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The School of Social Work and Social Policy is delighted to host 'A Conversation with Fr.Peter McVerry,S.J.'

Peter McVerryTo mark the award of the Honorary Doctor in Laws (LL.D) by Trinity College Dublin to Fr. Peter McVerry, S.J. The School is delighted to host 'A Conversation with Fr. Peter McVerry, S.J.' The event will be hosted by Patrick O'Dea, Assistant Professor in Social Work and the details are as follows:

Event Details:
Venue: Printing House Hall, Trinity College Dublin
Time: 6:30pm
Date: November 26, 2015,

All are welcome to attend!!

Please RSVP to to reserve your place

19th November 2015

Congratulations to students who graduated from Trinity College Dublin’s first exclusively online education programme

37 students graduated from Trinity College Dublin’s first exclusively online education programme. The event represents the first step towards the University’s target of 1,000 online students by 2019. 

Graduates from the Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Social Studies, which is offered by the School of Social Work and Social Policy and delivered entirely online using a virtual learning environment, attended a graduation ceremony in Trinity’s historic campus on Friday, November 13, 2015

The course is one of six online courses being offered by Trinity and is part of the College’s ambition to develop technology-enhanced education, to develop innovative teaching strategies and to cater for the needs of 21st century learners no matter where they are around the world. Other online education courses on offer in Trinity are a Postgraduate Certificate in Dementia, a Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Radiotherapy Practice, an M.Sc/Postgraduate Diploma in Managing Risk & System Change and a Postgraduate Certificate in Clinical Exercise.

Dr Julie Byrne, Assistant Professor for Online Education and Development, commented: “Busy professionals need access to education at a time and place that suits them. Online learning provides this flexibility within a structured learning pathway.”

The Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Social Studies is open to graduates from all disciplines. Students have access to weekly learning resources and engage with each other and with lecturers using discussion fora which are all available online.  Once a week students join their classmates in a live online tutorial to discuss key issues and debates in the module. Graduates from the programme can progress to the School’s new online Masters in Applied Social Studies and on to PhD study.  The programme also opens a pathway to study in Social Work and related disciplines.  

The one year Diploma in Applied Social Studies helps student to understand the potential of social policy to address society’s ‘wicked problems’ – those complex interdependent problems such as crime and poverty which are often resistant to the solutions put in place by governments.  Students are exposed to the arguments for developing policy interventions to address these problems and the challenges of implementing policy decisions. 

Dr Stephanie Holt, Programme Director at the School of Social Work and Social Policy, said: “The programme is part of the School’s ongoing commitment to high quality and innovative postgraduate education. This programme facilitates career progression and career change for those interested in health and social care services, social work and social policy.”

To find out more information about the Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Social Studies and how to apply see here

17th November 2015

A Path-Breaking Contribution to Tackling Loneliness and Depression in Institutional Care for Older Adults published by Professor Virpi Timonen

Virpi Timonen and a PhD student at the University of British Colombia, along with other members of student’s supervisory panel, publish a path-breaking contribution to tackling loneliness and depression in institutional care for older adults, through resident engagement and peer support.

Loneliness and depression are serious mental health concerns across the spectrum of residential care, from nursing homes to assisted and retirement living. Psychosocial care provided to residents to address these concerns is typically based on a long-standing tradition of ‘light’ social events, such as games, trips, and social gatherings, planned and implemented by staff.
Although these activities provide enjoyment for some, loneliness and depression persist and the lack of resident input perpetuates the stereotype of residents as passive recipients of care. Residents continue to report lack of meaning in their lives, limited opportunities for contribution and frustration with paternalistic communication with staff. Those living with dementia face additional discrimination resulting in a range of unmet needs including lack of autonomy and belonging—both of which are linked with interpersonal violence.

Research suggests, however, that programs fostering engagement and peer support provide opportunities for residents to be socially productive and to develop a valued social identity. The purpose of this paper is to offer a re-conceptualization of current practices. We argue that residents represent a largely untapped resource in our attempts to advance the quality of psychosocial care.
We propose overturning practices that focus on entertainment and distraction by introducing a new approach that centers on resident contributions and peer support.
We offer a model—Resident Engagement and Peer Support (REAP)—for designing interventions that advance residents’ social identity, enhance reciprocal relationships and increase social productivity. This model has the potential to revolutionize current psychosocial practice by moving from resident care to resident engagement.

