Darragh O’Brien T.D., Minister for Housing, Local Government & Heritage

Darragh was appointed Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage in June 2020. He is an elected TD for the constituency of Dublin-Fingal. Prior to his election to the 30th Dáil in 2007, he worked mainly in Financial Services and was elected to Fingal County Council in 2004. He was elected to Seanad Éireann in 2011.

He has held various positions within the Oireachtas including Vice-Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee, Member of the Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Law Reform, Leader of Fianna Fáil in the Seanad, Opposition Frontbench Spokesperson on Dublin, Foreign Affairs and Housing.

Darragh’s priority is the delivery of sustainable, good-quality affordable housing to purchase or rent, built to a high standard, and located close to essential services, offering people a high quality of life.

Federico Nahuel Lazzari, Secretary-General and Director of Communications & Public Affairs,  Build Europe, Brussels

Federico has an MSc from the London School of Economics and has conducted research work at Harvard University. He has served as director of the EU office at a prestigious British corporate and financial communications firm, and has worked for a leading US investment company, several EU trade associations, and the European Commission.

Dr. Kieran McQuinn, Research Professor, the Economic and Social Research Institute 

Kieran works on the quarterly economic commentary (QEC) and housing related projects. His research interests include house prices, economic growth and household finance. He started his career in University College Cork and then joined Teagasc, the Irish agriculture and food development authority, where he worked for over 5 years as a research economist. Kieran has a PhD in economics from NUI Maynooth and has published in a broad number of international and domestic journals. He is adjunct professor of economics at both Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork. Dr. McQuinn is also a current council member of both the Economic and Social Studies and the Economic and Social Research Institute.

Anne Marie O’Connor, Deputy Regulator, the Office of the Planning Regulator

Anne Marie oversees the evaluation of local authority development plans, ensuring these plans are consistent with national and regional planning policy. Anne Marie has 25 years’ experience as a planner in both the public and private sectors. Before joining the OPR in 2020 she was the Assistant Director of Planning in An Bord Pleanála where she led the Strategic Infrastructure Development and Environment team. Prior to that role she was a Senior Planning Inspector with the Board.

Phelim O’Neill, Head of Property, the Land Development Agency 

Phelim has been in his role since the LDA’s inception in September 2018 and has significantly developed and grown the scale and range of projects of the Agency in that time. He is responsible for the sourcing, acquisition, planning and pre-construction of a wide range of projects across the GDA and all the regional cities. Phelim has over 20 years’ experience in senior property and development roles in both the public and private sector as well as delivery of large-scale infrastructure programmes. He is a graduate of the University of Galway (BEng) with post graduate qualifications in project management, construction law and corporate finance.

Isabelle Gallagher, Head of Development, Quintain Ireland

As Head of Development for Quintain Ireland, Isabelle is responsible for land sourcing, master planning, development feasibilities, planning applications and compliance, stakeholder engagement and placemaking.  She has been a key driver of the planning grants and large residential transactions secured to date including leading the team behind the delivery of Adamstown and the newly opened urban village in 2023.

Over the course of her 20 year career Isabelle has built up a wide network of strategic contacts across the local authority, development and real estate communities.

Bob Jordan, Chief Executive, The Housing Agency

The Agency is a government body that promotes the supply of housing and helps deliver sustainable communities throughout Ireland.  From 2018 – 2021 Bob was the National Director of the Irish Government’s Housing First programme to end long-term homelessness. Prior to his role in Housing First, Bob was Chief Executive of the national housing charity Threshold for nearly a decade. He was Special Adviser to the Minister for Housing during 2016-2017. 

 

 

Marian Finnegan, Managing Director, Sherry FitzGerald Residential & Advisory

Marian has been at the forefront of Sherry FitzGerald for over 20 years.  She was the first economist appointed to a property company in Ireland, when she established our Research arm in 1996 

Subsequently Marian was appointed Chief Economist and Director of Research for Sherry FitzGerald.  This role involved monitoring and analysing economic and property indicators in the domestic and international markets.

In 1998, she joined the board of Sherry FitzGerald Group and in 2019 was appointed Managing Director of Sherry FitzGerald Residential.

