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Muiris MacCarthaigh invited to address DFP Innovation Lab

Dr Muiris MacCarthaigh from the School of PISP has been invited to address participants from across the Northern Ireland public service at the Department of Finance and Personnel’s forthcoming ‘Innovation Lab’ on the topic of Shared Services in Government. Dr MacCarthaigh has been conducting research on this topic as part of his Public Service Reform Research Fellowship.  

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Lee McGowan: ‘The Farage Factor and the Rise of Purple Populism’

Lee McGowan is presenting a paper on ‘The Farage Factor and the Rise of Purple Populism’ at a  conference on Current Populism in Europe that is being held at the Charles University in Prague on 19 May.

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EUROPEAN STUDY TRIP 9-12 November 2015



Visits and talks from officials in NATO, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Office of the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels and the UK Permanent Representation.


Contact Dr Lee McGowan, tel: ++44 (0) 28 9097 1089, email:


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Dr Keith Breen on the Right to Meaningful Work


‌‌Dr Keith Breen will deliver a plenary lecture entitled “Work and the Right to Meaningful Work” in the Economy and Society PhD Summer School being held in Blackwater Castle, Castletownroche, Co. Cork, 11th to 16th May 2015. The Summer School is organized by the Waterford Institute of Technology, in collaboration with University College Cork, and brings together over 50 academics and PhD students to explore important issues of political economy and the current state of our dominant economic order ( The Summer School will be opened by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins.‌

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South Belfast Election Hustings Event 28 April 2015

Hustings Photo for news story
A review of the hustings event by level 2 student, Ethan McLaughlin

The Great Hall was host to a South Belfast hustings event ahead of the general election on May 7th. The constituency seat has been held by leader of the SDLP, Alasdair McDonnell, since 2005. McDonnell is standing for re-election against Bob Stoker of UKIP, Clare Bailey of the Green Party, Mairtin OMuilleoir of Sinn Fein, Jonathan Bell of the DUP, Paula Bradshaw of Alliance, Rodney McCune of UUP, Ben Manton of the Conservatives NI and Lily Kerr of the Worker’s Party.
Gathering in the packed Great Hall, there was a great mix of students from across a number of different schools and people of the local community. The event was hosted by the BBC journalist William Crawley and began with each candidate giving a short forty five second presentation, outlining the key goals they promised to promote if elected. 
Unfortunately Lily Kerr, Alasdair McDonnell and Jonathan Bell were unable to attend the event but both The Worker’s Party and SDLP provided a different representative for the event. The DUP did not send another party member.
Following the introductory statements, the event moved on to hearing questions from the audience about key issues for them about the local community. Issues of LGBT and equal rights took centre stage, highlighted by another equal marriage vote failing in the assembly. The question was asked: ‘what would you do as a MP to promote equality in Northern Ireland?’

None of the candidates in attendance came out strongly in opposition to marriage equality and it was interesting to see many representatives openly question the stance of fellow MLAs within their party who did not vote in favour of marriage equality.  Some were keen to emphasise the need not to marginalise those were not in favour of the bill for religious reasons.The event then went on to cover a number of different issues including a possible NI referendum on leaving the European Union.  Mr Stoker of UKIP, the Workers party, the UUP and the Conservative party all supported a referendum with Sinn Fein advocating with for a separate one for Northern Ireland.

Towards the end of the evening, a question was heard on the candidate’s thoughts about rolling out Ed Milband’s plans for social housing going to those who have lived in a given community the longest. Many candidates pointed out that there could be an issue with this in Northern Ireland because it would further entrench communities when focus should be on integration.  Moreover, it was argued by many candidates (except UKIP) that social housing should be allocated on the basis of need rather than location.

PISP student, Cliona McCarney, asked the candidates how they would encourage youth engagement in politics. Mr O Muilleoir, before answering the question, also added how over the moon he was to finally meet Ms McAallister in the flesh having so far only known her via his twitter account! All candidates said they were focused on engaging young people in politics and would like to see institutions, such as Queen’s, open their doors to those who may currently be disengaged.
The evening finished with a final 30second pitch from each candidate on why they, on a personal level, deserved your vote. We won’t tell who won us over the most….that is up to you!

