BOOK LAUNCH – ASSISTANT PROFESSOR SUSAN P. MURPHY

Responsibility In An Interconnected World: International Assistance, Duty And Action In Springer Studies In Global Justice (2016) – http://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-319-31445-7.

This monograph opens with an examination of the aid industry and the claims of leading practitioners that the industry is experiencing a crisis of confidence due to an absence of clear moral guidelines. The book then undertakes a critical review of the leading philosophical accounts of the duty to aid, including the narrow, instructive accounts in the writings of John Rawls and Peter Singer, and broad, disruptive accounts in the writings of Onora O’Neill and Amartya Sen. Through an elaboration of the elements of interconnection, responsible action, inclusive engagement, and accumulative duties, the comparative approach developed in the book has the potential to overcome the philosophical tensions between the accounts and provide guidance to aid practitioners, donors and recipients in the complex contemporary circumstances of assistance.

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Assistant Professor Susan Murphy (centre) with Professor Iseult Honohan of University College Dublin (left) and Professor Deen Chatterjee (S.J.Quinney College of Law; Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs; and Oxford Human Rights Consortium).

The book

  • Examines the interplay between different types of moral obligation within the complicated, contemporary circumstances of international assistance
  • Uses case studies focusing on some of the most complex and troubled regions of the world to links theory to practice
  • Develops a practical framework to guide actions and evaluate outcomes in complex and uncertain circumstances

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Professor Deen Chatterjee launching the book.

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Professor Iseult Honohan (centre) giving remarks.

THE URBAN – RURAL DIVIDE IN IRELAND BY MARK O’SULLIVAN

I am a person from County Clare who, like many, has made the move to our nation’s capital. I have a unique viewpoint on the differences between urban and rural Ireland and I have witnessed first-hand, the division of these two communities. I will discuss what divides us and how government policy reflects this.

It is clear from the lack of media coverage that rural communities have been hit hardest by the financial crisis. Services have been decimated along with increased unemployment and emigration of young people with 80,900 people leaving the country in the year to April 2013 (http://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/er/pme/populationandmigrationestimatesapril2015/). We have flocked to urban centres for education, a career and a means to sustain a good quality of life. The lack of jobs and investment have led to the decay of rural Ireland. In contrast, urban areas enjoy jobs, wealth and diversity. I believe that the lack of investment and the prioritisation of Dublin over rural areas are the cause of the divide. In the UK, the government has plans to invest in the north of England to create a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ which is being proposed to attract investment and to counteract the dominance of London in the UK economy (www.bbc.com/news/magazine-32720462). We can learn from our neighbours and implement the same strategy along our western seaboard. Can we bridge the divide and unite together to form a stronger and more equal Ireland?

Post offices and family run businesses define villages across the country, but, are under threat due to lack of investment in the community. The disintegration of communities in rural areas is highlighted in this link (http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/rural-post-offices-under-a-new-threat-34889711.html). The main streets of every major town in Ireland have empty premises leading to the demoralisation of the local population (www.midwestradio.ie/index.php/news/19279-25-vacant-premises-on-castlebar-s-main-street-at-present-according-to-local-councillor). In contrast, both Henry and Grafton Streets in Dublin have near full occupancy, along with high levels of trade.

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Flooding is a major issue for both businesses and houses in rural Ireland, especially on the River Shannon and River Lee. Flood defences are not being provided (http://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/flood-hit-cork-expecting-more-with-high-tides-as-business-owners-slam-lack-of-flood-defences-729052.html). Investment in rural Ireland can be seen as a nuisance as there is not enough people living there for it to be financially viable leaving rural homes and farmland to flood while defences are put in place in urban areas like Ennis, Co. Clare. All areas should be protected as they provide either a home or a job for somebody and leaving anybody without these two essentials puts an unnecessary and avoidable strain on the state.

We are a nation divided by inherent localism. Some rural TDs believe that rural Ireland is being left behind by the capital for instance in the lack of investment in transport and communication infrastructure, echoing the notable divides described in the Hunger Games movies! From a rural perspective, city dwellers have all the jobs and services while the rural community is thrown some scraps when a local TD has some bargaining power. The regeneration of Dublin’s Docklands is a good example of this. Dublin, yet again, is the focus of the government’s investment, renewal, regeneration and recovery. The classification of this area as a Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) along with the exponential growth of the capital’s economy is creating a tension between rural and urban populations at both a local and national viewpoint. Projects such as this are exacerbating the problems of rural and urban Ireland. This highlights the concentration and preference of the local, over the national interests of the country in urban areas.