Marian has a unique blend of skills across many areas – people, strategy and leadership. She has helped shape Sherry FitzGerald and understands the property market and our business strategy.  She is a regular contributor in the Irish and international media and one of the most highly regarded commentators in the industry.

Paul Hogan, Acting Assistant Secretary – Head of the Planning Division, Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH)

Paul has been the acting Head of the Planning Division at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage since January 2023. He has more than 30 years’ experience of working in planning and development in Ireland and the UK.

Paul is currently responsible for reform of the planning system through the Planning Bill, revision of the National Planning Framework and the provision of enhanced resourcing for the planning sector.

His previous roles at the Department of Housing include Principal Adviser and Senior Adviser. Prior to joining the Department in 2015, Paul was Senior Planner at South Dublin County Council for more than 10 years. While there he led the development of the Adamstown Strategic Development Zone and also initiated the development of the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets (DMURS).

Paul previously worked in local Government at Kildare and Meath County Councils and in private sector consultancy for 5 years, both in Ireland and the UK. He has a Master of Regional and Urban Planning degree from UCD (1992) and recently completed a higher diploma in Organisational Change and Transformation, also at UCD. He is a Fellow of the Irish Planning Institute.

John O Shaughnessy, Managing Director, Clancy  

Clancy is a medium sized national main contractor. John has worked for Clancy for over 26 years in various roles prior before being appointed Managing Director in 2013. He is a member of the National Executive Body of the CIF, Chairman of the Southeast branch of the CIF, Chairman of the Education and Training Sub-committee, Chairman of the building control and regulations committee, and Chairman of the Technical committee of the CIC Council. John is also a Past President of the MBCA and Thurles Chamber of Commerce and is a Current member of the CIRI board, Johns holds an MBA, a diploma in Site Management, and is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Building (FCIOB) and is an Associate member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (ACIArb).

Sarah-Jane Pisciotti, Head of Design (Ireland & Europe), John Sisk & Son

As Head of Design (Ireland & Europe) for John Sisk & Son, Sarah-Jane has responsibility for the creation and implementation of the Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) strategy for the Sisk Group. 

Sarah-Jane is a qualified Architect and has built a large and diverse design management team at Sisk, working across all sectors of construction. In addition to her focus on innovative design and construction approaches that improve the built environment, she is equally passionate about improving diversity and inclusion in the industry. 

 Sarah-Jane currently sits on the Centre Steering Committee for Construct Innovate, Ireland’s centre for Innovation and Research in the Industry.

 As communicated through the nomination process, Sarah-Jane is widely recognised and respected across the industry for her inspiring leadership style, her approach to innovation and her commitment to improving Ireland’s built environment. 

PJ Rudden, Chairman of Construction Sector Innovation and Digital Adoption, Dept. of Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform

PJ has been in his current role in the Department since 2020. A former President of Engineers Ireland, He is Founder of Aengus Consulting, a strategic management consultant in planning, design, and project management. He is an External Member of the Project Ireland 2040 Delivery Board together with 4 other External Members with the Secretary Generals to oversee delivery of the National Planning Framework and the National Development Plan. PJ was Director of RPS from 1999 to 2019 leading the planning and delivery of major public projects across transport, water, energy and the circular economy. He led the design and adoption of most of Ireland’s waste management regional plans at county, regional and national level. PJ served as Director of the EU Commission of the European Green Capital awards on urban sustainability across the Member States from 2009 to 2019.

Heber McMahon, Director of Technical Sales, Cygnum Building Offsite

With a background in Construction Management Heber McMahon began his career in offsite construction with Century Homes in Monahan in 1997 Moving to Cork in 2000 Heber began working with Cygnum then a recently established timber frame business.

Heber has been central to the growth, development and success of the business over the past 20 years. His experience spans management of timber frame design, offsite manufacturing and construction site works. He has played a key role in product development in Cygnum including the development of energy efficient wall systems used in multiple housing schemes to Ireland’s first certified Passive House building system.
Cygnum’s expansive portfolio ranges from large scale housing projects throughout Ireland to multi award winning social housing schemes and schools build to Passive House standard in the UK.

