05-2004 Press Releases

31/05/2004: Funding for national identity research
31/05/2004: Queen's marks success of new ways of learning
28/05/2004: Science Shop at Queen's is international role model
27/05/2004: Male cancer rate continues to fall, claims new report
26/05/2004: Making Science, Making News
24/05/2004: Science debate focuses on genes
20/05/2004: Centre for Cross Border Studies hosts North South education conference
20/05/2004: Funding announced for North South collaborative research projects
19/05/2004: 'Revealing Objects' winners announced
18/05/2004: Queen's to carry out major study into lupus and heart disease
18/05/2004: Queen's public lecture on the 'Biointelligence Age'
18/05/2004: Winning artists to be 'revealed' at Queen's
17/05/2004: World-famous lecture series celebrates recent Irish history for 50th anniversary
17/05/2004: Queen's in academic link-up with PSNI
14/05/2004: Euro election web predictions
12/05/2004: Ceremony marks students' foundation for academic success
12/05/2004: Queen's seeks nominations for outstanding graduates and students
12/05/2004: Launch of the Lomac Tiles University Boat Race
12/05/2004: ARK reports on Church members' attitudes
06/05/2004: Former Canadian Governor General to lecture at Queen's
06/05/2004: Queen's academic to lead New Zealand University

Funding for national identity research

A major project into national identity along the border is to be carried out by researchers from Queen's University.

The study, which is expected to begin later this year, will examine how the identity of those living in borders area is shaped and influenced by its presence.

Researchers based in the School of Psychology will initially work with 14-16 year olds in a bid to discover how teenagers build their nationality and what factors determine it. They will then look at the attitudes among their parents and grandparents.

Lead researcher, Dr Orla Muldoon, said they would be examining the impact of migration, emigration and the arrival of large multinational companies to the area.

"We want to see how those living along the border construct themselves as Irish, or British, or even something else. Pilot studies have shown that some people are quite willing to 'swap' their nationality depending on the circumstances, while others are more entrenched," she said.

"We'll be looking at the differences in rural and urban areas and how large multinationals, which employ local people, and increased border traffic has affected people's perception of their identity.

"And we want to examine the impact of the arrival of non-white, non-English speaking people into the region and what this does to people's ideas about their nationalities," she said.

The team have pinpointed four areas along the border – Dundalk in Co Louth, Newry in Co Down, Crossmaglen in south Armagh and Castleblaney in Co Monaghan - and will carry out similar research in counties Donegal and Tyrone.

The team, which includes Dr Karen Trew and Dr Katrina McLaughlin in the School of Psychology, will carry out the project in conjunction with colleagues from the Institute of the Study of Social Change in University College Dublin.

The initiative has received funding of just over £96,000 from the Higher Education Authority as part of a north-south research project, funded by the Irish government. The Queen's project is one of four successful initiatives which received funds under the North-South Programme for Collaborative Research.

Note to Editors: The North-South Programme for Collaborative Research, established in the 2000-06 National Development Plan to promote co-operation across all aspects of education in both parts of Ireland. The Programme is co-ordinated by the Higher Education Authority.

For further information contact: Dr Orla Muldoon, School of Psychology, (028) 9097 4283 or email: o.muldoon@qub.ac.uk

Dr Karen Trew, School of Psychology, (028) 9097 4219

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Queen's marks success of new ways of learning

A Web-based service, used by students and academic staff at Queen's University, is to celebrate its success.

Queen's Online offers academic staff and students a wide range of electronic tools and resources to help them in their learning and teaching. So successful is the new service that 85% of students use it daily. At peak times there are over 12,000 logins producing 500,000 hits on the Queen's Online website per day. Even over weekends there are up to 3,000 logins.

By going to the Queen's Online website, students can access library and learning resources, communicate with their teachers and fellow students, sign up for a tutorial group, access information about their examination timetable and find out examination results and, if all goes well, register for their graduation ceremony.

Teachers use Queen's Online to communicate with all the students on a particular course or some selected students. They can also monitor student progress, set online assessments and make resources available to reinforce their teaching.

While much of the early development of Queen's Online was focused on students and learning, its use is being extended into all aspects of the work of the University. Researchers can receive information about new research opportunities, can communicate with researchers in the same subject area and let others know about their particular area of expertise. Queen's Online is also used in support of the University's human resources and estates management activities.

Established four years ago, the service has gone from strength to strength and to mark its achievement a special event will be held at the University tomorrow (Tuesday 1 June). The main speaker will be Professor Diana Laurillard, who is adviser on e-learning to the UK Department for Education and Skills.

Commenting on the service, Professor Kenneth Bell, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Students and Learning, told of a recent conversation in which he had asked a first year student about Queen's Online. After a little hesitation the student asked what was meant by the question. After all, what other way would they be expected to access learning resources and communicate with teaching staff!

Will Haire, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Employment and Learning, who will also attend the event, spoke of his satisfaction that the Department's funding of the early development of Queen's Online had reaped such a rich reward.

"The expertise developed at Queen's University has been fundamental to the success of a number of regional projects including the Regional Support Centre Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Integrated Managed Learning Environment," he said.

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For further information contact: Randall Thompson, Information Services, (028) 9097 3896 or Elaine Fitzsimons, Communications Office, (028) 9097 5384

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Science Shop at Queen's is international role model
Trevor Newsom, Queen's University Director of Research and Regional Services (right) welcomes International Science Shop visitor Henk Mulder from the Netherlands
Trevor Newsom, Queen's University Director of Research and Regional Services (right) welcomes International Science Shop visitor Henk Mulder from the Netherlands

As part of the Queen's in the Community initiative, Queen's University is this week hosting an international meeting of representatives from Science Shops across Europe.

A founding member of the International Science Shop Network, Queen's University Science Shop convened the two-day meeting that is taking place at the University on Friday and Saturday (28-29th May).

Science Shop offers a point of contact between community groups and the universities. It makes connections between community groups who require research and students or staff who may be able to help.

The International Science Shop Network has secured European funding to further develop and share models of good practice in the area of community-based research and university/community partnership working. The main aim of the network is to provide citizen's organisations from across Europe with better access to the expertise within universities.

The Queen's Science Shop has strong and close contacts with a wide range of community and voluntary groups throughout Northern Ireland, and helps around 60 students each year become involved in a range of varied projects. It is a role model for visitors from other countries attending this week's meeting. Among the 11 countries represented are: The Netherlands, Romania, Germany, Austria, Spain, Denmark and France.

Staff within the Queen's Science Shop have also established a regional network for those working in the area of university/community partnerships in universities in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. A meeting of this group is also being hosted alongside the International Network’s meeting.

Queen's Pro Vice Chancellor for Communications and Community Professor Gerry McCormac said: "I am delighted to welcome such a diverse group into the University. Queen's University Science Shop is a long established resource and it is important for Queen's to lead the way in supporting community focused work in other Universities, not only throughout the UK and Ireland, but also in Europe and beyond."

Peter Lévesque, Deputy Director of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, who is chairing the International Network's weekend sessions, said: "The International Science Shop Network is an important resource for people working in community based research worldwide. I'm delighted to be here in Belfast chairing this event. We are hoping to use this model to develop a similar network in the Americas."

