02-2005 Press Releases

28/02/2005: Queen's composer wins international award
28/02/2005: Queen's ceremony rewards international work experience
25/02/2005: Queen's cyber expert at Dublin conference
24/02/2005: Queen's hosts lecture on Ireland's transformation
23/02/2005: Searching for new planets
22/02/2005: Conference hears how domestic violence affects children
22/02/2005: Can taste of the Med help Northern Ireland hearts?
16/02/2005: Queen's medical students strut their stuff for charity
15/02/2005: Queen's initiative teaches lifesaving skills to children
14/02/2005: Queen's first to Google
14/02/2005: Universities launch major community relations campaign
14/02/2005: Astronomy's leading light gives lecture
11/02/2005: Director appointed to the Human Rights Centre at Queen's
10/02/2005: Harry McKillop Irish Spirit Award awarded to Rev Bill Shaw
09/02/2005: Exciting events line-up from Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry unveiled
09/02/2005: Queen's to host prestigious climate change lecture
08/02/2005: Creativity celebrated in BBC exhibition at Queen's
03/02/2005: Heaney portrait unveiling
03/02/2005: Poverty in Northern Ireland
02/02/2005: It's child's play for Queen's medics
02/02/2005: Queen's Professor takes global stage for community debate
02/02/2005: Humanities research showcased at Queen's
01/02/2005: Report questions effectiveness of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission
01/02/2005: Queen's staff raise funds for cancer charity

Queen's composer wins international award

Composer Jason E. Geistweidt, a PhD student in the Sonic Arts Research Centre at Queen's University, has been awarded a prestigious international prize for his composition, A letter from the trenches of Adrianopolis . . .

Jason's piece was announced the winner during the opening night of the Stockholm New Music Festival, where he took the emsPrize for electroacoustic music, which recognizes excellence in text-sound composition, awarded annually by Electronic Music Sweden (EMS).

The jury sat for three days, choosing from 64 pieces submitted to EMS from 20 countries. Nine pieces were short-listed for the semi-finals after which two pieces were selected for the finals. "I received this mysterious phone call from Stockholm a few days before the announcement," Jason recalls. "They told me to sit by the phone on a Saturday night and await the jury's decision . . . they also added I might want to have a bottle champagne nearby! When they called to announce I had won, well . . . I was ecstatic."

Commenting on the piece, the jury stated: "The piece puts the history of sound-art into an aesthetic and modern perspective. The form is well-constructed, dynamically balanced and the use of the onomatopoetic words or sounds is perfectly integrated into the text and in the way the text simply becomes music. The piece well expresses the emotion of the underlying tragic theme."

Geistweidt composed the winning piece at the Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC), Queen's University's premiere centre dedicated to the research of music technology in Belfast, Northern Ireland. "I encountered Marinetti's original prose in 'The Art of Noises', a sort of sacred text amongst electronic musicians. Marinetti's 'letter' describes the battle of Adrianapolis through the use of onomatopoetic text. He incorporates words such as BOOM! and RA-TA-TA-TA-TA. Here in the SARC studios, I transformed digital recordings of these words into explosions, machine gun fire, etc. Further, I orchestrated multiple readings of the text in such a way as to better convey the sonic milieu of the battlefield which I believe Marinetti was trying to put into words."

Professor Michael Alcorn, Director of SARC and Jason's composition tutor, said of the award: "It is a tremendous achievement that one of the young composers within SARC has won this international award. It is testament to the high calibre of the work that is being carried out within our new centre and serves to raise the international profile of both Queen's University and Belfast."

For further information, please contact: Jason E Geistweidt, 077 3946 7741, or Communications Office, 028 9097 5320

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Queen's ceremony rewards international work experience

More than 160 Queen's University students who gained workplace experience in companies around the world will take part in a special ceremony on Wednesday.

The event is the 10th City & Guilds presentation ceremony at Queen's, bringing the total number of candidates who have received Senior Awards to over 1,100.

This year's students will receive their City & Guilds Senior Awards at Licentiateship level for skills and competencies gained during work placements in Northern Ireland, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland and the United States.

The awards are administered by the University's Institute of Lifelong Learning, whose Director, Paul Nolan, said: "This year marks an important staging post for us as this is the 10th year we have organised these awards, and in that 10-year period we have seen over 1,100 young people gain an award that is of major importance in their career development.

"It is a point of pride for us that we were one of the first universities to involve ourselves in the scheme, and we feel it is an investment that has yielded rich returns. Those who gain the award today follow in an honourable tradition but, more importantly, they are taking a step towards a brighter future for themselves."

The scheme is based on the recognition of competence and achievement through a combination of education, training and work-based experience, and it provides a progressive vocational route to higher level qualifications.

The undergraduates will receive their Licentiateship (LCGI) Awards in Agricultural Technology, Agriculture, Application of French in a Working Environment, Application of Italian in a Working Environment, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Finance and Accounting, Food Science and Technology, Information Technology, and Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering.

In addition, four Senior Awards at the higher levels will be presented to lecturers in further and higher education who took part in the Lecturers into Industry initiative.

The Lecturers into Industry scheme is funded by the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) and is co-ordinated by the Learning and Skills Development Agency (LSDA). It aims to match the outputs of the further education sector with the needs of the Northern Ireland economy. Structured placements allow the candidates to update their experience and skills, enhancing their professional development and offering an opportunity to embed new ideas into the curriculum.

The guest speaker at the event will be Dr Philip Riseborough, Head of Higher Qualifications and Awards at City & Guilds.

For further information contact:

Marc Forte/Paul Nolan, Tel: 028 9097 5260
Anne Langford, Tel 028 9097 5310

Notes for Editors: The ceremony will take place in the Sir William Whitla Hall on Wednesday 2 March 2005, starting at 2pm and ending at 4.30pm. Media facilities will be available.

The lecturers who took part in the Lecturers into Industry initiative came from Belfast Institute of Further and Higher Education, North East Institute of Further and Higher Education. They receive Membership and Graduateship Awards in Construction.

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Queen's cyber expert at Dublin conference

A Queen's University psychologist, whose research looks at how people interact on the Internet, will be taking part in a conference examining the use and abuse of the Internet today (Friday).

Dr Monica Whitty, a lecturer in the School of Psychology, will discuss Internet infidelity during the Dublin conference entitled "Use and Abuse of the Internet".

Organised by the Marriage and Relationship Counselling Services, the conference is open to counsellors, psychotherapists, psychologists, social workers, doctors and other health professionals interested in updating their knowledge on current trends and practices relating to sex and the Internet.

Other topics will include sex addictions and the Internet, the use of safe practice on the Internet and the culture of sex in cyberspace. Dr Whitty's research interests include Internet relationships and sexuality, the development of online relationships, Internet fidelity and flirting and cyberstalking.

For further information contact: Communications, Queen's University Belfast, (028) 9097 5384

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Queen's hosts lecture on Ireland's transformation

The transformation of Ireland, from an impoverished and restless corner of the British Empire to the fastest growing economy in Europe, will be charted in a lecture at Queen's University next week.

One of Ireland's most exciting young historians, Diarmaid Ferriter, Professor of History at St Patrick's College, Dublin City University, will give the RSA lecture entitled "Idle to Pursue? The Impact of emigration from independent Ireland" on Wednesday 9 March.

The event, chaired by RSE Executive Director Penny Egan, will focus on the pervasiveness of emigration from the 1920s to the 1950s, the 'official' and 'private' attitudes towards emigration on the part of church and state and the legacy it left. A topic that will be interest to not only historians, but also to economists, anthropologists, political commentators and students of international studies, the lecture will draw from Professor Ferriter most recent book The Transformation of Ireland: 1900-2000.

RSA Chairman in Ireland, Professor Alistair Fee, is delighted to be working with hosts Queen's University to help the RSA strengthen its Irish connections.

