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Speaker Bio's

Women in Media  

We are delighted to have such a rich guest speaker list at the Women in Media 2019 conference.  Below are brief biographies of this year guest speakers.

Aisling Ryan

Aisling Ryan is an internet personality and host of TV and live events within the world of online gaming. As well as attracting a fan base of over 60,000 followers online, she has worked with international games developers to bring their creations to the masses via YouTube and live events around the globe. At present, Aisling is working on documenting her experiences as a professional geologist with the hope of bringing an appreciation for the natural world to a wider audience, as well as hosting multiple live streams every week discussing a range of topics from science to gaming on the live streaming platform, Twitch.

Exploration Geologist; Social Media Influencer and Twitch Streamer

Dee Keogh

Since moving from Dublin to Kerry in 2000, Dee Keogh has been a committed and vocal advocate of local social and equality issues and has played a significant role in the delivery of a number of NEWKD self-improvement initiatives, including the Equality for Women Measure.

As a facilitator of the S.T.E.P.S. personal and professional development course, Dee has successfully delivered self-actualization training to hundreds of participants across Kerry. As a trained addiction counsellor and psychotherapist, Dee also acts as tutor, life-coach and mentor, and offers her considerable expertise as a key member of the TEAM Project community drugs programme.

As a keen and talented writer of polemical drama, social fiction and gender discourse, Dee is currently finalizing a number of film and stage scripts and working on her debut novel, 'Why I Haven't Met Oprah Yet'.

Community Activist

Jane Last

Jane Last was appointed Head of News for Independent News and Media in 2015.

Jane has been assistant editor at Ireland's most-read news website,, since 2013. Prior to that she worked in a variety of senior positions at the Herald.

A native of Clonshaugh in Dublin, she is a graduate in journalism from the Communications Faculty at DCU.

Head of News at Independent News & Meda

Mairead McGuinness

Mairead McGuinness is the first Vice-President of the European Parliament and represents the Midlands-North-West constituency in Ireland.

She  was the first female graduate of University College Dublin's Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural economics in 1980. She worked as a researcher on The Late Late Show, as a presenter on RTÉ's Ear to the Ground and Celebrity Farm, a journalist with the Irish Farmers Journal and editor of the Irish Independent's farming supplement. In 2004 at her first try she was elected to the European Parliament representing Fine Gael and the European People’s Party. 

As First Vice-President, she oversees relations with national parliaments, in particular with the EU affairs committees of Member State parliaments. She has been an outstanding representative for Ireland, most visible when chairing plenary sessions of the European Parliament. Behind the scenes she is involved in policy formation in key areas like agriculture, heart health and medical devices. Her contributions to Irish and international media on Brexit have been highly informed, firm but responsible. She has advocated the Irish position with diplomacy and dignity. Mairead has a clear vision of the wider European Union project and the challenges it faces across the continent, into the future, and how Brexit affects the whole European agenda - not just Ireland. 

Vice-President of the European Parliament

Harry McCann

Harry McCann, is a nineteen-year-old award-winning Irish entrepreneur. He started his first business, Kid Tech, in 2014 just after his fifteenth birthday. Over the space of a year, he set out to 'Teach the Next Generation Tech' through short courses which he had designed and created. The support of British Actor, Stephen Fry, and technology giants, Blackberry, allowed him to travel across Ireland to introduce almost one thousand kids to computer coding. In 2015, after early success in the business world, he then went on to found the first Digital Youth Council in the world at just 15-years-old. 

His work as an entrepreneur and thought leader has allowed him to become one of the most influential young people in STEM, education, youth affairs and technology. As a result, he has become one of the most sought-after young people speakers and media pundits in the world. 

He has been recognised on multiple occasions for his work, and has been lucky enough to receive honours and awards such as the JCI Ten Outstanding Young Persons in the World award in Amsterdam in 2017.

After completing full-time second-level education, his  focus currently lies in the media world, and my new business, Trendster Media. In his role as CEO, he is leading an exciting young team in an effort revolutionise the media industry. 

