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Two DCU projects centring on tackling online hate in football and Gaelic traditional narrative among those announced today by the Irish Research Council

Ireland and UK expand cooperation with joint research awards in digital humanities

Minister Simon Harris welcomes €6.5m boost for interdisciplinary research partnerships

Eleven new research projects have been announced today by the Irish Research Council and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), that will see the UK and Ireland bring together world-leading expertise in the Digital Humanities.

The two DCU projects are Tackling Online Hate in Football (Dr Gary Sinclair, DCU and Dr Mark Doidge, University of Brighton) and Decoding Hidden Heritages in Gaelic Traditional Narrative with Text-Mining and Phylogenetics (Dr Brian Ó Raghallaigh, DCU and Dr William Lamb, University of Edinburgh).

Speaking about Tackling Online Hate in Football, Dr. Gary Sinclair said 

“Sport has always been an important context through which societal understanding of issues concerning race, gender and national identity are articulated and contested. Consumption and discussion of football through social media, particularly during international football tournaments (see final of Euro 2020), has increasingly become a hotbed for widespread abuse and hate crime. 

This project will work with stakeholders across sport, social media and government in the UK and Ireland to understand this problem and identify strategies and policies in which to address this societal issue through the power of sport.”

Dr. Brian Ó Raghallaigh, commenting on the award said

"This research will concentrate upon International Folktales (e.g. The Gifts of the Little People) in Irish and Scottish Gaelic and use them as a vehicle for understanding early communication networks between Ireland and Scotland. This will provide us with a novel understanding of the joint cultural history of these two countries. The project will build on the work of the Dúchas project to digitise the National Folklore Collection of Ireland."

The projects will aim to develop new research techniques, bring innovative approaches to community engagement and enhance cultural understanding and access to heritage. Projects partners include the Football Association of Wales, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, Historic Environment Scotland, the British Museum, Sport Against Racism Ireland, Royal College of Physicians in Ireland and the Digital Repository of Ireland.

 Welcoming the joint awards, Simon Harris TD, Minister for Further & Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, said:

 “I am delighted to see these awards announced today, supported by the Irish Research Council. The ongoing partnership between the IRC and AHRC-UKRI will drive a step-change in the level of cooperation between these two islands in the growing field of digital humanities. The UK-Ireland digital humanities partnership is a timely reminder of both the appetite and the potential for UK-Ireland research collaboration, both ‘east-west’ and ‘north-south’. Maintaining and further building an international and a vibrant all-island higher education and research system is a key priority for government.”

 Christopher Smith, AHRC Executive Chair and International Champion for UKRI said:

 “I am delighted to see that the strength of AHRC’s partnership with the Irish Research Council has enabled us to co-fund such an exceptional and diverse group of projects.

Through cutting-edge approaches these projects powerfully capture the innovative potential of joining creativity in the arts and humanities with digital technologies and promise to achieve a new international benchmark in Digital Humanities research.”  

Building on the UK-Ireland collaboration

The Research Grants call is part of the Fund for International Collaboration, a multi-million-pound fund supporting international collaborations which enhances the UK’s ability to build new, and strengthen existing, partnerships with global research and innovation leaders.

The call is jointly led by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and the Irish Research Council (IRC). It builds on the ‘UK-Ireland Collaboration in the Digital Humanities’ scoping workshop that took place in Dublin on 22 and 23 October 2019 and the UK-Ireland Collaboration in the Digital Humanities Research Networking Call launched in 2020.

Peter Brown, Director of the Irish Research Council also commented, saying

“The awards we are jointly announcing today will not only enhance the integration of humanities and technology, but they will also facilitate UK and Irish researchers to widen their professional networks through collaboration and exchange of ideas, and to cultivate long-term links between Ireland and UK-based researchers.

I am particularly pleased to see that many projects engage extensively with partners in the creative industries and cultural heritage organisations, demonstrating the huge potential for intersectoral synergies and the opportunity to create inclusive solutions, ranging from an exploration of the use of emerging digital technologies to transforming understanding of online practices to the provision of world-class digital research repositories. The engagement between disciplines, academic and non-academic organisations across Ireland and the UK adds up to an initiative which is truly rich in possibilities.”