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Former civil servants talk about governing Northern Ireland

Eileen Sung,Professor Yvonne Galligan and Mary Bunting


Former civil servants talk about governing Northern Ireland Eileen Sung and Mary Bunting gave the benefit of their insights on how government works to the Britain and Ireland in Comparative Perspective class. This first year lecture was extremely well attended, and the two speakers, former civil servants, received a very warm welcome from the students. It was organised by module convenor, Professor Yvonne Galligan.

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Former United States Senator, George J. Mitchell, visits PISP

The School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy (PISP) was honoured to host Former US Senator, George Mitchell, for a Q&A session with students on 22nd April. A Democrat, Senator Mitchell served as a United States Senator from 1980 to 1995 and as Senate Majority Leader from 1989 to 1995.

Since retiring, Senator Mitchell has taken up a variety of positions in politics and business. He has taken a leading role in negotiations for peace in Northern Ireland and in the Middle East, specially appointed as the US Envoy for Northern Ireland (1995-2001) and as US Special Envoy for Peace in the Middle East (2009-11). Senator Mitchell was key to the peace agreement of 1998 in Northern Ireland and was the main investigator of the Mitchell Reports into the Cause of the Second Palestinian Intifada (2000-05). Senator Mitchell was Chancellor of QUB from 1999-2009, has served as chairman of Walt Disney (2004-07) and international law firm DLA Piper.
Senator Mitchell is unsurpassed in terms of his commitment as a mediator to resolve conflict and create the environment for peace.

Senator Mitchell visited the University to deliver the annual Harri Holkeri lecture. The title of the Senator’s lecture was ‘Reflections on Brokering Peace in Divided Societies’. Following the lecture, the Senator kindly set time aside to meet with a group of PISP students and answer the questions they had prepared for him on the theme of ‘mediation’.
Video recordings of Senator Mitchell’s talks can be found here.

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New Queen’s app could have surprise in store for Northern Ireland voters

Researchers at Queen’s have come up with a novel user-friendly ‘app’ to help members of the public decide who to vote for in the upcoming general election.

The WhoGetsMyVoteUK app asks voters a range of questions, including some Northern Ireland-specific ones, in order to identify which party most closely matches a voter’s values. It can be accessed on a smartphone, tablet or any other gadget with internet access:

This Northern Ireland Voting Advice Application (VAA) was developed by researchers at the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy (PISP) at Queen's as part of a larger UK-wide project led by researchers at Queen Mary in London.

The Belfast Telegraph is hosting the app and an article in the paper, written by PISP's Dr John Garry and Dr Neil Matthews, may be accessed here 

The app asks voters to answer a series of policy questions, relating to economic and social issues, as well as specific Northern Ireland issues such as flags and parading. Because the app includes questions on issues that do not usually get prominence in Northern Ireland (such as left-right issues or liberal-conservative issues) some voters may be surprised about the party they are closely matched with. 

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PISP Student Selected for Washington Ireland Programme

PISP Student Paul Wyatt WIP 2015

Paul Wyatt is a level two student in the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy. This summer Paul, who is studying for a BA Politics degree, will travel to the USA as part of the prestigious Washington Ireland Program (WIP).

WIP is a six-month program of personal and professional development that brings outstanding university students from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to Washington, DC for summer work placements and leadership training. The program is focused on the values of humility, empathy, respect and integrity and requires practical service at both the beginning and end. Over 400 students have now passed through the program and WIP aspires to see its alumni become the next generation of leaders that will achieve a peaceful, stable and prosperous future for Northern Ireland and Ireland.

The School interviewed Paul about his tremendous achievement and here is what he had to say:

Q. Congratulations on getting onto the programme- the competition is very stiff for places! How did you find the application and interview proces

  • The application form itself was actually pretty simple as WIP keep it quite brief compared to some other application forms I’ve had to fill out. Like you’ve said, there’s so much competition for places that it was a complete privilege to even get through to the interview stage.  Given that, I’d say I put more pressure on myself because it was something I really wanted. Thankfully the interview did go well for me, even if I didn’t think it at the time. If I was to give any future applicants some advice, I would say don’t over-stress or prepare; just be yourself.

