About the Board
EPIC Empowering People In Care Limited is a company limited by guarantee and governed by a Board of Directors. The Board is responsible for the Vision, Mission and Strategy of EPIC; they approve strategy, structure, annual plans and budgets of the organisation and strive to ensure that it is effective and accountable.
The Board has constituted three sub-committees of the Board to support their ongoing evaluation and monitoring of risks and accountability.
The sub-committees are:
HR, Finance and Audit Committee
- which reviews the financial statements, budgets, and compliance plans. It also oversees HR matters within the organisation.
– which works on the governance code and other legal requirements.
– which explores opportunities to source funding to ensure the organisation’s sustainability. This committee was re-constituted in 2018 and is developing a new strategy for EPIC’s fundraising endeavours.
The Board’s key focus areas are:
- Governance Development Plan
- Financial Sustainability
Meet the Board:
Dr Fiachra O’Suilleabháin
Background: Lecturer, Social Work Dept. UCC
Fiachra Ó Suilleabháin is a professionally qualified, CORU registered Social Worker since 2002. He teaches across a number of modules at both undergraduate and postgraduate level within the School. He lectures on gender and sexualities, LGBT+ matters, social services and welfare practice, child sexual abuse, child protection and welfare, and professional practice. He supervises research carried out by students at post-graduate level.
Fiachra works as part of the multi-disciplinary Master of Social Work Team delivering a professionally accredited, two-year taught postgraduate (MSW/PGDSWS) programme to students who wish to become social workers. On that specific programme, he teaches and mentors students’ practice skills and lectures on research methods, investigative interviewing, child protection and welfare and professional practice. Fiachra is the MSW Selection Co-ordinator along with Dr. Kenneth Burns, MSW Deputy Director.
Fiachra’s doctoral degree, awarded in 2011, examined for the first time the parenting experiences of gay men in Ireland. In addition to publications, he has delivered papers and seminars at conferences both nationally and internationally regarding child sexual abuse, LGBT+ issues and social work practice. He is actively involved in research about the experiences of trans youth in Ireland; social work practice in the area of alleged sexual abuse and harmful sexual behaviour; activism in social work; and social work education.
Fiachra has extensive practice experience. He was the manager of a regional multi-disciplinary child sexual abuse assessment unit within the Child and Family Agency (TUSLA) from 2009 to 2017. Prior to that he worked in the same agency as a Principal Social Worker and as Basic Grade Social Worker. He also has professional knowledge of child protection and fostering social work practice. Fiachra has provided a range of continuous professional development training to social workers, social care leaders, medical doctors, nurses, teachers and foster-carers about child sexual abuse, direct work with children and managing children with sexualised behaviour problems and talking with children and young people about sensitive matters. He was a member of the TUSLA Cork Foster Care Committee in Cork from September 2010 to December 2016.
Fiachra is a member of a number of practice advisory boards and action learning groups for social work organisations, provides social work consultancy to practitioners and serves on Boards of Directors of a number of community-based organisations.
My overall research interests have centred on sexual behaviours, GLBTQI issues and investigative interviewing practices in the context of child protection and welfare
Mr Gareth Noble
Role: Board member, Member of Governance Committee
Background: Solicitor, Partner in KOD Lyons. Broad criminal practice in the Children’s Criminal Courts.
Gareth Noble is recognised as one of Ireland’s leading litigators in the area of children with disabilities. He has successfully represented many families in challenging the law in respect of Domiciliary Care Allowances, Carer’s Allowance and services for children.
Gareth also acts in Education Law cases for children and families in respect of school bullying, disciplinary issues and other educational law entitlements. He has also provided advice to educational institutions on policy formation and implementation.
He deals with a demanding caseload involving care proceedings in the District Court and High Court together with a broad criminal practice in the Children’s Criminal Courts.
Gareth, LLB graduated from Trinity College in 2002.
Gareth joined Kelleher O’Doherty as a legal executive in 1999 before commencing his apprenticeship in the firm. Gareth qualified as a solicitor in 2006 and became a partner in the firm in 2008.
Gareth has represented clients before the Residential Institutions Redress Board in respect of children in the care of the state and before the Private Residential Tenancies Board in relation to housing disputes.
