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Ulster Language Students Praised for Role in G8 Summit


Students from the School of Modern Languages receive their certificates from Mr Pat Maguire, Governor, along with officers and senior staff from HMP Maghaberry and Dr David Barr, Head of the School of Modern Languages.

Staff and students from the University of Ulster’s School of Modern Languages have been praised for their contribution in making this year’s G8 Summit an outstanding success.

Ten students were engaged by the Department of Justice during the course of the two-day summit, when world leaders convened at the Lough Erne Resort in County Fermanagh.

They were on hand to assist government agencies with interpretation in French, German, Spanish and Chinese, as well as providing interpreting support for the Prison services to assist them with international protestors.

At a special presentation ceremony hosted at by the Department of Justice in HMP Maghaberry to mark the School’s contribution, staff and students were recognised for the key role that they played in making the Summit a success.

They were presented with certificates by the Governor of Maghaberry Prison, Mr Pat Maguire, where they had been engaged as interpreters.

Dr David Barr, Head of the School of Modern Languages at Ulster said: “To serve as interpreters for a high-profile summit such as the G8 was an excellent opportunity for our students.

“It provided them with amazing experience and clearly highlights the importance of the professional focus of the university’s language degrees that offer specialisms in translation and interpreting.

“We were delighted to be approached by staff from the prison service to assist them as part of the G8 and this work opens up exiting opportunities for future collaboration.

“I would like to pay particular tribute to Governors Tom Ferguson and Ken Hall for all their work in providing this unique opportunity to our students – a first for language students in the United Kingdom.”

Mr Tom Ferguson, Governor, HMP Maghaberry, added: “The Prison service approached the University’s School of Modern Languages as part of the contingency planning around the G8 summit. We were delighted with the response and enthusiasm of Dr Barr and his team of students and staff.

“They contributed greatly to the overall success in the planning and provided their personal time over the summit period on a voluntary basis. We cannot thank them enough for their contribution which brought with it professionalism, enthusiasm, a real energy around their language skills, and desire to assist individuals coming into custody.

“The reality of such an event was to plan for prisoners coming into custody and to commit them in a safe, decent and secure environment. For those with little or no English, incarceration can bring with it anxiety and stress that makes their time in custody difficult to the point of the individual becoming vulnerable.

“Providing translated information and direct one to one communication on committal reduces that risk considerably and helps to provide a safer environment for both prisoners and staff.

“We are also very grateful to the staff and students for their continued support at the feedback and café discussion post G8, which looked at innovative ideas to develop future ways to work in partnership with the University of Ulster.

“It is our hope that we can revisit these ideas as the relationship develops for the benefit of the university and prisoners, providing positive engagement with prisoners in conjunction with supporting the School of Modern Languages at Ulster in practical experiences for their students and staff.”