Sunday, 20 September 2009

New Gown website published

The Gown has launched a brand new website for you to use.

This website,, will be your new portal to regular student news and gossip, as well as all the latest from the Belfast entertainment scene, engaging features, and QUB sport analysis.

Therefore, this will be the last post on our beloved blog. Ah what a time it's been, full of scandal, bitchin' and frequent libellous claims- we've enjoyed it all...

...but don't cry into your keyboard too much, as the new site is ready, and eager for your input!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Professor Peter Gregson - the latest in expenses scandal

It has emerged that Queen’s University has been paying for its Vice Chancellor, Professor Peter Gregson, to have membership with an exclusive members-only Gentleman’s club in London.

Yet another example of being caught out abusing expenses, The Irish News’ Freedom of Information request revealed that Gregson claimed the £920 membership fee back on his expenses. This membership entitles Gregson to, among other things, frequent dinners and wine tasting events at the Athenaeum.

According to the Athenaeum's website, it was founded as a "meeting place for men who enjoy the life of the mind". Women have only been eligible to become members since January 2002.

A university spokeswoman said, “Membership of the Athenaeum provides a London base for Queen's and access to low cost accommodation when available.”

However, the Freedom of Information request revealed that Gregson stayed at the five-star Mayfair hotel on 23rd October last year, claiming back £294.55 for just one night. The information provided to the The Irish News shows that Gregson stayed in a hotel on at least two out of five visits to the city of London.

Anna Lo, South Belfast Alliance MLA, has questioned how such a payout for membership of a club and accommodation in the ritziest part of London can be justified in such tough times. She said, "On one hand there is speculation of job cuts at Queen's and increases in tuition fees yet they can afford to pay for something like this. Queen's may try and justify this, but people will still be very surprised and annoyed at this payment."

This has all come to light on the back of the revelation that Gregson enjoyed a £20k increase in his wages, an increase which is more than what many people make in a year. It was revealed in June that his salary now exceeds £200,000.

The Gown would also like to point out once again (see a previous editorial by Catherine Wylie) that Gregson ignored pleas for financial help when the paper was facing closure last academic year.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Sub-Editor Positons Available! Writers Required!‏

The Gown is currently undergoing many exciting changes in preparation for a new academic year at Queen’s. We therefore require six students to take on Sub-Editor roles to help with developing and managing the publication.

The voluntary Sub-Editor positions available are:

- Arts and Entertainment Editor

- Features Editor

- Sport Editor

- Photography Editor

- Design Editor

- Web Editor

Also, as w
e intend to have an issue out for freshers' week, we need to know who's interested in writing articles.

At any level of involvement, The Gown is a great opportunity to gain some valuable experience in journalism, media and business.

If you would like to volunteer for a sub-editor position, or you wish to write for the next issue, email us at for more information.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Queen's Radio Hosts Media Workshop Weekend

Queen's Radio will be running 4 media workshops on Friday 17th and Saturday 18th July in the Student's Union at Queen's.

The weekend of workshops will aim to teach participants skills in radio programme production, broadcast journalism, and new media sources such as blogs and podcasts.

The workshops will take place in The Space, in the Student's Union. Lunches will be provided and it is free to take part.

Queen's Radio described the different workshops that will take place:

Build a Blog
"It's a bit like build a bear except one of Ireland's leading bloggers will hold a practical on how to blog - both the technical side and the content will be covered. Other social aspects like twitter and facebook will be discussed - how to use them to maximise your reader base."

Build a Pod
"Davy Simms, formerly of the BBC Radio Ulster will hold a practical on how to build and podcast. Everything from content to the technical aspects like recording it and getting it on to the itunes marketplace."

News Reading 101
"Kathy Clugston of BBC Radio Four will show students how to find 'the voice' presentation, mic technique etc... as well a bit about how NOT to write for radio, and why.... A leading journalist will also accompany Kathy to talk about writing news and the Do's and Don't's of journalism. "

The Best Show in The God-Damn World

"A leading Northern Irish radio producer will show students how to plan the ultimate show. Forward planning, choosing the right guests, getting the killer links, jingles and witty banter will all be included plus more."

