Philip Monahan - Annual Lecture

Philip Monahan Memorial Lecture 2015 - Colm O'Gorman

On Thursday 5 November 2015, Colm O’Gorman of Amnesty International Ireland delivered the 17th Annual Philip Monahan Memorial Lecture to a packed audience in Boole 2. In a broad-ranging lecture, O’Gorman began by asking, ‘What kind of Republic are we?’. He argued that we need to talk about the ideas and the founding principles of 1916 - and not just focus on the blood sacrifice. He contended that the founding principles espoused in 1916 were radical at the time. Broadening the subject matter, O’Gorman stated that Ireland had a lot to be proud of in terms of trying to deal with the dark challenges of our past. He continued, ‘We need to honestly and respectfully own our history and create a space to talk openly about it. In times past, society was not allowed the space to have the conversation. For example, we should be able to talk about abortion – a complex issue that we have failed to address to date.’ Following the lecture, O’Gorman engaged in a lengthy questions and answers session with the audience and asserted that we should not be shutting down conversation; he also pointed out that faith and human rights can co-mingle.

As part of the event, Colm O’Gorman presented three student awards as follows:

Thomas Whalen Student of the Year:                     Richard Creedon

Richard Haslam Graduate of the Year:                    Jack Barry

Patrick O’Sullivan Essay Competition Winner:       Luke Foley


Colm O’Gorman delivering the 17th Annual Philip Monahan Memorial Lecture


Colm O’Gorman with the Head of the Department of Government, Dr Andrew Cottey, and the Lord Mayor of Cork, Councillor Chris O’Leary

Philip Monahan Memorial Lecture 2014 - An Taoiseach Enda Kenny


 An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, TD marked his first visit to UCC on Friday the 31st of January 2014 by delivering a major speech on public sector reform and the importance of public service.

He was speaking at the 15th Annual Philip Monahan Memorial Lecture following an invitation by the Department of Government at UCC. The lecture series commemorates Philip Monahan who was Ireland’s first local authority manager and he served as City Commissioner and then City Manager in Cork from 1924 to 1959. The prestigious Monahan lecture series has attracted distinguished speakers over the years including John Hume, Mary McAleese, Emily O’Reilly and John Bercow.

Enda Kenny linked his talk, entitled ‘Towards a Renewed Public Service’, with Monahan who he stated had set the highest standards of probity and integrity in Irish public administration. The context to the lecture was the recently published Public Service Reform Plan 2014-2016 and the Taoiseach stressed the need for the public sector to focus on efficiency, openness, leadership and capacity, as well as the service users.

He noted that the Irish public service has already made a significant contribution to national recovery and that a strong public service is vital to Ireland’s future prospects. This message was especially relevant for the large cohort of Department of Government students in an audience of 250 people.

The Department of Government at UCC was an appropriate venue for the Taoiseach’s first major speech on public service renewal since the publication of the reform strategy as staff members continue to play a role in both political and administrative reform. In particular, Dr Aodh Quinlivan’s work in the area of local government is well-respected, as is the research of Fiona Buckley in the area of gender equality. Equally, Dr Clodagh Harris is making an important contribution through the Constitutional Convention.

Head of Department, Dr Andrew Cottey, commented, ‘The annual Monahan Lecture is a highlight of the UCC calendar and we are honoured that the Taoiseach delivered this year’s lecture on such a topical issue which is of great relevance to the research activities of our staff.’

As part of the lecture ceremony, the Taoiseach presented awards to Department of Government students. John Kenny from Douglas received the prestigious Graduate of the Year Award; currently engaged in post-graduate studies in Oxford University, John finished first place in his class in each year of his BSc Government degree programme. During his time in UCC, John won election to a variety of positions on the Government and Politics Society and was a founding member of the UCC Europa Society. As a gifted musician he was also a valued member of a respected string quartet and the Cork School of Music Orchestra. Padraig Mac Consaidín from Glanmire was presented with an award by the Taoiseach for his essay on ‘Wit and Humour in Politics’. A mature student on the BSc Government degree programme, Padraig spent his third year work placement as an intern in the New York State Assembly.

