The Children’s Rights Alliance staff is based at our office in Dublin:

Tanya Ward - Chief Executive

Tanya Ward is the Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance since 2012. Previously, she was the Deputy Director at the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) where she worked for eight years. She has also worked with the Irish Centre for Migration Studies, the Irish Refugee Council, the Curriculum Development Unit and the City of Dublin VEC. A former lecturer in human rights on the MPhil in Ethnic and Racial Studies, TCD and the Masters in Equality Studies in the UCD School for Social Justice, she is a former board member with Campaign for Children and played a major role in the children’s referendum of 2012. She was also a former Vice President for the International Federation of Human Rights (2008-2011). Tanya has graduate and post-graduate degrees from UCC and a LLM in Human Rights from Queens University Belfast as well as a Certificate in Managing Community and Voluntary Organisations from the National College of Ireland. She has a keen interest in international human rights monitoring and lectures widely on this topic and has authored several reports on a wide range of issues including garda, judicial and criminal justice reform, equality law, education, anti-racism, separated children and children’s rights.  

Tanya is currently the Children’s Rights Alliance’s representative on the National Advisory Council for the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People. She is also a board member of the Law Centre for Children and Young People Board, a member of the Planning Group of the Prevention and Early Intervention Network and a member of the Oversight Board for the Childcare Law Reporting Project.

Julie Ahern - Access to Justice Manager

Julie joined the Children's Rights Alliance in September 2013 and leads our new Access to Justice Initiative having worked in various roles across the Alliance including as Membership and Public Affairs Officer and as Legal and Policy Assistant. Prior to joining the Alliance she worked on the children's rights referendum campaign with the ISPCC, as an intern with the Legal Aid Board in Cork and NASC (The Irish Immigrant Support Centre). She holds a BCL (Clinical)(Hons) and an LLM in Child and Family Law both from University College Cork. Julie is currently studying part -time at the Kings Inns to obtain the Barrister – at – Law degree. Passionate about hearing the voices of children, Julie is also a long-time volunteer with Childline.

Saoirse Brady - Legal and Policy Director

Saoirse joined the Alliance in August 2016. Prior to taking up the role of Legal and Policy Director she held positions in a number of leading rights organisations including the Alliance, the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) and Front Line Defenders and was an independent consultant for the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, CORU and the Scottish Human Rights Commission. Early in her career she interned with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva and was a paralegal with the Ryan Commission. Saoirse studied law at UCD and the University of Padova and holds a Masters Degree in European Studies from the Dublin European Institute. In 2014, she completed a professional fellowship sponsored by the US State Department and Boston College with a particular focus on juvenile justice. She is on the Board of Directors of EQUATE.

Lauren Flanagan - Legal and Policy Officer

Lauren has just returned from New York after completing her LL.M. in International Legal Studies at New York University School of Law and is a law and politics graduate from UCD Sutherland School of Law. Lauren was the Children’s Rights Alliance UNCRC Intern in 2014, working with us in the development of ‘Are We There Yet?’, Ireland’s civil society parallel report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. More recently, Lauren was selected as one of two UN Youth Delegates for 2017-18 representing Ireland and travelling to New York to participate in activities during the 72nd General Assembly. The programme is organised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Irish Aid and the National Youth Council of Ireland. Lauren believes that empowering young people through education is the most important aspect to tackling inequality in the long-term. In order to bring about universal education without discrimination, Lauren believes that young people need more meaningful opportunities to engage in politics, policy and decision making, both nationally and internationally, in order to influence the provision and quality of education globally and its impact on inequality. 

Catríona Graham – Communications Officer

Having joined the Children’s Rights Alliance in August 2016, Catríona is passionate about helping ensure all of society’s members are heard and respected. In addition to children’s rights issues, she has been working as Campaigns and Advocacy Officer in the Immigrant Council of Ireland and as liaison for the ‘Turn Off the Red Light’ campaign, and is a member of the Executive Board of the National Women's Council of Ireland. With a background in art and music, Catríona remains an enthusiastic freelance trombone player, and always loves supporting the charity fundraising orchestra, Co-Orch. She has experience in graphic design and HTML programming, and is an outreach volunteer for Ruhama.

