All 2012

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

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

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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NUI Galway Launch Colm Ó hEocha Bursary

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

NUI Galway recently launched the new Colm Ó hEocha Bursary. Established in memory of the late Dr Colm Ó hEocha, the Bursary has a value of €3,000 and will be awarded annually to the NUI Galway graduate who has registered for a Taught Masters Programme in the University provided through Irish and who has, in her/his primary degree taken at NUI Galway, obtained the highest overall percentage of those eligible. Originally from Dungravan, Co. Waterford, Dr Colm Ó hEocha was President of NUI Galway (then University College Galway) from 1975-1995. Dr Ó hEocha had previously been the University’s first Professor of Biochemistry from 1963. He also served as the Chair of the New Ireland Forum, of the Science Council of Ireland, of the Arts Council and of the Interim Local Radio Commission. Dr Ó hEocha was the recipient of honorary doctorates from Queen’s University Belfast, Dublin University, University of Limerick and Connecticut College. NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne, said: “Colm Ó hEocha is a towering figure in the history of NUI Galway – as a teacher, researcher and as president of the University at a time of enormous transition.  Conscious of his achievements and his distinguished legacy, the University has established Sparánacht Choilm Uí Eocha – the Colm Ó hEocha Bursary with support of Galway University Foundation.  We are proud to recognise and commemorate Colm Ó hEocha in the presentation of this Bursary which gives expression, in a special way to his support for graduate studies within the University, as well as his love for and commitment to Irish Language.” -ENDS- Sparánacht Choilm Uí Eocha Seolta ag OÉ Gaillimh Sheol OÉ Gaillimh Sparánacht Choilm Uí Eocha le gairid Bunaíodh an Sparánacht i gcuimhne an Dr Choilm Uí Eocha, nach maireann. Is fiú €3,000 an Sparánacht agus bronnfar é go bliantúil ar an gcéimí de chuid OÉ Gaillimh atá cláraithe ar Chlár Máistreachta Múinte san Ollscoil a chuirtear ar fáil trí mheán na Gaeilge agus a bhfuil an céatadán foriomlán is airde bainte amach aige/aici, i measc na n-iarratasóirí incháilithe, ina b(h)unchéim in OÉ Gaillimh. B’as Dún Garbháin, Co. Phort Láirge an Dr Colm Ó hEocha ó dhúchas agus bhí sé ina Uachtarán ar OÉ Gaillimh (Coláiste na hOllscoile, Gaillimh ag an am) idir 1975-1995. Bhí an Dr Ó hEocha ar an gcéad Ollamh le Bithcheimic san Ollscoil sa bhliain 1963. Chomh maith leis sin bhí sé ina Ollamh ar Fhóram Nua-Éireann, ar Chomhairle Eolaíochta na hÉireann, ar an gComhairle Ealaíon agus ar an gCoimisiún Eatramhach Raidió Áitiúil. Bhronn Ollscoil na Banríona, Béal Feirste, Ollscoil Bhaile Átha Cliath, Ollscoil Luimnigh agus Coláiste Connecticut céimeanna oinigh ar an Dr Ó hEocha. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag an Dr Jim Browne, Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh: “Ba dhuine mór le rá é Colm Ó hEocha i stair OÉ Gaillimh – mar theagascóir, mar thaighdeoir agus mar Uachtaran na hOllscoile ag am a raibh go leor athruithe ag tarlú.  Tá Sparánacht Choilm Uí Eocha bunaithe ag an Ollscoil – le tacaíocht ó Fhondúireacht na hOllscoile chun a chuid éachtaí agus an oidhreacht iontach a d’fhág sé againn a thabhairt chun cuimhne.  Is mór an onóir dúinn aitheantas a thabhairt do Cholm Ó hEocha agus comóradh a dhéanamh ar a shaol tríd an Sparánacht seo a bhronnadh mar go léiríonn an Sparánacht seo, ar bhealach speisialta, an tacaíocht a thug sé don staidéar iarchéime san Ollscoil agus an grá a bhí aige don Ghaeilge.” -CRÍOCH-

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NUI Galway Scientist Wins X-Factor Style Competition

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

NUI Galway scientist Dr Enda O’Connell has been named a winner in a new online science engagement event. Dr O’Connell won first prize in the health category of I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here!, which saw scientists chatting with students from 36 schools across the island of Ireland over the course of two weeks. Dr Enda O’Connell is a senior technical officer with the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science at NUI Galway. His work involves using a robot to help find cures for different types of cancers. He said: “I really enjoyed chatting with the students, answering their questions about science in general and my work in NUI Galway.  It gave me a new perspective on what it means to be a scientist.” Dr Tim Downing, a lecturer with the School of Mathematics at NUI Galway, whose research involves discovering mutations linked to drug resistance in flesh-eating parasites, also participated in the challenge. Students took part in quickfire Facebook-style online live chats, asking the scientists all sorts of questions before voting for their favourite scientist to win a prize of €500. Originating in the UK, this is the first time the event has come to Ireland, and it’s proved very popular with teachers. More information at -ENDS-

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Irish Stem Cell Expert to Address World Summit

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

One of Ireland’s leading experts on stem cells will address the 8th World Stem Cell Summit, which takes place in Florida this week. Professor Tim O’Brien, Director of the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway, will present a session on ‘Leading Institutions and Their Strategies for Advancing Regenerative Medicine’. Speaking alongside colleagues from research institutes around the world, Professor O’Brien will present on Wednesday, 5 December, discussing the latest research from REMEDI in the field of adult stem cell research here in Ireland. The World Stem Cell Summit is the largest interdisciplinary, networking meeting of stem cell stakeholders, uniting the diverse regenerative medicine community. With the overarching purpose of fostering biomedical research funding and investments targeting cures, the summit is seen as main conference charting the future of this burgeoning field. The programme provides the research, industry, economic and societal context for understanding how all of the pieces of the stem cell puzzle fit together. The agenda features more than 150 speakers and 50 hours of in-depth presentations. Supported by 200 sponsors, exhibitors, endorsing organisations and media partners, the summit is a three-day showcase of innovation, insight and inspiration. Speaking ahead of the event, Professor Tim O’Brien said: “Ireland has invested substantially in adult stem cell research in both infrastructure and human capital. The country is now poised to move from pre-clinical research to clinical trials subject to regulatory approval.” NUI Galway has become a leading centre of translational research in adult stem cells involving its National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES) and REMEDI, which is funded by Science Foundation Ireland. The REMEDI team, which includes Professor Timothy O’Brien and Professor Frank Barry, are partnering with academics and clinicians from all over Ireland and beyond to study the clinical potential of adult stem cells in the treatment of many different diseases. -ends-

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