Professor Colette Cowan


Prof Colette Cowan was appointed Chief Executive Officer of UL Hospitals Group in November 2014 and was recently reappointed as Chief Executive Officer for a further 5 years. She leads an organisation providing Acute Health Services to some 400,000 people in the Mid-West and with a workforce of approximately 4000 staff spread across six hospitals in Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary. Colette brings to the role over 30 years of experience in the Health Services. 


She was appointed Director of Nursing in Nenagh, in 2000. In March 2012, she was appointed Director of Nursing at Galway University Hospital before becoming the first Chief Director of Nursing and Midwifery with the West North West Hospitals Group (now Saolta University Healthcare Group) eight months later. 


Since her appointment as Chief Executive Officer of UL Hospitals Group, Colette has been leading the reform agenda at UL Hospitals Group underpinned by a Strategic Plan that is focused on four pillars of Clinical Transformation, Digital Health, Collaborations and Alliances and Education, Research and Innovation. 


She has led the Group in developing a new Dialysis Unit, which opened at University Hospital Limerick in 2016 and has overseen the opening of the new Emergency Department as part of the same €25 million project in 2017. Other capital projects completed during her term of office have included the Leben Building (a six story building comprising of a 24-bed Neurology/Stroke Unit, a nine-bedded Cystic Fibrosis Adult Inpatient Unit, an Outpatient Cystic Fibrosis Unit, Dermatology Unit and Symptomatic Breast Unit), a Clinical Education and Research Centre (a joint development with University of Limerick) at the University Hospital Limerick adnd a new Clinical Support Recovery Unit at Nenagh Hospital. 


She has opened an enhanced Vascular Lab, new Nuclear Medicine Department, new Vascular Hybrid Theatre and refurbished and developed an Acute Surgical Assessment Unit in early 2018, as well as a 24/7 Acute Medical Assessment and Surgical Short Stay Unit in 2019. 


Colette also established an eHealth Division within UL Hospitals Group to progress data analytics. In 2016, the University Hospital Limerick introduced its Robotic Surgery Programme, becoming the first public hospital in the country to provide Colorectal and Renal Urology procedures to public patients on the Da Vinci Xi Dual Console Robot. Gynaecology Robotic Surgery has commenced in 2019. 

Firmly committed to patient advocacy and empowerment, Colette has established a Patient Experience Council at UL Hospitals Group. Patient-focused initiatives such as #hellomynameis were introduced in 2016, as were a number of important projects around staff health and well-being such as the Group’s Healthy Ireland Implementation Plan. 


In 2016, Colette decided UL Hospitals Group would be the first hospital group in the country to adopt Values in Action, a project aimed at instilling the six behaviours that focused on the core values of care, compassion, trust and learning throughout the group. 


Colette’s current priorities for UL Hospitals Group include: 
- The implementation of Sláintecare, a ten-year vision to transform Ireland's Health and Social Care Services, 
- The development of a Health Science Academy jointly with the University of Limerick, 
- A modular build for a 60 bed block at the University Hospital Limerick to deal with capacity. 
- Planning the relocation of the University Maternity Hospital Limerick to the University Hospital Limerick campus, in line with Ireland 2040 Plan, 
- New theatres at Croom Hospital are key actions and priorities. 
- Extension and further development of the Paediatric Unit “the ARK” is a core development required in line with the National Paediatric Model of Care. Pre planning discussions are underway. 
- The 96 Bedded Block Project will commence by 2022 and the design team has been identified. 


Colette sits on a number of groups such as the Limerick Public Services Working Together and other task forces at a National level. She has a BA in Public Administration, MSc in Business & Financial Management and is a Qualified Executive Coach.

Professor Cathal Walsh


Cathal Walsh is a HRB Research Leader in Health Decision Science. Specific areas in which he has used his expertise are in the modelling of heterogeneity using latent variable models and in combining evidence from multiple sources. He has held visiting appointments in Bayesian groups internationally. He contributes to the statistical societies in the UK and Ireland and is currently a member of the Council and theme Director for the Royal Statistical Society. He is a Statistical Editor for the Cochrane Collaboration and has served as Associate Editor for statistics journals. He is an advisor to the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics on statistical methodology for Health Technology Assessment and on the Scientific Advisory group for HTA for the Health Information and Quality Authority.   