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 For further information, contact: Eileen Martin 028 9097 3410/ 07813 924436 or Emma McKenna 028 90973107/07973 424813 (Science Shop), or Dolores Vischer, 028 9097 5320 (Communications Office)

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Male cancer rate continues to fall, claims new report

The number of Northern Ireland men dying from cancer continues to fall, according to a new report.

Compiled by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry, based at Queen's University in Belfast, the report reveals that since 1993 there have been 41 fewer cancer cases and 29 fewer cancer deaths each year in men.

A reduction in smoking has led to the fall of lung cancer deaths in men by 11 per year since 1993, while there has also been a significant reduction in deaths from colon and stomach cancer in men.

However, the report paints a different picture for women, with an increase in both uterus and breast cancer. In the case of breast cancer there has been an increase of 12 cases per year since 1993, although death rates have fallen by eight per year.

Published today, the report also reveals that almost 40,000 people have been diagnosed in the last nine years. A total of 8,500 cancers have been detected each year, while 3,600 people die from the disease.

The research also shows, for the first time, patterns of cancer within areas of deprivation, with people living in deprived areas likely to experience more cancers of the lung, cervix and stomach than average, but less cancers of the breast or skin.

The report – the fourth since the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry was established 10 years ago – offers local facts and new information about the disease.

Researchers have also been able to compare survival rates between 1993-1995 and 1996-1999, which have shown improvement rates for breast, ovary and colon cancers.

The report also reveals that people in Northern Ireland have a one in three chance of developing cancer before the age of 75, and this falls to one in four if non-melanoma skin cancers, which are easily treated and rarely fatal, are excluded.

Commenting on the report, the director of the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry, Dr Anna Gavin, said: "This report represents a major effort by the Cancer Registry team and provides useful information that will be of interest to patients and of value to clinicians."

Northern Ireland's Chief Medical Officer, Dr Henrietta Campbell said: "This proves the importance of the Cancer Registry as one of our most important public health tools."

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Note to Editors: "Cancer in Northern Ireland 1993-2001: A Comprehensive Report" will be launched on Thursday 27 May at the Postgraduate Medical Centre, Belfast City Hospital, at 9.15am.

For further information contact: Dr Anna Gavin, Northern Ireland Cancer Registry, (028) 9063 2573 or email: a.gavin@qub.ac.uk

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Making Science, Making News
Ruth Jarman and Billy McClune of the Graduate School of Education discuss the innovative projects of the Newspapers in Science Education group with Fiona Fox (centre) of the Science Media Centre
Ruth Jarman and Billy McClune of the Graduate School of Education discuss the innovative projects of the Newspapers in Science Education group with Fiona Fox (centre) of the Science Media Centre

An exciting new cross-curricular project initiated by the Graduate School of Education at Queen's University is to be pioneered with secondary schools around Northern Ireland to promote interest in science and how it is presented in the media.

The project, entitled 'Making Science, Making News', has been developed by the Newspapers in Science Education (NISE) group. The group, led by Billy McClune and Ruth Jarman of the Graduate School of Education, at this stage comprises local secondary school teachers and University researchers.

Funding for the project has been awarded by the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council.

In the innovative project, teachers of English and Science will work together on a class project, in partnership with a local newspaper. Pupils will be set the challenge of choosing a topical issue or event relating to astronomy or space exploration and then to present it as a newspaper feature.

Dr Jarman said that during the project work a scientist will visit each school to discuss pupils' project topics with them. A local journalist will become involved and he or she will give the young people practical guidance on researching a story, writing the text, making headlines and graphic design issues.

"As they work on the 'Making Science, Making News' project pupils will learn about reliable sources of information," said Dr Jarman. "They will see how images can be constructed to convey messages accurately and attractively, and how to write science clearly and compellingly for the general public. By working through this project, pupils will develop not only their knowledge of science but also their skills of communication, research and teamwork. In addition, they will learn much about how science is presented in the media, an important aspect of scientific literacy."

 The NISE group has now undertaken a number of media-related projects including the very successful 'Space Science News' project, also funded by the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council. This involved working with the Belfast Telegraph Newspapers in Education personnel to prepare a special supplement made up of authentic newspaper articles from the Belfast Telegraph accompanied by classroom activities for students.

Newsroom project

Meanwhile, the second, school-based, stage of the 'Newsroom Project' is underway, with English and Science teachers working together in nine local secondary schools. The pioneering project, funded by The Welcome Trust, is investigating how best secondary school teachers can be supported as they develop their pupils' ability to read and understand media reports of science and science-related issues. A handbook and other curricular resources will be produced as part of the project for other teachers to use in future.

Frances Scally, an English teacher at Aquinas Grammar School in Belfast, said of the 'Newsroom Project': "Science teachers and English teachers rarely work together. This is a good opportunity to incorporate science articles into English and methods of teaching common in English into Science."

A Science teacher at Ballymena Academy, Cathy McCullough, added: "The challenge now for me is how to effectively use newspapers in my teaching in order to stimulate my pupils and enhance their learning."

The NISE group's work in fostering interest in science among school children is attracting interest from a number of quarters. Fiona Fox, head of the Science Media Centre based at the Royal Institution in London, recently visited a project teachers' meeting at Queen's. She commented on what she'd learnt of the 'Newsroom Project': "It was really exciting to find out about this novel and ambitious project. The public needs to apply a degree of scepticism to what they read in the papers. While much science journalism is excellent, providing pupils with the tools to interpret science in the headlines is an excellent objective. Many of the scientists I meet have a strong sense that school is the right place to start encouraging a better understanding of science in the media. They would be thrilled to know about this innovative project which is achieving just that."

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 Note: The nine schools involved in the Newsroom Project are: Aquinas Grammar School; Ballymena Academy; Ballymoney High School; Dromore High School; Our Lady and St Patrick’s College, Knock; Slemish Integrated College; St Genevieve’s High School; St Malachy’s High School, Castlewellan and Wallace High School.

For further information contact: Billy McClune, 028 9097 5938; or Dolores Vischer Communications Office, 028 9097 5320.

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Science debate focuses on genes

The topic of human genetics will be on the agenda for the May meeting of the Belfast branch of Cafe Scientifique.

Professor of Clinical Genetics Angus Clarke, from University College Wales in Cardiff, will be the guest speaker at the event on Tuesday 25 May in TENsq. Hotel. The talk entitled "Talking Genes" will begin at 6pm.

Cafe Scientifique is a place where, for the price of a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, anyone can come to explore the latest ideas in science and technology. Meetings have taken place in cafes, bars, restaurants and even theatres, but always outside a traditional academic context.

The Belfast branch was established earlier this year by Dr Jill Turner from the School of Nursing at Queen's University.

"All members of the public are warmly invited to attend what is hoped will be an opportunity for lively, interesting and friendly debate about important scientific matters in a social atmosphere," she said.

For further information, contact: Dr Jill Turner, School of Nursing, (028) 9097 2376 or Elaine Fitzsimons, Communications, (028) 9097 5384

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Centre for Cross Border Studies hosts North South education conference

"Cross-border co-operation has a key role in 'mobilising companies' to tackle international markets," a Scandinavian expert tells delegates at a conference in Cavan, organised by the Centre for Cross Border Studies.