CEO Trendster

Gillian Keating

Gillian Keating leads Ronan Daly Jermyn's Corporate and Commercial Department and the firm's Technology and Life Sciences Groups.

Her practice focuses on the representation of scaling and mature entities in corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions and restructuring matters. She also represents a variety of private equity and venture funds in connection with their investments. Gillian’s clients include multinational, large indigenous and financial services companies, along with regulated entities whom she advises on all areas of corporate and commercial law.

Gillian is an Adjunct Professor in the College of Business and Law at University College Cork (UCC) and in 2017 received an Alumni Achievement Award from UCC. From 2013 to 2019, Gillian sat on the Governing Body of UCC and chaired the Audit Committee at UCC. Gillian is a past president of Cork Chamber of Commerce. Gillian is a member of the Audit Committee of Cork City Council and a board member of the South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital.

Gillian is a co founder of the highly successful and award winning I WISH (Inspiring Women in Stem) social enterprise. I WISH is an initiative to inspire young women to consider careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) and in this way help address the skills gap in STEM. I Wish is a unique initiative in so far as it is a coalition of enterprise, local government and higher education all working together to deliver change. The scale of the events are also transformational. To date 17,000 female students have attended the I Wish showcase events in Cork and Dublin and I Wish campus weeks.

Through RDJ, Gillian is a mentor under the IMI Mentor program and is also a participant in 30% Club, a collaborative business-led effort to make real change in Ireland, aiming towards 30% female representation in senior management by 2020. Gillian encourages the corporate and commercial team to continuously seek out and implement new ways of doing business that help drive our clients’ businesses forward.

Co founder of the I WISH Foundation

Jess Kelly

Jess Kelly is a Radio and TV Broadcaster. She is Newstalk’s Technology Correspondent, hosts Tech Talk on Sunday evenings at 6pm and also joins Pat Kenny every Tuesday on The Pat Kenny Show. Jess also regularly contributes to The Ivan Yates Show also on Newstalk. 

As Technology Correspondent on a busy national radio station, Kelly takes a hands-on look at all the latest gadgets and devices on the market and explains what you need to know.

​Having worked at Newstalk for the past ten years, Jess’ role has seen her travel across the globe reporting from some of the biggest conferences in the world including; CES in Las Vegas, IFA in Berlin, Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and Samsung Unpacked in New York City. Before moving into the role of Technology Correspondent, she worked in production across many of the station’s shows including The Tom Dunne Show, Moncrieff and The Pat Kenny Show. Jess also imparts her technology expertise to television audiences on The Six O’Clock Show on Virgin Media One.

​Jess regularly contributes to The Sunday Business Post and has also seen her work published in The Irish Examiner, Tatler and on to name but a few.

Jess is an experienced MC and in 2018 she hosted the main stage at the Dublin Tech Summit. Across the two days of the mega conference, Jess conducted interviews with high-profile guests such as YouTube mega-star Casey Neistat and former secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff. Additionally, she has hosted events for the likes of WeWork, Brain for Business at the Science Gallery and Career Zoo.

Jess has a BA in Gaeilge and Geography from University College Dublin. Jess is a supporter of the ISPCC. 

Technology Correspondent at NewsTalk

Jan O'Sullivan

Jan O’Sullivan has been honoured to represent the people of the Limerick City Constituency as a Labour Party T.D. since 1998.

During that time she has served as Minister of State for Trade and Development and for Housing and Planning and as Minister for Education and Skills. She is currently Party spokesperson on Housing, Planning and Local Government and on Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

She lives in Corbally with her husband Paul and we has  two adult children and four grand-children.

Whatever  spare time she has is spent mainly with family, climbing the hills with friends and attending the many cultural, community and sporting events around Limerick. 

As a Labour T.D., Jan is committed to Equality, Solidarity and a Fairer Ireland.

Labour Spokesperson on Housing and Local Government, Business, Enterprise and Innovation

Dr. Mary C. Murphy

Dr Mary C. Murphy holds a Jean Monnet Chair in European Integration and is a lecturer in politics with the Department of Government and Politics, University College Cork. 

