The University Observer

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The University Observer
University College Dublin
"Ne quid false dicere audeat, ne quid veri non-audeat" ("To tell no untruth and leave no truth untold")
University Observer, 29 September 2009
Type fortnightly student newspaper
Format Berliner with half-Berliner Arts & Culture Supplement
Editor Brían Donnelly
Deputy editor Dylan O'Neill
Founded 1994
Headquarters UCD Student Centre, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
Circulation 2,000
Sister newspapers OTwo

The University Observer is a broadsheet newspaper distributed throughout the campus of University College, Dublin once every three weeks. It was launched in 1994 by University College Dublin Students' Union[1] as an immediate successor to the publication 'Students' Union News'. The paper maintains complete editorial independence from UCD Students' Union. The paper is accompanied by the arts and culture supplement 'OTwo.'

The paper was founded by dual editors Pat Leahy, now of the Sunday Business Post, and Dara Ó Briain, now of BBC and RTÉ comic fame. It has provided a number of notable Irish journalists their first break, including Roddy O'Sullivan and Shane Hegarty, now of The Irish Times; Declan Walsh, now of The New York Times; Alan Torney of RTÉ Radio 1; Sinéad Ingoldsby of BBC Northern Ireland; Daniel McConnell, Political Editor of the Irish Examiner; Juno McEnroe of The Irish Examiner; Steve Cummins, editor of NME Ireland; Samantha Libreri of RTÉ News; Stephen Carroll of France 24; Gillian Fitzpatrick, editor at Maximum Media, and Gavan Reilly of TV3.


Co-Editors Art Director
Vol I 1994–95 Pat Leahy Dara Ó Briain Shane O'Neill and Declan Hackett
Vol II 1995–96 Roddy O'Sullivan Declan Walsh Shane O'Neill and Declan Hackett
Vol III 1996–97 Shane Hegarty (Deputy Editor/Designer: Aengus Collins)
Vol IV 1997–98 Alan Torney Sinéad Ingoldsby Edward Melvin
Vol V 1998–99 Katherine O'Callaghan Edward Melvin James Kelleher
Vol VI 1999-00 Lucy Michael Sarah Egan Stuart Palmer
Editor Deputy Editor Art and Design Director
Vol VII 2000–01 Daniel McConnell Juno McEnroe Tara Ghalaieny
Vol VIII 2001–02 Daniel McConnell Colm Maguire Ros Mac Thóim
Vol IX 2002–03 Enda Curran Steve Cummins Ian Clarke
Vol X 2003–04 Samantha Libreri Emmet Ryan David Fagan
Vol XII 2005–06 Sorcha Nic Mhathúna Nathalie Márquez-Courtney Simon Larragy
Vol XIII 2006–07 Stephen Carroll Michelle McCormick Sean Kearney
Vol XIV 2007–08 Rob Lowney David Neary Trevor Finnegan
Vol XV 2008–09 Danielle Moran Zelda Cunningham Fiona McCabe and Sean Kearney
Vol XVI 2009–10 Catriona Laverty Gavan Reilly Kristin McKnight
Vol XVII 2010–11 Bridget Fitzsimons /
Paul Fennessy
Paul Fennessy /
Quinton O'Reilly
Jenn Compeau
Vol XVIII 2011–12 Jon Hozier-Byrne Kate Rothwell Conor O'Toole
Vol XIX 2012–13 Emer Sugrue Aoife Valentine Conor O'Nolan
Vol XX 2013–14 Kevin Beirne Killian Woods Conor O'Toole
Vol XXI 2014–15 Cormac Duffy David Corscadden James Brady
Vol XXII 2015–16 Gráinne Loughran Patrick Kelleher James Healy
Vol XXIII 2016-17 Roisin Guyett-Nicholson Martin Healy Louise Flanagan
Vol XXIV 2017-18 Aoife Hardesty Ruth Murphy Joanne Olivia
Vol XXV 2018-19 Brían Donnelly Dylan O'Neill


The following is a selection of highlights or big stories published by the paper since its foundation. Part of this timeline was published in the print edition of the paper on 15 February 2011, and was contributed to by all former editors of the paper, during a threat to the existence of the paper by the Students' Union executive of the day.


Dara Ó Briain (Comedian) and Pat Leahy (Political Editor, Sunday Business Post)

  • Education minister diverts technical funds to Women's Studies
  • College drives (forces) through semesterisation
  • Scientology church targets UCD students
  • Lecturer distributes anti-condom Aids stickers


Roddy O'Sullivan (Deputy News Editor of The Irish Times) and Declan Walsh (Head of Pakistan bureau, The New York Times)

  • No room for Disadvantaged and Travellers say UCD authorities: The university told students from disadvantaged socio-economic background that it could be years before places could be found for them in UCD
  • Erasmus fury at residence rip off: International students had lodged complaints about treatment by UCD accommodation services. Excessive deductions from deposits, unrealistic ESB bills and veiled intimidation for non-payment of rent were among the complaints made by students.


