NUI Galway Team Awarded Prize at Enactus Ireland National Competition for Social Entrepreneurship

NUI Galway Team Awarded Prize at Enactus Ireland National Competition for Social Entrepreneurship-image

Monday, 8 June 2015

A team of 47 students from NUI Galway were recently awarded the runner-up prize at the prestigious 2015 Enactus Ireland National Competition for Social Entrepreneurship. Enactus is an international, not-for-profit organisation which provides a platform for third-level students to create community development projects, while developing the skills to become socially responsible business leaders of the future. The national competition is an annual event where students come together to present their projects to show how they are transforming lives through entrepreneurial action. NUI Galway was one of the founding university teams of Enactus Ireland and this year marks its fourth year of involvement. Teams from Ireland’s seven universities and Dublin Institute of Technology gathered in Dublin to compete to represent Ireland at the Enactus World Cup, which will be held this year in October in Johannesburg, South Africa. Michael Campion, Faculty Advisor to the NUI Galway team said: “It’s been a privilege to support the Enactus team as they worked on a set of projects which have made a significant impact in empowering some members of the community. From working with young people with mental health issues in developing a vertical garden, to creating a training programme for catering staff to become aware of how to better respond to people with basic day-to-day communication challenges. These students channelled their creativity and passion to develop fabulous, sustainable solutions. To make it all happen, they partnered with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), the HSE, Croí, Café Togo and Aramark. Taking the runner-up prize in the competition is a great recognition of all the hard work that the students have put in over the past year, something that is not easy while balancing with their academic studies. They are a credit to themselves, their families and to NUI Galway.” -Ends-

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One of World’s Most Influential Scientists to Speak at NUI Galway

One of World’s Most Influential Scientists to Speak at NUI Galway-image

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Professor Svante Pääbo, the first person to sequence the DNA of Neanderthal people NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences will hold two special Neanderthal-related events organised on the eve of NUI Galway awarding an Honorary Degree to Professor Svante Pääbo, Director at the Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany and the first person to sequence the DNA of Neanderthal people. The first event by Professor Pääbo is a lecture on Archaic Genomics, which will take place on Thursday, 11 June at 4pm in the McMunn Theatre, Arts/Science Building at NUI Galway. Swedish biologist Svante Pääbo is a founder in the field of palaeogenomics, the study of ancient DNA preserved in fossils. He first began this work studying ancient Egyptian mummies, before progressing to much older extinct mammals. In 2010 his research team made scientific history when they published the first draft genome sequence for Neanderthals. This was followed up with the discovery of a completely new, and hitherto unknown group of humans (Denisovans) based on DNA extracted from a c.41,000 year old fossil finger bone found in a cave in Siberia. Professor Pääbo has received numerous prizes and awards for his work and his research has captured the wider public imagination. In 2007, Time magazine included him in their list of the 100 most influential people in the world. On Thursday, 11 June at 6pm, NUI Galway will launch a new museum display, William King and the Naming of Neanderthal People. The display will commemorate former NUI Galway Professor of Geology William King’s achievement and also tell the story of our closest evolutionary relatives, the Neanderthals. The study of human evolution began in earnest in 1863 when William King, Professor of Geology at Queens College Galway, proposed the name Homo neanderthalensis for fossil human remains discovered in the Neander Valley of Germany. His suggestion was both extraordinary and revolutionary for its time. To his lasting credit, King remains the first scientist to name a new and extinct species of human. The launch will take place in the James Mitchell Geology Museum in the Quadrangle on campus. To coincide with these events in NUI Galway, the Irish Journal of Earth Sciences, through the Royal Irish Academy, has published a paper by event organiser Dr John Murray and his colleagues highlighting William King's contribution to the early study of human evolution. It has been made freely available online at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3318/IJES.2015.33.1. Dr Murray said: “William King's suggestion that Neanderthal people represented a separate species from ourselves sparked one of the longest standing debates in human evolutionary studies: how precisely are Neanderthals related to modern humans? Professor Pääbo has done more than any other scientist in the modern era to tackle that question head-on.” Professor Svante Pääbo will be conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Science (honoris causa) on Friday, 12 June. -Ends-

