UK and EU should consider External Association relationship to resolve Brexit issues – Gay Mitchell

External Association’ would allow Britain to cut loose from EU while retaining complementary arrangements

The UK and the EU should adopt a form of ‘External Association’ in relation to Brexit, according to Gay Mitchell, former MEP, TD and Minister for European Affairs, as it could be enough to allow Britain cut loose from the EU, while also retaining necessary and complementary arrangements.

Making his comments while speaking at Leicester’s De Montfort University Business and Law School in the UK, Mr. Mitchell said that ‘External Association’, a phrase coined by former President of Ireland Eamon De Valera, would calm nerves and remove current uncertainty and speculation. It would also, crucially, not encourage other EU States to contemplate leaving. In fact, it would let the remaining EU States press ahead with an ‘ever closer’ Union, including provisions to underpin the Euro.

Mr. Mitchell was invited to speak at De Montfort University Business and Law School to discuss a variety of EU business issues with academics and students. He was speaking alongside Jose Gil Robles, former MEP and President of the European Parliament, and former German MEP Barbara Weiler.

The full script of Mr. Mitchell’s speech is outlined below, in which he outlines five aspects that would allow ‘External Association’ to work for the parties involved:

 The Danger:

As Kenneth Minogue points out in his short book Politics, the history of Europe is one of preparing for war, being at war, or dealing with the aftermath of war. Bruce Russet and John Oneal in their book Triangulating Peace demonstrate that three principles help explain the likelihood of war or peace: economic interconnectedness, democratic traditions, and membership in international organisations. Where all three factors are at their most favourable the potential for war is reduced by 71%.

The break-up of former Yugoslavia in the 1990’s is a stark reminder of what can happen when interdependence breaks down. The British people made a Herculean contribution to freeing Europe from the grips of terror.  These gains were made by blood, sweat, toil and tears and must not be put at risk by an unleashing of instability.

In the first half of the 20th century 60 million Europeans were killed by war. Was Europe better under the Hohenzollerns, the Romanovs, the Hapsburgs, and the Ottomans? Under Hitler and Stalin? There were military coups in Greece and Spain in the second half of the 20th century.  The Berlin Wall only started to come down in 1989.  Was Europe really a better place then?

Right now Europe and North America are stable.  The regions of Syria, the Middle East, and parts of Africa are in turmoil.  In the South China Sea, Sino-Russian joint naval exercises are meant to be a warning to those countries of the region which are re-arming and cosying up to the US.  The East China Sea has its own tensions. Tensions can build up in Europe too and we take European stability for granted at our peril.  Peace and stability must be constantly nurtured.  Interdependence is the key.

This is why the EU will not countenance any arrangement with Britain that makes it attractive for other Member States to contemplate leaving.  Any expectation that some states could continue to have existing rights but not existing responsibilities is a non-runner.  The dangers this would create for all of Europe should be evident to the UK side too.

 The Future:

That said, on the presumption that Brexit will go ahead, what could a future UK/EU relationship look like? Norway is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) but Norway was never an EU member and therefore started with a clean sheet.  For the UK to join the EEA, for example, would involve a de-coupling from the EU as well as lengthy negotiations for EEA membership.  This may be an impossible task and at the very least is a formula for speculation and instability.  Perhaps something new should be tried.  Both sides could borrow a term from De Valera’s lexicon and consider a form of External Association.  But what might External Association look like?

The biggest problem seems to be that of retaining access to the Single Market for the UK, while delimiting Free Movement of people to Britain under Single Market rules. Perhaps the following might work:

