Knowledge Exchange Seminars, Series 2

Logos: QUB, NIA, UU

 Sponsored by the Queen’s University of Belfast - QPOL, 
the University of Ulster -  Institute of Research in Social Science (IRiSS) and the
Research and Information Service (RaISe) of the Northern Ireland Assembly

'Promoting evidence-led policy and law-making within Northern Ireland’ – that is the underlying aim of the upcoming Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series (KESS), collectively sponsored by the Queen’s University of Belfast, University of Ulster and the Assembly’s Research and Information Service (RaISe).  In an attempt to encourage debate and improve understanding, the Series will provide an opportunity for the presentation of local research findings about diverse social issues faced in various sectors, such as health, social development, education, children/young people and older people.  

Seminars will be free and will run on Thursdays from 04 October 2012 to 16 May 2013.  Each seminar will take place from 1.30-3.30pm in Parliament Buildings, located on Stormont Estate, where parking is easily accessible.   Refreshments will be served.

The Series will also provide excellent networking opportunities.  We aim to have a spectrum of attendees, including MLAs and their staff, Assembly staff, public and private sector employees and academia, together with voluntary and community groups. Please reserve your seminar place by emailing

Further details of the Seminars, including Policy Briefings and podcasts will be placed on this website, the QUB School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work web pages and on the UU Institute for Research in Social Sciences (IRiSS) website, as they become available.

2012-2013 Seminar Programme

4 October 2012 - Mary Daly (QUB):
Parenting Support – A New Policy Domain in Northern Ireland and Elsewhere  [video-recording]
This presentation focuses on parenting support, which has become a major interest on the part of policy makers and the site of considerable innovation in family and social policy, not just in the UK but across Europe. The presentation outlines the objectives associated with parenting support and the variations in policy approach in different parts of Europe. In some countries parenting support is voluntary and from the ground up whereas in others – such as England – it is government initiated and focused on giving information to all parents and retraining those who are seen to be ‘poor parents’. The presentation also considers what we know about the outcomes or results of parenting support, with special emphasis on Northern Ireland. [Policy Briefing] [Powerpoint Presentation]

18 October 2012 - Goretti Horgan (UU):
Welfare Reform: Implications and Options [video-recording]
This seminar looks at the implications arising from the Welfare Reform Bill and assesses what can be done within the constraints of parity to reduce adverse impacts on people in Northern Ireland. It includes consideration of the changes to Housing Benefit regulations and the introduction of Personal Independence Payments for disabled people. [Policy Briefing] [Powerpoint Presentation]

1 November 2012 – Professor Colin Knox & Professor Vani  Borooah (UU):
Delivering Shared Education [video-recording]
Shared education refers to schools from different sectors working together in a sustained process ranging from two or more schools making shared use of specialist facilities through to co-ordinated timetabling, and pupils taking classes across a network of schools.  Shared education is distinct from integrated education in that it involves educational collaboration while preserving community identity.  The Programme for Government (2011-15) makes at least two commitments to shared education: to ensure all children have the opportunity to participate in shared education programmes by 2015; and, to substantially increase the number of schools sharing facilities by 2015.  This seminar will consider how shared education could contribute to improved educational outcomes. [Policy Briefing] [Powerpoint Presentation]

15 November 2012 - Maria Lohan, Áine Aventin & Peter O'Halloran (QUB): 
How to reduce teenage pregnancy in Northern Ireland?  A movie-based educational approach [video-recording]
This seminar will describe the development of an educational resource designed to increase young people’s intention to avoid adolescent pregnancy and to increase their ability to communicate about this issue.  The resource, entitled ‘If I were Jack…’ is based upon an interactive video drama which tells the story of an unintended teenage pregnancy from the point of view of a young man.  Relationship and sex education (RSE) can be a controversial issue in Ireland and Northern Ireland.  One of the key challenges has been to ensure that the resource reaches the target population (adolescents) and can be included in the RSE curricula of both jurisdictions.  We have developed a number of strategies to ensure maximum impact.  These include: developing a credible, evidence-based, theory-informed resource which builds on previous research and is amenable to rigorous evaluation; ensuring acceptability by involving key (public sector) stakeholders in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in the resource development and using a drama based approach that engages boys as well as girls and ensuring the resource is promoted appropriately by utilising technologies such as video and the internet to increase national and potential international impact. [Policy Briefing] [Powerpoint Presentation]

