National News in Brief

DCU and SOI collaborate for researchSpecial Olympics Ireland (SOI) and Dublin City University (DCU) have announced the launch of project SOPHIE (Special Olympics Programme Health Impact Evaluation). This involves research into the health and wellbeing of people with intellectual disabilities.The project, funded by the Iris O’Brien Foundation, will take two years to complete and the outcome is said to be of particular benefit to the families, carers, and participants of SOI activities.The launch was announced at an event in DCU earlier last week. President of DCU, Brian McGrath, expressed his delight at the collaboration of DCU and SOI for project SOPHIE, describing it as mutually beneficial and “yet another example of DCU’s commitment to promote and encourage social inclusion and diversity.”The study, led by Dr Mary Rose Sweeney, will involve participants completing questionnaires on their health and wellbeing, health service use, diet and physical activity levels. Matt English, Chief Executive Officer of Special Olympics Ireland, said, “Research of this nature will allow us to understand more deeply the ‘change’ it helps create at a personal, family, community and societal level.” All-Ireland Scholarships awardedWinners of the 2013 All-Ireland Scholarships have been officially recognised and awarded with third level scholarship certificates, at a ceremony hosted by the University of Limerick (UL). They were presented by Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan TD and the Minister for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland, Dr Stephen Farry. CEO of Ryanair, Michael O’Leary was also on hand to congratulate the students on their successes.The educational scheme, sponsored by JP McManus, provides financial assistance of €6,750 per annum in the Republic of Ireland and £5,500 in Northern Ireland to high-achieving students who have completed their Leaving Certificate or A-Level examinations.Niall McCoy from Armagh was presented with a surprise commemorative gift for being the 850th winner of the JP McManus 3rd level scholarship. McManus spoke about the scheme, stating, “Our objective in establishing the All-Ireland Scholarships is to give the opportunity of third level education to a number of young people throughout the island of Ireland who might otherwise not have this choice.”JP McManus has contributed a total of €32 million in support of third level education initiatives and it is estimated that over 1,300 students from all 32 counties will benefit from the scheme over its duration. NUI Maynooth Expands To KilkennyNUI Maynooth (NUIM) have launched the First Arts Project at Maynooth’s Kilkenny Campus. This project involves full-time Arts students completing their first year of an undergraduate Arts Degree in Kilkenny before progressing to the main campus in Maynooth for second and third year.President of NUIM, Professor Philip Nolan, described this as a “unique initiative” and a “very important development for the University and for the students on the programme.”Kilkenny County Hurling Manager Brian Cody also praised the project. “Working in this type of close-knit community gives students the opportunity to get the fundamentals in place, which will be so beneficial for the next two years of the course in Maynooth.”Students are already seeing the benefits of this initiative with regard to making friends easier, getting settled in quicker, smaller class sizes, and financial savings for commuters. Cody encouraged students to give themselves “the opportunity to look back on these college years, especially this year in Kilkenny with really fond memories.”