Tell me first about your specific role within the project
My colleague at Maynooth, David Mangan, who is originally Canadian and spent a lot of his career in the UK, recruited me to the project to have someone with deeper knowledge of the national picture. So David and I are jointly doing the reports on Ireland, but also in conjunction with the Spanish team are coordinating Work Package 4, which in many ways is the heart of the project: to write a comparative report and draw comparative themes on what actually happened during the lockdown period in each of the countries in this sector, and try and draw together the different strands from the public policy point of view to draw some common themes and best practices.
What attracted you to this project?
There’s a really pragmatic reason and a more principled reason. So the really pragmatic reason is as Head of School, over the last few years, I have a policy of basically saying yes to do anything I find interesting, the rationale being that, working on your own research projects or your own writing tends to be the first thing to fall away in the day-to-day flood of admin and HR issues and all this kind of stuff. I find if I’m part of a team and I have obligations to other people I will tend to keep those. I’ve found that has been really good for me as a discipline mechanism to actually do the work. That’s a very pragmatic reason, but it’s linked with the principle, which is, I don’t say yes to everything. It usually comes down to two things, it comes down to the people involved and the actual substantive project. VIRAL is a highly impressive team and I knew some of the people already, but I didn’t know others, and when you look at the track records of the people involved, it was clear that this team had recently completed another project, quite successfully. So that was an attraction. And in terms of the actual project, I just thought it was a fascinating idea and it’s not a sector I would have known a lot about. From an Irish perspective this is particularly interesting because you can’t look at anything in this space without considering Ryanair, which of course is based in Ireland. I think there’s a lot the Irish team could contribute.