Professor Diarmuid O’Donovan


Diarmuid O’Donovan is Professor of Global Health at Queen’s University Belfast and honorary consultant in public health at the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland. He was formerly Director of Public Health in HSE West and Senior Lecturer in Social and Preventive Medicine in NUI Galway. He trained in general practice and public health, and has worked in several countries in Africa. His main research and teaching interests relate to health equity and inclusion locally and globally.

Dr Geraldine Casey


Dr Geraldine Casey graduated with a degree in medicine from UCC in 2009. Geraldine has previously worked as a GP in Limerick City and has first-hand experience of health and social inequalities that are apparent in the region. Geraldine completed a Masters in Public Health in UCC in 2017 and is currently a Specialist Registrar (SpR) in Public Health Medicine. Geraldine has been involved in a number of health inequalities research projects as a SpR in the Department of Public Health Mid-West.

Dr Gerry Burke

Chief Clinical Director, UL Hospital Group


Dr Gerry Burke was educated at O’Connell Schools, Dublin and at University College Dublin (MB BCh BAO, 1980).


He trained in Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Ireland, England and Canada.  He was Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist for twenty-five years at University Maternity Hospital, Limerick.  In 2000, he implemented a universal two-scan programme, similar to the German model of the time, for all mothers attending the public clinics, to reduce the incidence of avoidable stillbirth.  More recently, he has prioritised the prevention of neonatal brain injury, with a strong focus on multidisciplinary staff training, including CTG Masterclasses.  He prioritised the roll-out of the Perinatal Mental Health Service under the National Maternity Strategy, and encouraged the development of a full, separate neonatology on-call service at UMHL.


He has been a member of the Perinatal Ireland Research Consortium.  He provided the original research concepts for the Genesis and EsPRIT studies, which have produced a publication stream in high-impact journals.  He was Clinical Director for Maternal and Child Health for UL Hospitals from 2015-2019.  He was a Clinical Advisor to the HSE’s National Women and Infants Health Programme for two years.


He is an intermittent political activist.  He believes that the current level of child poverty in Ireland is the State’s greatest failing, in grave contravention of the ideals on which it was founded, and that its eradication by statutory mandate should be a political priority.  He favours single-tier, single-payer health care, with the nationalisation of private hospitals.  He believes that housing is the most fundamental health issue of all, and that healthy housing should be a right.


As Chief Clinical Director, he has encouraged an open and frank discussion with the Mid-West community about the work of our hospitals, and he has promoted the concept of ‘Sickest Patient First’ to prioritise resource allocation.’

Jim Walsh  


Jim Walsh is principal officer in the drugs policy and social inclusion unit in the Department of Health since February 2018. He is responsible for coordinating the implementation of the national drugs strategy and oversees health service provision for social excluded groups, including people who are homeless, Travellers and Roma, refugees and asylum seekers. Jim formerly worked in the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and the Combat Poverty Agency.

Professor Johan Mackenbach 


Johan Mackenbach is Professor of Public Health at the Department of Public Health at the Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, the Netherlands. His research interests are in social epidemiology, medical demography and health policy. He has (co-)authored more than 700 papers in international, peer-reviewed scientific journals, as well as a number of books. He is a former editor-in-chief of the European Journal of Public Health. Throughout his career, he has been actively engaged in exchanges between research and policy, among others as a member of the Netherlands’ Health Council and the Council for Public Health and Health Care. He is also a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Academia Europaea, and honorary professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He has received a aDoctorateHonorisCausa from the Universitécatholique de Louvain (Belgium), and was elected Honorary Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health by the Royal Colleges of Physicians of the United Kingdom.