Q. What attracted you to the Washington Ireland Programme?

  • Personally it’s because I have a huge passion for politics in Northern Ireland. I believe that the peace process is still in the ‘process’ stage, and we still have a lot of work to do. This fitted in nicely for me, as one of the main aims of WIP is to develop future leaders from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Q. How do you feel that your time here at QUB helped you prepare for applying to WIP this year?

  • If it wasn’t for Queen’s I wouldn’t be on the programme. The network of people I’ve met at Queen’s, who are all willing to help is incredible. I’d also be heavily involved in Queen’s Radio as I was one of the co-founders of ‘The Scoop’, the flagship news and current affairs programme on Queen’s Radio. I’d say that the extracurricular side to university life is hugely important I think, just because there’s so many societies you can get involved with to really find out what it is you love doing.

Q. Do you know where you will be interning this summer? If not, do you have any hopes as to where you will be placed?

  • I haven’t found out yet, however my ideal placement would be something media orientated really. I think interning on Capitol Hill would be incredible too.

Q.What are you most excited about?

  • Being in Washington! I’ve never been to America before and I’ve heard an awful lot about how DC is mega-busy, so I’m looking forward to living amongst such a contrasting culture to the cosmopolitan town of Banbridge…

Q. What do you hope to take away from the summer in DC?

  • That’s a tough question… I struggle with public speaking quite a lot when there’s a big audence, so when I’m in DC I want to challenge myself to tackle that. The Class of 2015 had our orientation weekend recently, and the diverse background of people is really exciting - so learning from my classmates and making long-lasting friendships is on my agenda for sure. 

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Dave Archard appointed Deputy Chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority

Congratulations to PISP's Professor Dave Archard who has been appointed Deputy Chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.

Professor Archard has been a Member since 2005, and is currently Chair of the Authority’s Statutory Approvals Committee also.


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Jake Gutman named 2015 Carnegie Junior Fellow

PISP is delighted to announce that Visiting Research Associate  and University of Pennsylvania graduate Jake Gutman has been named a 2015 Carnegie Junior Fellow, and will serve as a research assistant at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

John Paul “Jake” Gutman is currently a Visiting Research Associate at Queen’s University Belfast where he is conducting research on the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups in the Middle East and North Africa. Under Professor Beverley Milton-Edwards, a leading expert on Islamism and Middle Eastern politics, he has edited and revised the manuscript for her forthcoming book on the Muslim Brotherhood since the Arab Spring.

Gutman is one of ten fellows selected from a national pool of 400 participating US universities this year.  

Additional information about the Carnegie Junior Fellowship program is available at  

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Prof John Barry ECPR Joint Sessions of Workshops 2016 Pisa

Professor John Barry co-directing workshop for the European Consortium on Political Research joint sessions Pisa, Italy, 24-28 April 2016

The workshop is entitled 'Reframing Environmentalism: Environmental Political Theory in the Anthropocene'.

Although climate change has brought about a new awareness of environmental problems, it has also complicated our view of the socio-natural relationship and hence the conversation about the transition away from unsustainability. It has done so by exposing the degree of what may be termed the ‘metabolic exchange’ between society and nature, which is the outcome of a long history of reciprocal influence and human intervention. In this context, the notion of the ‘Anthropocene’ has emerged as an attempt to encompass the human ability to act as a powerful agent of environmental change. Yet we are also re-discovering the extent to which we are ourselves influenced and constrained by the nonhuman environment. If it is increasingly difficult to distinguish between society and nature, arguing that the achievement of sustainability can be achieved by humans retreating from the natural world also becomes untenable. Thus, a number of questions arise:

  • How is environmental political theory responding to the challenge of the Anthropocene? 
  • And how should it actually respond? 
  • Are the premises of classical environmentalism still valid? 
  • What is involved in the project of naturalistic ethics after the end of nature? 
  • What about the new salience of justice? 
  • Is there room for understanding between a reformist environmentalism and a more radical strand that seeks post-capitalistic solutions to climate change?

