Tribute to Éamon de Buitléar

Tribute to Éamon de Buitléar -image

Monday, 28 January 2013

President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne On behalf of NUI Galway and the university community, I extend sincere condolences to the family and friends of Éamon de Buitléar.  Éamon de Buitléar was an outstanding figure of modern Ireland.  An exceptional film-maker, a committed environmentalist, a public intellectual, author, musician and member of Seanad Éireann - he was a man of many parts and a man whose contribution to Irish society has enriched the lives of many generations. Most of us can recall Éamon’s passion for the Irish environment, brought to life through his books and television progammes.  His enduring legacy will be a sense of respect for the landscape and heritage of Ireland, along with a joyful enthusiasm for the culture and traditions of our nation. We in NUI Galway are deeply honored by our association with Éamon de Buitléar.  His decision to donate his rich multi-media, bi-lingual archive to the University will mean that his lifetime’s work of creativity and advocacy will be held in trust here for the nation and for generations of scholars.  We are proud to have been entrusted with that task. As dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.   Aitheasc Ómóis an Uachtaráin d’Éamon de Buitléar Thar ceann Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh agus chomhluadar na hOllscoile, déanaim comhbhrón ó chroí le muintir agus le cairde Éamoin de Buitléar. Duine as an ngnáth ar fad i saol comhaimseartha na hÉireann a bhí in Éamon de Buitléar.  Bhain sé barr feabhais agus cáil amach mar fhear déanta scannán, mar fhear ar chás leis cothú na timpeallachta, mar intleachtóir poiblí, mar údar, mar cheoltóir agus mar bhall de Sheanad Éireann – fear ildánach iltréitheach a bhí ann a shaibhrigh sochaí na hÉireann thar bhlianta fada ar an iliomad dóigh. Is cuimhin lenár mbunús an cion mór a bhí ag Éamon ar thimpeallacht na hÉireann a léiríodh trína chuid leabhar agus clár teilifíse. Mairfidh tionchar agus lorg Éamoin go ceann i bhfad sa mheas breise a bheas ag daoine ar thírdhreach agus ar oidhreacht na hÉireann agus sa spéis ghliondrach bhreise a chuirfear i gcultúr agus i dtraidisiúin na tíre seo. Tá idir bhród agus áthas orainn in Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh as ár gceangal le hÉamon de Buitléar. Nuair a chinn sé ar a aircív shaibhir ilmheán dhátheangach a bhronnadh ar an Ollscoil, chinntigh sé lena linn sin go mbeadh a shaothar saoil i réimse na cruthaitheachta agus na bolscaireachta poiblí   i dtaisce go sábháilte agus ar fáil feasta don náisiún agus don lucht léinn. Tá bród orainn gur leag sé an cúram sin orainn. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

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Successful Romantic Relationships amongst over Sixties