The lecture is free of charge and open to the public, although booking is essential. A drinks reception will be held in the University's Visitors' Centre from 5-pm and the lecture will begin at 6pm in G9 Lanyon North.

Note to Editors: For further information, to attend the lecture or to arrange an interview, contact Sarah McLean at the RSA press office on 020 7451 6919 or email media@rsa.org.uk

The RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) encourages the development of a principled, prosperous society through a programme of projects and events and with the support of a network of influential Fellows from every field and background.

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Searching for new planets

One of the world's leading experts on the search for planets beyond our solar system will be giving a public lecture at Queen's University next week.

Dr Paul Butler, from the Carnegie Institution of Washington, is a well-known public speaker and communicator of science, whose team have discovered more than 50 planets around other stars. He will be visiting the University's Department of Physics and Astronomy to discuss research projects with Queen's staff who are currently working on novel techniques to discover new extra-solar planets.

His lecture entitled "From Extrasolar Planets to Extra-Terrestrials" will be held in the Larmor Lecture Theatre on Thursday March 3 and begins at 7pm.

For more information, contact: Stephen J. Smartt, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Queen's University, Tel: (028) 9097 1245 or email: S.Smartt@qub.ac.uk

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Conference hears how domestic violence affects children

The impact on children of domestic violence will be among the topics discussed during a one-day conference in Belfast today.

The Northern Ireland Community Nursing Network conference is organised jointly by Queen's University, University of Ulster and Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association (CPHVA).

Professor Jean Orr, Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen's University said: "I am delighted to be associated with this important conference. Domestic violence is a serious public health issue that affects society and I believe we must all play a part in addressing what is often a hidden issue."

It is estimated that at least 11,000 children in Northern Ireland are living with domestic violence. There are five deaths each year in Northern Ireland as a result of domestic violence and it accounts for approximately one-third of all recorded violent crime here.

The conference comes a day after the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety launched a high profile media campaign aimed at raising awareness of the domestic violence and the negative impact it has on children. As part of the initiative a new free-phone helpline will also be available for anyone affected by domestic violence.

The campaign follows on from the Government's consultation on "Tackling Violence at Home" and its proposals on domestic violence in Northern Ireland.

One of the conference speakers will be Christine Mann, national domestic violence co-ordinator, who will look at how domestic violence is a child protection issue.

"This is an important conference as we know that domestic violence often begins or intensifies during pregnancy when there may be serious and life threatening effects for both mother and child.

"Child protection becomes a significant issue for children living with violence and the latest Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths underlines the need for women to be offered access to the help and support they want," she said.

Among the delegates will be nurses, midwives and health visitors, who will be looking at the many changes taking place in community nursing and how this impacts on primary care and public health. Other speakers will include Dr Jane Wilde, Director of the Institute of Public Health and Paddie Blaney, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Practice and Education Council for Nursing and Midwifery (NIPEC).

Facts and figures on domestic violence

  • The Police Service attend an average of 46 domestic related incidents per day, but recognise there is still a large amount of under reporting of this type of crime
  • One in four women and one in six men will experience domestic violence in the course of their lifetime
  • Domestic violence often starts and/or escalates during pregnancy
  • Victims can be killed by family members other than partners or former partners
  • Children can also be killed due to domestic violence

For more information, contact: Una Lynch, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queen's University, (028) 9097 2377 or 07815 484181

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Can taste of the Med help Northern Ireland hearts?

Researchers at Queen's University Belfast and the Royal Group of Hospitals are carrying out a study to find out if patients with heart disease will follow advice to eat a Mediterranean-style diet.

Over a 12-month period, the Mediterranean Diet in Northern Ireland (MEDDINI) study will recruit 140 people who have just had a heart attack or who have angina. Subjects will either receive the usual dietary advice offered to all patients with heart disease, or advice to adopt a Mediterranean diet. 

Different methods of delivering the Mediterranean dietary advice will be compared to see which is most effective in encouraging patients to change their diet. Subjects will be reviewed after a year to determine whether they have made and maintained the change in their diet.

Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death in Northern Ireland and research has shown that changes in diet may prevent and delay the progression of the disease. However, studies looking at dietary change have, to date, been aimed at reducing blood cholesterol by altering the fat content of the diet and have largely failed to show beneficial effects.

In contrast, the Lyon Diet Heart Study, a study examining the effect of a Mediterranean-style diet in patients with heart disease reported a 50-70% reduction in further heart disease after four years.

What is a Mediterranean-style diet? Advice includes eating more bread, more fruit and vegetables, more fish and less meat (with beef, lamb and pork to be replaced by poultry). In addition, butter and cream are to be replaced with an olive-oil based margarine. The MEDDINI study aims to determine whether such a diet is acceptable to people in Northern Ireland.

The proposed work brings together a multidisciplinary team who have worked together over the last 10 years in the study of nutrition and cardiovascular disease, and have extensive experience in carrying out similar intervention studies.

The MEDDINI Principal Investigators are Dr Jayne Woodside (Lecturer in Medicine), Dr Pascal McKeown (Senior Lecturer in Cardiology) and Professor Ian Young (Professor of Medicine).

For further information contact: Karen Logan, MEDDINI Trial Co-ordinator, Department of Medicine, Mulhouse Building, Grosvenor Road, Belfast BT12 6BJ. Phone: 028 9063 2557. Email klogan02@qub.ac.uk or

Dr Jayne Woodside, MEDDINI Principal Investigator, Department of Medicine, Mulhouse Building, Grosvenor Road, Belfast BT12 6BJ. Phone: 028 9063 2585. E-mail: j.woodside@qub.ac.uk

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Queen's medical students strut their stuff for charity
Medical students take to the catwalk at the annual SWOT fashion show, in aid of charity.
Medical students take to the catwalk at the annual SWOT fashion show, in aid of charity.

Queen's University medical students will be strutting their stuff on the catwalk later this week all in the name of charity.

The annual Queen's University SWOT Fashion Show will be held at the University's Whitla Hall on Thursday 17 February.

Patrons of the show will see fourth year medical and dental students take to the catwalk to raise money for hospitals in the developing world. They will be showing off the latest offerings from many of Belfast's city centre stores along with the work of some of Northern Ireland's up-and-coming designers.

The Queen's University of Belfast Students Working Overseas Trust (SWOT), now in its 28th year, is run entirely by medical and dental students with the aim of raising money to promote the improvement of hospitals in the developing world. SWOT members complete a six-week work placement in these hospitals and with the money raised they are able to provide much-needed equipment and financial aid. Each year they raise in excess of £40,000 through street collections, blood pressure clinics, social events and the annual SWOT Fashion Show.

Philip Anderson, President of S.W.O.T. 2004-2005 said, "The Fashion Show is undoubtedly the biggest event on the S.W.O.T. calendar! It has a rich tradition of a great night enjoyed by all, when medical and dental students strut their stuff for a great cause! S.W.O.T continues to try to raise as much money as it can for hospitals in the developing world. This year we aim to raise £45,000!"

The SWOT Fashion Show is now firmly established as one of the most popular events at Queen's and joining the student models on the catwalk will be some of the teaching staff from the School of Medicine.

For further information, contact: Rachel Doherty on 07732521394 or Maeve Dooher on 07793131630

For more information on the event or the charity go to www.swotqub.com

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Queen's initiative teaches lifesaving skills to children
10 year-old Tara Malcolmson with Queen's University medical student Philip Hall at the launch of the ABC for Life programme which was launched recently at the University. The initiative - the first of its kind in the UK - will see medical students train P7 pupils in lifesaving skills.
10 year-old Tara Malcolmson with Queen's University medical student Philip Hall at the launch of the ABC for Life programme which was launched recently at the University. The initiative - the first of its kind in the UK - will see medical students train P7 pupils in lifesaving skills.

School children across Northern Ireland are to be trained to carry out live saving skills on heart attack victims as part of a major new initiative launched at Queen's University today (February 15).

