absorbing and reabsorbing images and physically manifesting them at the back of the eyeball. Early forensic scientists would take close-up photos of murder victims eyes and try to view the last image that fell upon it. This was not a mere fringe practice and was indeed carried out on one Annie Chapman’s eyes by Scotland Yard. She was the second victim of Jack the Ripper. One can easily guffaw at this practice today, but it was once thought to hold more water as a scientific theory than dactyloscopy known today as fingerprinting. The road from what was once considered a very shaky and unscientific practice to a field which now helps convict criminals was long and complex. Along the way, certain methods have been invented and some were dropped due to elements of doubt in just how certain they can be. In what one might describe as recent history, upon discovering a murder, people would rearrange the body perhaps to presereve dignity, or a sense of decorum, and even clean up blood and other evidence. This seems impossibly stupid to us today, but there was a time when forensics were not really regarded as science at all. Postmortems were completely illegal in the UK initially. Forensic science is incredibly familiar and at least in passing to the layman, owing to TV shows such as CSI, but its veracity both throughout the ages and today is hotly debated. Indeed, many lawyers in America have recently complained of the “CSI effect” in which juries will take any forensic scientist’s word as gospel within the courtroom. The problem with this is that forensic science is no different than any other field of science, as theories are constantly being tested, revised and reformulated. Comparative bullet lead analysis is just one outdated form which was used for decades to identify bullets, by examining the chemical make-up of individual bullets and linking them to certain batches and sometimes even individual boxes. It was first used

during the investigation into the assassination of John F. Kennedy, but was abandoned as a practice in 2005 by the FBI. Dental records were used in the conviction of Jeffrey Dahmer – one of the most gruesome serial killers to ever live. A forensic anthropologist was called in to reassemble bone fragments to determine the identity of one of the corpses. A smashed vertebrae was identified from an x-ray of the victim when they were just thirteen-years-old. This showed up in dental records. Surprisingly, dental evidence is one of the areas being questioned in terms of its veracity in the courtroom in how effectively it can single out just one person. Doug Lyle is a doctor who gives conferences to mystery novelists on how someone could successfully get away with murder. He says that when he goes to dinner parties, people will ask about their gall bladder or their prostate trouble, but whenever he meets a writer, they want to know how to kill someone. These kind of discussions bring up an interesting question. Is forensic science accurate and water-tight enough to prevent someone getting away with murder? A period of five-and-a-half hours is roughly what a pathologist can pin down to a victim’s time of death to up to twenty-four hours after their passing. This is based on their body temperature. After the twentyfour hours, this five-hour period stretches until after only a few days, the time of death can no longer be determined. This can cause huge problems in placing a suspect at a murder scene if the time of the death is not known. Bizarrely, it is in the study of insects which inhabit the body almost straight after death that the death can accurately be ascertained even months later. One forensic scientist has even pointed out that planting maggots at different stages of development on a freshly-killed corpse could confuse forensic entomologists. While not enough to completely stump scientists, it would buy the murderer time to get away. It seems that the key to a killer getting away with murder is in purposefully confusing those investigating. In November 2006, Alexander Litvinenko fell ill in London with what was first thought to be gastroenteritis, which is a form of food-poisoning. However, quite quickly his condition worsened to include liver and heart failure, along with hair loss and then his death. Radiation had been suspected at one point, but no tests detected any. It was

only later when the cause of his poisoning was discovered that this made sense. He had been poisoned with polonium-210, a substance no one on record had ever been poisoned with. Thus, no one could have known what was going on as events unfolded. The confusion which this caused not only stumped the doctors, but then the subsequent murder investigators. This gave the assassin ample time to flee, as foul play was not initially suspected. The reason the polonium was not detected was because it emits alpha particles, not gamma radiation. Alpha particles will not pass through the skin and were not picked up by any equipment. This murder case was a clear example of sophisticated premeditation in this murder. Whoever was guilty knew just how to confuse the experts. It has even been pointed out, with a touch of irony, that koala bears’ fingerprints are indistinguishable from those of humans. This, however, should not do much to dent the reputation of fingerprinting as a discipline in the courtroom. Deception, of course, takes place in cases of murder nowhere near as sophisticated in their execution as the Litvinenko case. Murderers will destroy bodies, or hide them along with concealing murder weapons, and will even attempt to clean murder scenes to erase any evidence that could link them to the case. It is in these areas that highly specialised forensic scientists can catch out even the most cunning of killers. Single fibers of fabrics, fingerprints, DNA and even shoe prints can be used to convict suspects. TV shows such as CSI and Forensic Detectives have familiarised the public with DNA profiling and blood-detecting chemicals like the eerie blue glow of luminol in the presence of blood. The chemical works by reacting with the iron in haemoglobin. Luminol can have limited use in investigations, however, as it can become activated not just by blood, but by copper or even copper containing alloys which are present in bleach and which could be used to clean a crime scene. What these limitations highlight is that a forensic investigation calls on a whole range of disciplines to convict a suspect, as sometimes individual tests can be picked apart in the courtroom. It is thus only in the building of a large and strong body of forensic evidence that a case can be won and a murderer convicted.

The daddy-longlegs is undoubtedly one of the more eye-catching insects.

This issue, our favourite old wife Alison Lee investigates the myth behind daddy-longlegs’ supposed venom

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hat do Brian Cowen and a daddy-longlegs have in common? Their long, slender limbs? Nope. Their annoying habit of flying into your room when the lights are on and crashing into your lightbulb? Wrong again. They do have one shared experience: they have both had bad things said about them in the media. However, the humble daddy-longlegs appears to have more of a case for libel than Cowen does. Rumour has it that this animal is actually so full of venom that it could kill a human. However, its mouth is supposed to be too weak to actually inject the venom through the skin. Is this actually true? Has evolution messed up so badly that it would endow an animal with venom to defend itself against predators but with no to way to use it? This is an entirely silly, made-up and ludicrous lie. Feel free to point and laugh at anyone who tries to convince you otherwise. Ridicule their ignorance in the field of entomology. There are many creatures out there referred to as daddy-longlegs; Pholcus phalangioides or the ‘long-legged celler spider,’ along with members of the arachnid family

known as Opiliones. The same myth is told about these guys, that they possess deadly poison but no biting ability. Variations of this myth will say the creature has no teeth. Once again, the same story is indeed just a myth. The cellar spider is indeed venomous and the fangs of some species can penetrate human skin. However, the venom is practically harmless to humans, producing nothing more than a mild burning sensation. Members of the Opiliones spider family are, like the cranefly, entirely harmless, non-venomous and do not bite. So that’s that. Where did this bizarre myth come from? Perhaps it’s due to the fact that Ireland is somewhat lacking in interesting wildlife and by interesting, I mean poisonous, scaly, creepy-crawly animals with the power to kill Arnold Schwarzenegger six times before breakfast and still have enough venom leftover to down an elephant. Maybe we needed to make up a story to make us look cooler in the eyes of countries like Australia, or Brazil. We can blame St. Patrick for sending all the freaky animals off to live in exotic tropical paradises. The only snakes we have left are politicians and property developers, but that’s not quite the same thing. At least the daddy-longlegs name has at long last been cleared.


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THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 19 October 2010

SCIENCE & HEALTH

science@universityobserver.ie

True blood? The Future Today With vampires a ubiquitous presence in pop culture, Ekaterina Tikhoniouk asks if there is any scientific basis for the humble vampire.

Ever wondered what a world full of hover cars would be like? Caitríona Farrell analyses the prospective tecnological advancements of the future

Max Shrek haunted early twentieth-century cinema-goers with his eerie portrayal of Nosferatu.

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angs bared, the ghastly blackcloaked vampire bends over the sleeping woman. His victim is a beautiful virgin dressed in a billowing white nightgown that signifies her purity and innocence. With a sinister hiss, the vampire bites into her fragile neck. This scene is so popular and well-known throughout our culture, featuring in countless films, books and videogames that it is hard to find someone who is unfamiliar with it. And this is not only because of the recent wave of interest in vampire culture sparked by the Twilight phenomenon. The myth of the vampire had already integrated itself into our mainstream culture long before that, but where does it come from, and is there any fact to the legend? Although tales of blood-sucking ghosts and demons are millennia-old and appear in the folklore of many ancient cultures such as the Mesopotamians, Ancient Greeks and Romans, the term vampire as we know it only really became popular in western Europe during the start of the eighteenth century. This occurred because of an influx of vampire superstition from eastern areas such as the Balkans, Greece and Romania, where vampire legends were rife. These mysterious, evil beings had seized the imaginations of the Western world, and since then the legend of the vampire has continued to grow. It was Irishman Bram Stoker’s immensely successful novel Dracula that generated the image of the sophisticated vampire, creating a basis for modern vampire fiction. The legend of the vampire exploded onto the silver screen with numerous films based on the popular book, such as the landmark silent film Nosferatu. The last twenty years have seen a wide array of series and films about vampires, ranging from shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to movies like Interview with the Vampire, the Russian Night Watch, the Twilight Saga and True Blood. But what is it about vampires that appeals to us so strongly? The classical myth of the vampire is about society trying to deal with its fear of death. People identify with immortal vampires because it lets them temporarily escape from their own mortality, and the mortality of their loved ones. Although vampires cannot see their own reflections in the mirror, they are in fact a reflection of the culture of the era that created them. The different issues and fears of each time-period were reflected in its portrayal of the epitome of evil – the vampire. The vampire has evolved in tandem with the society around him and distinct changes can be seen in the portrayal of vampires throughout the decades. Bram Stoker’s 1897 Count Dracula was anything but handsome and aristocratic – he had a large nose, pointed ears, squat fingers and hair growing in the palms of his hands. Stoker’s villain channelled the repressed sexuality of the Victorian era, as well as the subservience of women in their society. He was the perfect vessel for the fears and desires of that era. But in the 1931 film Dracula, the evil vampire was depicted as the epitome of style. A powerful, alluring eastern aristocrat, with slicked back hair and expensive