Queen's Radio highlighted that "networking sessions" would be ongoing for the two day event, and that there would be "plenty of opportunites" to put questions to the invited media professionals.

"This is not to be missed for any up and coming media star!"

To book your place, email

Thursday, 4 June 2009

GOWN EXCLUSIVE - Union in controversy after survey leads to job losses

The Gown has uncovered evidence of serious administrative dysfunction at the heart of the QUB student union, with a haphazard survey leading to the loss of full-time jobs in a recent restructuring effort.

A recent 'have your say' survey, conducted by the union, with the blessing of the university, (QUBSU is unique in the UK and Ireland in being subordinate to, not independent of, its university) was designed to overhaul the composition of the union, supposedly bringing it into line with the views of ordinary students. The Gown understands that a low uptake of the survey, and thus an unrepresentative survey to act on, prompted the subsequent actions of certain union sabbatical officers.

A number of sources have confirmed that drinks vouchers, worth £1.80, were exchanged for participation in the survey in and about the Union bars on a Thursday night. These vouchers were handed out by, amongst others, incoming union president Shane Brogan, currently VP for Equality & Diversity.

Sources have also confirmed that students present completed the questionnaire under the influence of alcohol, having consumed prior to going out. It is thus suggested that the findings of the survey are compromised through incapacitation or patent disinterest.

Student responses to the survey later precipitated a restructuring effort at the union, with five full-time members of staff losing their jobs, in the midst of torrid recession. Sources speaking to The Gown have questioned the validity of the findings of the survey, and in turn the fairness of the subsequent decision to make certain staff members redundant.

The Gown
team intend to fully investigate this story - more will follow in the coming days.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Final edition of the year out now

The May edition of The Gown is available at all the usual places around the campus. Enjoy!

Friday, 27 March 2009

Student Protest Blames Police for St.Patrick's Day Disturbances

-Brendan Hughes

Students yesterday protested to highlight their belief that the PSNI was a major cause of the Holylands disturbances on St.Patrick's Day.

At 5.00pm yesterday (Thursday) evening, approximately twelve students lined the main gates to Queen's University. A small gathering of students observed the protest. Three police officers also appeared to oversee events.

The demonstration, organised by the Socialist Worker Student Society, blamed both the police and the University for what happened on St.Patrick's Day.

Daniel O'Boyle, a member of the society, said, "The violence that happened on the day was the result of police heavy-handedness and brutality." He also identified the "core" of the problem as being the failure of Queen's to provide suitable accommodation for its students.

Last week on St.Patrick's Day, up to 400 young people, students and non-students, were involved in an incident centred on Carmel Street in the Holylands. One car was burnt out, while bricks and bottles were thrown at police on the scene. Nineteen people were arrested, and five have been charged in connection with the disturbances.

A female protester, who wished not to be named, believed that how the police treated students on the day was unfair.
"Girls were hit- I have bruises on my arm from them pushing me down the str

Another protester asserted his reasons for participating in the demonstration.
"I want to change the media perception on it- that the police were right. The same scenes happen when there's band parades, especially on 12th July, and there's no riot police out."

Students who observed the demonstration expressed mixed opinions: Student Mark Dunn said, "From this pitiful showing of students from the Holylands...they are merely adding to the reputation that they have put on the university and its students."

Another bystander in support of the protest believed that students are not completely to blame for the problems in the Holylands.
"A lot of the onus is put on students, when a lot of the time residents also provoke the situation", she said, citing her own personal problems with residents in the area.


In a bizarre twist to proceedings, three unusual protesters appeared on the scene; current Students' Union Sabbatical Officers James Murphy and Fergus McAleavey, and newly-
elected VP Equality and Diversity Paul Lilly. The trio began to protest on issues of their own: While Murphy held a placard saying "The world is flat", McAleavey campaigned on behalf of "Gary Breen" being "number 1", leaving Lilly to shout at the top of his lungs, "Would anyone like a cup of tae!?"

