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Staff

Patrick Connolly - Chief Executive

Paddy Connolly was Chief Executive Officer of Inclusion Ireland since early 2012. Inclusion Ireland is a national disability organisation that advocates for the rights of persons with an intellectual disability.

Prior to this Paddy was CEO of Cairde for 14 years. Cairde advocates for the rights of Black and Minority & Ethnic Communities in Ireland. As part of his work Paddy has developed values-based approaches to equality and Human Rights advocacy and the application of values-based organisation management. He has particular interest and experience in managing organisational change and strengthening NGO capacity to bring about social change. 

Earlier in his career Paddy worked in social care, youth work, community development and he has practiced as a certified family mediator and conflict specialist. Paddy holds a BA in Management and an MA in International Relations. In May of 2018 Paddy was appointed by President Michael D. Higgins as a Commissioner with the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission. 

 

CAROLINE O'CONNELL - HEAD OF FUNDRAISING

Caroline O'Connell

Having studied Science (TCD) and Journalism (DIT), Caroline then ‘fell into’ fundraising and never looked back.

Since 1999 she has held Senior Management positions with Dublin Simon Community, CARI and Plan International and also worked as a fundraising consultant. 

In addition to fundraising she has co-ordinated internationally recognised and high profile campaigns, conferences and events. 

She has played a key role in the development of many charities and generated tens of millions in fundraising during her career, whilst also gaining a wealth of experience and knowledge of not-for-profit sector management. 

GAIL KENNEDY - HEAD OF RETAIL OPERATIONS

Gail Kennedy

Gail Kennedy joined Age Action in 2016 and within 12 months doubled the size of the organisation’s network of charity stores with new outlets opening in Ballincollig, Co Cork, Terenure, Dublin, and Francis St. Galway and our new 10,000 square foot furniture Showroom in Cherry Orchard industrial estate. Our stores are recognised as the best high-end charity stores in the sector. 

Gail brought more than 20 years retail management experience to Age Action. She worked in the private retail sector in a number of senior management roles in Ireland's leading big-box retailers including Dunnes, Marks & Spencer's and Woodies, Gail combines her enjoyment of working in the charity sector with her business management skills. Gail has a vast portfolio of expertise in retail buying, selling, merchandising, store development & design, compliance and senior business management. 

Gail holds an honours degree from the National College of Art and Design along with a number of business qualifications. 

JENNIFER GLANSFORD - NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT MANAGER GETTING STARTED

Jennifer started out with Age Action in 2011 as a volunteer administrator and later that year, was appointed as a Project Officer for the Getting Started Programme and developed the programme in the South Leinster and Dublin areas.

In October 2016, she became the National Development Manager of the Getting Started Programme and has continued to promote and grow the programme nationwide, working with a team of six Regional Project Officers.

Jennifer has over 20 years of experience working in the community and voluntary sector with her background being in addiction services, training and education development and project management. Her commitment to community development is born from over 30 years volunteering with a variety of organisations. 

BILLY O'KEEFFE - LIFE LONG LEARNING

Billy O'Keefe

Billy O’Keeffe joined Age Action as Programme Manager in October 2016. Billy began his working life as a teacher before moving into the charity sector. With over 25 years’ experience working with Irish charities including SVP and Crosscare, Billy has also been involved in the area of development education, twinning schools in Ireland with schools in South Africa.  

Billy oversees Age Action’s Lifelong Learning, Ageing and Development as well as the U3A programme, and has significant experience working on the frontline with vulnerable groups. 

 

JOHN O MAHONY – NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT MANAGER CARE & REPAIR

John is the Care & Repair National Development Manager and Manager of Age Action South.

He originally qualified in Business and his early career was in retail, sales and banking. He then joined the charity sector, working for eight years in the Fundraising Departments of ISPCC and Threshold before returning to education to study Community Development.

In 2010 John became the first Age Action staff member based in Cork and launched our Care & Repair and Advocacy services there. He has since overseen the opening of a dedicated new office in Cork which facilitates Care & Repair, Getting Started, Advocacy and Fundraising work, supported by a charity shop in Ballincollig.

Under John’s leadership the Care & Repair service has doubled the number of locations in which it is available around the country and tripled the number of services it provides to older people.  

John holds a Master’s Degree in Electronic Business and a Postgraduate Diploma in Community Development.