Shane Hegarty, (Arts Editor & Columnist, The Irish Times)

  • A features-oriented newspaper, this year saw the UO printed with a full colour image on the front page for the first time.
  • Survey reveals large majority of UCD students have taken drugs: A survey conducted by the University Observer found that 71 per cent of students had taken illegal drugs at some point while in college.


Sinéad Ingoldsby (TV Producer, BBC) & Alan Torney (Radio Producer RTÉ)

  • Revealed: USI President’s Confidential Expenses
  • The Missing Money: Dramsoc Auditor Flees Country
  • Gardaí Investigate ‘Massive’ Campus Arson Attack
  • Nuclear Reactor Planned for Belfield (Candidate for UO’s most misleading headline ever?)


Edward Melvin & Katherine O’Callaghan (School of English, Drama and Film, UCD)

  • The paper moved to broadsheet format; becoming the first student broadsheet in Ireland. Launched O2 (later O-two) supplement and first edition of the University Observer online. Interviews with Ruairi Quinn, John McGahern and Joe O’Connor.


Lucy Michael (Lecturer in Sociology, University of Ulster) & Sarah Egan (Lecturer in Sociology, Bard College, New York)

  • Blood bank deny high HIV risk in UCD: The blood transfusion service board have been forced to abandon the public clinic held annually in UCD due to substandard conditions in the university.
  • Smoking Ban proposed for Arts block: A proposal to make the Tierney building an entirely non-smoking building was put forward to the building committee for consideration.
  • Letting agency rips off students: Gardaí issued a warning to students who have had dealings with the “home hunters” accommodation agency, following complaints made by several students who had been defrauded by the agency.


Daniel McConnell (Political correspondent, Sunday Independent) & Juno McEnroe (Irish Examiner)'

  • Sheep slaughtered on campus – test laboratory on campus uncovered
  • Student chaplain in hot water over Fashion Show comments
  • Protected building demolished without approval


Daniel McConnell (Political correspondent, Sunday Independent)

  • UCD paid £43,000 golden handshake to harassed staff member: College held secret meetings in Dun Laoghaire hotel to resolve dispute, harassed member received €43,000 golden handshake.
  • Senior business school lecturer forged credentials, University Observer revealed.
  • No Luas Link for UCD – planned route to college dropped, despite denials from Department of Transport
  • Blow job incident on Student Bar stage was “faked”
  • Missing £30,000 from Dramsoc funds – actor O’Dowd under fire
  • Runner up Winner of the Guardian Student Media Award for Best Newspaper


Enda Curran (Reporter, Dow Jones & Steve Cummins (Freelance, Irish Daily Star, NME)

  • Student Held At Gunpoint – A second-year student was held up at gunpoint and her car stolen during a robbery on a Securicor van outside the Library Building.
  • 60 per cent failure rate in first year Medicine – The credibility of the new Medicine curriculum was dealt a big blow after 62 per cent of students failed the winter exams
  • Extreme Revisionist Organisation Sets Its Sights On UCD – The controversial Revisionist Education — which claims the Holocaust did not take — canvasses students in a bid to recruit new members.


Samantha Libreri (Reporter, RTÉ News) & Emmet Ryan (NetVisionary Journalist of the Year 2009)

  • Opus Dei lecturer – The University Observer learned that a lecturer told her students they must attend Opus Dei events to pass her class. (The story made the front page of the Irish Times and other national press.)
  • Anti LGB lecturers – Accusations of homophobia in UCD after the paper obtains copies of emails sent by lecturers to the LGTB Rainbow Week.
  • Coca-Cola referendum – The paper first revealed that a referendum on banning Coca-Cola was to take place and gives extensive coverage to the referendum including interviews with Coca-Cola bottlers in Colombia and the Head of Coca-Cola in the region.


Eoghan Casey (Trainee Barrister) & Eoghan de Bhulbh (Bank of Scotland Ireland)

  • Belgrove Fire – The paper reveals missing fire extinguishers, alarms that didn’t go off and fire safety instructions that are actually for Merville residence and direct students to a non-existent stairwell and the wrong assembly point.
  • Exxon Mobil Seminar – engineering students are told they must attend an event sponsored by the oil company
  • Riot at the L&H – masked individuals storm the podium to prevent Justin Barrett of Youth Defence speaking at an L&H debate.