The conference at the Slieve Russell Hotel in Ballyconnell (Thursday 20th and Friday 21st May) – entitled 'Cross-Border Higher Education Co-operation in Ireland and Europe' – was organised on behalf of the Department of Education and Science (Dublin) and the Department for Employment and Learning (Belfast) by the Centre for Cross Border Studies. It is the fourth such North-South higher education conference organised for the two Departments by the Centre in the past two years.

The conference was opened by the Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science, Ms Sile de Valera TD, and the Permanent Secretary of the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland, Mr Will Haire.

Ms de Valera noted that the theme of the conference was particularly apposite in the context of Ireland's presidency of the European Union. She went on: "We know that to achieve the aims of the Lisbon Agenda, we must establish knowledge networks, starting with connections between higher education institutions, further connections across borders and between the State and industry. Crucial to the realisation of these aims is the communication of ideas, experiences and solutions to enable us to address common problems and overcome common obstacles."

Mr Haire said: "The experience and knowledge that are being shared at this conference are among the best practice in European terms and provide a valuable learning experience for both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. This conference will also allow an excellent opportunity to build strong university-industry links that will bring mutual benefits to all."

A new cross-border university and science network between Denmark and Sweden has played a key role in 'mobilising companies' to tackle international markets. Öresund University and the Öresund Science Region have stimulated new types of research in biotechnology and IT, raised the level of innovation in individual firms and helped to brand the Öresund region of eastern Denmark and southern Sweden as a world-class investment location, the chief executive of ÖU and ÖSR, Mr Bengt Streijffert, told the two-day conference. He hoped universities and business in Ireland, North and South, could learn from the experience of the Scandinavian bodies.

Öresund University, founded in 1998, brings together 14 universities from Copenhagen, the Danish capital, Malmö in southern Sweden and surrounding areas. Out of this came the Öresund Science Region, which links a number of 'platforms' for university-industry co-operation in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, food and the environment. More recently new 'platforms' have been formed in nanoscience, design, logistics and culture.

Both the university and science networks were consequences of the building of a 16 kilometre road and rail bridge linking Copenhagen and Malmö across the Öresund sea passage between Denmark and Sweden which opened in 2000.

The current chairperson of Öresund University, Copenhagen University rector Professor Linda Nielsen, told the conference that the number of students crossing the Danish-Swedish border to attend other universities in the network had grown by at least 50 times since its foundation.

"We have created strong links and a lot of goodwill with the business and industry community. We are seen as a major asset when it comes to marketing the region internationally. In short, we have become what we intended: an important regional actor, an engine for the economic development of the region, and Europe's foremost example of cross-border university co-operation."

Mr Streijffert said in the past six years Öresund University had created a cross-border organisation encompassing the regional authorities in the two countries, the14 universities, seven university-industry 'platforms, and around 3,000 companies.

The EU – through its cross-border INTERREG programme – is the Öresund University network's biggest funder, but it also receives money from local and regional authorities, technology transfer companies and the participating universities. He said the Öresund model was now being copied in many regions in northern Europe. Its "lean and flexible" organisational model was seen as particularly valuable.

The conference also heard from a representative of the European Confederation of Upper Rhine Universities (EUCOR), which brings together seven universities in eastern France, south-western Germany and northern Switzerland. Dr Beat Münch, from the University of Basel, warned that networking - especially cross-border networking - between universities must be "an integral part of a university's core strategies. If it is only considered as an add-on value, it generally fails and will not have a long-lasting effect."

If cross-border co-operation is not taken into account by national governments' higher education policies, there will be "very few incentives for research and teaching staff to commit time and effort to networking activities."

 The conference was also addressed by the chairman of Universities Ireland and vice-chancellor of the University of Ulster, Professor Gerry McKenna, and the chairman of the Council of Directors of Institutes of Technology and director of Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Mr Paul Hannigan.

For further information contact: Andy Pollak, Director, Centre for Cross Border Studies, and Secretary, Universities Ireland Tel: 028 3751 1550; Fax 028 3751 1721 [048 from the Republic of Ireland] Mobile: 0771 5042122 [0044 771 5042122 from the Republic of Ireland] Email: a.pollak@qub.ac.uk Website: www.crossborder.ie

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Funding announced for North South collaborative research projects

Researchers at Queen's University were this morning awarded almost £700,000 in funding from the Higher Education Authority in the Republic of Ireland to work in partnership with universities and colleges throughout Ireland on four new projects as part of the Cross Border Programme for Research and Development contributing to Peace and Reconciliation.

The funding announcement was made this morning (Thursday 20 May) by Irish Minister for State Ms Sile De Valera TD at an event marking the launch of the Programme in Ballyconnell, County Cavan. Ms de Valera said: "Ireland, and indeed this island, must now become friendly towards science and research. …. While it is important that this is done in a European context, it is also important to recognise our strengths, and more critically those of this island. This island has a long tradition of learning and, perhaps more importantly, of willingness to change."

The funding comes from the Special EU Programmes Body, via the North South Programme for Collaborative Research, established to promote co-operation across all aspects of education in both parts of Ireland, and it is administered by the Higher Education Authority in the Republic of Ireland. Each of the Cross Border Programme for Research and Development projects will contribute to Peace and Reconciliation in border areas.

All of the projects funded under the North South Programme for Collaborative Research are carried out as partnerships between higher education institutions from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

This is the second strand of projects to be funded under the North South Programme. Last year, twenty-one different projects were approved for funding. Queen's is playing a key part in fifteen of these, with funding to the value of Euro 5.5 million awarded to its project researchers.

Queen's University is immensely proud to be involved in these exciting new projects and believes that these awards are evidence of the Irish government’s recognition of the role university research can play in contributing to the establishment of a lasting peace among communities in the border areas.

The four new projects that Queen's has been awarded funding for are:

- 'Ethno-national identity in the border area'. Working with Dr Jennifer Todd of University College Dublin, Dr Orla Muldoon and Dr Karen Trew of the School of Psychology will lead this project that will study the influences on national identity of people living close to the border. Research questions will include whether young people on either side of the border see themselves as Irish, British, or perhaps both? The project will also explore the influence of family values and relations on national identity as well as perceptions of the border and of the impact of immigration and the arrival of multinational companies on both national identity and family life.

- ‘E-Consultation: evaluating appropriate technologies and processes for citizens' participation in public policy’. The project is led by principal investigators Dr David Newman and Professor John Morison of the School of Law, in partnership with the University of Maynooth and Letterkenny College of Technology. Over two years, the project will review current usage of electronic computing and communications technologies in public consultation processes and identify how new technologies can be used with local communities to achieve more effective participation in public policy-making.

- 'Mapping Frontiers, Plotting Pathways: Routes to North-South Co-operation in a divided island'. Led by Professor Liam O’Dowd Director of the Centre for International Borders Research at the School of Sociology and Social Policy, this project is coordinated by Professor Elizabeth Meehan of the Institute of Governance, Public Policy & Social Research and is in partnership with University College Dublin. It will examine the intended and unintended consequences of the Irish border since its inception in 1920, with a view to identifying pathways for promoting cross-border contact, cooperation and mutual understanding.

