Meet Your Taskforce

Biographies of Taskforce Members


Minister Jim Daly is Minister of State at the Department of Health with special responsibility for Mental Health and Older People. He is a TD representing the Cork South-West Constituency. Jim is a member of a number of Oireachtas Committees, including: Business; Children and Youth Affairs (Chair); Education and Skills; and Procedure (Dáil). He entered politics having been first elected to Cork County Council in 2004 and was re-elected in 2009, topping the poll in the Skibbereen electoral area. He was also elected Mayor of County Cork in 2010. A native of Drinagh, Co. Cork, Jim is one of eleven children. He is married to Virge and father to four sons. A qualified primary school teacher, Jim was principal of the Gaelscoil in Skibbereen from 2002 to 2005 and has a particular interest in special needs education



Dr Tony Bates

Tony is the Founding Director of Jigsaw – Ireland’s National Centre for Youth Mental Health. Prior to establishing Jigsaw, Tony worked as Principal Clinical Psychologist at St. James’s Hospital in Dublin. He worked and trained in the United States and Oxford University alongside some of the World’s leading thinkers in mental health. On his return to Ireland in 1996 he established the Trinity College Dublin’s Masters in Cognitive Psychotherapy.His major influences include: Tim Beck, Mark Williams, Thich Nhat Hanh, Irving Yalom, young people on Jigsaw’s Youth Advisory Panel, his three grandchildren, poetry and a good movie.Tony is a regular contributor to print and broadcast debate about mental health. He was an editor of ‘A Vision For Change’, the ten year Government policy on mental health service reform and has been closely involved in writing several recent policies on suicide prevention, and the health of children and young people. He is the author of a number of bestselling books including “Coming through Depression: a mindful approach to recovery”. Since founding Jigsaw in 2006, he and his colleagues have been committed in changing how Ireland thinks about youth mental health. With the collaboration of communities, young people and service providers, the Jigsaw Service is now achieving a consistent reduction in psychological distress across counties in Ireland.

JimBreenJim Breen

Jim (@JimBreenPulse) is an entrepreneur/social entrepreneur. He is founder of Cycle Against Suicide (@CASuicide), an initiative to raise awareness of the help and supports available to anyone battling depression, self-harm, at risk of suicide or those bereaved by suicide.Jim also founded PulseLearning (@PulseLearning), which provides learning solutions to clients globally across all sectors including Technology, Science, Healthcare, Pharma, Finance, Retail, Hospitality, Automotive, Defence, and Education.  Jim is also founder of Entrepreneur Experience (


Prof Mary Cannon 

Mary is Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology and Youth Mental Health in the Department of Psychiatry, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. She also works as a consultant psychiatrist in Beaumont Hospital Dublin. She previously held a Clinician Scientist Fellowship from the Health Research Board (Ireland).Her longstanding research interest is in the area of childhood and adolescent risk and protective factors for adult mental illness. She and her team published an RCSI report on “The Mental Health of Young People in Ireland” in October 2013 and she co-edited a Special Issue of the Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine on Youth Mental Health which was published in March 2015. She runs a HRB-funded Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement research programme on youth mental health and is one of the most highly cited researchers in her field internationally.


Mary Cunningham 

Mary is the CEO of the National Youth Council of Ireland, which is the representative body for national voluntary youth work organisations in Ireland. NYCI represents and supports the interests of around 50 voluntary youth organisations and uses its collective experience to act on issues that impact on young people.Mary is a member of the National Children and Young People’s Advisory Council. She is also currently Chair of the Wheel and a Board member of Boardmatch and Jigsaw, the national centre for youth mental health.




Julie de Bailliencourt 

Julie is the Safety Policy manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Facebook. In this role, she engages with safety partners and policy makers across the region on topics such as bullying and child safety.

Prior to joining the Facebook Public Policy team, Julie has spent 4+ years managing the Community Operations Safety team based in Dublin, as well as several market teams. Before this, Julie spent 10 years working in the ecommerce industry in Ireland.

ColmDesmondColm Desmond 

Colm leads the Department of Health’s Mental Health Unit, including implementation of A Vision for Change and oversight of mental health legislation. He and also He also oversees Connecting for Life, Ireland’s Suicide Reduction Strategy 2015-2020 and works with the HSE on the funding and delivery of mental health services.From 2009 to 2012, Colm worked on Disability Services policy, and prior to 2009, he led out on reform of pharmacy and drug pricing and supply arrangements.  He previously worked in the Department of Finance, mainly in the public expenditure area.

