Women as Legal Changemakers Conference Speakers
on 29 September 2021, the School will host a conference to celebrate women with law degrees.
Speakers are drawn from the legal profession, the judiciary, and the legal academy. Their presentations will reflect on how they have used to their legal training and practice to bring about positive change as well as identifying areas with further change is needed.
Please see our Events page for more information and to sign up.
Lady Chief Justice Siobhan Keegan
Lady Chief Justice The Honourable Siobhan Keegan was appointed as a High Court Judge in October 2015. She was one of the first two women to be appointed to the High Court along with Madam Justice McBride.
Prior to becoming a judge, Lady Chief Justice Keegan, a Queen’s University alumna, graduating with LLB Honours in 1993, was called to the Bar of Northern Ireland in 1994 and became a Queen’s Counsel in 2006.
During her career at the Bar Lady Chief Justice Keegan served as Vice Chair of the Bar of Northern Ireland, Chair of the Young Bar, Chair of the Family Bar Association and Chair of the Bar Charity Committee. She was also a long standing member of the Professional Conduct Committee of the Bar.
Lady Chief Justice Keegan was the Judge in Residence at the Queen’s University of Belfast from November 2015 until August 2021. She was a member of the Judicial Studies Board (JSB) from April 2016 until August 2021. She was also the Northern Ireland representative on the Franco-British-Irish Judicial Cooperation Committee.
Lady Chief Justice Keegan was appointed as a Coroner in July 2017 and was the Presiding Coroner from September 2017 until September 2020. She was assigned to hear Judicial Reviews from 2017 until 2020 and was the Senior Family Judge in the High Court of Northern Ireland from April 2020 until her appointment as Lady Chief Justice. During her tenure in the Family Division she was also the designated Northern Ireland judicial member of the International Hague Network of Judges.
Lady Chief Justice Keegan is no stranger to NIJAC as she has been a NIJAC Commissioner since November 2018. Subsequent to her appointment, she has been involved in a range of judicial appointments processes, outreach activities and in setting the strategic direction of the Commission.
Lady Chief Justice Keegan was sworn in at the Royal Courts of Justice on 2 September 2021.
Ursula O’Hare is the Director of Law Centre NI, an awarding winning regional not for profit that uses the law to change people’s lives. The Law Centre’s vision is of a just and equal society and we advocate for law and policy change in pursuit of this vision. Before becoming Director, Ursula led the policy advocacy work at the Law Centre having spent the early part of her career as an academic, including at the Law School of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and Ulster University. Ursula is Vice-Chair of Housing Rights and of the Law Centre Network. She is also a member of the Executive Committee of CAJ. Ursula also serves as an independent member of the Department for Communities Joint Standards Committee.
Anne-Marie McAlinden is Professor of Law and Criminal Justice in the School of Law at Queen’s University Belfast. Anne-Marie has a Bachelor of Laws degree, a Master's degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice with distinction and a PhD from Queen's. Having begun her academic career as a Lecturer at Ulster University, she joined the academic staff at Queen's in 2003. Anne-Marie is a world-leading expert on sexual offending and the author/editor of over 60 publications including five books. Her most recent book - 'Children as "Risk": Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by Children and Young People' - was published by Cambridge University Press as part of the prestigious Cambridge Studies in Law and Society Series and was awarded the Kevin Boyle Book Prize 2019 for 'outstanding legal scholarship.' She has been the lead or co-investigator on a number of funded research projects including currently ‘Apologies, Abuses and Dealing with the Past’ (funded by the ESRC) where one of the case studies is historical institutional abuse. She has also acted as a consultant to local criminal justice agencies and gave expert evidence to the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on ‘Grooming and Entrapment’ and their role in institutional settings. Her research on grooming has led to a change in the law throughout Australia. More recently, she acted as expert reviewer for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. She has given many invited keynote addresses to both academic and practitioner audiences and has been interviewed for and cited in The New York Times and The Economist.
