Jamie Mac Uiginn is a Transition Year Student from Pobail Scoil Ghaoth Dobhair in Co Donegal. Along with his friends he has designed a useful Maths book called Number Ninjas which aims to make Maths easier for students. Number Ninjas is in the final of the Junior Achievement Business Of The Year Competition.
We first came up with the idea for Number Ninjas shortly after the Junior Certificate while we were talking about how stressful and confusing the maths exam was and how we wished there was a simple maths book to explain the important and basic parts of maths. Even though we got As and Bs in honours maths we felt textbooks were confusing, heavy, expensive and above all, boring. Normal maths books are necessary for a good grade, but, the authors sometimes forget we are teenagers who might not understand everything.
When the time came to set up a business project in transition year, we saw a niche in the market for a maths books, so we went for it. We highly advise you to buy it if you struggle to understand the basics of maths better. And if it’s not for you, think of your younger brother or sister who are dreading going into secondary school or even your parents who are years out of practice. Our book is light and easily fits in any bag, while being very affordable to anyone.
Our book has many unique selling points such as maths related jokes at the start of each chapter and because we know what exactly students need for their exams, this shaped our motto "for students by students" As transition year students we spent a lot of time in our computer room designing and writing the book, we split the work of making the book up into four equal parts which we showed to our maths teacher. We asked our english teacher to look over the grammar. Patricia Friel, who was our Business volunteer helped us greatly throughout Number Ninjas’ project. She gave us great advice for our company and told us how the Junior Achievement Competition worked.
The first round of Junior Achievement was in our school, where we were up against competitors from our own school, Gairmscoil Mhic Diarmuid and Arranmore Secondary School. We believed in our company, but, with the high standard the other businesses set, we felt getting through was out of reach. We were ecstatic when our name was read out to go through and it significantly boosted our confidence. The next round was the regional finals in Sligo IT, where we were met with fierce competition from schools from counties like, Sligo, Mayo, Galway and of course Donegal.
We had to do a four minute presentation in front of judges, and we did our best to overcome our nerves and stay calm. This time we were more confident that we were going to get through and we were satisfied with how our interview and presentation went. Only two projects could get through and as they began to announce the businesses that didn’t win, we were expecting our name to come up every time, but it didn’t.
We were captivated when our business was chosen to go through. Now our next stage is Dublin, for the national finals where only eight companies get the chance to compete for Junior Achievement Business Of The Year Competition. We feel privileged to take part and to have got this far and would love to win, but really we hope to make the world a more maths friendly place.
You can follow Number Ninjas on Twitter @NumberNinjas or like us on Facebook. If you would like more information about Number Ninjas or to obtain a copy of the Maths book contact firstname.lastname@example.org
“Hey mum, did you see the new trees?!”
“On the green and also all around the estate!”
So off they went to see the new trees. 37 new trees planted all around their estate. All the neighbours were talking about it, and everybody was excited.
One week later:
“Hey mum, did you see somebody broke some off the branches from the trees in our estate, and some of the trees in the next door estate have been broken in half!”
“No, I did not, are you serious?”
“Come. I’ll show you”
So of we went to see the broken trees. Five of the newly planted trees in bits! All the neighbours were talking about it, and everybody was disappointed.
Two weeks later:
“Hey mum we need to do something about the trees, if we do not do something now, there is not going to be a tree left after summer!”
“So, what can we do?”
“We need to get people involved, we need to do something!”
“Okay, you guys can do something and we will support you”
Four weeks later, 16-year-old brothers Juvan and Christivan Maritz applied and received a small Superhero fund from SpunOut.ie to make a difference in their local community. Here is how they got on with their project:
They designed a leaflet and a registration form and distributed it to more than 80 homes in the estate. They wrote to 14 people asking for support or a contribution towards their project. These people included two local politicians, a community project, the Gardaí, the local Council, local print media and local small businesses.
Their idea was to create community awareness and initiate a neighbourhood community policing system to keep and eye on the newly planted trees and general vandalism in the communal area of the Balruddery Wood estate. They also planned a big community festival on the green. 23 homes (more than 30%) signed up for the project, with more than 40 people confirmed for the Green Festival.
On 30 April 2011, at 5pm, the festival took place. The local pub, Balrothery Inn, sponsored burgers, soft drinks and crisps. Tesco Balbriggan also provided party goodies and committed to sponsor a signpost to promote the project.