  1. The EU already agrees with the UK that some changes can be introduced:  Restrictions on movement of non-EU nationals; safeguards on bailout contributions from non-Eurozone countries, in the event of crisis; child benefit restrictions for children who do not live in the same EU State as a parent; no binding requirement for the UK to participate in an “ever closer” Union; a requirement to amend proposed EU laws if 55% of national parliaments so request (a Red Card); and an emergency brake on payments of social benefits to immigrants from other EU States if there are strains on public services or the employment market.
  2. In addition to these, and as a way forward, each Member State could be allowed to restrict free movement at times of immigration surges and agreement could be reached that no automatic right would be provided for future new EU state citizens to travel to the UK (or UK citizens to travel to these new Member States).  Each new Member State and Britain could then agree on mutual travel arrangements between their states.
  3. The Acquis Communitaire of the EU is its accumulated legislation, court decisions and principles, all of which the EU, including Britain has already agreed.  The Acquis would continue to apply thereby avoiding years of uncertainty and enormous turbulence, so too would budget contributions and receipts.
  4. The national parliaments of EU States already have an early warning system (a Yellow Card).  If one third of the Member State parliaments raise an objection to proposed EU legislation it must be reviewed.  If a majority of parliaments do so (Orange Card) then the Council of Ministers or the European Parliament can vote the proposal down.  The British Parliament could be given continued rights to participate with the Union’s national parliaments in the Yellow/Orange/Red Card system.
  5. UK representation in the European Parliament, Council of Ministers and Commission would cease, but not in the European Court of Justice which adjudicates on rules (as the rules would continue to apply), and the EU Court of Auditors which checks how the EU budget is spent (as budget contributions and payments to, for example, British farmers would continue).  In addition, British civil servants could continue, on a quota basis, to service EU institutions to help police the Acquis.


A form of External Association could be enough to allow Britain cut loose from the EU, but retain necessary and complementary arrangements.  Crucially, it would not encourage other EU States to contemplate leaving as they would not continue to have representation at political level.  Indeed, the remaining EU States could press ahead with “ever closer” Union, including provisions to underpin the Euro.  In the interim a joint EU/UK declaration that External Association is the way forward might calm nerves and remove current uncertainty and speculation.

 Gay Mitchell is a former Minister for European Affairs at the Department of the Taoiseach and at the Department of Foreign Affairs and was an MEP from 2004 – 2014. He is currently a European Political and Public Affairs Adviser with Unique Media.

Shortlist revealed for the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards 2016

BGE IBA 2016

Winners will be announced at a gala ceremony in Dublin on  Wednesday, 16th November


The Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards 2016 shortlist announced today features a diverse mix of exceptional  writing from new and established writers across fourteen categories, including Novel of the Year, Children’s, Cookery, Crime Fiction, Popular Fiction, Nonfiction, Sports, Short Story and Poetry.

Now in its 11th year, the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards was founded to celebrate and promote Irish writing to the widest range of readers possible. Each year it brings together a huge community passionate about books – readers, authors, booksellers, publishers and librarians – to recognise and celebrate the very best Irish writing talent.

Hundreds of books were submitted for consideration this year and the public are now being asked to cast their votes on the best books of the year online on the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards website Votes may be cast until midnight on the 11th November 2016 and the winners will be announced at the awards ceremony in Dublin’s Double Tree by Hilton Hotel on Wednesday, 16th November.

The annual awards ceremony has become one of the premier events in the Irish literary calendar. Presidents, Taoisigh, Nobel Laureates, and most of the best writers in Ireland have attended this unique celebration of Irish literature which is broadcast to the nation on RTÉ TV.

Commenting on this year’s shortlist Larry McHale, Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards Chairperson, said:

“As the flagship event for the Irish Book Industry, the over-riding motivation behind the awards is to celebrate the extraordinary quality of Irish writing, to help bring the best books to a wider readership annually, and to promote an industry under severe competitive pressure. We’re delighted with the quality of this year’s shortlist – sincere congratulations to all the shortlisted authors and their publishers.”

Dave Kirwan, Managing Director at Bord Gáis Energy, added: ‘The Bord Gáis Energy Irish Books Awards is widely regarded as the highlight of the Irish literary calendar. Year after year, the shortlist features an impressively high standard of Irish writers, and this year is no different. I’d like to congratulate all this year’s shortlisted authors and publishers and wish the very best of luck to each and every one.’

This year, anyone who casts their vote on the website, will be in with the chance of winning a €100 voucher from National Book Tokens.


Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards 2016 Shortlist

Eason Novel of the Year

  • All We Shall Know – Donal Ryan (Doubleday Ireland)
  • Days Without End – Sebastian Barry (Faber & Faber)
  • Solar Bones – Mike McCormack (Tramp Press)
  • The Lesser Bohemians – Eimear McBride (Faber & Faber)
  • The Wonder – Emma Donoghue (Pan Macmillan/Picador)
  • This Must Be The Place – Maggie O’Farrell (Tinder Press)

The Best Irish published Book of the Year

  • All Through the Night – Edited by Marie Heaney (Poetry Ireland)
  • Dublin since 1922 – Tim Carey (Hachette Books Ireland)
  • Looking Back: The Changing Faces of Ireland – Eric Luke (The O’Brien Press)
  • Modern Ireland in 100 Artworks – Edited by Fintan O’Toole  (Royal Irish Academy)
  • The Invisible Art: A Century of Music in Ireland 1916-2016 – Michael Dervan (New Island Books)
  • The Glass Shore – Sinéad Gleeson (New Island Books)


Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year

  • Himself – Jess Kidd (Canongate Books)
  • Red Dirt – E.M. Reapy (Head of Zeus)
  • The Last Days of Summer – Vanessa Ronan (Penguin Ireland)
  • The Maker of Swans – Paraic O’Donnell (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
  • The Things I Should Have Told You – Carmel Harrington (HarperCollins)
  • This Living and Immortal Thing – Austin Duffy (Granta Books)


National Book Tokens Nonfiction Book of the Year

  • I Read The News Today, Oh Boy – Paul Howard (Picador)
  • Ireland The Autobiography – John Bowman (Penguin Ireland)
  • The Hurley Maker’s Son – Patrick Deeley (Doubleday Ireland)
  • The Supreme Court – Ruadhán Mac Cormaic (Penguin Ireland)
  • Time Pieces: A Dublin Memoir – John Banville & Paul Joyce (Hachette Books Ireland)
  • When Ideas Matter – Michael D. Higgins (Head of Zeus)

RTE Radio One Ryan Tubridy Show Listener’s Choice

  • Lying In Wait – Liz Nugent (Penguin Ireland)
  • Conclave – Robert Harris (Hutchinson)
  • Dictatorship: My Teenage War With OCD – Rebecca Ryan (On Stream Publications Ltd)
  • All Through the Night – Edited by Marie Heaney (Poetry Ireland)
  • All We Shall Know – Donal Ryan (Transworld Ireland)
  • Victim Without A Face – Stefan Ahnhem (Head of Zeus)

Listowel Writers’ Week Poem of the Year

  • In Glasnevin – Jane Clarke (From: The Irish Times)
  • Patagonia – Emma McKervey (From: The Compass Magazine)
  • Suppose I Lost – Andrew Soye (From: Abridged Magazine)
  • Love / Hotel / Love – Michael Naghtan Shanks (From: Poetry Ireland Review)

Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year (Junior)

  • A Child of Books – Sam Winston and Oliver Jeffers (Walker Books)
  • Goodnight Everyone – Chris Haughton (Walker Books)
  • Historopedia – Fatti and John Burke (Gill Books)
  • Pigín of Howth – Kathleen Watkins (Gill Books)
  • Rabbit and Bear: Rabbit’s Bad Habits – Julian Gough & Jim Field (Hachette Children’s Group)
  • Rover and the Big Fat Baby – Roddy Doyle (Pan Macmillan)

Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year (Senior)

  • Knights of the Borrowed Dark – Dave Rudden (Puffin)
  • The Book of Shadows – E.R. Murray (Mercier Press)
  • The Making of Mollie – Anna Carey (The O’Brien Press)
  • Needlework – Deirdre Sullivan (Little Island Books)
  • Nothing Tastes As Good – Claire Hennessy (Hot Key Books)
  • Flawed – Cecelia Ahern (HarperCollins Children’s Books)

Avonmore Cookbook of the Year

  • Recipes For A Nervous Breakdown – Sophie White (Gill Books)
  • The World of The Happy Pear – Stephen and David Flynn (Penguin Ireland)
  • Natural Born Feeder – Roz Purcell (Gill Books)
  • The Little Green Spoon – Indy Power (Ebury Press)
  • Neven Maguire’s Complete Family Cookbook – Neven Maguire (Gill Books)
  • The Brother Hubbard – Garrett Fitzgerald (Gill Books)

