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The University Observer’s retrospective on the noughties

2000: Parents Group Criticise SU over free condoms U

CD Students’ Union came under fire from the National Parents’ Council (NPC) for adding free condoms to Freshers’ Packs. President of the NPC, Rose Tully maintained that the distribution of contraception was encouraging promiscuity and pre-marital sex, describing the move as “dangerous and irresponsible”. She went on to state that “we are living in a Christian country and we, as parents, do not advocate the practice of sex outside of marriage. However, we have to be realistic and admit that young people are having sex. I am just concerned that naïve and inexperienced people will be given the wrong message by this move.”

SU representatives defended the decision, with SU President Eamonn O’Lionnain saying that the move was “one that is aimed at raising awareness of safer sex” and that “students are young adults who may or may not be engaging in sex. Our main concern is that if they are having sex, they are doing so with full knowledge of their actions and the consequences of those actions.” Literary and Historical (L&H) auditor Paul Brady also criticised the SU, calling the distribution of condoms within the pack “inappropriate, insulting, counterproductive and sickeningly commercialised.”

2001: DJ BJ R

umours circulated that a female first year student performed oral sex on a DJ in the Student Bar in exchange for tickets to the Freshers’ Ball. The incident, which stood as one of the biggest scandals of 2001-02, was said to be an elaborate hoax. The DJ in question, Colman Mac Sealaigh, told The University Observer “there was no sexual contact whatsoever. It was nothing more than an elaborate prank”. The stunt took place in the Student Bar during an event to promote the Freshers’ Ball. Students were invited onstage to participate in a variety of dares to win tickets to the event, but Mac Sealaigh maintained that the oral sex was completely simulated and was orchestrated by the girl and her

boyfriend as a prank. It was rumoured that a carrot was used to simulate the act upon Mac Sealaigh, but this was later denied. After the incident, the Students’ Union stated that it was “currently making every effort to ascertain the full facts of the incident and will take all actions deemed appropriate.” Mac Sealaigh decided to deny the incident publicly after it was reported in national media, triggering outrage in many outlets. He stated that “I am thankful to people who stood by me in this most difficult time for me personally. It is not a nice thing to see your name associated with the kind of lies that were portrayed in newspapers.”

2003: Coca-Cola banned from all Students’Union shops U

CD students twice voted on a proposal to ban all Coca-Cola products from Students’ Union shops and bars. After the first referendum was passed, a second was proposed by those opposed to the ban in an attempt to overthrow it. Students voted to retain the ban, however, with a turnout of 22.3 per cent – one of the highest seen by then-SU Returning Officer, Michael Clark. The first referendum passed by only 59 votes, but the second was passed with 56.5 per cent of students in favour. Tensions ran high between the two sides, with the pro-boycott side labelling the anti-boycott side “undemocratic” for

bringing forward a second referendum. It was thought that voter turnout was so high as students wished to avoid another referendum on the issue. One proponent of the boycott, Ray Rowan, stated that the “best way to stop this precedent is simply to beat it,” and also stated that he felt that “the ‘Yes’ campaign’s leaflets are full of lies”. The boycott was initially proposed in protest at Coca-Cola’s alleged poor treatment of trade unionists in bottling plants in Colombia, and to express solidarity with the trade union representing the workers, SINALTRAINAL.

2009: UCD breaks into Top 100 U

CD managed to break into the top 100 of The Times/QS University Rankings for the first time, placing at number 89. The news was met with happiness from university officials, with UCD’s President, Professor Hugh Brady, stating that “rankings can never measure the full impact of our institutions, but I think the reality is that they do matter; they matter to international students and staff in considering what university to go to, they matter increas-

ingly to Irish students as they consider whether to stay at home or to go abroad for their education, and they’re one of the top ten reasons that [multinational] companies give when they’re choosing where to locate.” Dr Brady also labelled the ranking as “extremely gratifying”. However, the new rankings were not accepted well by all staff. A senior academic told The University Observer that “for publicity purposes, these rankings are a university’s dream; in real terms,

however, they are pretty much meaningless.” The rankings used peer review, the opinions of employers, ratios of staff-student numbers, and the number of international staff and students in attendance to compile the rankings. UCD was one of two Irish universities to make the top 100; the other was Trinity College Dublin, who ranked at number 49.

UCD Campus News: a timeline 2000 •SU condemned by parents’ organisation for including condoms in Freshers’ Packs •Student dies in cycling accident on campus •New Student Centre opens

2001 •DJ denies having oral sex on him in exchange for Freshers’ Ball tickets •Hoax anthrax attacks target UCD •Prostitutes found and removed from UCD campus

2002 •Large scale sexual harassment case allegedly covered up by UCD •Ents officer fails to carry out job properly as SU falls deeper into crisis •Students revolt against Noel Dempsey’s plans to reintroduce tuition fees

2003 •Dr Hugh Brady appointed to succeed Dr Art Cosgrove as President of UCD •First Coca-Cola ban referendum proposed to UCDSU council •Students successfully occupy the library to pro test against proposed cuts to library opening hours

2004 •UCD student Rosanna Davison crowned Miss World •Lecturer forces students to attend Opus Dei lectures in order to pass her class •A body is discovered behind the library, is revealed to be that of a student who died of exposure

2005 •Semesterisation and modularisation are introduced to UCD, causing huge administration and registration problems •Lecturer who forced students to attend Opus Dei lectures retires without investigation or punishment

2006 •SU sabbatical officers clash over abortion advice for students •First ever UCD Ball fails to attract students •Escort agency found to be recruiting on campus

2007 •Economics lecturer Moore McDowell labels students “semi-literate” •Dr Martin Butler succeeds Professor Mary Clayton as UCD Vice-President for Students

•Student takes UCD to High Court over limited places in medicine

2008 •UCD budget deficit totals €15 million •Students, staff and some SU sabbatical officers oppose Miss UCD •SU shop breaches five year long ban of CocaCola

2009 •Students across the country protest against reintroduction of third level tuition fees •Please Talk comes under fire after HSE funding is allegedly misspent •UCD enter the top 100 of The Times/QS University Ratings for the first time, ranking at number 89

Bridget Fitzsimons



Fuck that. I fucking did stuff for them. UO: You got them a plotter. If you were any good at all you would have gotten them two. Two plotters? Are you actually on drugs?

Outgoing Vice President for Students Prof. Mary Clayton on her tenure

“But still only 62 of them came out to vote for me in the election – but I sup- “I’ve really enjoyed the role of VP for Students and have learned a huge pose Paddy Carroll only got one vote, RON got 2. Still Joanne got 16 – where amount – about the university in general and about issues in third-level the hell did she get 16 votes – for what like, what was she gonna do? education. It’s been a hugely valuable experience.” UO: Maybe she had friends there? ”

Now Senator, then SU Education Officer James Carroll on architecture students


“I’d rather dip my testicles in hot acid than run for anything in USI.”


“Assessment is now split over continuous assessment and into a Christmassy bit and a summer bit.” New VP for Students Dr Martin Butler gives us the quick guide to modularisation


SU President elect James Carroll fosters inter-varsity relations

“I personally love the idea of… query-based something… sorry.”


SU Education Officer Ronan Shanahan is very clear on the details

“I couldn’t bring any more to it, and there’s only so many bad singers you can listen to in a lifetime…I’m only joking!” Ray D’Arcy on hanging up presenting boots on You’re A Star



“Well, obviously, you dig a big hole in the ground.” Student Centre Manager, Dominic O’Keeffe, on how to build a swimming pool

“It was a relief to be 100 per cent certain of being elected, which is what hap- 2008 pens when you run unopposed.” “People were having their cans of Coke sniffed and thrown out, and some cans were thrown out without being sniffed” After years as SU Returning Officer, Michael Clark displays his extensive knowledge of the electoral process

Mary Clayton

SU President Aodhan O’Dea on the important issues facing students living in Res

James Carroll

As UCDSU enters the eighth year of its Coca-Cola boycott, Bridget Fitzsimons examines the ban and questions its modern relevance


his decade brought a taste of the US educational system to UCD. We no longer have terms, we have semesters. Modularisation, or ‘Horizons’ as it has been branded in UCD, ended the traditional system of assigning yearlong classes that ended in annual finals. Instead, classes are now a semester long and can encompass a variety of methods for grading. Continuous assessment is commonplace and it’s rare to find a module that places its entire marking upon a single end of semester exam. While some could say that Horizons has made UCD into a poor copy of an American institution, in reality, it has opened doors and made things easier. As a final year Arts student, I have not been educated under the former system, but I can see the advantages of the new one. A Law student can now take electives in landscape architecture and a Medicine student can study early medieval literature. The opening up of faculties facilitates the spreading of education. Students who may have interests outside of their set degree are now allowed and encouraged to branch out and take electives to fuel their own interest. Similarly, continuous assessment has allowed for students who do not do well at exams to have a fairer chance at getting a better grade. In studying English, for example, I have never felt right reading critical essays, then being asked to regurgitate them for an exam. I would rather research and do further study for an essay that could put me on a path to becoming more like these critics. Studying something is about education. It is not about cramming and rote learning, which is what students are forced to do when confronted with several exams at the end of a year. Change is not always a bad thing. While not all of the changes Dr Brady has implemented have really been for the benefit of students, Horizons has opened up a world of knowledge that we never really had access to in the old system.

Ronan Shanahan

Is the Coke ban relevant?

n studying The University Observer archives for this supplement, it became obvious that nothing has divided students throughout the decade more than the Students’ Union boycott of Coca-Cola. The proposed boycott was put to referendum twice in 2003, and was passed by students on both occasions. While the morals and consistency of the students who voted have to be admired, it must be time for this boycott to be reviewed. In a study conducted by The University Observer for this issue, while 80 per cent of students questioned knew that the SU had a boycott in place, only 50 per cent said they felt that it was being properly enforced. The majority of students who felt it was being widely flaunted around the campus said that they felt the fact that CocaCola products were openly available elsewhere in UCD damaged the integrity of the ban. In addition, the vast majority of undergraduate students on campus were not in UCD when the boycott was voted in. 2003 is a distant memory for the membership of UCDSU, so why are we still forced to live by the decisions of those who came before us? A Students’ Union Officer’s job is to serve its members and their interests. A group as diverse and as transient as an SU in a college the size


of UCD cannot be expected to adhere to the opinions of the group that came six years before it. 65 per cent of students questioned said they would vote to overturn the ban if another referendum were to be put to the student body. The ban simply is not feasible in its current state. Students can’t be expected to take a ban seriously when Coca-Cola products are widely available on campus. Similarly, the circumstances surrounding the original boycott should be examined. Coca-Cola’s treatment of their workers should be studied. There is no point in boycotting the products of a corporation if they have reformed themselves; it appears that SINALTRAINAL, the trade union who appealed for worldwide boycotting, have been fairly treated by Coca-Cola in the intervening years. From studying the survey, it is clear that the wishes of few are being forced upon everyone and we should not accept this. The wishes of those who came before us may not necessarily be ours, and if today’s students want to buy Coca-Cola products from their SU shops, then it is time for the issue to go to referendum again.

2005: Modularisation comes into effect in Belfield T

he introduction of modularisation proved controversial in UCD in 2005. While the scheme was initially introduced for first years only and intended to be slowly rolled out in following years, it was quickly decided that modularisation would be introduced across the whole university from 2006. Staff and students held protests on the move, which also saw UCD move into a fully semesterised model. The move towards modularisation and semesterisation began with the appointment of Dr Hugh Brady as President of UCD in 2004. It was thought that Professor Brady’s time in the American education system, most notably at Harvard University, influenced his favour of the modularised third-level system.

Initially, the new system was riddled with problems. One of the most high profile of these came when third Arts students were told that their degree weighting was to be split equally over their second and final years, rather than divided 30 per cent and 70 per cent over the two years. Students protested and were eventually offered the option to retain the 30:70 weighting. However, when awarding degrees, an administrative error meant that some students who had to repeat modules had their GPA split equally between second and final year.


Quotes of the decade

Has Horizons improved UCD?

Notable deaths of the decade

Pope John Paul II

Charles Haughey

Alexander Litvinenko

Saddam Hussein

Sir Edmund Hillary

Pope John Paul II was born Karol Józef Wojtyła in Poland. He was ordained as a priest in 1946 and was elected as Pope in 1978. This made him, at 55, the youngest Pope since 1846. He was the victim of two assassination attempts and was known for his strong views on ordaining women, homosexuality and contraception. He died of septic shock at the age of 84.

Charles Haughey was a Fianna Fáil TD who also served as Taoiseach for three periods between 1979 and 1992. He was married to Maureen Lemass, daughter of former Taoiseach Seán Lemass. Though admired while in office, a series of personal, political and financial scandals ruined his reputation in retirement. He died of prostate cancer aged 80.

A former FSB officer and KGB informant, Alexander Litvinenko publicly criticised his superiors, claiming they knew of the Beslan school massacre before it happened. He was arrested but later fled to the UK where he was granted political asylum. He died of polonium-210 poisoning at the age of 44. Britain tried to extradite a Russian politician for his murder, but was denied.

President of Iraq,Hussein murdered many of his adversaries and led an attack in Kuwait. His tenure oversaw the IranIraq war and the Gulf War. He fled into hiding when the US led an international invasion. Hussein was found in December 2003 and in November 2006 was convicted of crimes against humanity & sentenced to death by hanging. He was executed in December 2006, aged 69.

Sir Edmund Hillary was the first man to reach the summit of Mount Everest along with his Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay. He also trekked to both the North and South Poles and set up a charity to help the Sherpa people of Nepal. He died of heart failure at the age of 88.

