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Pay-offs will damage excellence in Irish

Published 04/10/2016

I was dismayed to learn recently that the management at Ulster University intends to make three members of core academic staff in its School of Irish Language and Literature redundant, despite its worldwide reputation as a powerhouse of Irish and Celtic Studies.

These lecturers are experienced scholars and inspirational teachers.

I sent a petition to the university's vice-chancellor, Professor Paddy Nixon, signed by 161 Celtic Studies academics and professionals from 18 countries.

We expressed our disbelief that the university's managers could dream of dismantling one of their strongest areas of research.

Our protests fell on deaf ears. Professor Nixon cited financial pressures, at a time when the university is appointing yet more senior managers at salaries dwarfing those of the three lecturers.

And we now learn that the original rationale justifying the cuts - a planned reduction in student places in Irish - has vanished after protest by the Irish-speaking community of Northern Ireland. The damage done to the School of Irish by this short-sighted management action will be felt by students and the wider community for many years.

RALPH O'CONNOR

Professor in the Literature and Culture of Britain, Ireland and Iceland, University of Aberdeen

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