Before undertaking PhD studies, I completed a Bachelor of Laws (LLB), an LLM (with Distinction) in Human Rights and Criminal Justice and a Postgraduate Diploma (with Distinction) in Children’s Rights at Queen’s University, Belfast.
Prior to returning to education, I worked in various legal, financial and teaching roles, including within Citizens Advice NI, advising members of the public on a broad range of legal, debt and benefit-related issues and identifying problematic areas of social policy.
During my working career and throughout my postgraduate education I have developed a keen interest in issues of social justice and human rights.
I am involved in the Widening Participation Pathway Opportunity Programme at Queen’s University Belfast, which seeks to provide opportunities for young people from under-represented social groups to attend university.
I am a member of both the School of Law and the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen’s University, Belfast. My research is an inter-disciplinary project funded by the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland. The primary research supervisor is Professor Anne-Marie McAlinden and the secondary supervisor is Dr Heather Conway.
My PhD thesis is entitled ‘Remembering What They Can Never Forget: Exploring Memorialisation of Historical Institutional Abuse from the Perspective of Victims and Survivors, the General Public and the State.’
The core aim of the research is to gain, through face-to-face interviews, in-depth understandings of the significance and role of memorialisation as a response to historical institutional abuse from a broad range of perspectives, but with a primary emphasis upon the views of victims and survivors. The increasing importance of memorialisation is demonstrated by its recommendation in official historical institutional abuse inquiries in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Australia and Canada, but there is an absence of empirical work to critically inform these recommendations.
Whilst my research focus includes memory and memorialisation within all aspects of historical institutional abuse, my primary interest is upon the abuses suffered by women within the Magdalene Laundry and Mother and Baby Home Regimes in Ireland, including abuses arising from the loss of babies to forced adoption.
Although my overarching objective as a researcher is the production of knowledge, my work is underpinned by notions of social justice and human rights. It aspires to empower victims and survivors by giving them a voice, telling and keeping their ‘stories’ and ongoing injustices within the public domain and providing informed insights to policymakers regarding memorialisation.