Successful Romantic Relationships amongst over Sixties-image

Monday, 28 January 2013

Participants needed for new study As the build-up to Valentine’s Day begins, for one NUI Galway researcher it’s an opportunity to ask the over sixties to tell her about love. Kate Burke, a doctoral student at NUI Galway, wants to examine the importance of romantic relationships for people over the age of 60. She has created a questionnaire and ideally needs around 200 people to participate. Apart from being over 60, participants should also either be in a romantic relationship or have been in a relationship within the last 10 years. “We are hoping to identify the most important elements of successful romantic relationships, and how these factors influence one another”, explains Kate, who is a Trainee Clinical Psychologist and carrying out her research under the supervision of Dr Michael Hogan, Lecturer in Psychology at NUI Galway. Successful romantic relationships are recognised as being beneficial for psychological wellbeing and physical health. Communication, intimacy, sex and love have been found to be important in relationship satisfaction, however this research is usually completed with younger couples. “Older adults are largely neglected when it comes to this kind of research”, says Kate, “with the focus being on younger people and newlyweds. However, I think older people have a lot of experience and can offer a different perspective that younger people can’t.” In order to create the survey, Kate has already carried out some in-depth research with a group of younger people, and older people. Using what’s known as collective intelligence methodology, Kate was able to establish some stark differences between the focus groups. “So far, in testing this research area, we think that older people see honesty as being the fundamental driver of all other elements of successful romantic relationships. Honesty is an interesting concept as it involves self-disclosure and risks putting an individual in a vulnerable position, and yet the ability to disclose honestly can facilitate a deeper level of intimacy in the relationship. The older adult group were able to draw on their experience and recognise honesty as critical to the long-term success of romantic relationships.” For younger adults, communication and trust significantly enhance all elements of relationship success. Older adults also acknowledged the importance of communication and both younger and older adults identified intimacy as an important component of relationship success. However, there were also differences in the elements of relationship success identified by younger and older adults.  Specifically, older adults argued for the importance of religion, companionship, and respect, whereas younger adults argued for the importance of attraction, compatibility and love. “The survey will hopefully build on our previous findings and provide some statistical information about this interesting topic, allowing us to learn more about what’s important in loving relationships for older people. The survey itself is a series of tick box questions, and hopefully should only take people half an hour to fill out. It would be great if people could share their experience with us.” Those who wish to participate in the online study should log onto Participants can also complete the survey in paper format by contacting Kate on 0879451299 or All participants’ data will be kept confidential with no identifying information attached to the questionnaires. -ends-

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€2 million Project to Harness the Potential of Marine Resources for the Biomedical Industry

€2 million Project to Harness the Potential of Marine Resources for the Biomedical Industry-image

Monday, 28 January 2013

Biomaterials for human tissue engineering, drug delivery applications, dental and bone fillers, and wound dressings   A new generation of ‘green’ biomaterials are to be sourced from the Atlantic Ocean by a team of scientists across Europe. As part of the project, two research groups based at the National University of Ireland Galway have received funding of over €0.5 millioneuro to investigate the potential use of such marine materials for applications in the biomedical industry. The University’s Irish Seaweed Research Group (ISRG) and the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB) will work on the two-year project which has a total of ten partners from France, Portugal, Spain, the UK and Ireland. The primary focus of the project is to research and develop new products and applications with particular emphasis on the development of biomaterials for human tissue engineering, drug delivery applications, dental and bone fillers, and wound dressings. Galway is a global manufacturing and research hub for medical devices and its coastal location has given rise to the highest concentration of marine scientists of any area in Ireland. By bringing together two of the most widely recognised research fields in the region, the project has the potential to lead the way in the discovery of the next generation of ‘green’ biomaterials. The project, ‘MARMED’ is funded to the tune of €2,066,765 in total, under the Atlantic Area Translational Programme 2007-2013. Led by the University of Minho in Portugal, it aims to find economic and societal value from marine resources, marine sub-products and by-products. Behind this initiative is the drive for the sustainable use of natural resources as well as the growing realisation that the oceans possess a wealth of opportunities for marine derived medicines. Marine resources and by-products yield materials and compounds with biomedical efficacy. Many of these compounds have been isolated but only a few have reached clinical trials and the pharmaceutical market. The universities and institutes involved in this project will work closely with industrial partners involved in the marine-related and biomedical device sectors to demonstrate proof-of-concept and the added-value and high-potential of these materials in biomedical applications. Professor Abhay Pandit is Director of the NFB at the National University of Ireland Galway, and this EU grant brings to seven the number of EU projects which the Science Foundation Ireland-funded group is involved: “Marine materials have only barely been explored and their use in a biomedical context is quite an innovative approach. There are tremendous possibilities around, for example, marine derived bone proteins as an alternative to genetically engineered technologies. Meanwhile, marine collagen has huge potential for use in biomedical products such as skin substitutes. We also want to explore the use of new polysaccharides extracted from green algae for possible use in intervertebral disc repair and ceramics such as hydroxyapatite produced from fish bones which could be used in bone repair.”  The Irish Seaweed Research Group and NFB will focus on the technical development of marine biomaterials for potential added value and biomedical applications following the identification of suitable compounds and sub-products. This phase of the work will give valuable insight into how marine resources can be turned into added-value biomedical products. “Through the success of previous EU projects carried out by the ISRG and NFB and the involvement of industry partners, the utilisation avenues of under exploited marine resources can be explored. The MARMED project provides a platform for European partners to collaborate on research that will lead to the rapid development of new products for human health,” says Dr. Richard Walsh of the ISRG, which is part of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway. -ends-

