RESPECT Network Members

The members of the RESPECT Network come from institutions and organisations across both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Information on each of the members is presented below and further details can be found at the links provided.


Prof Chérie Armour

Chérie is Associate dean for Research and Impact at Ulster University. Cherie has published in excess of 100 peer reviewed journal articles in the field of Psychotraumatology and conducts research with many traumatised groups including survivors of interpersonal violence, survivors of childhood maltreatment, refugees, in service military personnel, military veterans, police and emergency service personnel. Cherie is also interested in psychiatric diagnostic classification systems and the nosology of disorders such as PTSD and Depression. Cherie has particular expertise in the application of advanced quantitative statistical modelling to population representative data. Cherie has delivered in excess of 70 conference presentations and is regularly invited to speak about her research at universities across the globe. Cherie was the 2015 recipient of the Distinguished Research Fellowship award from Ulster University and the Chaim and Bella Danielli Young Professional Award for her research contributions to the field of traumatic stress from the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies. Cherie leads a number of research groups and several postdoctoral researchers and PhD students within Ulster University. Two major ongoing research projects are the NI Veterans Health and Well-being Study and the Research for Safe relationships; education collaboration and training (RESPECT) network.  Cherie is also the President Elect of the UK Psychological Trauma Society; she will assume her role as President in March. In addition, Cherie holds a number of leadership positions external to the university including leading on the future planning committee of the Journal of Traumatic Stress Studies and editorial positions on a number of journals, for example, the European Journal of Traumatic Stress Studies and the Journal of Anxiety Disorders. 


Prof Bill Flack

William F. (“Bill”) Flack, Jr., PhD is a critical clinical psychologist, Associate Professor of Psychology, and Senior Fellow in the Social Justice Residential College at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania USA. His research is focused on intimate partner violence and trauma among university students, including prevalence and risk factors such as alcohol use, hooking up, time of the academic year, and study-abroad. He is a member of the Administrator-Researcher Campus Climate Consortium (ARC3), which developed a psychometrically sound, modifiable, free survey of harassment, stalking, dating violence, and sexual violence and related factors among university students. He had the U.S.-U.K. Fulbright-Northern Ireland Governance and Public Policy Scholarship during the fall of 2015, and helped to found the RESPECT Network.

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Dr Stephanie Holt

Stephanie is a Lecturer in Social Work in the School of Social Work & Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin. She is also the Director for three postgraduate programmes: the fully online Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Social Studies which commenced in 2014; the online MSc in Applied Social Studies which commenced in 2015 and in the 2016-2017 academic year she takes over as Director of the Postgraduate Diploma in Child Protection and Welfare. Prior to her current academic post she worked as a community care social worker and co-ordinated a Family Support Service in the South Western Area Health Board of Dublin. She also spent a year as a research fellow with the Children’s Research Centre, Trinity College Dublin. Her academic and research interests include; domestic violence, intimate partner homicide and risk assessment, child contact, child care and family support. She completed the M.Sc. in Child Protection and Welfare in 2000 and her Doctoral research which was awarded in 2010 concerned children’s experiences of post separation contact with domestically abusive fathers. Stephanie secured a prestigious three-year Health Research Board Research Fellowship to support the completion of her PhD. She is currently Chair of the Irish branch of BASPCAN (British Association for the Study and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect).

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Nitai aleksiewicz

Nitai Aleksiewicz holds an M.Phil. in Gender and Women’s Studies from Trinity College Dublin. Her research focuses on isolating cultural causes contributing to gender-based violence. Using an inter-disciplinary approach, her recent projects combine Cyber-psychology, Cultural Anthropology, Feminist Theory, and qualitative Masculinities studies in investigating the connection between pornography and online misogynistic hate speech. She is currently a member of two research teams—North/South Consortium and the Postgraduate Research Network on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence—conducting current research to identify the prevalence of sexual violence in Ireland and working with universities on developing and implementing preventative measures. She is part of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre’s Outreach program which provides information based presentations to secondary schools on sexual violence and child sexual abuse.


Cara Cash

Cara is Chief Executive of Nexus NI, Northern Ireland’s only specialist charity offering support and accredited counselling to victims of sexual violence/abuse or exploitation.  The organisation has been offering services to thousands of people across Northern Ireland for more than 30 years and fully appreciate the impact crimes of this nature have on their victim.  Nexus also delivers training in supporting victims to other professionals and education workshops to post primary students dealing with topics such as safe sexual relationships as well as programs offering support to families whose children have been sexually abused.   Cara sits on All Party Working Groups on Sexual Health and Suicide Prevention as well as domestic and sexual violence partnerships across NI. 