18th May 1920 – 2nd April 2005

16th September 1925 – 13th June 2006

30th August 1962 – 23rd November 2006

28th April 1937 – 30th December 2006

20th July 1919 – 11th January 2008

Mission accomplished The last decade saw the rise and fall of one of Ireland’s most distinctive political parties, writes Gavan Reilly


he Irish political landscape over the last ten years has been dominated and moulded by one party, and one man. After coming to power in 1997, Fianna Fáil have served in Government unbroken for almost thirteen years, encompassing the entirety of the noughties, with the inimitable and incomparable Bertie Ahern at the helm for over eight of those ten years. The country’s largest party have seen off two leaders of Fine Gael in that decade, and have won two elections, each with surprising ease – almost winning an overall majority single-handedly in 2002. Yet, for all the power that de Valera’s Soldiers of Destiny wielded over the era that has just past us, there is a compelling case to be made that during this time, Fianna Fáil have not left the biggest legacy of Ireland’s political parties. Of course, one might hold that the real legacy of the last couple of years – the sudden, instant and dismal collapse in the public finances – have been the fault of Fianna Fáil. But for an economy to have collapsed, it must have been built up in the first place; and in this writer’s opinion, the economy was not built by Fianna Fáil. It was, instead, built by a small faction of public representatives, most of them former members of Fianna Fáil itself, who in 1985 grew so disillusioned with the take-no-prisoners leadership of the autocratic Charles J Haughey that they decided to split from FF to form their own political party altogether. While their party may have not lasted the course of the decade themselves, it has been their liberal mould that has done the most to transform Ireland from the backward, dogmatic, über-Catholic model of the late 1980’s to the modern, semi-liberal state of today. That party was the Progressive Democrats. In a way it was with a small degree of inevitability that the PDs were going to find themselves being packed up as the noughties wound to a close. Once they had acquiesced into coalition with Fianna Fáil in 1989, less than four years after they had split from their parent party so acrimoniously, it was in some ways predestined that the fundamental meat of the more liberal PD policy would be subsumed into the larger populist beast. Fianna Fáil is a party built on the premise of power: having the power is the party’s raison d’être. It is a beast that feeds on its own megalomania. If having this power came with the price of forsaking the party’s biggest value of the era – that coalition government would never be entertained on any grounds – then that was a price that Fianna Fáil would ultimately be happy to pay. It was having struck this deal and swallowed a deal of their own conscience – dealing with the Devil that had so bitterly driven them from a party to which they had showed great loyalty – that enabled the PDs to set about enforcing the agenda they wanted. The party firmly believed that the economy would escape the constrictions placed on it by the harsh climate of the 1980s by lowering

“Ultimately the PDs can consider their mission to have been accomplished” the tax rate and leaving Irish businesses and citizens with money to spend. Thus, when again in coalition with FF in the late 1990s, the Minister for Finance, Charlie McCreevy – himself an ideological PD, having very nearly jumped ship when the party was being formed – incrementally reformed the PAYE system and showly chipped away at the tax bands, leaving the lower band at 20 per cent (down six per cent) and the upper band at 41 (from 48). Coupled with this cut in the personal tax rates, the PDs were firm proponents of cutting the corporate tax rate to the internationally envied rate of 12.5 per cent – thus stimulating the massive influx, even if somewhat artificial, of foreign corporate profit into the Irish exchequer. In 2002, buoyed by the popularity of its economic moves (fuelled by the PDs) it seemed that Fianna Fáil were destined to score a major victory in the summer’s General Election. Forecasts suggested a total of perhaps 87 seats, leaving FF a virtual carte blanche to legislate as they pleased. It was only when Michael McDowell climbed a lamppost in Ranelagh with days to go until polling that the country began to twig to the fact that the Progressive Democrats were the ones driving the policies of the government forward. The stunt, though cheap, was what saved the country’s fortunes for five more years, as Fianna Fáil were limited to 81 seats and required the PDs’ support to retain power once more. Ultimately the PDs can consider their mission to have been accomplished. They may not have had the influence to force through any legislation for same-sex civil partnerships while in office but their imprimatur can be seen on the recent Act. In the grander scheme of things, though, the PDs’ greatest achievement was to transcend both civil war politics and the left-right spectrum. The PDs considered themselves to be sensible rather than politically motivated, and that is what will be most missed in their absence.

Mary Harney remains the only female party leader in the history of the State


Webs, cells and BlackPods: Tens years in Science Farouq Manji makes his case for the health, science and technology advancements that have shaped the last decade Science: The internet as we know it

determines what we can do to human embryos in good ethical and moral standing. Our new knowledge of human embryology has forced us to return to the landmark case of Roe v. Wade. It poses the question: armed with so much previously undiscovered scientific information, is Roe v. Wade really adequate to guide us in the future? Unfortunately, this drags the abortion debate back into the limelight. The study of embryology and stem cells has given us a tome of information on foetal development, and therefore supplies those entrenched on either side of the issue with different types of mud to sling at each other. It ought to, however, coax everyone to at least reflect on the phenomenon that is human life.

The internet of the 1990s and the internet of the 21st century are two very different things. Specifically, Google, Facebook, and other mainstays of the interweb surfaced in the early 2000s and permanently changed the way we share, gather and process information. A hundred years ago, artists would travel thousands of miles to seek out different schools of thought; scientists would write letters to colleagues and wait months for a reply. Now, we access these things within a few moments. Part of the power of the internet is its ability to almost instantaneously disseminate information, but before Google, MSN, MySpace et al, we didn’t realize this potential. Now we push the boundary of what we can do with the net every day. The web has become a forum for social reform. Political movements are started, organised, and brought to fruition on the net. You may protest in person, but the demonstration will surely have been organised online. It has also become a place to gripe, grieve and love. Social networking has been instrumental in this movement, creating a world within a world. Sites such as Facebook have fundamentally changed the way we socially interact. And they are relatively new. We’re the generation to whom this was introduced as a novelty – but how will it shape the upcoming generation for which online social networking is as normal as, say, talking on the phone? The internet, in the broadest sense, is practically everywhere. And its most recognizable and powerful online company, Google, is just as ubiquitous. Its informal motto is ‘Don’t Be Evil’, interestingly coined by a guy who now works for Facebook. We depend on Google searches to find us information, but in doing so have appointed it the sifter, sorter and gatekeeper. In our enthusiastic embrace of instantaneous knowledge, have we made vulnerable our autonomy?

Health: Stem cells, embryos and abortions

No doubt stem cells can do a lot for us – allowing us grow new livers, hair, and so on. But if the debate over where life begins is a

Technology: iBerries and Blackpods

pond, then stem cells and the study of embryology is a rock that has shown us how deep and complex that pond really is – and the ripple effect of the rock has unforeseen repercussions in the future. The question of from where stem cells should be harvested is really another way of asking, where does human life begin? It is this that

iPods and Blackberries are common, but this wasn’t always the case. In the near past, it was the height of coolness to have a Discman or a mobile phone, and each one required its own dedicated carrying case. They were really big. But the last decade saw an explosion of powerful yet puny devices. Lowered manufacturing costs and reduced size meant that everyone could afford one, and of course, the fact that you can fit 108 songs on each device, and keep your whole life organised, is a nice bonus. Therein lies the rub: we pour our entire lives into these little deviltoys. All of our music, contacts, schedules, credit card info. Naked pics of our ultra-hot, semi-sweet, low fat… latte. So when we lose our Crackberry, we cry extra-sparkly tears. These gadgets all tie in with the interweb, acting as our umbilicus to the greater world and keeping us connected all the time. Where once there was a clear delineation between work and home life, now the lines are constantly blurred and often non-existent. Where once you had to quietly meditate on a long journey, now you can surf, listen to music and download pictures of lattes while on the move. And then there’s Twitter. ‘Nuff said. It is a matter of personal opinion whether this phenomenon of interconnectedness is advantageous, but you can form your own opinions on the matter – and if you find a WiFi zone, tweet them to the universe.

One Tuesday in September It’s almost impossible, believes Gavan Reilly, to imagine what the noughties would have been like without the fear of terrorism


or those old enough to remember it, it will forever be one of those history-defining moments. There are those kinds of questions in every generation – the questions that define a culture’s experiences based on where the citizenry were when JFK was shot, or when Elvis died, or when John Lennon died, or when Princess Diana was killed in Paris. The remarkable thing about the noughties equivalent is that the defining moment was not the death of someone famous, but rather the deaths of 2,973 innocent people at the hands of 19 Islamic extremists and four hijacked planes on the morning of Tuesday 11th September, 2001. Though it is often said to have had a zero per cent success rate, terrorism has never been far from the headlines since headlines were first written. Thus, it is understandably impossible to imagine how the affairs of the world’s nations might have transpired over the last eight years had the events of 9/11 not taken place. Almost all of the decade’s conflict between the world’s major nations has been related to the United States’ war on terror in some way, itself a direct response to the attacks. First there was Afghanistan; the world looked on as it learned the names of cities like Kabul and Kandahar for what seemed like the first time. Then to Iraq, for another crack at deposing Saddam Hussein, as the world learned where Basra and Tikrit were situated. Since then, flirtations with Iran and North Korea. All in the pursuit of freedom from fear; all so that the world’s only remaining superpower could send its people to bed at night without the thought entering their minds that a nuclear warhead might soar overhead while they lay. Even the global financial crisis could be traced in some way to the advent of this new, gruesome scale of international terrorism. It’s not beyond reason to suggest that the reason the World Trade Center was chosen as a target for attack was because of the crippling effect its destruction would have on the global financial markets; major trading corporations and brokerage houses would be instantaneously wiped out by losing their assets, staff and premises in one swoop. So it turned out to be; the world’s markets plummeted on the news and it was nigh on miraculous that the entire decade was not spent in recession as a result. Either way, the con-

sumer spending boom encouraged by President George W Bush in response to the attacks was ultimately the trigger that led to the free=flow of credit in the American markets, and to the concept of sub-prime mortgages. Thus, in a perverse way, the terrorists actually won: what was probably intended to send the darling of America – the capitalist economy seen by the east to create inequality, and seen by the west to reward those who dare to take a risk – was sent to its knees anyway. Another economic hallmark of the decade – significant inflation in the first world, in tandem with high interest rates from growing economies – can be directly attributed to 9/11. In the aftermath of the attacks, as America looked to the Middle East and began to deploy her troops, the price of the world’s most-traded commodity inflated enormously, thus causing the price of almost every other good in the world to rise with it. Oil, people had forgotten, played a part in every part of trade: either in the manufacture of, or the distribution of, almost every product on Earth. And as prices rose, so widened the gap between rich and poor. It is now strange to conceive of a time where you could bring a bottle of water from home and take it onto a plane, or if you were travelling light, where you could bring as many aerosols or gels in your hand luggage as you pleased. In another strange way, one of the strange cultural phenomena of the noughties – the astronomic growth of low-cost airlines – is a by-product of the era of post-9/11 security crackdowns. Ryanair et al make their money by charging little for the flight itself before scalping passengers on the extras. Had there been a massive surge in cheap air travel and if people were permitted to bring whatever they liked in their hand luggage, such airlines would never have grown as exponentially as they would. Strangely, an attack carried out with airliners did remarkable things for the aviation industry. Nonetheless, by the end of the decade we had learned to live. We asked ourselves where we were when we heard of Michael Jackson’s death, and the world considered itself normal once more. Until, of course, a Nigerian man tried to blow up a jumbo jet on Christmas Day, and we were reminded once again of how things had changed.

At the time it was feared that the death toll at the World Trade Centre might be as high as 10,000

The Talent Factor Emer Sugrue looks at the rise of shows like The X Factor and asks why they have earned a place in people’s hearts


he first decade of the millennium charted the rise and rise of the TV Talent show. They come in all shapes and sizes, whether it’s Strictly Come Dancing or Feirm Factor, a delightful TG4 offering which has farmers battle it out for a new tractor. The most famous of the genre, however, is The X Factor, a karaoke competition run by music-production behemoth Simon Cowell. The recent X Factor final was watched by almost 20 million people and the series made a reported £100m in advertising revenue. That doesn’t take into account money earned from the phone-in votes (up to £10m an episode) or CD sales for the winner, most of which goes to the makers of the programme and not the artists. The X Factor has a simple format which it follows every year – one of the reasons it’s so cheap and easy to produce. First, ITV air a few weeks of taped shows where the hundreds of thou-

Why am I explaining how The X Factor works? You probably watch it. Every autumn Monday is a bombardment of people asking if I’ve seen last night’s X Factor. But the more pressing question is, why? Why do people watch it? The general consensus is that it’s rubbish, but viewers must get something out of it. I believe they get three things. The first is schadenfreude: watching someone’s dream of being a pop star crushed. This element is particularly prominent in the early episodes where we are gleefully shown people without a note in their head completely humiliating themselves. How could they be so deluded as to think they can sing on stage? Simple: they’ve already gotten through two rounds of auditions, and been told repeatedly that they are great so that Cowell will have some confidence to destroy. The second element is to see a journey. We see the singers from their earliest moments, nervously singing with no backing