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Alliance Partners, NUI Galway and UL launch Joint Medical Academy

Alliance Partners, NUI Galway and UL launch Joint Medical Academy-image

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Alliance partners, NUI Galway and the University of Limerick are delighted to announce the opening of a Joint Medical Academy at Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe. The NUI Galway – University of Limerick Medical Academy will bring the expertise of two of Ireland’s medical schools together through shared teaching and facilities. This allows for greater efficiencies in maintenance of infrastructure and recruitment of academic and administrative staff but also allows student of undergraduate medical training and graduate entry programmes to learn from one another.  Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe has been chosen as a step-out clinical site for the education of Medical Students from NUI Galway and the University of Limerick. As of 7 January 2013, 22 medical students from both institutions will carry out a large component of their training at the hospital. Speaking at the announcement, Professor Fidelma Dunne, Head of Medical School at NUI Galway, said: “Placements in clinical practice are the cornerstone of medical education and this will be delivered to a high standard through the rotation of students through a central university teaching hospital and the selection of regional academies. It is anticipated that a proportion of students in regional academies will become the junior and senior medical staff for these hospitals in the future. The opening of this medical teaching academy in Ballinasloe sees the completion of the network of regional medical academies representing partnerships between NUI Galway and HSE West and more recently Galway Roscommon University Hospital Trust.” Professor Dunne added: “Recent investments in staffing and new infrastructure in NUI Galway, including three new buildings for medical research, as well as ground-breaking developments in our research activities, have positioned the Medical School as one of the top Schools in the country and we are delighted to offer this unique approach to medical education with University of Limerick to our students.” The opening of the Ballinasloe Academy is unique in that two medical schools will share the academy premises and academic staff. This allows for greater efficiencies in maintenance of infrastructure and recruitment of academic and administrative staff but also allows students progressing through two different curricula to learn from one another. Professor Michael Larvin, Head, Graduate Entry Medical School, University of Limerick, welcomed the announcement; "UL is delighted to see another example of collaboration between our two universities with the creation of this joint Medical Academy at Portiuncula Hospital.  This collaboration gives both Universities an excellent opportunity to compare the complementary medical education learning experiences of undergraduate and graduate entry medical students.  Our expectation is that their co-existence will lead to great synergy.  The hospital currently hosts UL medical students in Medicine, Surgery and Paediatrics and they have been wonderfully supported by the hospital staff. The GEMS student evaluations of their experience at the Portiuncula Hospital have been consistently excellent and we are excited to see the arrival of NUI Galway medical students.  It will be a wonderful opportunity for both staff and students to learn from each other.” Dr Maeve Durkan, Dean of NUI Galway – University of Limerick Medical Academy said: “We are delighted to celebrate the merging of these two Academies, NUI Galway School of Medicine and University Limerick, Graduate Entry Medical School which represents the first such venture in the country. Portiuncula Hospital is very pleased at this resounding endorsement by two of our leading medical schools, which reiterates the esteem in which both our clinical and teaching disciplines are held. Portiuncula is committed to consistent high quality care of our patients and this development reiterates that. Equally we recognize the absolute importance of medical education, I am personally proud of the dedication of our module leaders who are instrumental in the delivery of both high quality care and education.  In the last three years, the highest achieving graduates in the UL GEMS program have all trained at Portiuncula Hospital that alone speaks to our talents and dedication. This collaboration is a new departure in the merging of both an undergraduate and postgraduate program, which will be challenging and instructive but a challenge that we will embrace.” Established in 2010, the NUI Galway - UL Strategic Alliance is an institution-wide partnership which covers all of the key areas of activity including teaching, research, technology transfer, lifelong learning and the provision of services. The objective of the alliance is to better support the social and economic development of our wider region by combining the strengths of the two Universities so as to increase the quantity and quality of our collaborative research and teaching, to further develop industrial, business and other partnerships, to ensure the most effective use of our combined resources, and to enhance the international standing of both Universities. -Ends-