Mary specialises in the study of the EU and Northern Ireland politics. Her latest monograph Europe and Northern Ireland's Future: Negotiating Brexit's Unique Case was published by Agenda Publishing/Columbia University Press in April 2018. This text follows Mary's earlier work Northern Ireland and the European Union: The Dynamics of a Changing Relationship which was published by Manchester University Press in April 2014. Mary was also co-editor of a special issue of Administration in 2014 - 'Reflections on Forty Years of Irish Membership of the EU' - with John O'Brennan (NUIM). In 2015, Mary was awarded a Fulbright-Schuman Fellowship and was based at George Mason University, Virginia.  

Mary's secondary research interest is in first-time TDs and processes of parliamentary socialisation. In July 2013, her report At Home in the New House? A Study of First-Time TDs was published by the Hansard Society and launched in Leinster House by the Ceann Comhairle, Seán Barrett TD, and the Chief Whip, Paul Kehoe TD. Mary has also conducted research on MPs in Myanmar/Burma with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). In late 2014, Mary was appointed to the Seanad Reform Working Group by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny.  


Mary's research has also been published in a number of leading political science journals, including British Journal of Politics and International Relations, Ethnopolitics, Irish Political Studies, Parliamentary Affairs and Regional and Federal Studies, and she has contributed book chapters to a number of edited volumes. She is the Online Resources Editor for the leading EU politics textbook Politics in the EU by Bache, George and Bulmer (2011 and 2014) published by Oxford University Press. Mary also contributes regularly to national and international conferences and media. In 2014, she was presented with the Cork Academic Conference Ambassador Award by the Cork Convention Bureau for having brought the UACES Annual Conference 2014 to UCC. The conference attracted 470 academic delegates from 39 countries over a three day period in September 2014. 

In 2013 Mary was awarded the Political Studies Association of Ireland (PSAI) Annual Teaching and Learning Prize and was also awarded a UCC Teaching Fellowship for the 2013/2014 academic year. She is currently the President of the Irish Association for Contemporary European Studies (IACES). She teaches at both undergraduate and postgraduate level at UCC and her teaching responsibilities include the delivery of a number of modules on EU Politics, Northern Ireland politics and conflict studies. Mary is also Director of the online MComm Government and Public Policy programme. 

Lecturer in Politics with the Department of Government & Politics, UCC.

Claudia Carroll

Claudia Carroll was born in Dublin, where she still lives and works as an author and actress. She’s a Sunday Times top ten-bestselling author in the UK and a number one bestselling author in Ireland, selling more than three quarters of a million copies in paperback alone.


To date, Claudia has published sixteen novels, five of which have been optioned, three for movies and two for TV.  She’s currently hassling producers for a walk-on role, and is hoping they might even let her keep the costumes for free.


Moira Murrell

A native of Kerry, Moira Murrell was appointed Chief Executive of Kerry County Council in 2014.


Prior to this, Moira Murrell served from 2010 to 2014 as Divisional Manager in Cork County Council with responsibility for Roads and Transportation, Water Services, Organisational Development and Economic Development and in the North Cork Division from 2007 to 2010 as a Director of Service for the West Cork Division including Town Manager in Skibbereen and Clonakilty.


Moira Murrell worked with Kerry County Council from 1993 and was responsible for Budgetary Managerment and the introduction of the new Financial Management system to the Local Government Sector.


During this period she was the assigned European Officer for Kerry County Council and studied in the EU over a three-month period.


Moira Murrell completed her primary degree in the University of Limerick and completed her MA in Public Management while in the employment of Kerry County Council in 1996.

Chief Executive of Kerry County Council

Mary Rose Stafford

Mary Rose Stafford is the Head of School - Business Computing & Humanities at the Institute of Technology, Tralee and also the Manager of the Irish Academy of Hospitality & Tourism at the Institute.  