Technophiles of the world, unite! With the noughties came the rise of social networking and free media content. Cormac Duffy ponders the implications for the future


he last decade has brought about the most significant changes in technology to occur since the Industrial Revolution, but the overall social impact of them seems to vary depending on who you ask. We’ve all heard the main clichés: Texting is killing talking. Mobile phones and limitless WiFi is making it impossible for us to ever be out of contact. It’s getting tiring to hear the same thing again and again. Thankfully, some have managed to put a fresh, somewhat optimistic spin on the decade – they have described this new technology as a push in the direction of a “new Socialism”, also known as ‘infoanarchism’ or ‘dotcommunism’. But how is this new technology socialist? What’s left-wing about posting a new Facebook status? Is YouTube a communist plot? To understand these questions, we have to look at the root of socialism, and the idea of collectivised control of the means of production and distribution. It’s a dream that has eluded its supporters for many years, but it seems to be coming true in the most unlikely place: in the big business world of new media. It all started with a site called Napster. With its conception, internet users across the globe could share music freely and easily. Hailed as a godsend by music fans and opponents of intellectual property, the Napster backlash from the music industry (most notoriously the Recording Industry Association of America, who sued 35,000 illegal music downloaders including a twelve-year-old girl) eventually had the site shut down.

sands of applicants need to be whittled down into a manageable 12-or-so for the live broadcasts. The judges don’t do this, obviously; they are far too busy and overpaid to sit through every hopeful who comes through the door, so they are previewed by underlings who only send through the applicants that make for entertaining television, and these are the ones we see. They come in one of two categories – the decent singers that make Simon Cowell attempt to move the eyebrows on his waxy botoxed forehead, and the laughably awful, freak show contestants. The good singers are attractive and have a tragic life story. No exceptions. If the freaks have a sob story, we don’t hear about it. That would just make us feel guilty for laughing at them. By the end we are left with around five good singers, five mediocre ones, and two comic relief losers. Then the live shows start. There used to be just one night of singing and results, but the latest series changed this to two – airing on Saturday and Sunday night – doubling ITV’s ad revenue and saving them the bother of rerunnning Britain’s Fattest Bimbos. All the contestants sing and get berated or praised by the judges. Eventually someone wins, and churns out an album of cover songs before sinking into obscurity.

track and transformed into polished pop sensations. We see their background and family and there’s a sense of philanthropy about watching and making their dreams come true. It’s the community spirit, which leads me to the final reason: peer pressure. In the old days of television when there were only two channels, everyone watched the same thing. Whenever a new comedy or drama series aired, everyone would be able to chat about it the next day. It’s called the shared cultural experience. It’s the modern version of the town fête. With digital TV and the internet, the shared cultural experience is pretty much gone, except with The X Factor. You have to watch it because everyone else does. Otherwise what will you talk about? Cat-based YouTube videos are difficult to discuss. It may be tempting to believe that TV talent shows will go the way of Big Brother and disappear from our screens to be replaced by well-written or insightful programming, but be realistic. What determines the TV schedule is money and viewing figures. The X Factor has both; in fact, year on year it gets more popular. The last series had twice the viewers of the first one. It is not a noughties phenomenon, it is a fixture – and we had better get used to it.

Of course, it didn’t end there. As the decade progressed, a slew of sites offering peer-to-peer file sharing and torrent services sprung up, allowing anyone to easily acquire pirate music, film, e-books and software. Of course it was, and still is, illegal, but it has been near impossible to crack down on due to its widespread occurrence. This has left a situation where a global community of fans have shared

their media collections – with no need for large corporations to distribute them. Yes, users could distribute other people’s works quite easily, but soon they would be able to produce media themselves. It started with the idea of social networking, creating online communities devoted to special interests, or using the internet to keep in touch with friends and family. The popularity of these sites dragged people online, and the web became the easiest way to reach an audience of millions. Every aspiring writer became a blogger, and every aspiring director, comedian and musician set up a YouTube channel. They were now able to reach the masses from their living rooms (if the masses were willing to pay attention, of course). This phenomenon, known as ‘usergenerated content’, has put the power for media-production in the hands of the public – and although large companies still control much of the media, independently produced material has made large strides. Just look at the amount of celebrities that have achieved fame through YouTube, or the immense success of blogging communities such as the Huffington Post. Suddenly anyone can become the next big thing in the media, if you’re memorable enough to go viral. The individual producing works for the community’s benefit instead of profit is definitely inclined towards socialism, but some things go the whole way. Collaboratively produced media means that anyone in the online community can take part, with no better example than Wikipedia. Wikipedia as a corporation do comparatively little. The vast majority of their content has been produced, edited and published by their users, who work together to achieve the greatest accuracy. Crowdsourcing, as its known, has shown that community collaboration can lead to quality material – something socialists have been trying to demonstrate for years. So will the information age be socialist? Probably not. In most industries, it’s definitely business as usual. But the growth of the New Socialism is promising. The consumer is gaining both free access to the work of others and the ability to create and distribute their own work. The online community is ever growing in terms of numbers and the level of cooperation between individuals. If this progress continues, we may soon see the socialist republic of the internet. But for now, we can only continue to blog, tweet, edit Wikipedia, and dream.

Sri Lanka: Ten Years of Turmoil

It has been a fraught decade in Sri Lanka. Alex Court talks us through the last ten years of the Asian state’s civil war


hile conflict between Sri Lanka’s two main ethnic groups was in full swing before we stressed over the millennium bug and ushered in Y2K, let’s hope the next ten years will see less murder and abuse of human rights. The essence of the conflict is between the Singhalese ethnic group and the minority Tamil population. While some rebel Tamils, known as the Tamil Tigers, want a separate country for themselves, the Singhalese have never agreed. Tamils make up 8.5 per cent of Sri Lanka’s 20 million people, with the Sinhalese comprising almost 74 per cent of the population, according to U.S. Government data.




The Liberation of Tamil Eelan organisation is formed. They demand a separate country for Tamils in the North-East of the Sri Lankan island.

23 February 2002 - Government signs ceasefire agreement with Tamil Tigers Rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe separately sign a ceasefire agreement brokered by Norway. The international community hopes the agreement will ensure peace.


13 August 2005 Laksham Kadirgamar, Sri Lanka’s foreign minister and an ethnic Tamil, is assassinated at his private residence. Tiger rebels are blamed for what the world deems a terrorist act. 23 December 2005 12 Navy sailors die when landmines blow up their bus en route to a naval base. Tamil rebels are blamed for detonating the mines. Analysts portray this as the worst breach of the 2002 ceasefire yet, and the country seems set for more violence.


20 July 2006 Rebels shut a sluice gate located inside Tamil Tigers territory as a response to the governmental failure to deliver a promised water reservoir. Water is cut off from 60,000 farmers. The Government reacts with a heavy military campaign using planes and ground troops. The 2002 ceasefire is in tatters as the Government back civilians against the Tigers, who will commit such crimes against humanity to get what it wants.


1-5 November 2007 Tamil rebels raid an Air Force base, killing 14 men and destroying eight planes. Government forces respond with an air raid which kills SP Thamilselvan, the rebels’ public face. His death is a blow to the Tamils, and many fear the rebel retaliation will seek all-out war.


Don’t quote me on that

Paul Fennessy recounts an age-old tradition which persevered throughout the noughties – the phenomenon of politicians making utter fools of themselves

5. George Galloway “Now would you like me to be the cat?” Jonathan Swift would have undoubtedly baulked and dismissed the idea as too fantastical, if anyone had ever predicted a politician engaging in the type of behaviour that George Galloway so often indulged in over the last decade. The inevitable highlight was his hilarious appearance on Celebrity Big Brother. Galloway entered the BB house thinking he was Martin Luther King, broadcasting grandiose pronouncements left, right and centre. Unsurprisingly, he left the show looking severely deflated, after this self-appointed political crusader ascertained that the public were not especially entranced with a politician who engages in acts such as dressing in leotards, in the addition to asking the aforementioned question before actually imitating a cat.

therefore served as an unlikely harbinger of the notoriously racist and ill-informed views that are known to inflict sections of Italian society, and can be routinely witnessed at football matches where black players are sometimes booed.

2. Boris Johnson

“Galloway entered the BB house thinking he was Martin Luther King, broadcasting grandiose pronouncements left, right and centre”

4. Paul Gogarty

“With all due respect, in the most unparliamentary language, f*ck you Deputy Stagg! F*ck you!” Of the numerous trailblazers and trendsetters who came to prominence during this decade – Lady Gaga, Mark Zuckerburg, David Simon – perhaps the most laudably innovative individual was a little known politician from Westmeath. Paul Gogarty was on a one-man mission to alter the spectrum of the twenty-first century political stratum. One might applaud Gogarty for the shameless indifference he displayed towards the silly, outdated social conventions of the Dáil and advocate his vision of a better future in Irish politics, where total freedom of speech prevails. Imagine the viewer ratings that Dáil debates would draw if they were to essentially become an episode of The Sopranos – a profane extravaganza of epic proportions. “F*ck you Mr Cowen.” “No, shut your f*cking mouth Mr Kenny, or prepare to get f*cking whacked.”

3. Silvio Berlusconi “What’s his name? Some tanned guy. Ah, Barack Obama!” Not content with being known as a serial womaniser with an alleged proclivity for prostitutes, Silvio Berlusconi embarrassed his home country even further by demonstrating his racially challenged views in relation to the incumbent U.S. president. He then went on to make another less than appropriate joke concerning Michelle Obama’s skin colour. The phrase ‘digging your own grave’ springs to mind. Berlusconi

1. George Bush “Nigeria is an important continent.” As is the case with Johnson (who ironically chooses to chastise the ex-U.S. president for his idiocy on a regular basis), such is Bush’s penchant for demonstrating awe-inspiring stupidity that it is an arduous task in itself to select just one of his numerous faux pas over the course of the past decade. The aforementioned quote triumphs because it encapsulates the inadequate geographical knowledge of the average American. George Bush, of course, is synonymous with the average American in every aspect of his personality, from his fundamentalist ideals to his quite limited vocabulary. Indeed, some of Bush’s detractors have even intimated that he often purposefully presented himself as moronic in order to draw empathy from other undereducated blue-collar citizens. With comments as astonishingly brainless as the one noted above, it seems difficult to completely dismiss this supposition.


16 January 2008 Sri Lanka’s ceasefire is officially terminated, a recognition of the differences separating the two sides.

allow rebels time to regroup. Military commanders want to capture the Tigers’ leaders. The Government’s decision is a worrying dismissal of the international community.


2 January 2009 Government troops capture the city of Kilinochchi after a siege lasting months. Losing this town, which ran its own police, prisons and taxes, is a huge blow for Tamil solidarity. The Tigers bolster guerrilla tactics and become a less predictable enemy. The ‘success’ displaces approximately 250,000 civilians.



10 February 2009 A Red Cross boat evacuates 240 sick and wounded from the north-east war zone. The military accuses rebels of killing 19 civilians trying to flee the conflict area. Both sides are accused of using civilians as human shields. The scene is a humanitarian disaster with heavy casualties on both sides.

Refugee Camps


Forced Colonization Plan

7 April 2009 UN calls for a ceasefire arrangement to allow innocent civilians to evacuate the north-east war zone. Sri Lanka’s Government rejects the call, insisting a ceasefire would

“(Liverpudlians) cannot accept that they might have made any contribution to their misfortunes, but seek rather to blame someone else for it, thereby deepening their sense of shared tribal grievance about the rest of society.” The level of embarrassment caused by Berlusconi’s discriminatory comments takes some beating, but the inimitable London mayor succeeds in this respect with consummate ease. After making one of his by now, trademark gaffes, Johnson was sent to Liverpool by the then-Tory leader Michael Howard and forced to apologise for his indiscretion. It is hardly surprising then that Johnson has a quite storied history which is mired with controversy. In 1988, he was sacked from his job as a reporter for The Times on account of his having made up a quote. Further conformation of his general inanity includes comments such as “What’s my view on drugs? I’ve forgotten my view on drugs,” and “Voting Tory will cause your wife to have bigger breasts and increase your chances of owning a BMW M3”.

18 May 2009 The Sri Lankan Government formally declares an end to the 25-year civil war as the army takes control of the entire island and kills the Tamil Tigers’ rebel leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran. Militarily the rebels have been beaten, but ‘victory’ seems an inappropriate term when so many people have died so needlessly. The Government tries to monitor the thousands of displaced civilians fleeing north. Massive camps are set up, containing up to 40,000 people looking more like cities. NGOs around the world call for the innocent to be released. The Government says land mines must be dealt with before people are freed. As Singhalese southerners are encouraged to move into areas previously dominated by Tamils, the Government pushes forced colonization. By flooding the north with

Singhalese the Government tries to skew demographics, hoping to dissipate any lingering support for a Tamil homeland. Many Tamils, many of whom disapproved of the violence, understandably feel unwanted.

Both the Government and the rebels are victims and perpetrators; both are guilty of abusing human rights. Some say that the Tamils, being the minority, do not deserve an independent state. However, their culture, religion and language are different to that of the Singhalese. What entitled any group to an independent state remains, however, an impossible question to answer. The major theme of this conflict is the violence and death of innocent civilians – Sri Lanka is a sad reminder of how destructive humans can be.