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Conference to debate new approaches to protecting children and supporting families

Conference to debate new approaches to protecting children and supporting families-image

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Protecting children and early interventions that can keep children out of state care will be the focus of a two-day conference which opens tomorrow. The UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway will host its 7th Biennial Family Support Conference on Thursday 11 and Friday 12 June. The conference is called ‘Building Family Support Systems’ and will touch on topics from concealed pregnancies to child-to-parent violence, with a special talk by Garry Hynes, the multi-award winning theatre Director. The focus of the event is a new programme of prevention and family support from Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. Known as ‘Meitheal’, the programme aims to put in place a system for protecting children, preventing problems in their lives and supporting their parents and families the system will involve local networks of services working together to help families before problems require their entry to the Child Protection system and acting as a ‘step-down’ support for families exiting that system. The new programme also emphasises supporting parents, and encouraging active participation by children, young people and parents in decisions affecting them. The conference will stimulate debate on a number of opportunities and challenges concerning the nature of family support including the interface between child protection and strengthening children’s rights and participation, both learning from and informing the experience of other jurisdictions. Keynote speakers from the US, UK and Ireland and from UNICEF’s prestigious Office of Research-Innocenti will lead the discussions, while Irish and international practitioners and researchers will provide 30 workshops on key conference themes. Following the tradition of introducing a perspective from a leading figure in wider society, Garry Hynes, the multi-award winning Artistic Director of Druid Theatre and NUI Galway Alumnus, is the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre’s special guest this year. Gary will offer some unique insights on life, family and civic society in drama and in Ireland. Professor Pat Dolan, UNESCO Chair at the Child and Family Research Centre NUI Galway, commented: “We have for the first time, since the foundation of the State, a commitment to embed support structures for families in local communities, so that when children and parents need help they know where to get it and more importantly they get what they need, when they need it and where and how they need it. If Tusla get this right, it will transform the Child Welfare system, so that the right of children to be protected and to a family life can be fully realised. At the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre we are delighted to be Tusla’s research partner in this exciting new venture.” The conference is hosted as part of the ‘Five Nations Family Support Initiative’ in conjunction with representatives from across the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) and UNESCO Headquarters, Paris. The aim of this new initiative is to collectively discuss and advance Family Support policy and practice issues which will be progressed and developed on an international stage. The full list of conference plenary speakers includes: Ms Jasmina Byrne, UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti. Dr John Canavan, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, School of Political Science and Sociology, NUI Galway. Dr Deborah Daro, Chapin Hall, University of Chicago. Professor Nick Frost, Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Leeds Beckett University; Professor Nóirín Hayes, School of Education, Trinity College, Dublin. Professor Ursula Kilkelly, School of Law, University College Cork. -ends-

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Health Literacy Conference at NUI Galway

