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    Theorising Irish company law: locating Irish company law within entity theory
    (University College Cork, 2023) Boland, Michael James; Lynch Fannon, Irene; Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology
    In terms of the contribution that this thesis will make to knowledge in the field, it will add three things. First, it will demonstrate the weaknesses in the contractarian and communitarian debate. Second, it will present entity theory as a framework for studying Irish company law and indeed other company law regimes that are built on the doctrines of limited liability and corporate personality. Third, it will show that Irish company law and most corporate law frameworks enable and support managerial discretion which this thesis refers to as the second pillar of entity theory. These findings converge on the conclusion that the core of decision-making in the company is made by management not by or even for shareholders. This is an important insight given that at the heart of the contractarian and communitarian debate is an assumption that the shareholders wield absolute authority and influence over corporate decision-making. It is true that shareholders in general meetings make important and consequential decisions about the governance, finance, activities and future of the company. Hence, the general meeting has aptly been described as the company's "supreme governing body". But the kinds of corporate decisions and actions that have tended to create tension in this debate are operational decisions such as plant closures, redundancies, outsourcing, tax avoidance, workforce welfare, investments, divestments, and others which are the preserve of management. This then leads to the conclusion that it is directorial or managerial primacy rather than shareholder primacy that is the guiding principle of company law. Contractarians and communitarians assume that the latter, shareholder primacy, is the goal around which company law pivots. But, in fact, shareholder primacy has no basis in company law. For instance, agency theory and the nexus of contracts paradigm which provide conceptual scaffolding for shareholder primacy are not products of law but rather of economics. The way in which agency theory and the nexus of contracts paradigm have been used by the contractarian and communitarian schools creates the impression that the 'company' is merely a collective noun denoting all the natural persons who form it, work in it, and do business with it. The effect of this is to overlook the nineteenth century company law doctrine of corporate personality that provides that the company has a legal identity independent of those who formed it. This is referred to in this thesis as the first pillar of entity theory. The theoretical scaffolds on which the shareholder primacy debate has been waged over decades has led to this company law debate disregarding the fundamentals of company law and has, ironically, brought us back to a time when shareholders, as we understand that term today, did not exist as incorporation was still largely State controlled and limited liability was only in the research and development stage. Directorial or managerial primacy, on the other hand, is embedded in Irish company law and in the company law frameworks of other jurisdictions. As stated, this is a product of the separate legal personality of companies and is thus referred to as the second pillar of entity theory. The company as a legal person is run by a body of natural persons, the Board of Directors, who make day-to-day decisions on behalf of the company. The law reserves certain categories of decision-making to shareholders as mentioned above but only mandates that shareholders meet every fifteen months. In fact, the law permits companies to dispense with the requirement to hold general meetings provided that the shareholders sign a resolution confirming that they approve of the company's financial statements and directors' report and that they agree with any proposed reforms needing their consent. Moreover, company law statutes in Ireland, the UK, and across the US explicitly vest the interests of the company in the hands of the directors. In the UK, the directors must "act in the way [they] consider, in good faith, would be most likely to promote the success of the company". In the US State of Minnesota, for example, it is the Board of Directors who has discretion to decide what is in the "best interests of the corporation". Like in its UK equivalent, the Minnesota provision, which is typical of similar provisions across the US, contains a non-exhaustive list of constituencies to which directors can have regard in exercising their discretion ranging from employees to "societal considerations". In the context of Ireland, it is the directors who must "act in good faith in what [they] consider to be the interests of the company". It is the directors who are empowered by statute to manage the business of the company - a power that was granted by the governing documents of the company (the articles of association) under the previous company law regime but is now contained in statute thus further codifying directorial discretion in Irish law. And, quite apart from being shareholders' agents as the contractarian and communitarian schools of thought believe, it is the directors who enjoy "the most unfettered of powers" under the Act to refuse to register a shareholder on the register of members subject to the one condition that they exercise that power in good faith in the interests of the company. In fact, with the exception of Section 224 regarding the consideration of employee interests and Sections 228(1)(h) and 228(3) concerning members' interests, there is no reference to the interests of shareholders in the Act and, most definitely, no requirement to maximise shareholder wealth. Even those statutory provisions - Sections 224, 228(1)(h), and 228(3) - support managerial discretion by giving management discretion to consider the welfare of employees if they believe that to do so will add value to the company and, in the case of a nominee director, to consider the interests of their appointer notwithstanding their duty to the company as a whole where this does not harm any other party's interests in the company. So, far from being restrictive, which is what a narrow shareholder-focused view of Irish company law would suggest, Irish company law is permissive in that it allows directors as "administrators" the discretion to make decisions and to deal with corporate assets on behalf of their principal, the company.