It’s been a vintage era for video games – Quinton O’Reilly profiles his five favourites

Pokémon Gold and Silver (GBC - 2001) If the start of the decade was nothing more than a faint memory to you, chances are you can at least remember a time when the world was gripped with Pokémania. Game Freaks had already hit upon a winning formula with the original Red and Blue versions and could have easily churned out more of the same. Gold and Silver went two steps further, and created one of the most absorbing world in gaming. 100 new monsters, a real-time system that meant you could only catch monsters at certain times of the day, and the introduction of two new monster types that balanced out its rock, paper, scissors-style battle system meant that the game was a joy to experience as you became the number one trainer. Gold and Silver were a true evolution and allowed the series to burn brightly, unlike its sequels which have become less imaginative as the series progressed. Silent Hill 2 (PS2 - 2001) Games tend to be quite shallow with their stories, normally relying on plotlines that could be summarised in one line and having no real bearing on the actual experience. Silent Hill 2 made the story its heart, relying on the psychological that messes with every nook and cranny of your brain. A storyline drenched in symbolism and atmosphere and a well defined cast made the game a memorable experience. However, the real star of the game is the town itself, a fog-drenched and isolated locale that only heightens your uneasiness as you walk through the town. An experience that becomes genuinely tense as you try to avoid the sparsely populated monsters roaming its streets. Portal (PC, PS3, Xbox 360 - 2007) With the number of action and first person shooter games

that were released, it was difficult to pick out of a steller lineup. Halo, Gears of War, Metroid Prime, Fallout 3, Bioshock… any could have made this list. However, a game that may not have received as illustrious a reputation came included with another shining example of first person shooters, Half Life 2. While the game premise is quite simple, the ingenious device that is the portal gun turns most gaming conventions on their heads. Getting your head around its uses and figuring out how to approach each room injects the game with a layer of creativity and originality that is rarely seen. An intriguing antagonist combined with an undercurrent of dark humour also means that Portal is an exhilarating experience from start to end. Its only flaw is its short length but it’s such an enjoyable game, you won’t care. Grand Theft Auto IV (PS3, Xbox 360 - 2008) Perhaps an obvious choice, but GTA4 changed the way we look and evaluate games. Take away the violence and controversy that has become more of a trademark of the series than the game itself and you’d still be left with an incredible, detailed game. Rockstar North created one of the most believable game worlds ever to grace any system and the level of depth it demonstrates is a technical achievement. A masterpiece which has affected the way we both look at and evaluate games. Football Manager series (PC, Mac, PSP - 2004-Present) Whether or not you’re a football enthusiast, the level of detail and additions each instalment brings makes FM one of the most engrossing sports series in videogames. There is genuine satisfaction in taking a team of no-hopers and bringing them to the Premier League, and FM can quickly become an obsession. Alternatively, there is also genuine satisfaction to be had in taking over Man Utd or Liverpool, replacing their best players with a group of 40 something veterans from the Ryman league and cripple them both financially and competitively. Perhaps the real reason Football Manager was created!


2003 ‘Seven Nation Army’ – The White Stripes This song is built around the catchiest riff of the decade, which will serve both to annoy and enthuse listeners for decades to come.

‘Bohemian Like You’ – The Dandy Warhols Considering the fun lyrics and catchy chorus, it’s hard to think that this song needed a re-release to hit the charts. Placement in a Vodafone ad earned its place in the last decade of music.

‘Hey Ya!’ – Outkast “What’s cooler than being cool? Ice cold.” Enough said.

2001 ‘Beautiful Day’ – U2 Apparently this song is about some berk who’s lost everything but happens to be over the moon despite the fact. Whatever, Bono. A truly uplifting song by anyone’s standards, and defining of the decade. ‘I’m Like A Bird’ – Nelly Furtado Ah, for the days before someone informed Nelly of her bangin’ body. This song hit charts worldwide, and causes even the most stoic listener to burst into song at the chorus. 2002 ‘Clocks’ – Coldplay One of Coldplay’s most successful songs, it’s been featured in everything from the The Sopranos to Peter Pan and remains one the band’s most iconic anthems. ‘Lose Yourself ’ – Eminem The most successful rap song of all time, an Oscar-winning epic from a top lyricist.

2004 ‘Toxic’ – Britney Spears A chorus more contagious than Mexican swine flu earned Spears her first and only Grammy. A worldwide charttopper and not easily forgotten. ‘Run’ – Snow Patrol Simply haunting yet uplifting, and remains an acclaimed masterpiece despite Leona Lewis’ murder of it two years ago. 2005 ‘You’re Beautiful’ – James Blunt Although any track beginning with “my life is brilliant” deserves to be scoffed at, this chilling ode is six-times platinum in the US, and truly is beautiful. ‘Mr Brightside’ – The Killers The lyrics scream of jealousy, the chorus recalls ‘Ode To Joy’, and it perfectly blends pop and rock to create the decisive motivating track. Can you tell I’m a fan? 2006 ‘Patience’ – Take That Take That came back! Need more be said?


Reeling back the years Fergal Casey picks ten of the best movies

of the last decade

A decade bookended by 9/11 and the Great Recession, with the Iraq War in between, produced a cinema that was politically conscious or emotionally tougher, across genres from action to rom-com. Here’s the best... (10) The Devil Wears Prada - Anne Hathaway’s naïve assistant and Meryl Streep’s monstrous editor had enough charisma to not get swamped by Stanley Tucci and Emily Blunt’s hilarious scene-stealing, in a rom-com that was subversively realistic about careers and relationships. (9) Team America - Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s satirical response to the War on Terror was an endlessly quotable, utterly scabrous musical puppet film pitting the bombastically patriotic titular heroes against Islamic terrorists, Kim Jong-Il, and... Arec Baldwin?! Offensive to everyone... (8) Moulin Rouge! - Baz Luhrmann’s barmy musical featured Nicole Kidman’s best ever performance. Wildly anachronistic, he smashed 50 years of pop music into a melodrama about the hedonistic 1890s Parisien nightclub, and successfully mixed camp humour with emotionally affecting tragedy. (7) Donnie Darko - The cult film of the decade. Richard Kelly’s puzzle-piece tale of Jake Gyllenhaal’s relationship with an apocalyptic bunny-rabbit actually did make sense, but more important was the acutely observed 1980s setting, quotable scenes and flawless supporting ensemble. (6) The Diving Bell & The Butterfly - Julian Schnabel’s biopic of paralysed writer Jean-Dominique Bauby was visually audacious, the first 35 minutes are all shot from Bauby’s point-of-view, but authentic gallows humour and human resilience made it a profound experience. (5) Atonement - Keira Knightley and James McAvoy were doomed lovers in Joe Wright’s wartime drama where stunning visuals (check out the phantasmagorical Dunkirk sequence) were matched by an incredible ensemble, especially Saoirse Ronan’s Briony, that make this romance absolutely heartbreaking. (4) Casino Royale - Daniel Craig’s Bond was thrillingly believable as a stonecold killer tangling with international terrorists in incredibly suspenseful action sequences, while falling for his equal, Eva Green’s acid-tongued heroine Vesper Lynd, who melted his heart – then shattered it. (3) Hunger - A Turner Prize winner in another life, Steve McQueen’s directorial debut is almost a video installation about decaying bodies. His oblique biopic of Bobby Sands (a magnetic Michael Fassbender) ignores politics, apart from one crackling scene, in favour of rendering the mundane luminous.

Twenty songs that helped define the last decade – love them or hate them; their influence cannot be denied nor tamed. As chosen by Grace Murphy 2000 ‘All the Small Things’ – Blink 182 It isn’t possible to think of this massive hit and not mentally hum the ‘na na na na na’ part. Blink sold 15 million copies of this track’s album; at least 10 million were due to this song.

TOP 10

‘Chelsea Dagger’ – The Fratellis Though adopted by lager louts worldwide, the classic chorus hook simply can’t be beaten. 2007 ‘Umbrella’ - Rihanna Retaining its place at #1 on the Irish charts for an entire summer, many blame the torrential rain of those months on this particular song. ‘Rule The World’ – Take That The best song never nominated for an Oscar? Stardust could barely be made better, but when this rolled across the credits… 2008 ‘Viva La Vida’ – Coldplay Chris Martin is not a man, but a factory churning out cult hits with alarming ease. This opus is strikingly energetic, while its historical premise only serves to add to it’s brilliance. ‘Kids’ – MGMT Viva La Vida’s catchy intro is usurped only by this dance floor hit. The face paint-clad duo struck gold with this track, and judging by the rest of their debut album will continue to do so for the next decade. 2009 ‘Poker Face’ – Lady Gaga Puh-puh-puh-poker-face-puh-puhpoker-face! Muh-muh-muh-muh! See also, ‘Carrickmines! Carrickmines!’, etc. ‘I Gotta Feeling’ – Black Eyed Peas Even though it was ruined by Thierry Henry, it’s still the anthem for the second half of 2009. Try not singing along.

(2) The Lord of the Rings trilogy - Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Tolkien’s epic is a towering achievement - a deeply felt piece of work, in which memorable performances were enhanced rather than swamped by special effects – which deserved all its awards. (1) The Dark Knight - Christopher Nolan’s gut-wrenchingly tense Bat-sequel was closer to a 1970s crime thriller than a comic-book, and rooted in the political realities of the decade, especially in its bleakness. In the face of Heath Ledger’s terrifying Joker there was a Chekhovian simplicity to Nolan’s hypothesis that merely to endure was a victory.




The people that defiled Reeling back the decade the years Following this most vacuous of decades, celebrities – like rats – are now everywhere. Paul Fennessy identifies the most poisonous of this sordid species

With the good naturally come the bad - so try to enjoy Fergal Casey’s choice of ten that didn’t impress

5. David Beckham

It was a decade filled with bloated blockbuster sequels, even more disastrous blockbuster threequels, pointless remakes, parodies of parodies, and adaptations of TV shows – but some brave people still did sally forth with original ideas, or rather their own bundle of tired cinematic clichés unattached to an existing franchise name...

“Sporting ambassador, style guru, model father, stoic asthma-sufferer,” gushed Blake Morrison, in the Guardian’s recent ‘Icons of the Decade’ series. Pass me the sick bucket. It would be forgivable to mistake Morrison’s piece as a work of parody, were it not written by a notoriously humourless poet for a notoriously humourless publication. Tellingly, Morrison neglects to assess Beckham’s footballing ability until the second-last paragraph of this ridiculous piece – and even then, he meekly describes it as being merely “very good”. As for the “model father” reference, two words: Rebecca Loos. That just leaves his charity work – admittedly admirable, but then again, I give money to Vincent de Paul every month and nobody calls me an icon. Ultimately Beckham served as the perfect symbol for the lunacy and unwarranted hype that routinely characterised football during the noughties.

(10) The Marine - WWE star Michael Cena fights former Terminator Robert Patrick in an action film so preposterous that if you drunkenly advise “throwing him through a window”, the chances are very good that the characters will follow it...

Most irritating feature: Continuing inability to properly grasp the English language

“Beckham served as the perfect symbol for the lunacy that routinely characterised football during the noughties” 4. Jessica Simpson

Most irritating feature: Effortless exhibition of just about every stereotype associated with blonde women Along with Beckham and a whole host of other celebs, this “pop singer” demonstrated the public’s newfound desire to deify people who were thicker than the average 2x4. Despite her worldwide fame, I challenge anyone to name one of her songs (aside from the most unutterably awful cover version imaginable with ‘These Boots Are Made for Walking’). Her show, Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica, was car crash television par excellence – memorable line, “Is this chicken what I’m eating?” – and made The Hills seem as challenging as a Proust novel by comparison. Thankfully Simpson’s career prospects for the next decade – just like her self-awareness – appear to be non-existent.

3. Russell Brand

Most irritating feature: Overt cocaine addiction If someone had told me at the beginning of the decade that Russell Brand – then known as the weirdo who occasionally hosted unwatchable dance music shows, way back when MTV actually played music – would go on to become a Hollywood star, release a best-selling autobiography, and become engaged to one of the world’s most famous pop stars, I’d probably have died of embarrassment on behalf of the human race. Since when was bragging about having sex and generally acting like a drunken, overly cocky 13-yearold actually funny?

2. Ricky Gervais

Most irritating feature: Humour-free stand up shows On the one hand there was the good stuff – Gervais helped create two of the decade’s most memorable sitcoms in The Office and Extras. On the other hand, there was the bad, selfindulgent, self-satisfied, self-important stuff – everything that didn’t, in some way, involve his chief writing collaborator Stephen Merchant. From his pre-Office appearance in a painfully unfunny MTV clip during which he mocked Ronan Keating (talk about shooting fish in a barrel), to his string of appalling films for which he grew steadily less funny with each appearance, to the inexplicable decision to let him host the Golden Globe awards, to the legendarily bad Simpsons episode he wrote and starred in, Gervais spent most of this decade annihilating any lingering vestige of comedic credibility that he acquired from his best work.

1. Paris Hilton

Most irritating feature: Refusal to roll over and die Imagine the scenario. Years from now, when a climate change-related disaster has destroyed all of humankind, and aliens visit our planet for any sign of previous intelligent life, they happen to stumble upon the one remaining DVD in existence – The Hottie and the Nottie, starring Paris Hilton. The sheer ugliness of humanity depicted in this film would likely cause the aliens in question to go down on their knees (if they have knees) and praise whatever higher power they answer to, for his infinite wisdom in ensuring the destruction of such a ghastly race of people.