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There is however another divide that exists but is not so clear from the outset. The lack of community and trust between people who walk Dublin’s streets is something alien to country dwellers (http://www.irishtimes.com/business/lack-of-housing-policy-is-hurting-community-spirit-1.471325). In rural areas, everybody knows their neighbours and greets them when they walk down the street. The silence on packed rush hour buses is sad from my point of view. Technology has a part in this but I believe it isn’t the main driver. People not knowing their neighbours and the subsequent loneliness are more of the problems that urban dwellers have and which drives the two populations even further apart.

The electrification of the country after the Second World War also clearly shows the urban-rural divide. A prime example of this is when Ballycroy, Co. Mayo was the last village in Ireland to be electrified in 1964, a whole 17 years after the first ESB pole was erected in north Co. Dublin (http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/heritage/let-there-be-light-the-day-all-ireland-went-electric-1.2845679). This division and prioritisation is also happening today. Urban areas are now being prioritised with faster broadband speeds and even the availability of broadband over those in rural communities. 4G speed mobile data is only available in major urban centres and you’re lucky if you can even find any internet in parts of the rural landscape. We can learn from our mistakes in the 1940s and 50s and have the speedy and extensive rollout of high speed broadband to all areas of rural Ireland. We can help bridge the divide by doing this.

The unequal distribution of resources and opportunities, national and local state interferences and capital disinvestment are all responsible for the divide in Ireland. I believe that there is little co-ordination between the different state agencies and politicians that manage and control this country. Decisions are made with no consideration of the national implications. Now, more than ever, we need an urgent review of planning policy with a view to concentrating development in the areas which need it most. We need a structured response, investment in rural Ireland and leadership from government. We need to bridge the urban-rural divide, to bring people from both of these communities together and to eliminate inequality and unfairness in this country. In the words of an African proverb, ‘if you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together’.

 

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY BY THIRD YEAR STUDENT – DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY

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The lesson of how not to do something (the bad and ugly..!) and the positive story of lessons learned and how something can be turned around and a much more positive story generated (the good..!) Ballymun flats seemed like a great idea at the time. Representing forward thinking, progressive planning and new modern construction techniques. It was well intended for sure; the idea of construing a new town to respond to what was a serious housing crisis. Sadly the approach was fundamentally flawed; it was 100% public housing, built around a roundabout, without any appropriate supporting infrastructure such as shops or schools. Easy to look back at it now and wonder what they were thinking, but hindsight is a great thing..! Work first started in 1965.

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Irish Times Mcdermott Tower 2005 Photographer: Alan Betson

It was planned that most people would be housed in high rise flats. Other amenities were to be constructed at the same time, in time for the first tenants, but these were delayed and tenants were left largely in isolation without having some basic services to support them. A bad start to the projects. The development also suffered from a range of other problems such as poorly maintained lifts and faulty heating, all critical issues for families living in high rise buildings. Ultimately Ballymun was a failure and the area and its peoples experienced huge social problems and widespread deprivation; with consistent drug use, poverty and crime. In his book “The Construction of Dublin”, architectural journalist Frank McDonald called it the Irish state’s “worst planning disaster”. But at the time it was considered a wonderful vision of the future of planning and many people wanted to move there. Ultimately it was decided that the high rise Ballymun flat scheme was a failure and the only solution was to demolish the flats. Now the challenge was to recognize what had gone wrong, learn from the mistakes made and avoid repeating them. Some key lessons learnt were that housing and people must be supported by infrastructure from day one and that social mix is very important. With regard to this latter point in the Rowntree Publications (2205) “A good place for Children” it is noted that regeneration is more likely to be successful by creating the right mix of people including involving some residents who are better off financially. The authors feel it provides

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many benefits to include an understanding and appreciation of social difference, provides a balanced demographics to an area, broader educational influences and exposure to different ways of life for all. A specialist company was set up by Dublin City Council to demolish the existing flats and to plan and undertake the construction of a new town of Ballymun. Critically the new Ballymun moved away from the high rise flats model previously used in favour of lower rise accommodation. Most importantly the new housing is a mix of public, private, co-operative and voluntary housing. Delivering one of the key criteria of urban renewal, namely social mix. It also included and delivered at an early stage in the regeneration project parks, sports areas, a major city Council office, health and leisure facilities, a new hotel and a shopping centre. All contributing to local employment and people working and doing business in their own community. Ballymun now is viewed as a positive and enlightened example of urban regeneration, but maybe most importantly it shows that mistakes can be fixed and that we can learn from our mistakes.