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NUI Galway Rewards Sporting Students

NUI Galway Rewards Sporting Students -image

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

                                             Sport Scholarships presented to 25 students At a special ceremony at NUI Galway tomorrow, 25 new recipients of University student Sports Scholarships will be presented.  This brings the total number of students receiving sports scholarships at NUI Galway to 60. NUI Galway offers comprehensive sports scholarships to students each year to support and develop their sporting and academic careers. As well as financial support, scholarship holders get access to NUI Galway facilities as well as physio and medical care, coaching and academic support and a range of services designed to help athletes reach the top of their sport. The range of expertise available is from experts who have all worked with top international competitors right up to and including Olympic level. The success of athletes supported by this program in recent years includes World U23 Handball Champion, Diarmuid Nash; World U23 Rowing Silver Medallist Niall Kenny; World Kickboxing Silver Medallist Des Leonard; and Olympians such as Paul Hession, Olive Loughnane, Alan Martin and Cormac Folan. The All -Ireland Finals in GAA were also strongly populated by NUI Galway sport scholarship students. Gary Ryan the Elite Sports Development Officer at NUI Galway pointed out that, “The aim of our scholarships is to provide the right supports to young athletes that will not only help them to become world class athletes but great Doctors, Engineers and Teachers as well.” This year’s recipients reflect the growing strength of sport in the region and the wide variety of talent that NUI Galway attracts. Angela O Connor is one of Ireland’s most promising young swimmers who will train in the new Connacht High Performance centre based at the University, while Lauren Murray will play with the newly formed NUI Galway Mystics in Division 1 of the National Basketball League Robert O Callaghan was part of the NUI Galway/ Gráinne Mhaol crew that won the senior 8’s at the Irish Rowing Championships in 2012, and Conor Egan and Dan Hindle were part of the successful Intermediate 4 at these championships. Clare’s Aaron Cunningham and Conor McGrath were part of the Clare team that won the All Ireland U21 Championship in 2012 and Conor O’ Shea while still a teenager was part of the Mayo panel as they reached the All-Ireland Final last September. This year the NUI Galway Soccer Club will present a scholarship in memory of the late Eamonn “Chick” Deacy. "Chick" formerly of Galway United, won an English League title with Aston Villa in 1981, he won four Irish International caps and received an honorary Masters of Arts degree from NUI Galway in 2009. The first recipient of this award is Gabriel Darcy who is studying physics and medical physics. To apply for a Sports Scholarship at NUI Galway visit for details. ENDS  

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NUI Galway Appoints New Vice-President for Research

