Tag Archives: University of Limerick

A University of Limerick (UL) Christmas Story.

Sheena Doyle writes:

With over 3,000 international students from 107 countries studying at UL every year and 600 UL students spending semesters attending universities around the world, this year’s message is one to which many students past and present can relate: “Wherever you have been, it’s always good to come home”.

What makes the project special is that all storyboarding, filming, editing, vocals, arrangement, sound engineering, directing, and acting was carried out by UL students over the past few months.

In fairness.

University of Limerick (Facebook)

UL Student Life tweetz:

Is Direct Provision Apart Of Ireland 2040?

Our Student Officers organised a silent demonstration against the direct provision system today to greet An Taoiseach @leovaradkar & Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform @Paschald

Students wore duct tape on their mouths to symbolise those that live in direct provision’s fear in speaking up in case it would negatively affect their asylum application.

Meanwhile, inside the university…

Junior Housing Minister Damien English’s planned speech can be read here

Yesterday: You Are Cordially Invited

From top: Eileen O’Riordan (centre) with two members of The Cranberries Mike Hogan and Noel Hogan at the University of Limerick; honorary cap and gown for the late Dolores O’Riordan 

This afternoon.

At the University of Limerick.

The university conferred Honorary Doctorates of Letters on the band members of The Cranberries.

Guitarist and songwriter Noel Hogan, bassist Mike Hogan and drummer Fergal Lawler were all presented with the doctorates while Eileen O’Riordan, mother of the late singer Dolores O’Riordan, was presented with a posthumous Honorary Doctorate of Letters for her daughter.

Speaking at the ceremony, University of Limerick president Dr Des Fitzgerald said:

UL had initially planned to present these doctorates to The Cranberries in April 2017, however promotional and rehearsal commitments prevented the band from being available to accept the honour at that stage.

“It is with very sad regret that since that time the world and more importantly her family and band mates have lost Dolores O’Riordan and her incredible voice.

We very much appreciate her family’s presence here today and particularly her mother Eileen who is accepting this Honorary Doctorate on Dolores’ behalf.”

Thanks Sheena Doyle

Dr Sindy Joyce with her doctorate at the University of Limerick yesterday


At the University of Limerick.

Dr Sindy Joyce became the first member of the Traveller community in Ireland to receive a PhD.

The university spoke to Dr Joyce after her graduation…

Dr Sindy Joyce (Academia.edu)

Dr Sindy Joyce

From top: University of Limerick; Aramark logo; students protesting at UL

This morning.

On RTÉ One’s Today with Seán O’Rourke.

Journalist Brian O’Connell reported on a campaign by some students at the University of Limerick calling on others to boycott the catering services of Aramark on the college’s campus.

Aramark is a food and facilities management firm and provides services at three of Ireland’s 32 direct provision centres.

Similar campaigns have been taking place in University College Dublin and  Trinity College Dublin.

University of Limerick is what’s known as a “sanctuary” university as it provides places to 23 students who live in direct provision centres free of charge.

Ciara ‘Jo’ Hanlon, student president in UL, told Mr O’Connell:

“We’ve written to the president of the university Des Fitzgerald. And we have a meeting set up where we will go and discuss with him direct provision and the Aramark contract.

“And we’re going to start trying to do boycotts around campus, just to highlight Aramark’s involvement in these direct provision centres across the country.”

Mr O’Connell asked Ms Hanlon about a leaflet which Aramark recently handed out to students in UL – in which Aramark defended its involvement in direct provision.

Mr O’Connell explained that the leaflet states direct provision is Government policy and Aramark has no say in the establishment of the system or the asylum application process.

Ms Hanlon responded:

“As it is said on paper, this seems like a perfect argument and I’ve been made aware that the same sheet of paper, these same facts, have been released to Trinity.

“So it’s true to say that Aramark do profit from students but it’s not to say that they’re immune from scrutiny. Of course students go and look at other aspects of their business and one of those being that they’re profiting from these direct provision centres.

“And we, as I said, we have 23 students, sanctuary students, who live in these direct provision centres, here on UL campus.

“The primary aim would be if Aramark would reverse its policy or, if not, to remove them off our campus.

“Now, as I say, I’ve brought this to the attention of Des Fitzgerald. We’ve yet to have a meeting with him. I do think once we start raising awareness, we will garner an awful lot of support around the campus.”

“I’d love if Aramark actually came to the university and sat down with some of our sanctuary students and talked to them about their own personal experiences of direct provision.

“As I said, it looks very good on paper but when you hear these stories coming from people who are living in these centres, it’s completely different.”

