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Research Students

There are currently 25 PhD students in the School. Profiles of some of the students are given below.

Kathryn Grey Ammon

  1. Supervisor: Dr Catherine Conlon
  2. Nationality: American.
  3. Working Title of PhD:  Legacy Data: Assembling 30 Years of Irish Abortion Narratives
  4. Description of Research: My research engages with a unique data archive held by my supervisor which contains three decades of interviews with Irish women seeking abortion services—with two data sets being Irish women who travelled to British clinics, and the later set being post-repeal. Using the theoretical frameworks of Yuval-Davis and Deluze, this research hopes to understand how changing social policy around abortion materially affected women seeking abortion services over time, and their own relationships to their positionality, gender, and subjectivity. Using a mixed methods model of Constructivist Grounded Theory and “big” secondary qualitative data analysis, this work also seeks to understand traveling to access abortion as destabilizing traditional understandings of Irish motherhood and Irish citizenship in the postcolonial context. The relationship between gender and nation in Ireland has been well-documented in the context of abortion regulation—however, this archive is the only known large-scale collection of interviews with Irish abortion-seeking women and this data collection serves as a great opportunity to use secondary analysis methods to examine large-scale change.
  5. Funder of Research (where relevant) PhD Provost’s Award

Sarah AnglimSarah Anglim

  1. Supervisor: Dr Erna O’Connor
  2. Nationality: Irish
  3. Working title of PhD: Exploring the uptake of health promotion advice among head and neck cancer patients
  4. Description of research:  The purpose of this study is to explore and examine the behaviours associated the uptake of health promotion advice including alcohol and tobacco use following a head and neck cancer diagnosis. The research participants will have a head and neck cancer diagnosis linked to a history of tobacco and/or alcohol consumption. The research participants will narrate their cancer journeys. In facilitating this study, I hope to help healthcare workers to understand this patient group using their experiences of their head and neck cancer diagnosis and gain a greater understanding of this group’s health related behaviours following their diagnosis.
  5. Funder of the research: St Luke’s Hospital Cancer Research Fund

Eva Garcia Albarran

  1. Supervisor: Dr. Edurne Garcia Iriarte and Dr. Michael Feely
  2. Nationality: Spanish
  3. Working title of my PhD: 'Learning and experiences of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), in junior primary mainstream school in Ireland: A multiple case study'.
  4. Description of the research: In the last forty years, the prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has dramatically increased worldwide from 1 in 158 to 1 in 68. Although recent reports have confirmed a steady improvement on the educational provision for children with ASD in the last 16 years, the review of the literature has shown a dearth of research in the educational outcomes of children with ASD in junior primary mainstream school. Understanding how and what these children learn in the early years of mainstream education could impact their future achievement and progress in mainstream school and society. Therefore, this multiple, embedded, child-centred case study research, aims to gain knowledge on a) how are children with ASD being accommodated in junior primary mainstream schools, b) how are teaching and learning strategies being put in place to promote and facilitate their learning and c) how are their educational outcomes emerging and measured. 

    NAME: Vitalis Bengano

    1. Supervisor: Dr. Edurne Garcia Iriarte

    2. Co-Supervisor: Dr. Michael Feely

    3. Nationality: Zimbabwean

    4. Working Title of PhD: Global Disability Paradigm Shift versus Local Reality: Lived Experiences of Persons with Disabilities regarding the Human Rights-Based approach to disability policy and programming in Zimbabwe.

    Description of Research

    The inception of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in 2006 ushered in a global paradigm shift from the outmoded views of disability towards a human rights-based approach to disability policy and practice. Since then, numerous reports have been produced by state parties, DPOs, international and local NGOs ‘claiming’ to incorporate a human rights approach in their development strategies. However, there seems to be meagre empirical evidence on how persons with disabilities understand the concept of human rights and their lived experiences regarding the human rights-based approach to disability policy and practice in Zimbabwe. This study seeks to investigate how the human-rights based approaches to disability have influenced the experiences of persons with disabilities in Zimbabwe. Contra the conventional modus operandi of approaching disability research within the confines of a single narrow model, this study adopts Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of Assemblage thinking. Assemblage thinking offers a flexible theoretical and methodological framework given the fluid nature and the entangled histories of cross-border and micro-macro societal relations. Using a qualitative research approach, empirical data shall be collected through in-depth interviews and key informant interviews. Data from in-depth interviews and key-informant interviews shall either be buttressed, verified or critiqued through robust documentary analysis of selected disability policy documents and programmes in Zimbabwe.

    1. Funder of Research (where relevant): Trinity College Dublin, School of Social Work and Social Policy 1252 Studentship

    2. Seminar Presentations/Conference Presentations/Publications

  • At risk but underserved: Challenges faced by out-of-school youths in accessing and utilising Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Services. A case of Zimbabwe.’ Young African Leaders Summit, November 2019, Accra-Ghana.
  • Social protection in a globalising world: Challenges and prospects for the State and non-state actors. A Case of Zimbabwe.’ University of Zimbabwe, Research Week, September 2018, Harare-Zimbabwe.