The scheme – the first of its type in the United Kingdom – will teach 10 and 11 year-olds how to carry out mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and cardiac massage in a bid to save lives.

The unique ABC for Life programme was developed by a group of medical students at Queen's, who were keen to teach basic life support skills to school children. It is now hoped that up to 25,000 year 7 pupils will be trained each year in the Province.

Northern Ireland has the highest incidence of heart disease in the world with around 8,000 people suffering a heart attack each year resulting in 3,000 deaths.

Many of these attacks happen suddenly and without warning and in many cases the individual dies before medical help arrives. If immediate basic life support was available to all of these victims, up to 1,800 lives could be saved.

Explaining how the initiative will work, Dr David McCluskey, Head of Medicine and Therapeutics at Queen's, said a group of 60 medical students will instruct a teacher from each of the primary schools in Northern Ireland who will then pass on this knowledge and expertise to the children in their area.

"It is a unique scheme because it will educate an entire generation of primary 7 children in one region of the United Kingdom. Already over one third of the primary schools in Northern Ireland have enrolled in the scheme and it is hoped that if all of the schools participate up to 25,000 children each year would have the opportunity to learn these life saving skills," he said.

The three students behind the initiative are Michael Connolly, Philip Toner and Anna-Maire Trainor, who are all members of Queen's medical school's MedSIN, an independent, student organisation which raises awareness of global health issues locally.

President Anna-Maire Trainor, said: "As a medical student the ABC for Life Programme provides the perfect opportunity to work with our local community and provide health education. This training programme is designed to help prevent many cases of sudden death from occurring. If young people could learn these life saving skills up to 1,800 lives could be saved each year in Northern Ireland," she said.

Principal of Ballydown Primary School in Banbridge, Mr Wilson McMullan, where pupils have already learnt lifesaving skills, said: "All 44 of our year 7 pupils have been trained in basic life support as part of this initiative. They now feel confident that they would know what to do if they found someone who had collapsed or lost consciousness. "I would encourage all primary schools in Northern Ireland to become involved in this important health education scheme."

Andrew Dougal, Chief Executive, Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke Association, said: "Heart disease and stroke are responsible for 50% of deaths in Northern Ireland. Many of these deaths can be sudden, especially those from heart attacks. "It is essential that lifesaving skills, like CPR, are administered within three to four minutes of collapse and the Association commends the medical students in Queen's University who are undertaking this work in ensuring that 10 and 11 year olds are trained in lifesaving CPR skills.

"We cannot expect to depend solely on the Ambulance Service. Particularly in rural areas, it will often be impossible for ambulances to reach a collapsed person within four minutes and that is why lifesaving CPR skills are so important," he said.

The campaign is supported by the Belfast Telegraph's Newspapers in Education initiative and has received the backing of the Red Cross; Northern Ireland Chest, Heart and Stroke Association; Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety and the Department of Education.

Note to Editors: The launch of the ABC for Life programme will be held in the Canada Room, Queen's University Belfast, on Tuesday 15 February at 11am.

During the launch pupils from Ballydown Primary School in Banbridge, who have already received training as part of a pilot scheme, will demonstrate their newly acquired skills at 11.15am. Photographic opportunities and interviews can be conducted at 11.45am.

For further information contact: Dr David McCluskey, (028) 9063 2707 (office) or 07810 648296 or Communications, Queen's University, (028) 9097 3087

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Astronomy's leading light gives lecture

One of the United Kingdom's most distinguished female scientists will be lecturing at Queen's University later this week.

Belfast-born Jocelyn Bell Burnell, from the University of Oxford, will give her talk entitled "Tick, Tick, Tick Pulsating Star, How We Wonder What You Are" on Wednesday afternoon.

Regarded as one of the most influential scientists in Britain, she is most famous for her important contribution to the discovery of astronomical objects, known as pulsars. As a research student, working with Dr Anthony Hewish, she discovered regular signal coming from space. Initially she jokingly labelled this signal as LGM for Little Green Men but it was lager discovered that the signal was coming from a pulsar, a rapidly rotating object produced when a star explodes.

Dr Hewish was later awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics and many believe that although Professor Bell Burnell was only a PhD student it was through her persistence and determination that the pulsars were discovered in the first place.

Since then pulsars have shed light on the nature of matter and the laws of physics and opened up new vistas of research that are still growing more than 30 years later.

Professor Bell Burnell was once listed in the top 10 greatest female intellects of our age. However her academic career did not begin well after she failed the Northern Ireland equivalent of the 11 plus examination. She was awarded a CBE in 1999 and an honorary Doctor of Science degree by Queen's in 2002 for her services to astronomy and raising the profile of women in science.

The lecture, organised as part of an Institute of Physics in Ireland seminar, begins at 4pm on Wednesday 16 February in the Larmor Lecture Theatre.

For more information, contact: Dr Jason Greenwood, Department of Physics, Queen’s University, (028) 9097 3935

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Universities launch major community relations campaign


A major new campaign to improve relations between students and residents in Belfast was launched today by Northern Ireland's two universities.

The initiative, which targets students living in south Belfast, is an integral part of a wider strategy to stamp out anti-social behaviour.

Asking the blunt question: "Do you turn into a monster after dark?", the universities make a direct appeal to young people to respect their neighbours and help create conditions where everyone can live in peace.

Queen's University Belfast and the University of Ulster said today they were committed to working together with students, residents and other agencies to deal with widespread social problems in off-campus areas.

Since September, the universities have investigated more than 200 complaints against students.

Professor Peter Roebuck, the University of Ulster Provost with special responsibility for community relations, said: "The vast majority of our students want to live and study in peace. But sadly there are a number of students who do not respect their neighbours, and their behaviour is having a damaging effect on the lives of others. Those against whom serious founded complaints are made will be dealt with under the university disciplinary procedures."

Queen's Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Gerry McCormac said: "Anti-social behaviour is one of the biggest challenges facing Belfast, and is undermining its citizens' quality of life. The student community should be a positive force for good. We hope that by educating people about their responsibilities, building partnerships and through the application of discipline we will be able to deal with this problem."

The campaign, which was put together with an input from students and residents, graphically illustrates the problems faced by both groups.

Professor McCormac said: "This is designed to be a high impact campaign. Over the next month, every student living in south Belfast will get the message. I am confident that they will respond to it. The universities are part of this community, and are determined to meet their responsibilities."

Professor Roebuck said: "The campaign should not be seen in isolation. The problems of this area are very complex. All the agencies which can make a difference - the police, Belfast City Council, Housing Executive and the planners - are engaged in the search for long-term solutions."

Launched at the City Church, the campaign was devised by AV Browne, and will run for an initial four-week period, to be followed by a second phase at the beginning of the next academic year to reach new students, and those moving out of University accommodation for the first time.

http://www.studentsafterdark.com/

Editor's Note: The campaign will run in two four-week bursts - the first phase starting today and the second on 26 September 2005. Media include a 15,000 leaflet direct mail shot to selected postcode areas of south Belfast, 25,000 beer mats in student venues, posters in 20 bus shelter sites at hot spots in the area, 60 panels in pubs and clubs identified as student venues and 23 panels on Metro buses. The campaign was pre-tested with students and residents, and each phase of the campaign will be independently evaluated after its completion.

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Queen's first to Google

Today, Queen's became the first university in Europe to bring the power of the Internet's leading search engine to its institutional website.

The University joins Morgan Stanley, The United Nations and The British Library as an early deployer of the Google Search Appliance in Europe. The Google Search Appliance offers visitors to the University's web sites the familiar Google search interface for searches that are targeted on the University rather than the whole Internet. The 'powered by Google' icon assures visitors that the results of their searches will be characterised by the speed, accuracy and relevance that they have learned to expect from google.com. Information Services has produced two sets of web pages to support this service.

