AGM Minutes for 2014 in Lille

Minutes for IASIL Association General Meeting (AGM)

Friday 18 July 2014. 4 pm. University of Lille.

1.  Chair’s address—Margaret Kelleher

It is a sincere pleasure to be in University of Lille for this, the 38th annual IASIL conference, and I would like to extend my warm thanks and congratulations to Fiona McCann and Alexandra Poulain, along with their colleagues Clíona Ní Ríordáin, Chantal Dessaint and Virginie Girel-Pietka, for all of their work in preparing this wonderfully dynamic academic programme and cultural activities.

The links between IASIL and Lille are of very long standing; some members of IASIL will remember the work of Professor Patrick Rafroidi, President of IASIL from 1976-1979. His legacy, and that of colleagues, is evident in influential Irish-French initiatives as Cahiers Irlandaises and Études Irlandaises;. This year, we are very pleased that so many members of SOFEIR, the French Society of Irish Studies, are giving papers at IASIL and I would like to express our deep appreciation of the immense work by SOFEIR officers and members in furthering Irish studies internationally.

This year also marks the end of the first of the three-year term of the Executive Committee and I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to my colleagues for their concrete support and hard work during the year. This will be visible at both the Executive Meeting and AGM, but the initiatives presented there are supported by lots of work, consideration and commitment ‘behind the scenes’ and I would like to take the opportunity to recognise this publicly. In the past year we have seen a great expansion in the role of the website and in dissemination of information regarding the work of IASIL members; we also have implemented new financial protocols in response to changes in bank practice. These have been achieved through a huge amount of work by our Secretary Dawn Duncan and our Treasurer Tina O’Toole, and we as an organisation are greatly endebted to them both. Thanks also to Clíona Ó Gallchoir and others who have enlivened our facebook presence, and we look forward to the help of all members with regard to the further promotion of IASIL members’ activities.

The relationship with the Irish University Review and Edinburgh University Press continues to flourish, and brings a number of benefits to IASIL members, in addition to the two volumes of the journal. Continuing thanks to Professor John Brannigan (IUR editor) and Sarah Edwards (EUP) for their invaluable assistance.

As members know, our scholarships play a particularly important role in creating the next generation of Irish studies scholars. We welcome the 2014 holders of the IASIL scholarship: Lisa Fitzgerald (NUIG) and James Little (TCD) and encourage members to continue to advertise this scholarship widely. I am pleased to report that Lisa Fitzgerald is the holder of the scholarship established for this year’s conference in memory of Bob Welch, past President of IASIL from 1990 to 1993, and I am also pleased to relay the good wishes of Angela Welch and her family who have warmly welcomed this recognition of his work for IASIL.

Future conference venues, as confirmed at last year’s conference, are York (2015), Cork (2016) and Vienna (2017); the conference theme and dates for York are now announced by Professor Matt Campbell as follows: Reconciliations, 20-24 July 2015, and we look forward to it greatly.

The Executive will propose at this year’s conference a modest increase in membership fees; an increase has not taken place for some years and is necessary to continue the existing benefits to IASIL members as well as to support our modest expenditure on society activities such as scholarships and website maintenance. We appreciate that members are labouring under difficult economic circumstances and in recognition of this, the Executive would like to propose the extension of our student rate to early career researchers up to three years post PhD. This, we hope, can enable the organisation to continue to attract early-career members who continue to be a vital part of our membership and conference participants.

Finally, my thanks again to all those who enable our organization to run so smoothly, including members of the scholarship committee ably chaired by Shaun Richards; the bibliographical committee generously chaired by Beatriz Kopschitz Bastos; IUR editor Dr John Brannigan;, and all of the regional representatives and members who do so much to keep IASIL a flourishing organization.

2. Minutes of Belfast meeting—A. Poulain proposed, J. Dean seconded. Accepted.

3. Matters arising—M. Kelleher noted that the office of Michael Higgins, President turned down the annual lecture invitation, as not feasible for the President. The executive committee, after much discussion, believes that such a lecture is important for our organization to sponsor and to disseminate to our worldwide scholars. To that end, the executive bring the following motion forward to the association:

Motion: IASIL executive, in coordination with conference organizers, will aim to provide an annual IASIL Lecture in Humanities, supported by the Irish government or embassy, and delivered as the opening plenary at the annual conference. This same lecture will then be podcast and posted on the IASIL website for members around the world to access. V. Valvano seconded. Passed unanimously.