Cordula BieriCordula Bieri

  1. Supervisor: Dr Paula Mayock
  2. Nationality: Swiss
  3. Working title of PhD: From Direct Provision to Housing: The Lived Experiences of Refugees in Ireland.
  4. Description of research: Existing research in Ireland and internationally has shown that the barriers of access to housing faced by refugees impede their integration into society, with direct consequences for their well-being, labour market participation and sense of belonging. Using a multiple case study approach, this research will examine refugees’ housing transitions upon exiting Ireland’s Direct Provision (DP) system. The research aims to recruit approximately 20 individuals who are actively searching for housing and who are either currently living in the DP system or accessing homelessness services. An additional 20 participants will have transitioned to independent housing during the past two years. The sampling strategy will aim to achieve diversity in terms of participants’ experience of living in DP (e.g. length of stay), gender and family composition. The research applies method triangulation – combining in-depth interviewing with the ethnographic ‘go-along’ interview – in order to gain a fuller understanding of refugees’ housing journeys. The overarching aim of this research is to advance knowledge and understanding of refugees’ transition from DP to housing. The research aims to contribute to scholarship in the fields of housing and migration studies and to inform the development of policies and interventions that facilitate refugees’ integration into the housing market and therefore into Irish society.
  5. Funder of the research: Irish Research Council Postgraduate Scholarship
  6. Details of related presentations/papers:

Bieri, Cordula (2016): Wo-wo-wonige. In: Wohnungspolitik und Jugendhilfe. Corax.
Fachmagazin fuer Kinder- und Jugendarbeit in Sachsen. (‘Wo-wo-wonige’ was the slogan
of the affordable housing movement)

Sengupta Samantha, Bieri Cordula (2016): Ressourcen als Schluessel - Erfahrungen
aus Projekten im Schulalter. In: Aspekte und Bausteine gelingender Elternzusammenarbeit im Kontext der Armutspraavention in der fruehen Kindheit. Bundesamt fuer Sozialversicherungen. Bern. (Resources as Key - Experiences from School Projects fostering successful Collaboration with Parents)

Bieri, Cordula; Gurny, Ruth; Tecklenburg Ueli (2015): Mehr Gerechtigkeit durch
das bedingungslose Grundeinkommen? In: Ruth Gurny, Beat Ringger, Ueli Tecklenburg
(Hrsg.) Wuerde, bedingungslos. Edition 8. Zuerich. (More Justice Through an Unconditional
Basic Income?)

Swietlik, Iwona; Bieri, Cordula (2013): Mehr als ein Dach ueber dem Kopf. In: Caritas
Schweiz (Hg.): Sozialalmanach 2014 - Unter einem Dach. Caritas-Verlag. Luzern. (More
than a Roof Over One’s Head)

Bieri, C. (2020) Asylum Seekers’ and Refugees’ Health and Well-Being during the Pandemic in Ireland: The Role of Integration and Housing Policy. Presented at the Health, Migration and Integration Symposium on 26th November 2020 organised by the Maastricht Graduate School
of Governance/UNU-MERIT and the Radboud University Network on Migrant
Inclusion (RUNOMI).

Bieri C. (2015) The Case for a Social Minimal Income. Presented at Caritas Zurich’s annual conference.

Bieri C. (2014) Why do we need Visions for Housing? Presented at Caritas Zurich’s annual conference.

Bieri C. (2013) Results of the Study on Housing with little Money in the Region of Zurich. Presented at Caritas Zurich’s annual conference.


[English translation of titles in italics]
Bieri, Cordula (2016): Armut grenzt aus. In: Caritas Zurich: Schein und Sein. (How Poverty leads to Social Exclusion)

Bieri, Cordula (2015): Plaedoyer fuer eine engagierte Armutspolitik. In: Caritas Zurich:
Leben am Existenzminimum - aus persoenlicher und sozialpolitischer Sicht. (The Case for
a Dedicated Policy on Poverty)

Bieri, Cordula (2014): Einfuehrung und Fazit. In: Caritas Zurich (Hg): Bezahlbar
wohnen - drei wohnpolitische Visionen. Zurich. (Introduction and conclusion of: Affordable
Housing - Three Visions for Housing Policy.)

Bieri, Cordula; Elmiger, Max (2013): Prekaere Wohnverhaeltnisse und ihre gesellschaftlichen
Folgen, in: Caritas Zurich (Hg.); Zu wenig Wohnung, Zurich: Caritas, S. 6–9. (Precarious
Housing and its Social Consequences)

NAME: Julie Cahill

1. Supervisor: Dr Eavan Brady and Professor Robbie Gilligan

2. Nationality: Irish

3. Working Title of PhD

A study of the social connections of young adults with experience of relative foster care in Ireland.