Website administrators and authors can find instructions and help for including on their site searches powered by the Google Search Appliance by visiting http://www.qub.ac.uk/is/ComputingSupport/WebSupport/Google/  

Users can find help on using the new service by visiting http://www.qub.ac.uk/is/ComputingSupport/WebSupport/Search/  

For further information contact: Dr Paul Kelly, 028 9097 3771 (Paul.Kelly@qub.ac.uk)

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Director appointed to the Human Rights Centre at Queen's

Professor Colin Harvey has been appointed Director of the Human Rights Centre in the School of Law at Queen's University Belfast. He took up the position on 31st January 2005, moving to Queen's from the University of Leeds where he had been a Chair of Constitutional and Human Rights Law.

A leading figure in the international field of human rights, Professor Harvey has taught previously at the University of Michigan, USA; Adam Michiewicz University, Poznan, Poland; and the University of Wales, Aberystwyth - as well as working in the Queen's School of Law between 1997-2000. In 1999 he was a Visiting Professor at the Refugee and Asylum Law Program, Faculty of Law, University of Michigan.

Professor Harvey is currently a member of the Northern Ireland Higher Education Council and sits on the Advisory Board of the British Institute of Human Rights. He is a member of the Steering Group of the UK section of the International Association of Constitutional Law. He was Refugee Co-ordinator for Amnesty International (Irish Section) 1998-2000 and a member of the Executive of the Committee on the Administration of Justice 1999-2000. Professor Harvey also sits on the editorial boards of Human Rights Law Review and The Journal of Civil Liberties and is the Case Editor for the International Journal of Refugee Law.

The Human Rights Centre at Queen's University was established in 1990, offering a focus for the School of Law's expertise in human rights law. Its aim is to 'support a community of researchers in the area of human rights law, and to promote co-operation with other academic and human rights institutions, so as to produce scholarship of international excellence and promote understanding of human rights'.

Speaking about the future work of the Human Rights Centre Professor Harvey commented: "The Human Rights Centre at Queen's is recognised internationally as a leading centre for research and education on human rights law. The Centre has always provided within Northern Ireland a much needed focus on research in human rights law, as well as helping to promote understanding of human rights.

"This is an important time in the debate on human rights at the national, regional and international levels. Human rights are being challenged in the current international political climate of fear and insecurity. The 'war on terrorism', for example, has prompted intense arguments over the human rights implications of the dominant policy responses. The Human Rights Centre at Queen's remains committed to international excellence in research and education and therefore aims to contribute usefully to these debates."

The Human Rights Centre will host an important series of seminars in the coming weeks:

  • 8 March, Colm O'Cinneide of University College London Faculty of Laws will address: 'What Human Rights instruments do and what they don't do: Rights orientation and democratic debate.'
  • 15 March, Dr Gordon Anthony of the Queen's University School of Law will explore: 'Constitutional Dualism and Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights in Northern Ireland.
  • 26 April, Dr Siobhan Mullally of the University College Cork Faculty of Laws will lead a discussion on: 'Engendering citizenship debates: Migrant women and reproduction in Ireland'.

Each seminar will take place at 1pm in the School of Law at 27 University Square and is open to the public.

For further information, please contact: Professor Colin Harvey, 028 9097 3141 c.harvey@qub.ac.uk or Dolores Vischer, Communications Office, 07980 013362

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Harry McKillop Irish Spirit Award awarded to Rev Bill Shaw

The Director of a non-denominational Christian community organisation in north Belfast is this year's winner of the prestigious Harry McKillop Irish Spirit Award.

Reverend Bill Shaw will be presented with the Award, which recognises extraordinary individual humanitarianism, at a special ceremony at Queen's University tonight (Thursday).

The Award was established by leading American businessman Ross Perot to honour the life and work of his friend and business associate, Harry McKillop, whose lifelong commitment to principle and "Irish Spirit" values has fuelled his dedication to helping individual people and saving lives as opportunities arise.

The Harry McKillop Irish Spirit Award, established in 2003, is awarded annually to a person of Irish or Irish-American descent. The first winner was Jean Kelly, founder of the Speedwell Trust.

This year's winner, Bill Shaw, was born and raised in Belfast. After ten years in the construction industry, he studied theology at Queen's University. As a Presbyterian Minister he went on to serve the people of Belfast from a church on the Loyalist Shankill Road.

He is Director of The 174 Trust, a Christian Community Development Project located between the New Lodge District and the Lower Shankill area of North Belfast. Bill Shaw and his colleagues are committed to advancing peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland through a number of projects which encourage dialogue and cultural diversity.

"Mr McKillop is a living model of an ordinary man's individual tireless service to mankind," said Mr Perot. "The award seeks to recognise and encourage this spirit in others, and we have found a second ideal recipient in the Reverend Bill Shaw. I am proud to be associated with this award and to play a small part in supporting the work of Bill Shaw and his colleagues at the 174 Trust."

The Irish Spirit Award Trustees, with the assistance of the Ireland Funds network of more than 60 voluntary advisors around the country, has established a standing committee of 10 members to assess candidates for the award. The Board of Trustees considers four in the final analysis. The honoree receives a Waterford Crystal trophy, and US$25,000 is given to the honoree’s charity of choice.

Mr. McKillop serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees. The members include distinguished individuals from Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the United States of America. The Board meets once a year to consider the award nominees.

Speaking at the Award Dinner at Queen's University Harry McKillop said "The Irish Spirit Award is a long-term initiative to support and recognise individual efforts in community-based projects which seek to promote inter community relationships and peace in Ireland through education. I am grateful to my friend and colleague Ross Perot for his patronage of this award and honored that he saw fit to establish it in my name and in my proud ancestral land."

Mr McKillop added: "In his magnificent poem, 'The Swing', Seamus Heaney wrote:
'Fingertips just tipping you would send you
Every bit as far - once you got going -
As a big push in the back.'

"We like to think that the Irish Spirit Award is here to bring people together to add their fingertips to all the remarkable work being undertaken in the field of education and community building in Ireland.”

Welcoming Irish Spirit Award guests to Queen's University, Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said: "I am particularly pleased that we are hosting this prestigious occasion because the guiding principles of the Harry McKillop Irish Spirit Award resonates very clearly with us here at Queen's.

"This Award embodies the significant difference that individuals can make in their community. Commitment to the community of which we are part is at the heart of the Queen's ethos. This is evidenced in a great many ways - through our role as a training ground for the professions, our contribution to economic development and our position as a major patron of the arts. It also takes shape through our mission to enhance and sustain a world-class reputation for research and education which will benefit our communities close to home and society throughout the world.

"Our students are tomorrow's leaders and we aim to give them the best possible educational experience, not just intellectually, but socially and culturally too, so that they will be able to make a difference wherever in the world their work and lives may take them."

Dr Maurice Manning, Chairperson of the Irish Commission on Human Rights, delivered the annual Irish Spirit Award address at the dinner while guest speaker John Hume MP spoke about the role of education as the key to community development.

Mr McKillop, who was earlier in the day presented with The Virtual Freedom of Ballycastle at a civic ceremony in the seaside town to mark his return to his ancestral home, said that next year’s award would be presented in Dallas, Texas. He expressed the hope that many of this year’s guests would come to Dallas to help celebrate the vast and extravagant Irish Spirit.

For further information contact: Joe McNamara, 001 972 577 6165, for Harry McKillop Irish Spirit Award Board of Trustees
Anne Langford, Tel 028 9097 5310

Note for editors: The Harry McKillop Award will be presented to Rev Bill Shaw in a special ceremony in the Great Hall at Queen's University on Thursday 10 February. Photographic and interview facilities will be available at the pre-dinner reception in the Naughton Gallery at Queen's from 6-6.30pm.

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Queen's to host prestigious climate change lecture

Melting ice caps, warmer winters, species extinctions – the alarm has been well and truly raised over global environmental change. Fears of floods and natural disaster loom large in our conscience as humans now face an uncertain future. As the world's leading scientists investigate our fate and as climate change reaches the top of the political agenda, Queen's University Belfast and the Environment & Heritage Service are preparing to host a prestigious public lecture by an international authority in the field.