Having graduated with a BSc Management from Trinity College Dublin and a degree in Hotel Management from DIT, Cathal Brugha St. she gained fifteen years national and international hotel management experience, specialising in human resource management, working in New York, London, Dublin and Kerry. Since 2003, she has worked in third level education at the IT, Tralee as Head of Department of Hospitality, Culinary Arts & Tourism and also completed her masters degree in Business. Mary Rose also served a four year term on the board of Fáilte Ireland.   She is the author of two books and numerous academic papers.  

Mary Rose is passionate about the tourism industry in Ireland - and more importantly, about the people and communities involved in tourism.  She lives on Banna Beach, County Kerry with her husband Colin, and has two boys, Luke & Jesse. She is an avid soccer fan and has recently recommenced piano lessons after 35 years!.....just to stay busy! 

She currently is a member of the Valentia Transatlantic Cable Foundation Board and the Dingle Workhouse Project Advisory Board.

Head of School - Business Computing and Humanities at IT Tralee

Sinead Moriarty

Sinead Moriarty is the author of 14 novels published by Penguin Random House. Her books have been translated into 25 languages. She is also a weekly columnist with the Irish Independent. Sinead and Rick O’Shea head up the Eason’s Must Reads book club.  She is also on the board of the Arts Council.

Author & Columnist with the Irish Independent

Keelin Shanley

Keelin Shanley is a three time IFTA winner and an anchor on RTE Six One News. She has presented Morning Ireland, News at One and Morning Edition. She worked for many years making investigative documentaries for RTE’s Primetime covering subjects including Ireland’s cocaine use, sex trafficking and social exclusion. She has also covered foreign news stories for RTE including the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, gang culture in Honduras and the fate of child soldiers in Liberia and Uganda. Living in Paris from 2000 to 2003 she worked for CNN World Report and Radio France International covering global news. 


Susan Mitchell

Susan Mitchell is Deputy Editor at The Sunday Business Post. She regularly contributes to current affairs programmes on radio and television. Her work includes in-depth reports on the health service, the pharmaceutical sector and social issues. Susan has won numerous awards for her work (including NewsBrands Ireland national newspaper awards in 2016 and 2018). A native of Dublin, Mitchell holds a BA from UCD and a postgraduate diploma in business studies from the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School.

Deputy Editor of the Sunday Business Post

Áine Kerr

Áine Kerr is the Co-Founder and COO of Kinzen; a new startup venture with Mark Little that is building a personal news service that people control.

Previously, Áine led global journalism partnerships at Facebook in New York City, overseeing a team focused on building products, tools and services for journalists and also working to improve news literacy for news consumers. She was instrumental in helping to create and execute on the Facebook Journalism Project and led the creation of the News Integrity Initiative (NII).

Before joining Facebook in March 2016, she spent five years at Storyful, where she served as head of content and political editor before being appointed managing editor in December 2011 at the time of the company’s acquisition by News Corporation. 

Prior to Storyful, Áine spent over seven years working as a political correspondent and news reporter with The Irish Times, The Irish Independent and The Irish Examiner. 

Áine is on the board of the NII, an advisor to the Institute for Future of Media and Journalism (Fujo), as well as being the co-founder of Online News Association (ONA) Ireland.  She is a fellow of the Sulzberger Leadership Program in Columbia University and has a Bachelor of Education (B’ED) and a Masters of Journalism (MAJ) with Dublin City University [DCU].  

She was recently awarded Woman of the Year in Media 2018 by Irish Tatler Magazine and is currently participating in the Going for Growth program for female entrepreneurs sponsored by Enterprise Ireland and KMPG.

Áine Kerr is the Co-Founder and COO of Kinzen

Lise Hand

Lise Hand is a columnist with The Times Ireland edition and is a regular contributor on current affairs programmes on radio and tv. She has worked for a variety of national newspapers including The Sunday Tribune, The Sunday Independent, The Sunday Times and The Irish Independent, covering everything from the arts to sport, fashion, features, current affairs and politics. She has made a couple of radio documentaries, and also has been involved in the movie business. She worked on the Oscar-nominated ‘In the Name of the Father’ and one of her stories was adapted into a short film in 2016 which was directed by Oscar-winning director Jim Sheridan and stars Oscar-nominee Salma Hayek.