4. Description of Research

The research will be based on a qualitative study with young adults who have experience of relative foster care in Ireland.  The aim is to explore the social connections as described by the young adults themselves and the meaning of these connections in their early adult lives.  The research is interested in the perception of the young adults about the influence of relative care on their social connections.   

This study aims to contribute to the significant qualitative research gap identified in Ireland and internationally in relation to the voice of young adults with lived experience of relative (kinship) foster care experience; increasing the understanding of the role and influence of social connections in their young adult lives and any implications that this might hold for further research gaps, practice or policy in this area. 

Rose Doolan Maher

  1. Supervisor: Dr. Susan Flynn&Dr. Julie Byrne
  2. Nationality: Irish
  3. Working Title of PhD: Virtual Harm: Disability Associated Child Protection Risks and the Internet.
  4. Description of Research: This PhD topic fits into a wider research project with two distinct central research questions;
  • Central Research Question (CRQ) for wider project: In what way might the internet present child protection and welfare risk related to disability?
  • Central Research Question for this PhD: In what way might the internet pose child protection and welfare risk for children with disabilities?

The boundaries of this PhD research question forms its basis within three theoretical and professional components – disability, child protection and the Internet. The importance of this research question lies in a profound knowledge gap on disability and the internet specific to child protection and welfare concerns. Scoping the literature to formulate a framework that defines disability, child protection and welfare and internet use is essential to answer this research question. Rapid changes exist in internet use with a consistent influx of new digital media options available to children. This research aims to play a part in offering insights into the impact of internet use for children with disabilities.

5. Funder of Research (where relevant)

This research is funded under the Provost’s PhD Project Award.

6. Seminar Presentations/Conference Presentations/Publications

  •  Doolan, R. 2005. “Aftercare” in Applied Social Care Introduction for Irish Students. Edited by, Perry Share, & Niall McElwee. Gill & Macmillan. ISBN: 0-7171-3839-9

Orchid ID: 0000-0002-3391-7224

NAME: Kate Habben

  1. Supervisor: Dr. Edurne Garcia Iriarte
  2. Nationality: American
  3. Working Title of PhD: ‘The Experiences of Children with Disabilities from a Migrant and Ethnic Minority Background in Ireland: A Narrative Study’
  4. Description of Research:

The purpose of this research is to understand the experiences of children with disabilities from an ethnic minority and migrant background and their families in the Republic of Ireland. A large body of research indicates that children with disabilities experience poorer educational, social, and socio-emotional outcomes than their peers. These outcomes become exacerbated when multiple social categories are experienced simultaneously, such as ethnic minority and migrant status. Growing up Ireland (GUI), the longitudinal study on the experiences of children in Ireland, did not fully explore the intersectional experiences of children who belong to multiple social categories. Therefore, using intersectionality as an analytical framework, the intersectionality, interconnectedness, and interdependencies of multiple socio-economic demographic factors in childhood will be examined. Approximately 40 individuals that are the same age as the GUI child cohort and their families will be interviewed. A narrative research approach will be employed to gain a richer understanding of the participants' childhood experiences through historical documents, artefacts and photographs.

5. Funder of Research: Provost’s PhD Project Award

Wenyu Li

  1. Supervisor: Dr Catherine Conlon
  2. Nationality: Chinese.
  3. Working Title of PhD: A qualitative research exploring attitudes towards eldercare services among older people in urban China
  4. Description of Research: According to the seventh census in China, the number of people over 60 years old accounted for 18.7% of the total population (National Bureau of Statistics of China, 2021), showing huge demands for eldercare services in Chinese society. Moreover, various types of eldercare services are emerging and developing in several cities of China. This research conducts qualitative research methods to comprehend older people’s care needs and their expectations of the future development of eldercare services in China.