clothing. This became the standard for all vampires to come. During the cold war era, Dracula changed yet again, becoming the quintessential evil villain that audiences could not sympathise with. Christopher Lee’s 1958 depiction was a truly evil creature with long fangs and blood-red eyes. A new trend has arisen in the past twenty-five years, with vampires becoming more and more youthful and rock ‘n‘ roll. The vampires in films such as The Lost Boys, Queen of the Damned, Van Helsing and the popular series Buffy the Vampire Slayer exude sex appeal and charisma. A new breed of gothic vampires had emerged, and while often very attractive and alluring, they transform into grotesque creatures, revealing the ugliness beneath their handsome exterior. Vampires of the previous years were pale, mysterious and often-vicious villains that burned in direct sunlight, while the vampires of the Twilight universe merely sparkle. Recent times have seen a shift towards genteel, abstinent vampires, such as the southern gentleman of the True Blood universe, or the brooding teens of the Twilight Saga and Vampire Diaries. After centuries of existence in our culture’s imagination, vampires are more popular now than ever. But why are people, especially teens, so quick to immerse themselves in this myth? Believing that vampires are real in this day and age is ludicrous, yet they still hold an unnatural fascination over us. Vampires do play an important part in mainstream culture, especially for teens and young adults. While in previous years, vampires were the villains, they have now become the new anti-heroes – caring yet potentially dangerous beings surrounded by mystery, excitement and sex appeal. They are killers by nature, yet they fight their base instincts for the sake of the humans they love. In True Blood, the nineteenth-century vampire Bill Compton is a chivalrous and polite gentleman. In a world filled with both good and bad vampires, he is determined to protect his human girlfriend Sookie from the worst of his kind. Although he suffers from his thirst for blood, he reins in his basic instinct to kill, and it is his restraint that makes him more alluring in our eyes. In the Twilight series, Edward is handsome, protective and in tune with his emotions and on the surface, he seems to be everything a teenage girl would ever want. As well as that, his brooding presence creates a sense of mystery and danger. There are also obvious sexual overtones in Edward’s battle with the urge to drink his human love’s blood. However, with the rise of vampires in popular culture, so too have people claimed to be vampires themselves. There is no scientific proof that any human needs blood to survive, but underground groups have sprung up, in which individuals drink each other’s blood, sleep in coffins and engage in what they believe to be vampiric behaviour. As with any activity involving fluid exchange, drinking the blood of another person is incredibly dangerous as diseases such as hepatitis and HIV can easily be transmitted. It seems that in the case of vampires, fantasy is a lot safer than reality.

Dolly the sheep was the first mammal to be cloned in 1997.

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n the words of one of the twenty-first century’s best scientific minds, Stephen Hawking: “It is no good getting furious if you get stuck. What I do is keep thinking about the problem, but work on something else. Sometimes it is years before I see the way forward.” Whenever advances in science and technology are announced, the conclusions are often followed by phrases like: “this technology is still ten years away” or “we will have to wait five years to see results”. Did you ever wonder, did the results obtained after those agonising few years conflict with these scientists’ hypotheses? On top of that, was the perfect idealised outcome actually reached at the end of those five years? Were their hopes and predictions for the project realised and ultimately, was the time worth the wait? A controversial scientific leap forward within recent history was cloning. Candid cloning dates back to 1997 in Scotland. The first case of cloning was performed on Dolly the sheep. Dolly was an exact genetic replica of her mother. Scientists have spent a long time trying to extend the scope of the research of cloning to humans. This flurry of ideas and excitement enables them to ponder what could be achieved to benefit humankind through the manipulation of the human genome. Back in 1997, it was thought that by the year 2010, cloning would be helping to create a new and perhaps better generation of

humans. As you might now realise, unless we have a major breakthrough between now and Christmas, you won’t be receiving your very own clone under the tree in three months time. This is an example of a technology which promised unimaginable results, but has not yet delivered. Perhaps this is not to do with faults in the theories and technology, but due to the moralistic and religious debates which can stunt scientific progress. What can be amazing about scientific predictions though is how little they can sometimes realise the scope of what they encompass. Accidental discovery is a cornerstone of scientific progress. Research by Alexander Fleming into bread mould led to the discovery of antibiotics. Examples of up-and-coming technologies that should be ready before 2025, include the digital home and algae biofuels. The digital home is still ten years off schedule. Algae biofules were still ten years away, according to Shell, at the end of November 2009. There has been a spark of interest in producing fuel from algae since the middle of the last century. The US Department of Energy have carried out pioneering research on this alternative, environmentally-friendly fuel from 1978 to 1996, nearly a fifth of a century project. Interestingly enough, your very own artificial pancreas should be ready by 2015, which may get to you before the develop-

ment of algae fuels. Emotional robot pets are another fascinating arena of technology once again, nowhere near completion, but something that has been promised for years. As time elapses, people’s expectations only grow in anticipation of such proposals. Scientists, inventors, engineers and all the people involved in breakthrough technologies find it profoundly difficulty to meet its ever-growing demands. Robot development takes a lot of time and with a consumer cycle being so short on certain products, scientists can be forced to act quickly. An invention in development that has baffled people for years is the hover car, which is an almost impossible fantasy in the eyes of the ordinary person. Apparently, the hover car is the future. Just not the near future. Driving a car in thin air will probably become common place one day. We’ll hopefully all receive our chance to experience some of the exhilarating thrills Harry Potter has experienced with the wave of a wand. Hover cars could be the transportation of tomorrow, but don’t take this literally. It will most definitely be a few tomorrows down the line before this invention makes its way to the market. Who knows where science will be in five, ten or even twenty years? Scientists often claim to know, but only time will tell if they are correct. It is said that patience is a virtue, but the long haul can be agonising.


19 October 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER

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SCIENCE & HEALTH

science@universityobserver.ie

A Nobel Pursuit Given its increased association with a series of relevant and world-changing characters, the Nobel prize ceremony has become revitalised of late, writes Conor Murphy

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his year’s Nobel prize ceremonies have had their fair share of controversy, but despite this, it has still been a fascinating mix of background influences and giant cultural behemoths. The 2010 Physics prize went to Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov for “groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene”. Graphene is a material that is one atom thick, completely transparent, impossibly strong and has better conductivity than copper. If we can scale it up, a process in which huge funds are being invested, it is thought that it could help solve the energy crisis. This would involve effectively piping renewable electricity across vast chunks of land with an insignificant energy loss compared to the incredibly inefficient transfer of energy via copper wire. The prize was also notable for having one of the more curious scientists to win. Geim is the first Nobel prize winner to have also won an Ig Nobel prize for a paper he wrote on levitating frogs and has at one time listed a hamster as a co-author on another paper. The Ig Nobel prizes have become notorious for recognising scientists with research in unorthodox fields. The prize for chemistry went to a team for “palladium-catalyzed cross couplings in organic synthesis”. In plain English, this means that they have found a new way to combine carbon atoms, which make up almost everything in existence. The Nobel Prize for Medicine went to Dr Robert G. Edwards for his groundbreaking work on IVF. Edwards is responsible for the births of millions of babies, despite huge social uproar and debate along with political controversy. This was

largely because the Catholic Church had, and still does, a deep entrenched hatred of IVF. Much of the controversy stems from the fact that IVF involves the destruction or freezing of the extra-fertilised eggs in the process. This of course brings to mind stem-cell research – if it got more funding from governments and less blocking from said church, these extra embryos could be used in another field of life, saving research instead of it being tossed out. The church has again waded into waters they neither understand nor belong in, by calling the Nobel committee “completely out of order” for awarding Edwards the Medicine prize. While the Medicine prize controversy grabbed the headlines, the awarding of the prize for Economics has extraordinary relevance for this time of turmoil. It went to a team of a British-Cypriot and two Americans, who presented a theory to explain why people stay unemployed in a growing jobs market. While this work does not automatically offer easy solutions, it is vital for governments trying to get their citizens back in work in recession struck times. The awarding of the Peace prize is very relevant, in contrast with the usually outof-touch past awards systems (the discovery for the chemistry prize actually happened in 1970). In some cases, the awards are seemingly being used as a tool for international pressure towards peace. This was evident last year too, with the award being given to US President Barack Obama, under the debatable contention that he had made very progressive steps toward the achievement of peace in the Muslim world. However, the awards continue to serve

