Tuesday, March 4, 2014

All Six UNESCO Centre Children and Youth Programme Reports Available Online

All Six UNESCO Centre Children and Youth Programme Reports Available Online

CYPAll six UNESCO Centre Children and Youth Programme (CYP) Reports are available on the dedicated Programme website.  The first phase of the programme was completed with the publication of the sixth report, which focused on the relationship between Maternal Mental Health and Poverty, and its relationship with children’s education. Each report can be accessed as a full pdf, or as a three or one page briefing note.  Hard copies of each are also available – if you wish to receive one please email Barbara Rosborough at the UNESCO Centre at ba.rosborough@ulster.ac.uk.
All reports can be accessed through the following link –http://www.childrenandyouthprogramme.info/cyp_reports/cyp_reports.php

CYP Reports
Maternal Mental Health and Poverty: The Impact on Children’s Educational Outcomes
Abstract: A range of factors can undermine maternal mental health, with short and long term consequences for mothers and their children. The relationship between poor parental mental health and children’s well‑being is increasingly documented, with the evidence suggesting adverse developmental outcomes across the domains of a child’s life. More specifically, maternal mental health, particularly when combined with socio‑economic disadvantage, has been recognised as a pivotal influence on children’s educational outcomes. This thematic report focuses on the relationship between poverty and maternal mental health, and the impact of these on children and young people’s educational experiences in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Education for Civic Engagement in Post‑primary Schools in Ireland and Northern Ireland: A Rights Perspective
Abstract: The focus of this report is on policy and provision for education for civic engagement in post‑primary education in Ireland and Northern Ireland. This issue is topical and relevant in both jurisdictions. In Ireland reform of the Junior Cycle has led to a renewed focus on civic education and its cross‑curricular linkages. In Northern Ireland, education for civic engagement occurs within a divided society, giving rise to questions about its role in such a context.
Capacity Building for Inclusion: The Role and Contribution of Special Needs Assistants and Classroom Assistants in Ireland and Northern Ireland
Abstract: Historically, the basic right to education has been an automatic assumption for children in Ireland and Northern Ireland. For pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN), this has been a more ambiguous process, where the language, policy and legislation of education provision has alternately strengthened and diminished their educational options. This, our second thematic report, focuses on capacity building to support the inclusion of children with SEN within the mainstream school sector. The issue is explored specifically in relation to the role of the Special Needs Assistant (SNA) in Ireland and the Classroom Assistant (CA) in Northern Ireland.
Reviewing the Provision of Education for Young People in Detention: Rights, Research and Reflections on Policy and Practice
Abstract: This, the first of our Thematic Reports, addresses the relevant rights instruments and standards for education in the youth justice system, highlights the current legislative and policy context measured against international standards and assesses the role of education for young people in detention and draws concluding messages for policy in relation to custodial education and well‑being of children and young people.
Understanding Policy Development and Implementation for Children and Young People
Abstract: This, the second of our Foundation Reports, analyses the policy environment in relation to children and young people in Ireland and Northern Ireland. It reviews key policies and legislation relating to children and young people, including the pledges and commitments identified in each. Through consultation with relevant stakeholders, it identifies the main policy barriers and enablers and develops a framework to review policy development and implementation.
A Rights‑Based Approach to Monitoring Children and Young People’s Well‑Being
Abstract: This is the first of our Foundation Reports; it explores understandings of a rights‑based approach to monitoring children and young people’s well‑being, in particular, the relationship between rights‑based obligations and well‑being. It includes analysis of the debate on the relationship between child rights indicators and well‑being indicators currently used to monitor outcomes for children and young people. In doing so, the report seeks to provide clarity for policy makers and those working with, or on behalf of, children and youth.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Recent IRiSS Event: Comparing Our Choices: International and Regional Perspectives on Abortion Policy

Comparing Our Choices: International and Regional 

Perspectives on Abortion Policy

On Fridáay 14th February the University was host to a range of academics, policy makers, practitioners, activists and post-graduate students for a unique day of knowledge exchange on the theme of abortion policy regionally and internationally. The event was hosted by Dr Fiona Bloomer and Claire Pierson and sponsored by the University of Ulster Institute for Research in the Social Sciences and the Political Studies Association UK, Irish Studies Group.

Marge Berer, the founding editor of Reproductive Health Matters journal and part of the coordination team of the International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion began the session with an overview of abortion law internationally. Marge pointed out that one in three women worldwide has had an abortion and making the procedure safe is a rights based and global health policy issue. Crucially, the more grounds under legislation permitting legal abortions, the safer women will be. Dr Fiona Bloomer continued by framing the issue from the Northern Ireland context, highlighting that misinformation and a lack of guidance for health professionals continues to dominate the discussion in the region.