mary kennedyMary Kennedy

  1. Supervisor: Dr Trevor Spratt
  2. Nationality: Irish
  3. Working title of PhD:
    ‘Using the ACE Survey to Inform Service Development in a Social Care Organisation: A Case Study’.
  4. Description of research: The purpose of this study is to examine routine administration of the Adverse Childhood Experience - International Questionnaire (ACE-IQ) by professionals working in Child and Family Centres across the Daughters of Charity Child and Family Service (DoCCFS). The DoCCFS is a not for profit public service organisation operating in the greater Dublin region. The service works in partnership with Tusla Child and Family Agency to provide a variety of therapeutic supports to children and families (DoCCFS, 2019). In June 2018, the service decided to incorporate routine administration of the ACE-IQ as part of a broader collaborative research project with the Trinity Research in Childhood Centre (TRiCC) at Trinity College Dublin. The rationale for introducing routine administration of the ACE-IQ was not only to enable the service to examine the relationship between exposure to early life stress and later negative outcomes among service users (DoCCFS, 2018) but also for the organisation to better respond to the needs of its service user population. The collaborative DoCCFS/TRiCC research project has a quantitative research focus which involves the completion of the DoCCFS/TCD Family Centre Survey (a composite standardised instrument measuring child and parent wellbeing) with each service user, and the subsequent analysis and interpretation of this data (DoCCFS, 2018). The present study sets out to employ this quantitative data in tandem with a qualitative approach, to examine the introduction of routine ACE-IQ administration within a social care organisational setting.
  5. Publications:
    Spratt, T. and Kennedy, M. (2020) Adverse Childhood Experiences: Developments in Trauma and Resilience Aware Services. The British Journal of Social Work, 0, pp. 1-19, DOI:
  6. Conferences, Presentations & Panel Participation
    • Kennedy, M. (Oct. 2020) The strength in differences between health and social care interpretations and implementations of the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) evidence base. Oral Presentation at the Health and Care Research Wales Conference (Online). Event URL:
    • Kennedy, M. (October 2nd 2020). The importance of integrating the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) evidence base into mental health multi-disciplinary team practice. Oral Presentation at the 9th European Conference on Mental Health (Online). Event URL:
    • Kennedy, M. (Mar. 2020). What should social workers know about the ACEs evidence base? The good, the bad and the ugly. Oral Presentation at the Irish Association of Social Workers ACEs Associate Group, Academic and Practice Forum on Domestic Violence in collaboration with Trinity College Dublin. Event URL:
    • Kennedy, M. (Feb. 2020) Film & Panel Discussion on Resilience: The Biology of Stress and The Science of Hope. Panellist at the Irish Association of Social Workers event at the Richmond Education Centre, 1 Brunswick St N, Smithfield, Dublin. Event URL:
    • Kennedy, M. (Oct. 2019). How is Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) knowledge Informing Irish and International Service Provision? Oral Presentation at the Irish Association of Social Workers ACEs Associate Group, Let’s get practical about Adverse Childhood Experience Seminar. Event URL:

Sarah MaleSarah Male

  1. Supervisor:  Dr Julie Byrne
  2. Nationality:  American
  3. Working title of PhD:  Hospital Discharge Planning: How Professionals Collaborate in Team Structures to Coordinate a Patient’s Discharge Plan
  4. Description of research: Hospitals today are dependent upon the successful collaboration of multiple professionals to achieve the growing policy objective of integrated healthcare.  This integration requires the healthcare organization to collaborate within its own organizational boundaries, and for each professional within the organization to collaborate within their own professional boundaries.  Collaboration between multiple professionals, each of whom has been shaped by their own profession-specific frameworks, theories and goals, is clearly required in the work of the discharge planning team.  Hospitals in both Ireland and the United States are mandated to have written discharge planning polices and procedures and it is the responsibility of the discharge planning team to carry out these polices and procedures.  Implicit to the successful patient discharge is the ability of these multiple professionals to collaborate.  However, as the literature shows, though professionals may be co-located on the same team, their co-placement does not ensure effective collaboration.  In order to de-mystify the elements of successful collaboration, this qualitative study aims to identify how the professionals involved in hospital discharge planning collaborate through an embedded multiple-case study design, utilizing observation and semi-structured interviews.
  5. Funder of the research: 3rd year of this study was funded by the School of Social Work and Social Policy 1252 Studentship, Trinity College Dublin
  6. Publications and Presentations


Male, S & Bryne, J. (2019).  Book Review of The Psychology of Oppression by E.J.R. David & Annie O. Derthick, Groupwork Journal special issue on Political Oppress

“Education Social Workers for Multi-Disciplinary Hospital Discharge Planning,” presentation at the European Association of Schools of Social Work Conference, Madrid, Spain, June 4-7, 2019

Daneille OSullivan Daneille O'Sullivan

  1. Supervisor: Dr Paula Mayock
  2. Nationality: Irish
  3. Working title of my PhD:The Prison Experiences of Sexual Minority Women in Ireland
  4. Description of the research: Sexual minority prisoners have been reported to be particularly vulnerable within the context of imprisonment and warrant further research due to their continued absence from research, policy, and legislation within the Irish context. It has been suggested that sexual minority prisoners have unique needs in relation to healthcare access and can experience stigmatisation because of their perceived or disclosed sexual orientation.
    In Ireland, there is a dearth of knowledge and understanding in relation to the situations and needs of women who identify as lesbian or bisexual in prison. The proposed research aims to build on the limited body of scholarship that has examined the prison experiences of sexual minority prisoners, while making an innovative departure from the research which mostly focuses on the prison experiences of male sexual minority prisoners. Thus, it is anticipated that rich, nuanced data will be generated based on the findings of this research, and a knowledge base created that will enable a deeper understanding of a ‘hidden’ population in Ireland. This qualitative case-study, underpinned by a social constructionist epistemology will involve the conduct of in-depth interviews with both currently and formerly imprisoned women, who self-identify as lesbian or bisexual. The research will direct attention to the following key topics- healthcare, identity, safety, and resource needs of sexual minority women in prison in Ireland. 
  5. Funder of the research: Irish Research Council Postgraduate Scholarship