Dr Maeve O'Rourke is Lecturer in Human Rights at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, School of Law, NUI Galway, where she is also Programme Director of the Law (BCL) and Human Rights degree and Director of the postgraduate Human Rights Law Clinic. Maeve is a barrister at 33 Bedford Row, London, and a qualified (non-practising) Attorney at Law in New York. Prior to joining NUI Galway she worked in family law, and also on a mass environmental tort claim with Leigh Day solicitors on behalf of the Bodo community in the Niger Delta. She was Senior Research and Policy Officer at the Irish Council for Civil Liberties between 2017 and 2019. Since 2010 Maeve has worked pro bono with and on behalf of survivors, adopted people and relatives affected by Ireland’s gender-based institutional and family separation abuses. She led the legal aspects of the Justice for Magdalenes voluntary campaign, gathering evidence and advocating before international and domestic human rights bodies and extensively in public, helping to achieve a State apology and €58m ‘redress’ scheme for survivors of the Republic of Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries in 2013. In 2015 with Claire McGettrick, founder of the voluntary Adoption Rights Alliance and Justice for Magdalenes Research groups, she established the ‘Clann Project’ (www.clannproject.org) in collaboration with Hogan Lovells International LLP. The Clann Project assisted over 80 people to give formal witness statements to the recently-concluded Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation and gathered legal analysis and other archival evidence to produce a 150-page public, human rights-based report. Maeve’s work with Justice for Magdalenes Research and the Clann Project continues and is focused on achieving comprehensive truth-telling and reparation. Her co-authored book (with Claire McGettrick, Katherine O’Donnell, James M Smith and Mari Steed), Ireland and the Magdalene Laundries: A Campaign for Justice was recently published by IB Tauris/ Bloomsbury.
Claire McKeegan is a solicitor and co-founder of Phoenix Law in Belfast.
The firm has been involved in a number of high profile and significant legal challenges including successfully securing compensation payments for hundreds of survivors of institutional child sexual abuse, legacy inquests, extending protection of transgender and religious rights and helping secure same-sex marriage legislation.
She represents SAVIA and acted for the Survivors of Institutional abuse in their successful challenge of the Secretary of State for NI and The Executive office in the Court of Appeal in the JR80 case which resulted in the HIA NI Redress Bill being brought through Parliament in November 2019.
She successfully acted in the lead legacy collusion case of John Flynn through High Court and Court of Appeal, forced an admission of liability by the PSNI and established the guidelines for disclosure in troubles-related collusion cases in Northern Ireland. She was the first solicitor in Northern Ireland to be instructed in the controversial closed material procedure cases involving closed court hearings arising out of the Justice and Security Act 2013. She acts for the lead Plaintiff, in the Freddie Scappiticci litigation against the PSNI and MOD and the former double agent.
Through her abuse litigation Claire has exposed prolific paedophile priest Fr Malachy Finegan in 2018, former president of prestigious St Colman’s College in Newry. The case made public his abuse of boys throughout his 30 year tenure in the school and 35 more survivors came forward.
Claire represents the Hauser family in Munich, Germany in their quest for justice for Inga-Maria Hauser, 18 year old who was brutally murdered in 1988 while on an interrailing holiday round the UK. She was found in a remote part of Ballypatrick Forest, Co Antrim in April 1988 and her family have never been given the answers they deserve.
Claire acts for the families of patients at Muckamore Abbey Hospital and acted in their successful campaign to the Minister for Health for a public inquiry into allegations of abuse, she represents Birth Mothers and Their Children for Justice, survivors of Northern Ireland’s mother and baby homes in their campaign for a public inquiry into criminal abuses on young mothers and their babies in Magdalene laundries and mother and baby homes in NI.
She is representing a group of injured survivors of the tragedy at Greenvale.
She tweets at @mckeeganclaire
Claire Archbold is the Deputy Departmental Solicitor for the NI Ministers and Departments and is Honorary Professor in the practice of public law at Queen’s University, Belfast. She is a barrister with over 20 years’ experience in the NI Civil Service. Before her appointment to the Departmental Solicitor’s Office, among other roles, she worked in the Office of Law Reform and as Legal Secretary to the Lord Chief Justice. She is an experienced Board member and a member of the Irish Judicial Conduct Committee. In her role at Queen’s University, her goals are to grow understanding of public law in Northern Ireland and build bridges to share new ideas and best practice between academics and public policy makers. She is passionate about developing people and widening access to legal education.
Formerly an academic at Queen’s University, she retains a particular interest in legal education and enabling students and lawyers from all backgrounds to excel in their profession.
