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2006/07 News

30/08/2007: History of Psychiatry (Ireland) Seminar

This seminar/workshop is an 'experts meeting', involving academics engaged in research on different aspects of the history of mental health services in Ireland. It runs from Thursday 30th August to Friday 31st August. The major funder is the Wellcome Trust, as part of its series of specialist seminars in the history of medicine. This funding is being supplemented by the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, which hosts the seminar.

Participants include academics from sociology, history, psychiatry, social policy and Irish studies, from universities in Ireland, England, Scotland and Australia. The aims of the seminar are:

  1. To give an impetus to research on the history of mental health services in Ireland (including medical, legal, social and economic aspects of the provision of services) by bringing together people engaged in research in this field.
  2. To initiate a research network in this specialist field, in order to facilitate future communication and collaboration in carrying out research and in the dissemination of research findings.
  3. To plan a publication in the field, in particular an edited collection of articles from participants and other interested parties.

This seminar is open to invited guests only, but a future conference on this topic will be open to the public . For information on the seminar and on forthcoming events and publications please feel free to contact either Pauline or Grace.

Academic Facilitator:               Dr Pauline Prior 

Seminar Administrator:            Grace Kelly       

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06/07/2007: Graduation reception

In order to celebrate the recent graduation successes, and to acknowledge the achievements of all our new graduands, the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work is hosting a graduation reception on Friday 6th July. Graduands, along with their families and friends, are invited to attend the event which is being hosted in G.26, 6 College Park, at 2.15pm, prior to the University Garden Party. The Brian Rankin and Lockheed prizes will be awarded at the reception.

We look forward to seeing you all there!

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06/07/2007: Queen's Sociologists Share £3.2 million ESRC Grant to Study Divided Cities

Queen's University researchers have been awarded a £1.1 million grant to study divided world cities including Belfast.

The Economic and Social Research Centre has announced the award of a five-year £3.2 million grant to study divided cities of which £1.1m will come to Queens. The Queens' team led by Professor Liam O'Dowd, School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, and James Anderson, now emeritus professor of political geography, share a multi-disciplinary project that also involves the universities of Cambridge and Exeter.

Entitled Conflict in Cities in the Contested State: Everyday Life and the Possibilities of Transformation in Belfast, Jerusalem and Other Divided Cities, the project has attracted six PhD studentships, three funded by the ESRC and one funded by each of the universities involved.  While the core research sites are Belfast and Jerusalem, the PhD students will research other divided cities including Nicosia, Mostar, Berlin, Beirut and Kirkuk.  The project will involve an international network of academic experts associated with each of the research sites, an international Advisory Committee, chaired by Professor Allan Cochrane of the Open University, and a User Exchange Forum designed to involve policy makers in the research process.  Organisations such as Northern Ireland's Community Relations Council and the Equality Commission will be involved as members of the  international advisory and user committees.

The project is led by Dr Wendy Pullan, Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge with co-investigators Professor Michael Dumper, Department of Politics, University of Exeter, and Professors Anderson and O'Dowd at Queens.  A modular research strategy will be adopted to compare and contrast the two main research sites: Belfast and Jerusalem.

A large project research team at Queen's will include three other members of the Social Divisions and Social Conflict research cluster directed by Professor O'Dowd.  Professor Madeleine Leonard will study the peace lines and young people in Belfast, Dr Claire Mitchell will look at religion and the city in Belfast and Dr Lisa Smyth will examine gender public space in the city centre. Professors O'Dowd and Anderson will oversee  the research and undertake studies of  the restructuring and reconstruction of Belfast over the last forty years and explore examples of conflict management and conflict resolution. Dr Ian Shuttleworth and Dr Chris Lloyd of the School of Geography will study patterns of segregation and mixing and the changing physical shape of the city.  The Belfast team will be completed by two postdoctoral Research Associates to be attached to the project and two PhD students who will examine one or more of  the other divided cities covered by the project.

Working at the interface between architecture, geography, political science and sociology, the project will explore how ethnic, national and territorial conflicts materialize in everyday city life, in processes of  ethnic and religious segregation, in physical barriers and peacelines, and in attempts at conflict management and resolution.

Questions posed will include how the viability of cities in contested states is threatened by deep-seated conflicts but also how everyday life may contain the potential to ameliorate or   transform them.  Locally, the Queens' research will help reveal the extent to which  recent political accommodation in Northern Ireland will be expressed at street level in Belfast over the next five years and what lessons can be shared with other divided cities at different stages of ethnic and national conflict.