Ivana Pericin Ivana Pericin

  1. Supervisor: Dr Paula Mayock
  2. Nationality: Serbian/Irish
  3. Working title of PhD: Migrant Homelessness in Dublin: A qualitative study
  4. Description of research: Despite clear evidence of an increase in the number of migrants experiencing homelessness in Ireland, there is a paucity of research on this specific dimension of homelessness and the dynamics and drivers of migrant homelessness are, consequently, poorly understood. This study sets out to address a gap in knowledge through the conduct of an in-depth qualitative study of migrant homelessness in the Dublin region. A core focus of the research is the identification of experiences that impact migrants’ routes or journeys ‘into’, ‘through’ and ‘out of’ homelessness. The present study aims to trace the events and processes that ‘shape’ the homeless and housing trajectories of homeless migrants; and to identify facilitators and barriers to housing stability. Grounded in social constructivist epistemology, the research combines ethnography with the conduct of life history interviews. The research aims to generate a robust understanding of migrant homelessness that has the potential to bolster the development of policy and service provision aimed at more effectively responding to migrants who experience housing instability and homelessness.
  5. Funder of the research: Provost’s PhD Scholarship Award
  6. Details of related presentations/papers:

    Pericin I, Mansflied G, Larkin J, Collins C. Future career intentions of recent GP graduates in Ireland: a trend analysis study. BJGP Open 20 February 2018. DOI:

    Conferences and presentations
    ‘Diagnostic coding of chronic diseases in Irish general practice’ European General Practice Research Network, October 2018, Sarajevo.
    ‘A qualitative evaluation of a shared care card for patients with enduring mental illness’ European General Practice Research Network, May 2018, Lille.
    ‘Trend analysis of the career intentions of recent graduates of General Practice training in Ireland’ The Association of Departments of General Practice Ireland, March 2018, Galway.
    ‘Making Every Consultation Count, an evaluation of the PMS systems in Irish General Practice’ European General Practice Research Network, October 2017, Dublin.

    Reports and other publications
    Collins C, Pericin I, Larkin J. Making Every Consultation Count. Irish College of General Practitioners, 2019.
    Collins C, Larkin J, Pericin I, Health Service Executive. Promoting the Physical Health of Patients with Enduring Mental Illness. Irish College of General Practitioners, 2019.
    Collins C, Larkin J, Pericin I. Health Status of Syrian Refugees in Ireland. Irish College of General Practitioners, 2019.
    Larkin J, Pericin I, Collins C. Healthmail Evaluation Report. Irish College of General Practitioners, 2017.
    Mansfield G, Collins C, Pericin I, Larkin J, Foy F. Is the face of Irish general practice changing? A survey of GP trainees and recent GP graduates 2017. Irish College of General Practitioners, 2017.

Bao RongBao Rong

  1. Supervisor: Prof Robbie Gilligan & Dr Catherine Conlon (co-supervisor)
  2. Nationality: Chinese
  3. Working title of my PhD: The lived experience of young migrant mothers in China
  4. Description of the research: There are around 245 million rural-to-urban migrants in China, among whom around 35% are female, and young women aged 20-29 are especially mobile (NBS, 2017). In recent years, many researchers have attempted to explore the life of young female workers or migrant mothers who leave their child behind in the rural homes to work in the cities. Young migrant mothers are rarely studied. These young girls come to the city by themselves, and become a mother shortly after arriving in the city. As rural migrants, they do not have access to many urban public services. Their transitions into motherhood can be especially overwhelming because they lack the resources and social capital as a young migrant and as a young mother. Therefore, this study will adopt a life course approach and aims to understand how their life is actually lived as a young woman, a migrant, and a mother.
  5. Details of related presentations/papers:
  1. “Return migrant children in China-A review of literature”
  2. The Lived Experiences of Youth Migration-Global Perspectives, May 2019, Dublin -
  3. This event was run by Professor Robbie Gilligan at the School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin, in association with Trinity Research in Childhood Centre, Trinity International Development Initiative, and Trinity Research in Social Sciences.
  4. “The lived experience of young migrant mothers in China” - CRN PhD Symposium 2019, August 2019, Galway. This event was hosted by the Children’s Research Network and National University of Ireland Galway, in association with Trinity Research in Childhood Centre, Trinity College Dublin.

