Disability Federation of Ireland Board

DFI Board

Michael Doyle as DFI Board Chair

Michael Doyle Chairperson

Michael has been employed with the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) for over 20 years. He has held several positions over that period, his current position is National Director of Assisted Living Services. The Assisted Living Services is the largest of IWA's services which provides the service of a personal assistant to individuals with physical and sensory disabilities. These PA's assist individuals in their homes and communities facilitating community participation, access to education, employment andimproved quality of life. The service is designed by the individual to maximise control over their personal service. In 2018, the Assisted Living Service provided support to over 2,300 individuals. 

Michael is also the Director with responsibilty for the organisations' transport fleet of over 120 vehicles and the Monitoring Assesment Advice and Tuition Service, this service provides driving lessons to people with disabilities across the country in specially adapted vehicles. In 2018, they provided driving tuition to 330 students, facilitating them to commence or return to driving. 

As a senior member of the IWA  he is actively involved in the advocacy work of the association with a focus in lobbying on transport issues and the requirements for additional services. 

Michael was elected Chair of the DFI Board in July 2023. 


Gráinne O’Leary 1st Vice Chairperson

Over the past 13 years Gráinne has developed, lead and implemented an ambitious Services Programme for people living with arthritis and supporting infrastructure for service delivery, including the Stanford University Self-Management Programme to over 5,000 people. She has actively participated in the growth of the organisation and the ongoing development and implementation of its long- term strategy. Gráinne has built, motivated and managed teams of staff and volunteers to deliver on the strategic goals, objectives and targets of the services.

She is a Stanford University accredited Master Trainer in the Chronic Disease and Arthritis Self Management Programmes.

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Siobhan Long 2nd Vice Chairperson

Siobhan Long has worked in the field of Assistive Technology since 1991. Siobhan's current role involved management of Enable Ireland's National Assistive Technology Training and SeatTech Services. Siobhan works with two teams of highly skilled individuals who strive to deliver innovative, person-centered AT and custom seating solutions to a wide range of individuals with differing abilities and needs. Technology is changing repidly and the goal is to ensure that those who can benefit from what it has to offer, can gain access to it in a timely manner. Another goal of Enable Ireland's AT and SeatTeach services is to influence the development of future technologies. Partnering with AT users to advocate for better Assistive Technology services, solutions and support is a key objective for our service. 

Enable Ireland provides services to children and adults with disabilities and their families from 40 locations in 14 counties. Encompassing services from childhood to adulthood, expert teams work with the individual and their family on plan for each life stage. Enable Ireland's mission is to work in partnership with those who use the services to achieve maximum independence, choice and inclusion in their communities. Enable Ireland focuses on the person, not the disability. We believe that access, inclusion and equality are basic rights for all people and assert that society must recognise and accommodate individual needs. 

Headshot of man smiling - Fran Brennan

Fran Brennan Board Member

Fran Brennan is a former Marketing Manager and General Manager/Director of the Irish subsidiary of a multinational corporation. During this time he also served as Board Member of the Finglas Cabra Partnership for eight years and Chairperson of the Local Employment Services Network in that area.

He embarked on a new career in the voluntary sector in 2003 as General Manager of Living Life Counselling for six years followed by terms as Development Manager of the think tank TASC and Peamount Healthcare.  Fran is currently CEO of the Post Polio Support Group (Polio Survivors Ireland), an organisation that provides a range of services and supports to polio survivors.

He was elected to the Board of DFI in July 2016. Subsequently appointed to the Premises and Finance & Audit Sub-Committees of the Board. 

Fran was succeeded as Chair of the DFI Board by Michael Doyle of the Irish Wheelchair Association in July 2023. 

Ann Marie Ellison Board Member

Ann Marie has worked in the voluntary and community sector for almost 30 years. She worked for 11 years as the National Development Officer with the National Federation of Arch Clubs.  Ann Marie represents the Meeting Place Arch Clubs at Dublin City Disability Linkage Group and is a secretariat member of the Dublin City Public Participation Network, PPN. She is a Board Member of a North Dublin Mental Health Organisation. She is also a Carer to a man with Autism who is her inspiration and daily motivator. 