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    Microbial regulation of barrier function in the gut-brain axis
    (University College Cork, 2023) Sánchez Díaz, Paula; Clarke, Gerard; Cryan, John; Leigh, Sarah-Jane; Advancement in Neurosciences (Geneva, Switzerland)
    The gut microbiome plays a critical role in host health through modulation of gut and blood-brain barrier integrity, responding to factors such as diet, stress, and medication. A key pathway by which the gut microbiota affects gut and bloodbrain barrier integrity is through the production of bioactive metabolites. This thesis explores the role of barriers in the microbiota-gut-brain axis, which are essential for the proper functioning of body systems and homeostasis. Chapter 2 investigates how fermenting infant nutrient formulations with different bifidobacteria strains isolated from infant gut microbiome can influence the integrity of gut and blood-brain barriers in vitro. The study found that the presence of bifidobacteria strains, in some cases, had protective effects on the barriers, and these effects sometimes differed depending on the barrier studied. Chapter 3 explores the effects of indole and two of its derivates, indole-3-acetate and indole- 3-propionate, on gut barrier function in vitro. The results indicate that indole has a protective effect on barrier function, particularly at higher concentrations, and indole-3-acetate has a protective effect at the lowest concentrations tested. Surprisingly, indole-3-propionate was not protective and at higher concentrations exacerbated the effects of LPS-induced disruption. Finally, Chapter 4 focuses on the effect of cancer therapy, specifically cisplatin, on gut and blood-brain barrier structure in mice, to further explore the role of gut microbiome in cancer-related cognitive impairment. The study used mice treated with cisplatin to investigate the expression of genes involved in the structural function of barriers and inflammation, as well as gene expression of receptors activated by microbial ligands in the ileum, colon, and hippocampus. The results showed that cisplatin affected gene expression in a region- and dose-dependent manner, leading to changes in anxiety-like and fatigue behaviours in mice. Overall, this research highlights the critical role of the gut microbiome in gut barrier and blood-brain barrier function. Microbial metabolite supplementation may present a useful therapeutic option for disease processes involving disruption of the gut and/or blood-brain barriers.
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    Exploration of frailty screening instruments used in the emergency department and development of a new, short frailty screening instrument, the Quick Frailty Screen (QFS)
    (University College Cork, 2023) Moloney, Elizabeth; Ó'Caoimh, Rónán; Timmons, Suzanne; Eustace, Joe
    Introduction: Research comparing frailty screening instruments against a gold-standard comprehensive geriatric assessment, is lacking. A knowledge gap also exists regarding the core requirements for an ideal frailty screening instrument for use in ED, as well as frailty knowledge and use of instruments among emergency department (ED) staff. Aims and Objectives: • To provide an overview of frailty screening in the emergency department • To undertake a systematic review and metanalysis of the diagnostic accuracy of frailty screening instruments validated for use with older adults attending emergency departments. • To complete a multi-site survey of all grades of ED staff in Ireland regarding frailty knowledge, use of frailty screening instruments and educational challenges in ED • To undertake an international Delphi consensus study examining the core requirements of frailty screening in the emergency department The objective was to use the information collected from these stages to develop and validate a new frailty screening instrument for use in ED. This new instrument is called the Quick Frailty Screen (QFS). Methods: This MD thesis comprised four parts: 1)A systematic review was conducted to identify studies that have validated frailty screening instruments among older adults in ED settings. Scientific databases were searched for prospective diagnostic accuracy studies from January 2000-September 2022. Risk of bias was assessed using Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies-Comparative (QUADAS-C). 2) A multi-site survey of ED staff (all grades) working in Irish EDs, was conducted between April-September 2021. An anonymous online survey was distributed via email, using the Irish Association of Emergency Medicine (IAEM)as the contact point for survey site details. 