Ryan TimTim Ryan

  1. Supervisor Professor Eoin O’Sullivan
  2. Nationality:  Irish
  3. Working title of PhD:  Land Policy Management in Ireland: The Case of the Kenny Report
  4. Description of research:  The research project will trace the origins of land management policy in Ireland in relation to residential housing.  It will analyse the report of the Committee on the Price of Building Land (the Kenny Report), both Majority and Minority reports, the long debates and discussions that followed in its aftermath and the reasons for its non-implementation.  It will also consider at some length the fall-out and its impact on residential housing to this day.  Research is mainly through National Archives, Dept. files and Oireachtas debates in additional to a wide range of interviews with relevant persons. 5
  5. Funder of the research: N/A 6.
  6. Details of related presentations/papers:  Two articles have been published in the Irish Independent and Irish Examiner (both have been published on the School’s website)

schulmann_katharineKatharine Schulmann

  1. Supervisor Professor Virpi Timonen & Dr Catherine Conlon
  2. Nationality: Hungarian/American
  3. Working title of PhD: Older people and their care during the Covid-19 pandemic: A Grounded Theory discourse analysis of official and public discourses.
  4. Description of research: Originally planning an interview-based study of intersecting inequalities in access to home care, Katharine shifted focus as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has exposed long-standing structural weaknesses in the Irish health and social care systems and the governmental and societal response will have long-term consequences for Ireland’s approach to ageing and care for many years to come. To contribute to a better understanding of the evolving situation, Katharine is undertaking a Foucauldian discourse analysis of official government texts in an effort to unpack social constructions of older people and their care in Ireland’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Her research investigates the power relations involved in decision-making related to the pandemic and older persons, the actors driving the discourses, and crucially, the actors whose voices are not heard, who are marginalised. The study applies Kathy Charmaz’s social constructionist Grounded Theory.
  5. Funder of the research: 1252’ PhD Scholarship.
  6. Presentations and Publications


“Rights-based approach to care and support for older persons” Irish Hospice Foundation Seminar, April, 2019, Dublin.
“A human rights approach to long-term care & support for older persons: Developing a conceptual framework,” Knowledge for Ageing Society – Contextualising Ageing Conference, June 2018, Bratislava.
“Beyond four walls: A community-based model of care and support for people with dementia living at home,” 27th Alzheimer Europe Conference, October 2017, Berlin.
“Social innovation and long-term care in Europe: investigating its potential and highlighting limitations,” 2016 Social Policy Association (SPA) Conference, July 2016, Belfast.
“How do care professionals define ‘good’ quality long-term care? Lessons from an Austrian explorative study,” International Long-term Care Policy Network (ILPN) Conference, September 2016, London.
“Access to healthcare in Portugal in the aftermath of the financial crisis,” The European Network for Social Policy Analysis (ESPAnet) Conference, September 2015, Odense.

Schulmann, K., Reichert, M. & Leichsenring, K. (2019) “Social support and long-term care for older people: Potential for social innovation and active ageing.” In, Walker, A. (Ed.) The future of ageing in Europe: making an asset of longevity, London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Schulmann, K., Ilinca, S., Rodrigues, R. (2018) “From disability rights towards a rights-based approach to long-term care for older people in Europe: Conceptual framework for a human rights-based approach to care and support for older individuals.” Vienna: European Centre.

Schulmann, K., Ilinca, S., & Leichsenring, K. (2017) “Community care for people with dementia: A handbook for policymakers.” Vienna: European Centre.
Schmidt, A.E., Ilinca, S., Schulmann, K., Rodrigues, R., Principi, A., Barbabella, F., Sowa, A. et al. (2016) “Fit for caring: factors associated with informal care provision by older caregivers with and without multimorbidity,” European Journal of Ageing, 13, 103-113.

Leichsenring, K., Schulmann, K., Gasior, K. & Fuchs, M. (2015) “Good care from the perspective of care professionals – Conditions, objectives and perspectives for quality improvement in long-term care”. Study commissioned by the Vienna Chamber of Labour. Vienna: Vienna Chamber of Labour.

Rodrigues, R., Schulmann, K., Schmidt, A., Kalavrezou, N., Matsaganis, M. (2013) “The indirect costs of LTC, Research Note 8/2013.” Report commissioned by the European Commission Social Situation Monitor. Brussels: EC.

