Expert Nominations to Constitutional Convention Revealed

Press Release – for immediate release


16 August 2012




A full list of experts nominated by civil society groups to serve on the Government’s Constitutional Convention has been published today (Thursday, 16 August 2012).


The list includes eminent constitutional lawyers, academics, legal experts, political scientists and members of civil society with significant knowledge and expertise in the topics due to be considered by the Convention from this September. There are also a number of nominees with expertise in areas for possible future discussion by the Convention, including economic, social and cultural rights and full constitutional recognition of the separation of Church and State.


The list of twelve nominees (see names and biographies in note to editor), which has been formally transmitted to the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste, is the result of a call for nominations to over 900 organisations by the ICCL’s Hear Our Voices initiative.


Speaking shortly after the names were released, ICCL Director Mr Mark Kelly said:


“Both the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste have suggested that it is ‘not practical’ to accommodate in a fair and representative manner all of the groups or sections of society who would wish to be associated with the Constitutional Convention.  The mature and considered response by civil society groups to our call for expert nominations would suggest otherwise. Given the opportunity, civil society organisations have shown themselves to be more than capable of adopting a sensible and pragmatic self-selection approach to participating in the Convention.”


“Given the very high calibre of civil society nominees, the ICCL trusts that the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste will respond positively to the ICCL’s recommendation that they be included in the Constitutional Convention’s expert panel,” Mr Kelly concluded.


Mark Kelly is available for interview and further comment 


For more information, please contact:


Aoife Murphy

Irish Council for Civil Liberties

9-13 Blackhall Place

Dublin 7



Tel. + 353 1 799 4504

Mob: +353 87 9981574




Note to editor:


Hear Our Voices is an initiative of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), Ireland’s independent human rights watchdog, working to ensure that the voices of civil society organizations will be heard in an effective way during the Constitutional Convention process.  For further information, see


Full List of Civil Society Nominees to the Constitutional Convention Expert Panel


Review of the Dáil electoral system

Professor Gerard F Whyte BCL, LL.M., MA, FTCD (1990), LL.D., BL 

Gerard is an Associate Professor in Trinity Law School, a Fellow of Trinity College and Dean of Students. The author and co-author of books on public interest law, constitutional law and trade union law, he has also edited books on aspects of law and religion and Irish social welfare law and has published extensively in the areas of public interest law, constitutional law, social welfare law and labour law. He is also active in a number of social justice and legal aid organisations and of the Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction and is a former member of the Steering Group of the Irish Council of People with Disabilities. His research interests include public interest law, constitutional law, labour law, social welfare law, law and religion.

Nominated by: Irish Traveller Movement (ITM)

David Joyce BL

David is a practicing Barrister since 2005 with an interest in Constitutional Law, Human Rights, Public Administration and Housing Rights. Prior to qualifying as a Barrister, he worked in community development with local and national Traveller advocacy organisations. He was a founding member of the Irish Traveller Movement (ITM) in 1990. From 1998, he worked with the ITM as National Accommodation Officer and from February 2003 until August 2005 he was Legal Policy Officer of the Traveller Legal Unit (TLU).He has contributed to a number of reports and publications in regard to Travellers' rights.   Mr Joyce is a guest lecturer at various universities, delivering lectures and presentations for the Human Rights and the Law module within Trinity College Dublin's LL.M. degree programme.     In 2005 he received the Irish Person of the Year Award for his work and dedication to the cause of human rights for Travellers.  He is a member of the Board of the European Roma Rights Centre.

Nominated by: Irish Traveller Movement (ITM)

Killian Forde

Killian Forde has more than twenty years' experience of working in the community, development and political spheres in Ireland and abroad.  Killian spent seven years as an elected official to Dublin City Council and has worked on elections for both Sinn Féin and the Labour Party. He resigned from politics in April 2011 when he was appointed to The Integration Centre as their CEO. Part of its work includes a recently-funded EU project that aims to increase political participation of Ireland’s new migrants.

Killian has worked with the OSCE a number of times as an election observer and is familiar with the many different forms of electoral systems in place globally. In 2010 a motion to Sinn Féin’s Ard Fheis on reforming Ireland’s electoral system was approved by the delegates. He has written for a number of publications, both online and in print, on the advantage and benefits that a revised electoral system would bring to the Country.