(9) 10,000 BC - This gloriously awful film features mammoths building the pyramids, characters trekking from Russia to Egypt via the eco-systems of Kenya and Peru, in just a few days, and endless blockbuster structural clichés delivered with heroically stupid earnestness. (8) The Matrix Reloaded - The let-down of the decade was incredibly anticipated, astoundingly hyped, but delivered merely decent action sequences marred by preposterous CGI. As for the Frenchman, the Architect and the Zion Rave – all became bywords for bloated pretentiousness. (7) Pirates of the Caribbean 3 - Three joyless hours of good actors floundering with a dire script amidst unnecessary, unconvincing CGI, this offered a cautionary example of how a once fun franchise could utterly lose touch with its original charms. (6) Star Wars Episode III - Damn you George Lucas! Your dialogue flummoxes talented actors, your CGI is unnecessary, your story weak, your characters ciphers, and your composer uses bombast to try to evoke emotions none of your prequels ever could. (5) Code Name: The Cleaner Amnesiac - Cedric the Entertainer is chaperoned by Lucy Liu’s spy in a comedy with only one joke. Try playing this game with the script’s undeniable thriller structure, competitively rewrite it aloud as Hitchockian paranoia instead... (4) Sin City - Grotesque witless garbage, this ‘neo-noir’ came closer to porno-noir as Robert Rodriguez faithfully adapted the one-note comics by Frank Miller and his obsession with whorish strippers rather than the femmes fatale of true noir (read Raymond Chandler). (3) P.S. I Love You - Unbearably dreadful rom-com in which bereavement consists of eating take-away and singing along to Judy Garland films, but can be solved by your loved one psychically corresponding from the grave to help you get laid. (2) Good Luck Chuck - Jessica Alba did not get topless in the directorial debut of the man who edited Showgirls, but nearly every other actress in it did. Was this gross-out Dane Cook rom-com scripted by 13-year-old boys? (1) Spun - Jonas Akerlund’s frantically edited junkie drama starring Jason Schwartzman and Brittany Murphy took the world record for most cuts. Sadly its misogyny and unbearable wallowing in grime, both physical and metaphysical, make that its only discernible artistic achievement.

The decade according to Marsden 2000 - X-Men First blockbuster movie, has to be a highpoint, although he did have those weird ear muffs on the Cyclops visor. That’ll be an 8 2001 - Zoolander Great movie made better by a James Marsden cameo, although he did shoot Lincoln. This will have to be 3 2002 - Interstate 60, Ally McBeal Most of you have never heard of Interstate 60, but it’s a quirky road trip movie that contravenes the Marsden ethos of not getting the girl – and it has Michael J Fox getting run over by a truck. Ally McBeal though: that was where we learned the Marsden could sing! 7 2003 - X2 This might be controversial to some, but bear with me. Obviously a better movie than the first, which was a nice trend to start for sequels, but Marsden got gipped and beaten up by a girl. That makes it only a 7.5 2004 - The Notebook Rachel McAdams was clearly insane and/or blind when she chose Ryan Gosling; The Notebook just took the lazy casting route of ‘we need a guy to get ditched for another guy’. ‘Um... James Marsden?’ 6 2005 - Heights Another of the not-well-known ones, which sees Marsden branching out into other men, having gotten fed up being dumped by women. The obscurity detracts from the screen time though, which makes it too a 7.5 2006 - Superman Returns, X-Men: The Last Stand Don’t get me started on X3: Wolverine’s Bitch, the less said the better. Superman Returns just about saves 2006 for Marsden, as he was (completely objectively of course) the best character in the Bryan Singer flop. Still that other movie means 2006 was only a 5 2007 - Enchanted, Hairspray Might just be the high point of the Marsden decade, and quite possibly his career to date. He stole every scene in Enchanted, and even made prancing around New York in puffy sleeves simply awesome – still doesn’t get the girl though. That might have ruined the whole year were it not for Hairspray. All singing, all dancing, all bloody brilliant. 10 2008 - Sex Drive, 27 Dresses In SEX DRIVE he plays obnoxious with relish and destroys a garage door with his bare hands before coming out near the end. Very nearly stole the show again, were it not for Seth Green being Amish. Elsewhere, the moment finally arrives – Marsden gets the girl! And even if it is only Katherine Heigl, the fact that he manages to act her off the screen makes 2008 a 9.5 in Marsdenland. 2009 - The Box Richard Kelly brought us and entire hour of WTF in The Box, but James Marsden got all wet, so that’s rather a bonus. 8 Catriona Laverty



TOP NOVELS OF What’s hot and what’s not: THE DECADE The Noughties 5 5. Mark Z Danielewski – House of Leaves (2000) It is fitting to begin with House of Leaves, a book which perceptively predicted many of the foremost themes which would dominate the first decade of the twenty-first century. This tale concerning an average family who move into a mysterious house that ‘is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside’ centred on concepts such as paranoia and the obliqueness of language. It was also arguably the first novel that can be accurately described as an internet phenomenon on account of the inescapable hype created by fan sites (and indeed, many of its chapters were initially published online). Furthermore, it was essentially written by a virtual unknown who was entirely separated from the realms of the literati. Nonetheless, once American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis declared that “one can imagine Thomas Pynchon, J.G. Ballard, Stephen King and David Foster Wallace bowing at Danielewski’s feet,” it was impossible not to imagine the chat room regulars hyperventilating in anticipation. Moreover, for once the hype was entirely justified.

It’s been ten long years and there’s been a hell of a lot of FAIL. Michelle McCormick leads you on a nostalgic journey through the great, the good, the alright and the god-awful...

4. Jeffrey Eugenides – Middlesex (2002) “I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.” So begins Jeffrey Eugenides’ second novel, in the most memorable opening sentence of the decade. The Virgin Suicides author proceeds to create what can only be described as a work of art extracted from the unlikeliest of circumstances. The hermaphrodite focused plot is like some iridescent amalgamation of a David Lynch film laced with Greek tragedy. Elaborate descriptions aside, it is Eugenides’ burning empathy for his fellow human beings which ultimately shines through and makes reading this subversive, Nabokovian love story almost akin to a religious experience. 3. David Mitchell – Cloud Atlas (2004) David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas is that rare thing – a novel which is as enjoyable as it is complex, as accessible as it is cerebral, as popular as it is critically acclaimed. The author artfully correlates six diverse tales, featuring impossibly quirky characters and encompassing a whole range of continents, eras and dialects. Yet it is this latter quality – the ease with which Mitchell captures an array of distinct character’s voices – that is nothing short of breathtaking. Therefore, the author’s unvarnished love of language will ensure the work secures its position towards the apex of the literary annals. 2. Jonathan Franzen – The Corrections (2001) With films such as American Beauty, TV shows such as The Sopranos and other novels such as the aforementioned House of Leaves, the turn of millennium coincided with a wave of artists seeking to explore the American family. Yet none of the attempts ostensibly matched the truthfulness and acuity inherent to Jonathan Franzen’s portrait of the Lamberts. While the failure of writers such as Jay McInerney and Don DeLillo to write the quintessential 9/11 novel has been well-document, many have lauded The Corrections for vividly conveying the sense of dread which emerged following this tragedy. Tellingly though, it was written prior to this event and still managed to foreshadow the feelings of disillusionment experienced by millions during the Bush era. 1. Cormac McCarthy – The Road (2006) The Corrections aside, if any work of fiction encapsulated the anxieties of a post-9/11 America, consumed by the threats which terrorism and global warming posed, The Road served as a pertinent clarion call masquerading as a novel. Cormac McCarthy takes a simple premise – a boy and his father alone in a post-apocalyptic wasteland – and subsequently infuses each of its 307 pages with stark, beautiful and unflinchingly brutal prose. In this age of excessive information, communicating a pertinent message is in itself a challenge, as novelists invariably struggle to compete with other media for our attention. By imagining the barren landscape of the story, the author deconstructs our technological era both literally and figuratively, eliciting a heartstopping meditation on humanity in the process. The Road consequently confirms McCarthy’s status as the definitive writer of his generation.

Paul Fennessy

Hot: Friend me! Ten years ago, it wasn’t common to know exactly what your friends had for dinner or whether or not it contravened their latest diet/gave them constipation. The noughties were without a doubt the TMI generation – with the advent of MySpace, Bebo, Facebook, and now Twitter; we had to learn a whole new set of social conventions, before we went about smashing them to pieces. The University Observer likes this status. The Textual Revolution What did we do before text messages? Just… turn up places? At an appointed time? Not knowing where the other person was, or how late they were going to be? Unthinkable! When texting arrived on the scene, it was the beginning of 24/7 communication – and the end of face-to-face conversations. Now every aspect of our lives is controlled and planned in 160 characters or less, from work to dating to drinking. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. Google is your friend… If CERN invented the internet in 1991, Google tamed it. The Internet search company, founded in 1998, has come to dominate the World Wide Web, allowing us to search, email, chat, write, watch, and, er… wave, like we’ve never done before. Extremely talented at releasing cult services that you just have to use, Google is now a part of everyday life and parlance. We don’t search for something on the internet, we Google it. Non-usage of Google makes you an idiot, as the existence of attests. Without Google, we’d be rudderless in a sea of porn and spam – they truly are Gods of the Net. We are not worthy. Have you seen…? In the past decade, television got serious. No longer was it a frivolous pastime to while away boring hours at home; it became a hobby, a status marker and a personality test. It started with The West Wing – never before had TV been unmissable, and the political drama soon gained an audience of fervent followers. 24, Heroes, Lost, House, True Blood, The Wire… all these shows attained cult following, and friendships were made and lost over your televisual affiliation. Here’s hoping that the next ten – with the amazing addition of Sky+ to our lives – will be just as good when it comes to TV dramas.


Mark Z Danielewski

Why r u ritin lyk a rtrd? The noughties brought a scourge upon the literate world – txtspk. With text messaging on the rise, and before the proliferation of free text packages, squeezing as much information as possible into 160 characters was paramount. Thus, vowels, punctuation, spelling, grammar and common sense were sacrificed in an effort to save

space. We now exist in a chicken-and-egg situation where we can’t quite tell which came first – did txtspk create terrible spelling and grammar, or did it just give the functionally illiterate an excuse to be lazy? Either way, the noughties will forever be knows as the decade that language died. Reality killed the TV star When the doors opened on the first Big Brother house on July 14th 2000, little did we know that television as we knew it would be changed forever. Fast-forward ten years, and every show that graces our screens has a reality element. Though this format – which has spawned shows like The X Factor, How Clean is Your House, Strictly Come Dancing, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here etc etc to infinity and back – became wildly popular amongst the proletariat, we soon began to mourn the loss of quality TV. There’s only so much we can scoff at the idiocy of famous and non-famous folk while they lounge around on beanbags drinking tea for three months. Thankfully, Channel 4 seems to have realised this, and 2011 will be the last Big Brother series. Hopefully the death of Big Brother will mean the birth of some decent TV. Bombs on a plane No event that’s occurred in the past decade has changed our reality as tangibly as the September 11th bombings. Now the world exists in a state of perpetual fear, always waiting for the next tragedy, and preparing for it in ever more impractical ways. Air travel – once an exciting experience – is now akin to gaining entry to a college secret society. Items under suspicion include nail files, shoes, and anything liquid. Soon we’ll be required to fly naked and shave our heads before boarding. Well, anything’s possible on Ryanair. Ring ring ring, bananaphone! At first, it was a nice instrumental jingle or one of your favourite songs to distinguish your phone from the others around – but then, evil was born. The Crazy Frog became the hot ringtone of the moment, and annoying teens everywhere adopted it as their own. Since then, we’ve had such eye-gougingly bad tones as the Mosquito, Bananaphone and umpteen “novelty” songs. Ugh. Ringtones. Ugh. If there’s one thing that’s great about iPhones (apart from all the other things that are great about them) it’s that custom ringtones are on the way out, until that guy figured out how to convert them. Dick. Thinspiration Dieting isn’t a noughties phenomenon – but crazy diet fads certainly are. Not content with simply eating healthily and exercising, the wannabe skinnies among us took to trying increasingly insane methods of starvation in order to lose weight. No-carbs, cabbage soup, all-apple diets, low-GI, the LA beach diet, microbiotic, macrobiotic… we were willing to try anything. But as the decade rolled on, we discovered one common factor in all these fads – they don’t work. Shocka!

Jon Hozier-Byrne takes a look at the top five unique cultural phenomena of the noughties

5. Judd Apatow Films Some filmmakers define a generation. The 40s had Orson Welles. The 60s had Alfred Hitchcock. The 80s had that gay fella who made Top Gun. We have Judd Apatow. I know what you’re thinking – that I’m about to launch into a scathing, cynical, holier-then-thou rant about how Apatow films aren’t funny, how it’s just infantile, sex-obsessed pot humour – and, well, it is. But that’s what makes it brilliant. Rarely do films ever show literally dozens of drawings of penises, talk constantly about penises, and basically focus the entire narrative around the protaganists’ penises (penii?). Only two films I’ve ever seen have had that kind of focus on the male genitalia, and only one of them is readily available in Chartbusters. And only one was brilliantly funny, whereas the other one made me want to cry a little. Apatow films have not only changed audiences, they’ve changed the way films are made. Kevin Smith, who more than any other filmmaker summed up the angst of the 90s in his own unique style, made his last film mimic an Apatow production to try to tempt the box office gods. Granted, his films have always been the place where dick jokes go to die, but this time it had the word ‘Porno’ right in the title. And these are the biggest hits of our decade. Fuck ‘Rosebud’ - we’ve got McLovin. 4. Reality TV You know what’s better than Reality TV? That’s right – nothing. Sure, Celebrity Jungle Anus Eating Show is a tropical hoot. Who doesn’t love Big Brother; Balding Racist Edition? I know nothing gets me through the cold, lonely evenings like that new one, We Take Anorexic Bitches in Various Degrees of Undress and Make Them Prance Like Sexy Monkeys for Your Masturbatory Pleasure In The Misguided Hope Of Getting A Next Top Career Show. Catchy. To fully appreciate the 2000s you have to watch films like EdTV or The Truman Show, in which the plot depicted the hellish objectification of the individual for the audience’s entertainment, and consider that when these films were made they were not meant to be a satire. Now we have Flavor of Love 2, where noted clock enthusiast Flavor Flav must find true love - again!