Ann Marie has several Third level qualifications that include Child Protection and Welfare (Maynooth University); Community Development (Tipperary Institute); A certificate of service quality and outcome Development in the Community and Voluntary sector (University of Limerick/DFI); A certificate in Quality Management (University of Limerick/DFI). She has recently completed post graduate studies in Volunteer Management and Leadership at NUI Galway.  

Ann Marie likes to write in her spare time and has had two collections of poetry and prose published by Cillena Press. She also describes herself as an experimental Gardener. 

Karen Foley

Karen Foley Board Member

Karen holds a PhD; Postgraduate Certificate in Healthcare Management and is Head of Service Operations for Acquired Brain Injury Ireland. Karen has worked in the field of acquired brain injury and disability in Ireland since 2006, managing a variety of services including residential, community, case management and respite services. Between 2006 and 2016, Karen managed services locally, advocating for and working to enable individuals with disabilities, and their supports, to maximise independence and live lives of their choosing. Since 2017, Karen has moved into senior roles, with responsibility for national management of services, development of new services, and involvement in research to demonstrate need for and effectiveness of services. Engagement with HSE and other disability organisations has been a regular feature within local and senior management roles.

Karen has been heavily involved in many research initiatives on brain injury, such as the example here, as well as participating in numerous working groups to further awareness of brain injury and the effectiveness of neuro-rehabilitation, such as NAI and the Neuro-Rehabilitation Strategy Implementation group.

Karen is very passionate about her role within the field of disability, with strong beliefs in person-centredness and empowerment of choice.

Padraig Hannafin

Padraig Hannafin Board Member

Padraig is the Public Affairs Research Administrator for the Rehab Group in Ireland. He has been in this role since 2009 after completing a BA and three MAs in University College Cork.

He is a keen advocate of the rights of people with disabilities and is the former chairperson of Cork Centre for Independent Living.

Padraig has lived experience of disability since acquiring a spinal injury at the age of 16. In his personal life, some of Padraig's interests are the use of smart technology to assist independence, gaming and sport. He is a passionate power soccer player.

Padraig joined the DFI Board in 2023. 

Aoife  Lambe

Aoife Lambe Board Member

Aoife is a Social Science Graduate from University College Dublin. Following a number of years working with Children and Young Adults, she completed a Masters in Child and Youth Care. She has worked in Disability Service for 17 years.

Aoife has worked in residential and respite services where she gained vast experience of clinical and organisational governance, with extensive knowledge regarding HIQA regulations and experience of managing teams and working through human resource issues as they arise.

In 2018, Aoife moved to community-based services, providing support and assisting with access to services for people with Multiple Sclerosis. As a result, she is familiar with community resources, HSE structures and referral pathways in the community.

In 2022, Aoife became the National Services Manager in MS Ireland.  The key responsibilities of her role are in MS Ireland’s national respite service in Bushy Park and the Community Worker Network which provide a casework service around the country to people with MS. 

John  Mc Donald

John Mc Donald

John McDonald is a disability activist. He is currently a Joint Programme Manager with Waterford Centre for Independent Living. Waterford CIL provides a Personal Assistant service and Accessible Transport service for people with disabilities and mobility limitations.

John was a founder member of Waterford Disability Network in 2012. He was also a Director of Waterford Area Partnership and Waterford Credit Union. He was on the committee of Waterford City and County Council that oversaw the "Barcelona Declaration" which consisted of 56 local authorities signing up to including Waterford Council.

He is passionate about all things "Accessible" and Healthcare and the rights of patients in hospitals, whatever age and he is a strong advocate for the disability sector.

John has been married to Nuala for 30 years. They live in Waterford for the last 21 years in their own apartment in the grounds of Waterford Cheshire, Johns Hill.

His interests include many sports such as football, soccer (he's a Norwich City fan), and rugby and as he is originally from Kilkenny, he's a hurling fan too. 