“Ladies, gentleman and kids. You are very welcome at the launch of our Superhero project sponsored by SpunOut.ie. SpunOut.ie is Ireland's national youth project. Myself and Christivan applied for a small [fund] to make a difference in our community. We are one from eleven projects all over Ireland that are trying to make a difference in our community. We are gathered here today to celebrate our community spirit. We with 10 other projects were selected out of hundreds of applications to make people aware of caring for our environment. We are also concerned about anti-social behaviour, especially the breaking of branches of our newly planted trees and vandalism in our estate.
"We do not have an easy solution, all that we can offer is to create awareness and encourage everybody in the estate to address vandalism and anti-social behaviour. We have invited our community Guards. If you have any questions please feel free to approach them at any time of the day.
“To conclude, I want to say a special thanks to our sponsors Spunout.ie. Balrothery Inn kindly sponsored the burgers, crisps and soft drinks. Thank you Brendan. To Ann O’Brien from Tesco, who sponsored the sweets and other goodies. Today we can also announce that Tesco gave their commitment to sponsor a signpost that will promote the TreeCops Project. This signpost will be displayed at the entrance of this estate and will be a reminder to all that live here as well as guests that we are serious about our trees!
“Thank you for your attendance and special thanks to our community Guards: Gráinne and Kate, for coming down today. Enjoy the burgers and the rest of the day. Then lastly we are now going to plant a tree if the children would like to help they are most welcome.”
The festival was a huge success with lots of new ideas shared between neighbours. Three more project ideas emerged from the community gathering. One is to have street safety awareness training for the children of the estate in conjunction with the Community Guards; another one is to start a petition to the developers to put up a fence at the road side of the green (hopefully local politicians will support us in this regard as it is long outstanding); and the final one is to advocate for seating benches on the green.
All in all, the TreeCops Project was a huge success!
Activism = Campaigning = Organising = Community = Protesting = Building Alternatives = Challenging = Rethinking = Creating
We are all aware of the problems that require our urgent love and attention, both the local and the global; poverty, injustice, the environment, health, wars, resource distribution, politics and yes the global economic model to name but a few. But what I want to deal with here is the issue of power, and more specifically of us all taking ownership of our own power.
We do not live ‘atomic’ separate existences. Even the most reclusive of people live within networks of culture, of law, of infrastructure, of ideas, of education, of politics, and of the systems that deliver and disperse resources. These systems are all created by the actions of humans. This might seem a very obvious thing to say so maybe by now you are asking what on earth I am on about? I’m talking about how individuals and groups can affect these man-made systems and structures. In short, I’m talking about Activism.
The word activism is often taken as a synonym for ‘protest’ but if we use that shorthand explanation it can fool us into thinking that ‘Activism’ is not something we need to concern ourselves with. Not True! We are all ‘active’ in some way or another to create or sustain the types of systems we live in:
When we ignore or abdicate from something as crucial as our place in the world or our community and how we engage with it, we give others permission to engineer our society for us. By allowing others to ‘create society for me’ we are engaging in what we think is harmless ‘inactivity’ but actually manifests itself as a support for things as they are. To take the fitness analogy, not taking control of one’s diet and exercise will have a direct effect on one’s body. Not taking action on the issues that concern you will also have an effect on your society.
Think for a minute of the many things that we take for granted today in Ireland as rights or entitlements, for example weekends or days off from work, voting rights for women, the right not to be a slave, the right to have sex only by choice, the right not to be sentenced to death, or the right to choose our own interests and political affiliations to name just a few.
None of these ‘rights’ are things that were donated or asked for by some generous and wise benefactors. These are all things that people sometime somewhere saw as necessary. They imagined how they would look and function, and then came together to achieve them. I am certain that these people argued, disagreed, conceded and perhaps eventually settled for less than their ideals. We know though, that they continued to struggle and work to get these rights for the very reason that we now have the luxury of taking some of them for granted (though we shouldn’t!).
This work of achieving such freedoms took place over generations, and continued in the face of hardship and resistance. But those involved, to use a euphemism ‘carried the flame’ until these ideas became so firmly entrenched in our culture, that in some shape or form (and imperfect though their realisation might still be) these rights all became socially, legally and culturally deemed as the ‘norm’.
This does not mean that no-one here is oppressed or that we have perfect gender equality, but it does mean that our culture and institutions recognise these as things to which people are entitled; ‘standards’ is a useful word to describe them and that it is recognised as either deviance or criminality when these rights are not respected.
To summarise what I am saying here I will use a quote from anthropologist, Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; it’s the only thing that ever has.’’