Health Literacy Conference at NUI Galway-image

Monday, 15 June 2015

NUI Galway will hold the 19th annual Health Promotion Research Centre Summer Conference on Thursday, 18 June in Áras Moyola. Plenary lectures, workshops, oral and poster presentations will explore the importance of health literacy and how it can be enhanced as a priority area for health promotion. The ‘Healthy Ireland’ Framework identifies health literacy as a priority action to empower people and communities for improved health and wellbeing. Health literacy is linked to literacy and is about people’s knowledge and ability to access, understand, assess and apply health information in order to take decisions in everyday life to improve their health. The conference will bring together policy, research and practice perspectives on how health literacy can be strengthened, including the implementation of interventions across sectors that will promote the health of the citizens of Ireland. Dr Rima Rudd, Harvard School of Public Health, will deliver a lecture on new developments in health literacy and policy implications. Dr Rudd said: “Health literacy research challenges us to consider how we can make health information more accessible and health services easier to navigate.” Dr Geraldine Doyle, UCD School of Business in UCD will focus on health literacy research in Ireland and internationally. Dr Doyle has been involved in large European surveys and studies on health literacy and said: “Having generated first time data on the measurement of health literacy, it is now important that national and EU monitoring of such health literacy measurement continues over time. Strengthening health literacy, at both individual and health system levels, offers a simple solution to the cost of health care provision and for the sustainability of health care systems.” During the conference lectures will be also be delivered by: Dr Graham Kramer, GP and National Clinical Lead in Scotland for self-management and health literacy, who will describe the health literacy policy in Scotland; Inez Bailey, Director of the National Adult Literacy Agency, who will deliver a lecture on the evolution of health literacy policy in Ireland and the challenge of implementation; and Dr Jo Protheroe, General Practice, University of Keele, England, who will describe the process of moving from research to practice, using examples from Stoke Public Health. Oral and poster presentations and skills based workshops will also feature during the day, giving every delegate a chance to network and meet with the speakers and colleagues. Dr Jane Sixsmith, Director of NUI Galway’s Health Promotion Research Centre and Chair of the Annual Conference 2015, said: “The conference is a key event in the Health Promotion calendar in Ireland and it provides a unique opportunity to strengthen the promotion of health towards a Healthy Ireland for everyone. The conference is relevant to practitioners, researchers and policy makers.” -Ends-

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Participants Required for Study on the Effects of Music on the Ageing Brain

Participants Required for Study on the Effects of Music on the Ageing Brain -image

Monday, 15 June 2015

A research project into ageing at NUI Galway is looking for additional participants to take part in the study. The study is part of a larger ongoing project in NUI Galway, which commenced in 2013, exploring the functions and effects of music listening with younger and older adults. The project is seeking participants aged 60-85 years to join an experimental study on the effects of listening to music. Volunteers will spend 2-3 hours in the lab carrying out a variety of verbal and numerical tasks while listening to music and having their brain waves measured by electroencephalography (EEG). Prior to the lab session volunteers will also complete a questionnaire measuring their typical uses of music, personality and wellbeing. Jenny Groarke, a musician and PhD student at the School of Psychology in NUI Galway, said: “We will examine whether listening to music improves psychological functioning across a range of domains, which we hope can be used to benefit older adults in the future.” “Findings emerging from these ongoing studies are suggesting that one of the primary reasons people listen to music is to regulate emotions. There is evidence that older adults are more skilled at emotion regulation, and that positive and negative emotions can have a range of effects on physical health, emotional well-being, and cognitive functioning. Our research is highlighting that individuals also use music to optimise their abilities - such as boosting performance at work, and during sport or exercise. An important aim of the experiment is to determine if listeners beliefs about music’s positive effects can be confirmed in the lab,” Jenny continued. Through her research, Jenny has already discovered some differences in music listening between younger and older adults. These are outlined in an upcoming paper to be published in the Psychology of Music journal. Interestingly, older adults typically used music to experience a sense of connection with significant others and to lessen feelings of social isolation, whereas younger adults focused on the use of music for bonding in social settings, and adapting to crowded public places. The Galway native was inspired to study the link between music and well-being in older adults by her late grandfather Jimmy Dooley, who sang in the Augustinian choir for more than 65 years and played the drums in the Galway Bay Jazz band in Busker Brownes every Sunday. She has also set up a business, Sing-Bang Music Workshops, which brings music workshops to nursing homes to improve memory ability, happiness, and quality of life in elderly adults through group music making. Those interested in participating will need to complete the questionnaire of adaptive music listening functions, and sign up for the experiment here at http://sgiz.mobi/s3/AFML. Alternatively a paper version of the questionnaire can be requested from jenny.groarke@gmail.com or phone 086 0333 033. For more information on volunteering for the research visit www.adaptivefunctionsofmusic.com. -Ends-

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Four from NUI Galway Scoop Prestigious Fulbright Award

