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IASW Annual Conference - Friday 16th May, 2014

  • The Ashling Hotel, Parkgate Street, Dublin 8
  • 9:00am Registration, Conference starts at 10:00am
  • 16 May 2014
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People not Numbers: Holding onto Good Social Work Practice

09.00 – 09.30

Registration, Tea & Coffee

09.30– 09.45  

Welcome & Opening

Ineke Durville, Chairperson IASW

09.45 – 10.15


Speaker: Robin Hanan, EAPN

Title: ‘Ireland and Europe - what will it take to build an inclusive society after the recession?’

-          The presentation will look at the experience of Ireland and the European Union in fighting poverty before and during the current recession, drawing on the experiences of the Poverty Programmes and the National Anti-Poverty Strategy.  It will then consider the direction of current policies and discuss how to create a more inclusive recovery strategy. 

10.15 – 11.00

Speaker: Dr. Neil Thompson, was a Professor of Social Work and Well-Being in the Hope University Liverpool

Title: ‘Professionalism in a Context of Change’

-          Social work faces a range of challenges in a context of neoliberalism and austerity. This presentation outlines the sources of those problems, considers the implications of these concerns for clients, staff, managers and educators and explores potential ways forward. Dr Thompson has been promoting the importance of professionalism for many years, but he is fully aware of the wider socio-political forces that make this difficult. However, losing sight of professionalism, he argues, simply makes a bad situation worse. The presentation will also emphasise that professionalism needs to be based on empowerment and partnership not on elitism and exclusion if it is to fulfil its potential.

11.00 – 11.30

Tea & Coffee Break 

11.30 – 12.00

Speaker: Fergus McCabe, Principal Social Worker North Dublin Neighbourhood Youth Project (NY) 

Title: ‘Little boxes all the same - Can social work values save us of from conformity’

-          How social work practice has become increasingly defined by administratively and organisational priorities and is in danger of becoming a technical activity. Social work practice is being shaped by all sorts of guidelines, frameworks for assessments, the writing of reports and the filling in of forms etc. These activities are important but they should not prevent the ability of social workers to provide a service in line with best practice and support the service users. Poverty, immigration, substance abuse and crime are at the root of a lot of the issues that most social workers deal with on a daily basis and where a social work perspective based on social work values can make a real difference. Social workers interact with people and can do so from a perspective that can range from; a) assuming that problems are the responsibility of the individual or b) understanding that social problems are located within complex social structures in which the responsibility for social problems primarily lie with the economic and power elite. Social work values should, I believe, put us unequivocally on the side of the latter perspective. Which side are you on?          

12.00 – 12.30


Speaker: Gloria Kirwan, Trinity College Dublin

Title: ‘Professional integrity: the role of ethical codes’

-          This presentation will consider the hallmarks of a profession, in this case social work, and why issues of trust and integrity are central tenets of professional practice.  The presentation will explore the important role played by codes of ethics in making explicit the ethical commitments on which members of the profession base their practice.


12.30 – 12.45

Q&A Session

12.45 – 13.45

Lunch provided

13.45 – 15.00


1.  Gloria Kirwan, Trinity College Dublin & Frida Lowry, Social Worker Enable Ireland

2.  Robin Hanan, EAPN

3.  Niamh Randall, Simon Communities of Ireland

4.  Dr. Neil Thompson

15.00 – 15.30 

Plenary and Q&A Session

15.30 – 16.00 

Tea & Coffee

16.00 – 17.30

AGM (members only)



Dr Neil Thompson is an independent writer, educator and adviser. He has held full or honorary professorships at four UK universities. He is a well-published author with over 200 publications to his name, including 33 books, several of which are bestsellers. He has been a speaker at conferences in the UK, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Norway, the Netherlands, Greece, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Hong Kong, India, the United States, Canada and Australia.

He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the Higher Education Academy and the Royal Society of Arts, and a board member of the International Work Group on Death, Dying and Bereavement. He was formerly the editor of the US-based international journal, Illness, Crisis & Loss and now edits the free e-zine, THE humansolutions BULLETIN ( His main interests are in the field of well-being: equality and diversity; conflict management; stress; loss, grief and trauma; and reflective practice. He is a sought-after international conference speaker, consultant and facilitator. He has been involved in developing a range of e-learning courses for the Avenue Learning Centre. He tutors the Avenue Professional Development Programme, an innovative subscription-based online learning community geared towards self-directed lifelong learning (,uk). His website and blog are at

Robin Hanan returned to EAPN Ireland as Director in 2012. Robin previously worked as Coordinator of the Network from 1999 to 2007 and has also been CEO of the Irish Refugee Council, Coodinator of Comhlámh, social policy consultant and civil servant.  He delivered a course for three years on ’Ireland in Europe’ in the Quinn Business School, UCD and has published articles on European social policy in Ireland, Italy and Spain.  He has chaired the main policy and advocacy groups of EAPN (Europe) and CONCORD (European Development NGOs’ Network).

Gloria Kirwan qualified in 1985 with the Bachelor in Social Studies (BSS) and the Certificate of Qualification in Social Work (CQSW). She has worked as a social work practitioner in mental health, child welfare, community work and also occupational social work posts. She was appointed Lecturer in Social Work in Trinity College in 2000. In 2010, she was conferred with the M.Litt and also with the MSc in Applied Social Research. She is currently Director of the BSS (Social Work) degree programme and the Director of Undergraduate Teaching and Learning in the School of Social Work and Social Policy. Her research interests include mental health social work, the history of social work, social work education and continuing professional development (CPD) for social workers.

Fergus McCabe – Principal Social Worker North Dublin Neighbourhood Youth Project (NY)