3) A two round, modified electronic Delphi consensus was undertaken involving 37 international frailty experts 4) A new frailty screening tool, the Quick Frailty Screen (QFS) was created from data generated in steps 1-3. Older adults aged ≥70 years presenting consecutively to a single, urban Irish university hospital ED over an eight-week period between December 2021-February 2022, were screened for frailty. Four frailty screening instruments were used in the validation study. The QFS was included along with the Variable Indicator of Placement (VIP), Programme of Research on Integration of Services for the Management of Autonomy (PRISMA 7) and Clinical Frailty Scale (CFS). A dedicated multi-disciplinary frailty team (MDT) completed a Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment (CGA) on all those screened, blind to the screening test scores. Results: 1)Six studies involving 1,350 participants describing seven frailty screening instruments were included in the systematic review (PRISMA-7, Clinical Frailty Scale, Variable Indicator of Placement Risk, FRESH, Bergman Paris Question, Triage Risk Screening Tool and Identification of Seniors At Risk). 2)168 staff, representing 9/26 (35%) of Irish EDs, were surveyed. Less than half of respondents had received training on frailty identification (n=81, 48%). 3) 37 participants from 10 countries completed the Delphi consensus. It was agreed that ideal frailty screens should be short (<5mins), multi-dimensional and well-calibrated across the spectrum of frailty, reflecting baseline status 2-4 weeks before presentation. 4) The QFS had an optimal cut-off score of ≥3, which produced a sensitivity of 84% (CI: 0.77-0.89) and specificity of 88% (CI: 0.81- 0.93). The QFS had an AUC of 0.92 (95% CI: 0.89-0.95), indicating it had excellent diagnostic accuracy for frailty. Conclusion: Available short screens for frailty are sensitive, specific and had good to excellent accuracy for frailty as measured by CGA. Bespoke education initiatives may help address many of the issues identified in the ED staff survey. An ideal ED frailty screening instrument should ideally take less than five minutes to score, reflecting baseline status 2-4 weeks before presentation. The validation study places the QFS in a strong position as a viable option when considering a quick and accurate frailty screening instrument to use in ED.
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    Sediment transport modelling and geomorphological assessments related to offshore renewable energy developments in the Irish Sea
    (University College Cork, 2022) Creane, Shauna; Murphy, Jimmy; O'Shea, Michael; Coughlan, Mark; Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology
    A combination of in-situ geophysical, geological and oceanographic datasets, and advanced numerical modelling tools are used to: improve the understanding of hydrodynamics and morphodynamics in the Irish Sea, develop new methods and approaches to investigate hydrodynamics and seabed morphodynamics in an offshore setting, collect and produce novel datasets that will contribute to this scientific field, and facilitate the sustainable growth of anthropogenic activities in the Irish Sea. These new methods and approaches include, using process-based indicators to understand sediment wave development and distribution, utilising ADCP-based suspended solids concentration as a numerical model calibration tool, and the application of a ‘sediment budget’ to an offshore sand bank to understand external influences on the stability of its morphodynamic system. Results provide hydrodynamic proof underpinning the presence of the bed load parting (BLP) in central Irish Sea and associated divergent sediment transport pathways driving sediment dispersal across this tidally-dominated continental shelf sea. Analysis of tidal propagation through the Irish Sea Basin concludes that the origin of the BLP is mainly attributed to the intersection of the north and south tidal fronts at an inclined angle due to Coriolis Forcing and coastline interactions. Minor factors impacting the shape and location of the BLP are the change in tidal character at (a) abrupt bathymetry changes, (b) headlands and intricate coastline topography, and (c) large-scale constrictions. These outcomes set the basis of understanding for the thesis. Building upon this knowledge, analysis of targeted, high resolution, time-lapse bathymetry datasets in the south-western Irish Sea reveals sediment waves in a range of sizes (height = 0.1 to 25.7 m, and wavelength = 17 to 983 m), occurring in water depths of 8.2 to 83 mLAT, and migrating at a rate of 1.1 to 79 m/yr. Combined with numerical modelling outputs, a strong divergence of sediment transport pathways from the previously understood predominantly southward flow in the south Irish Sea is revealed. Furthermore, a new source and sink mechanism are defined for offshore independent sediment wave assemblages, whereby each sediment wave field is supported by circulatory residual current cells originating from offshore sand banks. Reliable sediment transport modelling is required to investigate these physical processes further, therefore, the need for cost-effective sediment validation datasets for 2D sediment transport models is addressed, utilising ADCP-based datasets. A robust spatial timeseries of ADCP-based suspended solids concentration was successfully calculated in an offshore, tidally-dominated setting. Three new validation techniques are deemed advantageous in developing an accurate 2D suspended sediment transport, including i) validation of 2D modelled suspended sediment concentration using water sample-based suspended solids