Details of DCU projects

Dr Mark Doidge, University of Brighton; Dr Gary Sinclair, Dublin City University - Tackling Online Hate in Football

This project will explore the potential of digital technologies to transform understanding of online hate. It aims to show how online practices and experiences have the potential to shape and influence our perceptions of matters concerning racism, sexism and sectarianism. Through analysis of online discourses, it will identify flashpoints and strategies for social media companies, policymakers and campaigners to tackle hate crime, identity politics and communication in a digital age. Critical discourse analysis on selected instances of football-related hate speech on Twitter will be paired with descriptive, content and network analysis of eight European Football Championships between 2008 and 2022. Interviews will be conducted with members of partner organisations committed to race equality, social justice and stamping out online hate. 

Researchers will work with partners to develop educational workshops, policies and specific machine learning procedures in which to identify and combat online hate on social media. Such initiatives and academic outputs will be disseminated with the goal of benefiting a wide number of stakeholders in a sustainable way including but not limited to social media companies, fans, football clubs/players, policymakers and anti-hate organisations/campaigns. Project partners include Sport Against Racism Ireland, Kick it Out, Football Supporters Association, Football Association Wales and Sporting Equals. 

Dr William Lamb, University of Edinburgh; Dr Brian Ó Raghallaigh", Dublin City University - Decoding Hidden Heritages in Gaelic Traditional Narrative with Text-Mining and Phylogenetics

The project aims to fuse deep, qualitative analysis with cutting-edge computational methods to decode, interpret and curate the hidden heritages of Gaelic traditional narrative. Using recent advances in language technology, the project will digitise, convert and make available a vast collection of folklore manuscripts in Irish and Scottish Gaelic. In turn, this new digital resource will catalyse ongoing research into Gaelic speech technology. The project will examine International Tales in Irish and Scottish Gaelic. Through an approach known as text-mining, it will use artificial intelligence to search the tales for similar topics, phrase sand other linguistic patterns. 

This work will transform the understanding about Gaelic oral culture and disseminate unique archival material online to a diverse set of end-users. It will positively impact the sustainability of Gaelic-speaking communities through the creation and further stimulation of important language technologies including handwriting recognition, machine translation and automatic speech recognition.

About UK Research and Innovation  

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is the largest public funder of research and innovation in the UK, with a budget of around £8bn. It is composed of seven disciplinary research councils, Innovate UK and Research England. It operates across all of the UK and works with our many partners in higher education, research organisations, businesses, government, and charities.   

Their vision is for an outstanding research and innovation system in the UK that gives everyone the opportunity to contribute and to benefit, enriching lives locally, nationally and internationally.   

Their mission is to convene, catalyse and invest in close collaboration with others to build a thriving, inclusive research and innovation system that connects discovery to prosperity and public good.  

About the Arts and Humanities Research Council 

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, funds internationally outstanding independent researchers across the whole range of the arts and humanities: history, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, languages and literature, design, heritage, area studies, the creative and performing arts, and much more. The quality and range of research supported by AHRC works for the good of UK society and culture and contributes both to UK economic success and to the culture and welfare of societies across the globe.   

About the Fund for International Collaboration

The Fund for International Collaboration (FIC) is a £160 million fund supporting international collaborations. It enhances the UK’s ability to build new, and strengthen existing, partnerships with global research and innovation leaders. We have worked with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to identify key partner countries for collaboration including China, Canada, South Korea and USA. There are over 20 partner countries involved in our bilateral and multilateral programmes. 

The fund has already supported more than 30 international collaborative research, innovation and infrastructure programmes across UKRI’s remit.

About the Irish Research Council

The Irish Research Council is the national funder of excellent research across all disciplines. It invests in discovery research and in ground-breaking ideas that address major societal challenges, funding a diverse range of excellent individual researchers across all career stages. The Irish Research Council collaborates with enterprise, civil society, and with government to leverage the skills, knowledge, and talent of researchers to achieve maximum benefit for society. Established in 2012, the Irish Research Council is an associated agency of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science and operates under the aegis of the Higher Education Authority.

Further information is available at