Sorcha Nic Mhathúna (former national newspaper sub-editor and now a post-graduate student) & Nathalie Márquez Courtney (Deputy Editor, Image Interiors & Living)

  • Escort agency recruitment cards circulating on campus – Students targeted for roles offering “very high earnings and excellent conditions”
  • Arrests made after students trash hotel at annual B&L Ball – Two UCD students arrested following later-night vandalism and debauchery
  • Thieves hit bulls-eye in Archery Club robbery – Around €4,000 of equipment including several bows
  • Two Ferns priests assessed at UCD – Priests accused of sexual misconduct in the diocese of Ferns in the early 1980s were sent to UCD for assessment


Stephen Carroll (France 24) & Michelle McCormick

  • Registration crisis: Students left queuing for hours for days on end as UCD’s online registration goes into meltdown. We brought the students’s frustrations to Hugh Brady, and also revealed the results of the internal investigation into it.
  • School of History breaches data protection: The paper reveals a direct contravention of UCD’s Data Protection policy when the School of History posts exam results publicly on a noticeboard.
  • O2: Bill Bryson interview


Rob Lowney & David Neary (former sub-editor for the Star and Star on Sunday)

  • The University Observer exclusively reveals the extent of UCD’s deficit (€15 million) after seeing confidential documents from the university’s top-level finance committee
  • UCD’s Accommodation Office revealed to be searching Internet sites including YouTube to catch students breaching res rules
  • Students’ Union launch controversial ‘Miss UCD’ beauty pageant, sparking protests on campus
  • O-two interviews Will Ferrell


Danielle Moran (Researcher at the London School of Economics and Political Science) & Zelda Cunningham (Trainee Solicitor)

  • Student protests against fees – Batt O’Keeffe Op-ed, features on history of student movement, news coverage of 5,000 person protest at Dáil Éireann
  • UCD runs by deficit of 20 million euro
  • Otwo interviews Rodger Daltry, Alan Rickman and Salman Rushdie.


Catriona Laverty (doctor and sports physiotherapist) & Gavan Reilly (political correspondent at TV3)

  • UCD overcharges student levy by tens of thousands – Following prompting by the University Observer, UCD acknowledges that it overcharged the student body in the Student Centre Levy, asking them for €7.50 each more than had been agreed in a previous referendum. The cash was later refunded to the SU, the societies and sports clubs.
  • Major security flaws in UCD Registry exposed – An investigation by the University Observer revealed major flaws in the security procedures in UCD Registry, which allowed any person – armed with basic facts such as a student’s date of birth – to be able to access that student’s academic records without their consent.
  • Exclusive first Irish interview with Jedward


Bridget Fitzsimons, Paul Fennessy and Quinton O’Reilly

  • IUA expenditure rises amid universities’ financial crisis: The Irish Universities Association, of which UCD is affiliated, had close to a €2 million increase in both income receive and expenditure against a backdrop of education cutbacks between 2008 and 2009.
  • O-two interviewed Tinie Tempah, Martin Sheen, Michael Sheen, My Chemical Romance, Elbow, and Feeder.


Jon Hozier-Byrne and Kate Rothwell

  • UCD Students' Union up to one million euro in debt, and seeks refinancing – SU President admits that the Union is in "financial crisis" and seeks large-scale refinancing.
  • PGDE students misled over course level – Students who believed they were reading for a Masters-level course are dismayed over the reassignment of their course to a Level-8, or undergraduate, degree.
  • Otwo interviewed Christina Perri, Janis Ian, Henry Rollins, Marc Maron, Ash, Throwing Muses, LMFAO, and Snow Patrol.


Emer Sugrue and Aoife Valentine


Kevin Beirne and Killian Woods


Cormac Duffy and David Corscadden


Gráinne Loughran and Patrick Kelleher

  • Awarded Newspaper of the Year and Website of the Year at National Student Media Awards
  • Most Senior Academic positions in UCD held by male staff
  • UCD received over €1.8 million in exam repeat fees
  • Otwo interviewed Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Foals, Mario Rosenstock and Evanna Lynch


Róisín Guyett-Nicholson and Martin Healy

  • Awarded Editors of the Year and Website of the Year at National Student Media Awards
  • Pro-Life advocate elected president of pro-choice union
  • Consent classes dropped by UCD and the Students' Union
  • Otwo interviewed Newton Faulkner, Sinéad Gleeson, David Kitt and Tonie Walsh


Aoife Hardesty and Ruth Murphy

  • Awarded European Commission Award at National Student Media Awards
  • UCDSU retracts information on abortion from 'Winging It' handbooks
  • UCDSU President Katie Ascough impeached
  • Otwo interviewed Claire Hennessy, James Kavanagh and Tara Flynn


Since its foundation the University Observer has distinguished itself receiving countless awards at national and international level. An eight-time winner of the Newspaper of the Year award at the Irish Student Media awards, most recently in 2016, the paper has also won several best editor, best news reporter, best design, and best feature writer awards.

In 2002, the paper became the first Irish student newspaper to be recognised at the renowned Guardian Student Media awards in London, taking the runner up prize in the Overall Best Newspaper category. The prize was accepted by editor Daniel McConnell and News Editor Enda Curran.

Each year, The University Observer awards the Dara Ó Briain Memorial Cup to the winner of the intra-office Fantasy Six Nations League, while the winner of the Fantasy Premier League mini-league is awarded the coveted Pat Leahy Memorial Cup.

Year The Dara Ó Briain Memorial Cup The Pat Leahy Memorial Cup
2010 Stuart's Barns
Manager: Richard Chambers
AC Slater
Manager: Paul Fennessy
2011 Stade Bombay
Manager: Killian Woods
Local Sports Team
Manager: Kenneth Barrett


External links[edit]