Link to full article:

16th November 2015

Marian Lynch Memorial Prize

Congratulations to all the BSS students who were awarded Marian Lynch memorial medals this year.  These medals are presented annually during Sophister years to each member of the group who achieved the highest mark in their Senior Freshman Community Work project.
Marian Lynch was a Junior Sophister BSS student who died in May 2006.  Her classmates commissioned this award as she particularly enjoyed community work and had a deep affinity and commitment to her own community in the Liberties. 
This year Professor Robbie Gilligan and Assistant Professor Gloria Kirwan presented medals to the winning groups during their call in days from placement. 

MarianLynchAward Winners2015

2015 winners Linda Stapleton, Ronald Leech and Gemma Moran, are pictured with Professor Robbie Gilligan and BSS Course Director Maeve Foreman.





2014 winners Orla Caffrey, Pauline Nulty and Anita Dolan are pictured with Assistant Professor Gloria Kirwan.  (Not pictured: Amanda Byrne and Penny McKenna).




12th November 2015



Congratulations to Laura Cusack, Executive Officer in the School of Social Work who recently graduated with a Master in Business Administration (M.B.A) from Trinity School of Business.




12th November 2015

PhD Graduations

Congratulations to our recent PhD graduates Mairead Finn, Catherine Treena Parsons and Leslie Sherlock who were awarded their PhD’s at a ceremony on 6th November.   Students were supervised by Adjunct Assistant Professor Anthony McCashin, Adjunct Associate Professor Suzanne Cahill and Assistant Professor Paula Mayock.


Photographed: Leslie Sherlock and Mairead Finn.







Photographed: Treena Parsons






12th November 2015

Assistant Professor Shane Butler publishes article in Addiction

A research paper by Shane Butler - 'Coolmine Therapeutic Community, Dublin: a 40-year history of Ireland's first voluntary drug treatment service' - has now been published online and will be published in hard copy in an issue of the journal Addiction in early 2015. This paper is based on a history of Coolmine TC commissioned by its management as part of its 40th birthday celebrations in 2013.

Click here to read article 

9th November 2015


JOB VACANCY - Assistant Professor in Social Work (Full-Time/Permanent)

jobWe are hiring an Assistant Professor in Social Work (Full Time/Permanent). Details on the post can be found on the TCD Vacancies website:

5th November 2015




A paper based on research carried out by former student Megan O'Leary has just been published in the Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions.

A paper based on research carried out by Megan O'Leary and supervised by Shane Butler, when Megan was a student of the M.Sc. in Drug & Alcohol Policy, has just been published in the Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions. The paper 'Caring for Grandchildren in Kinship Care: What Difficulties Face Irish Grandparents with Drug-Dependent Children'?' arose from Megan's work with the Family Support Network –  a national support agency for families with drug-dependent members. 

Click here to download paper

29th October 2015


Concept of ‘Shame’ is Core Experience For All People Living in Poverty Worldwide




Professor Robert Gilligan, Trinity, Professor Robert Walker, University Oxford, and Pierre Klein, National Coordinator for ATD Ireland

The concept of ‘shame’ is the core experience for people living in poverty worldwide whether they live in urban Norway or rural Uganda, according to social policy expert, Robert Walker, Professor of Social Policy, University of Oxford, who presented his research at a public event in Trinity College Dublin on Friday, October 16th, 2015 to mark International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (October 17th).

At the public event, Robert Walker, reported on research he conducted on the experience of poverty in diverse settings: rural Uganda and India; urban China; Pakistan; South Korea and United Kingdom; and small town and urban Norway. In his research he found that the lived experiences of poverty were very similar, despite massive disparities in material circumstances in the different settings and varied cultural traditions and political systems. The concept of ‘shame’ was an experience shared by all people living in poverty across these diverse settings.

This experience of shame can have negative consequences which go far beyond material and physical well-being, leading to depression and in some cases suicide and may in fact contribute to the continuing cycle of poverty, according to Professor Walker.

Professor Walker’s research challenges conventional thinking on poverty and in his talk he looked at how to break the continuing cycle of poverty and how public policies can be less focused on stigmatisation and more on agency, which would promote the dignity of those living in poverty. His lecture, entitled “The Shame of Poverty”, was followed by an interview with Joe Little, Religious & Social Affairs Correspondent with RTE.

“People in poverty typically feel deeply ashamed at being unable to fulfil their personal aspirations or to live up to societal expectations due to their lack of resources. Such shame not only hurts, adding to the negative experience of poverty, but undermines confidence and individual agency, can lead to depression and even suicide, and may well contribute to the perpetuation of poverty.” 

“Poverty-related shame is structural.  People in poverty are repeatedly exposed to shaming by the attitudes and behaviour of the people they meet, by the tenor of public debate that labels them as lazy, and through their dealings with public agencies.  Public policies that stigmatise people in poverty are, because they erode individual agency, likely to be less effective than ones promoting dignity.”

