Law has always been of great interest to me. My curiosity of the subject stems from younger years which consisted of frequent visits to the Courthouse in Dublin to see my Uncle and Aunt, a barrister and high court judge respectively, in action. Since then I have felt drawn to a life of in the legal system. Information I received at a careers open day I attended in fifth year outlined the new skills I would acquire and vast career opportunities available following a degree in law. This confirmed for me that a career in law was imminent. Clinical Law (BCL Clinical) was my first preference on my CAO application.
I was offered my second choice and accepted Bachelor of Civil Law in UCC (BCL). Throughout my degree, I have been exposed to a wide range of law modules. Certain aspects of my course e. g. welfare law, human rights law, public international law steered my interest toward the human rights and justice aspect of law. I was particularly interested in diplomatic immunity for example, how the Centre for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to bringing former President Bush to justice for the torture of two victims who filed criminal complaints against him.
My interest in these subjects is followed up by reading journals and articles as well as attending various conferences. Last October, I attended the 10th Annual Human Rights Conference organised by the Law Society of Ireland and the Irish Human Rights Commission in Dublin. Anna Austin of the European Court of Human Rights spoke of recent cases in the ECHR in relation to human rights in prison. I realised the challenges and rewards of a life in the field of human rights and transitional justice and it was at this point that I began to consider a career in the field.
In February 2011, I went on an EU trip with eleven of my classmates. We travelled to Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland and France visiting the European Parliament, European Court of Justice, United Nations European Headquarters and the European Court of Human Rights respectively. I was particularly taken with the Court of Human Rights where we sat in on a court hearing. The trip was one of the first times when textbooks no longer mattered and was an opportunity for me to see the law in action in a variety of contexts. In August 2011 I organised a week’s work experience in Naughton McGrath Solicitors in Tralee followed by a week shadowing Chief Justice Elizabeth Dunne in Cork Courthouse. In summer 2012, I spent the summer as a legal assistant in Toher Vincent & Co Solicitors in Cork. I completed a Moot Court project in my final year. I represented the applicant in a fictional case, in a mock court, in front of two lecturers and a High Court Judge. These opportunities allowed me to put the skills and knowledge I had learnt on paper to practice in reality and I worked well on my own and as part of a team.
Overall, I think these academic experiences enhanced my critical thinking abilities and practical skills and will contribute to my future graduate research work. As a member of Ceoltas na hEireann and a gold medallist in Irish dancing, I have learnt the importance of hard work and discipline in order to get results. Having worked as a waitress in a busy hotel for six years, I possess excellent interpersonal and communication skills as well as the confidence to deal with difficult customers effectively.
I was also an active member of the UCC Law Society. Through taking part in debates, I gained confidence in public speaking and enhanced my presentation skills. I feel these attributes gained from my extra-curricular activities give me an advantage and can be incorporated into my academic work in this particular Masters. The excellent reputation your college upholds and the beautiful landscape in which Magee Campus is situated has heightened my interest in attending, along with a top 3 ranking within UK universities.
The fact that the programme is delivered by researchers in the Transitional Justice Institute and the chance of an internship within the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission are also major attractions. What appeals to me the most is the chance to study in the heart of a society which has experienced human rights atrocities and is currently in the process of transitional justice. The chance to challenge myself and realise my full potential, by completing a masters with such open-ended possibilities in the field of human rights, is the ultimate goal.