Professor Bill Sutherland of the University of East Anglia will deliver the first annual Quercus Lecture in Biodiversity and Conservation Biology at Queen's on Thursday. An international authority on conservation science, Professor Sutherland has been invited to present the first in a series of public lectures, devoted to informing the public of Northern Ireland about the frontiers of research in this field.

The organiser of the event and Manager of Quercus, Northern Ireland's newly established research centre for conservation science, Dr. Robbie McDonald, explained "Conflicting messages about environmental change often emerge from scientists, and part of our role is to help inform the public and develop understanding of the complex issues facing society."

The event is open to all interested parties and promises an exciting talk from a world leader in the field. "Bill Sutherland is one of the most respected figures in conservation science and those in the field of environmental management are excited that he is kicking off this series of annual lectures," commented Dr Howard Platt, Head of Conservation Science, Environment and Heritage Service. Ends

For editors

The First Annual Quercus Lecture in Biodiversity and Conservation Biology will be delivered by Professor Bill Sutherland at 7pm Thursday 10 February in Lecture Theatre 1 of the Medical Biology Centre (MBC) 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast.

Bill Sutherland is professor of biological sciences at the University of East Anglia where he specialises in applying ecological knowledge to policy questions such as the impact of GM crops, human disturbance and global warming. He is the author and editor of several books including The Conservation Handbook, Managing Habitats for Conservation, Behaviour and Conservation, Conservation Science and Action.

Quercus is Northern Ireland's Research Centre for Conservation Biology and Biodiversity and is a partnership between the Environment & Heritage Service and Queen's University Belfast. For more information see www.quercus.ac.uk

For more information about the event, contact Robbie McDonald 028 9097 2281 or r.a.mcdonald@qub.ac.uk

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Exciting events line-up from Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry unveiled

A new season of exciting book launches, poetry readings and lectures hosted by the Queen's University Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry begins on Thursday 10 February with an event to mark the launch of The New Irish Poets edited by Selina Guinness.

The Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry is a world-class centre for literary excellence and is named after one of Queen's University's and Northern Ireland's most famous sons, poet and Nobel Laureate, Seamus Heaney.

Ciaran Carson, Professor of Poetry at Queen's and Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry said: "The Centre gives a dynamic focus to the University's contribution to the literary arts. As part of this, we have brought together a strong and vibrant programme of events over the coming four months. "These events are free, and open to the public. Poetry is not an ivory tower, and I hope these readings will show how the poet must engage with the real world, with all its various joys and troubles."

"Thursday evening's launch of The New Irish Poets will feature readings by Colette Bryce and Gearóid Mac Lochlainn, two of the most exciting poets of their generation. They will be introduced by Selina Guinness, editor of this splendid anthology, which demonstrates the continuing vibrancy of Irish poetry."

Born in Dublin in 1970, Selina Guinness lectures in Irish Literature at the Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Dun Laoghaire, and has been a regular reviewer of contemporary poetry.

Colette Bryce was born in Derry in 1970. Her first book, The Heel of Bernadette, was published by Picador in 2000 and won the Aldeburgh and the Eithne and Rupert Strong Awards for Best First Collection. She won the National Poetry Competition in 2004 for the title poem of her second collection, The Full Indian Rope Trick.

Gearóid Mac Lochlainn was born in Belfast in 1967. His bilingual selected works, Sruth Teangacha / Stream of Tongues was published by Cló Iar-Chonnachta in 2002, with accompanying CD. Gearóid is also an accomplished musician, and his latest collection, Rakish Paddy Blues, is partly inspired by the great uilleann piper Johnny Doran.

The New Irish Poets launch will take place at 7pm on Thursday 10 February in the Harty Room in the School of Music.

Later in the month, The Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry brings author and film-maker Bernard McLaverty back to Queen's for a screening of his film Bye-Child, on Wednesday 23 February at 8pm in lecture theatre G9.

Author of eight highly-acclaimed books, including Cal and Grace Notes, Bernard McLaverty will introduce and talk about his award-winning film, which was inspired by the Seamus Heaney poem of the same title. In 2004 Bye-Child won a BAFTA Scotland Award for Best First Director and a BAFTA nomination for Best Short Film.

Bye-Child is based on a true story of a boy who was hidden in a hen-house by his mother until discovered by some children playing.

For further information, contact: The Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, 028 9097 1070, or Dolores Vischer, Communications Office, 028 9097 5320/ 07980 013362

Notes: Other events to take place between March and May 2005:

Thursday, 3rd March, 2005
The Inaugural Lecture of Paul Durcan as the Ireland Professor of Poetry 2004-2007
'The Poet as Philosopher of History: Cronin's Cantos'. Great Hall, QUB at 8 pm
Paul Durcan is one of Ireland's best-known and most highly regarded poets. His latest collection, The Art of Life, was published by Harvill in 2004.
This event is hosted in association with the Ireland Chair of Poetry, which is funded by Queen's University Belfast, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, and The Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon. Professor Paul Durcan will spend February and March in residence at Queen's University.

Thursday, 10th March, 2005
A Reading of Poetry and Prose with Jackie Kay and Ali Smith, two of Scotland's finest writers. Lanyon North, G9 Lecture Theatre, QUB at 8 pm

8-10th April, 2005
An Interdisciplinary Conference
Betwixt and Between: Place and Cultural Translation. Drama and Film Centre, 20 University Square
In association with the School of Languages and Literatures and the School of English, and the Faculty of Humanities at Queen's University.
Plenary speakers include Peter Bush, Ciaran Carson, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Michael Cronin, and David Johnston. For further information visit the website at http://www.qub.ac.uk/betwixt/  

Thursday, 14th April, 2005
A Poetry Reading with Peter McDonald and Sinead Morrissey Lanyon North, G9 Lecture Theatre, at 8 pm

Thursday, 5th May, 2005
A Book Launch with Anne Rouse and Nick Laird. Visitors' Centre, QUB at 7 pm
The event will celebrate the launch of Nick Laird's first novel, Utterly Monkey. His first collection of poetry, To a Fault, was published by Faber in January 2005; and of The School of Night (2004), Anne Rouse's most recent work. Born in Washington DC Anne Rousse is currently Writer-in-Residence at St Mary's University College, Belfast.

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Creativity celebrated in BBC exhibition at Queen's

An exhibition profiling the creative talent of more than 60 writers, performers and producers associated with BBC NI over the past 80 years is currently on display in Queen's University's Visitors' Centre.

Frank Carson, James Young, James Nesbitt, Kenneth Branagh and Bronagh Gallagher are among those honoured in the mix of images and archive material that is a celebration of talent.

Included in the exhibition are a number of Queen's graduates, including comedian Patrick Kielty, Sean Crummey, the man behind Northern Ireland's political satire series 'The Folks on the Hill', and comedienne Nuala McKeever. The University's former Chancellor, Sir Tyrone Guthrie, is also featured.

The free exhibition, curated by Francis Jones, is visiting Queen's as part of a tour of Northern Ireland.

It can be viewed in the Visitors' Centre from 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday until 25 February.

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

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Poverty in Northern Ireland

Senior social scientists and policy-makers meet in Belfast today (Friday, February 4) to explore how far the government is succeeding in abolishing child poverty, reducing social exclusion, and improving equal opportunities in Northern Ireland.

Brought together by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the UK's biggest funder of social research, the seminar will examine the distribution of income, benefits and tax in Northern Ireland.

The starting point for the discussion will be a new ESRC report which summarises the latest research findings into poverty in Northern Ireland and what policies might be effective in reducing it.

Professors Paddy Hillyard and Eithne McLaughlin of the School of Sociology and Social Policy at Queen's University of Belfast will deliver opening papers at the seminar and draw on their ground-breaking report, Bare necessities - poverty and social exclusion in Northern Ireland, and The bottom line: Severe child poverty in Northern Ireland shortly to be published by Save the Children in Northern Ireland.