4. Secretary’s report—Dawn Duncan

Over the past year, I have overseen the transfer of materials and communication to our new website. To that end, shortly after last year’s meeting, I met in Dublin with our Vermillion design team to learn the protocol for adding pages, members, and manipulating media. During the course of this year, I have now provided the content for 29 distinct pages within our various categories. In addition, I have posted 277 news items. On a weekly basis, based on communication from Lucy Imbusch, our Assistant Treasurer, I update memberships, both adding and renewing. Currently members who have access to the full website number 688, 683 who are subscribed plus the administrative members for our web design and email team.

I also represented IASIL at the annual board meeting of the Irish University Review, skyping from Minnesota to Dublin.

Less easy to quantify are my other tasks across the year, which include ongoing conversations with our President, other Executive members, and the membership at large. On practically a daily basis, I deal with queries about the organization, how to join, how to get website access, our annual conference, and scholarly issues in Irish Studies. I do my best to answer in a timely and considerate manner, and, when necessary, to connect members with other individuals who might assist them.

Because we live in a technological age, sometimes members assume the instant that they join IASIL or renew their membership via PayPal that they will have website access. However, there are still channels that must be navigated, so we ask that members allow a week for their membership to become active. Since we do a weekly update, from PayPal through the Treasurer and Assistant Treasurer to me, that should be sufficient time. Members who have not set their email to recognize IASIL as a safe-sender of html will have trouble reading the message that is generated with their access information, at which point they usually contact me (as per instructions on the membership page) and I am able to send them that information personally, or, if there is some problem with the password (technically or if lost or forgotten), then I can manually reset and send their way. I do urge members to set IASIL as a safe-sender so that they can more easily read the website generated communication.

In April, in consultation with President Margaret Kelleher and in response to making media connections with our Facebook presence more seamless, I set most of the IASIL website pages to open access. Doing so allows those who find us via Facebook to link to IASIL news and see how vibrant our scholarly community is across the world. The Irish University Review, weekly email digests, and participation in our annual conference remain limited to members only, which provides an incentive for joining IASIL.

Over the last six months, I am happy to report, most members seem quite happy with the website, with the email digest that arrives weekly, and with the level of communication from IASIL. As we move forward, I can only imagine a smoother year ahead.

My thanks to Margaret Kelleher, Tina O’Toole, and Lucy Imbusch for their continued support and cooperation, as well as to Alexandra Poulain and Fiona McCann for good communication throughout the year as we moved toward this year’s conference.

5. Treasurer’s report—Tina O’Toole

     A. Accounts

Audited Accounts to 31 May 2014 (available for inspection)

NB: Lower expenditure in 2013/14 than previous year (only two issues of IUR paid for, four in previous year; cost of website in 2012/13 also drove expenses up).

No applications to Support Fund received.

    B. Paid-up Membership (without IASIL Japan members)

Paid up to date                             Treasurer’s database

                                                                                    (incl. lapsed memberships

                                                                                   for two further years)

2014     (Lille)                390 (incl. 56 students,                 622

21 without IUR, 20 couples,

4 honorary/life members)

2013     (Belfast)            366 (incl. 51 students,                  580

21 without IUR, 17 couples,

4 honorary/life members)

2012     (Montréal)         358 (incl. 61 students,                 594

16 without IUR)

2011     (Leuven)           333 (incl. 54 students,                 618

  1. 20 without IUR)

2010     (Maynooth)       405 (incl. 71 students)                666

2009     (Glasgow)         378                                                  723

2008     (Porto)              419                                                   702

2007     (Dublin)            519                                                   724

For regional distribution see Appendix 2.

C. Payment Procedures

Streamlining of membership / subscription procedures and follow-up access to Members Area of website working smoothly. PayPal working well, although we had occasional queries about security (to date, we have experienced no problems at this level whatsoever) and a small number of members who are unwilling to engage with the technology.

Decisions taken at executive level: over the coming months, Treasurer will explore the possibility of setting up a direct debit facility; we will now discontinue sterling cheque payments and encourage UK members to use PayPal. We also agree to continue to award free membership to students presenting at the New Voices and Leuven EFACIS Postgraduate conferences.

During the handover of Treasurer’s responsibilities, we were stymied in attempts to transfer the name on the IASIL Visa card (used to underpin our PayPal account) by recently introduced banking regulations; new rules demand that a resolution passed by the organization attributing “borrowing powers” to “trustees” of the organization. This resolution was passed unanimously by members of the Executive last month, but (as per earlier Agenda item) needs to be ratified by members at the AGM this year.

    D. Membership & Fees

Outstanding issue: IASIL finances unsustainable in the long run without increase in membership fees. We have a very modest surplus on this year’s balance sheet, but we need to keep a careful eye on this in future to prevent depletion of reserves. Following discussion about this at last year’s AGM, Executive now recommend a 12% increase for the annual or 3-year membership, with student memberships not being raised (ie current €40 annual membership will go to €45). We agreed to discontinue the couple membership, and to extend student membership rates to early career scholars up to three years post-PhD. The executive agreed to this initiative as a means to keep younger scholars involved in IASIL. This information needs to go on the membership page, be noted on the weekly digest, and on the Facebook page.