as a signpost to where we should be going. This year, the Peace prize was significantly given to Liu Xiaobo – a man in prison serving an eleven-year sentence for peaceful protests against human rights abuses in China. With the awarding of the prize to Liu, the Nobel committee have rewarded a leader of a campaign for the most basic rights, who undoubtedly deserves it, but probably won’t be able to collect it unless he is pardoned. This is putting further pressure on a government who wants to look the part of a great and benevolent superpower, rather than just a powerful country, but still has huge strides to make before they can look eye to eye with the rest of the world. Mario Vargas Llosa, a Peruvian writer, won the award for Literature for highly politicised works, which have played an important role in the South American fight for freedom from tyranny. It is also a definite nod for the left-wing governments that South America has particular societal desire for. Llosa seems to garner much international acclaim, despite the definite local influences that permeate his work. If the relevance of the awards is questionable, then look to this year’s set of winners, who are being awarded for their numerous impressive humanitarian efforts. Another swathe of great people have aided the birth of many, or strived for the human rights of millions in the new world order. Some have written about the constant struggle of their own world and some have created works that describe a struggle underlining the realities of today’s crushed economy. And then to some scientists, who have made today’s world a more efficient place and attempt to make tomorrow’s world possible.

Freedom fighter Liu Xiaobo is undoubtedly a deserved recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Smart Choice Smartphones are far from your average handset, writes Coiré McCrystall. They are the way of the future.

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ons ago, phones were somehow tethered by cumbersome wires. There was no texting and the ability to make a call from outside the house would get you burnt at the stake for witchcraft. Eventually, the brightest minds decided to create wireless phones that unfortunately weighed a ton. Over time however, the magical oracles we call mobile phones got smaller and fancier, and eventually we had something resembling a brick with a greyscale screen that we could play Snake on. The evolution of mobile phones continued; we got colour screens, cameras, polyphonic then MP3 ringtones and more versions of Snake to keep us procrastinating for hours on end. Eventually, with all these different companies adding ridiculous new features to their phones (N-Gage, anyone?),

it became clear that if this fight for mobile dominance were to continue, mobile phones would have to be taken to the next level, it was a new plateau of development and so, the smartphone was born. Now you may ask yourself: “What is a smartphone, and what does it do?” Simply put, ‘smartphone’ is jargon for a phone that provides features above and beyond that of your regular phone. Smartphones are generally classified by the OS (operating system), which they run on, similar to computers. For instance, the quite popular HTC line of phones runs on Google’s Android operating system and the Apple iPhone runs on Apple iOS. The main aim of a smartphone is to essentially cram a standard phone and a computer into one device that you can take around with you. Ultimately, smartphones can do awesome things that other phones can’t. In today’s ever-changing phone market, the main players in the smartphone realm are Apple, Blackberry and Android. Much in the way the Apple Computer OS is generally only available on Apple computers, this is the same with Apple’s smartphone offering: the iPhone. For the iPhone 4G, you essentially get an iPod Touch with a built-in phone. With a choice between 16GB and 32GB models and the ability to go online via WiFi and 3G, iPhone 4G is a heavy hitter in its own right, but the real attractions are the apps. Apps are applications downloadable from Apple’s online store and allow you

Apple’s iPhone has proved to be one of the most popular and enduring smartphones.

to give your iPhone more features; satnavs, musical instruments, along with a wide range of games including Final Fantasy and Resident Evil 4. As Apple are only too ready to inform you in their adverts, if you need anything, they have an app for that. With an iPhone you get all this and that elite air that only comes from owning an Apple product. Buyers beware however, Apple have a proven track record of out-

putting a new improved iPhone every year and so inevitably, the current phone will be rendered obsolete in the near future. Similar to Apple, the Blackberry OS is unique to phones made by Blackberry, however the company do support many different models of their phones at once. Blackberrys are typically geared towards the more business-minded individual, however in recent years it has become

more common for the general public. The top range Blackberry Torch 9800 includes a 5MP camera, an MP3 player, 4GB storage with a MircoSD slot for expansion and a full QWERTY keyboard for those not buying into the touchscreen craze. These qualities make it the easiest device in terms of transition to move from a standard phone keypad to a keypad more akin to the features of a smartphone. The Android OS, which Google’s offering to the smartphone universe is a relatively new operating system. Based on the Linux computer operating system, Android is an OS that is included in many different phones, probably the best known of which is the HTC Desire. The HTC Desire includes up to 32GB of memory using a MicroSD card. Add to this a 5MP camera and Super LCD touchscreen and you have a phone that stands toe to toe with Apple’s iPhone. In terms of software, Google provide their own opensource app store, which admittedly does pale in comparison to the behemoth of the Apple Store. However, with Google backing it, you can be assured that any software worth having will make it to the Android OS. When buying, do keep in mind that it’s a big and ever-changing industry out there. There are many more worthwhile smartphones out there and plenty of new technology companies willing to enter the market, so shop around and make sure you’re getting the right handset for you, be it Apple, Android or Blackberry.


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THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 19 October 2010

EDITORIAL

editor@universityobserver.ie

Crunch Time Patrick Honohan was appointed as governor of the Central Bank in September 2009.

The upcoming months will be crucial if we are to alleviate our economic crisis, says Senator Dan Boyle

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’m often reminded of Abraham Lincoln’s definition of government of the people by the people for the people. We should ask ourselves: is this a government of the people? Given much of the public comment at the moment there is obviously a disconnect not only with the government, but also with politics itself. There is a very real question mark about that. Is it a government by the people? Most certainly it is – we get the politics we deserve. This is a government and in particular, the majority party in it, that got a very strong mandate in 2007 during an election campaign where all other political parties were playing Dutch auction politics. If there’s any historical lesson over the last ten years of what we now realise was the myth of the Celtic Tiger, it is that we had an economy which was founded on access to easy credit, that inflated property prices and inflated how the government spent its money in terms of public sector wages and even on social welfare and at the same time, promoted the myth that we could run a country that could spend more and take in less in taxes. All political parties were complicit in that myth. So this is certainly a government by the people. Whether it’s a government for the people, again, that is a matter for the genuine debate. When the government has a maximum term of five years, it is a bit unfair to say the government has failed three-and-ahalf years into that, when there is still the capacity to enact much of its programme for government. I would argue from a Green Party point of view that there are points of legislation, such as corporate donations, exposing the corrosive and corruptive role that money has played in Irish politics, is something we intend to deliver on in terms of the body politic in general and how it’s perceived. I think we’ve also bought into the myth as to how bad this country is. Even despite the economic collapse of the last couple of years – our economy has slipped by about one-fifth – we remain the second wealthiest

country in Europe. Our GDP is the second highest behind Luxembourg. We are a country that has a positive balance of payments. We receive more money into this country than we spend. When I went to college in the 1980s, every single economic indicator was worse. And that was a time of a government that consisted of Fine Gael and Labour. There was higher percentage unemployment, there was higher inflation, there was a higher national debt and there were higher interest rates. This all existed twenty-five years ago and it took us ten years to get out of that situation, because we were too slow to make decisions that were needed then. Now, we have a smaller window in which to do this and that window is about four months long. If we don’t get the four-year budgetary framework right, if we don’t get the budget right in December, if we don’t go back to the international bond markets in January, there is reason to fear our immediate economic future. And you’re among those positive indicators – our young population, our well-educated population and I would ask you not to be defeatist, not to buy into the myths that are there. We have, in our political system, the idea that we live in a time of hopelessness. But then, we have a main opposition party that’s not even sure who its leadership are and what kind of confidence it has in it and they’re presenting that as an alternative Taoiseach, while we have a growing political force in the Labour Party, a political party that has offered no positive vision other than not being the government. Now some people might think that things couldn’t get any worse, I would argue that it could get a whole lot worse. The last thing we should be doing as a country is undermining ourselves by engaging in an election with three weeks of electioneering that will engage in the same exercise of name-calling and point-scoring at a time when we need to be showing as a country, that we have a shared collective vision of how we can move forward and inspire international confidence in this country that I believe is well-justified.

