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Discourse: US Elections Panel Discussion

28 August 2020

Watch our panel discussion on the topic of the US Elections chaired by broadcaster Áine Lawlor as part of the 2020-21 Discourse Series sponsored by Mason Hayes & Curran.

If you missed our recent Discourse exploring the US elections with an expert panel of speakers you can watch it now.


  • Desmond King, Hon. MRIA -  Andrew W Mellon Professor of American Government, University of Oxford 
  • Karlin Lillington - Irish Times journalist 
  • David O’Sullivan - formerly Ambassador of the European Union to the United States
  • Robert Schmuhl - Professor Emeritus of American Studies and Journalism, University of Notre Dame
  • Áine Lawlor (Chair) -  RTÉ broadcaster

About the Panellists:

Desmond King is the Andrew W Mellon Professor of American Government at the University of Oxford. His many books on US politics include Separate and Unequal: African Americans and the US Federal Government (Oxford), Still a House Divided: Race and Politics in the Obama era (Princeton), and Making Americans: Immigration, Race and the Origins of the Diverse Democracy (Harvard). In addition to being a Member of the Royal Irish Academy, he is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the British Academy.

Karlin Lillington - Karlin is a columnist with the Irish Times focusing on technology, with a special interest in its political, social, business and cultural aspects. She also has written for publications including The Guardian, New Scientist,,, and The Scientist, and served as a director on the board of RTE. She has a PhD from TCD.

David O’Sullivan served as Ambassador of the European Union Delegation to the United States from November 2014 until February 2019. Prior to his appointment as Ambassador, he was the Chief Operating Officer of the EU's new diplomatic service, the ‘European External Action Service’.  He had previously held a number of senior positions within the European Commission including Director General for Trade (2005-2010); Secretary General of the European Commission (2000-2005); and Chief of Staff to Commission President Romano Prodi (1999-2000).  Before joining the Commission, he started his career with the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (1977-1979).  He is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin and the College of Europe (Bruges), and holds Honorary Doctorates from the Dublin Institute of Technology and Trinity College Dublin.  He was awarded the EU Transatlantic Business Award by the American Chamber of Commerce in 2014. In November 2019, he joined the Brussels office of the law firm of Steptoe and Johnson LLP as a Senior Counsellor.

Robert Schmuhl is a professor emeritus at the University of Notre Dame—where he occupied the Walter H. Annenberg-Edmund P. Joyce Endowed Chair in American Studies and Journalism—and since 2016 he’s served as an Adjunct Professor in the School of Law and Government at Dublin City University. Beginning in 2004, he started contributing to RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland about U.S. politics and government, and for the past eight years he’s written columns and features about American subjects for the Irish Independent. The author or editor of fifteen books, Schmuhl examined Irish and American connections in Ireland’s Exiled Children: America and the Easter Rising, which was published by Oxford University Press in 2016. His most recent book, The Glory and the Burden: The American Presidency from FDR to Trump (Notre Dame Press), came out last year as a prelude to the 2020 presidential campaign.  

Aine Lawlor joined RTÉ in September 1984 as a trainee journalist, working on a number of radio and television programmes. She then became a reporter/presenter in January 1988, eventually leading to her becoming a presenter on Morning Ireland which she joined in 1995 and presented for over 17 years.  She has worked on The Pat Kenny Show, Today at 5, RTÉ 2fm News and a variety of television programmes, including The Nature of Things, Tuesday File and as narrator for the highly-acclaimed series on clerical sexual abuse in Irish institutions, States of Fear. She was awarded Best News Broadcaster of the Year at the prestigious PPI Radio Awards in October 2012 and went on to be inducted into the PPI Hall of Fame in 2014.  In August 2013, she joined RTÉ’s flagship lunchtime radio news programme News at One as alternating presenter and was also appointed as presenter of The Week in Politics on RTÉ One television.  In November 2013, she presented a two-part documentary Facing Cancer which followed her as she re-traced the steps of her journey to overcome breast cancer. She has also recently presented Big Week on the Farm, Ploughing Live and Bloom Live on RTÉ One.  

The Royal Irish Academy Discourse Series is sponsored by Mason Hayes & Curran.

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