Speaking to The Gown, Lilly outlined his reasons for protest.

"One of my key areas in equality and diversity is that there's not enough tea bein' drinkin'. Now, the word I use for it is 'tae'..."

On a more serious note, Lilly, who himself lives in the Holylands, said, "I think (the protest) is going a bit far now. I don't think that the light they are portraying the police in is a correct one."

Daniel O'Boyle desribed the Sabb's actions as a "attempt to trivialise the protest".

"(The Sabbatical Officers') responsibility is to offer and provide leadership and to represent the interests of students, and (here) they don't seem to be doing that at all."

Students' Union President Ciarnan Helferty has, through this blog, invited the Socialist Worker Student Society to take part in a public debate on the issues surrounding St.Patrick's Day.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Protest Organised

Students have organised a protest to be held on Thursday 26th March at the QUB gates.

A text message is circulating...

"SAY NO TO POLICE VIOLENCE! Student protest on Thur 26th mar at 5pm at qub gates. We demand- proper student acomodation, no2riot police n holylands, no xpulsions due 2 stpaddys day and more support fro unions. Be there 2get ur voice heard! Forward to any students in holylands."

The Gown would like to get the views and opinions of students on this proposed event.

Lilly and Duffy in Second Election of the Year

Paul Lilly and Barry Duffy, both successful in the recent sabbatical election, winning the places of VP Equality and Diversity and VP Education respectively, are running in the up and coming law society elections. The elections which take place on 31st March see the two law students run for the posts of secretary (Paul Lilly) and president (Barry Duffy).

Monday, 23 March 2009

Message from English Society

Dear all
There is a gig in McHugh's tomorrow (Tuesday) night, which will feature Bacchus in the headlining slot, and the Cahier Collective and Connor Hutchen in support. There are a few English students in the line-up, and I'm sure they'd appreciate your support. So, if you fancy a spot of cheap banter tomorrow night, McHugh's is the place to be. Doors at 9pm.

The English Society

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Names of Arrested Released

With the disturbances now rumoured to have cost an estimated £16,000, four names have been released in regard to the incident which took place in the Holylands on St. Patrick's Day.

Alan McCrory (21), from Charlestown Road, Craigavon, faces two charges of assaulting a police constable and riotous behaviour.

Augustine McAleer (19), and Enda Ward (26), both of Loughmacrory Park, Omagh, are each accused of assault. Mr McAleer is further charged with the attempted criminal damage of a police Land Rover, riotous behaviour and resisting arrest. Mr Ward faces a second charge of obstructing police during the disorder yesterday.

Gary Keenan (20), of Carrickbawn Road, Rostrevor, and Darren Connolly, an electrician from Tievenamara Road, Keady, are both accused of riotous behaviour.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Nineteen Arrested in Holylands Disturbances

- Gown Team

Police have confirmed that nineteen people have been arrested and detained after the disturbances in the Holylands yesterday afternoon.

Eleven of those arrested remain in custody, of which five have appeared before Laganside court this morning.

Up to 400 young people, students and non-students, are understood to have been involved in the St Patrick's Day incident, centred on Carmel Street in the Holylands. One car was reportedly vandalised, while bricks and bottles were thrown at police on the scene.

The atmosphere is believed to have intensified considerably with the adversarial intervention of the police, who, using dogs and full riot equipment, attempted to restore order in the area.

While much of the publicity has centred on students, one reveler asserted that the first missile thrown at police came from a Belfast youth unattached to either of the main local universities. Heavy street drinking, reportedly sparked by house parties spilling onto the street prompted the initial presence of the police. Another student alleged that the arrest of a female student gave rise to an aggressive response from onlookers.

