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Fri 23 Apr

IASW National Social Work Conference 2021

9.30 - 3.30


€10 IASW members/€40 non-members

To view a video of the event go to: 


This year’s conference will bring together a range of speakers on the topic of social justice, to inform and update and to support participants unpack the concept. Participants will be provided with the opportunity to consider what it means for social work practice on a day to day basis, on the individual level, the organisational and the collective. 

On our 50th anniversary, the conference will take a look back, reflecting on 50 years of the IASW and social work before focusing on where we are now, and how we can act to create a socially just future. 



9.30       Welcome & Presentation on the IASW - 50 Years Growing (Aine McGuirk, Chair, IASW)

10.00     Social Work and Social Justice in Ireland: Reflections on history of the present to inform future practice and policy (Caroline McGregor)

10.45     tea/coffee break

11.00     IASW Code of Ethics & Code of Practice (John Brennan)

11.20     How has social work´s understanding of social justice changed over 50 years and what comes next? A global perspective (Rory Truell)

11.40     Q&A with morning speakers


12.00                    Lunch


1.00       IASW Acting to Create a Socially Just Future

  • IASW Anti-Racism Strategy as a form of Social Justice Activism (Hilda Loughran & Colletta Dalikeni)
  • IFSW Europe project “A Social Europe is Possible! The new generation of social workers are the spearhead of change!" An IASW perspective (Laura Peters)
  • Advocating for the rights of nursing home residents #residentshaverights (Sinead McGarry)

1.45       A Potted History of Community Development and Anti-Poverty Work (Deirdre McCarthy)

2.05       Where do we go from here? Is another world possible? (Brid Featherstone)

2.50       Questions & Panel Discussion

3.20       Close



Speaker Biographies

John Brennan

John Brennan is an independent social worker living in Dublin. John was the former manager of the Social Work Department in the Mater Hospital, in Dublin. Prior to that, he was the social work manager in Peamount Healthcare and a social worker and senior social worker in the Adelaide and Tallaght Hospitals in Dublin. John has a particular interest in social work with older people and is actively involved in a range of organisations as Vice-Chairperson of the Board of the Irish Association of Social Workers, Vice-President International Federation of Social Workers European Region, Board member of the International Psychogeriatric Association, Board member of the European Anti-Poverty Network Ireland and is Social Work Representative on the National Integrated Care Programme for Older Persons.


Dr. Colletta Dalikeni

Colletta Dalikeni is a CORU Registered African- Irish social worker, educator, and researcher, currently based at Dundalk Institute of Technology. She is Board member of the Irish Association of Social Workers, Editorial committee member, reviewer for reputable international journals as well as an active member of the IASW Anti-Racism Advisory group. Her research and teaching interests have a bias towards culturally competent social work practice with various ethnic minority categories such as immigrants, asylum seeker and refugees.  Her particular focus is on how the intersecting discourse of race, racism, culture, come to bear on their human rights in the context of social citizenship entitlements. Colletta’s emancipatory activist research and scholarship is evidenced through her ongoing active involvement in several community social inclusion and diversity projects.


Brid Featherstone

Brid Featherstone is Professor of Social Work at the University of Huddersfield in the North of England. She has extensive experience of researching families' experiences of child protection and family support services and was a member of the Child Welfare Inequalities Project. This project  produced ground breaking findings on the relationship between poverty and  child protection services. She has recently completed a thematic review of the implications of Covid-19 for policy and practice in child protection.


Dr Hilda Loughran

Hilda Loughran is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice in UCD. She is also a member of the IASW Board. Hilda, along with Cliona Murphy initiated the IASW Talk Time peer discussion group in March of 2020 and through this became involved with the Association's Anti Racist Forum. 


Deirdre Mc Carthy

Policy, Research and Administration Coordinator

Deirdre undertook her primary degree in Sociology in Trinity College Dublin and a subsequent Masters Degree in Women’s Studies in University College Dublin. She has 25 years’ experience in community work with a particular interest in community research and policy development.

Prior to joining Dublin City Community Coop in September 2016 Deirdre worked for Community Technical Aid (CTA) where she managed and developed social inclusion and European programmes. Deirdre’s specific areas of interest include; community development and social inclusion, education and training, community childcare provision; tenant issues and urban regeneration; housing; addiction and service provision; and a range of issues relating to the Traveller community.


Caroline McGregor

Caroline McGregor (formerly Caroline Skehill) is Professor of Social Work at the School of Political Science and Sociology and Senior Researcher at the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway. Her current teaching and research interests include: child protection and welfare history of the present, child protection and family support practice and policy, support and protection across the life-course, citizenship based social work and critical social work perspectives.  She has several social work related publications which can be viewed here: She is co-author of a forthcoming book entitled McGregor, Caroline and Dolan, Pat (2021) Support and Protection Across the Lifecourse: A Practical Approach for Social Work, Bristol, Policy Press (Available Autumn 2021).


Aine McGuirk, MSocSc, MA, NQSW

Aine McGuirk qualified as a Social Worker in 1978. A graduate of UCD and the IPA she has gained extensive experience in state and voluntary sectors providing services for children, vulnerable adults, marginalised groups (including travellers and persons affected by drug addiction) and their families. Her experience encompasses both direct social work, social work management and whole service management. Aine has post graduate qualifications in social work, public service management and social work research.

She is the Chair of the Irish Association of Social Workers serving her third year in this capacity.


Laura Peters

Laura graduated from the masters in social work programme in 2017. She has worked as a medical social worker in the acute hospital setting and is currently working in a rehabilitation hospital in Dublin. Laura was chosen to represent the IASW in the IFSW Europe project "A Social Europe is Possible! The new generation of social workers are the spearhead of change!". A subgroup of newly qualified social workers within the IASW are also heavily involved with the next stage of the project, supporting Laura with the qualitative research.


Rory Truell

Rory Truell is the Secretary-General of the International Federation of Social Workers. Originally from rural Newry, Rory has strong family ties and links throughout Ireland which he says gave him the foundations for being a social worker. After 40 years of living in New Zealand, he is now based in Switzerland. Dr Truell works worldwide with government leaders, national social work associations, frontline services, and international development agencies to co-develop cooperation and partnerships with communities and populations for sustainable development and social transformation.