In his spare time he raises funds for activities for the service users in Waterford Cheshire including car boot sales, weekly bingo and an annual table quiz.

John joined the DFI Board in April 2024. 

Peter  Murphy

Peter Murphy Board Member

Peter has 20 years’ experience working with neurological patient organisations and has been the CEO of Epilepsy Ireland since 2016. He joined Epilepsy Ireland in 2008 initially focusing on fundraising, communications and research and later became the organisation’s Deputy CEO. Prior to this, he worked with the Migraine Association of Ireland from 2001-2007, including four years as CEO.


Epilepsy Ireland is the national organisation supporting and representing people with epilepsy and their families in Ireland. As CEO, Peter is responsible for furthering the organisation’s vision of a society where no person's life is limited by epilepsy through support, education and training services; raising awareness of epilepsy; advocating for those with the condition; and supporting Irish epilepsy research.


He is currently a member of the Health Products Regulatory Authority Patient Forum, the International League Against Epilepsy Covid-19 task force and the Chair of the International Bureau for Epilepsy’s Professional Development committee. He is a former board member of Health Research Charities Ireland and the Neurological Alliance of Ireland. 


As a board member of DFI, Peter hopes to work on behalf of people with neurological and hidden disabilities and to highlight the role and challenges of community-based member organisations.


Shane O'Brien

Shane O'Brien

Shane is the CEO of Parkinson’s Ireland.

He is a Chartered Accountant and a Chartered Tax Adviser. He holds a first-class honours degree in accounting from the Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest. Most recently he obtained a Professional Diploma in Leadership and Management from UCD Professional Academy.

Shane was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2015 and has the lived experience of a hidden and sometimes stigmatised disability. He is a former board member and chairperson of the Finance and Audit Committee of Epilepsy Ireland. He resigned from these positions after becoming the CEO of Parkinson’s Ireland.

He has also previously worked for the Irish Tax Institute, Grant Thornton and Glen Dimplex in accounting and finance roles.

Shane has a history of volunteerism for a variety of causes.

Shane joined the DFI Board in April 2024. 

Julie Sharp

Julie Sharp Board Member

Julie joined the Bank of Ireland as Head of Group Human Resources on 14 June 2010. Julie brought a diverse HR experience to the Group, gained in several different companies including ING where she more recently worked. At ING, Julie held a number of senior management positions ranging from Regional HR Director Asia Pacific for ING Investment Managment, based in Australia to Regional Head of HR and Management Board member, ING Asia Pacific based in Hong Kong. In this role she was responsible for 17,000 employees covering investment management, insurance and real estate. Prior to ING, Julie worked in senior HR Director roles Arthur Anderson, Citibank and Fairfax Media. 

Julie holds and MBA in International Business Management form Charles Sturt University, having previously graduated form the University of New South Wales with a Bachelor of Science,majorign in Psychology. 

Barry Sheridan

Barry Sheridan

Barry Sheridan is currently CEO of ChildVision, the national organisation dedicated to improving children's and young people's lives with visual impairments and multiple disabilities.  ChildVision plays a crucial role in supporting and enhancing children's and young people's lives with visual impairments and multiple disabilities and works closely with all stakeholders. 

Before this Barry was CEO with Down Syndrome Ireland and lead a transformation programme that included the re alignment of the organisations governance programme with included the redesign of the organisations Constitution.    

He has a wealth of CEO experience in the charitable and disability sector.  He has led national organisations through ambitious growth and organisational development programmes. 

Barry has 15 years’ senior management experience in creating exceptional outcomes across the disability and social inclusion non-profit sector behind him.   He is highly experienced and knowledgeable in non-profit governance, diligence, and regulatory requirements – having managed organisations governance evolution ensuring corporate governance and regulatory standards are met.   

Barry has an in-depth knowledge of the challenges facing people with disabilities and the organisations that are trying to support them and a real understanding of the role these disability organisations play in the creation of a more inclusive Irish society.   

Barry Sheridan joined the DFI Board in June 2024.