MP for South Belfast Alasdair McDonnell has called for the expulsion of students involved in yesterday's disturbance in the Holylands area. In a press statement, the university ascertained that those found to have “brought the university into disrepute” would be subjected to the full rigours of the strict off-campus code.

QUBSU president Ciarnan Helferty stated that, “those involved are a disgrace and an example should, and will, be made of them.”

The Gown gauged the reaction of students to yesterday's events. Many made much of the fact that QUB students are bearing the brunt of the bad publicity. According to one student, “Queen's is getting too much flak, Jordanstown is not taking enough responsibility.” Others questioned whether Queen's had responsibility in this matter, with one student deeming it “a case of individual responsibility...if people are going to be morons, they are going to be morons. Queen's can't change that.” By contrast, some students were more sympathetic: “the media has blown it out of proportion. It was just a bit of craic.”

The Gown can confirm that this evening's shift for the Queen's Annual Fund (currently running a telephone fundraising campaign with student callers) has been cancelled due to the bad press caused by yesterday's incident.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

And the winners are...

President: Shane Brogan

VP Campaigns and Communications Gareth McGreevy

VP Clubs & Societies: Paul Courtney

VP Community: Laura Hawthorne

VP Education: Barry Duffy

VP Equality and Diversity: Paul Lilly

VP Welfare: Susan Kearney

Vote in the Election - 3rd and 4th March 2009

The Gown can confirm that the candidates running for the forthcoming election on Tuesday 3rd March and Wednesday 4th March are as follows…

Students’ Union President

Currently held by CIARNAN HELFERTY

Candidates for 09/10

- Shane Brogan
- Seamas Og MacGiollaCheara

VP Campaigns and Communications

Currently held by JAMES MURPHY

Candidates for 09/10

- Paul Simpson
- Stephen Connolly
- Gareth McGreevy

VP Welfare

Currently held by FERGUS MCALEAVY

Candidates for 09/10

- Susan Kearney
- Adam McGibbon
- Ronan Digney

VP Education

Currently held by KEVIN KELLY

Candidates for 09/10

- Barry Duffy
- Daniel O'Boyle

VP Clubs and Societies

Currently held by PAUL COURTNEY

Candidates for 09/10

- Paul Courtney
- Adelle Archibald
- Conchur Moore

VP Equality and Diversity

Currently held by SHANE BROGAN

Candidates for 09/10

- Sarah Boles
- Veronica McKinney
- Paul Marlow
- Paul Lilly

VP Community

Currently held by LAURA HAWTHORNE

Candidates for 09/10

- Laura Hawthorne
- Gary O’Kane
- Shane Boylan

See this link to read their manifestos…

Candidates for Election Prove Uninspiring

As voting continues in the QUBSU sabbatical elections, a number of enlightening points (beyond those stated in manifestos) arose from yesterday’s poorly attended Q & A session hosted by the debating society in the Space. With the antics of the current VP for Campaigns and Communications, James Murphy, a talking point in the past year, presidential candidate Shane Brogan resolved to take a tough line on underperforming execs, saying he would have “no qualms” about tabling a motion of no-confidence in at the SRC regardless of friendships. Brogan stated that “if you don’t do your job, you get kicked out.”

His opponent, the Law Society’s Seamas Og MacGiollaCheara, appears to have made a mooted rise in fees to 10k per year, and his promised efforts to fight such an imposition, the central part of his campaign platform. However, reliable sources revealed to The Gown that even the most cursory research would have revealed the Russell Group Universities’ new, more modest request of between 6 and 7k per year. Moreover, Seamas Og’s opposition to proposed 5% cuts in Union funding are an apparent misrepresentation; these 5% cuts are, according to current president Ciarnan Helferty, a standard rate across all government bodies in the wake of the current economic crisis.