Four from NUI Galway Scoop Prestigious Fulbright Award-image

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Dr Gerard Wall, a Senior Lecturer in NUI Galway’s Microbiology and CÚRAM, the SFI-funded Centre for Research in Medical Devices, has been awarded a Fulbright-Marine Institute Scholar Award to carry out research at the University of Wyoming, US. Other Fulbright recipients included three NUI Galway graduates, Emma Lowry, Méabh Ní Choileáin and Séamus O’Sullivan. A total of 31 Scholarships were announced recently at an event hosted by the Minister for Diaspora Affairs, Jimmy Deenihan T.D. and the US Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O’Malley. Since 1957, the Fulbright Awards are given annually by the Irish and US governments and provide Irish students, scholars, and professionals with the opportunity to study, lecture, and research at top universities and institutions throughout the United States. Dr Gerard Wall, a Senior Lecturer in NUI Galway’s discipline of Microbiology and the SFI-funded Centre for Research in Medical Devices (CÚRAM), has been awarded a Fulbright-Marine Institute Scholar Award to carry out research at the University of Wyoming. Dr Wall’s research involves cloning and exploiting antibodies, derived from the human immune system, in medical devices and drug delivery applications. While based at the University of Wyoming, he will work to develop a novel, handheld sensor device, based on surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) spectroscopy, for point-of-care toxin detection. The technology platform will initially be developed for marine monitoring but will also be applicable to rapid identification of pathogenic bacteria and viruses in human serum and saliva. Dr Wall’s current research in Microbiology and CÚRAM encompasses targeted drug delivery and materials functionalisation programmes. He currently coordinates an EU-funded research programme on cardiovascular stent development, with partner groups in materials science, stent production and cardiology in Poland and Slovakia. Here the goal of the cross-sectoral consortium is to design and produce cardiovascular stents with increased biocompatibility in the body, leading to a reduced frequency of complications such as stent re-blocking. Emma Lowry from Glasnevin, Dublin has been a secondary school teacher in Dublin’s Gaelcholáiste Reachrann for seven years. Emma graduated from NUI Galway with a Dióploma sa Iarchéime Oideachas and Master’s in Language Education and has a Degree in Irish from University College Dublin. Emma will be a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant at the University of Montana. Méabh Ní Choileáin studied Applied Communications at NUI Galway and is a recent graduate of St. Patrick’s College, where she qualified as a primary teacher. She currently works as Children’s and Education Editorial Assistant for Penguin Books, London. Méabh, from Ranelagh, Co. Dublin, will be a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant at the Catholic University of America, Washington DC. Séamus O’Sullivan from Listowel, Co. Kerry, graduated with a BA in English and Modern Irish from NUI Galway in 2013 and went on to complete an MA in Modern Irish at UCC in 2014. During his BA he completed a year-long apprenticeship in creative writing funded by Forás na Gaeilge. He will be the first Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant at Idaho State University.  US Ambassador Kevin O’Malley said: “Year on year US and Irish Fulbrighters provide a fascinating insight into the direction of global research in a wide variety of fields. This year we have seen a particular increase in research in the areas of health and technology. The Fulbright program provides a unique platform for international scholars to break new ground, to collaborate with other world class researchers and to make a difference.” The next round of applications for Irish Fulbright Awardees will open on Monday, 31 August. Interested applicants in all disciplines are encouraged to visit the Fulbright Commission’s website, www.fulbright.ie, for more information. All applications for the 2016-2017 academic year will be due on Friday, 30 October. -Ends-

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NUI Galway President Offers Condolences following Berkeley Tragedy