Public law shapes every aspect of public services, democratic institutions and the rights of everyone in Northern Ireland. Drawing on her professional experience, Claire has joined the QUB Law School as honorary Professor of Practice in Public Law to develop opportunities for students, public servants and the legal profession to build their public law skills and share expertise in this important area. The project “The Practice of Public Law and Public Ethics aims to deliver an undergraduate course in practical public law, in-house training to build the expertise of government lawyers and civil servants, and conferences and events for the wider legal profession. Beginning with a series of virtual guest lectures to government lawyers and counsel, it aims to build bridges between the expertise of academia and the public sector, enriching and developing both.
Dr Ivanka Antova is the Research Officer for the NI Human Rights Consortium. Her work focuses on exploring the effects of Brexit on human rights in Northern Ireland. Ivanka has been a Research Fellow on the Health Governance After Brexit project, a guest lecturer in the QUB School of Law and has research experience in both academia and the voluntary sector. Ivanka has a PhD in Law from QUB, a LLM in Human Rights from QUB and a BSc in Politics and Global Governance from CCCU. Ivanka is also a human rights campaigner and activist, with a particular focus on the rights of disabled people and the rights of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Ivanka has been the convenor of the Belfast branch of United Against Racism since 2018 and was recently awarded a Racial Equality Champion Of The Year award from the North-West Migrants Forum.
Máiréad Enright is Reader in Feminist Legal Studies at the University of Birmingham where she teaches gender and the law, family law and contracts. She is currently working on a Leverhulme Trust funded project called 'Law's Inheritances' which looks at feminist responses to historical injustice. She often works with activists for reproductive justice in Ireland and Northern Ireland and is a founder member of Lawyers for Choice.
She was one of the co-directors of the Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments Project. Recently she has been working with colleagues at Durham, the University of Ulster and University College Dublin to develop a project on deliberation, drafting and imagined feminist constitutions.
Máiréad studied at University College, Kings College London and the Kings Inns. Before coming to Birmingham she was a lecturer at the University of Kent. She is a board member of the Irish Family Planning Association and a member of the editorial board of Feminist Legal Studies."
Maria McCloskey is an Immigration Solicitor at Children’s Law Centre. She represents unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. Maria provides advice and representation in their asylum claims and any other legal issues arising during the course of the application process. She also represents clients who are referred to the National Referral Mechanism, as victims or potential victims of trafficking.
Maria’s role at CLC includes policy and advocacy work in the field of immigration and asylum. She regularly provides advice to the Health and Social Care Board in relation to legislative, policy and procedural developments that impact the rights of separated and unaccompanied minors in its care.
In the early part of her career, following an apprenticeship at Napier Solicitors, Maria practiced in the area of civil litigation. She was awarded a Certificate in Advanced Advocacy in 2014 and is a member of the Advocacy Working Party of the Law Society of Northern Ireland.
In September 2017, Maria completed a Masters in Human Rights Law at Queen’s University Belfast. The title of her dissertation was ‘Protecting Unaccompanied Children Seeking Asylum in the UK: How the UK is failing despite its commitments ‘on paper’’.
In 2018, in a role with Northern Ireland Community of Refugees and Asylum Seekers, Maria published a policy document entitled ‘Best Practice in the Provision of Immigration Legal Advice Services’. She went on to provide advice, on a consultancy basis, to Barnardo’s Independent Guardian Service, between June 2018 and January 2020.
Maria tutors on a number of courses at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies.
She was Chair of the Immigration Practitioners’ Group of the Law Society of NI from September 2017 until February 2019. Maria is the current Chair of the Law Society’s Human Rights and Equality Working Group, which was established in September 2020.
Leah is a barrister based in Belfast, practicing mainly in the areas of public inquiries, civil litigation and judicial review. Having graduated from Queen’s University Belfast in 2014 with a degree in Law with Politics, Leah returned to the School of Law to complete her PhD in 2016. Her doctoral research considered the impact of gender on the careers of women practicing at the Bar of Northern Ireland. In 2018, she was invited to speak at the Expert Seminar on Gender and the Judiciary at Ghent University in Belgium. Whilst completing her PhD, Leah was appointed as Postgraduate Representative to the School of Law’s Athena SWAN Working Group, which successfully secured a Bronze award for the School. In her professional life, Leah was previously elected as Equality Secretary to the Young Bar Association Committee, a role which she held for two years. Leah also recently contributed a chapter to Women’s Legal Landmarks: Celebrating 100 Years of Women and Law in the UK and Ireland (Hart Publishing, 2018).