Brief Encounters If the 90s revival in the latter half of the decade taught us anything, it’s that fashion’s cultural impact is never instantly recognised. The noughties was a decade of many fashions, but therein lies the dilemma. A mention of the 70s and 80s instantly evokes images of iconic styles for better or for worse, but the noughties was a decade of several disposable styles indicative of the aggressive consumerism of the era. The minimalist, grungy 90s were a sidestep from the bubblegum excess of the 80s, while the 00s took fashion and made it instant and disposable. Pastiche and homage are the looks

3. The Internet There are times I really think we take the internet for granted. The web offer us instantaneous access to all the information in the world. Seriously: all of humanity’s accomplishments are right at your fingertips. And by ‘accomplishments’, I mean it’s basically a brimming wank-bucket o’ porn. Back in the 1990s, if we wanted to see boobs, we had to work for it. Many of us will have bought a deck of cards with nude ladies on it, but pretended at the till that we were just enthusiastic Bridge players. We’ve stared doe-eyed at the VHS cover of Striptease in the local VideoWorld. We’ve actually bought The Sun. But no longer: on Google, if you can spell it, it exists. You’re the boss. You say “Midgets”, and the internet says “How high?” You say “Underwater Amputee Lesbian Pre-op”, and sure, the internet will feel a little dirty afterwards, but it’ll sort that shit right out. The internet won’t even point out that it doesn’t make sense, that’s how good a friend it is. Here’s a test: stop reading this for a second. Did you ever wonder who played Sharkboy in Sharkboy and Lavagirl? No, of course you didn’t – nobody did. But you can find out in about two seconds. Seriously, go do it. I’ll wait here. I won’t write anything funny until you get back, or, indeed, at all. Go on. … Are you back? Who played him? Actually don’t tell me, I don’t care. No longer is intelligence defined by how much you know. If you have a laptop and can spell Wikipedia, you know everything. Intelligence is now the processing speed, the comprehension, the aplomb applied to what is now universal knowledge. The internet changed the definition of ‘smart’. All that, and it got Snakes On A Plane made. Surely, the internet is some sort of Tron-like Messiah. 2. Twilight There Will be Blood? There Will be Boredom. Borat? Bore-at. The Dark Knight? The Dark… it’s boring. Forget what every other news source, publication or right-thinking man says. Twilight is the film of the decade. Stephanie Meyer had the unmitigated, heavy-flowing genius to re-imagine the vampire – not as a terrifying spectre of the night, an ethereal hunter who stalks the living for his pray, but as a sparkly faggot in a tree. Edward Cullen sums up the man of the 2000s – sensitive, emotional, and with the physique of a fourteen year old girl, the same demographic he paradoxically appeals to. He is the anti-Sparta, the antidote to macho heroes of the 80s and 90s. No

longer does a protagonist have to tear Alan Rickman limb from limb to be an international heartthrob – he just has to climb trees really fucking fast. At first glance it’s difficult to see why women everywhere invest so much in this book, in particular Edward. Granted, Bella, the female protagonist, is basically a large cut-out for ‘your self-loathing face here’, but why do women find the idea of a 100-year-old man creeping into your house at night and watching you sleep attractive? I’m 21, and I get nothing but hassle. I could say that the whole phenomenon is evidence of the paradoxical alienation felt in an ever more inter-connected society, and that the personal identification of being ‘special’ and ‘unique’ bears more weight then ever before, and that it reflects an increasingly isolated female youth lost in the anxiety of a sex-crazed society, but I won’t say that. I won’t say that, because it’s a load of wank and chips. It’s nonsense. It’s a fad: it’s yo-yos, it’s Yugi-Oh!, it’s… a third fad starting with Y. It’s the worst kind of trash: it’s emotional manipulation. On new copies of Wuthering Heights there are stickers saying “Bella and Edward’s Favourite Book”. In a way this sums up our decade – trash, but bloody brilliant trash. 1. Twilight: New Moon See above, but this time there’s werewolves. You know that werewolf kid played Sharkboy out of Sharkboy and Lavagirl? I know, right? Fucked up.

Séan McGovern looks at the fashions of the last decade, made up of changing styles and unsure looks, but brimming with choice and variety

of a decade that didn’t know what it wanted, but wanted it now. A decade lacking an actual fashion movement, several trends came and went in the Noughties. While arguably low on originality, some of the looks almost integrated into popular culture so well that we never really noticed them. In fact, the biggest fashion trends did not trickle down to the masses, nor did they reside amongst the fashion élite. Grunge of the 1990s quickly went away, but in the early part of the 00s, boho-chic (2004-2008) took the literal effortless of grunge and made it more acceptable. Boho-chic was loose fitting, with flowing skirts and light fabrics,

where A-line skirts were ten a penny. Boho’s problem was that it looked cheap. One shoulder dresses almost appeared lazy, with unfinished hemming somehow managing to become a brief part of popular fashion. Suddenly clothes looked of lesser quality, and no amount of flowing scarves could hide the fact that many women were wearing gypsy hand-medowns. That said, like many initially underground trends, it looked much better before it was marketed, worn and thrown away again. Skinny jeans took the traditional straight-legged drainpipes and tailored them to the flesh and bones of those

who were able to wear them. And boy, did people get it wrong. Skinny jeans added effortless quality a nice pair of high heels or Converse, with the form fitting skinny-leg an addition to the welcomed return of tailoring in the noughties. Tailoring, though not exactly the major trend of the decade, was seen especially in the latter half of the Noughties, with Cheap Mondays everywhere and Gok Wan recklessly telling every woman to embrace her curves as the form fitting style and the aggressive tailoring of skinny jeans went awry. As decades go, the 2000s was per-

The biggest fashion trends did not trickle down to the masses, nor did they reside among the fashion élite

haps one of the best decades for men’s fashions. Formal menswear became casual, with blazers and suit trousers managing to balance out work and play. Men’s fashion had a particular elegance and detailing not seen since early in the 20th century. Khaki pants, chinos and polo shirts were no longer the staple of what it meant to be a casually well-dressed man – in fact, the sophistication of men’s fashions led the former look to be somewhat passé, and interestingly sort of evolved into the preppy look, common among many university types. Perhaps the greatest movement in men’s fashion was geek chic. Geek chic in itself was a smaller fashion movement that saw elements become popularised in TV (Roy in The IT Crowd’s brilliant t-shirts) and by people in the media (Kanye West’s combination of the “grown man” look with thick rimmed glasses). Geek chic meant that nerds really could inherit the earth, a look coinciding with the nerdgasmic indulgences we had for the iAnything. Geek chic included blazers, ironic and irreverent print t-shirts, check patterns, Converse and anything else even remotely nerdy. Honourable mentions for other trends go to Ugg Boots (still the ugliest things ever); Nu-Rave which came and went as fast as the Klaxons did; leggings which led to mass sightings of camel-toe; while print shirts and paisley patterns made a comeback to much success; everyone has a keffiyeh scarf somewhere; and people now spend ridiculous amounts on designer sportwear. It’s been a mixed decade for fashion, but an interesting one.


The Kids Aren’t Alright TOP CULTURAL PHENOMENA 5


5. Ronald Reagan

“Stunning... Resplendent... A triumph of karma.” These were the joyful words which acclaimed 80s pop star and staunch liberal, R.E. Douchebag, expressed upon learning of the death of this renowned bastard. Reagan symbolised everything that was wrong with the 80s. In fact, I’d go as far as to blame him for the 80s. The fact that people snorted excessive amounts of cocaine and bought Duran Duran records was clearly a direct ramification of his unseemly policies. In short, he should have been hung long ago for crimes against humanity.

TOP 10

4. Stephen Gately

Paul Fennessy is a bad man who likes to kick people while they’re dead… or is he? Here, he casts his satirical eye over the fall of some of the decade’s celebrities...

Upon receiving the news of Gately’s death, I experienced a feeling I had never had before following a celebrity’s death – it was similar to the feeling I get amid the conclusion of a trip to the dentist, or whenever a character in a James Cameron film stops talking. It was, in a word, relief. Gately was a highly unsavoury individual. He regularly had threesomes with guys he didn’t even know and took loads of drugs too, so what did he expect? Just do me a favour and forget all this crap about the coroner’s report, because it’s baloney. There was nothing natural about Stephen Gately’s death. Plus he wasn’t even really the first boy-band member to come out of the closet; he was smoked out of the closet by The Sun. Therefore, by coming out of the closet he was in fact doing a disservice to gay people by simply exposing their innate hypocrisy. Boyzone were rubbish anyway..

3. Farah Fawcett

Fawcett’s impressive placing on this list had little to do with her own hard work. Let’s be honest, as celebrity deaths go, hers was dull, tedious and far too predictable – I mean, for Christ sake, she had cancer for months – the public need shock value, not an everlasting sob story. No, Fawcett secures the much coveted number 3 spot merely for her association with Ryan O’Neal – the real star of the event. O’Neal’s performance at her funeral was hilarious and worthy of the best actors in Hollywood. Media commentators recounted in all its glorious detail how he accidentally came on to his own daughter during the funeral: “I was watching the hearse drive away when a beautiful blonde comes up and embraces me. I said to her, ‘You have a drink on you? You have a car?’ She said, ‘Daddy, it’s me--Tatum!’” Celebs, eh?

2. Michael Jackson

If celebrity deaths were movies, Jackson’s would be The Godfather; such was its overwhelming popularity. It was easily as iconic as JFK’s denouement, coupled with all the additional bonuses of living in the twenty-first century. It simply had everything – the glitzy funeral, the online kerfuffle, the outrageous timing and the indepth interviews with people who once met his publicist’s cousin. The fact that it doesn’t attain the number one spot can be purely attributed to its dreary alleged murder subplot. I mean don’t get me wrong, I like the whole idea of someone murdering Jackson, but celebrity deaths always need a proper resolution. The fact that the investigation dragged on for months without anything ever happening left this celebrity aficionado distinctly underwhelmed and its eventual culmination amounted to little more than an incident resembling one of those fruity art-house pictures.

It’s been a strong decade on the silver screen... Film & TV Editor Conor Barry picks the top ten directors of the decade

Hayao Miyazaki Miyazaki is patronisingly described as the Japanese Walt Disney, presumably due to his influential animation career rather than the recently announced Princess Mononoke-themed amusement park. Sure, other decades actually saw a larger amount of impressive Miyazaki films, but it wasn’t until the “noughties” that America made us pay attention to Miyazaki’s genius. With the international success of his wonderfully creepy masterpiece Spirited Away, the Japanese giant cemented his place worldwide as a master director. Memorable Films: Spirited Away (2001), Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

Hayao Miyazaki

Charlie Kaufman Some say he’s a visionary director; some say he has no clue how to direct. Both opinions are wrong, because Kaufman is, in fact, a writer. Apart from his recent stint in the director’s seat with the overly thoughtprovoking mess/genius of Synecdoche, New York, Kaufman has spent the majority of his career writing bizarrely unique scripts that undeniably show a distinctly individual voice. He is one of first screenwriters to make the career seem like a proper artistic choice rather than an aspiring director’s back up. Memorable Films: Adaptation (2002), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) Wes Anderson His deadpan sense of humour divides opinion more than Marmite, but nobody can doubt that Wes Anderson has style. In fact, his humour and shooting technique is so pronounced, that even his recent stop motion animation version of Roald Dahl’s The Fantastic Mr Fox was so deadpan that it seemed aimed at 30-year-olds. Martin Scorsese called him the next Martin Scorsese, which (ignoring the ego-filled self praise) is as highly regarded as they come. Memorable Films: The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) Coen Brothers ‘Two heads are better than one’ is a phrase that doesn’t usually apply to directing, but is appropriate in this example. Switching with ease between farcical comedy with the underrated Burn After Reading to the Oscar-winning seriousness of No Country For Old Men, last year’s A Serious Man is a combination of all the Coens’ styles thus far. Memorable films: A Serious Man (2009), No Country For Old Men (2007) Christopher Nolan Even if it was purely for returning Batman to Hollywood in style, Nolan would deserve a place on this list. However, add to that list actually managing to make magic cool again with The Prestige and we have quite the package. David Bowie as Nikola Tesla was probably the best casting of the year. Memorable Films: The Prestige (2006), The Dark Knight (2008)

Coen Brothers

Jade Goody was not just your average celebrity. Jade Goody was a style, Jade Goody was a religion, put simply – Jade Goody was a way of life. She was a saint, cast into a world which scarcely deserved her. She was a figure so dignified, so elegant, so utterly heroic that not even Euripides himself could conceive of such a tragic and virtuous figure. Essentially, she didn’t just serve as a metaphor for a sector of British society – she was British society – in all its ballsy, unpretentious and fiercely intelligent glory. And now British society is dead. God save our rightful Queen.