“The only real mistake is one from which we learn nothing”.John Powell

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 Biblography:

Ballymun Regeneration (2007) Terenure Diversity In the Ballymena Regeneration Catchment Area.

Peter Bodkin (4th March 2015) ‘This is everything that went wrong with Ballymun’, The Journal, 15/11/16.

Olivia Kelly (2016) ‘Regenerating Ballymun: new aspirations, old problems? ‘, IrishTimes, 15 11, p. . 

 

Why Africa Should Be High On Donald Trump’s List Of Priorities By Ricardo Reboredo

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Amid all the confusion over Donald Trump’s presidency, there are few clues about how his administration will approach the US’s relationship with Africa. The continent was rarely mentioned in the run-up to election day, and so far, Trump’s only foray into African politics has been a pair of phone calls – one to President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, and one to President Jacob Zuma of South Africa.

But an examination of Trump’s rhetoric, likely priorities, and the economic realities facing Africa, paints a bleak picture for the continent over the next four years. A large scale re-examination of economic and political allegiances may be on the cards.

Security will likely be the dominant issue during the Trump administration. “Eliminating” Islamic terrorism is apparently one of the cornerstones of his foreign policy. So with Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, and other groups operating throughout parts of the Africa, there are plenty of opportunities for close cooperation.

Indeed, security was the main topic touched upon in the phone calls to both African leaders. According to one of President Buhari’s aides, Trump told the Nigerian president that the US was willing to help Nigeria obtain “new military weapons to combat terrorism”.

The US’s presence on the continent is already highly militarised. The superpower has bases and security facilities spread across countries including Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Djibouti, Kenya, Niger and Uganda. But an increasingly militarised view of the continent may hasten the decline of US soft power, especially if combined with expected changes to American trade and aid policies.

African economies remain highly dependent on the extraction and export of natural resources such as gold, diamonds and other metals. But economic progress simply has not happened on a large enough scale throughout the continent. The apparent surge which led to talk in the media of “Africa Rising” was a combination of high commodity prices, debt relief programs and a glut of primary sector foreign investment. In fact, Africa’s position within the international labour market remains largely unchanged from the late colonial period.

The US’s main trade agreement on the continent, the “African Growth and Opportunity Act” (AGOA), was designed to stimulate manufacturing growth by providing certain African entrepreneurs tariff free access to the US market. This two way trade is valued at approximately US$36 billion.

The AGOA supports approximately 120,000 export related jobs within the US and does not expire until 2025. However, recent evidence suggests that foreign entrepreneurs, mostly of Chinese origin, have often been the main beneficiaries. Detractors contend that the AGOA has been used as a backdoor to get Chinese goods into the US. Despite these reports, it is important to note these manufacturing clusters provide employment opportunities for thousands of Africans and encourage technology and skills transfers which can boost local growth.

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The US contributes approximately US$8 billion worth of aid to the continent every year. This comes largely in the form of money spent on social services, poverty alleviation, health and education. While these are certainly worthy endeavours, this sort of assistance tends to only deal with development indirectly.

In addition, Africa is currently facing an enormous decline in spending on infrastructure. Unfortunately, this is not an area ripe for US intervention. American multinational corporations do not typically consider large-scale African infrastructure projects to be profitable investments.

Chinese power

Chinese companies on the other hand, which take into consideration the benefits of political returns as well as profits, have undertaken a massive infrastructure building program throughout the continent. With current projects including railways in Nigeria and Kenya, and a dam in Ghana, China has been positioning itself as a major influence across Africa for decades. The Chinese Communist Party views the continent as a crucial region for China’s domestic development, providing vital resources as well as market access.

South Africa in particular has moved towards strong economic and political integration with China. The relationship between the two countries has been described by one commentator as an “inexplicable love affair”.

