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David Farrell wins Irish Research Council’s Impact Award - Equality Award for Kathleen Lynch

Thursday, 05 December, 2019 


Prof David Farrell with President Michael D Higgins. Photography: Marc O’Sullivan.

Prof David Farrell with President Michael D Higgins. Photography: Marc O’Sullivan.

University College Dublin: Professor David Farrell of UCD School of Politics and International Relations was last night presented with the Irish Research Council’s prestigious award for Research Impact, at a ceremony in the Royal Irish Academy attended by President of Ireland Michael D Higgins. The award recognizes Professor Farrell’s long and distinguished career.

It comes only two months after Professor Farrell, alongside his collaborator Dr Jane Suiter from DCU, was presented with the Brown Democracy Medal by the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State University – the first Irish academics to receive the award – for work on the Irish Citizens' Assembly Project.

Started in 2011, the Irish Citizens' Assembly project – funded by the IRC – was highly influential in the Irish government’s decision to establish the Irish Constitutional Convention (ICC) and the Irish Citizens’ Assembly (ICA) – which played a significant role in the successful referenda on marriage equality and repealing the 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution.

The cultural, political and societal impact of the Irish Citizens' Assembly project (and its predecessor We the Citizens) is far-reaching and ongoing. Allowing citizens to deliberate on sensitive or controversial subjects, the ICC and ICA proved effective and persuaded Government to implement some proposed policies and put issues up for nationwide referendum votes.

Most recently deliberations from the ICA have produced proposals on climate change which resulted in the Oireachtas declaring a climate emergency. While other achievements in constitutional reform have been realised in the Oireachtas’ acceptance of ICC recommendations on Blasphemy laws, the Role of Women in the Home, reducing the voting age to 16, reducing the age threshold for Presidential candidates, and several Dáil reforms.

From 2016-18, Professor Farrell was the research leader of the Irish Citizens' Assembly working closely with Dr Suiter and other colleagues in analysing material and data gathered from the process.

Internationally, his work and its outcomes have been highly influential, playing a role in the establishment of citizens' assemblies in Scotland (2019), Madrid (2018), and Belgium (2019), sometimes in tandem with his consultation in a direct advisory capacity.

Speaking to the impact of Professor Farrell’s work, internationally renowned cultural historian and author, David Van Reybrouck said: “Professor David Farrell is Europe's leading academic on deliberative democracy. His scholarly output is of course prolific and outstanding, but what really sets him apart from many other political scientists is the way he turns the insights from his research on electoral systems and party politics into daring, ground-breaking, and transformative examples of new democracy.”

Speaking after the awards, Vice-President for Research Innovation and Impact Professor Orla Feely said: “I am delighted to see this recognition for Professor David Farrell’s outstanding career and for the impact of his work on the politics of representation in democracies. David has made distinguished contributions in areas of electoral systems, party politics, representative politics in the European Parliament, and deliberative democracy.  His work has had transformative impact, and his expertise is widely sought after around the world.”

In recognition of the President’s attendance at the awards as Guest of Honour, the IRC made a special award to a researcher who has made an exceptional contribution to Equality and Participation – the theme of his Excellency’s Presidency.

Professor Kathleen Lynch of UCD School of Education was presented with this award for her lead role in establishing the UCD Equality Studies Centre in 1990 and the UCD School of Social Justice in 2005, with the aim of creating safe academic spaces that would develop emancipatory teaching and research practices.

Prof Kathleen Lynch with President Michael D Higgins. Photography: Marc O’Sullivan.

Outside of the university, Professor Lynch has worked over many years to challenge inequalities and promote social justice with community groups, non-governmental organisations and statutory bodies, both nationally and internationally.

In 2018-19, she worked as an academic adviser to Dr Ebun Joseph in establishing the first ever Black Studies modules in Ireland at UCD School of Education. She worked in a similar capacity with Dr Sindy Joyce and Hannagh McGinley to establish Traveller-led modules on Travellers, Rights, Ethnicity and Nomadism in UCD School of Social Justice in 2015-16 and in UCD School of Education in 2019-20.

Now in their third year, the IRC’s Researcher of the Year Awards commend the very best of current IRC awardees or alumni working in academia, industry, civic society or the public sector. A single Impact Award is presented to an awardee of the Council who is making a highly significant impact outside of academia. 

About Professor David Farrell

Professor Farrell was Head of Social Sciences at University of Manchester from 2006 to 2009, after which he became the Chair of Politics at UCD School of Politics and International Relations.

He has published 14 books and over 90 articles and book chapters, including: 'The Dynamics of Democratic Representation: How Democracy Works' for which he received the Leon Weaver Award (2012) for the best paper presented at the 2011 conference of the American Political Science Association; and Political Parties and Democratic Linkage: How Parties Organize Democracy (co-authored by Russell J. Dalton, David M. Farrell, and Ian McAllister, Oxford University Press, 2011) for which he received the GESIS Klingemann Prize for Best CSES Scholarship (2012) and the Brian Farrell Book Prize of the Political Studies Association of Ireland (2012).

In 2013, Professor Farrell was made a member of the Royal Irish Academy, in recognition of the quality of his world-class research.

Currently, he is a member of the Stewarding Group of the Scottish Citizens’ Assembly and sits on the international advisory boards of the ‘Electoral Integrity’ & ‘Making Electoral Democracy Work’ projects.  In 2018 he was Chair of the Forum on Parliamentary Discipline established by the Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann; and he was also a member of the Welsh Assembly's Expert Panel on Electoral Reform.

Professor Farrell recently retired from his long-standing role as co-editor of Party Politics, a peer-reviewed academic journal providing a forum for the analysis of political parties, which is ranked 35th in the world among journals dedicated to political science – and which he founded in 1996.