The advent of climate change has already transformed and challenged environmentalism in its far-reaching consequences for the analysis, values, motivations etc. upon which it is based. This workshop will try to elucidate whether a new, ‘fourth-wave’ environmentalism is emerging, entailing the end of environmentalism as we knew it – or whether the news of the death of environmentalism is exaggerated.

More Details here

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Cross Currents in British and Irish Working Class Life a collaborative engagement event 22nd May

A Day of Talks, Topical Debate, Performance and Song
The Cross-Currents in British and Irish Working Class Life Interdisciplinary Research Group are pleased to announce a collaborative engagement event, which will be held on Friday 22nd May, at the Brian Friel Theatre, Queen's University Belfast. 
This is a full day event, with a broad range of disciplines and research areas represented by the range of speakers and exhibitors, outlined below.  The conference is supported by QUB's Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities, and is the continuation of a successful year of public-academic engagement activities, which seek to pose, and interrogate, new research questions relating to working class history, politics, culture, literature and music.
The project, headed by Professor Graham Walker, School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy at QUB, has sought to transcend the boundaries imposed by traditional, academic disciplinary categories, in order to effectively address research agendas on British and Irish working class life.  In addition, the project aims to move the knowledge produced by universities into public spaces, where it can have most significant impact.
A full conference programme will be made available shortly. Given the quality and range of the speakers, we anticipate that this event will be extremely well-attended, and so advise those interested in attending to register their interest with Sophie Long via email (

List of Speakers

  • Dr. Lisa McKenzie: Department of Sociology, London School of Economics: Exploring some of the issues raised in her recent book 'Getting By: Estates, Class and Culture in Austerity Britain' (Policy Press 2015).
  • Dr. Donal O Drisceoil: School of History, University College Cork: Addressing questions on labour and class history, in Ireland.
  • Chris Burgess: Curator of Collections and Exhibitions, People's History Museum Manchester: Discussing the challenges surrounding the preservation of working class history.
  • Dr. Sean O'Connell: School of History and Anthropology, Queen's University Belfast: Professor of Modern British Social History: Presenting research on oral history and its nuances.
  • Mike Morris, Co-Director of Merseyside Writing on the Wall, a community-based organisation which celebrates writing in all its forms: 'George Garrett: Seaman, Syndicalist and Scribe'.Professor Phil Scraton: School of Law, Queen's University Belfast
  • Ciara Hickey: Curator and Gallery Manager, Belfast Exposed. Speaking about the work of Belfast Exposed and showing a film currently on display at Belfast Exposed.

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The twilight of Empire -Ireland and Britain 1915 Margaret O'Callaghan

Dr Margaret O’ Callaghan,  author of seminal  works on Roger Casement, Tom Kettle, and British government policy towards Ireland -discusses Ireland and Britain in the context of Empire on the eve of the 1916 Easter Rising. 
Monday 6 April 
BEFORE THE RISING – Panel discussion hosted by David McCullagh, RTÉ
Prof. Ronan Fanning, Historian and Author.
Dr. Conor Mulvagh, UCD.
Dr Margaret O’Callaghan, QUB.
Prof. Alan Titley, UCC.
Dr. Maurice Manning, NUI.
Full Programme details

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MSc in Public Policy Launch

Queen’s University Belfast launched a new MSc programme in Public Policy this month at Riddel Hall. The MSc in Public Policy, which is a part-time offering, will see its first intake commence in September 2015.

The programme is designed for mid-career civil and public servants who wish to prepare for senior leadership roles within their organisation. Taught over two years, this multi-disciplinary programme is focused on the development of professional knowledge, personal leadership and skills. The programme is based on the idea of public service as a distinctive and professional activity, which makes a vital contribution to the quality of democratic governance that must be continually improved.

Dr Muiris MacCarthaigh, programme director for the MSc, noted: Cutbacks have been the ‘new norm’ for governments across the OECD states for a number of years and Northern Ireland is now heading into a period for year on year retrenchment. The civil and public service must use this time to invest in developing new skills and capacities for its future leaders in order to make better public policy decisions, improve the quality of services and create a public service that facilitates and accelerates a return to growth and development.’

For further details on the programme please contact the MSc team at or visit the website at  

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