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Perspectives on Disadvantage: How Inequality Concerns Everyone


Disadvantage, inequality and exclusion can prevent individuals, families and communities from reaching their potential, having their needs met, participating in society and being heard. While disadvantage is experienced by particular families and communities in Ireland, there are negative consequences for all of society. Emerging research in many countries indicates that the pandemic has exacerbated existing levels of disadvantage.

During this event, the panel will discuss disadvantage from different perspectives, and share understanding about who is affected and how. Research, data insights from frontline services and the experience of excluded communities can help us to better understand disadvantage and how we can work together with families and communities to address it.


Event details


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Moderator & Panel Contributors

Kate Pickett

Keynote: Professor Kate Pickett.

Kate is Professor of Epidemiology in the Department of Health Science at the University of York, and the University’s Research Champion for Justice and Equality.  Kate was a UK NIHR Career Scientist from 2007-12, is a Fellow of the RSA and a Fellow of the UK Faculty of Public Health. She is co-author, with Richard Wilkinson, of The Spirit Level chosen as one of the Top Ten Books of the Decade by the New Statesman, winner of Publication of the Year by the Political Studies Association and translated into 23 languages. She is a co-founder and trustee of The Equality Trust.

Moderator and Panel Contributors

Bernie Laverty, National ABC Manager at Tusla, the Child and Family Agency

Owen Ward, Traveller Education Officer, Access Centre NUI Galway

Emer Smyth, Research Professor, ESRI

Moderator: Áine Kerr. Áine is a teacher-turned-journalist, editor, lecturer, platform executive, executive coach, broadcaster, public speaker and media entrepreneur. Áine is co-founder and COO of Kinzen.

Programme of Events

Perspectives on Disadvantage: How Inequality Concerns Everyone

Kate Pickett

Monday November 15th

Disadvantage prevents children, families and communities from reaching their potential and being heard. Professor Kate Pickett, (University of York) co-author of the Spirit Level and the Inner Level will explain why equal societies do better, and how disadvantage is an issue for us all. Panel contributors include Bernie Laverty, National ABC Manager at Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, Owen Ward, Traveller Education Officer at the Access Centre NUI Galway, and Emer Smyth, Research Professor at the ESRI.

Mitigating Disadvantage through Public Policy


Wednesday November 17th

How can public policy respond to the needs of children and families experiencing disadvantage? Olivier Thévenon, Head of the Child Wellbeing Unit, OECD will talk about effective approaches to family support in different jurisdictions. Panel contributors include senior officials Conor Rowley and Ciara Pidgeon from the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Professor Conor O’Mahony, Special Rapporteur on Child Protection and Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family.

Making Connections or Digitally Divided? Disadvantage in the Digital World

Professor mark brown

Monday November 22nd

The digital world is increasingly important in the lives of children and young people – it’s a place to learn, play and participate. Professor Mark Brown, from the National Digital Learning Centre at DCU will explain why a digital society also needs to be a fair society. Panel contributors include Ellen Helsper, Professor of Digital Inequalities (LSE) and we’ll hear how the innovative use of technology in organisations such as Foróige and iScoil is helping young people to reach their potential in the real world.

How can the EU Prioritise the Needs of Children and Young People?

massimiliano mascherini

Wednesday November 24th

How can EU policy initiatives benefit children and young people? What’s important for children and young people as Europe emerges from the pandemic? Massimiliano Mascherini, Head of Unit ad interim Social Policies with Eurofound will share insights from research on the relationship between young people and the EU. Panel Contributors include the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, the Eurochild Children’s Council, and UNICEF.