The idea of political leadership and getting involved in government, and I’m only speaking in relation to the government that my party has been involved in since 2007. To change the country and its political culture, we need to challenge the culture itself. I’ll just itemise three or four ideas that I feel where the Greens have been instrumental in confronting in one of the biggest economic crises this country has ever had. We’ve changed the circumstances where the secretary general of finance became a governor of the Central Bank. Patrick Honohan was a great appointment. We’ve changed the situation where again, a highly-placed department of finance official would get a sinecure from the financial regulator’s office. Now we have a nonnational and someone very effective in the job there. We’ve changed the situation whereby the banks themselves, their chairs and the directors have been replaced. For those that say that we could have some better hope if we just let that situation just fall into abeyance and didn’t guarantee deposit holders, remember that many of those deposit holders are people involved in your community as much as anything else, credit unions, voluntary organisations and the like, the effect on the economy would have been far worse. If we didn’t guarantee, if we didn’t produce NAMA, the effect would be that we’d have to borrow more, we’d have to question whether we would be able to borrow and the cost of that borrowing would be far, far higher. So again, it isn’t a case of whether things are bad, and whether others could do no worse, the alternatives are far, far worse. The only way we as a country can get out of this is by facing reality, working together and using a real leadership that’s involved in acknowledging that reality and believing in ourselves. This is an edited version of a speech that Senator Dan Boyle gave at a recent Law Society debate. Senator Dan Boyle is a Green Party politician and party chairperson.

Talleyrand

Howdy halfwits, Well, it’s been some time since this humble commentator caused the ruckus and hubbub seen across the campus of Universal Cretins of Dublin this past fortnight. Talleyrand was always of the opinion that this paltry sliver of copy within this preeminent and estimable publication was merely fill-o-rama. It appears not. The proclamations of this modest commentator have reached all corners of society, and that does tickle Talleyrand’s stony heart somewhat. Adoring fan mail can be sent to The Editrix, The Windowless Office of Doom, Union Horrodor, who will ensure that it reaches its ultimate destination. Feminists really do make the best secretaries. Keeping An Post in business with the amount of praising fan mail being sent this way is Edumacation Officer James “It’s been one week since you looked at me, dropped your arms to the side and said I’m sorry” Williamson. Talleyrand understands his wails of protest coming from the arctic side of the Horrordor could be heard as far away as exotic Crumlin, home to the Union of Stupids in Ireland. Not ones to overlook an opportunity to fob work off on the COs, the USWhy? dispatched their two best manipulators to take advantage of Wah-Wah Williamson’s and Pat-a-cake’s delicate dispositions. Little did the Crumlin contingent anticipate their loyalty to the Chief Giggity-Giggity, who bared his hairy chest and stood his ground against the meddling National Goonion as soon as the two Sap-bats scurried home to safety. Talleyrand is rather distraught that the long-lasting and loving relationship between Lecherous Lynam and his USCry counterpart could potentially be at an end. No more seshes in Coppers? No more lunches in the Goat? No more golf during working hours? Apparently so. SLynam was more than clear during that phonecall that he wasn’t to step foot on this campus again. Talleyrand didn’t know you had it in you, Pauly D. It’s a pity such backbone wasn’t shown during last year’s controversies, but oh, well, better late than never. All these developments cast a shadow longer than the Water Tower’s on the bold, grand, momentous march scheduled for November 3rd. Will the Goonion mobilise the masses to help get USI some inches in the national papers? It’s anyone’s guess.

The Class Reps certainly didn’t warm to Crumlin’s overtures during their training session (emphasis on ‘session’) in Carlow last week. Loguey Bear might be in trouble. Those good looks and that Northern accent don’t work on everyone, you know. Talleyrand noted with not the smallest bit of irony that the one person sent home from last year’s session in Blessington was the man in charge of running the entire weekend this year. At least he kept his pants on this time round. The Goonion still seem to be in the grip of election fever. Talleyrand’s worried that it’s spreading like some sort of plague. No longer confined solely to the springtime, electioneering seems now to be a year-round affair. Patty Boy’s been dropping hints left, right and centre about running for the big chair. He even keeps a suit in the office for emergency use, should he need to attend an important meeting at short notice. Or any meeting, really. The unexpected re-appearance of The Oldest Hack at the inaugural meeting of SU Council didn’t even faze young Browne. Mostly because Pat was probably still a foetus when The Oldest Hack was crafting his master constitution all them years ago. That bastion of common sense, Martin “Settle down, kids” Lawless has even begun laying election foundations. Not that Maverick Martin wants to run himself, but he’s throwing his weight behind a surprise candidate. Well, not that it’s surprising to Talleyrand. This commentator sees and knows all. On that point, Talleyrand can confirm that Scott “Welfare Emperor... Penguin” Ahearn can neither confirm nor deny that he’s in the running. Classic Scoot. Playing both sides, yet playing none. It’s no wonder no one wanted him on their team in PE in primary school. Talleyrand’s always hoped that Jolly Jonny would reach the dizzying lows of El Presidente, and wipe the floor with his competition in the process. However, it would seem he’s otherwise preoccupied, probably with planning a wedding with his newfound love. Talleyrand bets the reception is held in d|two, and the Honeymoon Suite is rented for the night. Talleyrand is also expecting an invitation to what would most certainly be the biggest wedding in all of Hackdom. It wouldn’t be difficult for Cuddly Cosgrove to steal the spotlight, seeing as all’s quiet in the northern reaches of Hackland. The dust is gathering in the Forum Office as the Big Five sit around, scratching their heads, not actually doing anything. Talleyrand hasn’t seen such a quiet year for sucksieties in quite some time. Oh well, it just makes more space in the market for Beauty and the Martin Butler to try and double sales from last year. Meaning about a dozen people will go their production. Talleyho! Talleyrand

Quotes of the Fortnight: We want people to know that this was a proper training weekend, that it wasn’t just a piss-up as some people try to convey it UCDSU Campaigns and Communications Pat de Brún reassures students that their money is not being wasted on Class Rep Training We’re hoping to diversify it a bit, stepping away from just being in the student bar all day UCD MedSoc Auditor Mark Murphy, on diversifying Med Day 2010 We agreed that they could only do it on one occasion and we don’t want it to happen again. It won’t happen again SU President Paul Lynam disputes claims that cigarettes are to be sold regularly outside the Student Bar.


19 October 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER

EDITORIAL

editor@universityobserver.ie

Editorial

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his issue of The University Observer seems to have a particular focus on sex and sexuality, especially pertaining to women. Sex is an issue we seem to always have flung in our faces. Along with the belief that students are drug-and-alcoholobsessed as well as vacuous and shallow, popular thought tells us that, once we get to college, all inhibitions go out of the window and we become crazed animals with our eyes on each other’s bodies as opposed to our degrees. How does this highly-sexualised view of university affect us, our sense of selves and, most importantly, our actions? While we are told that society is now a completely liberal place, the reality is very different. Sex is something that is still very much viewed as negative outside certain situations, especially if you are a woman. The ways in which a woman who dares step outside of the prescribed social norms of sexuality is punished are startling. Our language regarding the subject is swift and cutting. Words like ‘slut’, ‘whore’ and ‘slag’ have become so commonplace that they are sometimes even used as terms of greeting and endearment. We are all guilty of it, but it does not lessen the damage that these words do to the freedom of female sexuality. The term “slut-shaming” has been coined in recent times and it seems as if this practice is becoming more and more common, especially in insular environments such as UCD. The film Easy A, due for general release in Ireland on 22nd October, deals with how teenagers and young adults have markedly different

reactions to men and women having sex. Society seems to urge women to have sex, yet mark them as soiled or sullied when they do. College is one of the worst environments for this sort of behaviour. Rumours are commonplace and while we think UCD is a big campus where anonymity is guaranteed, the opposite is true. This university is a universe of cliques, where everyone knows everyone and interlinking of friendship groups is far more common that one would think. Our country has a long and solid history of trying to rein in and control women by damaging freedom of sexuality. The Ireland in which we live in today is a world away from the Ireland of the seventies and eighties. Women battled with the authorities, both governmental and religious, to get the basic freedoms which were afforded to their sisters in the United Kingdom. Contraception, the criminalisation of marital rape and abortion information rights were just some of the things these women fought for. These are things that we take for granted. No one doubts that when they go to the Student Health Service for a contraceptive pill prescription that they will be denied, called names or judged. We have a preconception that everything is fine, that we can act as we please without judgement or consequence. This is, of course, not true. Ask any woman who has been talked about because she deigned to step outside the sexual norm and she will tell you about being whispered about and called names. In judging our female peers the way we do

and creating a hostile environment in which female sexuality is judged, we are undoing the work that others have done to create a more liberal Ireland. What is really damaging about this mentality is that it is insidious and marketed as a “joke”. Our attitudes toward female sexuality must change. It is hard to marry an environment in which promiscuity is positively encouraged, yet judgement is handed out after the deed is done. Now that the Church has far less of an influence on society, it is time to be inspired by our European counterparts and be open and non-judgemental about sex and sexuality. We should be done with childish tactics of whispering and name-calling. We are, after all, supposed to be adults. Words are more damaging than we may think, both to individuals and perceptions of sexuality in general. A reputation takes a lifetime to erase and it is time that we realised that. Stigmatising sex is not the way to create a healthy university environment and these stigmas carry on further into adult life. To put it frankly, sex is not the enemy. Miseducation is. We need to begin to be open and unashamed about sex. By removing the stigma, we can become more informed about the choices open to us, as well as topics such as contraception and sexually transmitted diseases. Making derogatory remarks about people, especially women, is not the answer. We must open ourselves up to discussing sex and thus remove what is clearly problematic about our attitudes toward it.