The event was organised to mark International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, by the Trinity International Development Initiative, in partnership with the School of Social Work & Social Policy, in Trinity and ATD Fourth World.

Poverty remains one of the critical issues for global development.  Nearly half of the world’s population, which equates to more than 3 billion people, live on less than $2.50 a day.  More than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty – less than $1.25 a day.  1 billion children, nearly half of all children worldwide, are living in poverty and, according to figures compiled by UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. 

Professor Robbie Gilligan, Professor of Social Work and Social Policy, said: “Poverty remains one of the great social challenges of our times, and often lies at the root of major conflicts around the world. Very often, public debate surrounding poverty engages in a rhetoric which labels those living in poverty as being responsible for their situation. This ignores the often wide and complex reasons for poverty and the role that policy plays in creating and maintaining income inequality and also further stigmatises people living in poverty.”

Mark Hogan, Chair of ATD Fourth World Board added: "ATD Ireland is grateful that TIDI and the School of Social Work and Social Policy made it possible to welcome Professor Walker to Trinity. We are confident that his Irish visit will enable many stakeholders of the social work and development sectors to look in a new way at the challenges in creating needed pathways from shame to dignity." 

21 October 2015

Professor Malcolm Golightley (University of Lincoln) and Asst Professor Gloria Kirwan are the Guest Editors for the current special edition on  mental health of the Journal of Social Work Practice

Congratulations to Assistant Professor Gloria Kirwan and Professor Malcolm Golightley (University of Lincoln) who are guest editors for the special edition of the Journal of Social Work Practice. More details are available here

14th October 2015


dementiaCongratulations to Associate Professor Suzanne Cahill and her colleagues for their work titled - A systematic review of the public's understanding of Alzheimer's disease and dementia, recently published in the American Journal of Alzheimer's disease and Associated Disorders. 

The review identified 40 research articles from 15 different countries including Northern Ireland, published over the last 20 years.
The most common misconception was that dementia was a normal part of aging and there was a lack of clarity about at what point normal age-related memory loss becomes severe enough to indicate dementia.  There was also an absence of awareness of the role that modifiable risk factors play in the development of the disease, pointing to the need for governments to incorporate risk reduction programmes on dementia into all aspects of primary prevention and public health policies.

Knowledge of dementia was particularly poor among racial and ethnic minority groups where several myths about the causes of dementia were found. Increasingly the research evidence is pointing to the role cardiovascular risk factors play in contributing to dementia; it demonstrates that brain health and cognitive functioning in later life are embedded in physical and mental health in early life and governments need to incorporate risk reduction programmes on dementia into all aspects of public health policies. 

The research findings point to the need for health promotion and prevention policies to be developed for all stages of life and for more educational and advocacy programmes to be designed targeting those from low to middle-income countries where knowledge levels are exceptionally poor and where prevalence rates are rising exponentially. Full story here

8th October 2015

School hosts Masterclass entitled “Invisible Victims: Human Trafficking and Gender Based Violence”

A masterclass entitled “Invisible Victims: Human Trafficking and Gender Based Violence” was held in Trinity College Dublin on 5th September 2015 as part of the programme for the European Conference on Domestic Violence 2015 which was co-hosted by Queens University Belfast and the School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin. Speakers at the masterclass included Asst Professor Gloria Kirwan (TCD), Dr Sian Oram (King’s College London), Mick Quinn (Department of Justice Anti-Trafficking Unit), Insp Paul Molloy and Sgt Claire McKeon (An Garda Siochana), Nusha Yonkova and Edward Keegan (Immigrant Council of Ireland) and Thomas Dunning (Tusla). The masterclass was sponsored by COSC. Asst Professor Stephanie Holt (TCD) was co-convenor of the three day conference, details available at

7th October 2015


PhD Student Eavan Brady presents research at two international academic events in Zurich, Switzerland.



Eavan Brady presented details of her research project - A Life Course Study of the Educational Pathways of Adult Care Leavers in Ireland - to academics and PhD students at the annual International Research Network on Transitions to adulthood from Care (INTRAC) meeting in Zurich on 1st September. Eavan also presented a conference poster detailing her research design and related planning and development issues at the 3rd International Congress of the Swiss Association of Social Work on 3rd and 4th September. Eavan is in Year 2 of her PhD studies and is supervised by Professor Robbie Gilligan.

