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Dr Catherine Conlon attends the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health

Dr Catherine Conlon, Associate Professor in the School of Social Work and Social Policy was invited to attend the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health on Wednesday, 31st May to assist the Committee in their consideration of the Report of the Review of the operation of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018.  She attended along with Marie O'Shea BL Chair and author of the Independent Review of the Operation of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018

A review clause was included in the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018 to monitor the operation of the legislation in practice and the delivery of services in the area.  Dr Catherine Conlon's research study Unplanned Pregnancy and Abortion Care (UnPAC) formed one of three strands of evidence informing the Review carried out by Marie O'Shea.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Committee Cathaoirleach Deputy Seán Crowe said “the Report gives our Committee the opportunity to review this important legislation. Our Committee will use the Review as an opportunity to assess the Report, particularly in relation to how the current system is working and how it can be improved. The Committee is generally anxious to see that the legislation is working as was intended, and that women needing to avail of services for the termination of pregnancy should be able to have access to those services without undue restrictions or obstacles.”

Video of the proceedings of the Committee is available at:

June 01, 2023

Launch of report on one-parent families experiences of welfare, working and caring: 'Documenting the lived experiences of welfare, working and caring for one-parent families claiming Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment'


The report was launched by Senator Alice Mary Higgins followed by an Overview of the research findings from Dr Fiona Dukelow (School of Applied Social Studies, UCC) & Dr Joe Whelan (School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin)

This research was conducted by a joint research team from University College Cork and Trinity College Dublin in conjunction with One Family. The key findings and recommendations from the research, which set out to document the lived experiences of Jobseekers Transitional Payment (JST) recipients and to explore how JST is working ‘on the ground’ were also presented by the research team at the launch. Because JST is a relatively new payment in the Irish social welfare system, little is known about how it is experienced by recipients. Furthermore, because people living in single parent households are consistently over-represented in poverty statistics across all metrics (at risk of poverty, enforced deprivation and consistent poverty), how caregivers in one parent households experience a policy that is designed with such households in-mind represents important work. The research was funded under the Irish Research Council's New Foundations programme.

The report launch is co-hosted by ISS21 (UCC), Trinity College Dublin and One Family.

You can access the report at the full report at the following link:

Missed the launch? You can watch it back here:

May 26, 2023

Dr Joe Whelan gives a keynote presentation at the annual Treoir Policy Conference.

On the 18/05/2023, Dr Joe Whelan from the School of Social Work and Social Policy gave a keynote presentation at the annual Treoir Policy Conference. Treoir is a National Specialist Information Service for unmarried parents and their children. This year the theme of the conference was 'Perspectives on Child Poverty From Parent's Lived Experience.  Joe's presentation focused on the long-term impacts of child poverty and drew on original research conducted in partnership with ATD Ireland and funded by the Irish Research Council. 

May 18, 2023

First Meeting of the All-Island Social Security Network hosted by Dr Joe Whelan, Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin.

On the 15/05/2023, Dr Joe Whelan from the School of Social Work and Social Policy hosted the first in-person meeting of the All-Island Social Security Network. The network brings together a range of researchers working in the area of social security to imagine what social security could look like as part of a shared island future. 

May 16, 2023

Presentation by PhD Student Amy Stapleton on Supporting Young Refugees in Transition to Adulthood

Amy Stapleton recently presented the Council of Europe publication 'A Practical Guide to the Council of Europe Recommendation on Supporting Young Refugees in Transition to Adulthood' , which she co-authored, in a launch event co-organised by the co-organised by the Council of Europe’s Special Representative of the Secretary General on Migration and Refugees (SRSG ), the Youth Department  and the Co-operation Programmes Division – Directorate General Human Rights and Rule of Law  (DGI) with the support of the Icelandic Presidency  of the Council of Europe and the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF).

May 10, 2023



Marking the 5th anniversary of Repeal of the 8th Amendment Dr Catherine Conlon’s HEA North-South Research Project ReproCit at School of Social Work and Social Policy, TCD and The Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) are hosting two thought-provoking virtual roundtable discussions titled "Reproducing Law Otherwise? New Directions in Abortion Law and Reproductive Justice after #Dobbs, #Repealedthe8th, #Decrim #AbortoLegal and more." The TCD event will take place on May 22, 2023, between 12- 2 p.m. (online) and the QMUL Hybrid event will take place in person and online at 6-8pm.  The Roundtables will feature roundtable discussions with legal experts, researchers, and activists.