The audience was also addressed by the President of UCC, Dr Michael Murphy, and by the Lord Mayor of Cork, Councillor Catherine Clancy. Amongst those in attendance were the Minister for Agriculture, Marine and Food, Simon Coveney TD, the Chairperson of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children, Jerry Buttimer TD, and the Cork North Central TD, Dara Murphy and City Manager, Tim Lucey.

The full speech by An Taoiseach is available here: Taoiseach Speech (20kB)

Philip Monahan Memorial Lecture 2012 - Rt. Hon. John Bercow MP

Rt. Hon. John Bercow MP delivers 14th Annual Philip Monahan Memorial Lecture.

The Speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt. Hon. John Bercow MP, was a recent visitor to the Department of Government to deliver the 14th Annual Philip Monahan Memorial Lecture. The lecture drew a large and enthusiastic crowd to UCC’s Aula Maxima who were enthralled by Bercow’s eloquent and entertaining talk on the relationship between the executive and the legislature.

Philip Monahan Memorial Lecture 2010 - Charlie Bird

In a wide-ranging speech in UCC last night, RTÉ’s Charlie Bird spoke of the ever-increasing speed of the news cycle and warned of falling journalistic standards. Bird was speaking at the Department of Government’s 12th Annual Philip Monahan Memorial Lecture, a series which commemorates Ireland’s first local authority manager who served in Cork city as Commissioner and Manager from 1924-1959.

The title of Bird’s lecture was ‘Politics and media: the genie has escaped from the bottle’ and he spoke passionately about the dangers of crossing the line between chasing a story in the interests of the common good and invading people’s private and family lives. 

RTÉ’s Chief News Correspondent asserted that journalists should always be honest and truthful in their broadcasting and he claimed that showing ‘good common sense’ was the most vital skill of a journalist. Bird described elements of the US media as ‘vicious’ and warned that the ‘black arts’ of journalism and broadcasting were coming into Ireland as well. As an example he referred to smear campaigns during the 2007 General Election.

Bird praised the work of the tribunals in Ireland in ‘peeling away layers of corruption’ and he contended that Philip Monahan would turn in his grave at the revelations about planning corruption in Dublin. In concluding his lecture, Charlie Bird presented a passionate defence of public service broadcasting which he said should be enhanced into the future.

As part of the lecture, Councillor Catherine Clancy, Deputy Lord Mayor of Cork, presented the annual Department of Government Student Awards to John Kenny (Student of Year), Neepa Sodhi (Graduate of Year) and Declan Keating (Essay Competition Winner). The event was attended by a crowd of over 200 people in UCC’s Aula Maxima.

Philip Monahan Memorial Lecture 2009 - Senator Ivana Bacik

Senator Ivana Bacik delivered the 11th Annual Philip Monahan Memorial Lecture on Thursday the 19th of November 2009 before 200 people in UCC’s Aula Maxima. Senator Bacik asserted that there are three basic features of our system of constitutional governance that make our status as a republic questionable.

First, she argued that the Constitution has failed adequately to ensure implementation of the separation of powers doctrine, a key tenet of any functioning republican state. Secondly, she suggested that the Constitution still embodies what has been called ‘a pro-religion ethos’ apparent in Article 44.1 and the Preamble, committing the courts to a set of constitutional propositions that no liberal democracy should countenance. The theocratic ideology underlying the text is no longer appropriate or sustainable, she claimed, in modern Ireland – particularly not in a modern state that claims to be a republic. Thirdly and finally, Bacik proposed that there is a misfit between the theocratic ideology already mentioned, and the somewhat conflicting liberal-democracy ideology that also underlies the fundamental rights provisions.