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Wes Anderson

1. Jade Goody

Paul Thomas Anderson Slowly making his way through each genre, and making an ultimate example of each. The man even made a spectacular Adam Sandler film with a romance film for the socially inept (Punch-Drunk Love). If that’s not impressive enough, There Will Be Blood was not only one of the finest examples of Daniel Day Lewis’ abilities, but one of the finest American films in a long while. It’s a mockery that it didn’t win Best Picture. Memorable Films: Punch-Drunk Love (2002), There Will Be Blood (2007) Martin Scorsese Though many would argue his peers have lost their way, Scorsese continued strong through the decade. There is one thing we have to thank Scorsese for this decade – giving Leonardo DiCaprio the chance to show everyone he can actually act, instead of just looking pretty. As well as that, thank God he finally got his Academy Award. While The Departed is no Taxi Driver, it’s better late than never. Memorable Films: The Aviator (2004), The Departed (2006) Woody Allen Probably one of his weakest decades to date, but you just can’t knock him for his persistence. Managing a new film each year is impressive for a man in his mid-seventies, and while none really measure up to his earlier films, the likes of Vicky Cristina Barcelona show glimpses of the genius still there. Besides, amidst the flurry of Robert Pattinson, Autobots, Megan Fox and Spider-man, it’s comforting to know that Allen’s still making quaint little films about awkward neurotics trying to find love. Memorable Films: Anything Else (2003), Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) Shane Carruth Carruth has only made one film and that one film isn’t all that well known. So why is he one of the top ten directors? Because that one film, Primer, actually made time travel intelligent, with Carruth utilising his background in engineering and mathematics to create a believable sci-fi about a couple of garage scientists who inadvertently create a time machine. It’s the thinking man’s Back to the Future – not to mention it was made with virtually no money. Carruth is a role model to amateur filmmakers and amateur physicists alike. Memorable Films: Primer (2004) Richard Linklater Jack of all trades, master of some. Linklater’s output varies wildly from straightforward but likeable comedy (School of Rock) to fantastically trippy animation about dreaming (Waking Life). Currently in the middle of filming a twelve-year project where the characters age in real life, he may be one of the most underrated and innovative directors in America at the moment. Memorable Films: Before Sunset (2004), A Scanner Darkly (2006)

Any success that UCD’s senior hurlers achieved over the last decade was shrouded in controversy and complaint that ultimately took away from their accomplishments, writes Killian Woods As UCD’s hurlers collected their eighth Dublin senior hurling title at Parnell Park in 2005, the on-going debate of whether UCD should be allowed compete in the annual county-wide competition continued to overshadow the achievements of the college team. After their comprehensive 3-13 to 2-10 Dublin Championship final win over St Vincents, and an impressive display against former All-Ireland champions Birr in the Leinster Club Championship, opponents began to intensify efforts to get UCD removed from the competition. Bemoaning the advantage that UCD were able to call upon players from all over the country, their main objection was with respect to the college’s scholarship programme. This programme was a decisive draw for many rising hurling stars from around the country. Although players were required to get relevant CAO points to attend UCD, the rewards on offer – should they get in – were worth the work. Therefore with the possibility of going to college, competing in numerous competitions, and a €1000 cash payment for the scholarship, UCD was a hard option to turn down. The general feeling at the time of this controversy was mixed amongst the UCD staff and players. Brendan Murphy, UCD player, understood the complaints coming from Dublin clubs in relation to the calibre of teams that the college side were able to field in the Championship: “It’s very tough at times [against Dublin clubs] and you can’t really blame them. If the shoe was on the other foot I don’t know if I’d like a group of Tipp, Cork and Kilkenny lads playing in the Offaly Championship.”

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UCD Gaelic games executive Dave Billings and the Dublin County Board’s Noel Murphy took a different side of the argument, defending the college’s right to partake in the competition. Other UCD supporters placed more emphasis on the standard of Dublin County hurling, which was evidently decreasing over time, as opposed to the standard fielded by UCD sides. UCD’s defence pointed to the fact that if UCD were so far ahead of the game, how could people account for their inability to claim the All-Ireland Championship, or even the Leinster Championship for that matter? Having a team like UCD as a benchmark for other teams in the Championship was thought of as possibly having a positive effect in long run. With a team possessing ability far and above the average in the Championship, Dublin clubs would be forced to raise their standard, increasing the overall quality in the competition. There was no doubt that this would have negative results in the short term, however the chances of a Dublin club potentially winning the All-Ireland Championship seemed to be a worthy prize at the end of the road. In 2006, even though UCD were granted permission by the Dublin County Board to take part in the Dublin Championship, UCD decided to pull out of the competition, on the back of pressure from captains of top Dublin clubs who wrote to the County Board in opposition to the college’s participation. Their letter, which set an ultimatum which would see their club’s withdrawing from the competition should UCD continue to compete, saw UCD


On the local sporting stage, the last ten years have been an age to remember for UCD’s various sports clubs. Killian Woods picks the ten most dramatic moments 1. In 2002, UCD’s gaelic footballers enjoyed huge success in the Dublin Senior Football Championship. Their win in the final against an effective St Vincents side by 0-16 to 1-6 ended College’s 28-year wait to bring the FitzGerald Cup back to Belfield. 2. Following relegation in the previous season, UCD AFC bounced straight back by winning the League of Ireland First Division in 2009 and gaining automatic promotion back to the Premier Division. Their promotion was ensured thanks to consistent performances from players such as Ronan Finn and David McMillan. 3. UCD’s hurlers have huge success in the Dublin Senior Hurling Championship by winning back to back titles in 2004 and 2005, while also winning the competition at the turn of the century. 4. In one of the most dramatic Eircom League First Divison seasons there has ever been, the 2004 title race went down to the wire with UCD and Finn Harps fighting it out for glory. Harps held a one-point advantage over the Students going into the last round of fixtures, and retained this margin to win the league. 5. In the 56th annual Colours match in 2008, UCD’s rugby team beat arch rivals Dublin University by 50 points to 20. The thirty-point margin between the two teams was a new record and a clear indication of the superiority of UCD over their opponents. 6. A successful run in the 2005 Eircom League Cup saw UCD battle their way into the final where they took on an in-form Derry City side. With the match taking place in Belfield, the Students’ fans came out in their thousands to see their team put in a brave performance, though Derry claimed a 2-1 win. 7. In 2003, Paul Doolin left UCD AFC languishing in the relegation zone and eleven points from safety when he became manager of Drogheda United. His departure paved the way for Pete Mahon to join the college side. The soon-to-be Belfield legend nearly performed a miracle as he brought the team within two points of safety, only to be relegated. 8. UCD Women’s Soccer team put together a remarkable run of victories in the early half of the decade, claiming Ladies’ Soccer’s biggest prize, the WFAI Cup, three times in succession between 2002 and 2004. 9. UCD student Muiris O’Riada set a new Irish Senior record in the 50m butterfly at the 2001 World Univeristy Games. His time of 25.95 seconds was the eighth record O’Riada had broken, including junior, senior and international records. 10. UCD’s rowers won the Gannon Cup in 2001 after a dramatic race against Trinity college. The race took place on the River Liffey and was forced to be restarted after Trinity illegally cut across UCD halfway through the race. The win was UCD’s first in six years and was a reward for their dedicated training throughout their season.

UCD’s hurlers were unpopular entrants into the All-Ireland club championships finally decide to withdraw their presence. In 2007, GAA’s Congress considered a motion from the Athenry club to ban third-level sides competing in county competitions altogether; the motion was soundly beaten however. Though relinquishing their place, UCD still protested that they deserved to participate. It was only

in the 2009 Dublin Championship that the team returned to the fray. However, UCD failed to add to their three-title haul and will have to look forward to the next ten years to add to their overall Championship tally. How long their current stint of Championship involvement also remains to be seen.

A memorable night in Belfield Park Although UCD lost out in the 2005 Eircom League Cup final to Derry City at Belfield Park, it was one of the more noteworthy games of the decade, writes Killian Woods Although the Eircom League Cup is usually viewed as a secondary cup competition, the 2005 tournament took on an increased sense of value as a spot in the lucrative crossborder Setanta Cup was to be awarded to the eventual winners. With this added impetus, the final – unusually being held at Belfield Park – assumed huge importance and became one of the biggest games in the UCD AFC’s history. At many of UCD’s home games, you would be lucky to find a decent home support cheering on their college’s team. For this single match, though, that trend was bucked as the support base of Europe’s only top-flight university football club came out in numbers for one of the biggest sporting events in the college’s illustrious history. The atmosphere of the night was a welcome change from the dreary and lifeless evenings that the club was accustomed to, as the fan base dwindled following the move to a summer season. The mood of the capacity attendance was also heightened by the hundreds of vociferous Northerners who arrived in Belfield full of confidence and beer. The Candystripes’ confidence originated from a twenty match unbeaten run which saw them in the thick of an exciting title race with Cork City and closing in on an unprecedented domestic treble. UCD did hold a minor statistical advantage over the northerners, though, having won three of the previous four meetings between the two sides. Unfortunately UCD’s manager Pete Mahon had his hands tied in his team selection, as injuries prevented him from starting his strongest side. UCD started the game as the better side though and went closest to opening the scoring within five minutes, as captain Tony McDonnell volleyed over at the back post from an in-swinging Stephen Hurley free-kick on the right wing. This miss was to cost UCD as they went behind after a sloppy backpass from Gary Dicker put Derry City’s Alan Murphy through on goal. Murphy beat two defenders and finished coolly to open the scoring after 14. The goal took the edge off UCD’s form and stifled their early positive play, as the home side sought to shore up the back line. Derry’s lack of ambition throughout the rest of the first half allowed the Students get back on top. UCD’s forward play was being suffocated, however, by the performance of City’s defenders, Peter Hutton and ex-student Clive Delaney. UCD’s patience was rewarded when a hopeful long pass from Hurley and an uncharacteristic mix up in the Derry defence allowed UCD’s Conan Byrne to grab an instinctive shot at the Derry goal. The opposition keeper stayed

“The mood of the capacity attendance was also heightened by the hundreds of vociferous Northerners” rooted to the spot, and UCD levelled. As play restarted there were only moments of the first half remaining, though there was still to be another twist before the break. Luck seemed to be against the Students as Derry availed of some slack defending from UCD. The haste in dealing with a defensive mix-up resulted in McWalter putting the ball past his own keeper with an oddly impressive finish. The second half saw Derry rest on their laurels, declining to commit many players to their infrequent attacks. UCD’s best chance to equalise came through Delaney, who had his headed effort crash against the crossbar in the 72nd minute. UCD’s attack seemed to run out of steam thereafter, as Derry began to boss the game again, though without creating any chances on goal. The Students’ manager Pete Mahon attempted one last roll of the dice by throwing on the injured duo Kenna and Martin, but Derry’s centre backs Hutton and Delaney excelled under UCD’s late seige and Derry saw out the match to claim the Cup and end a very memorable evening in Belfield Park. While UCD’s team met with mixed fortunes in the years that followed, the 2005 season was a vintage one for the northern side as the Candystripes also won the League and FAI Cup to secure a domestic treble.


Victims of their own successes

Sport personalities of the decade Though many sports stars have arrived and departed from their respective scenes throughout the last decade, Ciaran Ó Braonáin believes that three are worthy of particularly special mention The past ten years have seen the rise to prominence of some tremendously gifted athletes. It is almost impossible to single out two or three specific individuals for special mention given the bulk of outstanding candidates that come to mind. That said, a select few stand out for reasons other than their exceptional talent. It is those who have overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles in order to reach the pinnacle of their sport that I propose for recognition as the sporting personalities of the decade. JONNY WILKINSON Between 2000 and 2003, Jonny Wilkinson established himself as arguably the world’s number one fly-half. It is difficult to imagine what he may have achieved had he not lost so many long months between 2003 and 2007 to a litany of misfortune. During that time Ronan O’Gara may have surpassed his Six Nations points record and Dan Carter may have earned the status of out-half of the era, but the fact that Wilkinson never acknowledged defeat or lost faith in himself is a testament to the man. In 2003 Wilkinson was the talismanic figure in the triumphant England World Cup squad. However, even more remarkable was, after four luckless injury blighted years, he returned to top form and dragged that team’s shadow into a second successive final. Many players could be forgiven for throwing in the towel after suffering only half the injuries endured by the Englishman. No matter what he may still achieve, his tremendous character, professionalism and dedication is a shining example to all other modern day athletes. RONALDO Though the spotlight has now shifted to his Portuguese namesake, the last decade saw Brazil’s Ronaldo return from potentially career-ending injuries to ensure his place in football’s hall of fame. After suffering horrendous knee injuries in 1999 and 2000, many thought they had seen the last of Il Fenomeno. Even if he was to return, it was generally accepted that he would never be the same player again. To both the astonishment and delight of the footballing world, Ronaldo made a triumphant return from months of tortuous rehabilitation at the 2002 World Cup as the bucktoothed striker led an unfancied Brazil side to their fifth world title. Ronaldo’s goal scoring feats at the tournament earned him the World Player of the Year award for a record third time. A big money move to Real Madrid followed and, although a Champions League medal proved elusive, he did bestow upon the competition one of its all-time greatest performances with a beautifully crafted hat-trick in an epic encounter with Manchester United at Old Trafford. Ronaldo’s final bow on the European stage came at Germany’s 2006 World Cup where the striker etched his name in history scoring three goals making him, with a tally of 15, the competition’s all-time top goalscorer. LANCE ARMSTRONG The most amazing comeback story of all belongs to a cyclist from Austin, Texas named Lance Armstrong. Few athletes have dominated their sport as Armstrong has, winning seven consecutive Tour de France championships between 1999 and 2005. His astounding stranglehold over the sport is made infinitely more incredible by his miraculous conquest over severe illness which preceded it. Diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996, which had by then spread to his stomach, lungs and brain, Armstrong was given just a 40% chance of survival. Given his conquering of both cancer and the cycling world you might imagine the Texan being hailed as the greatest sportsman of all time – a heroic and courageous individual whose personal strength and will-power

would see him lauded as the definitive role-model. Unfortunately, given the astounding nature of his achievements, as well as the seemingly inseparable relationship between professional cycling and drugs, Armstrong has not escaped accusations. Personally I would quote the words of a German journalist who once said of Armstrong, “My admiration is bigger than my suspicion.” As it stands, Lance Armstrong’s tale of triumph in the face of overwhelming odds is not only the greatest tale of sporting achievement over the last decade, but quite possibly, of all time.