-'Equality and Social Inclusion: A Framework for Peace and Stability in Ireland'. Led by Professor Eithne McLaughlin of the School of Sociology and Social Policy and Professor Kathleen Lynch of University College Dublin, the project builds on existing equality-related research at Queens, University of Ulster and University College Dublin. The project aims to develop a framework for the promotion of equality and social justice on both parts of Ireland, deepen understandings among social and political stakeholders and devise measures of equality achievements.

At the launch event representatives from each of the projects awarded funding gave a short presentation on the aims of the projects.

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For further information contact: Dolores Vischer, Communications Office, 9097 5320

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'Revealing Objects' winners announced
Queen’s University Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Community and Communications Professor Gerry McCormac presented first prize in the ‘Revealing Objects’ art competition to Philip Flanagan.
Queen’s University Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Community and Communications Professor Gerry McCormac presented first prize in the ‘Revealing Objects’ art competition to Philip Flanagan.

Philip Flanagan, with his painting entitled 'Flying Boulder', was announced the overall winner of the 2004 Revealing Objects art competition organised by Queen's University's School of Archaeology and Palaeoecology.

Best known as a sculptor, Philip Flanagan's work has been shown in galleries and museums in Ireland, Britain and the USA and is also included in many public collections. His training in sculpture has led to an interest in the space of the flat plane of the canvas and his recent paintings are concerned with the firmness and balance of volumes and the simplicity of structure and proportion.

Mr Flanagan said that he was "surprised and delighted" to learn he'd won the competition. He said that 'Flying Boulder' was "part of a series exploring the large stones, sculpted by man and nature that form the ancient landscape of Ireland, particularly Fermanagh where I live."

 The winners were announced in the Naughton Gallery on Tuesday evening, 18 May. Second prize was awarded to Hazel Neill for her digital print 'Fragment' and third prize to Terence Gravett for his screenprint and block work 'Curia'.

Now in its third year, the annual art prize and exhibition attracted around 300 entries from all over Ireland. Well-established local artists who entered this year – and whose work was selected for display – include Rita Duffy, Tim Millen, Gerry Devlin and Cian Donnelly.

Artists working in the whole range of contemporary art practice were invited to explore contemporary archaeological practices through a whole range of artistic media. They could draw their inspiration from common themes suggested by cultural history and the past environments, sites and artefacts. The subject matter was to be drawn from any period before the 20th Century and from any country.

Competition organiser Queen's archaeologist Barrie Hartwell said that this had been the best year ever for the competition. "There was an excellent field of entries and a good range of work for the judges to select from. A fine exhibition of work is now on display. The standard of the work is excellent and the variety of the artist's response and the concepts on display are intriguing.”

Mr Hartwell added that this is the third and final year of the School of Archaeology and Palaeoecology's involvement with 'Revealing Objects' - next year another School will organise the competition. "I’m delighted to report that we’re going out on a high note!"

 Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Community and Communications Professor Gerry McCormac, former Head of the School of Archaeology and Palaeoecology and one of the judging panel, said: "This competition, which aims to develop the links between art and archaeology, challenges artists to develop new ways to reveal our past. The range of responses to the competition has been very broad and demonstrates just how effectively a variety of media can be used to help us interpret our archaeological heritage."

 The other members of the judging panel who selected the winning entry were Queen's Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir George Bain, Amanda Croft, a Queen's lecturer in the history of art, and Dr Brian Kennedy of the Ulster Museum.

The 52 short-listed works will be on display in the Naughton Gallery at Queen's until 17 June, noon to 4pm weekdays and 10am to 4pm on Saturdays. Later in the year, the Revealing Objects exhibition will tour to Ballymena Museum from 11 December 2004 to 31 January 2005.

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 Notes: Cash prizes of £1,000 (first place), £500 and £250 were awarded.

 For further information contact: Shan McAnena, 028 9027 5383 or Dolores Vischer 9097 5320

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Queen's to carry out major study into lupus and heart disease
Lead researcher Dr Stephen Wright, from Musgrave Park Hospital, who has been awarded a Wellcome Trust clinical fellowship to carry out a major study on the effects of fish oils on lupus sufferers. Others involved in the study – the first of its kind - are (from left): Dr Aubrey Bell, senior lecturer and leader of the lupus research group at Queen's and Musgrave Park Hospital; Dr Gary McVeigh, consultant physician and senior lecturer, Belfast City Hospital and Queen's Department of Therapeutics and Pharmacology; Professor Denis Johnston, Department of Therapeutics and Pharmacology and Dr Michael Finch, consultant rheumatologist at the Royal Victoria and Musgrave Park Hospitals.
Lead researcher Dr Stephen Wright, from Musgrave Park Hospital, who has been awarded a Wellcome Trust clinical fellowship to carry out a major study on the effects of fish oils on lupus sufferers. Others involved in the study – the first of its kind - are (from left): Dr Aubrey Bell, senior lecturer and leader of the lupus research group at Queen's and Musgrave Park Hospital; Dr Gary McVeigh, consultant physician and senior lecturer, Belfast City Hospital and Queen's Department of Therapeutics and Pharmacology; Professor Denis Johnston, Department of Therapeutics and Pharmacology and Dr Michael Finch, consultant rheumatologist at the Royal Victoria and Musgrave Park Hospitals.

A major study into the effects of fish oils on lupus sufferers is to be carried out by researchers from Queen's University.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE or 'lupus') is a disease affecting many organs within humans caused by the production of antibodies to the body's own tissues. It has recently emerged that patients with lupus have an increased risk of developing heart disease at an early age with an estimated risk of up to 50 times compared to the general population.

The three year study – the first of its type – will focus on how lupus, which affects more women than men, increases the risk of heart disease among patients.

Lead researcher, Dr Stephen Wright, who is based in the Rheumatology department at Musgrave Park Hospital, says no-one knows why patients with lupus have this increased risk and the new study aims to find out why.

"Many substances cause the blood vessels within the body to enlarge or reduce in calibre depending on the particular controlling chemical. One such chemical, nitric oxide (NO) is the most potent substance known to cause our blood vessels to dilate.

"It has been shown in lupus that some of these chemicals, including nitric oxide, are present in different amounts compared to people without lupus. We believe that this imbalance in nitric oxide may be a vital link between lupus and heart disease," he said.

According to Dr Wright fish oils, known to protect against heart disease, have recently been shown by the lupus research group at Queen's University to improve symptoms in lupus patients.

 "Fish oils are also known to influence the production of nitric oxide in other diseases so our study will be looking at how fish oils supplements affect blood vessel function and nitric oxide production," he said.

This study is unique as it will shed light on the relationships between the production of chemical substances by blood vessels and blood vessel health in patients with lupus. Measurement of blood vessel function will employ novel methods pioneered by Dr Gary McVeigh in the Department of Therapeutics and Pharmacology at Queen's.