Carol Rhonda Burns

Carol holds a BSc in Social Psychology and MRes in Psychology and is a member of the Psychotraumatology, Mental Health and Suicidal behaviour research group at Ulster University. Research interests include interpersonal victimisations and mental health. Carol is currently a PhD student at Ulster University,  the title of the research is 'Assessing the mental health outcomes of interpersonal poly-victimisation and trauma across the lifecourse in males.' Carol is focusing on typologies of interpersonal poly-victimisation and abuse, and the cumulative effects of exposure to victimisation in male populations, examining the mediating and moderating factors relating to mental health outcomes and has particular interest in advanced statistical modeling. Carol is an associate member of the Further and Higher Education Authority (AFHES) and is a teaching assistant on the MSc Health Psychology, a member of the Ulster University Student Council (UUSU) committee and is UUSU representative to the Ulster University Senate. Carol is a member of the Postgraduate Research Network, The Domestic Violence Against People (DVAP) Research Network and is the team lead on the 'Communications and Events' team of the RESPECT Network.


Martin Robinson

Martin holds a BSc (hons) degree in Psychology from Ulster University and is currently enrolled on a PhD studentship aligned to the Northern Ireland Veteran's Health and Well-Being Project also at Ulster University. Martin's PhD is entitled "The Mental Health of Military Veterans Living in Northern Ireland". His primary research interests are related to the effects of psychological trauma on mental health, particularly the study of Moral Injury.

Martin is currently a member of the Psychotraumatology, Mental Health and Suicidal Behaviour Recognised Research Group, The NI Veteran's Well-Being Study and a member of the Communications and Events Team for the RESPECT Network.


Dr John Devaney

John Devaney, PhD, is a senior lecturer in social work within the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work, and a Fellow of the Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation at Queen's University Belfast. He joined the university in 2006 after working as a social worker and senior manager in social care in Northern Ireland for eighteen years.

John's research interests lie in the areas of familial violence, the safeguarding of children from abuse and neglect, the development of child welfare policy and the impact of childhood adversity across the lifecourse. He has published widely on issues related to child abuse and neglect and family violence. John is a member of the Advisory Board for the all-Ireland Postgraduate Research Network on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence, and also co-ordinates the all-Ireland Domestic Violence Research Special Interest Group which hosted the inaugural European Conference on Domestic Violence in Belfast in September 2015.


Dr Susan Lagdon

Susan Lagdon recently completed her PhD at Ulster University, her research primarily focused on Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), Mental Health and Service Experience in Northern Ireland.  Susan is now completing a Research Fellowship at Queens University Belfast in the School of Nursing and Midwifery looking at Health and Social Care Professionals Family Focused Practice with Parents who have a Mental Illness, their Children and Families in Northern Ireland.  Susan is a committee member of the Northern Ireland British Psychological Society and previously acted as the Northern Ireland Psychology Postgraduate Representative for PsyPAG.  Susan’s main research interests include Intimate Parent Violence, Sexual Violence, Childhood Maltreatment, Mental Health, Service Experience / Response to Mental Health and Trauma and Trauma Prevention / Intervention.  


Shelley Fletcher

Shelley Fletcher MRes is a PhD student and a member of the Psychotraumatology, Mental Health and Suicidal behaviour research group at Ulster University. Shelley is also a member of the Postgraduate Research Network on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence and both the Communications and Events Team and the Prevalence team for the RESPECT Network.

Shelley’s main research interests are in the area of childhood trauma and psychopathology in adulthood. Her PhD focuses on the long term consequences of childhood sexual abuse in a sample of individuals attending an incest treatment centre in Denmark and involves advanced longitudinal analyses. To date Shelley has examined predictors of treatment attrition, multiple PTSD trajectories and risk and resilience factors. 