Bare Necessities documented the extent of poverty that Northern Ireland families experience. It showed that a higher proportion of families are in poverty in Northern Ireland than in either Britain or the Republic of Ireland; and specifically found 185,000 households containing over 500,000 people were living below the poverty line. Poverty was measured by two yardsticks: low income and deprivation - having to go without things, which the public regard as necessities of life: such as enough money to pay heating, electricity and telephone bills on time and new, not second hand clothes.

The Bottom Line also showed that children and families in Northern Ireland are more deprived than their counterparts in Britain. In the words of Professor Hillyard, who described Northern Ireland as one of the most unequal societies in the developed world, "the challenge for Northern Ireland and local politicians is how to reduce these deep fractures of inequality and create a more just society."

Professor McLaughlin commented that lone parents in Northern Ireland face particular difficulties because of low levels of job opportunities for women generally combined with low pay and lack of early years provisions.

Among the themes to be explored are:
- The need for a comprehensive joined-up Northern Ireland anti-poverty strategy with clear definitions, policies, targets and outcome measures, which would also examine the inequality impact of existing and future policies.
- A re-examination of Section 75 of the 1998 Northern Ireland Act, which places a duty on public authorities to promote equality across nine domains gender, religious belief, age, race, disability, sexual orientation, political opinion, marital status, and families -- but crucially does not include class or poor/rich dimensions.
- Children and childcare: why has there not been the same commitment to children's early years in Northern Ireland as in England and Wales? Sure Start has been under-resourced. There is poor childcare provision and women's employment rates are low. Women's groups which supply so much of the support at community level do not receive mainstream funding and have to apply for funds annually. Many are going to the wall for lack of funds.
- Area based or individual/group distribution of resources. Does focusing on the former generate problems because poverty within the Catholic community is more concentrated than that within the Protestant community?
- How feasible is a welfare work-to policy in a region where pay is 20% less than the national average, most jobs are poorly paid and of short duration, and support services are in short supply.
- Is the current benefit system adequate to meet the problems of entrenched poverty or is something different needed? Can benefits be made more flexible so that lone parents and long-term unemployed can carry part of their benefits with them into their often short-term jobs as the new pilot programmes for disabled people in England are successfully exploring and as has been the practice in the Republic of Ireland for long-term unemployed people for many years.

Ends

For further information, or a copy of the report,  contact: Iain Stewart, Lesley Lilley or Becky Gammon at the Economic & Social Research Council on 01793 413032 / 413119 / 413122 or iain.stewart@esrc.ac.uk Lesley.lilley@esrc.ac.uk or becky.gammon@esrc.ac.uk Or for comment, contact: Professor Eithne McLauglin on 028 9096 4073

Notes for editors
1.  Income Distribution and Poverty in Northern Ireland by Malcolm Dean is published by the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC). It will be launched at the seminar, "Income Distribution and Poverty in Northern Ireland", for senior policy makers at Stormont Hotel, Belfast on Friday 4 February. Speakers include:  Alissa Goodman, Director of Education, Employment and Evaluation Research at the Institute for Fiscal Studies; Paddy Hillyard – Professor of Sociology at Queens University Belfast; Eithne McLauglin – Professor and Chair of Social Policy at the Queens University Belfast
2. The report is the latest in a series – Mapping the Public Policy Landscape – in which the ESRC presents independent research in key policy areas to potential users in government, politics, the media, and the private and voluntary sectors.
3.The ESRC is the UK's largest funding agency for research and postgraduate training relating to social and economic issues. It provides independent, high-quality, relevant research to business, the public sector and Government. The ESRC invests more than £93 million every year in social science and at any time is supporting some 2,000 researchers in academic institutions and research policy institutes. It also funds postgraduate training within the social sciences to nurture the researchers of tomorrow. More at http://www.esrc.ac.uk
4. REGARD is the ESRC's database of research. It provides a key source of information on ESRC social science research awards and all associated publications and products. The website can be found at http://www.regard.ac.uk
5. The Bottom Line by Marina Monteith and Eithne McLaughlin will be published shortly by Save The Children in Northern Ireland.
6. Bare Necessities is available from Democratic Dialogue Belfast www.democraticdialogue.org

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Heaney portrait unveiling
Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney discusses his new portrait with artist Tai-Shan Schierenberg during the unveiling ceremony at Queen's
Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney discusses his new portrait with artist Tai-Shan Schierenberg during the unveiling ceremony at Queen's

Twelve months after the official opening of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen's University Belfast, Dr Seamus Heaney returns to the University on Thursday 3 February for another celebratory occasion.

A new portrait of the Nobel Laureate, commissioned for the University collection from the talented portrait artist Tai-Shan Schierenberg, will be unveiled.

Dr Seamus Heaney will be guest of honour at the special unveiling ceremony on Thursday afternoon in the Harty Room in the School of Music.

The poet and his work are well-known throughout the English speaking world. Seamus Heaney received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995 and is three times winner of the Whitbread Award, including for his 1999 translation of the Anglo-Saxon epic, Beowulf. He is a former student and member of staff of Queen's University.

Seamus Heaney's name is already commemorated at Queen'’s in the bricks and mortar of the Seamus Heaney Library and in the dynamic, creative force which is the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry. The Centre is enhancing Queen's reputation as a research-based University of international standing and as a birthplace for poets.

Queen's Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said of the poet and new portrait: "He has brought pride and honour to Queen's and Ireland, both North and South, and he epitomises the spirit of global excellence to which Queen's aspires. It is only appropriate that the poet's face should also be well-known in the Alma Mater whose reputation he has done so much to enhance."

 Thanking those whose generosity made possible the commissioning of Seamus Heaney's portrait for the University Professor Gregson said: "We are very grateful to Tom Lynch, a member of the Board of the Queen's University of Belfast Foundation, who was the impetus behind the initiative to commission the portrait, and particularly, to our benefactors, Martin and Carmel Naughton"

 Thursday's event will also mark a generous donation by the poet to the University. Dr Heaney will hand over an extensive collection of Beowulf papers and documents produced during his work on the award-winning and highly acclaimed Beowulf: A new Verse Translation, to Professor Ciaran Carson Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry.

Commenting on the donation Professor Ciaran Carson, himself the author of nine collections of poems, and the winner of many awards, said: "Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf is an exemplar of the continuity of poetry in these islands since Anglo-Saxon times; and it is particularly appropriate that his handing over of the Beowulf papers should occur under the aegis of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry bearing his name. Among other things, the Centre is a forum for the discussion and dissemination of poetry, in which translation occupies a key role as a model for understanding our own language."

Guests attending the ceremony will then enjoy a rare treat in the form of a poetry reading by Seamus Heaney and Professor Hugh Magennis, Head of the School of English, who will together read extracts from Beowulf in the Anglo-Saxon version and Dr Heaney's own translation.

Artist Tai-Shan Schierenberg will be in Belfast to witness the Heaney portrait unveiling and for the official opening of an exhibition of his own work in the Naughton Gallery at Queen's on Thursday evening.

Tai-Shan Schierenberg's portraits include that of writer and barrister John Mortimer for the National Portrait Gallery in London which also holds his portraits of Lord Carrington (1994) and most recently Lord Sainsbury (2002). The artist was also commissioned to paint the portrait of Her Majesty the Queen and Price Philip in celebration of their Golden Wedding anniversary.

The new Seamus Heaney portrait will hang in the Naughton Gallery during the Schierenberg exhibition that runs until 25 February, before going on permanent display in the University's Great Hall.

Following the portrait unveiling ceremony, a celebration will take place in the new Drama and Film Centre of a range of the work of the Faculty of Humanities in the creative and performing arts.