NUI Galway Appoints New Vice-President for Research-image

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

NUI Galway is delighted to announce the appointment of Professor Lokesh Joshi as the new Vice President for Research, effective immediately. The role will see Professor Joshi lead the research mission for NUI Galway and firmly place NUI Galways among the top research led Universities globally. The University has a strong commitment to research, with annual research income in the region of €58 million, over 1500 academic and research staff, and 1,200 postgraduate research students. Professor Joshi joined the University in 2007 as a Science Foundation Ireland Stokes Professor of Glycoscience and is the Director of the Alimentary Glycoscience Research Cluster, a SFI-funded Strategic Research Cluster. He received his PhD from Bath University, in the UK, and completed Post-Doctoral and Research Associate training at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. Before joining NUI Galway, he was an Associate Professor in the Department of Bioengineering and Director of the Center for Glycoscience and Technologies in the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, USA. Lokesh was also co-founder and CSO of Arizona Engineered Therapeutics, a biotechnology company developing products for cardiovascular diseases. Speaking of his appointment, Professor Joshi commented: “I am honoured to be appointed to this role. I firmly believe that NUI Galway has a unique opportunity to excel in research areas that are relevant to Ireland and the global community and am convinced that NUI Galway's excellent research community will quickly adapt to the challenging climate in research funding and continue to be successful.” NUI Galway has internationally recognised expertise in areas including Biomedical Science and Engineering, Web Science, Human Rights, Marine Science, Energy and Environmental Science, Applied Social Sciences and Public Policy, and Humanities. Professor Joshi’s research interest is in the role of sugars (glycans) in health and diseases and for industrial bioprocessing. The Alimentary Glycoscience Research Cluster has been very successful in securing both SFI and EU funding, and Lokesh is currently coordinating an EU-FP7 Health project called GlycoHIT which is developing novel and faster ways to detect cancer biomarkers. Speaking on the announcement, President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, said: “I am delighted to congratulate Prof. Joshi on his appointment as Vice-President for Research.  As an accomplished and successful international researcher, Lokesh brings a unique and fresh perspective to this vital role.  I look forward to working with him to support the continued development of the University’s ambitious research agenda. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Professor Terry Smith for his excellent contribution to the University as Vice President for Research for the last four years.” ENDS

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Martin Reilly Lecture Series

Martin Reilly Lecture Series-image

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Comhrá Ceoil and the Centre for Irish Studies, NUI Galway, are delighted to announce details of the second Martin Reilly Lecture Series.  Dedicated to Martin Reilly, the celebrated East Galway uilleann piper, this series gives an opportunity to researcher-practitioners in Irish traditional music and dance to present their work in a public forum.  The success of the inaugural Martin Reilly Series in 2012 confirmed the interest in research of this kind in Galway, where traditional music and dance are part of the cultural fabric of the city. Terry Moylan will present the first talk this year, which will take place at 6.30pm on Tuesday, 19 February at the Galway City Library.  Terry’s talk, titled ‘Paddy’s Resource – The Songsters of the Society of United Irishmen’ will explore the content of the four editions of Paddy's Resource/The Harp of Erin, the songbooks published by the Society of United Irishmen. Terry will be looking at the repertoire of songs within the collections in terms of language, iconography and their political message, as well as considering the range of tunes to which the songs were set. Terry Moylan is a piper and dancer and now the chief archivist with Na Piobairí Uilleann at its Dublin headquarters on Henrietta Street. Terry is a founder member of the Brooks Academy, which was influential in the revival of set dancing during the 1980s, and indeed since. He has published widely, including three collections of set dances and the song collection The Age of Revolution – 1776 to 1815 in the Irish Song Tradition published by the Lilliput Press.  A board member of the Irish Traditional Music Archive at various times, Terry has lectured in Ireland, Britain and the United States and it is a great pleasure to welcome him to Galway. Admission is free to all talks.  Further information on this and other planned talks in the series available at e-mail: and/or Facebook: Martin-Reilly-Lecture-Series ENDS

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Eleven Research Projects for NUI Galway in New €60 million Scientific Investment by Science Foundation Ireland

Eleven Research Projects for NUI Galway in New €60 million Scientific Investment by Science Foundation Ireland-image