Hilary Harmon - Child Refugee Project Manager

Hilary joined the Children’s Rights Alliance in February 2017 as the manager of the Child Refugee Initiative. Prior to this Hilary worked at Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre where she coordinated the Education Advocacy Initiative. Hilary has a keen interest in children’s rights with a particular focus on vulnerable groups and has authored reports and resources on a wide range of areas including human rights education, educational inclusion and, Traveller and Roma children’s rights.  She formerly worked as human rights education officer in Amnesty International Ireland and as political affairs officer on Amnesty’s Mental Health Campaign. She also worked as a Parliamentary Assistant in Seanad Eireann. She has a B.A in Sociology and History of Art and M.A in Political Communication and Public Affairs. 

Patricia Hoey - Office and Finance Manager

Patricia joined the Children's Rights Alliance in January 2014, with approximately 20 years’ administrative, financial and HR experience. Patricia has worked for small, medium and multi-national sized organisations in a variety of sectors, including Financial, Manufacturing and Professional service industries. She brings excellent experience to the role of Office & Finance Manager in the Children's Rights Alliance.


Liz Kerrins - Early Years Manager

Liz Kerrins joined the Alliance in July 2016 as Early Years Manager.  She brings to the post twenty years experience from previous social research and policy development and analysis roles in the Children’s Research Centre TCD; the Dublin Institute of Technology; the Society of St. Vincent de Paul;  and Threshold. She was also a housing advisor in Threshold.  Liz previously worked with the Alliance as Policy and Projects Officer with the End Child Poverty Coalition.  She has authored and coauthored book chapters, research reports, policy papers and journal articles on children’s policy, housing, early childhood care and education, and grandparenting.   Liz holds a BA in Sociology and Social Policy (Trinity College Dublin), a MSocSc in Sociology (University College Dublin), and a MSc in Information and Library Studies (Robert Gordon University, Scotland). 

Emma McKinley – Communications and Development Manager

Emma joined the Children's Rights Alliance in 2008 and loves working in her communications and development role. She has seen both sides of the house as she was previously our Legal and Policy Officer. She has a BA (hons.) in Philosophy and Classical Civilisation from Trinity College Dublin and a Masters in Globalisation from DCU. She has Certificates in Child Law (Law Society) and Constitutional Law (DIT). She was external expert for the European Economic and Social Committee for an opinion on preventing child sexual abuse. For six years, Emma was Communications Officer at the ISPCC where she worked on all campaign and advocacy initiatives covering many areas of children’s rights.


Edel Quinn - Senior Legal and Policy Officer

Edel joined the Children’s Rights Alliance in May 2012. She brings a decade of experience working in the NGO, public and private sectors, offering human rights law and policy expertise with organisations including the Free Legal Advice Centres, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and the NGO Alliance Against Racism. She is a board member of the Youth Advocates Programme – Ireland. At the Alliance, she works on the analysis and development of policy and legislative positions offering solutions-focused recommendations to decision-makers in consultation with members and stakeholders. She leads the development of the Alliance’s flagships publications and represents the Alliance at key national, European and international forums. Having worked in the tech sector in Asia-Pacific, Edel has also lectured at the National University of Ireland, Galway on the EU and women’s rights, was an international visiting scholar at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Policy at the University of Minnesota and interned at the Department of Foreign Affairs. Edel is a qualified attorney for the state of New York and she attained her Bachelors of Civil Law and German degree at University College Cork and her LLM in Human Rights at the University of Nottingham.

Beatrice Vance BL - Catherine McGuinness Fellow

Beatrice joined the Legal and Policy Team as the Catherine McGuinness Fellow in July of 2016. She is a practising barrister at the Bar of Ireland, having been called in 2013. Beatrice has a general practice, working predominantly in criminal law.  She is a member of the Case Processing Panel in the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner where she is responsible for assessing applications for asylum in Ireland including applications made by those entering Ireland under the EU Relocation Programme.  She is also Secretary of the Irish Criminal Bar Association. Beatrice graduated with a BCL degree from University College Dublin in 2011 having spent a year at Université Paris Ouest Nanterre where she completed a Diploma in French Legal Studies. She then obtained an LL.M at Trinity College Dublin, where her final thesis examined the religious content of the Constitution and its impact on Ireland's legal development. Beatrice volunteered with Foróige during her post-graduate studies, running a youth club in the inner city. She currently volunteers with FLAC, giving pro bono legal advice in their clinics. Beatrice is committed to equality and to protecting and advocating for the rights of society's most vulnerable persons.

If you would like to contact a staff member, you are welcome to email them. Simply use their first name, followed by