The Wellcome Trust has provided initial funding of £115,000 with the option of further funding if required. The Trust is one of the largest medical research funding bodies in the United Kingdom and this is the first ever Wellcome Trust clinical research training fellowship to be awarded in Northern Ireland.

The trials, which are expected to begin in August at Queen's and Belfast City Hospital, will involve around 100 patients.

The study brings together exciting work from two research groups in the University - the lupus research group and the Department of Therapeutics and Pharmacology, under Professor Denis Johnston.

Dr Wright's work will be carried out under supervision by Dr Michael Finch, consultant rheumatologist at the Royal Victoria and Musgrave Park Hospitals; Dr Aubrey Bell, senior lecturer and leader of the lupus research group at Queen's, Musgrave Park Hospital; Dr Gary McVeigh, consultant physician and senior lecturer, Belfast City Hospital and Queen's Department of Therapeutics and Pharmacology.

Commenting on his funding success, Dr Wright said: "I am delighted and honoured to be the first recipient of this clinical research fellowship from the Wellcome Trust in Northern Ireland and I hope this research will provide answers to the link between cardiovascular disease and lupus."

Note to Editors: The Wellcome Trust is an independent research-funding charity which fosters and promotes research with the aim of improving human and animal health.

Around 500 people in Northern Ireland are affected by lupus.

For further information contact: Dr Stephen Wright, specialist registrar in Rheumatology, Department of Rheumatology, Musgrave Park Hospital, (028) 9090 2000, email:drsawright@yahoo.co.uk or Elaine Fitzsimons, Communications, (028) 9097 5384

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Queen's public lecture on the 'Biointelligence Age'

 

One of the world's leading experts on the 'biotechnology revolution' will deliver a major public lecture at Queen's University tonight (Tuesday).

Dr Richard Satava, Professor of Surgery at the University of Washington Medical Centre, will present his Innovation Lecture, "The Biointelligence Age", at 6pm in G9, Lanyon North.

The lecture will highlight the emerging technologies that are changing the face of medicine. A practising general surgeon, Professor Satava, now retired from active duty in the Army Medical Corps, was a military surgeon for 20 years. He was an Army astronaut candidate, a MASH surgeon during the Grenada invasion and a hospital commander during Desert Storm.

This will be a return visit for Professor Satava who visited Queen's in September last year when he gave a seminar for an audience of businessmen, academics and public sector managers.

For further information contact:
Claire Sinnerton, Research and Regional Office, Tel 028 9097 1145
Anne Langford, Tel 028 9097 5310

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Winning artists to be 'revealed' at Queen's

The winners of the 2004 Revealing Objects art competition, organised by Queen's University's School of Archaeology and Palaeoecology, will be announced at a special preview event in the Naughton Gallery this evening (Tuesday 18 May).

Now in its third year, the annual art prize and exhibition attracted around 300 entries from all over Ireland. Well-established local artists who entered this year – and whose work has been selected to go on display – include Rita Duffy, Tim Millen, Gerry Devlin and Cian Donnelly.

Artists working in the whole range of contemporary art practice were invited to explore contemporary archaeological practices through a whole range of artistic media. They could draw their inspiration from common themes suggested by cultural history and the past environments, sites and artefacts. The subject matter was to be drawn from any period before the 20th Century and from any country.

Competition organiser Queen's archaeologist Barrie Hartwell said that this had been the best year ever for the competition. "There was an excellent field of entries and a good range of work for the judges to select from. A fine exhibition of work is now on display. The standard of the work is excellent and the variety of the artist's response and the concepts on display are intriguing."

Mr Hartwell added that this is the third and final year of the School of Archaeology and Palaeoecology's involvement with Revealing Objects - next year another School will organise the competition. "I'm delighted to report that we're going out on a high note!"

Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Community and Communications Professor Gerry McCormac, former Head of the School of Archaeology and Palaeoecology and one of the judging panel, said: "This competition, which aims to develop the links between art and archaeology, challenges artists to develop new ways to reveal our past. The range of responses to the competition has been very broad and demonstrates just how effectively a variety of media can be used to help us interpret our archaeological heritage."

The other members of the judging panel who will select the winner on Tuesday are Queen's Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir George Bain, Amanda Croft, a Queen's lecturer in the history of art, and Dr Brian Kennedy of the Ulster Museum.

The 52 short-listed works will be on display in the Naughton Gallery at Queen's until 17 June.

 Ends

 Notes: The ‘Revealing Objects’ competition winners will be announced at 6.30pm on Tuesday 18 May in the Naughton Gallery, Lanyon Building, Queen’s University. 

For further information contact: Shan McAnena, Tel 028 9027 5383 or Dolores Vischer 9097 5320

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World-famous lecture series celebrates recent Irish history for 50th anniversary

This evening, Tuesday 18 May, sees the first in the annual series of Wiles Lectures in the History of Civilisation, which this year examines Irish history in the recent past.

The 2004 lectures mark the 50th anniversary of the first Wiles Lectures delivered in 1954, following the foundation of the Wiles Trust the previous year. Over the years they have become known amongst historians worldwide as one of the most prestigious of such series.

This year's Wiles lecturer is Professor Roy Foster, Carroll Professor of Irish History at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of the British Academy. He has written widely on Irish history, society and politics in the modern period and has recently completed an award-winning, two volume biography of W.B. Yeats. He is the author of numerous other works, including the highly acclaimed Modern Ireland, 1600-1972.

The 2004 Wiles lecture series is entitled 'Metamorphoses: The Strange Death of Romantic Ireland, 1972-2000'. Professor Foster’s four lectures will explore different aspects of change - political, economic, religious and cultural - in late 20th century Ireland.

Professor Foster will be joined in discussion of his topics by distinguished historians from around the world. His guests will include Professor Tom Dunne (University College Cork), Professor Marianne Elliott (University of Liverpool), Professor K.T. Hoppen (University of Hull), Professor Robert Savage (Boston College), and Professor Charles Townshend (Keele University).

The Wiles Trust was founded by Mrs Austen Boyd of Craigavad, Co Down, in memory of her father, Thomas S. Wiles of Albany, New York. Its purpose is to encourage the extension of historical thinking into the realm of general ideas by inviting eminent scholars to deliver a series of lectures - normally four - relating their research to the general history of civilization.

Professor Foster's intriguingly-entitled talks are as follows:

Tuesday 18 May Lecture 1:
'Political Metamorphosis: How the Gombeens became Playboys'.

Wednesday 19 May Lecture 2:
'Economic Metamorphosis: How the Minuses became Plusses'.

 Thursday 20 May Lecture 3:
 'Religious Metamorphosis: How the Catholics became Protestants'.

Friday 21 May Lecture 4: 
' Religious Metamorphosis: How the Men became Women'.

The four lectures take place at 5pm in Room G07 of the Peter Froggatt Teaching Centre on the main site of Queen’s.

Members of the public are particularly welcome, and complimentary tea will be available from 4pm on Wednesday and 4.30pm on Thursday and Friday. 

For further information, contact:
Professor Alvin Jackson, School of History, Tel 028 9097 3433 Or, Dolores Vischer, Communications Office, Tel 028 9097 5320

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Queen's in academic link-up with PSNI

 

Queen's University and the Police Service of Northern Ireland have launched a major partnership in academic learning for probationary police officers throughout the Service.