Monday, 28 January 2013

Funding for eleven research projects, with a total value of over €6 million, has been announced for NUI Galway. The awards cover a range of research areas including biomedicine, bioengineering, bioenergy production, chemistry, and commercially valuable seaweeds. The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD and the Minister for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock TD, last Friday announced funding, totalling €60million, dedicated to 85 pioneering research initiatives around the country. Eleven projects, administered via Science Foundation Ireland’s Investigator Programme, have been awarded to NUI Galway. Making the announcement, Minister Bruton said: “A central part of this Government’s plan for jobs and growth is to ensure that this research is better targeted at turning the good ideas of researchers into good products and good jobs. By supporting these world-class researchers in their ground-breaking work we will ensure that we continue to maintain, attract and develop dynamic companies and create the quality jobs we need.” President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, commented: “As a research-led university, innovative research is at the heart of all that we do. Today’s announcement is further endorsement of the calibre of research underway on our campus.  This research will have far-reaching impact and will, ultimately, address some of the major health and scientific challenges facing society.  It will also further strengthen Ireland’s capacity as a knowledge economy.  I congratulate each of the researchers on their success in winning this support from SFI for their important work.” Three examples of the research awards include: Aiding cornea transplant success: With more than 100,000 procedures annually, cornea transplantation is the most frequent procedure of human tissue. However, long-term allograft survival is limited by immunological problems. Dr Thomas Ritter and his team will try to overcome this problem through novel cell and gene therapeutic approaches. Using synthetic carbohydrate chemistry to benefit society: Sugary molecules or ‘glycosides’ are ubiquitous and relevant to many aspects of life and health. Professor Paul Murphy’s team will work on a method to produce complex sugars related to those found in nature. They will apply the method to the synthesis of sugars and modified sugars relevant in cancer, infection & immunology. The research is relevant for development of vaccines, therapeutics or diagnostics for health, including cancer, and in crop protection. Understanding human cells to tackle cancer: One of the mysteries of cell reproduction, which underlies health and cancer, is how a cell moves its chromosomes into new cells when they divide. A special part of the chromosome called the centromere is responsible for this. Professor Kevin Sullivan will pursue new discoveries his team have made about how the centromere itself is reproduced which could help build anti-cancer drugs, but also provides new insight into how healthy cells work. Speaking of the SFI Investigator announcement, Minister for Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock said: “Over the past decade, Ireland has invested heavily in R&D and the rewards are clearly visible. What is particularly heartening about today’s announcement is that much of this excellent research, which was selected competitively following international peer review, is being done in collaboration with companies who are seeking to find new products and services, including IBM Ireland, Intel Ireland, HP, EMC and Bord Gáis.” ENDS