    E. IUR: Payments for IUR fully up to date; see audited accounts for details.

    F.  Thanks to Joachim Fischer, Lucy Imbusch, Margaret Kelleher, Dawn Duncan, and Shaun Richards.

Proposed motion re Financial Trustees (as circulated to members)

Proposed Text to be inserted in Constitution

        “7. Officers and Executive Committee

           (f) The Executive Committee will nominate Trustees authorised to manage financial transactions on behalf of IASIL. The Trustees      shall be not less than two and not more than five in number, and will include the President and Treasurer of the organisation. The Association shall not incur any single expenditure exceeding €5,000 without the consent in writing of the Trustees of the organisation. The Association and/or the Trustees are authorised and empowered to borrow from time to time such sums of money to an extent not exceeding such amount, and upon such terms and conditions as may be authorised from time to time by a resolution of the Executive Committee of the organisation. No personal liability shall be attached to any Trustee acting in the ordinary and proper force of IASIL business.” 

Fiona McCann seconded. Unanimously passed.

6.  Bibliography subcommittee report—Beatriz Kopschitz Bastos

There were significant reports from most countries currently represented in this sub-committee. My special thanks to the invaluable dedication of all representatives.

The sub-committee welcomes the new representatives: Belgium – Dr Raphaël Ingelbien; China, Hong Kong and Macao – Dr Li Yuan; Kwait – Dr Conor Farnan.

The final edited 2013 Bibliography will be sent to IUR editor on July 5th.

I personally thank Maria Eduarda Ferraz, undergraduate student at the University of São Paulo, for her priceless help in editing the final list.

7.  Scholarship subcommittee—Shaun Richards

    1. Report on 2014

This year (2014) there were 6 applications. Last year (2013) at Queen’s, Belfast there were seven. While this suggests a continuity of interest – albeit low – it actually masks a decrease as in 2013 students from the UK and Ireland were excluded and these two countries have, along with the USA, provided the highest number of applicants year on year. Given its comparable location to Lille, the Leuven conference in 2011 provides a good reference point – then there were seventeen applicants. However it’s not only a decrease in numbers but a contraction in terms of the geographical range. As last year for example, we would expect applicants from countries such Poland, Germany, Brazil – single figures perhaps, but indicative of the international reach of the association. However the six applicants this year were only from Ireland and the UK – from TCD, UCD, NUI Galway, Edinburgh, Newcastle, and Warwick.

You will recall that last year we agreed that there would be two scholarships – the annual IASIL scholarship for which we budgeted 1500 Euros and one in memory of past president Bob Welsh for which donations would be sought. However there was no call for donations, but as we had announced the scholarship at the AGM and then in subsequent publicity we went ahead with offering two awards. But, ironically, the fact that we only had applicants from Ireland and the UK means that we can cover both with the 1500 Euro. And the two award winners are Lisa Fitzgerald from NUI Galway and James Little from TCD. L. Fitzgerald will be named the Bob Welch scholar.

Why the decrease in numbers and global reach is a matter of speculation but also, I suggest, a matter of concern – perhaps regional representatives can cast some light on the situation from their perspective and enable us to return to the higher, healthier numbers of previous years.

Finally just to thank colleagues on the panel – Margaret Kelleher, Youngmin Kim, Jose Lanters, and Tina O’Toole.

8.  Reports from IASIL representatives—1-2 minutes each orally, with full reports posted and made public.  See Appendices.

9.  Report from IUR representative—John Brannigan

Margaret, thank you for inviting me to attend the IASIL Executive, and also for your warm welcome to the IASIL conference this year in Lille. The relationship which the Irish University Review enjoys with IASIL continues to be strong and fruitful, and I would like also to thank the many IASIL members who give invaluable work and support to the journal, as authors, readers, reviewers, subscribers, and board members. The journal depends upon this work, and I consider the journal and myself as editor very fortunate to have such good friends in IASIL.