MoninneGriffithMoninne Griffith 

Moninne is Executive Director of BeLonG To Youth Services, the national organisation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) young people, aged between 14 and 23. Before joining BeLonG To Moninne worked as Director of Marriage Equality, a single-issue organisation working for equality for same-sex couples, their families and their children for 8 years, since its launch in February 2008. Her work involved managing the political, mobilisation, communications, legal and fundraising strategies of the organisation. During the marriage equality referendum campaign Moninne devised the ‘Roadmap to Victory’ and was director of mobilisation for the Yes Equality campaign. As well as developing the mobilisation strategy for Yes Equality she led the work engaging with a broad base of partner organisations and allies across Ireland and running the hugely successful and wonderfully colourful Yes Bus that travelled 11,000 Kilometres to 80 locations across 26 Counties in 29 days.Before Marriage Equality Moninne worked as a solicitor in general practice for almost ten years and volunteered with FLAC (the Free Legal Advice Centres), and Women’s Aid an NGO that . She has an MA in Women’s Studies from UCD and is the current Chairperson of the National Women’s Council of Ireland. She lives in Dublin with her partner Clodagh and their daughter Edie. 

MargaretGroganMargaret Grogan 

Margaret is a Regional Director with the National Educational Service (NEPS) a Division of the Department of Education and Skills (DES). She manages service provision in the NEPS, Dublin region with  responsibility for four teams of psychologists providing service to 300 schools. She joined the DES, Psychological Service in 1992 as a member of the Primary Schools Pilot Project team for development of  service psychology service for primary schools.Prior to this she worked for 12 years as a primary school teacher.  She was a member of the inter-departmental group which developed Well-Being in Post-Primary Schools Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention (2013) and  managed the development and publication of Student Support Teams in Post Primary Schools (2014) and Well-Being in Primary Schools Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion (2015).  She has responsibility for the area of mental health promotion within the Department of Education and Skills. This includes critical incident response at national level and she has recently overseen the revision of Responding to Critical Incidents Guidelines and Resource Materials (2016).She is currently overseeing a project with 17 schools related to the promotion of student support teams in post primary schools. She has a special interest in social personal and health education and was one of the first three teachers seconded to progress the development of the Child Abuse Prevention Programme. She also had a shared leadership role in the development of the Walk Tall Programme for substance misuse prevention programme.

PatriciaHaydenPatricia Hayden

Patricia is the principal of St Joseph’s, Rush – a DEIS post-primary school in North County Dublin.  Patricia has a strong interest in the area of whole school promotion of mental health and well-being and her school is taking part in the NEPS School Support Team Project, which is being run in conjunction with the City of Dublin ETB Psychological Service, and the National Behaviour Support Service (NBSS). Her school is a CollegeFES (College For Every Student) school and is the first school outside the US to be awarded ‘School of Distinction’ for three consecutive years. 

RobHennellyRob Hennelly 

Rob is a Mayo senior county footballer, and a member of the National Executive of the Gaelic Players Association (GPA).  Rob featured in the “We Wear More Than Our County Colours” Emotional Health and Wellbeing Campaign by the GPA.  The campaign focused on the emotional health and wellbeing of county players and aimed to help normalise conversations between players around the more emotional aspects of their lives and to help them develop effective coping mechanisms for times when things are not going so well.Rob is MD at Love Media, a digital communications agency, and director of Sondware, a cloud based software solution for advancing audio and video content. 

GrainiaLongGrainia Long 

Grainia is Chief Executive of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) since Feburary 2015.  She previously spent seven years at the Chartered Institute of Housing- a UK wide professional body, first as its Director in Northern Ireland and from 2011 to 2015 as its Chief Executive.In 2011, Grainia was appointed by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland as a Commissioner on the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, and is currently serving a second term.  She is also a Non-Executive Director of Thames Valley Housing, a housing association in London that builds social and affordable housing.In 2014, she was appointed a member of the Review of Housing Supply (England) chaired by Sir Michael Lyons, and was also a member of the LGA Commission on UK Economic Growth chaired by Sir John Peace.   She was Chief Advisor to the Commission on the Future of Housing in Northern Ireland, chaired by Lord Best.She has previously worked for the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland as its Policy Director, and for the housing and homeless charity, Shelter.

DrShariMcDaidDr Shari McDaid 

Shari was appointed Director of Mental Health Reform, the national coalition advocating for reform of the mental health system, in October 2013. She is the Chairperson of the Children’s Mental Health Coalition and a member of the Healthy Ireland Council. Shari joined Mental Health Reform as Policy Officer in 2011.Prior to that, Shari worked with Amnesty International Ireland from 2008 to 2011 as Policy Officer on its mental health campaign. She was previously Policy Officer at the National Disability Authority and Policy and Administration Manager at Shine. Shari received her PhD in 2008 from the Equality Studies Centre at UCD, with a thesis entitled Power, Empowerment and User Involvement in the Public Mental Health Services in Ireland. Shari co-edited with Prof. Agnes Higgins the text Mental Health in Ireland: Policy, practice and law, published in 2014 by Gill and Macmillan.