29 November 2012 – Dr Jonny Byrne, Dr Cathy Gormley Heenan & Gillian Robinson (UU):
Public Attitudes to and Awareness of Peace Walls: impacting on policy [video-recording]
This seminar presents finding from new research examining the public’s attitudes and awareness of peace walls.  This is of particular relevance as a key commitment within Priority Four of the Programme for Government is to ‘actively seek local agreement to reduce the number of peace walls’.  This seminar draws upon the results of two surveys, which totalled 1451 respondents – residents that lived in close proximity to peace walls, and a general sample of the wider population.  The data provides an insight into the public’s views on the impact of the peace walls; attitudes towards any future attempts to transform and/or remove peace walls, and assesses the role of government departments in terms of policy and interventions surrounding the peace walls. [Policy Briefing] [Powerpoint Presentation]

13 December 2012 – Jack Anderson (QUB):
Promoting Alternative Dispute Resolution in Northern Ireland [video-recording]
In September 2011, a partnership between the NI ombudsman, the Law Centre (NI) and the School of Law at Queen’s University led to the production of a booklet called “Alternatives to Court in Northern Ireland”.  The booklet (distributed freely in Courts, Citizens Advice Bureaus; solicitors’ offices, libraries etc. across Northern Ireland) attempted to show members of the public that there are other ways of dealing with many types of legal disputes, how these alternatives to court might work and when it is appropriate to use them.  It also included a detailed directory of dispute resolution services available in NI appropriately organised by specific types of disputes.  The clear benefits that ADR process can have over litigation notwithstanding (less adversarial, speed, privacy, and cost effectiveness), the anecdotal evidence suggests that the knowledge and uptake of ADR remains low among the public while the reticence to engage with it remains relatively high in the legal profession.  This paper will suggest ways in which ADR may be better promoted. [Policy Briefing] [Powerpoint Presentation]

10 January 2013 – Ian Shuttleworth (QUB):  
NI Census of Population and the Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study will examine residential segregation and population change
This seminar based upon data from the NI Census of Population and the Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study will examine residential segregation and population change. [Policy Briefing] [Powerpoint Presentation]

24 January 2013– Professor Derek Birrell (UU):  
Is the idea that Northern Ireland is over-governed a myth?
Much has been said about the extent to which Northern Ireland is over-governed with the solution generally seen in terms of reducing the number of departments.  Yet, to define the problem as the number of departments makes presuppositions about the issue.  Rather, the core question is what form of central administration is important for devolution?  The mini Whitehall model adopted in NI creates difficulties, especially for joined up governance.  Rather than the solution being seen only as the amalgamation of department’s consideration should be given to other options: aligning with the main themes of the Programme for Government; copying Scottish or Welsh clusters; or aligning with main trends of expenditure.  Any discussion of governance must also include the relationship between departments and very large centralised quangos. [Policy Briefing] [Powerpoint Presentation]

7 February 2013 - Laura Dunne (QUB):
Child Care Research, youth development, lifestyles and social behaviour; parenting and early years; children in the care of public authorities and mental health and disability [video recording]
The Institute of Child Care Research conducts original research into child care needs and services using a mix of research methods with the ultimate aim of improving outcomes for children.  The work has the potential to influence both policy and practice related to children and young people.  This presentation will give an overview of the main themes of our work is organized under: youth development, lifestyles and social behavior; parenting and early years; children in the care of public authorities and mental health and disability.  Examples of key current pieces of work will also be given. [Policy Briefing] [Powerpoint Presentation]

21 February 2013 - Marina Monteith (UU):
Child Rights Indicators and Reporting on United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child
[video recording]
The seminar will cover research undertaken by the Children and Youth Programme, UNESCO Centre (IRISS UU), producing a set of child rights indicators to assist reporting in relation to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and which further develops the existing Children and Young People’s Strategy outcome indicators within a rights framework.  This project also maps existing data used by Departments and the extensive datasets available in Northern Ireland with regard to children’s circumstances and lives.  The project makes recommendations on how existing data can be used by Departments to ensure a child rights focus in the monitoring of policy and its implementation where it affects children. [Policy Briefing] [Powerpoint Presentation]

7 March 2013 - Joint Seminar: Prof. Jean Allain (QUB) and Dr. Jennifer Hamilton (UU)

Prof. Jean Allain (QUB): Human Trafficking: Does Slavery Exist Today [video recording]
This seminar will consider legal issues surrounding human trafficking.  Consideration will be given to the definition of trafficking, with an emphasis given to types of exploitation (slavery, servitude, forced labour, exploitation of prostitution) enumerated in the UN and European Conventions and in the 2011 EU Directive.  This will set the foundation for an examination of legislation in Northern Ireland (as well as in the United Kingdom) which is unique, in that it effectively equates prostitutes with human trafficking.  What implications does this have on issues of extraterritorial application of Stormont legislation in countries where prostitution is legal. [Policy Briefing] [Powerpoint Presentation]