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Dr Louise Crowley

Louise Crowley is a solicitor and a first class honours graduate of University College Cork (BCL 1996; LLM 1997), (PGDTL 2010) and Cardiff University (PhD 2010) and is a Senior Lecturer and Vice Dean (Student Affairs) at the School of Law, UCC. Louise is the author of the leading Irish family law textbook Family Law (Roundhall 2013). Her other publications include Family Law (Thomson Roundhall 2008); the contribution of chapters to Marital Agreements and Private Autonomy in Comparative Perspective (Hart 2012); 30 Years of Legal Scholarship (Roundhall 2011); Family Law (Oxford University Press 2008), and the Family Law Practitioner (Round Hall 2000). She has published articles on regulatory approaches to marital breakdown, asset distribution and marital agreements in a range of Irish and international journals, including the Child and Family Law Quarterly, International Family Law, the Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law and the Irish Journal of Family Law. Louise was a member of the National Expert Group on pre-nuptial agreements appointed by the then Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. In 2010 she was jointly awarded the UCC Presidents Award for Excellence in Teaching in respect of her contribution to the annual Law School eLaw Summer Institute. Louise is the Director of the BCL; Director of the LLM (Child and Family Law); LLM (International Family Law) and LLM (Practitioner) at the School of Law. With the support of IRC funding, and the students of the LLM (Child and Family law) Family Law Clinic Louise has developed and maintains an online information hub relating to all aspects of family law and is currently working with MOVE (Ireland) and the participants of its perpetrator programmes, to critically assess the impact of the Irish domestic violence laws and processes. Louise is a member of the Governing Body of University College Cork.


Norma Patterson

Norma is currently Student Health and Wellbeing Advisory Services Manager with Student Support in Ulster University.  In this post she manages the Student Counselling, Health and Wellbeing, Triage and Money Advice Services.  In her role she often works with students who have been affected by traumatic experiences and who need specialist support and advice. She has extensive experience in policy and project development as well as over fifteen year’s senior management experience which she is using in her role with Student Support.

Prior to working with the University Norma was a Director of Contact, the organisation who managed the Lifeline Service and who initiated the first Regional Schools Counselling Service in NI. She worked there for eleven years and saw the organisation grow from a small local charity to a large regional counselling organisation serving the whole of Northern Ireland.

Prior to this Norma worked in community relations work in Local and Central Government as well as the Community and Voluntary Sector. 

Throughout her career she continued her professional development beginning with a first class Degree in Psychology from Queens University Belfast and progressing to achieve Diplomas in Gestalt Psychotherapy and Person Centred Counselling. 

Norma has also specialised in gaining a Diploma in Play Therapy and Creative Supervision.

Norma has always taken a keen interest in student safety and wellbeing and her years of experience in the area of counselling young people is of great benefit to the RESPECT consortium.


Dr Caroline Kelleher

Dr. Caroline Kelleher is a lecturer in Psychology in RCSI which involves teaching behavioural sciences to medical, physiotherapy and pharmacy students at undergraduate level.  She joined RCSI in 2012 as a postdoctoral researcher working on the Irish Research Council – HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme project: ‘Exploring trends in sexual activity, contraceptive use and pregnancy experiences in Ireland over the last decade.’ Her doctoral work, which was completed in the Department of Psychology at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth and was funded by the Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS), examined the psycho-social impact of rape and sexual assault in a sample of Irish women. Since beginning her research career she has consistently engaged in health-related research with a range of vulnerable populations (e.g. palliative care, falls prevention in older people), with a particular focus on, and interest in sexual violence and sexual health.  

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Phillip McCormack

As Research Officer with Cosc – Ireland’s National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence – Phil is responsible for the overseeing of all work related to the research unit at Cosc. Cosc is situated within the Government of Justice and Equality, but has been given a remit to address domestic, sexual and gender-based violence from a cross-government perspective rather than solely from that of the justice sector. Cosc’s role covers co-ordination across the justice, health, housing, education, family support and community sectors. This work includes close interaction with non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The current primary function of Cosc is to drive the implementation of the Second National Strategy on Domestic Sexual and Gender-based Violence 2016 - 2021 and Action Plan. 

Phil’s work includes working with external agencies on research matters, e.g. data collection, collation and analysis; methodologies used and output; the management, co-ordination and evaluation of various research projects; the drafting and publication of research reports, requests for statistics and policy related material. Phil’s work also entails representing Cosc at Governmental interdepartmental fora and meetings; representing Ireland at international (EU) seminars and conferences related to Cosc’s work. His research skills include both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies in applied social sciences and recent research interests have included: domestic and sexual violence service provision in Ireland; attitudes to domestic violence; awareness raising of domestic and sexual violence at post-primary schools; the development of content on domestic and sexual violence for roll-out across the 3rd level sector; and domestic violence perpetrator programmes.