The next session concentrated on comparisons of Northern Ireland regionally and internationally. Dr Jennifer Hamilton (University of Ulster) and Emilie Weiderud presented the differing situations in Sweden and Northern Ireland, focussing on the social and political contexts in these regions which contextualise the availability of abortion. Mara Clarke, Director of the Abortion Support Network provided personal experience of what happens to women when abortion is restricted. Mara has worked in the US and UK hosting women who cannot afford or who have to travel for abortions.  Mara focussed on the most marginalised women who have to take extreme measures to pay for abortion procedures. Goretti Horgan (University of Ulster) contrasted the positions in the north and south of Ireland, arguing that there is a more advanced debate in the south than in the north and that the Irish state may be considered to facilitate abortion as long as it occurs outside the jurisdiction.

After lunch, Emma Campbell who is completing her PhD in photography at the University of Ulster showed her doctoral work exploring the journeys of women travelling from Northern Ireland to England for abortions. In the final session, the situation for women in Northern Ireland in contrast with Britain was considered. Audrey Simpson, Director of the Family Planning Association in Northern Ireland explained the UK’s duties as a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. The Committee have recommended that the UK government consider amending abortion law in Northern Ireland yet action has never been taken. Jennifer Thomson (University of London) detailed the background to the 1967 Abortion Act, pointing out that Northern Ireland was barely discussed at the time except to argue it as a ‘peculiar case’. Abortion law reform has also been used by Northern Irish politicians as a bargaining tool, in one case it was described as possibly destabilising the peace process.

To conclude, Kellie O’Dowd, a founding member of the Alliance for Choice Network in Northern Ireland considered how we further the debate on abortion. Discussing and normalising the conversation on abortion is crucial without exploiting the women who choose to have abortions. Kellie highlighted that the debate needs to be reframed in terms of ‘safety’ rather than ‘morality’ and that space for discussion needs to be opened in the arena of sexual health education.

Throughout the day there was a lively discussion with participants who also tweeted the debate: http://storify.com/DrBloomer/comparing-our-choices-international-and-regional-p

After positive feedback from participants we have made speakers presentations available. 

For further information about the event please contact Dr Fiona Bloomer fk.bloomer@ulster.ac.uk fk.bloomer@ulster.ac.uk or Claire Pierson pierson-c@email.ulster.ac.uk.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Value of Public History

Dr Cillian McGrattan was recently awarded an AHRC bursary to attend a series of seminars run by History & Policy on policy impact skills for historians. The first workshop took place at King’s College, London and included sessions on public engagement and impact environment. A range of speakers addressed the workshop: Dr Andrew Blick (KCL) spoke of his work advising parliament; Prof Pat Thane (KCL) addressed a similar theme and also addressed the topic of public history; Dr Pam Cox (Essex) spoke of the opportunities and dangers involved in framing research within the public arena. The workshop was also addressed by Dr Peter O’Neill, the research and development officer for KCL; Dr Ian Lyne, associate director of the AHRC, and Fiona Holland of History & Policy.

The key themes that arose from this first workshop related to the value of public history (broadly conceived as the relevance and importance of bringing empirically informed, evidence-based historical knowledge to bear in public debates), and the challenges and opportunities involved in this task. While contingency and unintended outcomes were stressed by speakers, the key lesson in moving from influence to impact seemed to involve sustained engagement with individuals and departments involved in policy design, making, and implementation. A theme arising from the speakers was that such sustained engagement, which involves the development of programmes and seminar series rather than one-off events, helps to cultivate trust and dialogue between academics and policymakers. Future workshops will look at engaging with civil servants and the media.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A new study, published today into the Union Flag protests is understood to be the first academic
attempt to critically examine the motivation, thinking and beliefs of those involved in the year long protests. 

The report provides the first critical insight into why people have protested, and looks to ascertain the impact of the flag protests on those directly and indirectly affected by them. The research findings reveal the rationale and interpretation protestors applied to their participation in the flag protests; their views on the impact and value of the protests; the general consequences of the protests; and the questions generated for political Unionism and Loyalism.


Dr Jonny Byrne

The flag issue and the expression of cultural identity remains one of the most controversial topics currently being discussed by the all party talks being chaired by Richard Haass. 

Over a six month period earlier this year Dr Byrne interviewed separate focus groups of women and young people who had taken part in flag protests. In an effort to understand the wider societal impact of the protests, Dr Byrne also interviewed a group of 12 church leaders and discussed the personal experiences of police officers involved in the flag protests with the PSNI. 

The author points out that the research does not attempt to judge the rights or wrongs of those involved in the flag protest, but instead attempts to provide a “window of understanding” into the thinking of those at the centre of the ongoing demonstrations. The report’s main finding identifies a growing sense of alienation within some sections of loyalism, which was brought to the fore with the start of the flag’s issue in December 2012. 

It concludes that a section of loyalism is now “completely disengaged” from the political institutions, with many believing that mainstream unionism has abandoned them. Many of those interviewed felt that they were no longer allowed to include unionist/loyalist cultures and traditions within the new Northern Ireland. The report also raises the concerns of some church leaders that the growing disconnection with mainstream unionism could lead to an increase in militant loyalism. 

For a copy of the report please go to:

Contact the author