Over the past decade Killian has sat on a variety of statutory and NGO boards as a director and was a delegate on the National Forum on Europe. Educated at Development Studies Centre, the Royal College of Surgeons and DCU, Killian holds a MBA.

Nominated by: The Integration Centre

Provision for marriage for same-sex couples

Dr. Fergus Ryan, Dublin Institute of Technology

Dr. Fergus Ryan lectures in Constitutional Law, Family Law and Jurisprudence at the Dublin Institute of Technology. A former Head of the Department of Law at DIT and former President of the Irish Association of Law Teachers, Fergus has spoken and written extensively in the areas of family law (particularly civil partnership and the non-marital family) and the Constitution. He is the author of the Round Hall Annotated Legislation Series Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010. Fergus is also a board member of GLEN.

Nominated by: Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN)

Kieran Rose

Kieran Rose is a founder and current chair of GLEN, the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network and has engaged closely with successive Governments on the development of legislation in the areas of equality for lesbian and gay people.  Kieran works with Dublin City Council as a Senior Planner in economic development, planning and international relations.

Nominated by: Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN)

Ms. Justine Quinn LL.B., LL.M., Attorney-at-Law, BL

Justine Quinn has practised as a barrister in Ireland since 2006. She has also been called to the bar of New York and is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, the Honourable Society of King's Inns and the London School of Economics. Justine lectures at NUI Maynooth and is currently writing her PhD in European Law and Governance in UCD on the free movement of same-sex parented families. She is a researcher on the Equal Jus Project based in Florence, Italy - a European network for the Legal Support of LGBT rights which is co-financed by the European Commission programme "Fundamental Rights and Citizenship 2007-2013" and supported by partners in Italy, France, Poland and Lithuania. Justine is one of the founders of the LGBT Lawyers Association of Ireland which, in conjunction with FLAC, provides a LGBT Free Legal Advice Centre for the gay community.

Nominated by: Marriage Equality

Dr. Fiona De Londras BCL, LL.M., PhD

Fiona de Londras is Professor of Law at the University of Durham. She was a lecturer at UCD School of Law from 2008 to 2012 and has held visiting positions in the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (2007), Emory Law School, (2006 and 2009), University of Peshawar (Pakistan; 2006), University of Minnesota School of Law (2010), and the Transitional Justice Institute at the University of Ulster (2011). She is a Global Affiliate of the Vulnerability and the Human Condition Initiative, based in Emory University, GA; an affiliate of the Global Network for the Study of Human Rights and the Environment; and a research fellow of the Hague Institute for the Internationalisation of Law (2010-2012). She is also an invited member of the American Society for Comparative Law's sub-committee on emerging scholars in comparative law.

Fiona’s work deals primarily with human rights and constitutionalism. Her work on Irish law focuses in the first instance on human rights protection, especially under the ECHR Act 2003. In August 2009 Fiona founded the group academic blog Human Rights in Ireland (HRinI). Fiona also co-edits the Irish Yearbook of International Law and Legal Studies, the journal of the Society of Legal Scholars.

Nominated by: Marriage Equality

Amending the clause on the role of women in the home and encouraging greater participation of women in public life

Karen Kiernan, One Family

Karen Kiernan has directed One Family, Ireland's leading organisation for one-parent families since 2001. Karen Identifies her goals as including the provision of efficient and effective solutions to long-standing policy challenges, in particular those improving the social, economic and emotional lives of families going through transitions, especially those parenting alone.

The policy concerns of One Family include the tensions between government policy which encourages greater female labour market participation, including the mandatory activation of lone parents, the Constitutional statement on the role of women in the home, home-schooling and the participation of women in public life. Karen has wide ranging expertise developed through collaboration nationally and internationally, through relevant international study visits, through an evidence-informed approach to policy and from four decades of One Family knowledge and experience.
Karen’s successes are based on determining needs; defining clear, operational and measurable objectives; implementing an inclusive steering process and applying leadership, innovation, creativity and enterprise.

Nominated by: One Family

Removal of the offence of blasphemy from the Constitution

Professor David Nash, Oxford Brookes University

Professor David Nash is Reader in History at Oxford Brookes University. David is the author of Blasphemy in the Christian World: A History (Oxford University Press). David assisted in having the UK blasphemy law repealed and is currently conducting academic research on the Irish blasphemy law (Defamation Act 2009). David has spoken at conferences in Ireland about the Irish blasphemy law and is helping to prepare a written submission to the Constitutional Convention for Atheist Ireland.