Gareth has wide experience in Judicial Review and illegal detention cases and has also advised newspapers and individuals in relation to defamation and libel proceedings.
He is a member of the Irish Penal Reform Trust and has lectured in Criminal and Constitutional law, Child Law and Human Rights law.
Ms Val Kerr
Role: Board member,
Background: GAL (Guardian Ad Litem) with TIGALA
Val Kerr is a professionally Qualified Social Worker working with children and families since 2005, with particular expertise in the area of child protection, child welfare, neglect and abuse.
Over nine years experience working within the public sector in social work front line and management positions and almost five years working as an Independent Social Worker and Guardian ad Litem.
Independently represents children’s best interests and wishes in the context of public law child care proceedings initiated by the state, directly appointed by the Court. Has represented children’s interests in the District, High, Supreme and European Courts. Has also been appointed to advise the Court in relation to the welfare of children subject to Criminal Proceedings.
Has completed expert training with An Garda Siochana in forensic interviewing skills with children and people with learning difficulties who have been victim of violent or sexual crimes.
Trained in Dyadic Developmental Practice: Parenting and Psychotherapy, a trauma and attachment focused intervention for caregivers of children who have experienced developmental trauma and attachment difficulties.
Has completed the Diploma in Mediator training with The Law society of Ireland and is an Accredited Mediator with the Mediator’s Institute of Ireland.
Ms. Deirdre Mullen
Role: Board member, Member of Fundraising Committee
Background: Fundraising and Marketing Officer at Merchants Quay Ireland
Deirdre is an experienced operations manager who specialises in finance, project management, system improvements data protection, over 10 years of sales and account management experience, event management, and training delivery.
Deirdre is Fundraising and Marketing Manager with Merchant’s Quay Ireland and was previously Finance and Operations Manager with SRCL Ireland
Mr Barry O'Sullivan
Role: Director and Company Secretary
Background: Financial Services, People Management, Leadership, Governance, Risk and Compliance
Barry O’Sullivan is the Chief Executive Officer of Acorn Insurance, part of the Acorn Life Group based in Galway City. With over 20 year experience in Financial Services, People Management and Leadership, Barry is responsible for the growth and development of this organisation.
Having studied Counselling and Psychotherapy, he has a good understanding of the value that positive mental health can bring to a person’s life. Barry worked as a volunteer Group Therapy Facilitator in Tabor Lodge Addiction Treatment Centre in Cork for a number of years and is an advocate of the power behind Group Therapy and Person Centred Therapy.
In 2012, Barry moved into a Senior Management Role and since then has gained extensive experience in Governance, Risk, Compliance and driving Strategic Change within organisations with a view to ensuring long term sustainability.
From an education point of view, he has completed Diplomas in Leadership, Strategy & Innovation and Management and is in the process of completing a Master’s Degree in Business Practice.
Ms. Andrea Martin
Role: Board member
Background: Care experienced board member and professional Care Worker
Andrea is an artist, musician, mother and community worker who spent six of her formative years in care. She has sought to use her care experience in a positive way both artistically and professionally.
Andrea has fourteen year’s experience in a general hospital setting and now works in the field of addiction and with people experiencing homelessness.
Ms. Aoife Gilligan-Quinn
Role: Board Member
Background: CORU Registered Social Worker, Student Welfare Officer, Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin
Aoife is a CORU Registered Professionally Qualified Social Worker.
Aoife currently works as a Student Welfare Officer at a Medical School in Dublin. Aoife previously worked as a Social Worker and then a Social Work Team Leader with Tusla, working with children and young people in care and their families and carers. Aoife had regular contact with EPIC, where she saw first hand the very significant impact of EPIC’s work both in terms of individual advocacy, and participation.
Prior to qualifying as a Social Worker, Aoife worked as a mental health and criminal justice link worker in London, where her work involved providing practical and emotional support to people with mental health problems who were experiencing frequent contact with the criminal justice system.
Aoife gained her Masters in Social Work from Columbia University, and has also has a Bachelors Degree in Social Policy, and a Masters Degree in Voluntary Sector Organisation. Most recently Aoife studied Conflict and Dispute Resolution at Trinity College where she had a particular interest in the potential role of formal mediation in respect of children’s admission to care.