Karen Stevens was appointed Insurance & Savings Ombudsman in May 1998. In November 2015, the Scheme changed part of its name to better reflect the membership base and is now known as the Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman (“IFSO”) Scheme.
She graduated with BA and LLB degrees from Victoria University and was admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand in 1987. Karen practised as a lawyer in the area of civil litigation and alternative dispute resolution, before coming to complaints resolution work. Since her appointment, Karen has qualified as an Associate of The Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand, a Member of The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK) and a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Management. In 2009, she also completed a Master of Laws degree from La Trobe University in Melbourne, majoring in conflict resolution.
Karen is a founding Member of the INFO Network and is the current Committee Chair. She is also a founding Member of the Australian and New Zealand Ombudsman Association (“ANZOA”) and is on its Executive Committee. Karen speaks nationally and internationally about complaints resolution in the financial sector, particularly in respect of insurance, and is very involved in providing training to financial service providers to help them prevent complaints from arising.
Dr. Pete Lunn
Dr. Pete Lunn is an economist, author and former BBC journalist who joined the Irish Economic and Social Research Institute in 2006. Originally trained as a neuroscientist, his primary research interest is economic decision-making. He has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and an M.Sc. in Economics, both from the University of London.
Pete is the Principal Investigator of PRICE (Programme of Research Investigating Consumer Evaluation) Lab. Set up in January 2013, PRICE Lab is developing original experiments designed to test the abilities of consumers to choose between complex products. PRICE Lab is supported by the Central Bank of Ireland, National Consumer Agency, the Commission for Energy Regulation and the Communications Regulator (ComReg).
Pete’s most recent Working Papers centre on the implications for public policy of what is now known about how people make economic decisions. The issues explored include the regulation of various consumer markets, what might be learned from Ireland’s banking crisis, and how government might best make use of advances in behavioural economics. He has also provided new evidence of what causes the endowment effect and proposed an original theory to explain why consumers perceived an illusory jump in inflation when Euro notes and coins were introduced.
Pete is the author of a book on behavioural economics for general readers, entitled “Basic Instincts: Human Nature and the New Economics”, published by Marshall Cavendish. The book introduces readers to the classic results of behavioural economics and argues that the findings are leading to profound changes in our understanding of the economy.
Pete has also published research on equality and discrimination in the Irish labour market (funded by the Equality Authority), changing patterns of family formation and fertility (sponsored by the Family Support Agency), and participation in sport and physical activity (supported by the Irish Sports Council). His work on sport includes a statistical reconstruction of the recent history of participation of grassroots Irish sport.
Following the death of her son as a result of medical error, Margaret Murphy has been actively involved as a patient safety advocate. Margaret is the External Lead Advisor with the World Health Organisation Patients for Patient Safety Network (a network of 500 patient safety champions from 52 countries with 19 collaborating organisations).
The focus of her work relates to seeing adverse events as having the potential to be catalysts for change as well as being opportunities for learning, identifying areas for improvement and preventing recurrence of error.
She promotes this viewpoint at local, national and international levels as an invited presenter to conferences, hospital staffs and students. Her area of particular interest is education as a vehicle to achieve sustainable culture change.
She is viewed as a resource for including the patient perspective in a variety of initiatives and a range of fora, such as policy-making, standard-setting, professional regulation, education, research collaboration, conference speaker, team member critical incident reviews.
Additionally, she was designated International Society for Quality in Healthcare Expert 2012 and was invited by Professor the Lord Darzi of Denham to join an advisory group to scope, research and develop a paper on the subject of patient empowerment and make recommendations to senior policy makers for presentation at the Global Health Policy Summit, Doha.
Dr. Pete Jones
Dr Pete Jones is a Chartered Psychologist and a Chartered Scientist who specialises in research and consultancy around our unconscious biases and how we can better manage them at work.
He has extensive experience of training senior leaders and other key decision makers in mitigating bias.
He has delivered bias training and consultancy in many public and private sector organisations for the past 13 years.