In my opinion, getting involved with issues that concern you is one of the most important things a young person can begin to do. Have you ever heard about an event in history, or heard something in the news that made you really angry or upset? Something that really frustrated you, because you felt like you couldn’t do anything about it?
Well, getting involved with organisations like Amnesty International or Spunout.ie is one way for you to make a substantial difference. Whether you’re signing a petition, or helping out with a demonstration, there’s nothing better than the feeling that you can help change those issues that frustrate you.
And the changes can be substantial. You only need to look at a handful of success stories on Amnesty’s website to know that speaking out for other people, as a group/organisation, works: Aung San Suu Kyi was finally freed in 2010 after over 15 years under house arrest – thanks to thousands of people demanding her release. In 2011, Illinois banned the death penalty.
Many human rights activists and prisoners of conscience (e.g. Emadeddin Baghi, Mao Hengfeng) have been released due to petitions, letters of appeal, demonstrations and protests carried out by Amnesty International and other organisations with similar motives.
Although some of these achievements may seem small in the grand scheme of things, one small victory can have a ripple effect.
So, my advice to young people in Ireland is to use your voice. Don’t be afraid to say what you feel, even if you’re worried about sounding silly sometimes. You may be surprised at the respect you’ll earn from people (whether it’s peers or adults) from simply being outspoken. You may also be surprised at how one person or group of people, if they’re determined enough, can help change the world. Do not be mute.
Remember these sayings:
”Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say”. - William Shakespeare
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”. - Mary Mead
Check out our factsheets and opinion pieces on engaging in society. This is a key area that the SpunOut Action Panel has prioritised for 2013.
Tips to help you take action and make a positive difference.
Ireland is a democracy, which means the people elect their representatives and government by means of secret ballot.
Joining a political party means that you are registering with a political party and letting them and the world know that you generally support their causes and activates.
One SpunOutter gives her opinions on whether the voting age should be lowered to 16.
Ireland is a constitutional democracy (you’ve lost me already SpunOut!). Well, this basically means that we get to have a say in who runs our country and what the laws of the land are.
The Know Your Rights information packs are provided by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL). They are a series of booklets designed to inform people about their rights, which the ICCL has rolled out as part of its Know Your Rights public information project. The booklet is designed to inform the general public, in clear and accessible language, of their rights in the areas of Garda search powers, arrest, interview, detention, provision of bodily samples and public order.
The State gets its power from the People of Ireland through the Constitution of Ireland (Bunreacht na hÉireann). The Constitution sets out some of the rights of people who live in Ireland. We also have rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). All agents of the State, including An Garda Síochána, must act in line with the Constitution and the ECHR.
The Constitution is interpreted by the courts and is supplemented by more detailed laws, which must also be in line with the Constitution. The law must also follow the ECHR and the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. Gardaí must act according to court rulings and legislation, otherwise they may be breaking the law.
If you have any doubts about the way you have been treated by the Gardaí, if they have interfered with any of your rights, you should contact a solicitor.
This weekend, the Constitutional Convention will meet and discuss our electoral system and will consider recommendations for its alteration.
The electoral system is essentially the rules of the political game determining how the choices of voters are translated into the selection of our representatives to Dáil Éireann. In Ireland we use a rather unique system, shared only with Malta, known as Proportional Representation by Single Transferable Vote (PRSTV). Irish voters vote for candidates in order of preference in multi-seat geographical constituencies. Such a system has a number of effects on how politics works in Ireland.
Our electoral system is fundamentally proportional. This means that political parties’ seats in Dáil Éireann are allocated based on the proportion of votes received in the General Election. The threshold for entry into Dáil Éireann is low enough to allow a reasonable variety of political parties to win seats and therefore ensures a wide range of voices are heard in the Dáil chamber. Therefore, it encourages the development of a multi-party system where Irish voters can choose from a reasonable variety of different political platforms in elections.
In stark contrast are states, like the United Kingdom, with “winner takes all” systems facilitated by single seat constituencies. Here a candidate can only win a seat if they are the single most popular candidate in their constituency. It is difficult for more than two big parties to meaningfully compete in such a system. Smaller parties are largely squeezed out while the big two (Conservative and Labour parties) are heavily over represented. The result is a party system dominated by two parties with restrictive choice for the British electorate.
However, our system is not the most proportional. The Israeli parliament, the Knesset, is elected by a “list” system. The whole country is the one, single constituency where voters vote not for candidates but for political parties. Any party that receives 2% or more of the national vote is given seats in the Israeli Knesset in proportion to the votes they received overall. This system has encouraged the development of a varied multi party system in Israel with thirteen political parties holding seats in the current Knesset (there are currently four parties represented in Dáil Éireann as well as the United Left Alliance, a coalition of a number of left wing parties).
