John is a professionally qualified social worker who moved from Scotland to Northern Ireland in 2013. After graduating from the University of Glasgow with the degree of Master of Arts with Honours in 1977, John started a 36 year professional career in social work practice and management in Scotland. He completed his professional training in social work at the University of Oxford, graduating with the degree of Master of Science in Applied Social Studies in 1981. In addition to his professional qualification in social work, John completed executive management training at the University of Strathclyde, graduating with the degree of Master of Business Administration in 1993. During the course of his professional career in social work, John worked for a number of local authorities in Scotland, culminating with the post of Director of Social Work and statutory Chief Social Work Officer with Dumfries and Galloway Council from 2007 until his retirement from public service in 2013. After moving to Northern Ireland, John worked as an independent social worker and adviser to public bodies and not for profit organisations. He also served on the committee of the Northern Ireland Association of Social Workers from 2015 until 2017, when he retired from social work practice. His professional interests and expertise relate to supports and services for disabled adults, accounting for more than half of his social work career. Between 1997 and 2016, John served as a trustee of a Scottish voluntary organisation which supports men and women with a learning disability to live independently with support in the community.
Larry has been General Secretary of the Financial Services Union (FSU) since 2001. He was educated at CBS Crumlin and subsequently graduated from UCD with an Honours B.Comm degree and a Masters degree in Industrial Relations/ Personnel Management. He worked initially as a union official in the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union (ITGWU), now SIPTU, up to 1984, when he joined the Irish Bank Officials Association (IBOA), now FSU, as Assistant General Secretary. Larry is a member of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) Executive Committee and is also a member of the UNI Europa Finance Steering Group.
Des Coppins is a retired public servant. Educated at the Dublin Institute of Technology (formerly Bolton Street) and Trinity College, Dublin, Des worked in central government including the Department of the Environment and Local Government, the Taoiseach’s Department, the Department of Finance and joined the Department of Transport when it was set up in 2002. In Transport he oversaw the development of the first sectoral plan (under the 2005 Disability Act 2005) to make all forms of public transport more accessible to people with disabilities. He went on to oversee the successful roll-out of the first phase of the plan and just prior to his retirement saw the plan revised with a firm set of targets, timelines and budgets to make public transport universally accessible.
Fergal Rooney is a practicing Counselling Psychologist. He is currently lead clinician with Psychological Services for Healthy Relationships and Sexuality at St. John of God Hospital, Stillorgan, Co. Dublin. He has a particular interest in lifespan development, intellectual disability and sexuality, and the role of the internet in sexual difficulties. Fergal has maintained his interest in working with people with intellectual disability throughout his career, and has engaged with and supported people with intellectual disability who have presented with psychosexual and/or forensic related needs. He has also worked with community and prison based forensic services, with particular focus on working with people who have carried out sexual offences. He has been instrumental in devising and delivering a range of assessment and therapeutic programmes for the Irish Prison Service, The Probation Service of Ireland and community therapeutic services. He has conducted prize-winning research in this area, and he has presented his work at national and international conferences. Fergal values opportunities to promote good clinical practice in responding to psychosexual needs. He lectures on the Doctorate in Counselling Psychology programme at Trinity College Dublin, he provides frequent workshops and seminars for healthcare professionals, and he provides clinical supervision to a range of professionals who work with forensic therapeutic services.
Fiona Keogh, PhD is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Economic and Social Research in Dementia in the National University of Ireland, Galway where she is conducting research into decision making on resource allocation and evaluating intensive home care packages for people with dementia. She is also developing a Dementia Advisory Forum for people with dementia and carers. Prior to this Fiona was Director of Research and Evidence with Genio. In this role she managed a large portfolio of research focused on the evaluation of personalised services and co-developed the HSE & Genio Dementia Programme which had 12 sites delivering personalised supports for people with dementia. She has over 25 years’ experience conducting health services research and policy analysis in the areas of dementia, mental health and disability. Her special interest is the implementation of policy in complex systems with a focus on personalising health and social care services. Fiona has written national policy in Ireland in mental health (Vision for Change) and disability (Disability Policy Review: Report of the Expert Reference Group) and is a member of the Monitoring Group for the implementation of the National Dementia Strategy.
Deborah is a solicitor currently working in general practice with particular focus on the areas of family and child law as well as conveyancing, wills, probate and elder law. Prior to this, Deborah spent a number of years working in an advisory capacity to a range of charities and not for profits on a wide range of issues from formation and restructuring, to applications for charitable tax exemptions and registration with the Charities Regulator as well advising on a myriad of ad hoc issues affecting the charity sector generally.