University of Limerick students ‘undeterred’ in direct provision campaign (Jess Casey, Limerick Leader)

Listen back here in full


Gemma O’Doherty at the University of Limerick last week


The opening address at last week’s Journalism In Times Of Crisis conference at the University of Limerick was given by Gemma O’Doherty.

Gemma was fired from the Irish Independent while investigating the quashing of then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan’s penalty points.

Gemma told the conference:

“I’d like to thank Henry Silke and University of Limerick for organising and hosting this important conference. Reporters who work at the coalface of investigative journalism in Ireland need the support of our colleagues in academia, especially when it is so lacking within the media itself.

These are very difficult times for journalism in Ireland.

Those of us who investigate corruption in public office make ourselves and our sources extremely vulnerable to those in power who would intimidate us, monitor our activities, threaten our safety and try to silence us.

In return, we receive almost no support.

We work in an era where a culture of fear and timidity stalks many of our newsrooms. It has bred a generation of journalists who behave less like dogged agents of the public interest and more like compliant diplomats and spin doctors constantly looking over their shoulders and towing the party line.

They have forgotten or chose to ignore the true function of our still noble vocation: to hold power to account, to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, to defend the public’s right to know, to seek the truth and report it.

In this new media landscape where many Irish journalists can no longer do their job without fear or favour, the greatest loser is democracy. A robust, independent, adversarial press is the lifeblood of a functioning democracy and a free society.

In Ireland in 2016, we have nothing close to that.

When Enda Kenny came to power in 2011, he promised a new era of integrity, accountability and transparency. But as a journalist, when you ask questions of a state press office, you hit a brick wall, more often than not.

I would argue that press freedom and the ability of the media to hold power to account is more compromised today than at any other time in the history of the state.

This has no doubt contributed significantly to the crises we have in policing, health, housing and water services.

This new era of cowering journalism has come about largely, but not only, because so much of the media has been allowed to fall into the hands of so few.

The fact that many of us now refer to the biggest owner of Irish media as ‘Redacted’ speaks volumes. One big voice has far too much power and prominence in our small country.

Not all media moguls exert the chilling effect that some do over their newsrooms. I spent most of my 17-year career at INM working for Tony O’Reilly. He invested in decent journalism and good writers. He understood newspapers, and while he was not perfect, by and large he left editors to get on with it.

And then there is Denis O’Brien.

Denis O’Brien, who attempted to bring in a so-called journalists’ charter that challenged the right and duty of reporters to engage in adversarial journalism.

Denis O’Brien who was reported to the United Nations for making legal threats against journalists.

Denis O’Brien who last year managed to silence most of the Irish media from reporting a speech in our parliament.

Denis O’Brien who threatened to sue a website whose sole purpose is to engage in satire, that most precious form of free speech.

Is it healthy for democracy that someone who takes such an interest in silencing our right to speak be in control of so much of our media? I don’t think so.

I don’t make any distinction any longer between RTÉ and the O’Brien-owned media. If anything, I would hold more disdain for the state broadcaster because it is failing its public service remit so blatantly and really does deserve the name it is more commonly known as on social media: ‘RTEBIAS’.

It seems to disregard the fact that it is accountable to the public who pays so that it may exist.

There are so many examples of this, it has almost become the rule rather than the exception.

We saw it in its often farcical coverage of the general election which undoubtedly affected the final poll; in its bizarre reporting of the Mairia Cahill case, Slab Murphy and the Special Criminal Court; in its failure to cover allegations about Finance Minister Michael Noonan and his role in the foster care scandal; in its refusal to cover cases of gross corruption in our garda force including the cover-up of children’s murders.

There is no doubt that a culture of institutionalised complacency now dominates RTÉ where some presenters earn more than David Cameron and Barack Obama, and certain journalists see themselves as celebrities, appearing on the cover of Hello-style magazines and red carpets in designer dresses.

When they are not interviewing each other, they’re rolling out the same clique of voices and seeking to rehabilitate people who’ve been disgraced in the public eye.

At the time of my firing, I was immersed in many stories about corruption and wrongdoing in the criminal justice system. I was working with bereaved families whose loved ones had been killed in violent circumstances.

These families were alleging grave wrongdoing in the gardai but when they approached certain journalists in establishment outlets, they said their cases were not being taken on board and they got the cold shoulder.

In most cases, their stories were compelling but the families were left with a sense of abandonment that the very people who should have given them support failed them.

In doing so, they also failed the public interest.

One of the cases I’m investigating is that of Mary Boyle.

Ireland’s youngest and longest missing person was six when she was murdered during a visit to her grandparents’ remote farm in Donegal in 1977.