Ms Laura Magahy 


Laura Magahy is the Executive Director of the Sláintcare Programme Implementation Office. Previously she has led some of Ireland’s most significant and transformational public-sector projects on behalf of government. Laura Magahy is a Fellow and past President of the Institute of Directors and is one of Ireland’s top Level A Project Directors. She is an honorary member of the Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland and has served on numerous public, private and plc boards as Chairman, Non-Executive Director, and Executive Director.

Dr Mai Mannix 


Dr. Mai Mannix is Director of Public Health in the Mid-West since 2014. Prior to that she worked as a Specialist in Public Health Medicine and as a Principal in General Practice in Ireland and the UK. She set up the inaugural National Public Health Health Improvement Group in 2017 which includes a national public health focus on the Social Determinants of Health. She has extensive experience and leadership in all areas of Public Health including health protection, environmental public health, health services improvement, health intelligence and health improvement.

Dr Niall Muldoon


Dr Niall Muldoon is Ireland’s second Ombudsman for Children. Niall, who is a counselling and clinical psychologist and was previously Director of Investigations at the Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO), was appointed by President Michael D Higgins on February 17th 2015. The OCO is an independent Office that investigates complaints about services provided to children by public organisations. As Ombudsman for Children Niall has focused on generating an Ireland where children and young people are actively heard, particularly those who are most vulnerable. 

During his tenure the Office has carried out consultations with young people availing of Ireland’s Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), those in Ireland’s children’s hospitals, young people living in Family Hubs and young people affected by Brexit. The OCO has also published a range of special reports on topics such as Education, Mental Health, Scoliosis, School Transport, as well as investigations highlighting cases where children’s rights were not respected in the provision of disability supports, in the care system and in housing. Under Niall’s tenure the OCO hosted Beyond Limits: Empowering young people with disabilities the first event of its kind bringing together speakers, demonstrations, information and activities – all focused on children with disabilities. Working with others, Niall has contributed to the introduction of a pilot co-location service in Galway for young people who have suffered sexual abuse and bringing an end to young people being held in adult prisons. He is also a member of the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC) where he holds the role of Secretary on the Bureau. The Office has developed resources to support other organisations to promote children’s rights including A Guide to Child Centred Complaint Handling and Good Practice for Children’s Participation in Decision Making. 

Ms Bairbre Nic Aongusa


Bairbre Nic Aongusa is Assistant Secretary in the Department of Rural and Community Development, where the mission is “To promote rural and community development and to support vibrant, inclusive and sustainable communities throughout Ireland”.   As Head of the Community Development Division, Bairbre’s objectives include encouraging active citizenship (through the Public Participation Networks and by supporting volunteering), supporting the growth and development of philanthropy, developing the library service as a vital social support for communities and engaging with stakeholders to develop an overarching vision for the future of local and community development in Ireland.  Supporting community development through funding programmes such as SICAP and the CSP, and ensuring best practice in the governance, management and administration of charities through oversight of the Charities Regulator, are also key responsibilities.
Bairbre previously served as Assistant Secretary in the Department of Housing, Planning & Local Government from 2014-2017, where she was responsible for Social Housing Policy and Rental Policy.  Prior to taking up her Housing role, Bairbre spent 20 years in the Department of Health in various roles, including Head of Finance from 2012-2014.  She was Director of the Office for Disability & Mental Health, within the Department of Health, from 2008-2012. 


Dr Patrick O’Donnell 


Dr Patrick O’Donnell is a general practitioner and academic based at the University of Limerick. He has completed a medical degree, a master’s degree in global health and he is now a PhD candidate. Since 2013, he has worked as a Clinical Fellow in Social Inclusion at the University of Limerick Graduate Entry Medical School. His main areas of clinical practice, research and teaching are inclusion health and the provision of health services to people who are socially excluded; including people who are homeless, people who use drugs, migrants and others. He is on the national committee of Deep End Ireland; a group representing GPs who work in areas of deprivation across the country. He has won a number of awards for his work and research, including the World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA) Europe Junior Researcher Award in 2018, and the University of Limerick Award for Excellence in Service to the Community in 2019. 

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