The major defence of single seat constituencies and non-proportional systems is that they lead to stable government. The current Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition in Britain is the first coalition in that country since the 1940-5 War Cabinet led by Winston Churchill when the Conservatives actually had a majority on their own but formed a national government to avoid a 1940 election in the middle of the war.
Proportional systems, on the other hand, make single party government quite difficult to form. In Israel, the current government has five different political parties represented at cabinet. Coalitions are often considered less stable than single party governments. However, they also tend to be more representative of the overall population, by virtue of including a more diverse range of political opinion. In Ireland coalitions are the norm but single party governments have been formed in the past under Fianna Fáil.
The unique element of the Irish system is its method of ensuring proportionality. After the votes are first counted the candidate with the least votes is eliminated and their votes apportioned out to the remaining candidates based on the “No.2” choices on their ballots. This process is continued, taking into account third, fourth preferences et cetera if needs be, until the number of candidates remaining equals the number of seats available (such a number of candidates have reached the ‘quota’: the number of votes required to ensure election regardless of the elimination of further candidates).
This process means that it is quite difficult for any candidate to get elected based solely on votes supporting one party. In the 2011 General Election, Fianna Fáil struggled to get transfers from outside the party and ended up with fewer seats than their proportion of first preference votes would suggest. The result of this process is that adversarial politics is not as prominent as elsewhere and also extreme parties have never been able to gain a foothold in Irish politics.
It is also easier to gauge voter preferences as to coalition forming; the high transfer rate between Fine Gael and Labour candidates in 2011 was a strong indicator that a coalition between the two parties was the preferred choice of government for most Irish voters. As our constituencies are defined by geographical boundaries, it is ensured that regional interests are given a voice in political discussion in Ireland. It ensures that no one regional voice dominates, be it the interests of major cities or of rural populations.
However, some argue that it also leads to ‘parish pump’ politics, whereby TDs neglect their roles as national legislators and are concerned almost purely with ensuring that money flows into their local areas. Others argue that such an attitude by TDs is promoted more by our lack of strong local government.
Finally, in Ireland we vote for candidates rather than parties as would be the case in a list based system. The combination of broad proportionality and voting for individuals rather than parties facilitates the election of non-party TDs or independents. While independent parliamentarians are observed in many states, Ireland stands out due to our election of such a large number of them. In single seat constituencies, or list based systems, it is extremely difficult to get elected without party backing. The ability to vote for an individual rather than a party means giving Irish voters a choice within the major political parties.
Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour run more than one candidate in most constituencies giving voters an extra degree of choice not really apparent in list based systems. The identities of the candidates who take up a party’s seats in a list based system are largely decided by central party apparatuses rather than voters.
There are a broad range of options that the Constitutional Convention will likely consider. What is important to note is that every choice made in the formation of our electoral system will have significant effect in determining the nature of politics in Ireland.
Our electoral system is broken we are told. Nobody else in the world uses PR-STV besides Malta. It’s time for a change. With the Constitutional Convention about to consider our electoral system, PR-STV appears to be just about hanging on.
Several claims have been leveled against the current system; chief amongst them that it promotes an excessive sense of parochialism amongst TD’s. Opponents claim that the overly proportional and open nature of our system means that any prospective candidate is not only fighting against other parties but also those from within his/her own party.
This leaves little time for interest in national affairs. When looked at comparatively, Ireland’s political representatives are in fact not far outside the norm in stating that their primary concerns are their constituents. In fact, in the House of Commons 53% of MPs state that it is a ‘high’ priority versus 39% in Dáil Eireann. Hansard, a political research organisation, found that MPs spend on average 49% of their time on constituency based issues.
Dáil Deputies, by comparison, spend 53% of their time on constituency issues. As Tip O’Neill, former Speaker of the House of Representatives has said ‘All politics is local’. PR-STV is both an open (in terms of voter choice for candidate and party) and proportional system of electing representatives. While the system itself is unique when compared with other proportional systems, it does not differ as wildly as has been claimed. It makes the politicians responsive to their electorate.
Indeed, ensuring that politicians are linked to the electorate is becoming increasingly common across Europe where variations on a list system are used. It is this system that has been proposed by some as an antidote to our current woes. Nevertheless, these solutions come with their own problems. Closed list systems mean voters are once removed from their representatives. One could argue that it is better for the electorate to choose their own candidates rather than anonymous individuals at party HQ presenting the electorate with a restricted menu of options.
