Press Release

Hanafin awards children´s research fellowships

The Minister for Children, Mary Hanafin, T.D., has today (Tuesday, 5 February. 2002) announced the award of two National Children´s Strategy doctoral fellowships, worth €12,700 each per annum plus the payment of University fees.

The fellowships have been awarded to Paula Jean Manners who is researching playtime in schools at the Children´s Research Centre, Trinity College and Caroline Smith who is researching Youth suicide at the Department of Psychology, Trinity College. The fellowships were awarded following a public advertisement and the assessment of the applications received by the Research Development Advisory Group, which was established under the National Children´s Strategy.

The issue of playtime in schools is very important for children and young people. The lack of play and recreation facilities was the main issue raised by children in the consultation process, which formed part of the development of the National Children´s Strategy.

“I am currently developing a National Play and Recreation Policy to ensure we have more playgrounds than golf courses and that children can enjoy just being children” said Minister Hanafin. “This research on playtime in schools is very interesting and it will help to discover how schools and the children themselves can contribute to a positive play experience for children when they are in school” she added.

Suicide and in particular, youth suicide is an issue, which needs further research in order to understand the reasons for it and to prevent young people from taking their own lives. As many people die from suicide in this country as from road traffic accidents. This research on youth suicide will carry out a detailed investigation of the particular features of Irish youth suicide with regard to cultural relationships, Irish attitudes towards suicide, psychological factors and the role of the educational system. Minister Hanafin said “Youth suicide is a very tragic and unfortunately quite a common occurrence. I hope that this research will enhance our understanding of the reasons why young people take their own lives in order to assist in its prevention”.

The second national goal of the National Children´s Strategy is to promote research into children´s lives. The aim of this goal is to achieve a better understanding of how children grow up in Ireland in order to ensure that their needs are met. These two research fellowships have been awarded as part of the implementation of the second national goal of the Strategy. The purpose of these fellowships is to develop research capacity in relation to children and to support research directly related to the National Children´s Strategy.

Minister Hanafin said “This is a major initiative to support research in relation to children´s lives. The research carried out during these fellowships will enhance our understanding of children and will ensure that we are better informed when making policy decisions which affect children.”

These fellowships have been awarded initially for one year but are renewable for up to two additional years. This research programme will be expanded in the academic year 2002/2003 with the award of additional National Children´s Strategy research fellowships. The new fellowships will be publicly advertised within the next few months.