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Alumni Spring Series

Alumni Spring Series

Law and Contemporary Challenges - Wednesday Mini-Lecture Series Spring 2019

  • Date of event
    • Wednesday, 13 March - 10 April 2019
  • Time
    • 5:45 - 6:45 pm
  • Venue
    • TRiSS Seminar Room, 6th Floor, Arts Building

    About the Spring Series

    This Spring, academic staff in Trinity Law School are instituting a series of lectures for alumni and friends of the Law School. Leading academics will deliver lectures addressing the most pressing contemporary challenges at the frontiers of legal research, followed by a question-and-answer session. Each lecture will be chaired by Professor Yvonne Scannell. The lectures will run from Wednesday 13 March to Wednesday 10 April inclusive. Attendance is free but registration is essential. A reception will be held after the final lecture on Wednesday 10 April.


    13 March Symbolic Messages and Ideological Challengers: Assessing the Rationales behind European Anti-Veiling laws Professor Neville Cox
    20 March Organisational Culture: What Happens When No One is Looking? Professor Blanaid Clarke
    27 March The Dynamics of Constitutional Change Professor Oran Doyle
    3 April Dublin at the Data Protection Frontier Professor Neville Cox
    10 April Law at the End of Life: Choice and Control in the Face of Death Professor Andrea Martin


    Professor Neville Cox, ‘Symbolic Messages and Ideological Challengers: Assessing the Rationales behind European Anti-Veiling laws’

    Since 2010 several European countries have enacted wide ranging laws that seek to prohibit the wearing of full-face Islamic veils (burqas and niqabs) either in all public places or in a wide variety of buildings and contexts access to which is important for participation in society.  Many rationales are put forward in support of these laws. In this lecture, however, it is suggested that these rationales do not come close to justifying such laws and that the laws have little significant impact in practice. Rather, it will be suggested that the real reason for the enactment of these laws is to make a symbolic statement that demonises an ideological challenger to the country in question, allowing that country to assert the essential ‘rightness’ of its own way of being.

    Professor Blanaid Clarke, ‘Organisational Culture: What Happens When No One is Looking?’

    Warren Buffett noted that “Culture, more than rule books, determines how an organisation behaves”. The Central Bank’s recent Behaviour and Culture Report on the treatment of tracker mortgage holders identified deficiencies in organisational culture and in particular consumer focused culture. Yet cultural failings are not the sole preserve of the banks - toxic corporate cultures have been exposed in companies as varied as BP, Volkswagen and Uber. In addition, the #MeToo movement has played an important role in identifying sexual misconduct and sexism in our workplaces and revealing the culture which enables such behaviour. Against such a background, this lecture will explore the following questions: What are the benefits of a good organisational culture? Does culture drive behaviour or vice versa? Why do so many employees see a disparity between how their employers represent themselves and their own experiences?  What steps can be taken to improve organisational culture and values? Who is responsible for culture? What role should lawyers play?

    Professor Oran Doyle, ‘The Dynamics of Constitutional Change’

    The people have amended Ireland’s Constitution at an increasing rate, largely focused on hot-button social and moral issues such as abortion and marriage. In contrast, apart from Ireland’s membership of the European Union, there has been remarkably little formal amendment of the fundamental institutions of the State. Ireland’s referendum requirement has played a crucial role in stabilising our constitutional democracy. The functioning of the Constitution, however, has frequently shifted as a result of changing political practices and judicial decision-making. In this lecture, we will paint a complete picture of constitutional change in Ireland, both formal and informal. We will explore whether the rate of formal amendment is likely to slow down as the Constitution is updated to reflect contemporary mores, or whether the Irish political system is likely to turn increasingly to constitutional amendment as a political displacement activity.

    Professor David Fennelly, ‘Dublin at the Data Protection Frontier’

    In recent years, data protection has emerged from the shadows to take on an increasingly important role in the legal and regulatory landscape in Europe. This has coincided with the rise and rise of technology companies whose business models rely heavily on the use of personal data. This lecture will explore how Dublin, as the European headquarters for many leading international technology companies, has found itself at the frontier of data protection, defining the relationship between Europe’s distinctive data protection regime and the wider world. It will look in particular at the challenge of transferring personal data outside the EU, the subject of a number of landmark cases which started life in Dublin. While those cases concern transfers from the EU to the US, they have much wider implications, nowhere more so than in the context of Brexit, and raise difficult issues for government, business and citizens alike.

    Professor Andrea Mulligan 'Law at the End of Life: Choice and Control in the Face of Death'

    Advances in medicine have led to a radical increase in the human lifespan, which looks set to continue and accelerate into the future. Contemporary end of life care involves an increasingly broad range of choices, and requires sophisticated legal structures to protect and regulate the rights and interests of those concerned. For many people, the central concern is with ensuring as much choice and control as possible over the manner and timing of their death. This lecture will focus on this theme of death and control, and will consider three aspects of law at the end of life from that perspective. We will begin by considering “Do not attempt resuscitation” (DNAR) orders, before turning to advance healthcare directives and the new regulatory structure provided for by the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015. We will then consider the issue of assisted dying, and the emerging debate in Ireland on legal protection for the right to die.


    Professor Blanaid Clarke is the McCann FitzGerald Chair in Corporate Law. Formerly a Board Member of the Central Bank of Ireland, she has published widely on company law, corporate governance, financial services law, securities law and takeover law.

    Professor Neville Cox is the Dean of Graduate Studies in Trinity College Dublin and an expert on civil liberties, blasphemy and Islamic law. He is the author of Behind the Veil: A Critical Analysis of European Veiling Laws, to be published by Edward Elgar Press later this year.

    Professor Oran Doyle was the Head of the School of Law from 2014-2018. An expert on Irish constitutional law and comparative constitutional law, he is the author of The Constitution of Ireland: A Contextual Analysis published by Hart in 2018.

    Professor David Fennelly is an expert on European and international law, with a particular interest in human rights and data protection. He is the author of International Law in the Irish Legal System published by Thomson Round Hall in 2014.

    Professor Andrea Mulligan is an expert on torts, medical law and bioethics with a particular interest in the regulation of reproductive technologies. She is the co-author of Medical Law in Ireland published by Bloomsbury Professional in 2017.

    Professor Yvonne Scannell is an emeritus professor in the School of Law. One of Europe’s foremost experts on environmental and planning law, she is currently a Judge of the European Nuclear Energy Tribunal at the OCED in Paris.