The authorities have failed to bring the chief suspect to justice amid allegations of garda corruption and political interference in the case.

In March, her twin sister Ann and I visited the US Congress to lobby for justice for her as that door has been firmly shut here.

Despite countless requests to RTÉ to cover this important visit, they refused to inform the public about it over the airwaves.

Was this out of fear that it might bring the Phoenix Park into disrepute and shine a light on corruption in the gardai? One has to wonder.

So what is the effect of an obedient, cowardly media on society?

Joseph Pulitzer once said that a cynical, mercenary press would in time produce a people as base at itself.

There has certainly been an attempt by some segments of the media to dumb down the population, and when citizens start to challenge authority and engage in dissent, they refuse to report those challenges fairly.

A vivid example of that has been the bizarre coverage of the Irish Water movement and the so-called ‘sinister fringe’.

[This] week, a journalism conference in Kerry will be opened by Noirin O’Sullivan who has presided over a litany of scandals in her time as Garda Commissioner. Joan Burton and Frances Fitzgerald are among the other speakers. That really says it all.

We need to smash the cosy cartel that exists between the press, power and the police in this country because it is so damaging to the public good.

I would like to mention some notable exceptions in the Irish media who do try to prioritise the interests of democracy in their journalism: The Sunday TimesIrish Examiner, Irish Daily Mail and Irish Times, and, of course Broadsheet and Phoenix.

But trust in media is understandably on the wane because the public know that so many of the issues that matter most to them are being skewed or ignored.

However, there is a bright side to all of this. This is a very exciting time to be a journalist.

As many traditional newsrooms become more focused on protecting plummeting revenues and their friends in power, investigative journalists are finding new ways to tell stories and release information and high quality content into the public domain by cutting out the middle man.

The internet has been our greatest resource in this regard.

In my own area – corruption in the criminal justice system – we have seen how documentaries like ‘Making A Murderer’ can have such a huge impact and do a lot of public good in the process.

Publicly-funded investigative websites are beginning to challenge old media where editors hold off running stories for fear of upsetting the establishment and denying the public their right to know.

Here in Ireland, a team of our finest investigative reporters have set up a new website called Righttoknow.ie to push for transparency and accountability in public life.

We must embrace this change and realise it is for the betterment of our profession and society.

But we also need to start looking at our media colleagues and asking how the journalists of the future will protect the public interest. Will they be boat-rockers who challenge authority and dig until they get answers? Will they have the tenacious rat-like cunning that proper editors once demanded of their reporters? Will they chase yarns as if their lives depended on it?

Hopefully all of the above but it is the job of our universities to nurture those characteristics in them.

I’ll finish with the words of Joe Mathews, a former reporter with the LA Times, when he spoke about how the public interest was so endangered by the crisis in journalism.

‘Much of the carnage of the ongoing media industry cannot be measured or seen. Corruption undiscovered. Events not witnessed. Tips about problems that never reach anyone’s ears because the ears have left the newsroom. With fewer watchdogs, you get less barking. How can we know what we will never know?’

Our profession is on its knees, but it is worth fighting for. We have a duty to fight for it. We need to stand up for courageous journalism whose primary focus is the public interest.

We need to read it, to buy it, to support it, because without it, the health of our democracy will remain in terminal decline.”

Previously: Meanwhile In Limerick

Are You A Journalist?

Women in media conference (sponsored by The Irish Times, April 15 – 17)


This morning.

University of Limerick.

Investigative journalist Gemma O’Doherty (top) and Bryan Dobson (above) address the Journalism In Crisis conference.

More as we get it.

Some contributions:

 “The water charges have been mentioned on a regular basis – everyone thinks the media is out to get them. Everyone thinks that particularly in a campaign that the media are not on their side, they’re on the other side. And what I would say is, I don’t accept the characterisation of RTÉ as RTÊ bias, number one, and secondly, if you’re acting as a lobbyist for a cause that I believe in on the left, that’s no more valid, as a journalist, than acting for a cause on the right. Journalists’ challenge is, yes, to comfort the afflicted, but to do that as a journalist.”

Seamus Dooley, National Union of Journalists

“It’s a very dangerous time to be a whistleblower, you do take serious risks… I had to laugh recently at these claims that were made by certain journalists that their lives were at risk. I mean that story, after the shootings at the Airpot hotel in Santry. You know the spin put on that was just so ridiculous, it was laughable. Journalists who work for the guards, their lives are not at danger, journalists who are exposing corruption within the gardaí are putting their lives in danger, and that might sound truly shocking and neurotic to most people here but, believe me, walk in my shoes – that is the truth and we have no support.”

Gemma O’Doherty

More as we get it.

Pics: Olga