15 Aug 2022

Challenging topics contribute to a busy MacGill Summer School programme this year

This year's theme covers the destruction of Ukraine and its people and the fallout for mankind

Challenging  topics contribute to a busy MacGill Summer School programme this year

Dr Joe Mulholland, director of the MacGill Summer School with Dr Lucy Fallon-Byrne and Dr Paul Mason, journalist at the event Picture: Thomas Gallagher

Ukraine, Russia, Afghanistan, Irish neutrality, the pandemic, energy problems and the food crisis across the planet are just some of the many and varied topics that will come under the microscope over the coming days as the MacGill Summer School continues at the Highlands Hotel in Glenties.

Inspired by the life and works of navvy poet, Patrick MacGill, The MacGill Summer School, founded by Joe Mulholland and a local committee and directed by Joe for most of its existence has attracted growing numbers of people from all walks of life to engage in public discussion of the urgent issues of the day – social, economic, political and environmental.

The list of past contributors to be found on the MacGill website reflects almost every domain of public life in Ireland over the past four decades.

This year's theme, the destruction of Ukraine and its people and the fallout for mankind has already sparked much interest and debate since the school opened on Thursday.

This (Friday) afternoon's programme asks if the destruction of Ukraine and Russian aggression have set a new and complex agenda for the European Union and the future direction of Russia. The school speakers will also touch on the crisis in Afghanistan.

One of the highlights of the event is the annual Hume Lecture. It will be delivered at 11.05am on Saturday morning by Dr Linda Doyle, Provost and President of Trinity College, the University of Dublin, and hosted by Dr Don Thornhill, former Secretary General of the Department of Education and Science and former chair of the Higher Education Authority.

Perhaps one of the ost interesting debates this day will arise following the 2.30pm lecture questioning whether neutrality an option anymore.

Speakers include Paddy McGuinness CMG OBE Former Deputy National Security Advisor for Intelligence UK. Responsible for UK’s two five-year National Security Programme; Caitriona Heinl, Executive Director at the Azure Forum for Contemporary Security Strategy and Adjunct Research Fellow at School of Politics; Prof. Andrew Cottey, EU Jean Monnet Chair in European Political Integration at UCC and H.E. Adriaan Palm, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Ireland

It will be hosted by Prof. Brigid Laffan, Emeritus Prof. at the European Institute, Florence.

Other topics up for debate are the questions surrounding the problem of energy and how does it wean itself off fossil fuels and if the war in Ukraine and the pandemic are creating a serious food crisis across the planet and whether those countries with substantial agriculture sectors help. Local TD and Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue will speak on this subject.

The final offering on Sunday at 11am will be an open forum event with the topic very relevant. Entitled 'The threats to our planet have never been greater and the dangers never more frightening. Can mankind overcome those threats and how?' it is sure to stimulate some interesting conversations.

The summer school ends at 2.30pm with The Friel Experience. It will consist of a walk from the courthouse to The Laurels where Brian Friel’s “five brave Glenties women” – his mother and four aunts lived The story is celebrated in his masterpiece, Dancing at Lughnasa. One of Friel’s short stories will be read by acclaimed Ballybofey actor, Charlie Bonner.

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