She was the parliamentary sketch writer for the Irish Independent during one of the most dramatic periods in Leinster House, the financial crash of 2008 and the subsequent upheaval. Still a political reporter, she has outlasted five Taoisigh, although she may have met her match with the youngest-ever incumbent, Leo Varadkar.

Columnist with The Times Ireland edition

Dr. Niamh O'Sullivan

Dr. Niamh O’Sullivan is a lecturer and Head of Genetics at University College Dublin. She also heads up a research group investigating motor neuron disease. Her laboratory use the tiny fruit fly to model this disease and their findings are helping us to better understand this devastating condition.


Niamh began her career with a degree in Genetics from Trinity College Dublin before moving to UCD where she undertook a PhD investigating the genetic events that occur during memory formation. She received a Marie Curie Fellowship to study neurodegeneration using the fruit fly at the University of Cambridge.  Niamh was awarded a Junior Research Fellowship from Imperial College London to continue her research before being appointed to her academic position in UCD 5 years ago.

Head of Genetics at UCD

Fr. Peter McVerry

Fr. McVerry grew up in Newry, Co. Down and was educated at the Abbey Christian Brothers’ Grammar School in Newry and at the Jesuit school at Clongowes Wood College in Co. Kildare.

In 1962, he entered the Jesuit Order and was ordained in 1975. From 1974 to 1980, Peter worked in the Inner City in Dublin and there he came into contact with young people who were sleeping on the streets because of their home situation.  He opened a hostel for homeless boys, aged 12-16, in 1979 and this subsequently became his life-time work.   He saw through the work of this hostel that when the boys reached 16 and needed to leave, they had few options open to them and most ended up back living on the streets. This realisation led him to set about providing services and accommodation for these older youths.

In 1980 Peter moved to Ballymun and by the end of 1983 he had founded the Arrupe Society, a charity to tackle homelessness. This charity, subsequently renamed as the Peter McVerry Trust, has progressed from a three bedroom flat in Ballymun to eleven homeless hostels, over 100 apartments, a residential drug detox centre and two drug stabilisation services. His vision for the charity is to support all those living on the margins and to uphold their rights to full inclusion in society.  In 2017 the charity worked with over 4,900 vulnerable youths.

The Peter McVerry Trust

Julia Ebner

Julia Ebner is a Research Fellow at the London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), specialising in far-right extremism, reciprocal radicalisation and European terrorism prevention initiatives. She is the author of the bestselling book The Rage: The Vicious Circle of Islamist and Far-Right Extremism as well as several peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and policy briefings. 


On the basis of her research, Julia advises parliamentary working groups, frontline workers and tech firms, speaks at international conferences and delivers workshops in schools and universities. She regularly writes for the Guardian and the Independent and gives interviews in English, German and French on the BBC, CNN, ZDF, ARD, France24, Al Jazeera, LBC and others. Before joining ISD, Julia worked as a Senior Researcher at the counter-extremism

organisation Quilliam, where she led research projects on terrorism prevention for the European Commission and the Kofi Annan Foundation and gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee on far-right extremism. 

Research Fellow at the ISD, Author & Journalist

Felicity Hayes-McCoy

Felicity Hayes-McCoy's writing career spans forty years and began in radio and television. Her fiction is published by Hachette Ireland, in the US, by HarperCollins, and her 'Finfarran' novels have been translated into six languages. Non-fiction titles include two volumes of memoir, The House on an Irish Hillside (Hodder & Stoughton UK), and A Woven Silence: Memory History and Remembrance (The Collins Press).

She is a former vice-chair of The Writers' Guild of Great Britain and of The Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society UK, and a former board member of the UK Copyright Licensing Agency

The Transatlantic Book Club, her fifth Finfarran novel, will be published by Hachette on May 2nd 2019.


Dr. Ciarán Mc Mahon

Dr Ciarán Mc Mahon is an Information Security Consultant and award-winning academic psychologist from Ireland. He holds a B.Sc. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in History and Theory of Psychology, both from University College Dublin. Ciarán is primarily interested in the psychology of technology, from ancient methods of writing to modern social media.

