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Thu 21 Feb

Learning from each other; Critical Reflections of the intersections between Mental Health Act 2001 and Human Rights

9.30 Registration, 10.00 Start - 4.30 Conference End

Law Library Blackhall Pl, Arran Quay, Dublin 7

€30 IASW members/€70 non-members


"Learning from each other; Critical Reflections of the intersections between Mental Health Act 2001 and Human Rights".

21st February 2019

Registration 9.15am Close 4.30pm


The Seminar will offer attendees and speakers a forum for conscious raising and awareness of Mental Health Act 2001 and Human Rights.

Increasing practitioner's working knowledge of the Mental Health Act 2001 and competence in this area.

Increase Networking for social workers and other disciplines particularly in the field of Law.

The SWAMH SIG will take from the seminar main points that will form a position paper on the reform of the Mental Health Act 2001.

CPD that contributes to professional development and patient safety and promotes participation and involvement by service users.

10.00 am    Event Opening    SWAMH Chair

10.10am     "Mental Law: The Implications of International Human Rights Law for 

                        Ireland” Charles O’Mahony  NUI Galway School of Law                       

10.50am     'Human Rights and Mental Health Tribunals'    Dr. Darius Whelan

                        UCC School of Law

11.35am     Break

12.00pm     ''Preserving and Promoting Human Rights as an Authorised Officer Under the

                        Mental Health Act’.

                      Frank Browne & Sinead Mc Kenna

12.45pm     Lunch

1.30pm        SWAMH AGM

2.15pm        The Service User Experience of Involuntary Admission and Tribunal Process   

                        Former Service User Mr. Paul Leavy

2.45pm        'Learning from Service User experience of Involuntary Admission- Reflections

                        For Practice’. Dr. Mary Keys NUI Galway School of Law

3.15pm        Mental Health Act 2001 Reform Panel Discussion

                      Panel; Professor Jim Campbell-Chair 30- Pauline Gill, Principal Social Worker-

                      Orla Keane, MHC Head of Legal Services at Mental Health Services- Dr. Darius Whelan UCC School of Law

                      Dr. Mary Keyes NUI Galway School of Law

4.15pm        Questions

4.30pm       Conference Close     SWAMH Chair


Speaker Biographies  


Morning Presentations

  1. Presentation Title: Mental Law: The Implications of International Human Rights Law for Ireland

Dr Charles O’Mahony

Dr Charles O’Mahony is Head of School of Law at NUI Galway.  He completed a PhD at the Centre for Disability Law and Policy, NUI Galway entitled “Diversion: A Comparative Study of Law and Policy Relating to Defendants and Offenders with Mental Health Problems and Intellectual Disability”.  Charles was elected as President of the Irish Association of Law Teachers (IALT) from 2014-2016. He previously worked as Amnesty International Ireland’s Legal Officer on its mental health campaign and as a legal researcher for the Law Reform Commission of Ireland.  He was awarded an LLM from University College London and an LLM in Public Law from NUI Galway.  He completed a BA in Law and History and an LLB at NUI Galway. 

  1. Presentation Title: Human Rights and Mental Health Tribunals

Dr Darius Whelan

Dr Darius Whelan is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Law, University College Cork.  He has a PhD in law from TCD and has qualified as a barrister. His book, Mental Health Law and Practice: Civil and Criminal Aspects, was published by Round Hall in 2009.  He is President of the Irish Mental Health Lawyers Association.

  1. Presentation Title: Preserving and Promoting Human Rights as an Authorised Officer Under the Mental Health Act.


Sinead McKenna(Social Worker) & Frank Browne (Social Worker)

Frank Browne is Principal Mental Health Social Worker in the Dublin South Central Mental Health Service. Frank has been a practising Authorised Officer under the Mental Health Act 2001 since 2009, he was a member of the Mental Health Commission AO Working Group 2006, the HSE AO Working Group 2007 and the HSE Mental Health Act Implementation Group up to 2016. Frank was also an Approved Mental Health Social worker under the Mental Health Act 1983 in England.

Sinead McKenna is a Social Work Team Leader in the Dublin South City Mental Health Service. She has been working in Adult Community Mental Health Services since 2010 and has been a practising Authorised Officer under the Mental Health Act 2001 since 2015.