If other nations start to see the opportunities that China sees, Africa may enjoy an escalation of competition for resources and market access. To compete with an increasingly visible and well-liked China, the US must supplement current policies designed to support the continent. Whether President Trump has an appetite for this remains to be seen. In the age of “America first”, we do not yet know where Africa will be ranked by the current resident of the White House.

 

GEOGRAPHY STUDENT HELEN PECK WINS BLOG PRIZE

During Michaelmas term, Senior Sophister students were invited by the Careers Advisory Service to participate in a Blog Challenge in which students wrote a 500-word blog describing their summer work experience. EisnerAmper Ireland very kindly sponsored this Summer Blog Challenge 2016 and offered 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prizes to the winning writers.

See http://www.tcd.ie/Careers/vacancies/competitions/view.php?articleId=1109

Second place was awarded to Helen Peck – SS TSM Geography and Sociology.

Congratulations Helen!!!!!!!!!

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Extracts from her blog can be read below:
A Summer Full of Experiences

In the summer of 2016 I gained a place in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Student Summer Programme which ran for twelve weeks and was a paid internship. My role was as Research Intern for the Research Team.

I gained invaluable experience helping to manage the administration of this research process and gained knowledge and skills through my presentations at Research meetings. I decided to set my objectives early, and to hone both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills that are required in a successful career. From a ‘hard’ skill perspective, my IT skills improved vastly in data management with complex databases. Equally important to me were the ‘soft’ skills of team work. The Research Team was such a friendly and dedicated group of researchers, it was a pleasure, rather than a chore, to improve my communication and team-working skills with them.

My supervisors, Alice Wemaere and Aisling O’Connor, were inspiring mentors. They were always keen for me to attend Research Working Group meetings and present my internship work.  Presenting at the National Overview Committee Meeting increased my confidence in public speaking, a long-time personal goal of mine.

Final year at Trinity is now upon me, and I know the intern work has benefitted me as a future graduate.

My course currently does not include compulsory work placement, so I acted to fill this gap in practical experience. I have gained and improved many skills and have made invaluable connections in the areas of environmental conservation/protection for my future career.

 

DISTINGUISHED INTERNATIONAL LECTURERS IN GEOGRAPHY

Cian O’Callaghan and Cesare Di Feliciantonio will host a workshop on the IRC-funded project “The New Urban Ruins: Vacancy and the Post-Crisis City” from 1-3 March in Trinity College Dublin. This workshop proposes will explore how contestations over the reuse of vacant spaces can be used to think about cities and urbanisation in new ways.  Topics covered include the central role that vacancy played in recent property crashes, debates about urban shrinkage, the popularity of new approaches to temporary urbanism, and critical discussions of ruins. The central hypothesis is the vacant space will play a key role in determining how cities of the future respond to the both urban problems and wider global challenges. Keynote speakers include Dr. Christina Lee (Curtin University, Perth Australia), Prof. Karen Till (Maynooth University, Ireland), Dr. Alexander Vasudevan (Oxford, UK).

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TRINITY-UCD MASTERS IN DEVELOPMENT PRACTICE (MDP) MODULE IN CLIMATE CHANGE, JUSTICE AND DEVELOPMENT HOST MRS MARY ROBINSON

The Trinity-UCD Masters in Development Practice (MDP) module in Climate Change, Justice and Development  hosted Mrs Mary Robinson for a lecture entitled – “Climate Justice: preserving dignity in the face of adversity” on Wednesday 15th February 2017.

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The lecture highlighted the following points:

  • Climate Justice is concerned with the moral argument (on the side of those suffering the most from climate impacts and that they share the benefits)
  • There is the need for constructive, open multilateralism and a radical and just transition
  • The “right to a healthy environment” had not been included in early documentation but now it is recognised in legal documents
  • The biggest challenge is not avoiding catastrophic climate impacts, but avoiding them whilst also enabling development
  • The more we can mitigate, the less we need to adapt
  • Energy is the engine of development. People cannot be denied this right but there is the need to ensure access to clean energy which will require technology transfer and investment
  • The Paris agreement was a crucial step forward; the current concern is about putting it into place and holding countries accountable
  • Legal systems and legal checks and balances must be in place
  • How we react and our response in the face of adversity is key. For example, concerning the Dakota pipeline, Seattle voted to divest from Wells Fargo
  • How do we encourage people to have a sense of personal responsibility towards climate change? Talk to them as parents and grandparents on the impacts climate change will have on future generations

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