Dr Mc Mahon has authored peer-reviewed publications on the popularity of social media, the cyberpsychology of online organised crime, and the concept of digital wellness. He has been an invited speaker for many audiences, including political conventions, health service committees, information security events, police force workshops, as well academic conferences. He has also written a number of columns on topics including internet drinking games, online grieving, and trolling behaviour.

Author of 'The Psychology of Social Media)

Ciara Riordan

Ciara Riordan is the Social News Editor for BBC News. 


Ciara is based in the BBC News headquarters in London and oversees some of the largest social media accounts in the world. This includes the BBC News Facebook page which has 48 million followers, the biggest breaking news Twitter accounts @BBCBreaking, @BBCNews and @BBCWorld, and the BBC News Instagram account. She manages a global social news team with BBC hubs in Washington DC, Toronto and Singapore.


Originally from Ireland, the Cork native is an award-winning producer, presenter and reporter. She has presented many BBC News Facebook lives which have had millions of views including her interview with Sir David Attenborough which went viral. She has also reported live from major breaking news stories including the Westminster and Manchester attacks. 


Before her current digital role, she was a reporter with BBC World TV News and a producer on BBC Breakfast TV. Ciara’s first gig in the UK was with LBC Radio but has been with the BBC since July 2012.


Her career started in Newstalk radio in Dublin producing the Moncrieff radio programme but after four years she got an itch to go travelling and that itch brought her to ABC in Sydney, Australia. 


After her year out, she returned to Ireland to work for an Irish NGO ‘Haven’ which saw her lead a volunteer team out to Haiti after the deadly earthquake in 2010. Ciara visited Haiti twice and saw the devastation that the earthquake brought to its capital Port Au Prince. 

Following this, Ciara returned to broadcasting where she worked as a journalist on the Daily Show in RTE television with Daithi O’Se and Claire Byrne. Ciara broke several stories on this programme - from her anonymous surveys with catholic priests who admitted to breaking their celibacy pact - to taxi drivers admitting working up to 80 hours a week. 


Ciara has also presented the breakfast show on Radio Kerry between all of this! 

Social News Editor - BBC

Justine McCarthy

Justine  McCarthy has won more than a dozen journalism awards, including as a columnist,  features writer, news reporter, campaigning journalist and as the woman journalist of the year.

She is a columnist and political correspondent with The Sunday Times and previously worked for The Sunday Tribune and the Irish Independent, where she was chief features writer and assistant editor. She was the deputy editor of Village magazine when Vincent Browne was the Editor. 

Justine has contributed to the Washington  Post, the Guardian and the Observer.

She has written two books - "The Outsider, an unofficial biography of former President Mary McAleese: and Deep Deception,  dealing with child sexual abuse in the sport of swimming.

Justine is a regular broadcaster on RTE, TV3, BBC and UTV. 

She was an adjunct professor of journalism at the University of Limerick for three years.

The Sunday Times

Damien English

Damien English first entered politics when he was elected to Meath County Council in 1999, for the local electoral area of Navan, where he was the youngest council member.

At the 2002 general election, he was elected to the 29th Dáil as a Teachta Dála for the Meath constituency, along with his Fine Gael colleague John Bruton. He was the youngest TD in the 29th Dáil, aged 24 years.

He was elected secretary to the Fine Gael parliamentary party in September 2002, and became the party deputy spokesperson on Arts, Sports and Tourism. In October 2004, he was appointed deputy spokesperson on Justice and Community Affairs with special responsibility for Drugs, Alcohol and Crime Prevention. He was a member of the British–Irish Parliamentary Assembly from 2002 to 2007. He served as deputy spokesperson on Enterprise with special responsibility for Labour Affairs and Small Business from 2007 to 2010.

In January 2007, English was linked to a statement by fellow Fine Gael TD John Deasy, regarding Deasy's intention to run for the leadership of the party if Enda Kenny failed to bring the party into government following the 2007 general election. English dismissed these claims as being false.

He was party deputy spokesperson on Finance with special responsibility for Banking and Credit from October 2010 to March 2011.