Alison Spillane

  1. Supervisor: Dr Catherine Conlon
  2. Nationality: Irish
  3. Working title of PhD:  A study of service-user experiences of accessing abortion care in early pregnancy with the Irish Family Planning Association
  4. Description of research: In 2018, Ireland completed a process of significant legal reform with respect to abortion. This presents a unique opportunity to monitor policy implementation as a country moves from an extremely restrictive legislative framework regulating abortion to one which substantially broadens abortion access. The aim of this research is to understand how those seeking access to abortion in early pregnancy negotiate the new infrastructure of abortion care as implemented by the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA), a sexual and reproductive healthcare provider. The study employs a constructivist Grounded Theory approach and the focus for data collection is on qualitative interviews with IFPA service-users. Quantitative analysis of IFPA service-user activity data will provide contextual information for the study by generating a statistical portrait of the cohort attending for abortion care and documenting trends in IFPA service provision.
  5. Funder of the research: Irish Research Council
  6. Details of related presentations/papers:


Spillane, A., Taylor, M., Henchion, C., Venables, R. and Conlon, C (2021) ‘Early abortion care during the COVID-19 public health emergency in Ireland: Implications for law, policy and service delivery’. International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics. DOI:

Spillane, A. (2021) ‘Permanent use of telemedicine in abortion care is a positive, patient-centred step’. The Irish Examiner, 24 May 2021.

Taylor, M., Spillane, A. and Arulkumaran, S. (2020) ‘The Irish Journey: Removing the shackles of abortion restrictions in Ireland’. Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & GynaecologyVolume 62, pp 36-48. DOI:


Early abortion care and the COVID-19 public health emergency: implications for law, policy and service delivery, Sociological Association of Ireland Postgraduate Conference, February 2021


‘Clinical Focus: Early Abortion Care’. Irish Family Planning Association, Annual Report 2019. Available at:

Spillane, A. and Henchion, C. (2020) ‘Irish Family Planning Association early abortion service – results of an analysis of service activity data’. HSE National Sexual Health Newsletter, Winter 2020.

amy stapleton Amy Stapleton

  1. Supervisor: Dr Paula Mayock
  2. Nationality: Irish
  3. Working title of my PhD: Aging Out: The Experiences of Separated Children’s Transition to Adulthood
  4. Description of the research: This study is about young people who, as children, left their homes in Sub Saharan Africa without their parents or guardians, and made their way to France in search of a better future. Using a participatory action research (PAR) approach with critical underpinnings, the research supported 12 separated young people to participate in an investigation of their perspectives on, and experiences of, their lives in Northern France. The core aims of the study are to produce a detailed analysis and contextualised understanding of the experiences of the young people during the transition to adulthood.
  5. Funder of the Research: Irish Research Council under the Government of Ireland Postgraduate Programme.
  6. Details of related presentations/papers:

    • Stapleton, A. and Mayock, P. (working paper). Critical reflection as a tool to recognise and address power: A PAR study with separated young people.
    • Stapleton, A., Mecea, M. and Beqiri, L. (2016). The European Union’s Contributions to International Stability: The Role of Education and Study Mobilities, AI & SOCIETY Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Communication. 31(3).

    Most recent academic conferences related to PhD research include but are not limited:
    • Life in Europe: Exploring the factors shaping aged-out separated children’s transition to adulthood’ at a Trinity Research in Childhood Centre (TRiCC) PhD Seminar. TCD, Ireland. 12 March 2020.
    • Participatory Action Research with Separated Young People: Overcoming Dilemmas in the Field. CARN- ALARA 2019 Conference ‘Imagine Tomorrow: Practitioner Learning for the Future. Split, Croatia. 17-19 October 2019.
    • Participatory Action Research with Separated Young People: Overcoming Dilemmas in the Field. Children’s Research Network PhD Symposium 2019 ‘Doing Research for and with Children and Young People’. UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway. 28 August 2019.
    • Understanding the Lived Experiences of Separated Young People during the Transition to Adulthood in France, 9th International Annual Action. Research Colloquium UCD, Ireland. 28 June 2019.
    • Unaccompanied Minors: Policy and Practice in European countries. University of Lille. France. 27 June 2019.
    • Policy workshop sharing the perspectives of separated young people. Lost in Migration Conference, Missing Children in Europe. University of Valetta. Malta. 20-22 February 2019.
    • Participatory Action Research with Separated Young People: Ethical Dilemmas. 8th International Annual Action. Research Colloquium UCD, Ireland. 27 June 2018.

    Reports and other publications:
    • Daniels, C., Roche, G., Hamill, C., Kaster, F., Stapleton, A., and Van Ravenstein, H. (in press). Enabling Entrepreneurship for Young Refugees: A Practice Guide for Youth-Serving Entrepreneurship Organisations. Better Futures.
    • Stapleton, A. (in press). Final Report on Consultative Meeting: Supporting Young Refugees in Transition to Adulthood through Youth Work and Youth Policy. Council of Europe Youth Department.
    • Stapleton, A., Wilkinson, O. (2018). Learning Brief: Spiritual Support. Joint Learning Initiative and World Vision International.
    • Stapleton, A., Wilkinson, O. (2018). Learning Brief: Continuum of Protection for Children. Joint Learning Initiative and World Vision International.
    • Stapleton, A., Wilkinson, O. (2018). Learning Brief: The Role of Faith in Building Peaceful Societies and Combatting Xenophobia. Joint Learning Initiative and World Vision International.
    • Bodrozic, M., Kuzmits, V., Utenkova, Y. and Stapleton, A. (2017). Joint Resolution on Key Issues Concerning European Youth, Youth of European Nationalities: Durrës.
    • Kilic, C. and Stapleton, A. (2017). Participation and Citizenship: Young Refugees in Europe, LOGBOOK, European Network of Professional Open Youth Work Organisations (POYWE). Available at
    • Stapleton, A. and Bethea, B. (2013). I Am Not For Sale Final Report and Training Manual: A Campaign Aimed at Ending Human Trafficking. Ratiu Center for Democracy: Turda.