NUI Galway President Offers Condolences following Berkeley Tragedy-image

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Dr Jim Browne, President National University of Ireland Galway We are deeply saddened and heartbroken to hear of the Irish students lost in the devastating tragedy in Berkeley, California. This untimely loss of life has shocked the University communities across Ireland and we wish to extend our deepest sympathies to all of their families, classmates and friends at this time. The University also wishes to express its heartfelt condolences to our colleagues at other Institutions who are in mourning at this time. We also offer our support, through whatever means possible, to our students who may have been injured or affected by this tragic incident and a book of condolences is now on the University website http://www.nuigalway.ie/berkeleytragedy/ A book of condolence has also been opened by the Mayor of Galway in the City Hall. Flags at NUI Galway will be flown at half-mast today in honour of the students and all those involved in the tragedy. May these young students rest in peace.               ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- An Dr Jim Browne, Uachtarán Ollscoil na hÉireann Gaillimh Is mór an brón agus an briseadh croí atá orainn i ndiaidh dúinn an scéal a chloisteáil maidir leis na mic léinn Éireannacha a cailleadh sa tubaiste tragóideach in Berkeley, California inné. Goilleann an tragóid seo go trom ar phobail na n-ollscoileanna ar fud na tíre agus ba mhaith linn ár gcomhbhrón a ghabháil le teaghlaigh, comhghleacaithe agus cairde na mac léinn a cailleadh. Gabhaimid comhbhrón freisin lenár gcomhghleacaithe in institiúidí eile atá faoi bhrón ag an am seo. Tabharfaimid tacaíocht, ar aon bhealach is féidir, do mhic léinn na hOllscoile a gortaíodh sa timpiste nó a bhfuil ag fulaingt dá bharr, agus tá leabhar comhbhróin ar shuíomh gréasáin na hOllscoile anois: http://www.nuigalway.ie/berkeleytragedy/ Tá leabhar comhbhróin curtha ar fáil ag Méara na Gaillimhe freisin i Halla na Cathrach. Beidh brataigh OÉ Gaillimh i lár crainn inniu in onóir do na mic léinn a bhí páirteach sa tubaiste. Suaimhneas síoraí dá n-anamacha.

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NUI Galway’s Summer Conferring

NUI Galway’s Summer Conferring -image

Thursday, 18 June 2015

NUI Galway today (18 June) conferred degrees on almost 260 students. Among that number, 61 were conferred with doctoral degrees. The largest cohort of students to graduate was over 120 future doctors who received their Honours Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, and Bachelor of Obstetrics (MB, BCh, BAO) degree. Among the cohort of medical students, Cillian McNamara from Ennis, Co. Clare received 5 out of 14 Final Medical Medals for his outstanding academic performance. Every year, NUI Galway awards the Final Medical Medals to the student who receives the highest mark in each subject area. Speaking at the ceremony, President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, said: Speaking at the ceremony, President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, said: “On behalf of NUI Galway, I congratulate each of today’s graduates. It is very encouraging to see the number of research and graduate degrees which we are conferring today. These