On 15 July 2014, he was appointed as Minister of State with responsibility for Skills, Research and Innovation at the Departments of Education and Skills and Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

He served as Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal from May 2016 to June 2017. He was appointed Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development in May 2017.

Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal.

Bertie Ahern

Bertie Ahern was first elected to the Dáil (Parliament) in 1977 he was Minister for Labour from March 1987 to November 1991 and was appointed Minister for Finance on three separate occasions from November 1991 to December 1994. He has served as Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister), Minister for Arts, Culture & the Gaeltacht and Minister for Industry and Commerce at various stages. His first ministerial appointment was as Government Chief Whip and Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach and at the Department for Defense in 1982. Bertie Ahern was a member of Dublin City Council from 1978 to 1988 and had the honor of serving as Lord Mayor of Dublin from 1986 to 1987. In November 1994 he was elected leader of his party Fianna Fáil and served as Leader of the Opposition from then until June 1997. He was first elected Taoiseach (Prime Minister) in June 1997, he was re-elected in June 2002 and again in May 2007.


In 1997 Bertie Ahern received widespread praise for his political skills in ensuring that this administration served it full five-year term and delivered on real political and economic progress for the Irish people. The defining moment of this period and a defining moment in Irish history was the successful negotiation by Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair of the Good Friday Agreement between the British and Irish Governments and the political parties in Northern Ireland in April 1998.He was re-elected Taoiseach (Prime Minister) in June 2002. These years were a period of unprecedented economic growth and social change in Ireland. It was also a period of continuing and intense engagement with the Northern Ireland peace process. On 8th May 2007 those years of work paid a rich dividend when a power sharing Administration was established in Northern Ireland. After nine years of unstinting political commitment this historic event represented the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and a great triumph for Mr Ahern, Mr Blair and the leaders of the Northern Ireland parties. On 14 June, 2007, following a general election which saw his party, Fianna Fáil, returned to power Mr Ahern was elected as Taoiseach (Prime Minister) for the third time.


On the wider world stage during his Presidency of the European Council from January 2004 to June 2004 Bertie Ahern presided over the historic enlargement of the European Union to 27-member states including eight countries from Eastern Europe. He led Ireland to take leadership roles on key global issues such as increasing aid to developing countries and tackling the spread of HIV AIDS.


Bertie Ahern's achievements as a leader at home and abroad have been recognized internationally. He has been conferred with honorary degrees by several universities and is one of only five people to enjoy the great distinction of having been invited to address both the Houses of Parliament at Westminster and the Houses of Congress of the United States in Washington D.C.


Mr Ahern has been involved in negotiations for most of his life. From industrial relations issues in his early years including major legislation reform.  As Minister for Finance he led the negotiations on the agreement of the Maastricht agreement and as President of the European Council he achieved consensus of the 27 countries to a European constitution. Over his entire career he has been central to reconciliation and negotiation on several fronts.


Since leaving Government in 2008 Bertie Ahern has dedicated his time to Conflict Resolution and is actively involved with many groups around the world.  


  • Chair of The Bougainville Referendum Commission

  • Co-Chair of The Inter Action Council.

  • Member of the International Group dealing with the Conflict in the Basque Country.

  • Honorary Adjunct Professor of Mediation and Conflict Intervention in NUI Maynooth

  • Member of the Kennedy Institute of NUI Maynooth.

  • Honorary Professor of Peace Studies at the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace and Security.

  • Member of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy, Berlin.

  • Member of the Varkey Gems Foundation Advisory Board.

  • Member of Crisis Management Initiative..

  • World Economic Forum Agenda Council on Negotiation and Conflict Resolution.

  • Keynote Negotiator at Harvard Business School Negotiation Strategies Institute.

  • Member of the Democratic Progress Institute Council of Experts.

  • Forward Thinking Frontline Mediation

  • Director of Co-operation Ireland joint Board of British/Irish Government.