He is the author of Implicitly®, believed to be the first commercial psychometric test to measure our hidden biases.
Alan Smeaton is Professor of Computing at Dublin City University where he has previously been Head of School and Executive Dean of Faculty, and is also a Founding Director of the Insight Centre for Data Analytics at DCU.
He is a Ministerial Government appointment member of the Board of the Irish Research Council. He is also a member of the COST Scientific Committee which oversees the disbursement of COST’s budget of €300m during the lifetime of Horizon 2020.
Alan is an elected member of the Royal Irish Academy, the highest academic distinction that can be awarded in Ireland. Within the Academy he is chair of the Engineering and Computer Sciences Committee. In 2016 he was awarded the Academy’s Gold Medal for Engineering Sciences, an award given once every 3 years for his “world-leading research reputation in the field of multimedia information retrieval”.
In 2017 he was elevated to Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) for his “outstanding contributions to multimedia indexing and retrieval”.
John Ryan has been CEO at Great Place to Work in Ireland since January 2011. Previously, John was self-employed as a management consultant, providing services to indigenous organisations as well as foreign multinationals in the areas of Strategic Decision Making, Communications and Positive Behaviour Building.
A former broadcast journalist, John is a graduate of Business from Dublin City University having a specialisation in Marketing. He also holds a qualification from the University of Maynooth.
John loves golf and football (Arsenal fan). He also has a passion for current affairs and was Mayor of his local town. John was recently Cathaoirleach (Chairman) of Wicklow County Council.
Rónán Ó Domhnaill
Rónán Ó Domhnaill was appointed Coimisinéir Teanga, Irish Language Commissioner for Ireland in March 2014. He was appointed by the President of Ireland following his nomination by the Government. Both Houses of the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament), (Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann) unanimously accepted that nomination.
Rónán is chairman of the Irish Ombudsman’s Forum, a board member of the Ombudsman Association and chair of the International Association of Language Commissioners.
He has recently completed a dissertation on the independence of Ombudsmen in Ireland.
Previous to his appointment Rónán spent 16 years as a journalist with the national broadcaster in Ireland, RTÉ and with the Irish language television station TG4. He was appointed as Political Correspondent with Nuacht RTÉ/TG4 in 2006. His role as a journalist placed much emphasis on reporting and analysing political stories relating to language rights and legislation regarding the Irish language.
The Language Commissioner reports directly to the Houses of the Oireachtas (Parliament). Rónán is often before Oireachtas committees to speak about language rights and the need to protect and strengthen those rights.
Donal was appointed Director of the (British & Irish) Ombudsman Association in February 2016, after joining the Association on an interim basis in June 2014. Donal has extensive experience of external relations having worked in various Private Office and policy roles in the UK. He helped set up the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority whilst at the UK Department of Trade and Industry and ran the Board Secretariat at the South East England Development Agency. In 2008 he joined the UK Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), where he spent 5 years. At PHSO he set up and headed the Policy Team, where he led on international relations, influenced government policy and secured legislative changes. Donal also sits on the steering group of the UK Administrative Justice Council and is a member of the British Standards Institute’s Consumer and Public Interest Strategic Advisory Committee.
Margaret Bouchier, is an independent Mediator and Director of Advanced Working Solutions Limited, and Partner in Erwin Bouchier Professional Solutions. She is a leading employment mediator, facilitator, trainer and investigator.
In addition to her mediation qualifications – M.MII, CertEM, MSSc – Margaret has continued to develop in related areas including Restorative Justice, Conflict Coaching and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) System design, to better support organisations and parties to constructively manage workplace issues and to promote collaborative workplace development.
Since 2004, Working Solutions has been a trusted provider of effective interventions to complex and sensitive employment situations, nationally and internationally. Her client organisations include public sector and semi-state bodies, private sector organisations (financial services/information technology/service industries/construction sector) and voluntary organisations.
Margaret is an experienced trainer having devised and delivered a broad range of training programmes through Working Solutions and Erwin Bouchier Professional Solutions including: Accredited Employment Mediator Training; Conflict Skills for Managers; Negotiation Training; Dignity at Work Training; and Teambuilding.