graduate numbers continue to grow. From a base of about 50 doctorates per year at the turn of the millennium, we now confer up to 4 times that number annually.” President Browne added words of encouragement to graduates conferred at the ceremony: “Our economy is clearly turning a corner. Have hope and courage. You have what it takes to make the difference to our society. The opportunities that you have to create your own environment and to shape your own futures are enormous.” The President also remembered the Irish students lost in the devastating tragedy in Berkeley, California saying: “We wish to extend our deepest sympathies to all of their families, classmates and friends at this time. The University also remembers our colleagues at other Institutions who are in mourning. We think too of the injured students and we send our very best wishes for their full recovery.” International students were well represented at the ceremony, with the University conferring a large number of graduates from Malaysia and Canada, among other countries. -Ends- Searmanas Bronnta an tSamhraidh in OÉ Gaillimh Bronnadh céimeanna ar bhreis is 260 mac léinn inniu (18 Meitheamh) in OÉ Gaillimh. Ina measc siúd, bronnadh céimeanna dochtúireachta ar 61 mac léinn. Ar an ngrúpa is mó díobh bronnadh Baitsiléir Onóracha sa Leigheas, Baitsiléir sa Mháinliacht agus Baitsiléir sa Chnáimhseachas (MB, BCh, BAO) ar bhreis is 120 ábhar dochtúra. Fuair Cillian McNamara as Inis i gCo. an Chláir, duine de na mic léinn leighis, 5 Bhonn don Bhliain Deiridh Leighis as 14 Bhonn dá fheidhmíocht acadúil. Gach bliain, bronnann OÉ Gaillimh Boinn Deiridh Leighis ar an mac léinn leis an marc is airde i ngach ábhar. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an Dr Jim Browne le linn an tsearmanais: “Thar ceann OÉ Gaillimh, tréaslaím le gach duine agaibh. Ábhar misnigh dúinn ar fad is ea go bhfuil an oiread sin céimeanna taighde agus iarchéimeanna á mbronnadh againn inniu. Tá níos mó agus níos mó céimeanna á mbronnadh againn bliain i ndiaidh bliana. Bhíodh 50 céim dhochtúireachta in aghaidh na bliana á mbronnadh againn ag tús an chéid ach bronntar a cheithre oiread sin anois gach bliain.” Dúirt an tUachtarán leis na céimithe gur cheart dóibh aghaidh a thabhairt ar na blianta amach rompu le teann dóchais: “Is cinnte go bhfuil borradh ag teacht faoi chúrsaí eacnamaíochta. Bíodh misneach agus dóchas agaibh. Tá an cumas ag gach duine agaibh dul i bhfeidhm ar an tsochaí ar shlí éigin. Níl teorainn ar bith leis na deiseanna atá agaibhse an cineál saoil is mian libh a chruthú daoibh féin agus lántairbhe a bhaint as na deiseanna a thiocfaidh in bhur dtreo sna blianta amach romhainn.” Labhair an tUachtarán chomh maith ar na mic léinn Éireannacha a bhásaigh go tragóideach in Berkeley, California: “Ba mhaith linn comhbhrón ó chroí a dhéanamh leis na teaghlaigh, comhghleacaithe ranga agus cairde ag an am brónach seo. Tá an Ollscoil ag cuimhneamh ar ár gcomrádaithe in Institiúidí eile atá faoi bhrón. Ní féidir linn dearmad a dhéanamh ach an oiread ar na mic léinn a gortaíodh agus guímid go dtiocfaidh biseach orthu go luath.” Bhí roinnt mhaith mac léinn idirnáisiúnta i láthair chomh maith ag an searmanas, agus an Ollscoil ag bronnadh céimeanna ar lear mór céimithe as an Malaeisia agus as Ceanada, i measc tíortha eile. -Críoch-

