Aoife joined Feach in 2010, after the birth of her first child. Visually impaired from birth herself, 2 of Aoife’s 3 children are visually impaired. She has been chairperson since 2018.
Aoife has worked in the health service for over twenty years; starting as a frontline worker in disability services (Enable Ireland), a research officer (St John of God Brothers) and in child protection. She trained as a clinical psychologist and has a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Trinity College Dublin. She has been working as a psychologist for 16 years. She has a passionate interest in disability rights and in positive psychology. Her doctoral thesis was on the positive impact of growing up with a physical health condition. She holds a Certificate in Higher Education on Working with People with Visual Impairments.
Stuart Lawler is totally blind and works as Head of Digital Content and Irish operations with Sight and Sound Technology, a UK-based assistive technology supplier of software, hardware and associated services for people with disabilities. He has more than 20 years’ experience working in the assistive technology industry, with most of that being spent at the National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI), where he held the position of Head of Technology Innovation. An avid user of Braille, Stuart is passionate about equal access for education and works closely to assist and support children, their parents and professionals in the field.
Michael Blighe is the Chief Risk Officer of Legal & General Investment Management (Europe). Michael has over 20 years technology and risk management experience in the financial services sector.
Michael is a member of the Board of Rare Diseases Ireland, a patient advocacy national alliance for voluntary groups representing people affected by or at risk of developing a rare disease, and was previously a Board member of Belvedere Youth Club.
Michael is the parent of a child with autism and a rare eye condition.
Aoife Donnelly has extensive experience of working in the primary education sector in Ireland as a classroom teacher at all class levels and as a SEN teacher. She is a highly experienced school leader having worked in both Deputy Principal and Principal roles. With an interest in continual professional development for teachers and school leaders, she holds Associate positions with both the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) and the National Induction Programme for Teachers (NIPT).
Having graduated with a first class honours qualification in primary education, Aoife is currently completing a Postgraduate in Educational Leadership with the University of Limerick.
She is passionate about innovation and creativity in education and recently completed a qualification in Forest School Leadership. She believes in the empowerment of children and the promotion of pupil voice & inclusivity.
Claire Lehane is a Senior Manager in the Department of Children , Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. She has over ten years’ experience working in various roles within the National Advocacy Service for People with Disabilities (NAS). Claire’s roles within the NAS have carried frontline, operational and strategic responsibilities including the establishment and management of the new Patient Advocacy Service
Claire is a qualified solicitor in the Republic of Ireland and worked for a number of years in a General Practice Law firm prior to transitioning to Advocacy.
Claire holds a Master’s in International and Comparative Disability Law and Policy and a particular interest in ensuring that the individuals ‘voice’ is heard in the process.
Rúaidhrí O’Connor has recently retired after a long career in the health, disability and welfare sectors. Rúaidhrí was CEO of the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists, the professional association for Chartered Physiotherapists, for over 17 years. Prior to that Rúaidhrí spent 15 years as National Development manager and Regional Director of Services with Enable Ireland, the national service provider for children and adults with physically and sensory disabilities. Rúaidhrí was a member of the board of the Disability Federation of Ireland for a number of years. Rúaidhrí began his career in health/welfare services as a Community Welfare Officer (CWO) and subsequently as Superintendent CWO with the former Eastern Health Board. Rúaidhri holds a Masters in Public Management and a B.Sc in Public Administration.