Letters to the Editor Madam, May I commend you on your editorial in the most recent edition of this publication, dated 5th October. You raised an incredibly valid point when you drew attention to the unacceptable level of campus services in the evening time. I am a postgraduate student, with most of my classes ending at 7pm each night. There is simply nowhere for me to get a substantial meal following this. A few catering facilities remain open into the night, but their offerings are greatly reduced compared to what they provide to customers in the middle of the day, never mind questioning how healthy their snacks and fast food are. I noticed last week that the Students’ Union ran a ‘Health Week’, one of its aims being to promote healthy eating among students. How

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are we meant to eat healthy when the campus only allows us to between the hours of 9am and 5pm? UCD aspires to be a leading European university, and certainly, while huge steps have been made in improving academic offerings in recent years, there are simply not enough adequate services in this university to support students outside of the classroom. Another pertinent issue along this line of thought is that of the Library. While opening hours during the week are perfectly fine, in reality it mainly suits only undergraduate students. I work each day and attend classes in the evening, and can only really avail of the library services at night and at the weekend. At the weekend, I find library services simply abysmal. The James Joyce Library is open for only a few hours on Saturday and not open at all on

a Sunday. This is unacceptable for a university the size of UCD. Understandably, money is an issue at the moment and cuts must be introduced. However, the library is the single most important resource in UCD, and is failing to meet the needs of its students. With continuous assessment increasing and semester examinations approaching, improved library opening hours need to be introduced. I am sure I am not the only student disenfranchised as a result of this issue – many evening and part-time students would also be at the mercy of poor campus services. Yours, etc. Daniel Phelan, Masters Student Graduate School of Arts & Celtic Studies

Letters should be sent by email to letters@universityobserver.ie or by mail to: The Editor, The University Observer, UCD Student Centre, Belfield, Dublin 4 All letters are subject to editorial approval. The Editor reserves the right to edit any letters.

Clarification and Corrections It is the policy of The University Observer to rectify any errors as soon as they arise. Queries and clarifications can be addressed to info@universityobserver.ie.

Contributors: Volume XVII, Issue 3 Editor Bridget Fitzsimons Deputy Editor Paul Fennessy Art and Design Director Jenn Compeau o-two Editors Emer Sugrue Killian Woods News Editor Amy Bracken Chief News Reporter Katie Hughes Features Editor Leanne Waters Chief Features Writer Natalie Voorheis Comment Editor Kate Rothwell Science, Health and Technology Editor Alan Coughlan Sports Editor Ryan Mackenzie Music Editor Grace Murphy Film Editor Jon Hozier-Byrne Fashion Editor Kieran Murphy Online Editor Killian Woods Contributors: Steven Balbirnie, Kevin Beirne, Lorenz Beyer, Daryl Bolger, Senator Dan Boyle, Eoin Brady, Aoife Brophy, Anna Burzlaff, Roberta Cappieri, James Conlan, Stephen Devine, Bríd Doherty, Sarah Doran, Cormac Duffy, Caitriona Farrell, David Farrell, Fight Like Apes, Sean Finnan, Jennifer Fitzgerald, Alyson Gray,

Sam Geoghegan, Michael Halton, Imelda Hehir, Aileen Johnson, Matthew Jones, Daniel Keenan, Elaine Lavery, Alison Lee, Emily Longworth, Marianne Madden, Noreen Moloney, George Morahan, Fadora McSexypants, Coire McCrystall, Ciara Murphy, Conor Murphy, Meabh Ní Choilean, James O’Connor, Elizabeth O’Malley, Jason O’Mara, Conor O’Nolan, Magdalena Puzmujźniak, Laura Scanlan, Alison Sneyd, Talleyrand, Ekaterina Tikhoniouk, Aoife Valentine, Rebecca Windsor Illustrator: Olwen Hogan Photographers: Jack Fox, Emily O’Hanlon Special Thanks: Peter, Ian, Tim, Malcolm, Ade, Jonathan, Dave, Emma, Jed, Bob, Steve (and the robots) at Trafford Park Printing; Paul at Higgs; Eilis O’Brien and Dominic Martella; Colm, Sabrina and Rory at MCD Promotions; Bernie Divilly at PIAS; Mary Kate Murphy at EA; Giselle Jiang; Dave Carmody; Dominic, Grace, Charlie, Jason, Gary, Stephen, Mark, Sandra, Paul and all the Student Centre staff; David Neary; Catriona Blake; Bombay Pantry; Pizza Hut; Amy’s car; Pat Leahy and his letter. Very Special Thanks: Rob Lowney, Killian Woods Tel: (01) 716 3119/3120 Email: info@universityobserver.ie www.universityobserver.ie The University Observer is printed at The Guardian Print Centre, Longbridge Road, Manchester, M17 1SN.


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19 October 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER

Sport

sport@universityobserver.ie

Who Dares Wins With the International Rules series set to begin, Daniel Keenan looks at the Irish squad and discusses how the physicality of the visitors may overwhelm the home side

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reland begin their defence of the Cormac McAnallan Cup in Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds Stadium this Saturday. Two years after winning in Melbourne as a selector, Anthony Tohill is now Ireland’s manager and he will no doubt be eager to retain the cup on Irish soil. Tohill announced his squad last Thursday, including seven debutants, and five All-Stars. The squad also includes five players with AFL experience in the shape of former players Colm Begley, Brendan Murphy and Michael Shields, as well as present players Tadhg Kennelly and Tommy Walsh. Kennelly returns to Ireland after a good season, playing 20 out of their 24 games in a play-off season for Sydney Swans, and he believes that his former Kerry teammate Tommy Walsh will have a big impact in the series, despite having limited game time for St. Kilda: “Tommy has had a great year. He has played a lot of games in the reserves. I have no doubt he will play senior football next year.” However, the squad has some notable exclusions. The absence of any Kerry players, like Paul Galvin and Declan O’Sullivan, has been the subject of much debate, but with the Kingdom coming off the back of a poor season, Tohill wanted to maintain his philosophy of playing only players in form: “We invited players up who we felt were suited to playing the game and wanted to play the game and were coming in on the back of a good season.” Galvin was dropped for just this reason, missing much of Kerry’s Championship run through suspension. The same can be said about Tyrone brothers, Joe and Justin McMahon, two of the driving forces behind Ireland’s win in 2008, who have recently had long layoffs with injury. Their possible inclusion in the Tyrone SFC Final was also a factor. Kieran Donaghy was similarly overlooked. His club, Austin Stacks, face Dr. Crokes on Sunday in the Kerry SFC Final while O’Sullivan has a JFC Final with Dromid Pearses. Tohill will be relieved that GAA Player of the Year Bernard Brogan is now free to play due to his club, Oliver Plunketts, being knocked out of the Dublin SFC last week. Armagh’s Stevie McDonnell, who captains the side, was given the honor of leading out his country when Down’s Benny

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SPORTS DIGEST Basketball The UCD Marian men’s team recorded their first win of the season by beating the UCC Demons by a five-point margin in front of an excited Belfield crowd. The 96 - 91 victory came thanks to late three-pointers from Conor Meaney and Michael Higgins. UCD Marian play their next game at home this Saturday against Moycullen in the Superleague Cross Conference. Sailing UCD Sailing Club took part in the student yachting nationals in Cork during the weekend of 1st to 3rd October. A disappointing first day saw the team finish third overall, behind CIT and UCC respectively, despite picking up the daily prize on the second day. The competition is used as a means of qualification for the student yachting world cup, which takes place in France and begins this Sunday.

Australian Rules, like rugby or Gaelic games, has a reputation for being a high-impact and boistorous sport.

Coulter was ruled out of the first test with a hamstring injury. Coulter is expected to be in contention for the second test in Croke Park on October 30th. Australia have named an inexperienced 22 which includes sixteen debutants, although four players who played in the Grand Finals have travelled, namely Collingwood stars Dane Swan and Tyson Goldsack, and St Kilda’s Leigh Montagna and Sam Gilbert.