 

JENNIFER COEN - HEAD OF ADMINISTRATION & HR

Jennifer Coen

Jennifer has been with Age Action for eight years, joining in 2011 as Assistant CE Supervisor having previous worked in the Central Remedial Clinic. She went on to become Officer Manager in 2013 and is now our Head of Administration & HR.

Before joining the organisation she lived abroad and co-owned and ran a successful business in Spain for eight years before returning to Ireland in 2008.

GERARD SCULLY - SENIOR INFORMATION OFFICER

Gerard is with Age Action nearly 23 years, he came in originally on a Community Employment Scheme as a Librarian and Information Officer.  He has a professional qualification in Librarianship and Information provision and a Masters in Anthropology. 

Before Age Action he worked in Focus Point and Pavee Point as a Librarian.  He manages Age Action’s Information and Advocacy Service and continues to enjoy working with and for older people. 

 

CORONA JOYCE - SENIOR POLICY OFFICER

Corona is Senior Policy Officer with Age Action. She is responsible for the development of Age Action’s policy and research programme, ensuring that it is shaped by the lived experience of older people and the views of members.

Before joining Age Action, she worked in policy and programme management roles with the Irish Red Cross, the Economic and Social Research Institute and the United Nations Development Programme.

AUDRY DEANE - HEALTH POLICY OFFICER

Audry is Health Policy Officer with Age Action. She works to ensure that national health and social care policy and programmes improves outcomes for older service users and that it reflecst the lived experience of older people. 

Audry was policy and advocacy expert in health, education and European affairs with the St Vincent de Paul for 16 years. She also works with other NGOs such as The Wheel, European Anti Poverty Network, Dóchas and the St Stephen's Green Trust to achieve better outcomes for marginalised groups.

 

Age Based Analysis of Mortgage Arrears Released for First Time

We welcome the publication, by the Irish Times, of data released for the first time by the Central Bank of Ireland that shows the number of people approaching, or already at retirement age, who are dealing wtih significant mortgage debt. The information gives a clearer picture of the worrying situation for Ireland’s ageing population. Simply, a lack of evidence exists on the cost of ageing with less complete data collected about us the older we become. As a result, crucial policy decisions are made without the availability of disaggregated and representative data which can result in discriminatory outcomes. We need an urgent rethinking of how we gather evidence and inform policy that meets the needs of a changing Ireland.

While there has been an assumption that older people close to, and in receipt of, the State pension are generally mortgage-free home owners, it is clear that this is no longer true with many still carrying large mortgages, in mortgage arrears or living in precarious private rentals with no security of tenure in older age. We should all have a choice to age in place which means the creation of age friendly environments, including the provision of support services locally, which enable people to remain in their own homes and in communities for longer; but the changing nature of homeownership, rising cost of living, and the lack of a coordinated policy response to the housing crisis means many people will be facing a very difficult situation in later life. 

Many older people live in the most vulnerable situations in our society. An increasing number are struggling to meet the rising cost of living – in particular costs around rent and mortgages - in the context of a State pension that sees many surviving on incomes only just above the poverty line. Latest CSO EU SILC figures show 1 in 10 older people at risk of poverty. New taxes, and rising prices in recent years have a greater impact on older people generally living on a fixed income with limited opportunities to improve their situation. Budget 2020 saw the income of older person headed households increase by €1.08 per week for those living with another person, and by €6.08 per week for those living alone in older age. It did not offer the majority of older people the support needed to meet the increasing costs of living and it did not offer a concrete plan to support us to age in place.

Ageist attitudes towards working later in life still exist, for example many older people have reported high levels of discrimination during recruitment. Discriminatory mandatory retirement clauses are still in place forcing people out of the workforce earlier than they may wish. These two things undermine people’s ability to continue working in later life whether by choice or necessity. In the context of a buoyant labour market, we urgently need a fundamental shift in how we view and support older workers.

An increasing number of older people are experiencing fear about retirement due to worries about income adequacy. Less than half of those working have a private or occupational pension to support them in later life. While Age Action welcomes the publication of the recent autoenrolment scheme by the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection which will see increased pension coverage for more than an estimated half a million workers, the current design will further drive existing pension inequalities unless there is a targeted intervention to include people in low paid jobs, particularly women and long term unemployed.

Our economy has been built on the backs of those already in, and approaching, older age: these are the same women and men who lived through the Marriage Bar, shouldered several recessions and are now dealing with the accumulated disadvantages. Successive government policies have failed to adequately plan and provide for an ageing population which will ultimately impact on all of us throughout our lives.