Yvonne Harris, Head of Customer Operations and Connection Developer Services, Uisce Éireann

Yvonne is a Chartered Director with over thirty-nine years’ experience working in commercial semi-state bodies, in both monopoly and competitive environments, the last twenty-two of those spent in the regulated utilities sector.

Yvonne is responsible for all aspects of customer strategy, customer connections and customer and billing services covering circa 1.6m domestic and 180k commercial customers nationwide. She is also responsible for the Uisce Éireann Housing for All programme set up to support the delivery of Uisce Éireann’s targets in the government’s Housing for All plan.

Yvonne holds a Bachelor of Business Studies, a Masters’ in Business Practise and a Diploma in Company Direction. Yvonne is currently a Non-Executive Director on the board of Threshold Housing Charity

Ronan McGrath, Managing Director, McGrath Quantity Surveyors

Ronan McGrath is the Managing Director and founder of McGrath Quantity Surveyors for the last 10 years in Ireland. During this time, he has overseen the growth and development of the practice to the significant size it is today, with chartered and qualified Quantity Surveyors from several different countries bringing varied experiences of large and complex projects. 2021 saw the opening of the first UK office in London, a major addition to the company.

McGrath Quantity Surveyors, working in conjunction with developers, builders and contractors, are specialists in large scale residential houses, apartments and investments and offer considerable experience in diverse sectors like – social housing, data centres, education, one off houses and renovations.

Ronan was recognised for his contribution to the County Wexford Business sector winning two Wexford Chamber Business Awards in 2022 for Operation of Excellence and Service Industry Provider of the Year. His mission for the company is to become a market leader and bring sustainable and competitive QS solutions to his clients in Ireland and the UK.

Michael Kelleher, Group Operations Director of O’ Flynn Group

Michael co-ordinates and oversees the architectural, engineering, building, marketing and sales teams. He has experience in delivering large-scale developments from concept to completion. These include Ballincollig Town Centre and The Elysian in Cork.

Ivan Yates, Entrepreneur & Broadcaster

Ivan is one of the country’s leading broadcasters, presenting the daily drive time programme The Hard Shoulder on Newstalk Radio which has become the top-rated independent listened-to show in the country. He also co-presents a leading current affairs television program, The Tonight Show, on Virgin Media One.

Ivan has had unique life experience in politics, business and media. A former government minister and Wexford TD for more than 20 years; an entrepreneur who founded and developed Celtic Bookmakers to employ 400 people, with €200 million turnover.

In 2014 he published his best-selling autobiography, Full On with acclaimed reviews. He resides in Dublin and Enniscorthy, is married to Deirdre with 4 adult children.

His original forthright style of entertaining punditry and analysis on the full range of current affairs and sport has made him a much sought after motivational public speaker at corporate and formal events. He also acts as a versatile conference facilitator/moderator, MC with a flair for asking the questions that need answering. Ivan is a memorable and compelling after-dinner speaker.

Ronan McDermott, Director, Hempbuild Sustainable Products Ltd.

has over 10 years of experience in specialist heritage renovations, lime and clay plastering, site management and project management in Ireland and the UK, working on numerous specialist projects and restorations involving Hempcrete, lime plastering and listed building works.

Ronan McDermott, Director, Hempbuild Sustainable Products Ltd.

has over 10 years of experience in specialist heritage renovations, lime and clay plastering, site management and project management in Ireland and the UK, working on numerous specialist projects and restorations involving Hempcrete, lime plastering and listed building works.

John Hannigan, CEO, Circle Voluntary Housing Association and Chair, The Housing Alliance

John has over 30 years’ experience in the housing sector and is a well-known leading voice and driver in the delivery of social housing in Ireland. As CEO of one of Ireland’s top 5 Approved Housing Bodies, Circle VHA and as Chair of The Housing Alliance, he strives for the industry to ‘do more’ in its contribution to ‘Housing for All’, to challenge the barriers to delivery and to be innovative in its approach to meet social housing targets, providing much needed homes to those in housing need.

During his 5 year and counting tenure at the helm of Circle VHA, John has exponentially grown the portfolio of the company’s social housing homes and managed services, delivered on its growing direct construction projects, engaged in creative collaborations and partnerships and agreed innovative funding deals with national institutions.