Ends

For further information contact: The Communications Office, 028 9097 5320 or 028 9097 3087

Notes: 
4pm: Heaney portrait unveiling and handover of the Beowulf papers (Harty Room).
5-6pm: Humanities Showcase (in the Centre for Drama and Film Studies, 20 University Square).
6pm: Tai-Shan Schierenberg exhibition opening in the Naughton Gallery.

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Poverty in Northern Ireland

Senior social scientists and policy-makers meet in Belfast tomorrow (Friday, February 4) to explore how far the government is succeeding in abolishing child poverty, reducing social exclusion, and improving equal opportunities in Northern Ireland.

Brought together by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the UK's biggest funder of social research, the seminar will examine the distribution of income, benefits and tax in Northern Ireland.

The starting point for the discussion will be a new ESRC report which summarises the latest research findings into poverty in Northern Ireland and what policies might be effective in reducing it.

Professors Paddy Hillyard and Eithne McLaughlin of School of Sociology and Social Policy at Queen's University of Belfast will deliver opening papers at the seminar and draw on their ground-breaking report, Bare necessities - poverty and social exclusion in Northern Ireland, and The bottom line: Severe child poverty in Northern Ireland shortly to be published by Save the Children in Northern Ireland.

Bare Necessities documented the extent of poverty that Northern Ireland families experience. It showed that a higher proportion of families are in poverty in Northern Ireland than in either Britain or the Republic of Ireland; and specifically found 185,000 households containing over 500,000 people were living below the poverty line. Poverty was measured by two yardsticks: low income and deprivation - having to go without things, which the public regard as necessities of life: such as enough money to pay heating, electricity and telephone bills on time and new, not second hand clothes. The Bottom Line also showed that children and families in Northern Ireland are more deprived than their counterparts in Britain. In the words of Professor Hillyard, who described Northern Ireland as one of the most unequal societies in the developed world, "the challenge for Northern Ireland and local politicians is how to reduce these deep fractures of inequality and create a more just society."

Professor McLaughlin commented that lone parents in Northern Ireland face particular difficulties because of low levels of job opportunities for women generally combined with low pay and lack of early years provisions.

Among the themes to be explored are:

The need for a comprehensive joined-up Northern Ireland anti-poverty strategy with clear definitions, policies, targets and outcome measures, which would also examine the inequality impact of existing and future policies


A re-examination of Section 75 of the 1998 Northern Ireland Act, which places a duty on public authorities to promote equality across nine domains gender, religious belief, age, race, disability, sexual orientation, political opinion, marital status, and families -- but crucially does not include class or poor/rich dimensions.

Children and childcare: why has there not been the same commitment to children's early years in Northern Ireland as in England and Wales? Sure Start has been under-resourced. There is poor childcare provision and women's employment rates are low. Women's groups which supply so much of the support at community level do not receive mainstream funding and have to apply for funds annually. Many are going to the wall for lack of funds.

Area based or individual/group distribution of resources. Does focusing on the former generate problems because poverty within the Catholic community is more concentrated than that within the Protestant community?

How feasible is a welfare work-to policy in a region where pay is 20% less than the national average, most jobs are poorly paid and of short duration, and support services are in short supply.

Is the current benefit system adequate to meet the problems of entrenched poverty or is something different needed? Can benefits be made more flexible so that lone parents and long-term unemployed can carry part of their benefits with them into their often short-term jobs as the new pilot programmes for disabled people in England are successfully exploring and as has been the practice in the Republic of Ireland for long-term unemployed people for many years.

For further information, a copy of the report or to attend the seminar, contact: Iain Stewart, Lesley Lilley or Becky Gammon at the Economic & Social Research Council on 01793 413032 / 413119 / 413122 or iain.stewart@esrc.ac.uk  Lesley.lilley@esrc.ac.uk  or becky.gammon@esrc.ac.uk  Or for comment, contact: Professor Eithne McLauglin on 028 9096 4073

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Queen's Professor takes global stage for community debate

Queen's University Pro-Vice Chancellor for Community and Communications, Professor Gerry McCormac, is to address a global conference in Seville, on universities' obligations to their local communities.

The conference entitled: 'Advancing Science and Society Interactions,' involves more than 150 scientists and academics from as far away as Mexico, India and Sweden and runs from 3-5 February.

The purpose of the conference is to discuss how universities can meet their obligations to communities, exchange ideas on community based research and help with modern-day societal problems. Speaking about his address, leading academic, Professor McCormac said: "Universities are a huge resource providing not only the teachers, doctors, engineers and scientists of the future but also an intellectual capacity and willingness to help with the problems society faces. It is important that we listen to our communities and ensure access routes exist to the wealth of expertise."

Professor McCormac will discuss some of the ways in which Queen's is connected to the communities it serves, both emotionally and intellectually. He will also reflect on the university's strategy for community engagement, which relates to the community and voluntary sector, but also the business community, widening participation activities, lifelong learning and society more generally.

In total more than 60 speakers and presenters will share their experiences and will reflect the social impact and scientific and democratic value of research from a range of disciplines including social, natural, physical and technological sciences.

Concluding, Professor McCormac said: "In developing an 'Outreach Strategy,' Queen's have drawn together all groups within the university who are involved with the community to create a much more coherent approach to community interaction. We are continuing to work on this proactive strategy and next month a Queen's led neighbourhood forum will meet for the first time. This forum along with the Science Shop, Belfast Festival at Queen's and visual arts activities, the schools outreach programme, lifelong learning courses and our public affairs newsletters signals our ongoing commitment to build relationships with our local community."

Notes to Editors

Queen's is a broadly based, regional university with a population of about 24,000 students and 3,500 staff. It provides most of the graduates to the professions in Northern Ireland and is a magnet for international interaction and engagement. In 2001 Queen's appointed, for the first time, a Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Community and Communications. This senior appointment signalled a recognition that engagement with the community required a strategic approach from the organisation.

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It's child's play for Queen's medics
Queen's University medical student, Katherine Murtagh, gets a thorough examination by primary school pupils, Jacob Steadman, from Botanic Primary and Cliodhna Fitzpatrick, from St Malachy's, who are taking part in the 'Medics in Primary School' initiative, launched by Queen's on Tuesday. The project, supported by First Trust Bank, enables trainee doctors to teach young children in the greater Belfast area about basic healthcare.
Queen's University medical student, Katherine Murtagh, gets a thorough examination by primary school pupils, Jacob Steadman, from Botanic Primary and Cliodhna Fitzpatrick, from St Malachy's, who are taking part in the 'Medics in Primary School' initiative, launched by Queen's on Tuesday. The project, supported by First Trust Bank, enables trainee doctors to teach young children in the greater Belfast area about basic healthcare.

An innovative child health programme, which enables trainee doctors from Queen's University to teach basic healthcare to primary school children, was launched this week by Queen's with the support of First Trust Bank.

The Medics in Primary School initiative involves a series of visits by undergraduate medical students to primary schools across the greater Belfast area in a bid to help develop a closer relationship between the medical profession and the local community.

During the visits the students will guide the children through about a variety of health education topics, including diet, nutrition and the skin, whilst hopefully providing positive role models encouraging primary pupils to consider a medical career. The medical students not only gain experience in communicating information to school children from a variety of backgrounds, but it also gives them an opportunity to help and support young people.

Professor Gerry McCormac, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Community and Communications at Queen’s, said: "This unique programme, carried out in partnership with First Trust, is a special study module offered to second year medical students at Queen's and is one of the best examples of how Queen's reaches out into the local community in which is it is rooted.

"It not only gives our medical students the chance to improve their communication skills while working with children from a variety of backgrounds, but it also brings alive real issues about personal health to young children, who will meet the doctors of the future and be encouraged about a career in medicine or any of the related health sciences," he said.

The initiative currently involves 34 students working with 35 schools in the greater Belfast area.

Vincent Malone, Senior Manager, First Trust Bank, University Road Branch said: "First Trust Bank is proud to support the Medics in Primary Schools project. This project offers the opportunity for medical students to develop skills which are essential in their future career paths. It also gives children a practical understanding of how their personal health and wellbeing can be affected by their surroundings. It is a unique offering to the British Isles and one we are delighted to be associated with."