In the race for the campaigns and communications post, extrovert Stephen Connolly made a bid for Obama-esque oratory, echoing Winston Churchill in his promise to “fight for you in the foyer...and in the snack bar”. He criticised opponents for deeming his proposals vague, saying, by way of retort that he “stands for solidarity, for every member of the student body.” Connolly, in a subsequent interview, was, however, unable to name a favoured form of student finance, a campaign tactic to tackle a proposed fees rise beyond platitudinous calls for solidarity, and seemed unsure of whether he was for or against fees in the first place. Fellow campaigns candidate Gareth McGreevey made much of his work as editor of the Law Society’s magazine, while promising to ensure students are aware of their financial support and entitelements. McGreevey did, however, appear quite light on campaigning ideas. People Before Profit candidate Paul Simpson was unable to attend.

Concerns were also raised about VP Community candidate Shane Boylan; there was no mention of his populist (and some might saw lowest common denominator) slogan of “Feck Fees”, or its relevance to the post of VP Community, in spite of said logo’s ubiquity on campus. Moreover, Boylan has been uncharacteristically quiet about his role as head of the QUB Sinn Fein cumman, with plans revealed to The Gown for bi-lingual signs in the Union also notably absent from his campaigning. Boylan’s vagueness over the community officer’s remit seemed apparent in his resolution to tackle poor student housing (a VP Welfare job). Boylan’s remark on whether he had read an essential review of RAG activities that he had “started it, got halfway through, and killed myself” rang hollow amongst many attendees in light of the recent suicide in Elms village, appearing crass and insensitive for a candidate for the post of “community.” By contrast, Laura Hawthorne, widely acknowledged as a high-performing exec this year, listed achievements in building solid relationships with residents’ groups and the Vintner’s Forum, while relating developments on the increased seed funding for RAG and work in progress on street lighting and a night bus for students attending the Union.

Interviewed after the event, prominent SRC member Damien Corriden raised his concerns with The Gown, stating that “across the board there has been a distinct lack of preparation...candidates don’t seem to be aware of alot of the fundamental issues affecting students.” Councillor Corriden was particularly concerned with the post of Education, with one candiate (Dan O’Boyle) absent and his sole opponent, the Law Society’s Barry Duffy, unable to answer any substantive questions from the floor. Corriden deemed the manifestos “full of platitudes and generalities”, believing that many candiates were running unserious campaigns simply “for the fun of it.” Current president Ciarnan Helferty, who has nominated Shane Brogan, Laura Hawthorne and Susan Kearney (for VP Welfare) added that “alot of the candidates aren’t taking it as seriously as they should...they are insulting the intelligence of alot of students.”

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Credibility of Front Page Story

Due to queries over the credibility of our front page story in the latest edition of The Gown, we would like to state that should anyone wish to see the old flier citing the discriminatory rules of eligibilty, they should email us at and we will forward the flier on to you.


There will be a Gown meeting on Wednesday 4th March at 2pm in the office.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

VP Education Kevin Kelly Corrects The Gown


To whom it may concern,

Your article on Page 13 of the newest issue of the Gown concerning the upcoming elections in the Union contains several mistakes which I feel should be corrected.

The first being relevant to me and my post. The article states that I PROMISED to get rid of repeat examinations in August. Firstly, if you take a look at my manifesto you will see that not only did I not "promise" ("As Vice-President of Education I will eagerly campaign"), but I never even said that I would try to get rid of repeat examinations in August. I said that I will try to have repeat examinations included in the May timetable AS WELL AS the August one. I would like this corrected. Negotiations are ongoing within both the Education and Welfare Committee of Student Council, and between myself and Pro-Vice Chancellor Ken Brown.

The opening lines of the article have the dates of the elections wrong, saying "2nd and 3rd" when it is actually 3rd and 4th.
Under VP Community it says that the post was introduced in 2007/2008, when it was actually 2008/2009. Also you have not included the name of candidate Shane Boylan for VP Community, a rather large and unfair mistake.
Under VP Welfare it says that the post was held by Ciarnan Helferty in 2006/2007, when it was actually 2007/2008 when Ciarnan had this job. Also the name of candidate Susan Kearney is spelled incorrectly.
Under VPCS you have included Shane Boylan as a candidate in this election which will prove detrimental not only to Shane's chances of winning VP Community but also to other candidates in the VPCS election.