Click here to view poster

1st October 2015


Robert Walker

TIDI Event: 'The Shame of Poverty: An Audience with Prof. Robert Walker

To mark International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, The Trinity International Development Initiative (TIDI), in partnership with the School of Social Work & Social Policy, TCD & All Together in Dignity (ATD) will host eminent Professor of Social Policy at the University of Oxford, Robert Walker to give a keynote address on his recent book ‘The Shame of Poverty’on Friday 16 October 2015. This will be followed by a conversational-style interview with RTE’s Religious and Social Affairs Correspondent, Joe Little and will feature short films along this theme.

The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (17 October 2016) has been observed every year since 1993, when the United Nations General Assembly, by resolution 47/196, designated this day to promote awareness of
the need to eradicate poverty and destitution in all countries, particularly developing countries.  Fighting poverty remains at the core of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the development of the post-2015 development agenda and will be “Goal 1” of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda to be adopted on 25th September by the UN.

17 October presents an opportunity to acknowledge the effort and struggle of people living in poverty, a chance for them to voices their concerns, and an opportunity to recognize the work they do in trying to eradicate poverty worldwide.Prof. Robert Walker’s research challenges conventional thinking on poverty and finds that the emotional experiences of poverty worldwide tends to be similar across cultural traditions, political landscapes and material well-being. His research examines the experiences of living in poverty in a range of countries:  in Norway and Uganda; Britain and India, China, South Korea and Pakistan.  His research explores Amartya Sen’s concept of ‘shame’, which Sen contends is the core common experience worldwide for those living in poverty.  This concept of shame can have negative consequences which go far beyond material and physical well-being and can lead to mental health difficulties and even extreme consequences for some; it may in fact contribute to the continuing cycle of poverty.

How can this cycle be broken?  Do current public policies work?  How can they be less focused on stigmatisation and more on agency, which would promote the dignity of those living in poverty?  If the global experiences of povertyare the same, how can we change the global conversation around poverty to be more respectful and considerate?

These are some of the questions, which Prof. Walker will address in his presentation and which he will explore further , in conversation with Joe Little.
This is an event not to be missed! Venue: The Innovation Academy, 3 Foster Place, Dublin 2. Date: Friday 16 October 2015; Time: 12.30pm – 2pm

28st September 2015

Transitioning from Direct Provision to life in the community: The experiences of those who have been granted refugee status, subsidiary protection or ‘leave to remain’ in Ireland

Research conducted by Assistant Professor Maeve Foreman with Dr. Muireann Ni  Raghallaigh of UCD’s School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice was the subject of a submission to the Irish government’s interdepartmental Taskforce on Transitional Supports for Persons Granted Status in Direct Provision on 16th September, 2015.  The submission was based on preliminary results of their study ‘Transitioning from Direct Provision to life in the community: The experiences of those who have been granted refugee status, subsidiary protection or ‘leave to remain’ in Ireland’.

Completed with assistance from Clíodhna Bairéad, Siphathisiwe Moyo & Gabriel Wenyi Mende the research was funded by the Irish Research Council under its New Foundations – Engaging Civil Society strand and conducted in partnership with the Irish Refugee Council.  Based on interviews conducted with individuals who had experience of living in Direct Provision hostels as well as with key stakeholders, their study highlights challenges facing people transitioning out of the Direct Provision system, and makes several recommendations for improvement.

Their submission can be found here

21st September 2015

Assistant Professor Trish Walsh co-edits new 'Social Work in Ireland' book


Assistant Professor Trish Walsh is co-editor of 'Social Work in Ireland, Changes and Continuites', this book is an essential read for both social work and social care students in Ireland. The book will also be of interest to qualified practitioners in both the social work and social care professions.

'Social Work in Ireland, Changes and Continuites' is due out later this month.

For more information click here

7th September 2015


Professor Robbie Gilligan contributes to new book on Children's Rights

enhancing childrens rightsProfessor Robbie Gilligan is the author of a chapter entitled 'Children In Care: Global Perspectives On The Challenges Of Securing Their Wellbeing And Rights' in a new book on children's rights globally. The books is edited by New Zealand academic Professor Anne Smith and is entitled Enhancing the Rights and Wellbeing of Children: Connecting Research, Policy and Practice. The chapter reviews the many challenges facing children in different forms of care across the world. It highlights the fact that poverty, disability and ethnic minority status are strongly associated with admission to care. It also looks at how best to seek to promote the rights and wellbeing of children who must live apart from their families.

Citation: Robbie Gilligan (2015) Children In Care – Global Perspectives On The Challenges Of Securing Their Wellbeing And Rights’in ed. Anne Smith Enhancing the Rights and Wellbeing of Children: Connecting Research, Policy and Practice London: Palgrave Macmillan

28th July 2015



Assistant Professor Stephanie Holt's paper on 'Post-separation Fathering and Domestic Abuse: Challenges and Contradictions' Receives coverage in National Media


The above mentioned paper ‘Post separation Fathering and Domestic Abuse: Challenges and Contradictions' has received media coverage over the past few days in both the Irish Examiner and on RTE  News . The article explores the experience of post-separation fathering, in the context of a prior history of domestic abuse from the perspective mothers, fathers, children and professionals participating in a three year doctoral research project.   