The new study will significantly enhance the international profile of social science research at Queens.  In 2011, the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work will host a major international conference on Everyday Life in Divided Cities.   The project also builds on a strong tradition of externally funded research on borders, cities, social divisions and social conflict at the University.


Over the last eight years Professors O'Dowd and Anderson have helped forge research links between sociology and geography and other disciplines at Queen's through the Centre for International Borders Research (CIBR) [].  Major externally funded projects have included the Mapping Frontiers project  (2004-6) funded by the Higher Education Authority which linked over forty researchers in University College Dublin and Queen's in studying cross-border relationships in Ireland  Professor O'Dowd  and Anderson also currently represent CIBR's participation in a  EU Sixth Framework Project, EUDimensions, studying co-operation across the external borders of the EU between civil society organizations.

In Geography, the work of Professor Anderson and Dr Ian Shuttleworth in  The Centre for Spatial Territorial Analysis and Research (,  has previously included ESRC- funded research on population and segregation in Belfast.  From 2003,  Professor Anderson  forged links with Pullan at Cambridge and Dumper at Exeter in  two successive research projects funded by the  ESRC's New Security Challenges Programme including one on 'Architecture and Urban Order in Jerusalem'.  The current more broadly conceived project  builds directly on this research and on ongoing research in Belfast. Its modular structure will allow for Belfast-Jerusalem comparisons of the nature and impact of  Belfast peacelines and the Jerusalem ' Separation Wall', and of how religious, class, gender and generational divisions find expression in urban form and public space. 

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04/07/2007: Suicide report published

The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety today publishes 'The Trouble with Suicide', by Mike Tomlinson of the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work at Queen's University.  The report was  commissioned by the Department as part of the implementation of the Northern Ireland Suicide Prevention Strategy, "Protect Life - A Shared Vision"

'The Trouble with Suicide' reviews the evidence on the effects of the conflict on the mental health and emotional wellbeing of the people of  Northern Ireland. The report focussed particularly on the impact of the troubles on the local suicides rates.

The Health Minster, Michael McGimpsey, has copied  the report ' to the Suicide Strategy Implementation Body for consideration.

The report generally concluded that the conflict shaped suicide in significant ways, and its legacy continues to influence the challenge of reducing suicide in the future.

Main findings include:-

  • People in Northern Ireland report higher happiness levels than in many parts of Europe and further afield, yet this sits along side high levels of unhappiness and psychological distress.
  • Conflict related trauma can have long term physical and mental consequences, and suicide rates have been associated with immediate and longer term consequences on conflict.
  • Research shows that people who live in an area heavily affected by violence tend to have very high rates of depression.
  • The troubles affected the way suicide was reported and recorded, and limited public recognition of suicide and self-harming as serious public issues.
  • During the transition to peace, people are more willing to report depression etc.

Michael McGimpsey commented, "Suicide is an increasing problem in Northern Ireland, especially amongst our young people.  I am committed to tackling this problem and giving it the attention it deserves.

"Understanding the underlying causes of why someone takes their own live is of paramount importance.  I believe this report will be extremely useful in helping us to begin to unravel "the effects of the troubles" on the mental health of the people of Northern Ireland.  In particular, it highlights a number of areas that will require further research. In the future it will  help us better target suicide prevention and mental health promotion measures."

Among the fourteen areas identified for further research are:-

  • How suicide relates to a neighbourhood's characteristics, and the broader evidence of social change.
  • More work with those bereaved by suicide to further explore "contagion" and imitation of suicide.
  • A greater understanding of how young people use communication and other media is essential if young people are to be engaged in relation to suicide awareness and prevention, and mental health and well being more broadly.  

The Minister continued, "I have recently announced the establishment of a new Mental Health and Learning Disability Board who I have asked to look at the underlying causes of suicide as a matter of priority.  I would hope that the areas highlighted for future research will help guide the Board in exploring this extremely complex issue."

The "Trouble with Suicide" literature review is available at

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28/06/2007: Ruane targets bullying in schools
Ruane targets school bullies
Ruane targets school bullies

Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane, today spoke of the challenge that bullying in schools posed to society.