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Civil society organisations comment as Assisted Decision-Making Bill passes Committee Stage

Civil society organisations comment as Assisted Decision-Making Bill passes Committee Stage-image

Friday, 19 June 2015

The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill entered committee stage yesterday and came one step closer to becoming law. Over four hundred proposed amendments were motioned and debated by the Select Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality. A number of civil society organisations in Ireland felt that the Select Committee could have gone further to more fully secure the rights of older citizens and those with disabilities. Professor Gerard Quinn, Director at the Centre for Disability Law and Policy (CDLP) at NUI Galway, stated that: “Our Centre has joined with a coalition of over 15 organisations representing people with disabilities and their families, older persons, mental health service users, and health professionals, to contribute to the development of the Bill. The coalition is pleased with the strong public consultation of the Department of Justice and Equality in the development of the Bill. But we remain concerned that the Department may have missed an opportunity to fully harmonise the Bill with current human rights standards.” Sarah Lennon from Inclusion Ireland stated that: “We are pleased overall with the commitment of the Department of Justice and the Justice committee to making this law responsive to the needs of Irish citizens. The sheer number of amendments reflected the extensive consultation with civil society organisations representing experts through experience in the development of the Bill. We want to continue working with the Department to create robust mechanisms truly harmonise the Bill with international human rights standards.” Dr Eilionóir Flynn, the Deputy Director of the CDLP stated that: ‘The repeal of the “wards of court” system has been a long time coming. The Ministry for Justice has rightly consigned the 1871 Lunacy Regulation Act to the dustbin of history. But there is a risk that residues of the old-style paternalism have remained. In particular, the Bill places too much emphasis on a person’s mental capacity. We don’t want a situation where people with disabilities and older persons are forced to get a mental capacity assessment to enter into support agreements under the Bill. Under the Bill a person will be ineligible to appoint an assistant for a decision if the person is seen to lack mental capacity. Yet the whole point of the Bill was to provide support arrangements precisely for people who would otherwise fail outdated and discriminatory mental capacity assessments. This shift is required under international human rights law. The UN Committee on the rights of Persons with Disabilities has been clear: mental capacity assessments must go.” Jim Walsh, of the Irish Advocacy Network, expressed concern that: “Assessing capacity will become the focus rather than understanding and facilitating individual support needs. Statutory bodies concerned with training care staff, we fear, will focus on how to question someone’s capacity rather than helping staff to address social support needs and support a person’s decision making.” Some mental health advocates are also concerned that the new advanced healthcare directives will be useful for physical health problems but will apply unequally to mental health service users. Fiona Walsh of Tallaght Trialogue commented that: “Physical health and mental health issues must be given equal respect. Under the current Bill, not even a government minister could make an Advance Healthcare Directive which would be respected in the event of a mental health crises that leads to involuntary treatment under mental health law.” Another area of concern related to informal decision-making powers. The term 'informal decision-maker' was removed in yesterday’s committee stage. However, advocates remain concerned that some of the troubling aspects of the provisions remain in place. Tina Leonard, Head of Advocacy and Public Affairs at The Alzheimer Society of Ireland, said: “The Minister for Justice rightly removed some of the excessive power inadvertently granted to informal supporters of people who believed that the person they were supporting lacked mental capacity. That provision would have allowed, for example, an older person to be placed in a home against their wishes simply because their adult child 'believed that the person lacked mental capacity'. Instead, we need to secure people’s dignity to take risks. But although the language has changed after the Minister’s recent amendments, we are concerned that some of these 'informal powers' remain in place. It is not enough to simply remove the term 'informal decision–maker' if the excessive powers remain the same.” Professor Quinn concluded: “All of us are shaped by the balance of protection and autonomy in law. The legal requirement to wear seatbelts is an example showing where autonomy ends and public protection begins. But the current Bill seems to say that for people with disabilities and older people, different rules apply in striking that balance. We need to move beyond 'special laws' for people with disabilities, just as we’re moving away from 'special schools' and 'special day programs'. True integration requires a commitment to equality.” -ends-

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PRESIDENT HIGGINS RECEIVES RECIPIENT OF THE PRESIDENT OF IRELAND YOUNG RESEARCHER AWARD

PRESIDENT HIGGINS RECEIVES RECIPIENT OF THE PRESIDENT OF IRELAND YOUNG RESEARCHER AWARD -image

Friday, 19 June 2015

NUI Galway based researcher Dr. Elaine Dunleavy receives €1 million funding from Science Foundation Ireland  President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, has today received Dr Elaine Dunleavy, NUI Galway, as the recipient of the Science Foundation Ireland President of Ireland Young Researcher Award (PIYRA) at Áras an Uachtaráin. Accepting the award, Dr. Dunleavy said, “It is a great honour to receive this award which will enable me to recruit talented researchers and further my research effort in stem cell biology. My approach will utilise genetic manipulations in fruit fly stem cells, combined with state-of-the-art high-resolution imaging, to investigate genes and molecules that impact stem cell identity. This research will drive the development of stem cell therapies and the use of regenerative medicine to improve diagnosis and treatment of an aging population in Ireland.” Dr. Dunleavy’s award will support her research in the field of genetics and will focus on gaining an increased understanding of how stem cells divide. Using state-of-the-art cell imaging techniques, data generated from this research will substantially improve our knowledge of mechanisms of genome stability in stem cells with implications for fertility, reproduction, aging, cancer and regenerative medicine. Commenting on the award, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said, “PIYRA recognises outstanding researchers who, early in their careers, have shown exceptional potential to become a research leader of the future and achieved significant research accomplishments in areas of fundamental national and international importance. This initiative is one of Science Foundation Ireland’s programmes to support a new generation of top-tier early career researchers and assist them to build internationally competitive research careers in Ireland.” PIYRA is Science Foundation Ireland's most esteemed award for researchers who have shown exceptional promise as possible future leaders in international research and are known for excellence in their field. Awardees are selected on the basis of exceptional accomplishments in science and engineering and on the basis of creative research projects that have attracted international acclaim. ENDS

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