Local Organising Committee

Prof. Ursula Kilkelly

Prof. Ursula Kilkelly – Head of Department, Dean of the School of Law, UCC
Ursula Kilkelly (BA, LLM, PhD) is a professor of law and Dean of the School of Law at University College Cork. She has published widely on children’s rights, the European Convention on Human Rights and youth justice and has undertaken multiple research projects for national and international bodies on the implementation of children’s rights. She works closely with bodies like the Council of Europe Children’s Rights Division and the International Juvenile Justice Observatory.
At UCC, Ursula directs the Child Law Clinic, a research initiative which provides student-led research services to lawyers litigating children’s issues. She teaches Child Law, Children’s Rights and Juvenile Justice and supervises numerous LLM and PhD students in these areas.

Dr Conor O’Mahony

Dr Conor O’Mahony is a senior lecturer at the School of Law in University College Cork, where he specialises in constitutional law, child and family law and children’s rights. He has written extensively on the evolution of the Irish Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights in the context of family life, on topics including extra-marital families, marriage equality and children’s rights. His work has been published in journals such as the Child and Family Law Quarterly, the International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family, the Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law and the Irish Journal of Family Law. He has twice spoken at the World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights (South Africa 2005 and Canada 2009), as well as many other conferences in countries such as the US, the UK, Germany, Italy and Turkey. He is an active contributor to media analysis and public debate, particularly during referendum campaigns. He is also Deputy Director of UCC Child Law Clinic, through which he works to support litigation and law reform on children’s issues.

Dr Louise Crowley

Louise Crowley is a qualified solicitor and a first class honours graduate of University College Cork (BCL 1996; LLM 1997), (PGDTL 2010) and Cardiff University (PhD 2010) and has lectured in the Law School UCC since 2000. Her publications include Family Law (Roundhall 2013), Family Law (Thomson Roundhall 2008); the contribution of chapters to Marital Agreements and Private Autonomy in Comparative Perspective (Hart 2012) 30 Years of Legal Scholarship (Roundhall 2011), Family Law (Oxford University Press 2008), and the Family Law Practitioner (Round Hall 2000). She is also author of articles on regulatory approaches to marital breakdown, asset distribution and marital agreements in a range of Irish and international journals, including the Child and Family Law Quarterly, International Family Law, the Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law and the Irish Journal of Family Law. Louise was a member of the National Expert Group on pre-nuptial agreements appointed by the then Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. In 2010 she was jointly awarded the UCC Presidents Award for Excellence in Teaching in respect of her contribution to the annual Law School eLaw Summer Institute. Louise is the Director of the LLM (Child and Family Law) and the LLM (International Family Law) at the Law School, UCC. These masters programmes offer a unique opportunity to engage with key issues in the child and family law context from both national and comparative international perspectives. With the support of IRC funding, and UCC family law students Louise has developed a dedicated online information hub relating to all aspects of family law and is currently working with MOVE (Ireland) and the participants of its perpetrator programmes, to critically assess the impact of the Irish domestic violence laws and processes.

Catherine McGuinness

Catherine McGuinness is a retired Judge and activist. She is a former Barrister, Senator, President of the Law Reform Commission and Judge of the Circuit Court, Justice of the High Court and Supreme Court of Ireland. In January 2012 she was appointed to the Council of State by President Michael D. Higgins. In May 2013 she was appointed Chair of the National University of Ireland Galway Governing Authority. In 2009 she was awarded a “Lord Mayor’s Award” by Dublin Lord Mayor Eibhlin Byrne “for her contribution to the lives of children and families in the city through her pioneering work”. In September 2010 she was named as one of the “People of the Year” for “her pioneering, courageous and long-standing service to Irish society”. She has received honorary doctorates from the University of Ulster, the National University of Ireland, the University of Dublin and the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC).

Judge Carmel Stewart

Judge Carmel Stewart was educated in University College Galway where she received a BA (Hons) and a BCL (Hons) degree. She then trained in Kings Inns and was called to the Bar in 1987 and called to the Inner Bar in 2008. Judge Stewart was Vice Chairperson of the Employment Appeals Tribunal from 1993 – 1997 and also served as Director and Board member of Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC).