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December 2012

NUI Galway Appoints Michael O’Flaherty as Professor of Human Rights

NUI Galway Appoints Michael O’Flaherty as Professor of Human Rights-image

Monday, 3 December 2012

The renowned UN human rights expert, Professor Michael O’Flaherty FRSA, has been appointed as Professor of Human Rights Law at the National University of Ireland Galway. He will also serve as Director of the University’s Irish Centre for Human Rights. Professor O’Flaherty will combine the new roles with his current commitment as Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. During the period that Professor O’Flaherty remains at the Northern Ireland Commission the Irish Centre for Human Rights will be co-directed by Professor Ray Murphy. Since October 2011, Professor O’Flaherty has been Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. The Commission advises the government and is responsible for protecting and promoting human rights throughout Northern Ireland. It is also empowered to help people whose rights may have been denied and can carry out its own investigations. Professor O’Flaherty has worked the UK university sector since 2003 as Professor of Applied Human Rights and Co-Director of the Human Rights Law Centre at the School of Law in University of Nottingham. A native of Galway, Professor O’Flaherty has a distinguished reputation in the human rights arena. Since 2004, he has been an elected member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee and is currently a Vice-Chairperson. He is also a member of the UN Expert Group on Human Rights Indicators, serves on a number of human rights advisory bodies of the UK government and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts. Professor O’Flaherty sits on committees of the European Roma Rights Centre, the Diplomacy Training Programme, the UN-UK Association, the World Organization Against Torture, the Hilde Back Education Fund and a number of other groups worldwide. Prior to taking up his posts at the University of Nottingham, he served in a number of senior positions with the United Nations. He established the UN human rights field missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1994) and Sierra Leone (1998) and subsequently guided UN headquarters support to its human rights programmes across the Asia-Pacific region. National University of Ireland Galway President, Dr Jim Browne, welcomed the announcement: “Professor O’Flaherty brings an outstanding reputation to our School of Law and Irish Centre for Human Rights. Building on the strong foundations laid by his predecessor, Professor Bill Schabas, who retains an important connection with the Centre, Professor O’Flaherty will continue to develop the global reputation of the Centre for high quality academic programmes, leading edge research and engaged advocacy. Professor O’Flaherty brings a unique blend of academic skills and practical knowledge of human rights law which will enrich the teaching, research and outreach activities of the Centre.” Since its establishment in January 2000, the Irish Centre for Human Rights has developed a global reputation for excellence in the field of human rights teaching, research and advocacy.  Amongst the taught postgraduate programmes offered by the Centre are LL.M. in International Human Rights Law, Peace Operations and Humanitarian Law, and International Criminal Law. Additionally, under the auspices of the Law School, the Centre has built a strong doctoral studies programme, with a significant number of doctoral students supervised by individual staff members.  At undergraduate level, the Irish Centre for Human Rights is integral to the University’s BA with Human Rights. The degree is the only one of its kind in Ireland to offer a Human Rights qualification at undergraduate level. -ends-

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New Research Shows Hardship of Older People During Recession is Under-Reported

New Research Shows Hardship of Older People During Recession is Under-Reported-image

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

“Older people’s finances are not regarded as a problem, but look deeper and genuine hardship is there” A new report suggests that many older people are experiencing real hardship during Ireland’s recession, but that this remains largely hidden from public view. This suggests caution is necessary when interpreting official statistics, which show deprivation and poverty rates for pensioner households to be at an all-time low. The NUI Galway research report‘Deprivation and its Measurement in Later Life’ was undertaken by the University’s Irish Centre for Social Gerontology. It was funded through the Irish Research Council with support from the Department of Social Protection. Led by Professor Thomas Scharf, Director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway, the research tries to understand how older people respond to the 11-item basic deprivation index used in official poverty statistics. Re-analysis of available national data shows that measured deprivation depends in large part on the choice of indicators used. Some indicators used in official measures are less relevant to older people than other population groups. This was reinforced in focus groups and interviews with a diverse sample of older people. As a result, older people are less likely to be identified as deprived. In launching the report, Professor Scharf said: “Older people’s finances are not regarded as a problem, but look deeper and genuine hardship is there. Our research suggests that older people respond differently to standard deprivation measures than other population groups. This means that reported levels of deprivation may under-estimate the actual experience of poverty and deprivation amongst older people.” Professor Scharf feels that a new, stand-alone deprivation index for older people is needed for use in official statistics. Many research participants held a relatively narrow view of poverty, linking this to an inability to afford basic household items. Participants were generally more likely to identify as necessities items relating to housing and accommodation, food and food quality, household bills and clothing. By contrast, taking a holiday away from home or being able to afford to replace worn-out furniture were less likely to be regarded as essential. The research shows that poverty and deprivation continue to affect the lives of many older people in Ireland. While the value of state pensions has been maintained, a number of people who took part in the research were struggling to cope with the loss of other forms of support at a time when additional demands were being placed on their finances. In particular, providing financial support to adult children and grandchildren during the recession featured in several participants’ accounts. Welcoming the research, Robin Webster, CEO of Age Action Ireland, congratulated the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology on producing this timely report that gives a greater insight into the nature of deprivation as experienced by many older people in maintaining their quality of life in the face of rising costs and reduced support services. He also welcomed the proposal to have a new deprivation index for older people. ENDS

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