She was speaking as she received a research report into the nature and extent of bullying within our schools, which was undertaken by the University of Ulster. The research revealed that 43% of primary school children and 29% of post-primary perceive that they have been bullied at least once.

The Minister commented: "Bullying is unacceptable in our schools and I am committed to tackling this issue head-on.

"Mental health problems are one of the most obvious consequences of bullying and can have terrible repercussions.

"Our children need to feel safe and secure in their school environment. This research provides us with further insight into the nature and extent of bullying in our schools and will help us in our efforts to tackle this problem.
"In light of the report's recommendations, my Department will survey all schools' anti-bullying policies to ensure a consistent approach. By September, an independent counselling service will be available to all post-primary schools in the north, allowing pupils to speak to a trained counsellor about their concerns or fears. We are currently examining the possibility of extending this service to primary and special schools.

"I also believe that we should listen to our young people and provide them with the opportunity to have their say on this important issue."

The research also found that, in both primary and post-primary schools, 22% of pupils admitted acting as 'the bully' at one time or another, with the most common form of bullying being name-calling, mockery and teasing. Boys tended to be the victims and perpetrators of physical bullying, whereas girls were more inclined to bully through exclusion.

In conclusion, the Minister said: "Our society and our schools are growing more diverse everyday and we need to teach our children the importance of respect for the equal rights of all children in our society. Tackling the scourge of bullying is fundamental in winning this battle."

The report is called 'The Nature and Extent of Bullying in schools in the North of Ireland'. The Research Briefing can be accessed at:

The Research Report can be accessed at:


  1. The research report was commissioned by the Department of Education and undertaken by a team of researchers from the University of Ulster, headed by Professor Gerard McAleavy.
  2. The research surveyed 993 pupils in Year 6 and 1,319 pupils in Year 9. The results were compared to a previous research study published by the Department in October 2002 "Bullying in Schools: A Northern Ireland Study", in order to identify changes or trends. The new research differed slightly in that it concentrated on the pupil perspective with particular reference to pupil age, gender, religion, ethnicity and disability.
  3. For further Press or Media enquiries, please contact the Department of Education Press Office on 028 9127 9207 or email
  4. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.

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23/06/2007: Memorial for Prof Eithne McLaughlin

A Celebration of the life of Prof Eithne McLaughlin will be held on Saturday 23rd June at 11am in Elmwood Hall, University Road Belfast.

If you would like any further information please contact Janet Trewsdale at

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14/06/2007: Review of water and sewerage services: appointment of independent panel

Regional Development Minister, Conor Murphy, announced today that Professor Paddy Hillyard would chair the independent review panel to consider the future of water and sewerage services.

Panel members will comprise Joan Whiteside and Charles Coulthard. An additional appointment may be considered.

Since January 2005 Professor Hillyard has held the chair of Sociology at Queens University, Belfast. Previously, he has worked in the University of Ulster and in 1976 began at University of Bristol. Following the establishment of the new School of Policy Studies in 1995, he became
Director of the Centre for Research on Social Exclusion and Social Justice. Professor Hillyard moved back to Ireland in 1999 and took up the Chair in Social Policy at the University of Ulster.

Charles Coulthard retired recently as Managing Director of Gas and Electricity Regulation in Scotland. He served as Deputy Director of the Office for the Regulation of Electricity and Gas in Northern Irelandbetween 1992 and 1999. He is Chair of the Gas and Electricity Consumers Council in Scotland.

Mrs Joan Whiteside OBE was Chair of the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland from 1997 to 2002. Between 1992 and 1997 she acted as the first chair of the NI Consumer Committee for Electricity. Until September 2006 Mrs Whiteside was a non-executive director of the NI Authority for Energy Regulation.


For more information on Professor Hillyard go to

Media queries to: Anne Armstrong, Press Office, Department for Regional Development, Tel 028 9054 0004.

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03/05/2007: Evaluating research performance in Economics and Social Sciences
Professor Mary Daly is leading a Royal Irish Academy discussion on the evaluation of research performance. The Academy's Social Sciences Committee is holding the half-day event on Thursday 3 May from 1.30pm - 5.10pm. Details of speakers and issues can be found here.

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17/04/2007: Daily cannabis use reported by NI teenagers

Link to the Research and Development Office Principal funders of the BYDS Project  BYDS research shows daily cannabis use reported by NI teenagers.

Fourteen and fifteen year olds in Northern Ireland are using cannabis daily a study has found.