    • Associate Editor and reviewer with the AI and Society Journal since 2015.
    • Reviewer with the Educational Action Research Journal since 2019.

    • Laureate award winner of High Level Scientific Mobility Grant scheme as part of the Grants of the French Government.
    • French Government Medal and NUI Prize for Distinction on Dual Degrees, 2017.
    • European Commission Erasmus Mundus Masters Scholarship Award, University Lille III, 2012-2014.

    Ann SwiftAnn Swift

    1. Supervisor: Dr. Edurne Garcia Iriarte and Dr. Philip Curry
    2. Nationality: British
    3. Working title of PhD: Strategies for identifying childhood disability and their consequences for measuring child outcomes over time: a mixed-method, multiple-case analysis of national birth cohort studies
    4. Description of research: Research output drawing on data from longitudinal birth cohort studies has grown significantly over the past two decades. Questions around the prevalence and trajectory of childhood disabilities over time, and outcomes for children with disabilities, are amongst the varied issues which researchers have sought to explore with such data. However, child cohort studies are varied both in methodology and instrumentation, which in turn may influence the findings of research which draws on them. This proposed study will focus in particular on the options for disability definition and measurement in a subset of such studies. It will sensitivity test a variety of approaches through secondary research, to discern any possible patterns between these strategies and findings for outcomes of children with disabilities. Improved understanding of any possible relationships between measurement and outcomes can inform the choice of measures in future research.
    5. Funder of the research:
    6. Details of related presentations/papers:
  • Swift, A., Iriarte, E.G., Curry, P. et al. How Disability and Other Socio-Economic Factors Matter to Children’s Socio-Emotional Outcomes: Results from a Longitudinal Study Conducted in Ireland. Child Ind Res (2020).
  • Swift, A. (2019). Differences in Socio-Emotional Outcomes between Children with a Disability
    and from a Migrant Background and their Typically Developing Peers. Growing Up in Ireland 11th Annual Research Conference, Dublin, Ireland.

SineadWhiting Sinead Whiting

  1. Supervisor:     Professor Robbie Gilligan
  2. Nationality:    Irish
  3. Working title of PhD:  The Lived Experience of Young Adults who Experienced Stability and Permanence, either Legal or Relational, while Growing Up in Long-term Foster care
  4. Description of research:  A lack of stability and permanence for young people growing up in long-term out of home care is a common critique of child welfare systems. Legal permanence through the use of adoption gained some priority, however, increasingly relational permanence, defined as an enduring and supportive relationships, is seen as important (Perez,2017; McSherry et al,2016 & 2018). In Ireland many young people raised in long-term foster care continue living with their foster carers even after aging out of care. Only a small number are adopted, and adoption tends to occur in late teen years, by long-term foster carers. Thus, while adoption occurs infrequently, stability within foster placements appears common, leading to young people potentially experiencing either legal or relational permanence. This study will investigate the lived experience of permanence, both legal and relational, for young adults who grew up in long-term stable foster care. In-depth qualitative interviews with 20-25 young adults in their 20s who grew up in long-term foster care, will be used to investigate the lived experience of permanence, both relational and legal. I will use thematic analysis to uncover insights into the young adults’ identity development, transition out of care and transitions to adulthood, and the meanings they attach to relational or legal permanence. This is relevant within the context of shifting academic and practice debates about whether permanence should be understood in the context of legally binding relationships or less formalised relationships and the significance of legal status for care experienced young adults.
  5. Website:
  6. Details of related presentations/papers:
  • “Insider research: The Ethical Issues of being a researcher Close to you own Practice” : 14th June 2019: Oral Presentation at All Ireland Social Work research Conference
  • “Late Adoption from Long-Term care: What Difference does Adoption Make in early Adulthood?”:3rd May 2019: Poster Presentation at Trinity Research in Childhood centre research Showcase.
  • The Transition from care to Adoption” :October 2018: Poster Presentation at EUSARF Conference in Porto.
  • The Lived Experience of Young Adults Adopted Late by their own Long-Term Foster Carers”: July 2018: Poster Presentation at International SWSD (Social Work Education and Social Development Conference).