concentration, ii) validation of the flood-ebb characteristics of 2D modelled suspended load transport and suspended sediment concentration using ADCP-based datasets and iii) validation of the 2D modelled peak suspended sediment concentration over a spring-neap cycle using the ADCP-based suspended solids concentration. The robust coupled hydrodynamic and sediment transport model produced from this research is used as a tool of investigation in subsequent chapters. The complex hydrodynamic processes controlling upper slope mobility and long-term base stability of Arklow Bank are determined. Results reveal a flood and ebb tidal current dominance on the west and east side of the bank respectively, ultimately generating a large anticlockwise residual current eddy encompassing the entire bank. The positioning of multiple off-bank anticlockwise residual current eddies on the edge of this cell is shown to both facilitate and inhibit east-west fluctuations of the upper slopes of the bank and control long-term bank base stability. Within Arklow Bank’s morphological cell, eight morphodynamically and hydrodynamically unique bank sections or ‘sub-cells’ are identified, whereby a complex morphodynamic-hydrodynamic feedback loop is present. The local east-west fluctuation of the upper slopes of the bank is driven by migratory on-bank stationary and transient clockwise residual eddies and the development of ‘narrow’ residual current cross-flow zones. Together these processes drive upper slope mobility but maintain long term bank base stability. A sediment budget was successfully estimated for an offshore linear sand bank, Arklow Bank, whereby seven source and nine sink pathways are identified. The restriction of sediment sources off the southern extent of Arklow Bank impact erosion and accretion patterns in the mid and northern sections of the bank after just one lunar month simulation. Where tidal current is the primary driver of sand bank morphodynamics, wind- and wave-induced flow is shown to alter sediment distribution patterns. This advanced body of work forms a robust scientific evidence-base to facilitate the sustainable growth of offshore renewable developments.
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    Participation and triangulation: learning from non-institutional international Architecture Live Projects through a comparative case approach
    (University College Cork, 2022) Lehane, Jack R.; Mulrooney, Sarah; Linehan, Denis; Mccartney, Kevin
    Noticeable opportunities for architecture education are opening up in the world, markedly non-institutional international Live Project networks that practice independently of university course structures. As distinct from conventional volunteer-based construction in the humanitarian development sector, this emergent and ‘independent’ model of international architecture education represents a unique intersection between the Live Project and new spatial agency. However, despite the increasingly participative nature of Live Project initiatives, there is still a lack of research into the role stakeholder participation plays in the first place, exacerbating this emergent model’s underrepresentation within formal research and literature not least due to its recent and decentralised nature. To address this knowledge gap — and in line with calls for a departure from traditional understandings of participation in an era of globalisation — this thesis employs a first principles reasoning and (re)turns to the fundamental question: What constitutes stakeholder participation for this new model of Live Project in the first place? Through real world participation and a comparative case study approach, this thesis embarks beyond the boundary of the university structure and engages multiple stakeholder groups across three real world Live Project cases in Lebanon, Fiji and Nepal. Each case is investigated according to three sub-research questions: • What can the built artefact reveal about the stakeholder participation? • How are these aspects of stakeholder participation experienced by the stakeholders? • What are the extended implications of this participation for the organisation and the community? Mixed methods were utilised for concurrent data collection during and after each case study — participant observation, semi-structured interviews and post-occupancy participatory walking probe. Following this, three phases of sequential data analysis were employed to measure, contextualise, and assess the implications of stakeholder participation in the projects. The findings offer an original and measurable understanding of stakeholder participation, as revealed through the built artefact. As a result, this research formalises this emergent typology of Live Project through comparative measure; demonstrating distinctions from, and extendedly limitations of, Architecture Live Projects in academic institutions. This extends our current knowledge of how stakeholder participation in these Live Projects operates, informing participation for the organisations and the communities within future initiatives, and offers an empirical basis to broader participatory conditions of an emerging architectural space.