The discussions will focus on the challenges and creativities of our reproductive times, including the struggle for reproductive justice in abortion law and beyond. They seek to share and expand that space by talking about how public legal education - including university classrooms, law clinics, social justice lawyering, and community organising could best respond.

The event is being organized by Ruth Fletcher, Leverhulme Research Fellow, QMUL Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context; Catherine Conlon, Reproductive Citizenship Project, School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin; Matt Evans and Gbemisola Obolo, QMUL Legal Advice Centre.  All are welcome to attend this important event by registering at the Eventbrite link below.

Registration details for both the roundtables are as follows:
Roundtable One at 12-2pm includes Barbara Baird, Catherine Conlon, Erica Millar, Kate Antosik-Parsons, Maeve Taylor, Paola Bergallo, Ruth Fletcher. Registration Link for Roundtable 1(Online) can be found here

Roundtable Two at 6-8pm includes Caoilfhionn Gallagher, Emma Campbell, Máiréad Enright, Sabrina Germain, Sandra Duffy. Registration Link for Roundtable (Hybrid) can be found here

May 8, 2023

‘Through the Eyes of the Child’ – children’s experiences of Tusla services documented in new report

Trinity College Dublin and Tusla – Child and Family Agency announce the launch of a research report entitled, ‘Through the Eyes of the Child: A Study of Tusla Child Protection and Welfare Intervention’.

The research, which is the first of its kind in Ireland, studies the experiences of children and young people in receipt of Tusla Child Protection and Welfare services and seeks to elicit their views and opinions to understand how services can be further improved to achieve better outcomes for children and families.

The report which was launched by Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration, and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, at an event in Trinity College Dublin found that overall many children considered that involvement with Tusla had had a positive impact in their lives. However, fear, stigma and misunderstandings about Tusla’s role, along with concerns about involvement with Tusla becoming ‘public’, can act as a barrier to engagement with services.

Researchers and officials pose for a picture at the launch of the report.

he research study involved detailed interviews with 20 children and young people aged between 10 and 18 years of age about their experience of Tusla interventions. It was undertaken in 2022-23 and commissioned by Tusla.

Lead author of the report, Stephanie Holt, Associate Professor, School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity, commented:

“Many of the children thought Tusla workers had been helpful for them and their families and that Tusla had made a positive impact on their lives. For example, many children talked about improvements in their parents’ relationships, in their own mental health and social support and in sibling behaviour. They also told us about issues and concerns they had about Tusla involvement and were very clear about how professionals could help them overcome their fears and concerns.

“The children talked a lot about the importance of having professionals in their lives who they felt genuinely cared about them, listened to them and respected their views and who they trusted to represent their wishes in decision making. They also told us that trust was hard to build and easy to lose and that the turnover of staff could damage trust building.”

Speaking in advance of the report launch, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O'Gorman said:

“Bringing the voices and views of children and young people into decision making on matters relevant to their lives is essential. Ireland has become a world leader in promoting and enabling such participation over the past two decades. I am particularly delighted to see and impressed with the contribution of children to this research.  This research is grounded in lived experience and amplifies the voices to the children and young people who have had this life experience.”

Cormac Quinlan, Assistant National Director of Practice Reform, Tusla, added:

“As an Agency we have made a commitment to safeguard and promote children’s safety and wellbeing through collaborative support of them, their family, and their wider family network. Hearing from children and young people through this research that their lives and their family’s life has improved, is the most important measure of success we can achieve.

"We can also see how difficult it can be for children and parents when they meet someone from our child protection and welfare service. Often our intervention typically comes at time of huge vulnerability and worry for the family, and the shame sometimes felt by them in having to talk about these worries and allow others to come into their lives to support them. Being continuously sensitive and understanding to this is an integral part of our practice and something we must continuously support and strengthen in ensuring Tusla is always seen and experienced as a service that is here to support, empower and strengthen families when they need us most.”

