We are delighted to confirm our exciting line-up for our upcoming study day on the 30th of May in UCD.

Following opening addresses from Professor Paul Walsh and Stuart Garrett, we will hear from Mohamed Shasha and Iback Lidamlendo, who have first-hand asylum seeker and refugee experience in Ireland.

Speaker Biographies

Eoin O’Shea

Psychologist, Irish Red Cross Immigration Project

Eoin graduated as a counselling psychologist from UCC in 2007. His work since then has been diverse and encompasses clinical, research, educational and training roles, as well as the management and supervision of both professional staff and volunteer teams. Clinically, Eoin adopts an approach based primarily on cognitive behavioural therapy, having completed further training at Queen’s University Belfast in 2012. Areas of particular interest now include occupational stress and wellbeing, distance-based telemental health support, and psychological therapy for those affected by psychological trauma, having completed further training in this area at the University of Oxford in 2014. Since then, his work has included the provision of psychological therapy for UK Armed Forces Veterans diagnosed with PTSD, working with varied staff groups affected by occupational stress, and most recently his role as Psychosocial Support Coordinator for the Irish Red Cross’ Migration Team in their support of Syrian Refugees in Ireland. This role includes psychosocial assessment and sourcing of appropriate support for refugees affected by Mental Health and Psychosocial Support challenges related to their displacement and integration into Irish communities around the country. Eoin also serves as an army reservist in the Irish Defence Forces. 

Claire O’Reilly

Physiotherapist & Disability Inclusion Expert, Secretary CPIHD

Claire O’Reilly qualified as a Physiotherapist from University College Dublin in 2009 and received her Masters in Public Health from the University of Liverpool in 2018. She spent a number of years working in private practice and Crumlin Children’s Hospital before starting overseas humanitarian work, mainly in conflict settings across the Middle East. She works with INGOs and UN agencies to advocate for the inclusion of rehabilitation as part of the humanitarian health response, and to ensure persons with disabilities are not excluded during humanitarian crises. Clinically, Claire is particularly interested in the treatment of chronic pain, and the physical manifestations of emotional trauma. Her recent publications include chapters in ‘Humanitarian Action & Ethics: An Anthology’ and ‘Physiotherapy in Mental Health & Psychiatry’. 

Dr Emer McGowan

Physiotherapist & Assistant Professor Trinity College

Dr Emer McGowan graduated with a degree in physiotherapy from Trinity College Dublin in 2010. She worked clinically as a physiotherapist in New Zealand before returning to Trinity in 2013 to complete her PhD. Her doctoral research investigated leadership in the profession of physiotherapy in Ireland. Following completion of her PhD in 2017, Dr McGowan became a post-doctoral research fellow in the Department of Physiotherapy. Currently Dr McGowan is a Member of the Physiotherapy and Refugees Education Project and is conducting research on physiotherapists’ experiences of working with refugees in Ireland.

Maca Hourihane

Physiotherapist, Research Officer CPIHD & Regional Volunteer Migration Coordinator

Maca started work as a Chartered Physiotherapist in 1982 at the National Rehabilitation Hospital, Dublin prior to gaining field experience in humanitarian assistance in Africa and Eastern Europe including work for the International Committee of the Red Cross at the war injury hospital in Lokichokio, Kenya, which contributed to an awareness of survivors of torture. Maca went on to complete the European Masters in Human Rights and Democratization, followed by a Masters of Law (LLM) programme at the Irish Centre for Human Rights (National University of Ireland Galway). She has participated in election observation missions for both OSCE and the EU. In an effort to bring this all back home on a practical level, she is now a Regional Volunteer Migration Coordinator for the Irish Red Cross. She is also an active member of the Galway Anti Racism Network aiming to advocate for Human Rights and Cultural Diversity.

Organisation Information

HSE National Social Inclusion Office

The National Social Inclusion Office supports equal access to Health Services for people from vulnerable groups. They also are involved around issues relating to the needs of asylum seekers with a multi-agency group that includes:

  • the Department of Social Protection;
  • the Department of Education;
  • TUSLA (the Child and Family Agency); and
  • the Department of Justice’s Reception and Integration Agency (RIA).

Irish Refugee Council

The Irish Refugee Council (IRC) works with and for refugees in Ireland to create a just, fair and inclusive society for people seeking asylum. The Irish Refugee Council believes, in accordance with the 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees, that every person has the right to claim asylum and to have their application considered in a fair and transparent manner.


Spirasi is a humanitarian, intercultural, non-governmental organisation that works with asylum seekers, refugees, and other disadvantaged migrant groups, with special concern for survivors of torture. In partnership with others, Spirasi enables access to specialist services to promote the well-being of the human person, and encourages self-reliance for integration into Ireland

Irish Red Cross

The Red Cross Movement, with 97 million members worldwide, is the largest humanitarian aid organisation in the world today. The Irish Red Cross was formally established in 1939.  Today the Irish Red Cross Society continues to uphold and work within the Redcross Principles by delivering a wide range of services to some of the most vulnerable people in the community through a network 90 branches countrywide.