They travel without this year’s Brownlow Medallist Chris Judd, and unexpectedly, last year’s medal winner Gary Albett Jr, who was expected to make a big impact. Despite their inexperience, the Australians have a strong team, and are much more adept in the physical elements of the game. Tohill believes that, even with the 2008 rule changes, the tackle will remain the most difficult aspect of the game for Ireland: “The tackle is a big issue. For us it

Captain Fantastic

ast year ended disappointingly for the college’s rugby team. A 13thplace finish was well below expectations, but club captain Andrew Cummiskey feels this year will be different. The ex-Michael’s centre believes it would be a “failure not to finish in the top four”. So with promotion from Division Two being the ultimate goal of the team, a good start to the All-Ireland League was always going to be required. They have done just that starting with wins against both De Le Salle

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Palmerstown and Queens University. The team are ideally positioned with nine points from two games. This is the centenary year of the club and to mark it, they undertook a pre-season tour of South Africa. Cummiskey feels that the tour will benefit the squad throughout the season both on and off the field: “It was a great way to galvanise the squad and build team spirit.” The different style of rugby they faced while on tour will also surely stand to the team in the long run: “Their attacking ability was phenomenal and they punished any loose kicks.” The team did give a good account of themselves though, including a win against False Bay RFC. This intensive preseason campaign meant the team was ready to hit the ground running this season as they have done. After reclaiming the Dudley Cup for the third consecutive year already this season, beating Queens in the final, the team will look to advance to their second final of the

is a big challenge.” Both making and taking the tackle will be difficult, in a game which is much more physical than gaelic football. Without Kieran Donaghy, the Irish will struggle to come close to the Australian’s physicality, and in such a hard-hitting game, strength more than skill might prevail. For this reason, the professionals should overcome the amateurs in the series, but with the second game in Croke Park, don’t rule out the underdogs yet.

Rugby The UCD men’s rugby team claimed an impressive away bonus-point victory over Queen’s University last week. Despite trailing by six points in the closing stages of the game, the Students were able to come out of Belfast with a 32-26 win. A try from back-row Richie Bent secured the bonus point that could prove vital come the end of the season. They now have nine points from their first two games of the season. - Keoin Beirne

Following a promising start to their campaign, Stephen Devine interviews rugby team captain Andrew Cummiskey about the season ahead

season this weekend in the Leinster Senior Cup. They face a Blackrock side who play two divisions above them in the AIL. Cummiskey, however, doesn’t seem phased by the challenge: “We proved we can beat teams two divisions ahead of us by beating Belvedere, so prospects are high.” UCD has a long tradition of producing both Leinster representatives and Irish internationals such as Fergus McFadden and Kevin McLaughlin. From the current crop, the captain pointed out second row Mark Flanagan as one to watch. Unfortunately for the team, they lost a number of high profile players over the summer. Most notably, the Ruddock brothers and John Cooney are no longer on the squad. However, with this type of talent coming through, the team shouldn’t be affected too much. The challenge which UCD face on a yearly basis is just how young a squad they have, with captain Cummiskey only twenty two years of age, and the vast majority of the

squad being aged between 19 and 21. This gives UCD an edge in terms of youthful exuberance against most teams, but perhaps they lack the experiences of some of the seasoned AIL players who they face. A large contingent of the squad would be products of the schools rugby system, which comes under criticism on a yearly basis. However Cummiskey, a product of the schools game himself, believes that “schools rugby is brilliant” and that “it’s not broken at all so there is no need to try and fix it”. Another difference between UCD and the majority of the clubs they face is the level of support they receive. Like their soccer counterparts, the rugby team finds it hard to get support from the general student population of UCD. The captain believes there is a distinct lack of student support and feels there is a need to “create more awareness about the team”. With this in mind, the club has organised a one-off fixture against a combined university selection from the likes of Trinity

and Queens on November 5 in the Belfield Bowl. With complimentary entrance for students and bar facilities at the game, they will hope they can attract some new supporters and that they will return on a recurring basis. So after such a successful start to the season and being the club’s centenary year, UCD and captain Cummiskey will hope they keep the level of performance up all season. In his own words a perfect season would consist of a “top four finish, a good performance in every game and also a good social side to the club”. With the quality of squad they possess, there is no reason they can’t achieve these goals, and if they were to pick up a few extra supporters along the way, it would be a bonus. UCD 1st XV are taking on a Combined Universities XV as part of UCD Rugby Club centenary celebrations in the UCD Bowl on Friday 5th November – kick off 7pm. At half-time, six lucky spectators will be chosen to take part in the Paddy Power Crossbar Challenge and be in with a chance to win €25,000.


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THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 19 October 2010

Sport

sport@universityobserver.ie

From Turkish Delight to Takeover Turmoil While Liverpool’s takeover crisis is beginning to be resolved, its problems are far from over writes James Conlon

Most Memorable Moments in Irish Sport #4 – Stephen Jones’ missed last minute penalty kick. Cardiff, Wales, 2009. The final five minutes of Ireland’s last match in Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium more than deserve their place at number four on the countdown of Ireland’s most memorable sporting moments, writes Ryan Mackenzie

Wales’ Stephen Jones missed a crucial kick which ensured Ireland’s Grand Slam victory.

American John Henry is the new owner of Liverpool FC and is faced with the daunting task of repairing it financially.

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iverpool FC, a club steeped in tradition and history, now stands on the brink of complete anarchy. It had been a downward spiral ever since AC Milan claimed revenge against Liverpool in 2007 and the wheels seemed to accelerate off the pitch this season. The passionate cries from the Kop faithful wanting a new regime in charge had, until now, seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. This led to a hostile reputation on Merseyside for American owners George Gillet and Tom Hicks who, since buying Liverpool in 2007 for £219 million, have engulfed the club with a staggering amount of debt. Due to their borrowings, they owe Royal Bank of Scotland in excess of £237 million. Royal Bank of Scotland called in the loan with a deadline of October 15th or the threat of administration and a nine point penalty for Liverpool would be realized. However, there seemed to be a faint light at the end of the tunnel for Liverpool football club coming from another American salvation hero John Henry and his company New England Sports Venture group who tabled an offer worth £300 million for ownership of the Anfield club. This offer was accepted by Martin Broughton, who had been put in charge of selling the Anfield club before the Friday deadline as an administrator for Royal Bank of Scotland. However, nothing ever happens easily at Anfield, and as ever there was a hitch. The hitch being Gillet and Hicks, who valued the club at £600 million and refused to sell under the conditions put in place by the Royal Bank of Scotland, as they would loose approximately £150 million.

The Liverpool board took their claim to the high court in order to sanction the sale of the club to New England Sports Venture. Meanwhile Peter Lim, a Singapore entrepreneur worth over £1 billion, made an offer worth £320 million in addition to a £40 million transfer kitty for Roy Hodgson to spend in the January transfer market. However, in order for Lim’s bid to be successful, the high court needed to in favour of Hicks and Gillet and even then there was no guarantee that the Americans would sell-out to Lim as they valued Liverpool at a much higher figure. The turmoil has also surfaced on the pitch, with Liverpool having their worst start ever to the Premier League. Their fans have endured defeats to Blackpool, Manchester City and bitter rivals Manchester United since the start of the season and have seen their lynchpin in midfield, Javier Mascherano, walk out in favour of Barcelona FC to further spread the mood of doom and gloom across Anfield. This, as well as Xabi Alonso’s exit last summer, has left Liverpool short in the midfield department. The purchase of Alberto Aquilani has proved to be a total disaster, while Raul Meireles hasn’t set the world alight since his move from Porto. As the saga rolled on, the off-field activities escalated last Wednesday when the high court ruled in favour of Martin Broughton and the Liverpool board. Hicks and Gillet were infuriated by the decision and went to a high court in Dallas and got a restraining order against the proposed sale of the club to New England Sports Ventures. The high court in England again ruled that Hicks

and Gillet had no case against the sanction of the sale. On Thursday, Peter Lim, frustrated at not being given serious consideration by the Anfield board, retracted his offer and ruled himself out of contention for ownership of the club. Then on Friday morning, Hicks and Gillet retracted their restraining order, which looked at that time like it would pave the way for John Henry to assume the reins at Liverpool. However, behind the scenes, Hicks was looking to sell his stake in the club to Millhouse Investment, who would in return raise the necessary funds owed by Hicks and Gillet to the Royal Bank of Scotland. Consequently, the pair would be granted full ownership of Liverpool once more, while rebuffing the New England Sports Ventures bid. This would mean that Hicks and Gillet would incorporate Millhouse investment as a major stakeholder at Liverpool. If this plan of action proved to be unobtainable, they would have no alternative but to sue Liverpool for £1.6 billion in damages. But as Liverpool entered its final hours before administration deadlines set in, which included a nine-point penalty, the sale was finally completed to New England Sports Ventures with John Henry the new chief at the club. For now the soap opera seems to have a happy ending, but with football you never know, as Gillet and Hicks may not go quietly into the night. All that Liverpool fans can do is enjoy what the future has in store for their club, while no doubt treading cautiously in apprehension rather than expectation.