Key findings:

  • Overall, many of the children considered that involvement with Tusla had had a positive impact in their lives.
  • Children disclosed that fear, stigma and misunderstandings about Tusla’s role can act as barriers to their engagement with services.
  • First contact with Tusla was recalled as a time of fear and uncertainty. The children described being us worried about what might happen in their family once Tusla was involved.
  • Children reported a lot of stress around the risk of losing face among peers should their Tusla involvement become ‘public’, particularly in the school setting. These worries and fears could make it harder for them to understand what was going on.
  • The children reported that meaningful conversations with trusted professionals who provide opportunities for them to have a say in what was going on is the best way to facilitate child participation ­– being listened to was more important than getting what they wanted.
  • The children were also very clear that trust was both hard to build and easy to lose. Trust is easily undermined by any turnover of staff.
  • Open and honest communication paired with child-friendly communication tools (e.g. Signs of Safety tools) were identified by children as the best way to build trust overcome barriers to engagement
  • Children’s responses demonstrate the need for more joined-up thinking between child protection services and the wider child protection and welfare ecosystem in the child’s life

27 April, 2023

Dr Catherine Conlon co-authors opinion piece for the Irish Times on Abortion

Dr Catherine Conlon co-authored this Opinion piece for the Irish Times with Dr Deirdre Duffy of Lancaster University drawing from the research studies they both led informing the review of abortion services undertaken by Barrister Marie O'Shea published yesterday by the Minister for Health. Dr Conlon's Unplanned Pregnancy and Abortion Care (UnPAC) study interviewed 58 women using abortion services in Ireland between 2019 and 2022 to hear their experiences of navigating the care pathway and of the care received.  The study findings are extensively drawn on in the review and key issues are highlighted here: Some women are still experiencing obstruction when trying to access abortion. That must change – The Irish Times

27 April, 2023

Social Policy Joint Honours Student awarded Foundation Schol on Trinity Monday

Congratulations to Joint Honours Social Policy Students Anna Brugger who became a scholar of the college on Trinity Monday. This is a fantastic achievement for Anna and a first Scholar for the new joint honours programme.

24 April, 2023

Prof Virpi Timonen awarded prestigious ERC Advance Grant

Congratulations to our colleague Professor Virpi Timonen who has been awarded a prestigious ERC Advance grant. Professor Timonen, who is currently based at the University of Helsinki, received the award for her project entitled 'Understanding the intertwined legacies'. Full details can be found here

3 April, 2023

Review calls for Ireland's abortion rules to be relaxed

Dr Catherine Conlon's UnPAC research with Dr Kate Antosik-Parsons and Dr Eadaoin Butler cited in Irish Times today showing evidence in support of removing mandatory 3 day wait to access abortion care

29 March, 2023

Are criminal proceedings the only route to truth for Baby John?

Dr Catherine Conlon writes Op Ed in The Examiner questioning the practice of Gardai last week in so publicly arresting, extensively briefing and failing to protect identity and privacy of couple arrested for questioning. It highlights how alternative compassionate practices were evident by Gardai in recent decades. What has changed now?

29 March, 2023

Prof Lindsey Earner-Byrne Seminar on history of Cherish/OneFamily founded in 1972 to support One-Parent Families

The fourth annual Sherie deBurgh commemorative seminar jointly hosted by One Family and School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin will take place on Thursday Feb 23rd, 6-8pm. The seminar will explore the experiences of one-parent families in Ireland and reflect on the historical significance of the foundation of Cherish/One Family in 1972. Prof Lindsey Earner-Byrne will give a keynote examining the historical challenges faced by one-parent families, in-particular single mothers, followed by a panel discussion considering the experiences of one-parent families now, and what the state and society can do to support them into the future.  Extracts from letters deposited in the Cherish archive which forms the basis of Lindsey's work will be read on the evening.

Panellists include: Prof Ivana Bacik Labour Party leader,  Laura McGarrigle, Assistant Secretary General, DCEDIY and Karen Kiernan, CEO One Family with Dr Catherine Conlon, School of Social Work and Social Policy, TCD Chairing.

DATE: Thursday Feb 23rd 2023
TRiSS Seminar Room, 6th Floor Arts Building, Trinity College Dublin & on Zoom

Register at:

16th February, 2023


Congratulations to MSc in Child Protection & Welfare graduate Susan O’Connor Funcheon & Assistant Professor Eavan Brady on their recently published article in Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies 

This Open Access article is entitled ‘An exploration of professional and practice-based perspectives on supporting birth parents towards reunification with their children’ and can be downloaded here.

14th February, 2023