Irish Independent Popular Fiction Book of the Year

  • Game of Throw-Ins – Ross O’Carroll-Kelly (Penguin Ireland)
  • Lyrebird – Cecelia Ahern (HarperCollins)
  • Rebel Sisters – Marita Conlon-McKenna (Transworld Ireland)
  • The Girl From The Savoy – Hazel Gaynor (HarperCollins)
  • The Privileged – Emily Hourican (Hachette Books Ireland)
  • Holding – Graham Norton (Hodder & Stoughton)

Ireland AM Popular Nonfiction Book of the Year

  • Adventures of a Wonky-Eyed Boy – Jason Byrne (Gill Books)
  • Fat Chance – Louise McSharry (Penguin Ireland)
  • Making It Up As I Go Along – Marian Keyes (Michael Joseph)
  • Pippa – Pippa O’Connor (Penguin Ireland)
  • Talking to Strangers – Michael Harding (Hachette Books Ireland)
  • Pussy: Before I Forget to Remember – Alan Amsby/David Kenny (New Island Books)

Bord Gáis Energy Sports Book of the Year

  • Blood, Sweat & McAteer – Jason McAteer (Hachette Books Ireland)
  • Coolmore Stud, Ireland’s Greatest Sporting Success Story – Alan Conway (Mercier Press)
  • My Life in Rugby – Donal Lenihan (Transworld Ireland)
  • Out of Control – Cathal Mc Carron (Simon & Schuster)
  • The Battle – Paul O’Connell (Penguin Ireland)
  • Win or Learn – John Kavanagh (Penguin Ireland) Short Story of the Year

  • Here We Are – Lucy Caldwell (Faber&Faber)
  • K-K-K – Lauren Foley (Ol Society – Australia)
  • The Visit – Orla McAlinden (Sowilo Press)
  • Green Amber Red – Jane Casey (New Island)
  • The Birds of June – John Connell (Granta Magazine)
  • What a River Remembers of its Course – Gerard Beirne (Numero Cinq Magazine)

Books Are My Bag Crime Fiction Award

  • Distress Signals – Catherine Ryan Howard (Atlantic Books (Corvus)
  • Little Bones – Sam Blake (Bonnier Zaffre)
  • Lying In Wait – Liz Nugent (Penguin Ireland)
  • The Constant Soldier – William Ryan (Mantle)
  • The Drowning Child – Alex Barclay (HarperCollins)
  • The Trespasser – Tana French (Hachette Ireland)

21% increase in Invoice Finance funds advanced to large Irish businesses during Q2 2016


Latest statistics from the Asset Based Finance Association


  • €138m advanced to companies with turnover of between €10m and €25m in Q2 2016, compared to €114m in Q1 2016 – a growth of 21%


  • Sales turnover generated by Irish companies using Invoice Finance grew 30% between Q1 and Q2 2016


  • Brexit concerns may encourage Irish businesses to diversify credit sources


Companies registering a turnover of between €10m and €25m increased their borrowing through Invoice Finance by 21% during the second quarter of 2016, according to new figures from the Asset Based Finance Association (ABFA), the body representing the Invoice Finance industry in the UK and Ireland.

These larger companies were advanced €138m during Q2 2016, up from €114m on the previous quarter, a growth of 21%, making it the fastest growing size of company in Ireland that utilised Invoice Finance during the period. Even companies with a turnover of over €100m showed a similar trend for Invoice Finance, with €206m in funds advanced, up 6.7% from €193m in the previous quarter.

Invoice Finance is a quick and flexible working capital solution that allows businesses to release the working capital tied up in unpaid invoices. The finance provider will normally purchase the client’s outstanding invoices, providing an immediate initial payment of the majority of the invoice, with the remainder paid to the client on payment by the debtor. As large businesses have so much capital tied up in invoices issued to a wide range of customers, they are ideal for clients for Invoice Finance providers.

