ed serif;”>The UK Deputy Prime Minster, Nick Clegg, visited UCD on January 14th as part of his first official visit to Dublin.

Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats visited the University during his time in Dublin where he was attending the British- Irish council in Dublin Castle. While in UCD, Mr. Clegg was accompanied by Richard Bruton, the Minister for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation and the President of UCD, Dr Hugh Brady, as he met with academics, researchers and community groups.

During the visit Mr. Clegg spoke to participants and researchers of ‘Preparing for life’ a five year programme that works with over 200 North Dublin families aiming to help parents and childrenovercome educational disadvantage.

When speaking about the programme, Mr. Clegg talked of his ‘’personal interest’’ in early childhood intervention, noting that ‘opening doors to opportunity’ was a ‘big theme’ of his visit here. Clegg, who has been criticised for his failure to keep his pledge to not raise tuition fees in the UK, admitted that early intervention schemes like ‘Preparing for Life’ are only ‘part of a whole patchwork of the things that you can do to try and make sure that as we come out of these difficult times, we come out as a fairer community’’.

While in UCD, the Deputy Prime Minster also visited the UCD Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science where he met with representatives from pharmaceutical giant, GlaxoSmithKline and the all Ireland Co-operative Oncology Research Group, who are working to give Irish patients early access to emerging cancer treatments.

The meeting gave Mr. Clegg an insight into the research taking place in the University and the role of the Irish Pharmaceutical industry which employs over 47,000 staff and is a key sector within Ireland’s economy playing a vital role in our economic well-being. The Deputy Leader also spoke with a participant in the research, journalist Áine Lawlor, who is currently on leave from RTÉ’s Morning Ireland. Lawlor told Mr. Clegg about her participation in the Research Groups (ICORG) drug trial as a treatment for her cancer.

While in Dublin, attending the British – Irish Council, which was established under the Good Friday Agreement to promote special relations between the eight member administrations, Nick Clegg made courtesy calls to the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, and the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins in Aras an Uachtarain. The Deputy Prime Minster also held discussions with the Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr Eamon Gilmore TD, and attended a reception for Business Leaders in association with UK Trade and Investment and the British Irish Chamber of Commerce.

Sophie Kelly