School of Law and Government lecturer’s Dr Paola Rivetti and Dr Eoin O’Malley were presented with DCU President’s Research Awards 2017/2018 at a ceremony at The Helix on 14th February. This continues the strong performance of success for the School of Law and Government at the President’s Research Awards. Previous recipients from the School include Prof Robert Elgie, Prof Gary Murphy (Head of School), Prof Maura Conway, Prof Iain MacMenamin and Prof Francesco Cavatorta (now at the University of Laval).
Dr Rivetti was presented with the 2017/2018 President’s Research Award for Early Career Research for her research on political protest movements in the Middle East and North Africa. In his citation President Brian MacCraith highlighted Dr Rivetti’s outstanding publication record in high ranking journals and publishing houses. Noting the 16 journal articles, 16 book chapters and two edited books that Dr Rivetti has produced in a period of less than 10 years since finishing her PhD. President MacCraith praised the research methodology of intensive fieldwork that Dr Rivetti brings to one of the most important international problems of our time. President MacCraith concluded his citation by saying that Dr Rivetti’s research “makes a real difference to lives and societies”.
Dr Rivetti delivered a talk “Against the Odds” on the nature of political protest in Iran. She highlighted the personal risks that researchers and activists face in Iran and the importance of listening as a research approach. Looking at political regimes from the perspective of civil society and activists rather than from the perspective of political elites leads to more sensitive and nuanced research findings. Dr Rivetti also highlighted the importance of DCU’s becoming a University Of Sanctuary and the MELLIE Project, a story telling initiative which pairs DCU staff and students with asylum seekers living in the Mosney direct provision centre for the exchange of shared experiences, cultural appreciation and language.
Dr Eoin O’Malley was presented with the 2017/2018 President’s Research Award in Humanities and Social Sciences, Business, Education and related areas for his research on Irish politics and society. President MacCraith highlighted Dr O’Malley’s outstanding research record including 36 journal articles, two monographs and four co-edited books. He also noted the diverse range of research subjects including cabinet politics, the nature of leadership and political protest. President MacCraith praised his active engagement with Irish political life including consultation with government committees, his role in establishing the citizens’ assemblies and his leadership within the Political Studies Association of Ireland. President MacCraith concluded his citation by describing Dr O’Malley’s research as “rigorously scientific and relevant to society”.
Dr O’Malley delivered a talk on his most recent research on the nature of strong political leadership. In some cases strong leadership is seen as desirable as it creates an attractive brand for a political party and brings coherence and unity within the party. However, strong leadership can also damage a party as it becomes overly reliant on one personality, it can stifle the emergence of talent within the party and there is no one within the party to who can challenge bad decision making by the leader. Dr O’Malley investigates this matter through a study of the performance of political parties at elections after their strong leader has stepped down. This research highlights the damaging effects of a strong leader on a party and demonstrates that parties can lose between 2-3% of the vote in an election following the departure of a leader. Dr O’Malley argued that this research is relevant not just for political parties but for other organisations too citing the damaging effects of strong leadership in the areas of financial and cultural institutions such as JP Morgan and the Gate Theatre.