Because of the work of IASIL members, the IUR continues to publish scholarly work of the highest standards, and also of cultural significance to the Irish Studies community. In June, we launched our new special issue on the work of Brendan Behan, in this, the fiftieth anniversary of his death. Unusually the issue contains a full length play, the first time that Janet Behan’s play about her uncle, Brendan at the Chelsea, has been published, as well as original and important essays by Andrew McNeillie, Frank McGuinness, Michael Pierse, Maureen Hawkins, Bernice Schrank, Stephen Watt, and Claire Lynch. We are currently preparing the final copy of the Autumn issue, which contains Bernard O’Donoghue’s O’Buachalla Lecture from 2013 on twentieth-century poetry in Irish and English, and also contains essays on Charlotte Bronte, Yeats, Joyce, Kate O’Brien, Maurice Leitch, Brian Friel, John McGahern, Paul Durcan, Seamus O Grianna and Eilis Ni Dhuibhne. The online edition of the issue will contain also the IASIL bibliography, and again I want to thank the superb efforts of Beatriz and her colleagues on the bibliography committee for the efficient and thorough work they have done in putting together the bibliography. I have received very positive feedback on the transition to an online version of the bibliography, and it has allowed us to include ten essays in the Autumn issue and still remain close to our agreed page extent with Edinburgh University Press.

We continue to enjoy a very good working relationship with Edinburgh University Press, and I was very pleased to see that the Press have maintained the same subscription prices for individuals and association members for 2015. I have been asked by the Press to remind you that all IASIL members are entitled to 20% discount on Edinburgh University Press books. Our forthcoming special issues were announced last year, and we look forward still to the special issue on Irish drama, guest edited by Cathy Leeney and Csilla Bertha in 2015, and the special issue on Irish poetic modernism, guest edited by David Lloyd, to be published in 2016.

I am pleased also to report on a couple of decisions taken recently at the IUR management board which will ensure the good health and a bright future for the journal in the years to come. We have benefitted immeasurably from the wise and generous leadership of Professor Chris Murray as chair of the management board. Chris has decided to retire from his position as chair, and I want to record here our sincere and deep gratitude for all of his work as chair. As I am sure you would expect and appreciate, we will endeavour to honour his long and distinguished service to the journal in an appropriate fashion in the near future. I am delighted to report that Professor Tony Roche has agreed to accept the responsibilities of the role of chair of the management board henceforth, and I know that you will join with me in being assured of a very secure and confident hand at the helm. My own term of office as editor also came up for renewal, and I was very relieved and grateful that the board gave me permission to continue as editor for a further two years, until the end of 2016. With the necessity of forward planning in mind, the management board also took the opportunity to nominate and appoint the next editor, to take up office in January 2017, and it is my very happy role to announce that I will be succeeded as editor by Dr Emilie Pine. I am sure you will share our excitement at this appointment, and join with me in wishing Emilie every success as editor.

On behalf of the management board and the editorial boards of the Irish University Review, I would like to wish Alexandre and Fiona, all the organising team, and IASIL members, a very convivial and successful conference here in Lille, and I look forward to continuing to build the very strong bonds between the journal and the association.

10.  Review of Website and Media Initiatives

    1. Operation of member-only and general areas—We will keep open all but most governance pages and the IUR link.
    2. General IASIL Promotion and Recruitment—We will continue to work toward improvements, including Facebook. D. Duncan is working on using Twitter more and encourages other to do so. We will use #Iasil14 here to tweet about the conference. M. Kelleher and S. Cahill created a flyer for members to use at other conferences.
    3. IASIL Facebook Page—Clíona Ó Gallchoir:I agreed to act as one of the Facebook page administrators in order to increase IASIL’s social media presence. Since last year, there have been nearly 140 posts on the page (approx three per week), and the page has attracted over 100 new “Likes” in the past year. The page currently has 699 Likes and the content is frequently shared by other pages, including the British Association for Irish Studies (447 Likes) the Leuven Irish Studies Centre (190 Likes), the School of Canadian Irish Studies (473 Likes), the School of English in UCC (918 Likes), etc. This significantly increases the dissemination of news from and about IASIL. Posts are derived from the IASIL News bulletins, from online news stories of interest to the IASIL community and from other Facebook pages such as the National Library of Ireland and the various Irish Studies pages. The fact that the News section of the IASIL wesbite is now freely available and not password protected facilitates the linking of the website to the Facebook page.

11. Future Conferences: York 2015, Cork 2016.

First a word of thanks to F. McCann and A. Poulain on excellent work. M. Campbell shared the flyer for York in 2015, which will take place from the 20-24 of July. The four plenary speakers are already in place, covering the broad interests of our scholarly membership. Beyond that, Cork is 2016 and Vienna is 2017.

12. Co-option of Postgraduate Representative—We need suggestions for this position and it was agreed that a representative from Cork would be very appropriate given 2016 meeting. (Subsequent to the meeting, Rebecca Graham was appointed) .

13. Any other business—our appreciation once again to our wonderful hosts, Fiona McCann and A. Poulain.

14. Motion to adjourn from J. Lanters, second M. Campbell. Passed.