John’s past roles in his lengthy career include senior roles with Sunbeam House Services and Respond Housing Association, Senior Executive Level roles with KPMG, Grant Thornton and EY, and as Group Director and Company Secretary in the UK for large Registered Social Landlords (Accord and Prime Focus), leading him to esteemed titles as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Housing, a Fellow of the Association of Certified Accountants and a Chartered member of the Institute of Directors in Ireland. John is also a member of the Board of ICSH, Chair of the CIH Ireland and a member of the CIH governing board and its finance audit and risk committee.

PJ Ryan, Head of ESG, CIF

PJ will support the development of policy and associated services for the CIF’s membership to enable them to address the critical pillars of ESG and corporate sustainability obligations and develop their business strategies, plans and actions. PJ has worked in a sustainability role since 2008, mainly in the M&E sector as a consulting engineer, where he has managed teams responsible for sustainability modelling, compliance with building energy regulations and third-party rating schemes such as LEED, BREEAM & WELL. Before this, he worked with Bechtel and the DAA on embedding the DAA’s mandatory sustainable requirements in the capital infrastructure projects for Dublin Airport, and in helping to map out their route to 2030 and net zero. He is a Chartered Engineer with the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CEng MCIBSE) and a Registered Consulting Engineer (RConsEI) with the Association of Consulting Engineers Ireland (ACEI). In 2021, as convenor of the ACEI Sustainability Committee, he launched the Pledge to Net Zero campaign to get Consulting Engineering firms to practice what they preach concerning science-based reductions with 50% absolute reductions by 2030. PJ is passionate about reducing the current climate emergency’s worst effects and believes everyone can play their part.

Seán Armstrong, Head of Climate & Construction Innovation Unit, Dept of Housing, Local Government & Heritage

Seán Armstrong is Head of Unit for the Climate & Construction Innovation unit within the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. This unit leads and develops policy related to climate action, construction industry regulation, modern methods of construction, residential construction cost reduction, the transposition of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) and Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB). The unit is also responsible for placing the Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI) on a statutory footing and for registration of construction professionals. He is a Chartered Engineer and has extensive experience in the construction sector and building energy policy.

Barry McWeeney, Head of New Developments, SIRO

SIRO is a full fibre broadband operator, building and operating a 100% fibre optic broadband network, built on the ESB’s electricity network.

Barry and his team are responsible for bringing SIRO connectivity to all New Developments. This involves end-to-end seamless delivery and project management from planning and design, transmission, site activation and installation to ensure new homes are fibre ready.

Barry’s began his career designing a group water scheme in the West of Ireland. Transitioning into the telecommunications industry in 2009, Barry served as a Project Manager with KTL, overseeing new builds and network upgrade projects for telecom providers. In 2012, he joined Vodafone/Netshare for the Darwin Project, the rollout of 4G, managing site design, installation, and quality control.

Joining SIRO in 2016, Barry initially served as a Project Manager, responsible for POP and Metro Delivery, before advancing to the role of team lead in 2020 and now to his current role as Head of New Developments.

Barry holds a BEng (Hons) in Civil Engineering from IT Sligo, graduating in 2007.

Dara Deering, CEO, Home Building Finance Ireland (HBFI)

HBFI is an organisation set up by the State to lend directly to housebuilders for all types of commercially viable schemes. Dara has extensive experience in Financial Services having previously served as Executive Director and Head of Retail Banking at KBC Bank Ireland plc.  During that time Dara led the launch and implementation of a new retail bank, broadening the range of products and services available, and offering a new banking alternative for Irish consumers. Prior to her time in KBC, Dara held a number of leadership positions in the retail financial services industry. She holds an MBA from Smurfit Business School and a Bachelor of Science Management from Trinity College Dublin

Ciarán Cuffe, Green MEP for Dublin

Ciarán sits on the committees for Energy, Transport, and Regional Development, and is president of EUFORES, a European cross-party network that promotes the deployment of sustainable energy systems. He is a trained architect and urban planner and is currently the lead Rapporteur for the revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). Prior to his election to the European Parliament in 2019, he served as a Dublin City Councillor, TD for Dun Laoghaire, and Minister of State with responsibility for sustainable transport and climate change.