The full breakdown of funds advanced for the Q2 of 2016 is below:

Client Annual

Turnover Bands (€M)      Amount Advanced     Q2 2016(€M)     Q1 2016

0.0– 0.5                                                                                  92                             92

0.5 – 1.0                                                                                  50                            66

1.0 – 5.0                                                                                  309                          302

5.0 – 10.0                                                                               189                           171

10.0 – 25.0                                                                             138                           114

25.0 – 50.0                                                                              158                           163

50.0 – 100.0                                                                           110                           107

Over 100.0                                                                              206                          193


An average of €1.2bn in Invoice Finance is in use by nearly 2,000 Irish companies at any one time while the total funds agreed reached €3.1bn. This means that there is plenty of funding available for businesses that wish to grow.

Irish companies utilising Invoice Finance saw a significant 30% growth in quarterly sales, growing from €5.6bn in Q1 2016 to €7.4bn in Q2 2016. Year to date sales turnover to June 2016 reached €13.1bn, up 3% on the same period in 2015. This growth in the Irish marketplace demonstrates just how much Invoice Finance can support business during the ongoing economic recovery and support business growth.

The statistics also note that a variety of sectors in Ireland utilise Invoice Finance, including Manufacturing, Construction, Distribution, Services, Transport, and Retail, illustrating the diversity in the types of businesses being supported by Invoice Finance.

Margaret Carrigan, Chairperson of the ABFA Marketing Committee in Ireland, says Invoice Finance is now a truly mainstream finance choice, and one used by a huge number of growing businesses as part of a balanced approach to their funding.

“Invoice Finance is now an established part of the commercial finance market and these figures show that there is an increased appetite from larger Irish businesses to secure funding through this route. More and more Irish companies are now viewing Invoice Finance as one of the primary sources of funding, especially as these businesses seek to diversify their funding sources away from and to prevent over reliance on traditional loans. Continued concerns over a Brexit-related credit crunch in the UK may also increase the need to diversify credit sources still further.

“Whilst the availability of finance from traditional sources was relatively slow to recover from the credit crunch, the Invoice Finance market opened its doors to businesses of all sizes and there remains significant capacity to provide more finance to more Irish businesses.

As the funding is secured against invoices and other assets, it can be a less risky form of finance for funders to provide. This means big businesses can get even quicker decisions on asset based finance than on other products. This ability to increase the size of your Invoice Finance facility as your business grows is one of the products biggest strengths.”


Full statistical details for Ireland and the UK, along with historical data, is available at:


The Irish Members of the ABFA are:


  • AIB Commercial Finance Ltd.
  • Bank of Ireland Commercial Finance
  • Barclays Bank Invoice Finance
  • Bibby Financial Services (Ireland)
  • Close Brothers Commercial Finance
  • Danske Bank A/S
  • Ulster Bank Invoice Finance


Small charities making a big IMPACT to Irish health at GSK Awards


Small charities making a big IMPACT to Irish health:  Five winners announced of GSK Ireland IMPACT Awards 2016

  • Five winning community-based charities each awarded €10,000 and attend inaugural screening of their winning films at award ceremony in Dublin Castle
  • Awards focused on recognising and celebrating small Irish community-based health charities


Nurture, Traveller Counselling Service, Dyslexia Association of Ireland, Sensational Kids, and Anam Cara have all been announced as the winners of the GSK Ireland IMPACT Awards 2016, during a ceremony at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin Castle. The five award winning charities were each awarded €10,000 in unrestricted funding, while five runner-up charities also received €2,000 each. In addition, the winning charities received a video and photography package to promote their charities and services.

The awards, in their second year in Ireland, are designed to recognise and reward community-based charities who contribute to the improvement of people’s health and wellbeing, as well as acknowledge the positive outcomes these charities have on their users and local communities. This year’s winners represent an inspirational mix of healthcare heroes making a real difference to the lives of their communities right across Ireland.  The IMPACT awards are judged across a number of criteria including innovation, management and partnership which looks to reward how the charities are run and what they are actually achieving: This year’s winners demonstrated excellence across the criteria during the fiercely competitive application process.