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ollowing a dreary and frankly embarrassing World Cup campaign in 2007, and the pitiful performances of the 2008 Six Nations tournament, it appeared rather clear that the golden era of Irish rugby had begun to lose its shine. Understandably, ambition was low as the 2009 season began. With nothing more than home fixtures against England and France to rouse optimism from the fans, the reign of coach Declan Kidney looked set for a grim start. However, in a shocking turnaround, the pessimism was thwarted by some of the finest rugby ever played in an Irish jersey. The team kicked off their campaign with a stunning victory over the French in Croke Park. They continued to roll with wins in Rome, Edinburgh and another gripping contest in Dublin saw them overcome the English by a point. Kidney’s boys were flying and the nation was ecstatic. Their last call of duty was against defending champions Wales in Cardiff, who were also chasing the title and a triple crown of their own. Only days after St. Patrick’s Day, on Sunday 21st of March, we went in search of our first Grand Slam in 61 years. The Millennium Stadium provided the perfect setting for a match of such intense emotion. Packed full of passionate Welsh and Irish fans, the players were no doubt buoyed by the support. However, the opening half-hour provided no score, as nerves hindered the players. With two early tries in the second-half, Ireland raced into a commanding lead. However, they failed to put Wales to bed and the home side chipped away at the lead and were only a point adrift heading into the closing minutes. A crushing comeback was on. The Welsh surged forward in search of victory and the match descended into a

heart-pounding see-saw battle. After 75 minutes, out-half Stephen Jones did the unimaginable by guiding a drop-goal through the posts to turn a Welsh deficit into a two-point lead. The unthinkable was happening and Ireland looked to have lost the ever-elusive GrandSlam at the last hurdle. All was not lost though. The experience of the Irish side began to show as they recovered quickly to score a dropgoal of their own and in almost identical fashion to their opponents, courtesy of Ronan O’Gara. With only two minutes to go, Ireland were ahead by a scoreline of 15-17 and the nation held its breath as a famous victory neared its conclusion. Unfortunately, the red sea of the Welsh team were not finished and Irish fans were made to endure the longest two minutes in living memory. With English referee Wayne Barnes almost ready to blow the final whistle, Ireland’s Paddy Wallace embarked upon a moment of madness. Just inside the Irish half with only seconds remaining, the Ulster-man gifted his opponents a penalty. Jones stepped up to take a 48m kick at goal from directly in front of the posts. A prolific kicker and experienced player, the out-half held the power to break Irish hearts. Standing anxiously across their own try-line, the Irish players were as helpless as their fans. It truly was one of those unbearable moments in sport when preparations for the impending heartache began prematurely as it became painful to watch. But then, in a moment of euphoria the ball dipped short of the crossbar and we had our Grand Slam. Not since 1948 had Irish rugby reached such heights and seldom before had the Irish people been subjected to a sporting moment of such solicitude and joy.


19 October 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER

Sport

sport@universityobserver.ie

All Starry Starry Night

Fenno On Sport Paul Fennessy analyses the reasons behind the relative lack of spectator interest in the UCD football team in his latest column

With the lack of Cork representation in this year’s GAA All Stars awards causing debate, Michael Halton discusses these controversial choices

A lack of awards for Cork football forwards proved a controversial move.

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he 2010 GAA Vodafone All Stars were revealed on Friday evening with All-Ireland finalists Tipperary and Kilkenny, as expected, dominating the hurling awards. However, All-Ireland football champions Cork will be entitled to feel more than a little aggrieved after receiving just four awards, with none of their forwards receiving an honour – something that has never happened with respect to a championshipwinning team. Hurling champions Tipperary claimed six All Stars at the award ceremony in the Citywest Hotel, with Lar Corbett receiving the Hurler of the Year Award, along with an All Star at right half forward. Corbett’s three goal salvo in the All-Ireland Final was crucial to bringing the Liam McCarthy Cup to Tipperary for the first time since 2001. Tipperary’s all-time leading Championship scorer, Eoin Kelly, received his sixth All Star at right corner forward. Brendan Maher and Paul Curran collected their first All Stars, with Maher also collecting the Young Hurler of the year award. Meanwhile, Tipperary’s Brendan Cummins received his fifth award, ten years after winning his first in 2000. Tipperary’s final All Star went to last year’s Young Hurler of the Year, Noel Mc-

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Grath, who claimed the centre forward berth. McGrath’s move from corner forward to a more central role was pivotal, as Tipperary recovered from an opening day defeat to Cork, to claim All-Ireland glory. Kilkenny were next in line in terms of recipients. Tommy Walsh received his eighth award in succession – placing him only one behind fellow Kilkenny men and legends of the game DJ Carey and Henry Shefflin who have each earned nine All Star Awards. Shefflin’s forward colleague Richie Power claimed his first All Star in the full forward position after a brilliant year. Michael Fennelly, last year’s All-Ireland winning captain, secured his first All Star. Jackie Tyrell and J.J. Delaney received awards at corner back and wing back respectively with Delaney claiming his fifth award and Tyrell claiming his fourth in a row. Damien Hayes at wing forward was Galway’s sole recipient while Noel Connors at corner back, Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh at centre back and John Mullane in the corner forward position were Waterford’s three representatives. For Connors it was his first All Star Award while Walsh was receiving his third. Mullane claimed the corner forward position for the second year in succession. The 2010 Football All Stars had a wider distribution, with eight counties from all

four provinces receiving awards. Down secured the same number of awards as Cork with four All Stars. Kildare received two while Kerry, Sligo, Tyrone, Louth and Dublin gained one apiece. This was a year of change in football which is reflected by the eleven newcomers to the All Stars roll of honour. Paddy Keenan’s selection at midfield represented Louth’s first ever All Star since the awards were introduced in 1971. This will be small consolation for the St. Patrick’s Lordship clubman after Louth were controversially denied their first Leinster title since 1957. Michael Shields, Paudie Kissane, Graham Canty and Aidan Walsh were Cork’s four representatives. Walsh took a place in midfield and also claimed the Young Footballer of the Year award. Shields, Canty and Kissane took three places in the All Star backline with Shields again taking the full back slot. The full back line was completed by Kildare’s Peter Kelly and Sligo’s Charlie Harrison. Kelly enjoyed a brilliant rookie season at championship level, while Harrison was outstanding in Sligo’s Connacht Championship campaign. Canty is very fortunate, however, to receive a third All Star after a season disrupted by injury, with Down’s Kevin McKernan and Kildare’s Emmet Bolton both overlooked. The glaring omission of Daniel Goulding – whose nerveless free taking and intelligent play including three 45s and two points from play in the All-Ireland final – will be a bone of contention on Leeside. Noel O’Leary is also unfortunate to miss out after producing a tigerish performance on Marty Clark in the final. Down have their biggest representation since their All-Ireland victory in 1994. Goalkeeper Brendan McVeigh received his first All Star alongside county colleagues Marty Clark and Danny Hughes who claim berths in the half-forward line. Benny Coulter, another first-time winner, was selected at corner forward. The full forward line was completed by this year’s Footballer of the Year Bernard Brogan and the imperious Colm Cooper, who claimed his sixth award. Brogan claimed the full forward berth and was earmarked as the favorite for the gong after some virtuoso displays throughout the championship. Bernard is the third member of his family to receive an award after his father Bernard Sr. and his brother Alan. The forward line also included the irrepressible Kildare man Johnny Doyle at wing forward, who finished as the 2010 Championship’s highest scorer. Attention will now swing towards the International Rules series, where six of this year’s All Stars will represent Ireland when they take on Australia in Limerick this weekend.

D

ermot Morgan, the actor best known for starring in Father Ted, and a longtime UCD AFC fan, was once asked why he went to UCD games. “Because I hate crowds,” Morgan reportedly said, in characteristically witty fashion. And like all good jokes, Morgan’s remarks had more than a semblance of truth to them, as the UCD football team often struggled to attract sizeable crowds. Therefore, as another Airtricity League season draws to a close, UCD have once again performed inconsistently at best, while attendance numbers at the Belfield Bowl have also been less than less than impressive. A common question asked by the coterie of die-hard Airtricity League watchers, in addition to the odd preternaturally curious sporting layman, is why Irish football fans invariably neglect their local sides and follow teams from across the water instead. One reasonable answer is that these Irish sides simply cannot compete with Premier League football and the glamour afforded by the millions of pounds that are routinely pumped into the upper echelons of the English game. Some Airtricity League fans might argue that there is no point to following a football team if you lack any direct association towards your club of choice. However, on this point they are misguided. In civilised society, football – and indeed any sport – more often than not transcends all prejudices. For the most part, fans that support their local team do not do so purely for the sake of local pride. The primary reason why people follow a team – any team – is because of an inherent attempt to partake in a sense of shared experience with their fellow supporters. Countless Irish people support Manchester United despite having tenuous links to the club. Whether or not they are conscious of this phenomenon, these fans seek an excuse to have something to chat about in the pub – an excuse to bond essentially. And with the onset of global satellite TV, more people than ever can now share in this collective herd instinct. And while the many great memories which have arisen as a result of the endless hours of entertainment which Premier League football has provided is certainly no bad thing, it remains a shame that UCD (among many others) do not gain a modest share of supporters’ attention. So why does this patent apathy surrounding Irish football exist? One of many reasons for the disheartening attendances, from which the team