Ivana Speech

Philip Monahan Memorial Lecture 2007/2008 - Robert J. Faucher

The 9th Annual Philip Monahan Memorial Lecture took place in Boole 1 on Friday the 2nd of May 2008. The Department of Government runs this lecture series to commemorate Philip Monahan who served as Commissioner and then as City Manager in Cork from 1924 to 1959. Previous speakers have included John Hume, Mary McAleese, Robert Putnam and David Norris. This year’s lecture was delivered by Robert J. Faucher, the Deputy US Ambassador to Ireland and was entitled ‘Challenges facing the next President of the United States.’ Deputy Faucher spoke about the upcoming presidential election and the current contest between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party nomination. He explained that whoever ends up in the White House will face a series of challenges including an apathetic public, social security, healthcare and the possible withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Deputy Faucher also asserted that the United States is very supportive of a strong European Union. At the end of the lecture, Deputy Faucher was presented with a copy of Philip Monahan – A Man Apart written by Dr Aodh Quinlivan of the Department of Government.

Philip Monahan Memorial Lecturers/ Guest Speakers

1997 Professor Tom Garvin, Department of Politics, University College Dublin
1998 Dr. John Hume, Nobel Peace Prize Winner
1999 Francesco Rutelli, Mayor of Rome
2000 John Dennehy, Secretary General, Department of Education and Science
2002 Professor Robert Putnam, Professor of Public Policy, Harvard University
2003 Dr. Mary McAleese, President of Ireland
2005 David Begg, General Secretary, Irish Congress of Trade Unions
2006 David Norris, Seanad Éireann
2007 Robert J. Faucher, Deputy US Ambassador
2008 Dermot McCarthy, Secretary General to Irish Government
2009 Ivana Bacik, Seanad Éireann
2010 Charlie Bird, RTE
2011 Emily O'Reilly, Ombudsman
2012 John Bercow, MP, Speaker of House of Commons
2013 Enda Kenny, An Taoiseach
2014 Professor Brigid Laffan, Schuman Centre, EUI, Florence

Department of Government - Student Award Recipients

 Every year, the Department of Government presents three awards, usually as part of the Philip Monahan Memorial Lecture.

  • The first award is the Government Student of the Year, named after our former colleague Tom Whalen. This is presented to the student who achieved the top marks in the first year of the government degree. 
  • The second award goes to the Richard Haslam Graduate of the Year. This award reflects academic excellence but also a contribution by the student to University life.
  • The third award is presented in honour of Patrick O’Sullivan, a first year student on our degree who died in tragic circumstances in March 2001. We hold an annual essay competition in honour of Patrick which combines politics and humour. 


2000 Holly Hardwicke
2001 Elizabeth Harrington
2002 Peter Ryan
2003 Hannah Lane
2004 Ann-Marie Tierney
2005 Denis Twomey
2006 Andrea Merrigan
2007 Darragh Mehigan
2008 Patrick Higgins
2009 Tracey O'Rourke
2010 John Kenny
2011 Padraig Mac Consaidín
2012 Louis O'Keeffe
2013 Jack Corbett
2014 Michael Lyons


2003 Holly Hardwicke
2004 Elizabeth Harrington
2005 Jeremiah O’Sullivan
2006 Brenda Keating
2007 Tim McCarthy
2008 Mathew Ryan
2009 Colm Diamond
2010 Neepa Sodhi
2011 Laura Murphy
2012 Tracey O'Rourke
2013 John Kenny
2014 Padraig Mac Consaidín


2002 Andrew O’Leary (Government, 4th Year)
2003 Donal Holohan (Government, 2nd Year)
2004 John O’Sullivan (Government, 2nd Year)
2005 John O’Sullivan (Government, 3rd Year)
2006 Cormac Cahill (Government, 2nd Year)
2007 Ian Mawe (Government, 2nd Year)
2008 Niall Duggan (Post-Graduate)
2009 Andrew Aherne (Government, 2nd Year)
2010 Declan Keating (Government, 2nd Year)
2011 Padraig Mac Consaidín (Government, 2nd Year)
2012 John Somers (Government, 1st Year)
2013 Padraig Mac Consaidín (Government, 4th Year)
2014 Don O'Neill (Government, 4th Year)

Department of Government and Politics

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