Research from Queen's University Belfast has found that one in ten school children who had reported using cannabis at least once had now become daily users.

Dr Patrick McCrystal, Senior Research Fellow, said: "Whilst the numbers in our study who told us they were using cannabis each day may seem small, these young people are telling us that by the age of 15 they have moved beyond experimental or recreational use of an illegal drug to more sustained usage."

Those reporting high levels of cannabis use were also more likely to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol regularly as well as use other illegal drugs. Approximately one in six of these users also reported abusing solvents on a weekly basis and nearly one third used ecstasy each week. The frequent cannabis users were responsible for almost all use of ‘hard' drugs like cocaine.

The Youth Development Study (YDS), being carried out by Queen's Institute of Child Care Research, is a longitudinal study of adolescent drug use. Some 4,000 teenagers covering 43 schools in Belfast, Ballymena and Downpatrick have taken part each year since they entered secondary education making it one of the largest schools-based surveys of its kind.

The research found that 70 percent of the frequent users were male. Nearly two-thirds of all the users belonged to the lowest socio-economic groups, were more likely to live within a disrupted family with just one parent, have poor levels of communication with parents or guardians, and had low levels of motivation to do well at school.

Dr McCrystal continued: "The findings tell us that the school children who use cannabis each day are placing themselves at an increased risk to drug related social and health problems now and in the future. These young people appear to have moved beyond what we consider traditional teenage lifestyles to one that includes regular use of illegal drugs as well as frequent tobacco and alcohol consumption.  They are more likely to spend their evenings away from the family home, have poor levels of communication with their families, and be disaffected with school."

The study further indicates high levels of delinquency and antisocial behaviour by daily users which may have become part of their 'lifestyle activities'. Of these teenagers, a quarter reported being in trouble with the police on more than 10 occasions and nearly one-fifth had been summoned to court during the twelve month period prior to the survey.

Dr McCrystal said: "The lifestyle activities of the high level users may provide valuable insights for education and prevention strategies for the future. The opportunity should be taken now to identify as many of these young people as possible and as early as we can.  Our research provides examples of the type of information that is now needed to do this and to develop support strategies to meet their needs.

"Also, as we continue with our research into the lifestyles of these young people we may be able to determine more specifically the activities associated with their drug use, and in doing so also more fully understand how drug use is shaped by lifestyle, and conversely, how drug use reshapes lifestyle."

For further information, please contact Sarah Williams on 028 9097 5391.

Notes for Editors:

Dr McCrystal's paper has been published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence and can be found at the Drug and Alcohol Dependence web page via

These findings are part of a longitudinal study into the drug use behaviours of approximately 4,000 young people attending schools in Northern Ireland. It is being undertaken by the Institute of Child Care Research at Queen's University Belfast and forms part of the Belfast Youth Development Study. The young people completed a questionnaire each year in school from ages 11-16.

The study is funded by the Link to the Research and Development Office Principal funders of the BYDS Project

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30/03/2007: Blowing the lid on the US War on Terror

Former CIA Agent, Philip Agee, talks about his experiences in Latin America as an undercover agent. A screening of a documentary film by Bernie Dwyer and Roberto Ruiz entitled 'One man's story: Philip agee, Cuba and the CIA' will be followed by a discussion chaired by Professor Denis O'Hearn. Venue: Room 209, Peter Froggatt Centre, Queen's University Belfast, Friday, 30 March 2007 at 1.00pm. Sponsored by: Free the Miami Five Campaign, Centre for Global Education & Cuba Support Group Ireland. Everyone welcome and admission is free.

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Professor Eithne McLaughlin

The School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work is deeply saddened to announce the death of the Professor of Social Policy, Eithne McLaughlin. Her funeral took place on Friday 30th March at St Malachy's Church, Belfast.

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02/03/2007: New appointments

The School welcomes the appointment of a number of new members of staff. Surin Sung joins the School as a lecturer in Social Policy, having previously been employed in the Department of Social Policy and Social Work at the University of Oxford. Her research interests include gender and social policy, gender and employment, work-life balance priorities, care workforce, gender and benefits, and East Asian Welfare State.

Max Koch has been appointed as a lecturer in Social Work, and joins the School from the University of Ulster. Having had experience of teaching in Germany, Sweden, and the UK, Max has published in the fields of political economy, sociological theory, industrial relations, and comparative labour market and welfare analysis.

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