She was a Member of Mountjoy Visiting Committee from 1996-1999 and former Chairperson of the National College of Art & Design. She was also a Member and former Chairperson of the Family Lawyer’s Association. In practice at the Bar she specialised in the area of children’s rights, constitutional law including adoption, mental health and vulnerable adults. She appeared in many leading reported cases.

Since her appointment to the High Court she has presided in family law (including issues regarding children) and criminal jury trials.

Dervla Browne

Dervla Browne was called to the Bar in 1982 and called to the Inner Bar in 2005. She practiced in the area of family law, adoption, constitutional law, human rights, international law and law of conflicts. She represented the Applicant in the landmark family law case of Keegan –v– Ireland before the European Court of Human Rights and has been involved in some important cases decided by the Supreme Court in the area of child abduction and adoption.

She is based in Dublin and since the introduction of the 1991 Child Abduction Act has been involved in a number of cases in both the High Court and the Supreme Court concerning the interpretation and application of this legislation. For two two-year periods Dervla was the Chairperson of the Family Lawyers Association which is a national organisation representing all practising and academic lawyers with an interest in family law. She is the author of a handbook for clients called Separation and Divorce Matters for Women published in 1989 and also contributed to Divorce Facing the issues of Matrimonial Breakdown which was edited by Mags O’Brien in February 1995 and which dealt with issues arising in the campaign to amend the Irish Constitution to allow for the introduction of divorce in Ireland.

She has delivered papers on parental child abduction at the Nos Enfants Desparus Conference in Canada and also at the American Bar Association, Family Law Section Conference in Miami, Florida.

Dr Geoffrey Shannon

Dr Geoffrey Shannon is a solicitor and a senior lecturer in Family and Child Law. In June 2006, he was appointed by the Irish Government to the independent position of Special Rapporteur for Child Protection. On 15 July, 2013, he was reappointed as the Government’s sole rapporteur on child protection.

Dr Shannon has been selected by the European Expert Organising Committee as the Irish expert member of the Commission on European Family Law. He is the Chairman of the Adoption Authority of Ireland and the author of Child Law, a major work of over 1,400 pages on child law.

Dr Shannon is the editor of the Irish Journal of Family Law and has written extensively on national and international family and child law.

In 2010, Dr Shannon was appointed by the Minister for Children along with Norah Gibbons to conduct a review of 196 children who have died in the care of the state in the last ten years. The review (which he co-authored and chaired) was published in June 2012.

Dr Shannon is the recipient of the Canon Maurice Handy Award for the period January 2006 to December 2007. He is also the recipient of an Award by the Chamber of Commerce for Outstanding Contribution to Children. Earlier this year Dr Shannon was presented with the Special Merit Award at the 2013 Irish Law Awards.

Dr Carol Coulter

Carol Coulter graduated from Trinity College with BA (Mod) and Ph D degrees in English. She also holds a Diploma in Legal Studies and an M Phil in law.

She became a journalist and joined The Irish Times in 1986, working as a reporter, acting London Editor, acting Northern Ireland editor, deputy news editor, legal affairs editor and assistant editor. During her career she won a number of journalism awards, including Campaigning Journalist of the Year and Legal Journalist of the Year (twice).

From 1992 to 2004 she edited the Undercurrents pamphlet series for Cork University Press. From 2006 to 2007 she took leave of absence from The Irish Times to run a pilot project on family law (private law) for the Courts Service. In October 2012 she left The Irish Times to take up a position as director of the Child Care Law Reporting Project, which is examining the public child care law system. To date this has published two Interim Reports on its website, www.childlawproject.ie, and a third report is due in October 2015. Regular court reports are also published here.

She has lectured extensively in the cultural, social and legal areas, both in Ireland and internationally, including in the UK, the US, France and Japan, and has also published a wide range of essays and books in these areas. Her publications include The Hidden Tradition: Feminism Women and Nationalism (Cork University Press, 1993) and Family Law in Ireland: As study of cases in the Circuit Court (Clarus Press 2009)