The programme, announced at Queen's today, will see the University's Institute of Lifelong Learning award a new Certificate in Work-Based Learning aimed at fundamentally enhancing the officers' skills base.

Speaking at today's event, Deputy Chief Constable Paul Leighton said the initiative would make a significant contribution to the way in which the PSNI could serve the community.

"This is a historic partnership that will have a positive and long-lasting impact on how we conduct training throughout the Service. By partnering with one of the most prestigious seats of learning in the UK we will significantly enhance our service delivery."

The initiative coincides with the start of Queen's Adult Learning Week. Reflective learning logs, kept by the officers throughout their probationary period, will be assessed by Queen's, which will act as the accrediting body for the qualification.

Following the publication of the Patten Report, Skills for Justice has been working in consultation with the Police Service and Queen's to develop a range of learning materials and tools in line with the National Competency Framework for policing in the UK.

Professor Ken Bell, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Students and Learning, said: "The University's Certificate in Work-Based Learning affords the opportunity for Queen's to make a significant contribution to the professional development of the new Police Service.

"The Policing Skills version of this Certificate will ensure that successful participants will receive all the theory and practical-based training they need to enhance their overall skills and work based efficiencies."

Head of Training, Education and Development at the Police College of Northern Ireland, Dr James Drennan, said as a result of the support of both the Policing Board and the Police Service's Senior Command Team the programme provided yet another step in improving the professional and academic standing of officers.

"We know our communities and our members will all benefit from formal accreditation of our operational programmes by Queen's University. The public's confidence in our police service depends entirely on our police competence, and this agreement today affords us with the ability to make accredited academic learning a reality."

The official signing of the agreement was attended by Paul Nolan, Director of the Institute of Lifelong Learning at Queen's; Programme Manager Elda Nikolou-Walker; Police Service Superintendent David Nairn, Head of Operational Development; and Joe Stewart, Police Service of Northern Ireland, Director of Human Resources. 

For further information contact:
Anne Langford, Tel: 028 9097 5310

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Euro election web predictions

A Queen's University researcher has launched a web-based competition to predict the outcome of the Northern Ireland European election on 10 June.

Visitors from anywhere in the world are invited to forecast which candidates will win each of the three seats in the Northern Ireland constituency. They can do this either through a form on the web site at www.ark.ac.uk/elections/ or by email to explorers@whyte.com

Nicholas Whyte is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Governance, Public Policy and Social Research at Queen's and also works as a political analyst in Brussels, specialising in the politics of the Balkan region.

He first established a web archive of information about Northern Ireland elections after the 1996 Forum elections, and he says he set up the pages at least partly as a reaction to the ill-informed debates that were prevalent at the time on the Internet. The pages came to be seen as an essential resource by politicians, researchers, the media, students and anyone interested in Northern Irish elections and their outcomes.

"Our local contest is part of a wider European election campaign," Nicholas said. "Through the internet, people from anywhere in the world can be involved."

 The competition was introduced to inject some of the thrill of a game into the political process, and to help counteract one of the greatest threats to democracy – apathy.

Since 1998, Nicholas has run five prediction contests on the elections site, including one relating to the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections in November 2003. Northern Ireland Elections is a site within ARK, the Northern Ireland Social and Political Archive, which makes social and political material on Northern Ireland available to the widest possible audience.

The 2003 Assembly election contest attracted 187 responses, and the winners were a DUP activist and an English Conservative councillor. The site has received financial backing from the Electoral Commission's New Initiatives Fund, and detailed information has recently been added on local elections from as far back as 1973.

ENDS

Notes for editors:
ARK (the Northern Ireland Social and Political Archive) was established in 2000 as a joint resource between Queen's University and University of Ulster with a single goal: to make information on the social and political life of Northern Ireland available to the widest possible audience. It provides different kinds of information, including survey results, research reports and summaries.

Northern Ireland Elections is a comprehensive resource within ARK containing facts, figures and maps. It gives details of:
- Local government, Westminster and European Parliament election results;
- Political parties and their web-sites;
- Voting systems;
- Geographical boundaries of constituencies;
- The history of noteworthy elections since 1885;
- Useful web-sites, books and other resources.

For further information, contact: Nicholas Whyte, mobile 00 32 485 555 944, email explorers@whyte.com   Or, Dolores Vischer, Communications Office, Tel 028 9097 5320

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Ceremony marks students' foundation for academic success

 

A group of mature students from a number of further education colleges throughout Northern Ireland will attend a special presentation ceremony at Queen's University tonight (Wednesday).

The students have all successfully completed the University's Certificate in Foundation Students which is aimed specifically at mature students and acts as an entry mechanism to higher education in lieu of 'A' levels.

Queen's Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Students and Learning, Professor Ken Bell, who will address the students at tonight's event, said: "Queen's is committed to the principle of access and this qualification plays an important role in enabling non-traditional university entrants to come to Queen's.

"The particular nature of the Queen's Access course emphasises the maturity of students, acknowledges issues experienced in returning to learning and places a high value on the quality of learning and teaching in the Colleges of Further and Higher Education.

"We believe that the level of commitment which these students display in order to achieve this award prepares them well for their future education and career."

Access courses have been running at Queen's for 14 years.

More than 70 students will attend tonight's event. In all, more than 140 students successfully completed the Certificate last year.

For further information contact:
Anne Langford, Tel 028 9097 5310

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Queen's seeks nominations for outstanding graduates and students

 

Queen's University is seeking nominations for graduates and students who have made a positive and lasting impact on society in the last year.

The search is on for the 2004 Queen's Graduate and Student of the Year who will be announced in July during Graduation Week.

The awards scheme, now in its sixth year, is sponsored by First Trust Bank and run by the Queen's Graduates' Association (QGA).

Nominations for graduates should be for individuals who have made a substantial contribution to the arts, sciences or business or to sporting, public or academic life, since May 2003. Entries for those who have made a significant contribution to the lives of others or the life of the University will also be considered. The 2003 winner was Armagh Gaelic football star Kieran McGeeney.

The Student of the Year Award will go to the student – or group of students – who have made a significant contribution to the life of Queen's, or to the lives of others, during the last 12 months. Last year's winners were a group of students (Medevice) who invented the world's first medical pump which does not require an independent power supply.

Director of Development Aine Gibbons said of the Awards: "Queen's is very proud of the many achievements of its graduates and students, both at home and around the world. Once again we are looking for nominations of people who have demonstrated innovation, courage or excellence – so if someone has made a big impression, please let us know."

The nominations process is currently open and anyone can submit an entry, not just university staff and students, but families and friends.

Further details and nomination forms are available from the Development and Alumni Relations Office at Queen's (tel. 028 9097 5322). Information can also be found on the alumni website by clicking on Alumni at www.qub.ac.uk – and following the links from Events and Reunions.

The closing date for nominations is Monday 31 May.