The five winning charities of the GSK Ireland IMPACT Awards 2016 are:

  • Nurture – a nationwide charity which provides professional counselling and supports surrounding pregnancy and childbirth and maternal mental health illnesses to women, partners and their families.
  • Sensational Kids – a Kildare based charity that provides family centred therapy and educational services for children of all abilities in a state of the art occupational therapy centre.
  • Anam Cara – a nationwide charity which provides support services to bereaved parents and families.
  • Dyslexia Association of Ireland – a nationwide organisation which works with and for people affected by dyslexia, by providing information, offering appropriate support services, engaging in advocacy and raising awareness of dyslexia.
  • Traveller Counselling Service – an independent, culturally appropriate counselling service for Travellers in the Greater Dublin Area

Roger Connor, President, Global Manufacturing & Supply (GMS) at GSK said:  “GSK is extremely proud to support these healthcare charities, very often unsung heroes, who are contributing so much to health in their communities. To really make an impact, charities need purpose with passion coupled with strong management and governance, which can be very challenging, particularly with tight resources. This year’s winners show this is possible and we have been impressed, inspired and moved by our winners and the huge contribution they are making to Irish health”.

Five runners-up were:

  • Amen Support Services – a nationwide voluntary group providing a confidential helpline, support service, and information for male victims of domestic abuse.
  • Cork Mental Health Foundation – promotes positive mental health within the community and provides social housing to those who have experienced mental health difficulties.
  • Smashing Times Theatre Company – a professional theatre company that has designed an arts based approach to positive mental health promotion and suicide prevention.
  • HIV Ireland – a nationwide charity which works to improve conditions for people living with HIV and AIDS, their families and their caregivers, while actively promoting HIV and sexual health awareness in the general population.
  • Move4Parkinson’s – a non-profit organisation whose aim is to help people with Parkinson’s achieve a better quality of life through education and empowerment.

CEO of The Wheel, Deirdre Garvey and judging panel member commented: ““Community-based healthcare charities are uniquely positioned to help communities experiencing disadvantage and poor health outcomes identify the issues that influence their well-being and to develop and implement solutions. The GSK IMPACT Awards provide much-needed support and recognition for these organisations”.

The Impact Awards 2016 were judged by a multidisciplinary panel of professionals which included: Judging chair, Roger Connor, GSK, Aidan Lynch, VP GSK Pharma, Joe Power, VP and Site Director Cork, Claire Taaffe, Communications Director, GSK; Katie Pinnock, Director UK and Ireland Charity Partnerships.; Barry Andrews, CEO Goal, Deirdre Garvey, CEO of the Wheel, Sunday Independent Business Editor, Samantha McCaughren and Maurice Pratt, Chair of Barretstown.


UCC is named Sunday Times University of the year – again

Sunday Times

University College Cork (UCC) has been named The Sunday Times University of the Year for the second successive year and the fifth time overall, with Trinity College Dublin as the runner-up in The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017, a special 16-page supplement to be published free with The Sunday Times this Sunday, October 9, with extended coverage in its tablet and online editions.

Dublin Institute of Technology is named The Sunday Times Institute of Technology of the Year, with Athlone IT the runner-up. The guide contains Ireland’s only league table that measures the performance of all 21 multi-faculty third-level institutions, which will be published on Sunday.

UCC is the University of the Year for the fifth time in the history of the guide, which was first published in 2002. UCC follows up its triumphs in 2003, 2005, 2011 and 2015. It is the only time in 15 years of the award that a university has successfully defended its crown.


The university’s success is underpinned by making teaching as much of a priority as research. So while UCC has seen a 15% growth in research funding over the past five years generating the second highest amount of research income in Ireland per head of academic staff (around €128,000), the university also has the highest number of academic staff (70%) with a qualification in teaching and learning.


UCC president Michael Murphy told The Sunday Times: “Today, anyone who is appointed to UCC who doesn’t have certification [to teach] has to undergo training before being considered for permanency. You must have a driver’s licence to drive; likewise to teach.” The university is the first in Ireland to develop an online programme in teaching and learning for staff in higher education.


The university ranks second or third in Ireland on all measures in The Sunday Times university league table, with the exception of staffing levels. It has seen improvements in its rankings in the past year both for the low level of graduate unemployment, currently standing at around 4%, and for the proportion of students leaving with high class degrees – firsts or 2:1s – a feat achieved by 70% of students, benefiting from that high quality teaching.


UCC has the third best progression rate from first to second year of all higher education institutions nationally — just 10% drop out. It also has a high proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds — 22%.


And only Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin spend more per capita on its students than UCC, with €10,605 a year spent on services and facilities for each student, according to the latest data in The Sunday Times Good University Guide.