ClareMcNamaraClare McNamara 

Clare is Principal Officer in the Youth Affairs and Educational Welfare Unit in the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. The unit has responsibility for the National Youth Strategy,  EU youth policy, the administration of youth service funding to support effective evidence based services and also for ensuring Tusla is supported in carrying out its responsibilities for Educational Welfare.The Unit is currently working to implement the recommendations of a 2014 Value for Money review of its youth service funding.  The Unit introduced a Youth Employability Initiative in 2016, which provides grants to voluntary youth services for programmes that target disadvantaged young people to improve their employability. Over 1,000 young people aged 15-24 will participate in the 28 projects.DCYA has also established a forum with the successful projects to share experiences and knowledge and to inform future policy. An evaluation of the Initiative is also underway which will look at the ways in which linkages in communities have been facilitated. Immediately prior to joining the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, Clare worked in the Department of Finance where she had experience in financial services legislation as well as energy and environmental taxation policy. 

AnneO'ConnorAnne O’Connor 

Anne O’Connor trained as an Occupational Therapist in Liverpool and worked in the UK for a number of years before returning to work in Dublin in 1995 where she completed an MSc in Occupational Therapy in Trinity College. In 2000 she took up a Project Management role developing primary care services in the South Inner City of Dublin.She became the Local Health Manager for North West Dublin in 2007 and Integrated Service Area Manager for Dublin North City in 2011. She was appointed National Head of Operations and Service Improvement for the Mental Health Services with the newly formed Mental Health Division in December 2013 and took up the post of Acting National Director for Mental Health in May 2014. She was formally appointed to the role of National Director in December 2015 and is currently studying for an MSc in Management Practice.The HSE’s Mental Health Division (MHD) sets out a vision to support the population to achieve their optimal mental health through the provision of a quality service, driven by continuous improvement. Anne has the privilege of leading the 10,000 staff members who deliver mental health services in Ireland – these services are provided to all ages and range from community based services to acute in-patient care.

KateO'FlahertyKate O’Flaherty 

Kate is the Director of the Health and Wellbeing Programme in the Department of Health. She leads the cross-sectoral work to implement Healthy Ireland, the national framework to improve health and wellbeing.Kate is a pharmacist by professional background, and worked in the PSI, the pharmacy regulator, prior to joining the Department in 2013.She also has an MA in Journalism and previously worked as a journalist and communications consultant, specialising in the health area. 

CianPowerCian Power 

Cian is the current Vice-President for Welfare for the Union of Students in Ireland. Originally from Waterford, Cian has a degree in Political Science and Philosophy from University College Cork. Throughout his time in third level, Cian was heavily involved with PleaseTalk especially as an ambassador for the #ITalked campaign.Cian served a term as Welfare Officer in UCC Students Union in 2014-15  before joining USI Officerboard last year as the VP for the Southern Region. Currently in his role as Welfare in USI, Cian represents over 340,000 students on areas surrounding Health Promotion, accommodation and finances.  Cian is  very excited to be working with the Taskforce, particularly bringing forward the student and youth voice. You can get in contact with Cian on and you can follow his progress on twitter at @USI_Welfare

IanPowerIan Power

Ian Power is executive director of, Ireland’s youth information website created by young people for young aims to empower young people in Ireland with the information to live active, happy, healthy lives.Ian is also president of the National Youth Council of Ireland and is a board member of the National College of Art & Design and the Citizens Information Board.



Paul Reid (Chair alternate)

Paul was appointed as the Chief Executive of Fingal County Council in April 2014.  He was the first appointment at this level not to have previously worked in the Local Government sector.  He leads the executive team in Fingal together with the newly elected councillors and Mayor in driving a process of change in Local Government, enabled by the Local Government Reform Act, 2014.Between 2011 and 2014, Paul worked as the Chief Operations Officer in the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform.  He was responsible for leading a whole set of reforms across the public service.  In this role he negotiated the Haddington Road Agreement, with the 26 Public Service Trade Unions, to reduce the public service pay bill by €1BN.From 2010 to 2011, Paul worked as Head of Corporate Affairs with Trócaire, the Irish International Aid Agency.   Whilst there, he worked on an agenda to strengthen the overall governance of the organisation and on the implementation of best practice in HR, Finance, Risk Management and Communications. Paul’s previous career was as the Executive Director of Networks & Operations with Eircom, the leading Irish telco organisation. He carried out a number of other roles within Eircom in Sales, Marketing and Contact Centre Management.Paul holds a Masters in Business Administration from Trinity College and a BA in Human Resources and Industrial Relations from the National College Ireland.

Youth Reference Panel


Niall Breslin (co-chair)

Niall Breslin is a retired professional rugby and inter county football player, a multi-platinum selling song writer and music producer, public speaker and documentary maker who comes from the midlands town of Mullingar in Co. Westmeath.He is an active and extremely passionate mental health campaigner. His recent book “Me and my mate Jeffrey” which he wrote about his journey with his mental health illness became a bestseller and he is currently filming a number of documentaries regarding the subject of mental health and emotional wellness in Ireland.