Notes for editors:

Previous winners are as follows:

Graduate of the Year Award
2003: Armagh GAA captain Kieran McGeeney, for team leadership and national recognition 2002: Kilkeel GP Dr Alan Poots, for winning the UK Doctor of the Year
2001: Retired British Airways pilot Captain Bill Hagan, for saving the lives of over 400 passengers following a cockpit takeover bid
2000: Businessman Mark Ennis, for his contribution to local business and to the University 1999: Rugby international David Humphreys, for sporting success

Student/s of the Year Award
2003: Medevice (Dermot Leonard, Declan Kelly, Darwin McCullough and Andrew Scott), for invention of Chronoflow medical pump
2002: Jo Laurens, for achievements as a playwright
2001: Law students Anita Hanna and Paddy McGrath, for winning a world legal debating competition
2000: SWOT (Students Working Overseas Trust), for their contribution to the lives of others 1999: Julie Graham, for enhancing awareness of deaf issues at Queen's

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Launch of the Lomac Tiles University Boat Race
Queen's captain Jonathan Baird (left) and Trinity captain Richard Northridge, with Mr Jim McMullan, managing director of Lomac Tiles, at the challenge for the inaugural Lomac Tiles University boat race.
Queen's captain Jonathan Baird (left) and Trinity captain Richard Northridge, with Mr Jim McMullan, managing director of Lomac Tiles, at the challenge for the inaugural Lomac Tiles University boat race.

Thanks to a local businessman the first inaugural boat race will take place next month between Queen's University and Trinity College Dublin.

The race, on the River Lagan on Saturday 12 June, will be the first ever head to head boat race between the two Universities. This unique rowing event for Ireland will mirror the famous Oxford Cambridge boat race which has been going for over 100 years.

Speaking at the official challenge, which took place yesterday, local sponsor, Mr Jim McMullan, managing director of Lomac Tiles, said: "I have always been an avid follower of the Oxford - Cambridge boat race and often wondered why the concept was never repeated here in Ireland, especially as we have two great University teams.

"I approached both captains with the idea of a head to head between Queen's and Trinity and I am delighted to report that they were both extremely enthusiastic to come on board. In fact they are already looking forward to the rematch next year on the River Liffey in Dublin."

Queen's captain, Jonathan Baird, a fourth year Architecture student from Holywood, said: "Myself, coach and team are very excited about this event. The sporting rivalry between Queen's and Trinity runs deep but this opportunity of a head to head, thanks to Lomac Tiles, takes the competition to an even higher level, as an annual event.

"Last year Queen's dominated the Head Season in Ireland and England. Trinity may be fancied, but on home waters with Queen's having recently beaten the newly crowned Scottish University Champions in Strathclyde, this is one race worth getting down to the Lagan to witness."

The early season form this year favours Trinity, but the Queen's coaches have been delighted with the rapid progress this year's new squad has been making, and in this one-off race as in the Oxford - Cambridge clashes it is well known that with the pressure of two boat racing, anything can and often does happen.

Speaking for Trinity captain Richard Northridge, from Enniskillen, who is studying Economics and Maths added: "University rowing has been undergoing something of a renaissance over the past five years thanks to the interest following the Sydney Olympics and the greater accessibility of the sport in commercial and University clubs.

"Trinity recently won both Senior VIIIs and Senior IVs at Trinity Regatta. We have a very good squad system all overseen by our Head Coach Tim Levy."

University rowing in Ireland remains one of the strongest areas of University sport and it is fitting to note that in this Olympic year both QUBC (Queen’s) and DUBC (Trinity) have provided athletes who are in the mainstream of the Irish Olympic rowing team and who have a serious chance of "medalling”.

For further information contact: Ann Gorman, Tel: (028) 9020 8614, mobile 07787563854

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ARK reports on Church members' attitudes

Coinciding with the first meeting in Armagh of the Church of Ireland Synod, new reports published by the Northern Ireland Social and Political Archive (ARK) present data on the attitudes of members of Northern Ireland's three main churches on social and political issues of the day.

ARK - a joint social and political initiative by the University of Ulster and Queen's University Belfast– has analysed data collated from the Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey and the Northern Ireland Social Attitudes Survey since 1989 on the attitudes of members of the Church of Ireland, the Presbyterian Church and the Catholic Church. The special reports highlight what members of the three denominations feel about their political and cultural identity; gay clergy; sex; mixed marriages; the peace process and regular attendance at Church services and reveal how those views have changed over the years.

Church of Ireland

Church attendance 
Around 14%-18% of the population claim membership of the Church of Ireland but, in common with the other denominations, regular church attendance has dropped in recent years. While 35% of respondents said in 1989 that they attended church every week, this had fallen to 30% in 2002.

However the proportions who never attended church have remained strikingly constant over the period at around 18%.

The report reveals that there has been some decrease in the proportion of members who pray frequently but no increase in those who never pray. When it comes to involvement in activities or organisations connected with the Church however there has been a significant drop – from 17% to 7% - in those who took part nearly every week or more frequently. Those who never take part in church activities have risen by 3% to 43%.

 Identity
When it comes to political allegiance Church of Ireland members have remained staunchly Unionist at 69%-71% in the period 1989-2002. However their feelings of national identity have been less constant. In 1989 65% considered themselves British but this had risen to 76% by 2002. This rise concealed several significant fluctuations. In 1996, two years after the paramilitary ceasefires the proportion identifying themselves as British dropped to 58%. Three years later the figure had soared to 76%.

Community Relations
There has been a considerable liberalisation in Church of Ireland members' views on mixed marriages over the years from 1989 to 2002. Figure 4 reveals that in 1989 47% of Church of Ireland members said they would not mind a close relative marrying someone of a different religion. By 2002 this figure had increased to 66%. Correspondingly the proportion who would mind a lot on this issue fell from 21% in 1989 to 13% in 2002. The figures reveal that Church of Ireland members are more generally tolerant of mixed marriages than Presbyterians or the general Protestant population.

James Mehaffey, Bishop of Derry and Raphoe from 1980 until his retirement in 2002, says the figures reflect the reconciling work of the Church. "The Church of Ireland is widely held to be a reconciling church and has worked over the years to promote better inter-church relations and increased ecumenical activity."

Morality
Attitudes to pre-marital sex have become much more liberal during the 1990s. In 1989 46% of respondents felt sex before marriage was always or mostly always wrong. By 1998 this figure had fallen to 27%. However the vast majority do not condone extra-marital sex. In 1998 84% said it was always or almost always wrong, just a slight fall from the figure of 90% in 1989.

Church members have also become more liberal in their attitudes towards homosexuality. In 1989 82% thought that sex between people of the same gender was always or almost always wrong. Indeed 79% thought it was always wrong. By 1998 those thinking it was always or almost always wrong had fallen to 67%.

Homosexuality is a topic of much debate within the Anglican Church, especially in relation to the ordination of openly gay clergy. Bishop Mehaffey says that in spite of the softening in attitudes towards homosexuality it is clear that such debates will continue. And he added: "It must be noted that a more liberal attitude toward homosexuality in general does not necessarily imply an increased acceptance of the appointment of openly gay clergy".

Presbyterian Church

Church attendance
Although Presbyterians have probably identified more fully with Northern Ireland and its institutions than any other denomination and have always had their headquarters in Belfast, the numbers of people claiming membership of the Church has fallen in recent years. In 1989 22% of respondents identified themselves as Presbyterians, rising to 26% in 1993, but falling back to 18% by 2001.