To view the article click here.

22nd July 2015

Public Lecture and Master Class on (Post) Qualitative Research by Prof Patti Lather

Prof. Patti Lather delivered last Thursday, July 16th 2015, a fascinating public lecture on her paper, Top Ten+ List: (Re)Thinking Ontology in (Post)Qualitative Research. This paper presents a “top ten+ list” of lessons learned from the ontological turn. Across various terms and insistences, the paper surveys theories of social change, the subject and agency, the canons constructed, the methodologies materialized, the “more and other than reflexivity” researcher subjectivity endorsed, and the edges of both policy analysis and quantitative research that already instantiate such lessons. It concludes with a meditation on how to think this latest turn within something other than a temporality of successor regimes, end-isms, and apocalyptic breaks.

This session includes 1) participant generated listing of key theoretical terms in fields such as women and gender studies and qualitative research across various social sciences, 2) instructor guided discussion of what those terms might mean,  and 3) discussion of what those terms say about the waxing and waning of various theories and issues in a field.  The goal is a highly interactive session that is useful for situating oneself in a field of study for both beginners and those further along in their studies. To prepare, students might note theoretical terms from their own studies and fields about which they would like to have a greater understanding.

Click here to listen to the podcast

Click here to download slides and chart as mentioned in the podcast

Patti Lather, Professor Emeritus, School of Educational Policy and Leadership, Ohio State University is a leader in feminist research, qualitative methodology and postmodern theories in education.  She is a 2009 inductee of the AERA Fellows and was awarded an AERA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.  In 2015 she received the Lifetime Achievement Award in Qualitative Inquiry from the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry. Her books have received critical acclaim: Engaging Science: Policy from the Side of the Messy (2011 Critics Choice Award), Getting Lost: Feminist Efforts Toward a Double(d) Science (2008 Critics Choice Award), Troubling the Angels: Women Living with HIV/AIDS, co-authored with Chris Smithies (1998 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title); Getting Smart: Feminist Research and Pedagogy With/in the Postmodern (1991 Critics Choice Award). 

Her work examines various (post)critical, feminist, and poststructural theories, most recently with a focus on the implications for qualitative inquiry of the call for scientifically-based research in education. Patti is currently very engaged in putting to work theories of Deleuze, Barad, Bradotti, and other poststructuralist/posthumanist philosophers.

20th July 2015

Assistant Professor Maeve Foreman, School of Social Work and Social Policy, presented three papers at the recent European Association of Schools of Social Work (EASSW) Conference






Assistant Professor Maeve Foreman, School of Social Work and Social Policy, presented three papers at the recent European Association of Schools of Social Work (EASSW) Conference. This biennial conference for social work academics, students, service users and carers, practitioners and policy makers was held from 29th June - 2nd July 2015 in Milan, Italy at Bicocca University.  This year's theme was 'Social Work Education in Europe: towards 2025', and Maeve's abstracts can be found here (

Maeve presented a paper based on her research with Dr. Muireann Ni Raghallaigh (UCD) on 'Social Work and Asylum Seekers in Ireland'.  This paper drew on findings from their research on social workers' experiences of the Direct Provision system for asylum seekers. Their findings raised concerns about the impact on children and families living indefinitely within institutions not designed for longterm residence, and were the subject of a submission to the Irish Government's Working Group on Protection which reported recently.

Her second paper, 'How can social workers enable people to live life sustainably?', argued that a community development approach can be applied to any social work setting to help foster sustainable communities.  Examples from social work practice in Ireland where community work principles have been utilised, and lessons learnt from her experience of the growth of community gardens and men's sheds in inner city Dublin, were presented. One of the priorities of the IFSW's Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development is ‘working toward environmental sustainability’ so she argued that students should be encouraged to ‘think globally, act locally’ and to develop a strong understanding of what is meant by enabling people to live life sustainably.

Lastly, she presented a paper on 'Peer Assessment of Problem Based Learning in a Health Related Social Work Module', based on her experience of designing and delivering a health related social work module to Master in Social Work students.  Research shows that employing both problem based learning and peer assessment can foster reflective practice, provide experience of group work and help develop skills for collaborative teamwork, as well as provide an innovative effective alternative to written assignments and examinations.

17th July 2015



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Last updated 24 November 2015 Social Work & Social Policy (Email).