Alastair McCall, Editor of The Sunday Times Good University Guide, said: “UCC has enjoyed unparalleled success in our annual University of the Year award: a winner on five occasions and now the first to win the award in two successive years.

“It is not hard to see why. The institution prioritises teaching excellence alongside an undoubted research pedigree. At UCC, teaching and research excellence are not either/or options. Students benefit from this on a daily basis, enjoying high-class teaching, graduating with high-class degrees and going on to get excellent jobs, the name of their university standing them in excellent stead with prospective employers

“We were also impressed by the efforts the university has taken to reduce the level of student debt – working with the student body to tackle the problem rather than resorting to the use of debt collection agencies to recover outstanding fees. This social conscience reflects well on an institution that seeks to precipitate change in the world by making such a positive impact through third level education.”

Trinity College Dublin is the runner-up for the University of the Year award. It finishes top in four of the seven measures used by The Sunday Times Good University Guide to rank Ireland’s universities and institutes of technology.


It now has the highest research income per head of academic staff, generating just under €140,000 per head, and the best student progression rate of 93% between the first and second year of study. This is in addition to its students entering the university with the highest points total from their Leaving Certificates and the university spending the highest amount of any university on facilities per head of student population.


According to an assessment by a private equity group, Trinity has produced more entrepreneurs than any other university in Europe over the past five years. The Universities Report found that TCD produced 114 entrepreneurs and 106 companies, raising €575.7m in capital between 2010 and 2015.


The university also has one of the most successful access schemes, the Trinity Access Programme (TAP), which has been running for 17 years and provides an on-campus foundation year for around 125 students annually, who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. A pilot scheme modelled on the TAP is currently being trialled at the University of Oxford’s Lady Margaret Hall.

Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), The Sunday Times Institute of Technology of the Year, has risen to the highest ranking ever achieved by an institute of technology in The Sunday Times Good University Guide league table. Ranking seventh this year, it has become the first institute of technology to overtake one of Ireland’s seven universities in the definitive rankings for third level performance.

DIT’s success has been achieved in part through a sharp rise in the number of Leaving Certificate points held by its students on entry to the institution. DIT now ranks fifth in Ireland on this measure, an indication of both the increased academic standards being demanded and extra competition for places.

Savvy partnerships with key industrial players have resulted in sponsorship and programme development at the institution. Students are performing strongly with 68.3% gaining firsts or 2:1s, ranking DIT in the top five in Ireland on this measure, while the graduate unemployment rate is low at 4.7%.

McCall said: “DIT has upset the established order in third level education this year by beating a university in our rankings for the first time in our 15 years of publication.

“It shows the strength of the leading institutes of technology and the key role they play in delivering a top-class education to students.

“Recent developments on the Grangegorman campus make DIT one of the most exciting places to study right now and our award recognises the huge efforts being made to deliver an outstanding student experience with excellent graduate prospects to one of the biggest student populations in Ireland.”

Athlone IT is runner up as Institute of Technology of the Year this year, having risen one place to rank 10th in the new Sunday Times Good University Guide league table. It is one of several institutes of education to be making a bid for Technological University (TU) status, but is making the case for a standalone TU in the Midlands, without going down the partnership route favoured by other institutes of technology.

A reflection of its high academic standing, AIT has been granted the authority to award PhDs in software engineering and network communications this year, in addition to the current areas of polymer engineering, microbiology and toxicology.


Government departments are increasingly looking to AIT to develop and boost jobs in the Midlands, and also to improve production outputs. This year, the department of agriculture, food and marine is funding a project run by AIT and NUI Galway to upgrade management and efficiency at inland aquaculture sites.



The Sunday Times Good University Guide is now in its 15th year of publication. It provides the definitive rankings for Irish third-level institutions, together with profiles of each institution and a view from students of what it is like to study there. It also contains the first full listing of 2017 degree courses and the first round entry points needed to access these courses from the recently-completed 2016 admissions cycle. There is a tablet edition, plus extended online coverage at features fully searchable tables on each of the measures on which institutions are ranked, together with extended profiles of each. It also contains full access to the newspaper’s UK university guide published on September 25.