But Presbyterians still have a strong attachment to their Church. The proportion claiming to attend church services at least once a month has fallen by 11% since 1989, but this still means that 55% are regular church-goers. The number who never attend church services rose by only 4% to 18% in the period 1989-2001.

Worryingly the number of Presbyterians aged 18-39 years who attend church at least once a month has fallen from 62% to 44% in the period under review. Some 25% of this age group say they never attend church – a 10% rise in 12 years.

By contrast Presbyterians aged 60 years and over have remained faithful church-goers, with only 13% saying they never attend but 63% going at least once a month.

Identity
Presbyterians are staunchly Unionist and British, according to the data collated since 1989. Around three quarters of respondents identify themselves as Unionist, although up to a quarter consider themselves to be neither unionist nor nationalist.

While their political allegiance is hardly surprising, their national identity is of more political significance. In recent years, especially since the signing of the Belfast Agreement, Presbyterians, the largest Protestant denomination in Northern Ireland, have moved more towards adopting a British identity. In 1996 some 63% claimed to be British. By 2001 this had risen to 77%.

Duncan Morrow, director of the Community Relations Council for Northern Ireland, says: "This suggests that the climate since the Agreement has led Presbyterians to emphasise their connection to their fellow citizens in England, Scotland and Wales at the expense of any fellow feeling with their Northern Ireland neighbours.

 

"This may give pause to thought to those who believe that Northern Ireland should move quickly towards severing its connection with Britain. Even if a political majority for such a change should emerge, the results shown here suggest that the Britishness of many of the citizens of an all-Ireland state will remain a significant factor with major social consequences".

Equality
In general Presbyterians feel there is little discrimination in Northern Ireland. Some 21% concede that disabled people and the elderly are treated unfairly and 13% believe that travellers are discriminated against. But few accepted discrimination on grounders of gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

More interestingly 20% felt Protestants were discriminated against whereas only 2% perceived any unfairness to Catholics.

But, Dr Morrow points out, that while Presbyterians show little support for an equality agenda that is not the same as arguing for the dismantling of all equality legislation. Less than 20% accepted that there was no need for equality laws in Northern Ireland. However 35% perceived that equality laws protected Catholics at the expense of Protestants.

Culture
Presbyterians are generally sceptical about the future. While 28% believed that their cultural tradition was protected today, 44% believed the opposite. Similarly 36% believed their cultural tradition to be the underdog in modern Northern Ireland as opposed to only 28% who did not believe this to be the case.

Asked about their expectations for the future and the continuing search for peace, 27% were confident or optimistic about the future, 20% highlighted concerns and 50% remained to be convinced either way.

 Ends

Notes:
1. The ‘Life and Times Survey’ is an annual survey across Northern Ireland running since 1998. It includes a Random sample of Northern Ireland population. People aged 18 or older are included and each year about 1800 people take part. It is an attitudinal survey, the only regular independent monitor of changing social attitudes. Each year the survey contains modules of questions relevant to social and political life eg, political attitudes, attitudes to community relations, attitudes to the environment, attitudes to health, attitudes to transport, attitudes to gender roles, attitudes to religion.
2. Full details, datasets plus summary tables available on ARK website www.ark.ac.uk/nilt
3. This series of reports has been funded by the Community Relations Council.

 For further information, please contact: Press Office, Department of Public Affairs Tel: 028 9036 6178 Email: pressoffice@ulster.ac.uk

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Former Canadian Governor General to lecture at Queen's

 

Canada's former Governor General the Rt. Hon Edward R Schreyer, Premier of Manitoba from 1969 to 1977, is to give a major public lecture at Queen's University on Friday (7 May).

He will deliver the University's annual Eaton Lecture, entitled "Resource Use and Abuse in North America", in the University's Council Chamber, Lanyon Building at 5.45pm. Admission is free.

Following his tenure as Governor General, Mr Schreyer was Canadian High Commissioner to Australia from 1984 to 1988. He is currently Chancellor of the University of Brandon.

Since 1989 Mr Schreyer has been guest professor at universities in Canada and Europe; the focus throughout has been on resource geography, energy economics and environmental impact in a global context. He is a frequent guest speaker at fund-raising and other public events relating to energy, conservation, multiculturalism and heritage preservation.

The Eaton Lecture series at Queen's started in 1994 when Fredrik Eaton, the then Canadian High Commissioner in London, decided to support the work of the Queen's Centre of Canadian Studies. The lectures are funded by Canada's Eaton Foundation.

For further information contact:
Anne Langford, Tel 028 9097 5310

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Queen's academic to lead New Zealand University
Professor Roy Crawford, who has been appointed Vice-Chancellor of Waikato University in New Zealand
Professor Roy Crawford, who has been appointed Vice-Chancellor of Waikato University in New Zealand

Professor Roy Crawford, one of Queen's University's most senior academics, has been appointed Vice-Chancellor of Waikato University in New Zealand. He succeeds Bryan Gould, the former Labour Party MP who left British politics for academia a decade ago.

Professor Crawford, who is a Pro-Vice-Chancellor with special responsibility for research and development, is a Professor of Engineering Materials and has worked in New Zealand before. He was previously Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Auckland.

Queen's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir George Bain said Queen’s took great pride in the appointment. "Roy has played an important role at Queen’s during his time here. We are now rated in the top 20 in the UK for research power, which is due in no small measure to Roy’s leadership in this area.

"While the University, and his colleagues, will be sad to see him go, we are enormously proud that other universities recognise the calibre of academic leadership here. Waikato has an impressive record, and I have no doubt that Roy will build on its successes during his time in office."

Professor Crawford said: "I am sorry to be leaving Queen's. This University has been part of my life as a student, a member of staff and finally as one of its Pro-Vice-Chancellors. Queen's is a remarkable institution which plays a central role in the life of Northern Ireland. It has been a privilege to serve it.

"There are strong links between Northern Ireland and New Zealand. I hope that my appointment will strengthen those links in the years ahead."

Professor Crawford was Director of the School of Mechanical and Process Engineering at Queen's from 1989 to 1998 and he was also Director of the Polymer Processing Research Centre. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and a Fellow of the Institute of Materials. In 1997 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

He has served on the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council's Polymers and Composites Committee and the EPSRC/Department of Trade and Industry LINK Committee on Enhanced Engineering Materials. He is a member of the EPSRC College for Structural Materials and was a member of the RAE 2001 panel to assess the quality of research in mechanical engineering in UK universities.

He holds a number of public appointments, including membership of the Board of Invest Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Science Park.

Notes for editors: Waikato University is based in Hamilton, New Zealand, and celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. It has more than 13,000 students and 1,600 staff. The University has a strong regional focus with a commitment to international excellence in teaching and research. It has close links with the Maori community, and its School of Maori and Pacific Development is the only one of its kind in the country. The University’s academic provision covers the whole range of subjects from the arts and humanities, through to science and technology, management, law, education, and computing and mathematical sciences.

For further information contact: Elaine Fitzsimons, Communications Office, (028) 9097 5384

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