Board Members


The Children’s Rights Alliance is governed by a voluntary board of directors mostly elected from the membership. Our current Board members are:

Tom Costello (Co-opted) - Chairperson

Tom Costello holds a number of voluntary positions in the not-for -profit and state sectors. He serves as Chair of The Children’s Rights Alliance, is a Board member of the Charities Regulatory Authority Board, and serves as a Ministerial nominee to the National Advisory Council for Children and Young People. In a career with The Atlantic Philanthropies over a period of 14 years up to December 2014,Tom led investments in programmes for Children, Older People, Education and Community Development.  Prior roles included stints in teaching and consulting in Management and Leadership at the Irish Management Institute (1997-2000), and as a senior manager with FAS in the 1990's. Tom's early career was in the voluntary sector where he held national leadership positions in youth and student organisations

Denise Charlton (Nominating OrganisationBelong To)

Denise has over 25 years’ experience in the field of equality, human rights and anti-discrimination and integration issues, with 20 years at senior management level.  Denise is currently Chair of the Turn Off the Red Light campaign. While Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland she represented the organisation at local, national and international levels on social justice issues and has led on research projects nationally and internationally on immigration, integration, gender and migration, gender based violence, access to justice and human trafficking. She is the former Co-Chair of MarriagEquality, an initiative working for marriage rights for the LGBT community. Denise is an experienced public speaker and author of several articles on issues pertaining to discrimination, gender equality, immigration and integration.

Michael Barron (Nominating Organisation: Equate)

Michael is the Executive Director of EQUATE, which advocates for equality in our education system. He also founded BeLonG To, Ireland's national service for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender young people. Michael has successfully advocated for significant Irish national policy change in the areas of education, bullying, young people and equality. He has built strong coalitions and directed the BeLonG To Yes Coalition of children and youth rights organisations which played a key role in securing marriage equality by referendum in May 2015. He has considerable experience in the not for profit sector particularly policy development, advocacy, public relations, communications, grant writing, equality and human rights, youth work and youth empowerment.

Fergus Finlay (Nominating Organisation: Barnardos)

Since June 2005 Fergus Finlay has been Chief Executive of Barnardos, Ireland’s largest children’s charity. For around twenty years prior to that he was employed as Senior Adviser to the Labour Party, serving in three Governments and working for the Party in opposition. He was one of the drafters of the Downing Street Declaration and was centrally  involved in the election of President Mary Robinson in 1990, together with other political events of the period. He also served for three years as a Director of Wilson Hartnell Public Relations. He is the author of four best-selling books. He has founded a number of organisations that campaign for the rights of people with disabilities, and was Chairperson of Special Olympics Ireland for four years. He broadcasts regularly on radio and television, and contributes a weekly column to the Irish Examiner.

Noreen Flynn (Nominating Organisation: Irish National Teacher's Organisation)

Noreen Flynn is principal teacher in St James’s Primary School in Basin Lane, Dublin 8. Noreen was a member of the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) from 1999 until 2013, serving a one year term as President from April 2011. In 2002 she was appointed to the Statutory Educational Disadvantage Committee. She has also represented the INTO on the Schools Implementation Committee of the National Education Welfare Board (NEWB), the NEWB Education Partners Advisory Group, the Teaching Council School Placement Working Group and the National Children’s Advisory Council (NCAC).

Mairead Healy (Nominating Organisation: Future Voices Ireland)

Mairead Healy is CEO of Future Voices. She is also an Ashoka Fellow and US Department of State Professional Rule of Law Fellow. Mairead is a steering board member of the newly established Traveller Law Centre in London and is also a trustee of Boys and Girls Clubs NI in Belfast. In the past, she worked in the human rights area, previously working for the Public Interest Law Alliance. Prior to this, she worked for the Irish Traveller Movement in the UK leading the legal, European/international and human rights policy work areas. She has authored national policy reports and appeared before the UN, EU and Council of Europe. She previously worked for the European Commission in Brussels and as a consultant on EU policy for the Law Department at the London School of Economics. Mairead has also previously lectured in Public International law. She has been awarded a number of accolades including, the Newstalk Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2015, Social Entrepreneur Ireland Awardee 2014 and the Ray Murphy Award for CEO leadership. She was listed in Tatler's most Influential Women in the media in Ireland 2015 and regularly appears on national television/radio.

Catherine Keane (Nominating Organisation: Alcohol Action Ireland)

Catherine Keane is Head of Policy and Public Affairs with Alcohol Action Ireland – the national charity for alcohol-related issues.Catherine has significant policy development experience at an Irish and EU level, having worked in Leinster House and the European Parliament, Brussels for a number of years before qualifying as a solicitor. She worked in private practice as a civil litigation and employment law solicitor before taking up her role with Alcohol Action Ireland. Catherine graduated from UCD with a degree in History and Politics and holds a Master of Public Relations from DIT, a Diploma in Employment Law from the Law Society of Ireland, and is a member of the Law Society of Ireland.

Tom Maher (Nominating Organisation: St Patrick’s Mental Health Service)

Tom Maher is currently employed as the Director of Services at St. Patrick's Mental Health Service. The service comprises a mental health service that includes 3 Approved Centres, a network of community mental health clinics and a Wellness and Recovery Centre. The role includes responsibility for the clinical governance, quality and efficient delivery of all services. These services are delivered by approximately 300 clinicians including social work, nursing, medicine, clinical psychology, occupational therapy and the associated administrative staff necessary for such delivery. The services in SPMHS are provided by multi-disciplinary teams and a range of care programmes (including Anxiety Programme, Eating Disorder Programme, Depression Recovery Programme, Bipolar Affective Disorder Programme, Young Adult Programme, Addictions Programme, Dual Diagnosis Programme, Mental Health Care of Later Life, Psychosis Recovery Programme, Living through Distress and Radical Openness Programmes, Wellness and Recovery Action Planning(WRAP) Programme). Prior to this post he worked for 24 years as a nurse in a variety of clinical, administrative and educative roles.

Katie Mannion (Nominating Organisation: Immigrant Council of Ireland)

Katie Mannion is a practising solicitor with the Immigrant Council of Ireland who has experience of advocating and campaigning for the rights of children. She has a particular interest in representing children experiencing a vulnerable time in their lives and is currently conducting research on the experience of child migration in Ireland. Previously, Katie was Legal Research and Policy Manager at ‘Campaign for Children’, a civil society campaign to promote a ‘Yes’ vote in the referendum on children’s rights. She held the position of Human Rights Officer on the Mental Health team at Amnesty International Ireland, which then coordinated the Children’s Mental Health Coalition. She holds a Masters in International Human Rights Law where her thesis focused on the protection measures required to prevent separated children from becoming missing children. Katie has also contributed to a legal text-book on “Migrant children, child refugees and asylum-seekers, separated children and trafficked children”.

Tess Noonan (Nominating OrganisationIrish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children)

Tess Noonan is the Quality Assurance Manager of the ISPCC having previously held the position of Regional Manager. Tess has an MA in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and a BA in Community Healthcare.  Tess also holds nursing qualifications in the areas of Paediatrics and Health Visiting and has extensive experience of the voluntary and community sector, policy development and systems improvement both here and in the UK.  Tess was the Irish representative on Euronet, a European network of Children’s Rights organisations from 2002-2008.

Staff members