Nominated by: Atheist Ireland

Michael Nugent – Atheist Ireland

Michael Nugent is Chairperson of Atheist Ireland. He has written and spoken in Ireland, Britain, Denmark and Germany on the Irish and international blasphemy laws and the case for a secular Irish Constitution. Michael also maintains the campaign website Michael made a submission to the Council of State about the constitutionality of the blasphemy law and raised the issue with UNUPR and OSCE. Michael is currently preparing a detailed written submission on the blasphemy law for the Constitutional Convention.

Nominated by: Atheist Ireland

Other relevant constitutional amendments

(a) Economic, social and cultural rights 

Jim Clarken, Oxfam Ireland

A Limerick native, Jim Clarken was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Oxfam Ireland in 2008. In this role, he is directly responsible for the management and development of one of the largest and most established NGOs in Ireland with over 140 staff and 1,000 volunteers in the Republic, Northern Ireland and overseas, as well as thousands of active supporters and campaigners throughout.

Jim is an Executive Director of Oxfam International and shares collective global responsibility for Oxfam’s programmes in 92 countries as well as the global campaigning efforts. Jim has played a number of leadership roles in Oxfam International including the global change process affecting all programmes and thousands of staff and multi-millions of euros spend.
He has represented Oxfam International and Ireland at major international fora including as a member of the official Irish delegation to the 2011 High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea and led the delegation to the International Aids Conference in Vienna, Austria and at the Global Perspectives forum at the Berlin Civil Society centre.
As part of his role, Jim regularly presents to the Oireachtas and at Stormont and is a regular media commentator and contributor on development issues such as HIV/Aids, Gender Rights issues, Food and Food Security and has raised awareness through television and other media of major humanitarian emergencies including the Haiti earthquake and East Africa famine.

After 15 years working in senior management positions in the private sector in Ireland, Jim moved to South Sudan where he ran a health, water and sanitation programme for over 300,000 people in southern Blue Nile State. He also worked on child poverty issues in Eastern Europe. Since becoming Chief Executive Officer in 2008, Oxfam has taken on a series of leadership roles in several long-term development programmes. These include HIV and AIDS work in South Africa, water and sanitation projects in war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, peace-building work in Rwanda and livelihood and gender programmes in Tanzania.

Jim also has a strong interest in governance and has been heavily involved in improving and delivering better governance in the development sector here in Ireland and within the Oxfam Confederation.

Jim has a Bachelor of Commerce and postgraduate from the National University of Ireland Galway, an MBA from UCC and has trained on development issues in Nairobi, Ireland and the UK as well as with UN agencies.

Nominated by: Oxfam Ireland

Hans Zomer – Dóchas

Hans Zomer is Director of Dóchas, the Irish national platform of Development NGOs. Through Dóchas, Irish NGOs work together to improve the impact of their work, and to apply their collective experiences to inform government policy and practice. Hans also chairs the “Act Now on 2015” campaign in support of Ireland’s commitment to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Hans previously worked with Concern Worldwide, as Country Director of EIRENE-Tchad, a medium-sized Human Rights and Rural Development organisation based in N’Djamena, and as consultant for local and international organisations working in Pakistan.

Hans has wide-ranging experience in NGO policy and advocacy work, having worked for several Brussels-based NGO networks, such as the EU-NGDO Liaison Committee and APRODEV. Hans is a political scientist by training, having studied in Amsterdam and Copenhagen, and speaks 5 European languages.

Nominated by: Dóchas

David Joyce BL (Ireland)

See bio above

Nominated by: Irish Traveller Movement (ITM)

(b) Full constitutional recognition of the separation of Church and State

Michael Nugent – Atheist Ireland

See bio above

Nominated by: Atheist Ireland 


Other resources:


The text of the Hear Our Voices Civil Society Charter for a Constitutional Convention, and the list of 79 current signatories, can be viewed HERE.


The ICCL’s paper Developing a Model for Best Practice for Public Participation in Constitutional Reform, which examines the Government’s proposals for the Constitutional Convention in light of international best practice, is available HERE.





Irish Council for Civil Liberties

9 - 13 Blackhall Place

Dublin 7

Phone: 01 7994504

Fax: 01 7994512



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