Former Taoiseach and Leader of Fianna Fáil

Anne O'Leary

Anne O’Leary was appointed CEO of Vodafone Ireland in February 2013, having spent five years as Enterprise Director. She joined Vodafone from BT Ireland where she was Managing Director for six years and was previously Regional Director with Esat Telecom.

As CEO of Vodafone, Anne has committed to investing in Ireland’s telecommunications infrastructure, resulting in Vodafone's nationwide rollout of 4G. She is also overseeing SIRO, Vodafone’s joint venture with the ESB, who   are investing €450m in the roll out of high speed fibre broadband across Ireland. 

Additionally, Anne is driving the gigabit society agenda in Ireland– with the explicit goal of access for everyone to 1 gigabit broadband speed. Equality of connectivity will change how everyone in Ireland lives, works and plays.

A Cork native, Anne champions wellbeing and diversity in the workplace and has spearheaded Vodafone securing a position as one of Ireland’s top ten Great Places to Work and achieving the Business Working Responsibly mark.

Anne is  a keen triathlete who competes regularly. 

CEO, Vodafone

Sarah Carey

Sarah is a former journalist now working in communications and writes occasionally for The Sunday Times. She presented the award winning Talking Point with Sarah Carey on Newstalk for six years.

Previously she has written for The Irish TImes, The Sunday Times and presented current affairs programmes on TV3. She is a regular contributor on RTE radio and television. Sarah has a degree in History from Trinity College, Dublin and a post-graduate Diploma in Business Studies from UCD. Sarah has worked in a number of telecommunications and technology companies in Dublin and California. She lives in Co. Meath with her husband and three children amongst her extended family who are never short of wise advice, which she foolishly ignores. 

Broadcaster & Journalist

Ellen Coyne

Ellen Coyne is a senior journalist at the Ireland edition of The Times. She has worked at the paper since it was founded three years ago, and she previously worked for the BBC. She reports on politics, with a particular focus on women's issues and social affairs. Her work has included breaking the story that stopped the religious ownership of the National Maternity Hospital and an undercover investigation that prompted the regulation of crisis pregnancy agencies for the first time. Recently, her reports on government funded advertising led to Leo Varadkar's strategic communications unit being shut down.

Senior Journalist at The Times (Ireland Edition)

Katie Hannon

Katie Hannon is Prime Time’s Political Correspondent, having previously been Political Correspondent of the Evening Herald and the Irish Examiner and Political Editor of theIrish Mail on Sunday. She is the author of ‘The Naked Politician’, an account of the reality of life in the trenches of Irish politics, published in 2004. Since joining Prime Time as a reporter in 2004 she has covered a wide variety of issues including major investigations into the waste industry, banking, failures in child protection and vaccine trials in children’s homes. She has won the Irish Goods Council Young Journalist of the Year, the John Healy National Print Award as well as the ‘Story of the Year’ in the 2012 GSK Medical Media Awards.


Miriam O'Callaghan

Miriam O'Callaghan presents RTÉ’s flagship current affairs television programme Prime Time. Before joining RTÉ, Miriam worked for ten years in British television, seven of those as a reporter for BBC 2’s Newsnight programme. Miriam was born and raised in Dublin. Her father Jerry O’Callaghan, a civil servant, was brought up on a small farm in Co. Kerry and much of Miriam’s childhood was spent in Kerry.


Mary Dundon

Mary Dundon is a Senior Lecturer in Journalism and a regular political commentator in print and broadcast journalism. She was appointed the first Senior Lecturer in Journalism at the University of Limerick in 2008. As Head of Journalism, she spearheaded the introduction of the first BA in Journalism and New Media degree programme and the Graduate Diploma/MA in Journalism degree at the University.

Head of Journalism at the University of Limerick

Barbara Scully

Barbara Scully is a freelance columnist and broadcaster.  She is regularly published in the Irish Independent and the Irish Examiner. Barbara also contributes to programmes on both RTE and TV3.  Along with Declan Buckley she helps to solve problems on the Moncrieff Show on Newstalk every Monday.


Barbara lives in Dublin with her husband, two of her three daughters, four cats and an elderly deaf dog.

Freelance Columnist and Broadcaster

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