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Guest lectures 2022/2023

We warmly invite all PhD students of the Jagiellonian University to take part in our lecture series, conducted by renowned Professors from various universities. Information about the events will be published below.

Comparative Social Policy: Comparing Social Policy in Ireland, North and South



Up until 1921, the island of Ireland existed as one political unit and social welfare and policy developments were applicable to all parts of the island.  The neighbouring island, Britain, had ruled Ireland through conquest and colonial settlement since the 12th century.  However, after a long campaign for national independence, the island of Ireland was partitioned by the British in 1921.  The southern 26 counties entity, initially called the Irish Free State, was given control over domestic affairs with its own government.  However, it was eventually able to gradually divest itself of British political and economic control and become a republic (Ireland) in 1949.

The six north-eastern counties of Ireland, which today constitute, Northern Ireland, remained under British control within the United Kingdom (of Britain and N. Ireland), albeit with its own devolved government dealing with domestic affairs.  It was created as a separate entity from the rest of Ireland, for unionists (British- Irish people), mainly descendants of colonists from the 17th century, who wanted to connected to Britain.  At the time N. Ireland was also viewed by Britain as being of strategic value in its competition with rival imperial powers in Europe and in relation to the political and economic needs of its own Empire.

The paper discusses how the division of Ireland initially led to separate social policy developments on either side of the border, influenced by a range of different social, economic, political, ideological, and cultural/religious factors as well as conflict.  It also discusses how such developments began to converge, to some extent, when the UK (Britain and Northern Ireland) and Ireland both joined the EU in 1973, and with the onset of globalisation in the 1980s and the rise to dominance of neoliberalism. The paper ends by looking at the potential impact of the UK leaving the EU and demographic, social and cultural and economic changes north and south since the signing of the Belfast/Good Friday Peace Agreement in 1998, and resultant growing calls for Irish re-unification. 

The paper thus looks at the various factors influencing policy developments in each part of Ireland, historically, and compares and contrasts some of the major areas of welfare provision (healthcare, housing, and education, etc.) in both parts of Ireland, today.

International Human Rights and Social Policy in a time of War/Conflict



This year marks the 75th Anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights by the United Nations in 1948. Yet, we still live in a world where universal human rights are elusive, particularly during wars /armed conflicts. This paper explores some of the attempts made by the international community since the ending of the Second World War, to develop concepts of universal human rights which aim to protect people and advance social welfare, and some of the challenges placed on this during armed conflict and war.


In the aftermath of World War Two (WW2), the demand arose for a new international body that would help resolve future disputes between nation-states and prevent tensions developing into war and the United Nations was born. There was also a contemporaneous demand to establish a set of universally accepted human rights which would be the same for all human beings and based on universality. Linked to this was a view that the international community has responsibility to ensure that such rights are protected, particularly for vulnerable people and minorities living within states. Thus, an international human rights oversight framework was demanded that could police and enforce agreed rights. In 1948,  the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (1948), a document which espoused a set of universal rights bestowed on every human, by virtue of the fact that they were humans, and which member states of the UN pledged to uphold and protect. Yet despite a plethora of international covenants and conventions developed since then, to provide mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights, the world still struggles with the concept, and the realisation of, such rights.


One major obstacle to the realisation of universal human rights in the world today is the continuing existence of armed conflict. It directly impinges on the most fundamental of right - the right to life - as well as a host of others, such as the right to family life, employment, housing, education, health, security, privacy, travel, etc. While international human rights law (IHRL) is supposed to always operate, the reality is that during armed conflict it is often suspended, derogated from, or is simply inoperable in practice.

International Humanitarian Law (IHL), embodied in the main in the 1949 Geneva Conventions, is supposed to fill some of these gaps in human rights protections during wars by providing protections to civilians and captured or wounded combatants and, indeed, regulate war to make it more ‘humane’. However, enforcement may be limited by ambiguities within IHL, lack of knowledge about its content, ambiguity about the distinction between non-combatant and combatants, troop indiscipline, emotions (the politics of the last atrocity) and, especially where non-state forces are involved, the lack of infra-structure for holding captured enemy combatants and protecting civilian populations. Violation of human rights may also be viewed as a necessary means to winning a conflict - bombing populations into submission or torturing captives for information. This is all compounded by the fact that no state and few non-state groups want to admit that they, or their allies’ combatants, violate human rights. This has had profound implications for the enforcement of IHRL/IHL.

Biographical Note

Dr Féilim Ó hAdhmaill is a lecturer in the School of Applied Social Studies at University College Cork, Ireland, where he teaches across a range of degree programmes.  He specialises  in Peace and Conflict Studies and International Human Rights and Social Policy and his academic research and publications have focused primarily on human rights, social exclusive and inequality. He also has a background working in the community and voluntary sector in Ireland, north and south, over many years and on conflict and peace building projects in the community.  He is Programme Director for the Masters in Voluntary and Community Sector Management at University College Cork and is currently Co-Editor of the international peer-reviewed journal, Irish Political Studies

His Research Profile is located at this link

Recent relevant publications include:

Ó hAdhmaill, F. (2021), Critical Perspective on Discourse in the Representation of Conflict in Ireland . TEANGA, the Journal of the Irish Association for Applied Linguistics, 12, 23-46.

McCann, G. and Ó hAdhmaill, F. (2020) International Human Rights, Social Policy and Global Development, Policy/Bristol University Press

Ó hAdhmaill, F. (2019) 'The Easter Rising (1916) in Ireland and its Historical Context: The Campaign for an Irish Democracy' In: Cope, Z. and Ness, E (eds). Palgrave Encyclopedia of Imperialism and Anti-Imperialism. New York;London: Palgrave MacMillan Cham

O'hAdhmaill, F., (2013) 'The Catholic Church and Revolution in Ireland'. Socialist History, 43 :1-25  

Ó hAdhmaill, F. (2016) 'Ireland and the Global Economic Crisis: One Island, Two Different Experiences' In: Dukelow, F., and Murphy, M. (eds). The Irish Welfare State in the Twenty-First Century: Challenges and Change. London: Palgrave MacMillan.