Proponents of a list system are essentially saying that they trust party apparatchiks to choose who we should have as a fair proportion of our representatives rather than the electorate. The reality of why our politicians are seen to be parochial in nature is far more complex. We have a system that perversely facilitates a huge amount of choice by the electorate in choosing who they want and from what party.
Post-election though, the electorate becomes powerless, as the political representatives that have been elected find themselves in a Dáil where the Cabinet and Government is all powerful vis á vis the Parliament, and where the average backbenchers or leader of the opposition has little or no say in policy formulation or legislation.
Our politicians also find themselves in a situation where their constituents look to them rather than local councillors for assistance in relatively mundane issues. Our local system of Government is effectively useless; it has paltry powers in terms of raising funds and in comparison with other states, it has little or no role in the provision of education, health or transport.
What is needed then is not in fact an overhaul of the electoral system but rather a reform of our Parliament and local Government. The much maligned PR-STV actually gives Irish voters greater choice than most other options while also ensuring minority groups are heard. Until backbenchers and the Opposition are at least given the chance to look at legislation in a meaningful way and hold inquiries in committees we cannot simply lay the blame at the feet of our electoral system. Reform of local Government would also go a long way to alleviating the local, “bread and butter” issues that our TD’s have to deal with on a regular basis.
This is not to say that another system cannot be tried but it would, at best, be a band aid solution to the problem that bedevils Irish politics. Parochialism. Do some politicians abuse this loophole in the system? Undoubtedly. But as long as our national politicians are perceived to have more power than councillors on local, relatively unimportant issues, such as filling in potholes and are ignored once they reach the gates of Leinster House, then no electoral system will fix the ‘way we do politics.’
A group of 23 TY students from St Mary’s Holy Faith, Killester are launching their very own book of short stories.
Through the medium of Fighting Words, a creative writing centre in Dublin, the class developed their writing skills and wrote short stories with the help of authors, Roddy Doyle and John Banville. The students attended the writing classes one day a week since the start of the school year, compiling short stories on a wide range of topics, including parental divorce/separation, death, runaways and tales of mystery and adventure.
The book will be launched on Monday 20th, May at the students’ school and will go on sale in Easons, Amazon and in all major bookstores.
Speaking about the group’s experience, student Clara Barry said: “Working with Roddy and John was absolutely amazing in the sense that we worked with them in such a casual setting, they were so funny, down to earth and just willing to have the craic with us.
It was an incredibly beneficial experience to get to work hands on with such skilled, famed authors in their natural habitat so to speak!” Any profit made from sales of the book will go to Fighting Words to enable them to publish another book like this one with another school next year.
The Fighting Words centre is based at Behan Square, Russell Street, Dublin 1, where they also hold story-telling classes for primary schools, creative writing for secondary schools, writing seminars and tutoring for adults.
“It really was a fabulous experience… the students were mentored by a number of highly skilled, lovely volunteer authors, their help was invaluable and they made all the difference just be being there at the table with us every week providing both moral support and practical help,” added Clara.
X-HALE 2013 is a short film competition for young people and youth groups around Ireland. The competition was run by the Irish Cancer Society who asked youth groups and organisations to make a short film about issues around smoking, that affect young people in their communities. They hope that these short films will help prevent young people from starting to smoke.
The competition received 38 great entries and now they need you to be part of the competition by viewing and sharing your favourite film - every view on YouTube counts as a vote! The film with the most views at the end of the competition on June 12th will win Most Popular Online Film award at the X-HALE Film Fest 2013 on July 4th. So get VOTING!
The X-HALE Youth Awards are part of the Irish Cancer Society’s young people and smoking programme, which aims to empower young people to play a vital role in de-normalizing the use of tobacco in Ireland, to bring down smoking prevalence rates and to prevent young people from starting to smoke in the first place.
The Awards provide training and resources to build the capacity of young people and their youth organisations to engage with others in discussing the harmful health effects of tobacco, the role of the tobacco industry in the production and marketing of tobacco and the other social, economic and environmental issues associated with smoking.
I know very little about human rights education, and how hate speech – be it racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia and all other forms of intolerance – affect those affected. About two months ago, I joined the Council of Europe’s No Hate Speech Movement to learn about hate speech and how I can help effectively raise awareness of these things.