I hope that these mistakes are taken into consideration the next time the Gown is published and thoroughly proof-read for such errors before any mud is slung my way for 'failing to fulfill my "promises"'.



QUB: No Irish Need Apply

A shocking discovery made by The Gown in recent weeks has unearthed racial inequality on the part of QUB. The Management School, one of the university’s leading bodies, took the seemingly innocuous decision to advertise a bursary for their postgraduate programmes. However, said bursaries were for GB students only, that is, students from England, Scotland and Wales. Thus excluding students from Northern Ireland, The Republic of Ireland and Europe.
The Gown can confirm that QUB have since retraced their steps, and have made applications for the bursary open to all students. Meanwhile, the controversial GB clause has been amended on new advertisements detailing the bursary, and QUB have done their utmost to remove old fliers from the campus.
However, when The Gown spoke to a Management School representative on 4th February, the original rules of eligibility were still in place. To quote the initial conditions: “Queen’s University Management School is offering 5 MSc Scholarships for Great Britain students enrolling on any full-time postgraduate taught programme within the School for September 2009 entry.” The flier then goes on to say, “All Great Britain applicants who apply for the full-time MSc programmes will automatically be considered.”
The Gown spoke to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland which, after a long discussion, concluded that it did not have sufficient details on the case to comment. Undeterred, The Gown spoke to a leading representative from the School of Law on the legality of the matter. Given the fact that there exists no legitimate aim or reason for stipulating that GB students need only apply, the Management School have left themselves susceptible to claims of discrimination.
Now that the fliers and advertisements have been amended and extended to all home and EU students, eligibility is solely based on academic performance. This does indeed sit more comfortably with QUB’s self portrait as a Russell Group institution. No other school within the university has ever incurred such controversy in relation to rules of eligibility, as all schools rely predominantly on academic performance.
When The Gown quizzed senior employees from the Management School, they were extremely hesitant to speak on the matter. The first person we spoke to simply stated, “I don’t know”. The Marketing and External Relations officer of the school remained extremely evasive on the matter. When pursued for comment, said representative dismissed The Gown’s rights of enquiry. At this conjecture then, The Gown wishes to reiterate that it stands independent from the University, and is simply continuing the newspaper’s responsibility to hold the institution to account.
When asked whether or not the old fliers had been successfully retrieved from universities in GB, The School’s representative said: “I cannot answer that.” When further pressed for an answer to that question, and why indeed such a rule was implicated in the first place, the lady in question told The Gown, “I am not having this conversation with you. The important

thing for you to know is that all students are now eligible.”
The Management School, it seems, does not know whether the old fliers, which include the discriminatory rules, are actually completely out of circulation. They also refused to inform The Gown why these rules were implemented in the first place.
We spoke to a student from Co. Tyrone who was outraged at the prospect of being discriminated against. “I cannot believe that the university would have the audacity to tell me I am not eligible for a bursary when I have performed very well academically. I should have as much chance as anyone else to receive a bursary for a postgraduate course which offers financial help.”
The Gown suspects that this oversight may have been part of

a bid to enhance the university’s status on the Mainland. After all, it has been suggested that QUB were welcomed into the Russell Group for nothing more than geographical balance.
Shane Brogan, VP Equality and Diversity told The Gown, “I was stunned when I heard about the actions of the Management School. It is absolutely disgraceful that they intended to discriminate against students in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It seems unbelievable that they thought that this was within the law.”
Indeed, it remains to be seen how QUB intend to remain an institution of esteem; and how, or if, its individual schools will ever ‘manage’ to live up to such a portrayal.

We're Back!

The March/April copy of The Gown is now available from all the usual pick-up points. Apologies for abandoning the blog for the past month, but expect us to well and truly make it up to you all with numerous articles posted for comment and debate.

Enjoy...and debate wisely!