routinely suffers, lies in the fact that the majority of the season takes place over the summer. This is a particularly significant factor in the case of UCD AFC. It is little wonder that seeing a significant number of students attending a game would be considered rare in the extreme. They are being denied this opportunity, as games in the summer means that a large proportion of the team’s student-based target audience are residing outside of Dublin, while awaiting the beginning of the new semester. In addition, I recall my own childhood experiences excitedly attending UCD games in the bitter, blistering November cold. Notwithstanding the mixed standard of football on display, there was a sense of magic about the occasion. Yet the inception of summer football alleviated this magic somewhat, depriving the atmosphere of its intensity to a certain extent. There was less muck, less rain, less freezing conditions and ultimately, less charm embedded into match day proceedings. Hence attendances have dwindled and innumerable clubs continue to struggle for survival as I type this piece. Ignoring its inconvenience to many UCD supporters, the summer soccer scheme remains a failed experiment, an idea of ultimate folly, which the powers that be stubbornly persist with for their own inexplicable reasons. One of the central arguments given for summer football – that it would improve Irish clubs’ prospects in Europe – has still failed to materialise. Although Shamrock Rovers put in a valiant effort in their recent Champions League qualifier, the Italians appeared to be on auto-pilot throughout the twolegged tie. The performance will surely be a false dawn rather than a sign of better things to come for Irish soccer, in a manner reminiscent to the scare which Shelbourne gave Deportivo in a similar encounter in 2004. Irish sides have continued to perform haphazardly in Europe since the phony watershed of that venerated Deportivo fixture, and will do so for the foreseeable future unless drastic changes are made to Irish football from grassroots level upwards. Indeed, a cynic such as myself would suggest that Manchester United’s recent 7-1 hammering of an Airtricity League XI was a more accurate reflection of the current inextricable chasm in quality that exists between Irish sides and their far richer counterparts. And finally, a certain amount of responsibility for the somewhat inept state of the league, and especially with regard to UCD, lies with the fans themselves. They inarguably have the potential to the best supported team of the league. Yet the majority of the 22,000 plus inhabitants of this institute are hardly even aware of the team’s existence. The university needs something to create a galvanising effect in these troubled times, and a successful, well-supported soccer team would go some way towards implementing a sense of community spirit which UCD is sorely lacking at present.


sport@universityobserver.ie

SPORT

VOLUME xViI ISSUE 3

19th October 2010

PAGE 22

PAGE 23

PAGE 21

Analysis of Liverpool’s takeover

Fenno on Sport discusses UCD AFC fandom

Interview with UCD Rugby captain Andrew Cummisky

Students Lose the Battle but Win the War O

On a night when a Galway United loss gifted the Students another year of top flight football, UCD were dealt a loss of their own in the Belfield Bowl. Sam Geoghegan reports.

ne victory from their last three matches was needed for UCD to guarantee another year of Premier Division football at the Belfield Bowl. Friday night saw UCD host Dundalk and like UCD, Dundalk were not safe just yet, only needing two points from their final three games. The visitors managed to secure victory, and therefore another year in the top flight with a hard-fought 2-0 win. Despite their loss, UCD will also remain in the upper echelon of Irish football as Sporting Fingal defeated Galway United 3-1, saving the Students from a relegation battle. UCD dominated the early stages but were unable to find any sort of breakthrough. The match sprang to life after only eight minutes when an innocuous free-kick for UCD on the touchline incensed the vocal visiting support. At times during the match, it felt as if UCD were playing in Louth, such was the noise reverberating from the Lily-White section of the stand. Dundalk keeper, Peter Cherrie, was in inspired form especially during a ten-minute spell in the first half. He twice denied striker David McMillan. Cherrie came to the rescue once again after some fantastic build-up play culminated with Ciaran Kilduff squaring to right winger Chris Mulhall, who could only direct his shot straight at Cherrie. Against the run of play, the Louth men

took the lead. On the half-hour mark, Stephen Maher, who had only just come on a minute earlier, caused problems down the right. Slack defending and poor marking led to Fahrudin Kudozovic tapping into an empty net from close range. Dundalk were beginning to gain the momentum. However, their momentum was short lived. On the stroke of half-time, Dundalk defender Gary Breen was shown a straight red card for allegedly throwing an elbow at UCD midfielder Greg Bolger. UCD emerged from the dressing room after the break ready to overturn the deficit. Two saves by Cherrie again, in the opening two minutes suggested that the second half would be all UCD. The Students piled the pressure on throughout the half, with David McMillan coming close on a couple of occasions, only to be thwarted by the away keeper once again. The bombardment on Dundalk’s goal was constant, yet their well-organised defence would not crack. UCD were forced into speculative long-range efforts as the visitors put everyone behind the ball. Keith Ward had a shot on goal on the hour mark after a good build-up play, yet his shot was always rising. UCD’s numerical advantage was obvious for everyone to see, but they couldn’t make it count. With 15 minutes to go, Greg Bolger skipped past the challenge of Dundalk full-back Shaun Kelly and raced down the left pulling the ball back for his fellow central midfielder, Paul Corry. The UCD

Making a Mockery

T

he playboy-like sports star can get under the skin of nearly anyone. However, the most stomach-turning tendency of these George Best characters is their withered and under-utilised talent gone to waste.

UCD bravely defended against Shamrock Rovers for a superb victory. Photo: Rebecca Windsor

man took a touch inside the box to take it around the defender before being taken down by Dean Bennett. The referee had no choice but to award the penalty, much to the dismay of the hostile Dundalk support. Greg Bolger stepped up to take the penalty and equalise for his side. Unfortunately for the hosts, he smashed it straight at Cherrie who tipped it onto the crossbar. The ball then bounced back into the thankful arms of the goalkeeper. The crowd sensed that it was to be UCD’s best

opportunity. Dundalk were hanging on, visibly tired and longing for the full-time whistle. The Students would not relent. Chris Mulhall demonstrated impressive technique to volley a cross which had goal written all over it, only to be blocked by a defender. This was to prove UCD’s last chance of note. Dundalk wrapped up all three points in the 85th minute when goalkeeper Billy Brennan made a mess of a routine back pass to allow substitute Johnny Breen to put the visitors two goals ahead. Fittingly,

Breen and his teammates celebrated in front of their passionate travelling fans. UCD’s four-match unbeaten run came to an end, yet manager Martin Russell must be congratulated for securing their safety from relegation with two games to go – a disappointing result then, but an excellent season. The Students’ penultimate league match sees them take on third-placed Sligo Rovers in the Belfield Bowl this Friday in what will no doubt be a welcome break from the pressures of battling relegation.

In light of Gavin Henson’s foray into the world of reality television, Killian Woods discusses the effects celebrity image is having on today’s sports stars

The hit BBC show Strictly Come Dancing has recently become a deathbed for rugby players’ careers and an unofficial stamp of approval on their permanent retirement. While former England internationals such as Austin Healey and Matt Dawson had already surpassed their career’s threshold, Gavin Henson is a different case. Henson’s disregard towards rugby, a sport for which he is blessed with immense natural talent, is sickening. Add to this, the Welshman’s newly found dedication towards dancing, and Henson offers a puzzling conundrum. His self-imposed exile – eighteen months and counting – from rugby is a complete waste of a player with the potential to be the best centre in Europe. People may not like the manner in which he conducts himself,

but Henson is one of Wales’ most naturally talented players, possessing the ability to single-handedly control and even win a match. A similar diva who appears to be following in the footsteps of Henson is England’s troubled former wunderkind, Danny Cipriani. Another player clearly dissatisfied with rugby and life in general, Cipriani seems to have finally settled himself on a goal to achieve. Even if the challenge is lined with copious amounts of Australian dollars, accepting the rigorous challenge that is Super 15 rugby requires a certain amount of personal drive. The aforementioned players are merely two high-profile names that appear to draw much angst from paparazzi and criticism of sports journalists for their apparent unpro-

fessional lifestyle. However, there is more behind the constant barrage of negative judgment sent their way. There are acceptable reasons for loathing players such as Henson and Cipriani. As outsiders imagining the mindset of a Welsh or English rugby fan, our understanding of their situations can be ill informed. A sense of disappointment with these kinds of players who go off the rails can account for some of the antagonism from fans and media alike. For fans to grow an attachment to these players, only to see this sense of national pride fizzle away, can be crushing. However, when focusing on players and their sudden lack of passion, rarely is their sense of self-satisfaction considered. Sport, like any other profession, is a career, a liveli-

hood that can become stale and boring for those who partake. Danny Cipriani showed signs of this boredom during the summer, as he trained with numerous English football league clubs and flirted with the possibility of signing a contract with League One side MK Dons. What is often not accounted for is that these players may not actually enjoy playing rugby. Regardless of their talent or public expectation, they have the right to jump ship. Ultimately, however, the manner in which Gavin Henson has turned his back on the game is disappointing as rugby, like any global sport, lives off having the most talented players competing. It is a disheartening thought that the Welshman may never play rugby again.

The University Observer Volume XVII Issue 3  

UO Volume XVII Issue 3

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