Earlier this year Phil, initiated Ireland’s first Postgraduate Research Network (PRN) on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence.The PRN objectives are to improve Ireland’s understanding and practice regarding domestic, sexual and gender-based violence by:

  • Creating a space for sharing learning and identifying gaps in knowledge to inform future research agendas and encourage the development of rigorous, critical and imaginative domestic, sexual and gender-based violence scholarship.
  • Providing researchers with a platform for multi-disciplinary engagement and dissemination of their work through seminar events, electronic communications and the PRN website/web portal.
  • Promoting dialogue and collaboration between researchers, policy makers and NGOs in different sectors and disciplines.
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Dr Pádraig MacNeela 

Dr Pádraig MacNeela is a lecturer at the School of Psychology, NUI Galway. He is also director of PhD studies at the School, co-director of the multidisciplinary PhD in Child & Youth Research, and coordinates the Community Engaged Research in Action (CORA) research cluster at the Institute for Lifecourse and Society. His current research is focused on young adults, sexual health, alcohol use, and gender. He also has expertise in studying illness and well-being from the perspective of both health care providers and patients. His research has included nurses, mental health professionals, general practitioners, community partners, and student services, and has had a particular focus on qualitative research methodologies. His collaborative community research has included partners such as Rape Crisis Network Ireland, Irish National Council of AD/HD Support Groups, Spinal Injuries Ireland, Galway Simon Community, and COPE Galway.


Dr. Clíona Saidléar

Dr. Clíona Saidléar is the Executive Director of the Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI). Her role includes national policy initiatives across a range of Government Departments and inter-agency fora to improve the responses to survivors and to work towards the prevention of sexual violence. A key focus of Clíona’s work since 2004, when she first joined the RCNI as policy and communications director, has been on prevention. Clíona drafted the Irish national guidelines on awareness raising, led on rethinking approaches to education and awareness work within the sector, engaged in strategic partnerships to integrate sexual violence into sexual heath strategies and initiatives across government, non-government and student body structures, has commissioned research and partnered with academia to develop and support best practice and analysis. Clíona has presented widely from the UN and WAVE, to academic and issue based conferences and seminars as well as regularly acting as a spokesperson.


Elaine Byrnes

Elaine Byrnes, BSc., MSc., MBPS, MPSI, is a Doctoral Researcher at the School of Psychology, NUI, Galway. Her research areas of interest are in sexual behaviour, particularly in the negotiation of consent; and how this may be mediated by gender and alcohol, with a focus on an Emerging Adulthood population. She was the co-lead,with Dr. Padraig MacNeela, of the Explore Initiative, 2014 at NUI, Galway, that saw the development of Smart Consent Workshops, and has been a facilitator of these workshops both at NUI, Galway and other institutions in Ireland. Her work on Smart Consent resulted in a nomination for  Outstanding Contribution to Student Life Award at the USI (Union of Students in Ireland) Student Achievement Awards, 2016. 
She is a member of the USI National Advisory Panel 2016/17 (Consent) and is also an advisor to the DARE (Dating Abuse – Raising Awareness and Education) Project with ProActiv Ireland.
Elaine has contributed to the Human Sexuality, Social Psychology and Developmental Psychology modules as a lecturer, and as a 1st year tutor. She was nominated for the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2016 at NUI, Galway. 


Jessica Elder

Jessica recently graduated from Queen’s University Belfast with a BSc Hons in Adult Nursing. She now holds the position of VP Welfare in Queen’s students union as the first nursing student to become a Sabbatical Officer. Within her role she is actively engaged in the campaigning, educating and researching of sexual assault, harassment, stalking and rape within higher education. Last month Jessica ran the first campaign solely on sexual consent in Northern Ireland under the title ‘Consent is B.A.E. #BeforeAllElse’, starting the conversation of sexual consent in the student body at Queens. Jess is a member of S.C.O.R.E; the student led research project into sexual assault, harassment, rape, violence and stalking within Queen’s student body and is also involved in the North/South Consortium project.

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Dr Michelle Templeton

Michelle is a research fellow at Queen’s University Belfast. Her current work involves delivering and evaluating a gender-transformative Relationships and Sex Education resource to young men in a prison setting. Her research largely focuses on young people and (hetero)sexual readiness, in particular the wider social dimensions that influence their decision to sexually debut. She is interested in understanding the context in which young people make their decision to initiate sex, and how this impacts on their sexual health. This has important implications for young people's sexual health, sexual rights, and for relationships and gender-equality more broadly. Michelle is also skilled in children’s rights-based participation and has worked with many children and young people to deliver projects for government and international agencies, which have produced child-friendly versions of complex materials on issues such as sexual exploitation, for the Council of Europe, Eurochild and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. She is a qualified sexual health facilitator and child protection officer, and has vast experience working with children and young people on sensitive issues and controversial topics. She is interested in the social construction of gender in/equality, sexual rights and sexual health, particularly in adolescents. Other current research includes inequalities in health by social class and ethnicity as well as gender, and lay perceptions of health related behaviours.