Afternoon Session

  1. Presentation Title: The Service User Experience of Involuntary Admission and Tribunal Process

Paul Leavy

Paul Leavy is a mental health service user and has being using the mental health services for the past 20 years. He is currently working as a peer support worker in a rehabilitation unit. One of Paul’s goals is to try to be part of a service that makes service users’ road to recovery that bit easier and real.

  1. Presentation Title: ‘Learning from Service User experience of Involuntary Admission – Reflections for practice’

Dr Mary Keys

Dr. Mary Keys is a leading authority on mental health law and policy. She is a lecturer in the School of Law, NUI Galway. She was awarded a Ph.D. by the Cardiff University Law School, University of Wales, in 2006 on the topic of human rights and mental health law.

Dr. Keys is currently serving a second term as a member of the Mental Health Commission, having been reappointed as the representative of the public interest, in 2012. Prior to becoming a full-time member of staff in the School of Law in 1999 she worked as a psychiatric social worker in the mental health services in Ireland and in the United Kingdom.

Dr Keys has held a number of significant administrative roles within the School of Law, including Associate Dean for Student Affairs from 2001-2009 and Associate Head for Teaching and Learning from 2009-2010. She is a member of the Advisory Group for the Going to College Project at NUI Galway.

Dr. Keys has served for many years on the NUI Galway Research Ethics Committee and is a founding member of the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway and serves on the Centre’s Management Committee.

  1. Mental Health Act 2001 Reform Panel Discussion

Professor Jim Campbell- Panel Chair

Jim Campbell was appointed to the Professorship of Social Work at UCD in January 2015. Before then he was Professor of Social Work and Head of the Department of Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London, and spent about 20 years teaching and researching social work at Queens University Belfast.  Prior to this he practiced as a mental health social worker in Northern Ireland. He has two broad teaching and research interests. The first examines relationships between mental health social work, law and policy. The other is a longstanding interest in exploring the interface between social work and political violence, initially in the context of the Northern Irish conflict but latterly in wider comparative terms. These interests are reflected in his publications in the link below.

Jim was a member of the board of the Social Work Education for around ten years, then the British Journal of Social Work for five years. From 2010 to 2015 was co-editor of the British Journal of Social Work (with Professor John Pinkerton, Queens University Belfast). He is currently involved in a number of research projects including a study of social workers' experiences of the Northern Irish conflict, led by Dr Joe Duffy, Queens University, funded by the British Association of Social Workers and the Northern Ireland Social Care Council. As part of this project he is co-editing a book on this study and international comparisons of social work policy and practice in the field of social work and political conflict, to be published by Routledge in 2018.



Pauline Gill, Principal Social Worker

Ms. Pauline Gill was the Principal Social Worker, National Forensic Service, Dublin. Ms. Gill has extensive work experience in the field of mental health in the UK and Ireland.

Ms. Gill was appointed by Kathleen Lynch T.D., Minister for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People today announced appointments to the Mental Health Commission for the period 2012 – 2017.

Orla Keane, Head of Legal Services at the Mental Health Commission

Orla joined the Head of Legal and Division for Mental Health Tribunals in May 2017.  Prior to this she was a partner in the Litigation and Dispute Resolution Group of Arthur Cox and advised the Mental Health Commission since 2006. Orla’s practice focused on healthcare and related commercial litigation.  In the healthcare area, she advised various stated agencies to include the State Claims Agency, the HSE and the Irish Blood Transfusion Scheme on contentious and non-contentious matters. She also advised a number of private healthcare clients to include the Medical Defence Union and medical devices organisations. She has represented clients in all Courts, in statutory and non-statutory inquiries and before various Regulatory Bodies. She also has a wealth of experience in relation to independent reviews of adverse incidents. She vast experience in judicial review proceedings and has lectured on same.

She has advised healthcare providers in relation corporate governance structures/protocols and general issues relating to their day to day operations.  She also lectures on various issues in relation to healthcare.

Since joining the MHC, Orla has taken on the role as Division Lead for Mental Health Tribunals, she acts as the Head of Legal for the entire organisation (to include areas such as Corporate Services and the Decision Support Service) and is the Secretary to the Board & the Audit and Risk Committee.

Jim Mullarkey Snr Pracc, MHSW & AO, SLMHS (Retired)

Jim Mullarkey has worked as an Adult Mental Health Social Worker, Senior Practice for  the past 18 years for Sligo/Leitrim Mental Health Services and he has practised as an Authorised Officer for the last 10 years. 


Dr. Darius Whelan


As above