As an online volunteer for the campaign, I attended a 10-day residential training course in Budapest, at the European Youth Centre. I’m just back! For someone who has never traveled alone, who has no public speaking experience and who has never ever been into activism, I found the experience wholly nurturing.
Each day was mapped out with classes running from 9.30am to 10pm. This sounds like a lot, but it really wasn’t when you consider how interesting and fun class was. It wasn’t sitting at your desk with your books open; it was mostly non-formal education, which means sitting in a circle playing games, discussing things and doing group activities!
We learned a lot about human rights, and the difficult balancing act between hate speech and freedom of speech. As online volunteers, we took Moderator classes and learned how to maintain the official campaign website.
Digital Activism classes were my favourite. We learned from true professionals how online activism works and how best to utilize it. Are you using Twitter, crowdmapping and Storify in your activism? Being online can complement offline activism, though some people may think online activism is just ‘clicktivism’ – how many Facebook groups/causes or pages have you ‘liked’ lately?
We did have some time off. On one of the afternoons, we went to visit as many places in the city as we could in the space of four hours – we went to Buda Castle District, the food market and passed by Parliament. We walked the WHOLE way! The same evening, the COE crew organised a boat trip down the Danube River with dinner for us all. A great evening was had.
My favourite aspect of the entire trip was the camaraderie. I met so many young people from various parts of the world: Italy, Iceland, Germany, Finland, Denmark, Portugal and Spain, Ukraine, Greece, Serbia and so much more! To be in an environment where you get to plan events and shoot the breeze with people who want and are working toward the same goal is powerful.
The last day came. Spending 7 – 10 days with the same people is a bonding experience like no other. As the campaign grows, and we all learn how to be the best kind of activists we can be, we’ll definitely keep in touch. We’ve got to coordinate our national campaigns, sync them up and create a great European Movement. This is what we all agreed on our last day. I have high hopes here! If you would like to join us in combatting hate speech online visit the website and get in touch!
I recently attended the National Conference for Youth Film and Digital Media. The event took place over the course of a day in Kilkenny castle, with the goal of drawing up proposals on how to improve the youth filmmaking scene for young people. There was lots of reps for different film festivals as well as from RTÉ, the Irish Film Board, Screen Directors Ireland and Minister Deenihan.
I was asked to speak at the conference for about 10 minutes on youth filmmaking. I was to cover how I got into it, what there is to get out of it and where I see the future of youth filmmaking in Ireland. It was my first time speaking in public since SpunOut Live. Below is some of what I said converted into a blog post for you.
To be completely honest – I’m not entirely sure how I got into film! I didn’t like discos and found out the hard way that I couldn’t surf. I needed to find something to do and I’d always wanted to make films.
I didn’t have a camera or a computer to edit on so I just borrowed my dad’s phone. I used play/pause recording so if you made a mistake it was back to square one, not unlike VCR-to-VCR editing. It wasn’t ideal, but I stuck with it. In 2010, I entered the Fresh Film Festival with a mobile phone film and won the RTÉ 60 second short award.
For what you put in, you can get a lot out of filmmaking. The first thing being I never get bored. I edit before school. I edit after school. I’m always working on a film in some way or another. I’ve travelled as far as Greece, watched my films on TV, and made friends from all around the world.
One of the best things to gain are opportunities to attend film festivals. Nothing is as lively as a youth film festival and I’ve never seen a kid leave Fresh without enough inspiration to last the rest of the year. This is because seeing your work with 800 people is, in one word, fantastic.
When we fund youth filmmaking, it’s a great way to breed the idea that creativity matters. It encourages originality and can teach problem solving, inventiveness and leadership. Even if someone doesn’t choose it as a career, they have still learned how to use their imagination. It goes without saying that we need a bit of that for the solutions we need at the minute in Ireland.
Things have come a long way since I started filmmaking on early camera phones. I know we can make terrific excuses about not getting our films made but in 2013, getting started at filmmaking is as easy as turning a camera on. Already we have laid out a brilliant infrastructure. When a 10 year old can make a film with the same type of XLR that RTÉ use, and no longer have to be passive viewers of American acquisitions (imported TV shows), that is a good sign.
Ireland is gaining more and more prestige at each forthcoming academy awards and Irish film and TV productions stand shoulder to shoulder with American ones. I’d like to thank the Young Irish Filmmakers for inviting me here and holding this conference.
They do great work – there should be statues of them! There could be one of their founder, Mike Kelly, outside Kilkenny castle. It would be made of copper though because we probably wouldn’t have a huge budget.