Note to Editors: List of participating schools: Ballyhenry Primary; Lowwood Primary; Carmoney Primary; St Vincent de Paul Primary; Fullerton House Preparatory; St Joseph's School, Carryduff; Wheatfield Primary; St Peter's Primary; Cregagh Primary; St Bernard's Primary; Mallusk Primary; St Malachy's Primary; Rosetta Primary; St Michael's Primary; St Bride's Primary; Botantic Primary; Stranmillis Primary; Holy Rosary Primary; St Teresa's; St Mark's; Fane Street; Hilden Integrated Primary; Ligoniel Primary; Blythfield Primary; Cranmore Integrated; Finaghy Primary; Donegall Road Primary; St John the Baptist Boys Primary; Mercy Primary; St Joseph's Primary; Star to the Sea Primary; St Mary's Primary; St Anne's Primary; Our Lady of Lourdes Primary.

For more information, contact: Communications, Queen’s University, (028) 9097 5384

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Humanities research showcased at Queen's

An exciting Humanities showcase will take place in the new Drama and Film Centre at Queen's University on Thursday 3 February featuring the creative and performing arts at the University.

Building on the University’s world-leading research across a range of Humanities subjects, and its reputation as a breeding-ground for poets such as Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney, the Faculty will reinforce its role as a major centre for the arts.

The event will give an invited audience of key opinion-formers in Northern Ireland the opportunity to learn about the variety of research taking place in subjects related to the creative and performing arts in the Faculty of Humanities. Guest of honour at the evening's event will be Professor Geoffrey Crossick, Chief Executive of the Arts and Humanities Research Board, the funding body that supports many of the projects being showcased.

The programme will feature performances including:
- A performed extract from a play in progress by Daragh Carville one of the Creative Writer  tutors in the Seamus Heaney Centre and directed by Rachel O’Riordan of Drama Studies.
- A demonstration of Balenese dance by a PhD student researching dance in the School of Anthropological Studies.
- An excerpt introduced by Professor of Film Studies Des Bell from ‘The Last Storyteller’ a creative film documentary exploring the relation between traditional story telling in Ireland and filmic narrative, that represented Ireland in ithe 2002 Venice Bienalle Festival of Film.

At the showcase there will also be stands celebrating the impressive research work of the Faculty in a wide range of other subjects including Byzantine Studies, Geography, English and German Studies.

Dean of the Faculty, Professor Ellen Douglas-Cowie, said: "I am particularly pleased that this showcase is taking place in the new purpose-built Drama and Film Centre. It is therefore appropriate that our showcase features the Creative Arts at Queen's. In the last five years we have seen the opening of the academic units of Drama and Film, the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry and the Sonic Arts Research Centre. At this event staff and research students will introduce some of the research activities in the Creative Arts through film, dance and other performance."

Professor Douglas-Cowie added that while the research interests within the Faculty of Humanities cover a very wide range of scholarly activity: "This showcase in particular features research that has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Board. Much of this work is interdisciplinary, and illustrates the way we are crossing traditional boundaries and opening up new avenues of research."

Ends

For further information contact: Communications Office 028 9097 5320

Notes for Editors: The Faculty of Humanities research showcase will take place in the Drama and Film Centre, 20 University Square, Queen's University, on Thursday 3 February, from 5 to 6.30pm. Media facilities will be available.

The Faculty currently has over 2,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students and 134 academic staff.

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Queen's staff raise funds for cancer charity
Norman Bennett, director of Finance at Queen's University and Tricia Massey, from Purchasing, present Marie Curie fundraiser Amanda Scott with a cheque for £2,614 which was raised by staff at the annual Christmas quiz and disco.
Norman Bennett, director of Finance at Queen's University and Tricia Massey, from Purchasing, present Marie Curie fundraiser Amanda Scott with a cheque for £2,614 which was raised by staff at the annual Christmas quiz and disco.

Big hearted staff from Queen's University Belfast have raised over £2,500 for Marie Curie Cancer Care.

Staff collected £2,614.41 during their annual Christmas quiz and disco, which was held in the Students' Union and organised by the Purchasing office. The event, which has running for over 10 years and has become something of an institution within the University, also featured a ballot, with prizes donated from a variety of companies and individuals.

Kate McAuley, head of Purchasing, said: "The amount raised could not have been achieved without the huge support of our colleagues and suppliers. Together we have been able to support a very worthwhile cause."

Marie Curie Cancer Care fundraiser Amanda Scott said she was delighted with the amount raised by Queen's staff. "Marie Curie Cancer Care provides high quality nursing, free of charge, both at the Marie Curie Centre and through the Marie Curie Nursing Service. With only limited funding available from local health trusts, you can see just how much we rely on public support.

"The fantastic amount raised by all those involved at Queen's will allow us to continue to provide our special care for those who are ill and support for their families at a very difficult time," she said.

For further information contact: Communications, Queen's University, Belfast (028) 9097 5384

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Report questions effectiveness of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission

A report evaluating the effectiveness of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission is published today (1 February 2005). The report concludes that while the Commission has clearly achieved a number of positive things in its short history, the effectiveness of the Commission in several areas is disputed. The report places responsibility for these failings partly on the British Government - in particular the Northern Ireland Office - for not providing adequate support to the Commission, and partly on the Commission itself, which failed to develop a collective vision for the organisation.

The report is the result of a two-year independent study by Dr Rachel Murray of the University of Bristol and the late Professor Stephen Livingstone of Queen's University Belfast. It was funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

Dr Murray stated: 'In light of the Government's imminent announcement of the appointment of new members to the Commission, it is hoped that the "new blood" on the Commission will be an opportunity for it to take stock, learn from the past and look to the future. In a climate of political uncertainty it is important that long term contributions to human rights, such as the Human Rights Commission, are given prominence'.

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission was established as part of the Good Friday Agreement in 1999. The research reviewed the Commission's activities to date and finds that although it undertook a considerable amount of work which has had a significantly positive impact - for example, aspects of its litigation and investigative work have produced important changes - it was not able to develop a clear strategy and vision for the organisation; the manner in which dealt with the Bill of Rights has frustrated many; and its reputation has diminished in the eyes of some, particularly those who would initially have been its supporters.

The report also finds that the British Government did not provide an appropriate process for appointing members to the Commission; failed to provide the Commission with adequate resources and powers; and failed to support its work.

The report recommends, amongst other things, that the Government provide the Commission with adequate power and resources and that, when formed, the new Commission should work towards developing a collective strategic vision.

Professor Brian Burdekin, former Special Advisor on National Institutions to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said of the report: 'While its primary focus is the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, established as one element of the Good Friday Agreement, its significance goes well beyond that jurisdiction. Both the Governments in London and Edinburgh should find this report a valuable reference as they move towards establishing the Commission for Equality and Human Rights and the Scottish Human Rights Commission'.

The report draws upon international documentation, examples of institutions elsewhere in the world, particularly in South Africa, and over 100 interviews with individuals and organisations in Northern Ireland, the rest of the UK and abroad. It also attempts to identify a number of factors that make institutions like the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission effective.

Notes for Editors: 

  1. The report will be published on 1 February 2005.
  2. The research was funded by the Nuffield Foundation, a charitable trust established by Lord Nuffield. Its widest charitable object is 'the advancement of social well-being'. The Foundation has long had an interest in social welfare and has supported this project to stimulate public discussion and policy development. The views expressed are however those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Foundation. See http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/home  
  3. The Government has yet to announce the appointment of new Commissioners and a new Chief Commissioner.

Issued by: Public Relations Office, Communications and Marketing Services, University of Bristol. Contact: Cherry Lewis, Research Communications Manager. Tel: 0117 928 8086, mob: 07729 421885, email: Cherry.lewis@bristol.ac.uk  

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