Since 2006, Margaret has been actively involved in the development of mediation in Ireland and internationally through her roles in the Mediators’ Institute of Ireland, the Elder Mediation International Network (EMIN) and, more recently, the Kennedy Institute Workplace Mediation Research Group (KIWMRG). In May 2016, Margaret was awarded the EMIN Sherren Leadership Award for her contribution to the development of ethics in Elder Mediation.
Douglas Melville is currently the Principal Ombudsman and Chief Executive of the Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman (CIFO). He is responsible for the two independent statutory bodies which commenced operation in 2015 that resolve disputes arising from the provision of retail financial services in and from the major international financial centres of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark (collectively known as the Channel Islands). Until May 2015, he served as the Ombudsman and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI). In 1996, while Director of Commercial and Regulatory Policy for the Canadian Bankers Association, Mr Melville established the Canadian Banking Ombudsman and served as its first Board Secretary.
Mr Melville qualified as a lawyer (barrister and solicitor) in Canada in 1993 and became an Ombudsman in 2006. Before that, he held senior industry roles in the banking, investment and insurance sectors. He has also served as a board member for various financial industry bodies and not-for-profit organisations involved in public policy, health care, international development, poverty alleviation, and financial literacy.
He currently serves as a Commissioner of the Jersey Overseas Aid Commission appointed by the States of Jersey, Jersey’s legislative assembly. Mr. Melville holds undergraduate degrees in Economic Geography and Political Science (BA) and Law (JD), and master’s degrees in Business Administration (MBA) and Law (LLM). In 2012, he received the ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors.
Gráinne McEvoy is Director of Consumer Protection with the Central Bank of Ireland. Prior to this appointment, she was Head of Securities and Markets Supervision Division and Deputy Head of the Financial Institutions and Funds Authorisation Division at the Central Bank. She was also acting Director of Securities and Markets Supervision for a period in 2017, having joined the Central Bank in 1997.
David Thomas is Chairman of the Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman Service.
He is also a member of the Regulatory Board of the worldwide Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. He was previously: a lawyer in private practice and a member of the Council of the Law Society (England and Wales); Banking Ombudsman (UK); principal ombudsman with the Financial Ombudsman Service (UK); and director of the Legal Ombudsman (England and Wales).
He has advised on financial consumer protection in more than 20 countries.
Deirdre Curran, PhD, is a lecturer and researcher at the National University of Ireland Galway. Her main areas of expertise lie in employment relations, employment law, and the management of workplace conflict.
Deirdre is a founder member and leader of the Kennedy Institute Workplace Mediation Research Group. The Group, which is comprised of a unique combination of academics and practitioners, believes that mediation practice should be informed by a solid foundation of empirical research. Our research projects address ‘live’ questions about the workings and effectiveness of mediation as a dispute resolution process. For example, Deirdre is currently co-leading a comparative study of public provisions for workplace mediation in Ireland and New Zealand.
Deirdre is a reviewer for academic journals including Negotiation and Conflict Management Research and Journal of Mediation and Applied Conflict Analysis. Deirdre is also on the editorial board for a series of books being produced by a joint publishing venture between the US Association of Conflict Resolution (ACR) and Rowman & Littlefield.
Deirdre is the programme director of the MSc in Human Resources at NUIG. She also currently acts as the university co-ordinator for the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD).
Ger Deering was appointed Financial Services Ombudsman in 2015 and Pensions Ombudsman in 2016. Both offices were merged on the 1st of January 2018 when Ger became the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman.
Ger has led a significant change programme since his appointment that has resulted in many more complaints against financial service providers being resolved through mediation.
Prior to his appointment as Ombudsman Ger established and led a number of public bodies and has considerable experience in protecting consumer and employment rights.
Ger was the first National Commissioner for Taxi Regulation and he was the founding Director of the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA). He played a key role in leading the Workplace Relations Reform Programme which established the two-tier workplace relations system that replaced the former complex and inefficient system involving five separate bodies.