DEATHS OF THE DECADE GEORGE BEST Lauded as one of the finest players to ever play the beautiful game, George Best was a victim of alcohol and drugs, which inevitably cut short his career. The winger from Belfast started his career at Manchester United and enjoyed his best days at the club under the stewardship of Matt Busby. He spent nine years in Manchester before an irregular ten-year span in the game in which he played for sixteen different clubs. It was common knowledge then, and is now, that this irregularity was due to his overuse and reliance on drugs and alcohol to live his life. Best died aged 59 in November 2005 and was buried in his hometown of Belfast. His funeral drew hundreds of thousands of mourners who lined the streets as his coffin passed by. On the anniversary of his 60th birthday, the Belfast International Airport was renamed to George Best International Airport as a tribute to Northern Ireland’s greatest ever footballer. SIR DONALD BRADMAN Such was the success of Australian cricketer Donald Bradman, he transcends the boundaries of his own playing generation. Never considered an elegant player, Bradman was an entirely self-taught player who developed his skills with concrete wickets and on covered matting. This upbringing saw him only bat on grass for the first time aged 18. Throughout his career, Bradman’s strengths revolved around his sharp judgement and quick reflexes. However, it was his inner confidence and determination that completed him as a player. Following his death in February 2001, there were many fitting tributes to the legendary player. The Australian Government commissioned a 20 cent coin to commemorate his life, while before his death he became the first living Australian to appear on a postage stamp. MARC-VIVIEN FOÉ The much publicised death of Cameroon international Marc-Vivien Foé at the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup sent shockwaves through world of football and began to bring attention to the hardship that a strenuous season was having on players’ health. At the time of his death, Foé was affiliated to Manchester City and was set to make his loan move permanent after the competition. High profile tributes have been paid to the midfielder since his death. At the 2009 Confederations Cup final, his son gave a heartwarming speech about his father, while Manchester City retired their shirt number 23 in his memory. Killian Woods

A tale of two Titans Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer were more than worthy adversaries as two of tennis’s greatest ever players, reckons Ryan Mackenzie The last decade has witnessed the finest tennis rivalry the men’s game has ever seen, between arguably its two most illustrious players. Since 2004, Swiss maestro Roger Federer has had to fight restlessly to defend his honour as the game’s greatest ever player against the relentless challenge of Spain’s Rafael Nadal. To date the pair have met on twenty occasions, with the Spaniard leading the series 13-7 – Nadal is the only player against whom Federer has a losing record. This may be surprising, given that Federer has won more than double the number of Grand Slam titles (15, compared to Nadal’s six) and held the top ranking spot for a far superior length of time, but this is the reason why the rivalry is so compelling. It has become clear that, despite a rare upset, Nadal is the only player that can consistently challenge Federer.

The duo first met back in 2004 when a newly crowned world No.1 encountered a little-known seventeen year old Spaniard who was ranked 34th. However, the young Nadal shocked the tennis world by beating the newest addition to tennis royalty in straight sets. Nadal followed up a loss to Federer with a five-game winning streak against his main adversary, including a semi-final victory en route to his first Grand Slam on the clay of Roland Garros in 2005. Roland Garros was the stage for the first Grand Slam final clash between the two players, who now held the top two ATP rankings. Nadal made good of his clay court dominance to win his second Grand Slam, denying Federer the immortalising career Grand Slam. In their following

encounter, Federer enacted his revenge on the lawns of Wimbledon. The 2007 season held much the same fate as the two shared the major spoils for a third consecutive year. However, it was clear that Nadal’s dominance was no longer limited to clay, and it seemed only a matter of time before he surpassed the long-term world No.1. Federer entered Wimbledon 2008 in hope of winning the most prestigious title in tennis for an unprecedented sixth year in a row, surpassing the record of five (shared with the great Bjorn Borg). In fitting fashion he was pitted against Nadal in the final. The result was a five-set thriller that is widely regarded as the greatest match in tennis history, and the longest Wimbledon final in history at almost five hours. Like Borg – who suffered at the hands of his own rival, John McEnroe – Federer came up short and consequently surrendered the No.1 Ranking to his younger combatant. Since the titanic battle on Wimbledon’s famous Centre Court, the two have met only twice, each taking something away – Nadal’s win coming in the 2009 Australian Open final. Injury has since plagued Nadal’s career and has enabled Federer to resume his position of world No.1, surpassing Pete Sampras’s all-time Grand Slam record and win the previously elusive French Open – securing the career Grand Slam. However, despite this success, Federer too has suffered a lapse in form in recent times. As he is approaching thirty it could be fair to say we may have seen the best of the great man. Furthermore, should Nadal’s injuries persist, we might soon see the end of this spectacular rivalry. This may pave the way for others such as Britain’s Andy Murray and Argentina’s Juan Martin Del Potro to surface as potentially the rivalry of the new decade – though no matter how epic their battles may be, they will struggle to compare with the battles of the noughties.

Liam Fogarty recalls the civil war that enveloped Saipan – and Ireland – as we prepared for the 2002 FIFA World Cup

an ultimatum, the captain decided to stay. This, however, isn’t the end of the ordeal; and eventually it was the infamous interview given to Tom Humphries of The Irish Times that unveiled the extent of the problem to the public – and also to a less-than-impressed McCarthy. At that evening’s dinner the situation went beyond repair, as McCarthy asked the players for their opinions on the team’s preparation. This led McCarthy to ask Keane specifically and following an exchange of insults, Keane released his now legendary vicious tirade on McCarthy and lambasting the country’s attitude. Keane was ordered to leave the camp and with no more indecision, flew back to Manchester and didn’t feature in the tournament. The country was rocked and the nation divided for weeks on end. The papers filled thousands of column inches with theories and solutions to the problem. Even Bertie Ahern, with all his diplomatic skills could not defuse the situation, as Keane did not again play for Ireland until 2005. Some questioned Keane’s commitment to his country, others treated him like a hero. Unfortunately, Roy Keane will always be remembered in Ireland for this incident and not some of the more promising aspects of his international and club career.

“Some questioned Keane’s commitment to his country, other treated him like a hero”

Can anyone skin a Cat? Irish rugby and Ulster football had good decades, writes Gavan Reilly, but nobody has had it better than Kilkenny’s hurlers The more things change, the more they stay the same. In 2000, Kilkenny and Kerry picked up the All-Ireland titles in hurling and football respectively; Kerry after a replay win over Galway, Kilkenny after demolishing Offaly. Fast forward nine years – after the introduction of meaningful back-door systems in both codes and immeasurable advances in the technical and physical demands of gaelic games – and little has changed. The manner of the victories was different but Kerry and Kilkenny still sit proudly atop the GAA piles. Kerry’s decade has been a happy one but has come with its challenges; the emergence of titanic sides from Armagh and Tyrone, and a decade without recording a major victory over either, leaves even the biased observer with a slight distaste in the mouth. Not so for Brian Cody’s striped side, though – in ten championship seasons they have been beaten just four times, claiming the Leinster Championship on nine occasions (only Wexford have beaten them, with a freak last-minute goal scored from the acutest of angles) and finishing the Noughties with seven senior All-Irelands in their account. Clichéd as it may sound, in Kilkenny hurling is more than a sport; it’s a religion, it’s like oxygen. The sports supplements of Kilkenny’s local press would more accurately be called ‘hurling supplements’; other sports simply don’t get a look in. Hurling is ¬everything in Kilkenny, and the local obsession with the game is the key to breeding a squad with the depth of the Cats’. There have been many influential coaches throughout the decade in many sports; Declan Kidney is a natural vogueish choice, Mickey Harte and Giovanni Trapattoni two more. None have had the same immeasurable influence on further generations of their playing pool, though than Brian Cody.

Kilkenny have become a machine, but more uniquely, one free of ego or complacency. With Kilkenny’s prolonged dominance of Ireland’s ancient game comes the expectation of success and the demands of perfection upon the younger generations. The famous hurling nursery of St Kieran’s College is home to literally hundreds of future Cats, almost universally without notions of greatness but merely conscious of the standards needed. This discipline is top-down: Cody, in ways that the incomparable Sir Alex Ferguson never managed, has combined the art of physical conditioning with gentle temperament. Tommy Walsh, who has now collected All-Star awards in every line of the pitch, is the perfect example. Though perceived as physically bullish, Walsh is not at all a violent player. Sure, he is a man-handler, but he is not a violent one. At its most basic level, Tommy Walsh’s game is about hard hits and fast pace. Walsh is simply conditioned to the full-blooded clatter of the Kilkenny game. Walsh is disgruntled by invasive stop-start refereeing; but in an atmosphere like that of 2009’s All-Ireland Final, where the referee is happy to allow two physical outfits play a physical game, he flourishes. Take a knock to the head and Tommy Walsh will happily get back up again. Such is the virtue of Brian Cody’s Kilkenny: never are they happier than when they’re being given a challenging run. Tipperary – and more modernly, Dublin – will give them a run next year, but it would take a brave punter to bet against Kilkenny recording a record fifth consecutive title this September. Even if the Cats don’t manage to string together the most remarkable series of victories in the history of the GAA, the players of the current crop can rest easily knowing that they have raised the standard of Ireland’s native game.

Irish Sporting moments of the decade

From O’Gara’s drop kick to win the Grand Slam to Padraig Harrington scooping three Majors and the Irish cricketers shocking the world, it’s been a memorable decade for Irish sport, writes Killian Woods 2000 Sonia O’Sullivan continued her resurgance in athletics at the start of the new millennium with an impressive showing at the Olympic Games in Sydney. Her silver medal in the 5000m meant that she became only the second Irish woman to win an Olympic medal, while her time of 14:41.02 broke the Irish record she set in 1995. 2001 An outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease caused major inconvenience to sporting events in Ireland and the UK as the Six Nations Championship was forced to be postponed until September, while the Cheltenham festival was cancelled. 2002 After a dispute between Roy Keane and Irish manager Mick McCarthy, the Irish captain was sent home from the Republic of Ireland camp during the squad’s preperation for the World Cup. The ordeal caused a huge difference of opinions in Ireland as the country was divided into pro- and anti-Keane factions. 2003 The Special Olympics was hosted by Ireland with a colourful opening ceremony at Croke Park being one of the highlights. The games

took place between the 21st and 29th of June and involved athletes from 150 countries competing in 23 different events.

which saw the scrum-half sneak around the blindside of a five metre scrum to score.

2004 After winning the nation’s heart with his gold-winning performance in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Cian O’Connor was stripped of his medal after his horse, Waterford Crystal, tested positive for a banned substance. He was subsequently given a three month ban from competition but still protests his innocence.

2007 The Irish Cricket team surprised the world at their maiden World Cup in the West Indies, putting in many fine displays. Their win against Pakistan on St Patrick’s day was the pick of their results as they knocked out the world’s fourth ranked team, a defeat which ultimately saw Pakistani coach Bob Woolmer murdered.

2005 The GAA’s much, much-discussed Rule 42 was the major stumbling block preventing Ireland’s soccer and rugby teams from using Croke Park as their temporary home while renovations took place at Lansdowne Road. After a vote at GAA’s Congress the rule was relaxed, paving the way for ‘foreign’ sports to be played at the home of Gaelic games.

2008 Padraig Harrington eclipsed his endevours of 2007 by winning his second Claret Jug in a row at The Open held at Royal Birkdale, while also adding to his major collection with victory at the US PGA Championship.

2006 After heartache in the Heineken Cup final on two previous occaisions this decade, Munster finally overcame their final hoodoo. Their defeat of French side Biarrtiz 23-19 in the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff was epitomised by Peter Stringer’s cheeky try

2009 The decade ended with a remarkable year for Irish rugby on the provincial and international stages. Leinster and Munster took home the Heineken Cup and Magners League respectively, while Ireland clinched their first Grand Slam in 61 years thanks to a lastminute drop goal from Ronan O’Gara and Stephen Jones’ subsequent penalty miss at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.


Saipan showdown that had the nation divided

Ireland set off to the 2002 World Cup on the back of a strong qualifying campaign and a desire fuelled by reaching its first major tournament in eight years. But one problem was lurking in the background: Ireland’s captain and arguably greatest player, Roy Keane, was to leave the Saipan training base just days before the tournament began, creating media frenzy and dividing a nation. On and off the pitch, various incidents highlighted Keane’s more aggressive “no-nonsense” style. It was well documented before the team had left that not many members of the FAI were on Roy’s dwindling Christmas card list. Citing an unprofessional approach as his main gripe, it all came to a dramatic crescendo on May 21st when the people of Ireland awoke to learn that something was wrong and their captain had threatened to walk out on the team. Keane was furious at the FAI’s chosen Saipan base and the substandard conditions. He allegedly told Alex Ferguson before the tournament that he was going to “win it” and was sick of Ireland’s nonchalant, making-up-thenumbers approach. One of Keane’s famous maxims was “fail to prepare, prepare to fail”, and failing to prepare – in Keane’s eyes – was perfectly exemplified by a pitch like a “car park”, a lack of footballs, and flying economy. May 21st was the last straw for Keane, as he exploded at Packie Bonner and Alan Kelly over the lack of a goalkeeper for the daily end-of-training match. This provoked Keane to request to leave the squad. What followed was a mixture of confusion and frustration, as various media of communication were used between Keane and Irish manager Mick McCarthy. Mick Byrne, Ireland’s popular physio, defused the situation following a visit to Keane’s room and Keane decided to stay, but the problem was far from over – what followed was much huffing and puffing, involving Keane’s agent Michael Kennedy and even Sir Alex. When Byrne called a second time and delivered Keane

The University Observer: Review of the Decade  

The arts and culture supplement of The University Observer, Ireland's award-winning student newspaper. Featuring an exclusive interview with...