Dr. Jennifer Hamilton (UU): Forced Labour and the Mushroom Industry in Northern Ireland [video recording]
This seminar will examine the mushroom industry in Northern Ireland and discuss the issue of forced labour within the sector.  The agricultural sector in the UK is characterised by a declining local or ‘primary’ labour market and an increasing temporary secondary market.  The mushroom industry in general is characterised by intensive use of migrant labour in European and US contexts.  In addition, there is a long history of significant concerns raised about working conditions and health impacts on workers in the industry, such as long working hours, poor housing, low wages, unsafe working conditions, abuse and isolation.  This research investigated the extent of abuse of workers’ rights in the mushroom industry in Northern Ireland and the seminar will discuss the findings including exploitation and unlawful practices.  Forced labour is closely associated with human trafficking, an issue which has become more prominent in Northern Ireland. [Policy Briefing] [Powerpoint Presentation]


21 March 2013 - Joint Seminar:  Dr Una Convery & Dr Linda Moore (UU) and Dr Tracy Irwin & Dr John McCord (UU)

Dr Una Convery & Dr Linda Moore (UU): The Custodial Detention of Children and the Youth Justice Review [video recording]
This seminar will consider the findings and recommendations relating to the custodial detention of children put forward in ‘A Review of the Youth Justice System in Northern Ireland’, published by the Department of Justice (2011).  It will examine the Youth Justice Review Team’s recommendations within the context of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, previous investigations into the detention of children by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, children’s experiences of custody documented by Include Youth and the wider literature on the use of custody for children.  Based on this evidence, potential developments in relation to legislation, policy and practice to enhance the realisation of the Review Team’s recommendations and the protection of children’s rights will be highlighted. [Policy Briefing] [Powerpoint Presentation]

Dr Tracy Irwin & Dr John McCord (UU): A New Vision for the Education of Children and Young People in Custody [video recording]
Education is a fundamental right of all children and young people and although education within custody is widely accepted as a vital medium for pro-social modelling, rehabilitation and reducing recidivism (Schuller, 2009), the educational opportunities for young people in custody can be limited and basic rights to education are often not realized (CJINI, 2011a, 2011b; Moore, 2011).  This seminar will argue that education should be re-conceptualised beyond the traditional approaches to teaching and learning and that innovative approaches to pedagogy, including the use of ICT and identification of informal learning patterns and personal interests, offer an unprecedented opportunity to improve approaches and integrate active learning in custodial environments (Irwin and Pike 2012) in order to re-orientate learners and enhance attainment and employment prospects. [Policy Briefing] [Powerpoint Presentation]

11 April 2013 – Mike Tomlinson (QUB) Dealing with Suicide [video recording]
Suicide rates in Northern Ireland have risen sharply since the late 1990s, contrary to trends in the Republic of Ireland and in England, Scotland and Wales.  This seminar examines a number of explanations for the trend, including evidence that it is linked to the conflict.  The seminar will also discuss the adequacy of suicide policies. [Policy Briefing] [Powerpoint Presentation]

25 April 2013 – Andy Percy & John Moriarty (QUB)
Is drinking good for teenagers? [Video Recording]
Andy and John present different views on the question of teenage drinking.  John highlights potential harms of an individual’s alcohol use to their peers and family.  To minimise these harms, the best advice for parents and educators may be to discourage any early drinking.  Andy argues that if teenagers drink moderately as part of a social group, they are more socially integrated and learn how to drink responsibly. [Policy Briefing] [Powerpoint Presentation]

2 May 2013 – Dr Ann Marie Gray (UU)
Transforming Adult Social Care in Northern Ireland [video recording]
Most countries are facing similar challenges with regard to ageing populations and financial pressures on social care.  The need to address major deficits in adult social care policy in Northern Ireland has been recognised and there is an expressed commitment to addressing the over-reliance on residential care and support independent living.  This seminar highlights the conclusions that can be drawn from research evidence both within the UK and more widely and how this knowledge can be used to inform decision making.  There will be a particular focus on the personalisation agenda. [Policy Briefing] [Powerpoint Presentation]

*16 May 2013– Sally Shortall (QUB)  & Roisin Kelly (NIA)
Reviewing the EU Rural Development Programme [video recording]
The current Rural Development Programme (RDP), 2007-2013, is worth £540 million pounds to rural areas in Northern Ireland.  This seminar considers if there are ways of making the RDP more effective.  It considers the importance of the collaborative inclusive LEADER methodology that underpins the RDP for a post-conflict society.  [Policy Briefing] [Powerpoint Presentation]
*Please Note: This seminar was postponed until 12 September 2013