He also worked in Local Government, Community Development, the Civil Service and the private sector.
Diarmuid Byrne has worked with the Financial Services Ombudsman’s Bureau since its inception in April 2005, more recently the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman.
He was appointed Head of Administration with the office in 2007 with responsibility for Administration, HR, IT and Finance.
In January 2016, he was appointed Director of the Dispute Resolution Services.
Ms Elaine Cassidy (Masters Public Policy, UCD; LLB Law, DIT; BA International Marketing and Languages, DCU) worked in the multinational IT sector for 15 years in an international management role, before joining the Public Service in 2008, as Head of Equal Status and Head of Mediation at the Equality Tribunal.
Following this, Ms Cassidy joined the Dept of Enterprise, Jobs and Employment to oversee the enactment and commencement of the Companies Act 2014, the largest piece of legislation in the Irish State. Ms Cassidy is currently Deputy Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman at the FSPO, a statutory quasi-judicial body, which is part of the consumer protection framework in Ireland.
Ms Cassidy completed the Law Society FE1 Exams and is a qualified Adjudicator, a certified Mediator and a member of the Mediators Institute of Ireland.
Kevin De Barra
Kevin De Barra joined the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman in January 2018 as Director of Corporate and Communication Services. Previous to this appointment, he was Head of Corporate Services with the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) where he also served as Secretary to the Commission.
Kevin holds a Bachelor of Commerce and a Master of Business Studies Degree from NUI, Galway, as well as various qualifications in the areas of Translation Studies, and Language Planning, including an MA in Applied Linguistics from Dublin Institute of Technology. Most recently, he was awarded a Certificate in Human Rights Law by the Law Society of Ireland, and is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Governance at University College Dublin.
Mrs. Sargsyan is a lawyer. She graduated from Yerevan State University – Faculty of Law. Maintained a candidate (Ph.D.) thesis and earned a degree in Candidate of Law. In the period of 1995-2008, she worked in the Central Bank of Armenia – first as specialist and at a later point, as the head of the Legal Department. Then, she was appointed as a General Legal Counsel at the Central Bank of Armenia. During this period, she was in charge of major legal reforms carried out in financial system. She has drafted number of laws in the field, such as the Law on Banks and Banking Regulation, Bankruptcy of Banks, etc.. She delivered lectures at a number of educational institutions, including French University of Armenia, State Academy of Management of Armenia, etc.
Mrs. Sargsyan has played a vital role in the establishment and development of the Financial System Mediator’s Office. She was the first Mediator appointed by The Board of Trustees on December 22, 2008, and later she was twice reappointed in the same position both in 2013 and 2017. Piruz Sargsyan has many times been invited as an international expert to share her expertise and to consult governments and regulatory agencies on development of ADR systems in financial markets in the former Soviet Republics and in other countries around the world.
The Financial Ombudsman service is an informal alternative to the courts that is free for consumers to use and provides an independent view on the financial service problems people bring to it. The ombudsman service has around 3,500 staff and handles close to half a million cases and over 1.4 million enquiries every year.
Caroline was appointed chief ombudsman and chief executive of the service in July 2014. She is an experienced member of the strategic leadership team, having first been appointed to the executive in 2011 as principal ombudsman and legal director.
In her 15 years at the ombudsman, Caroline has helped lead the organisation through substantial change, as the demand for its help has reached unprecedented levels.
As principal ombudsman, Caroline led a panel of over 200 ombudsmen and was responsible for both the consistency of the panel’s decision-making and their professional leadership. And as legal director, Caroline led the ombudsman’s in-house legal team, advising the executive and the board on all legal issues. Before that, Caroline led the teams that handled a quarter of a million mortgage endowment complaints; before she went on to lead the ombudsman’s response to the PPI judicial review. Caroline was instrumental in formulating the ombudsman’s approach to the ensuing PPI cases which have reached the ombudsman service at levels never seen before. To date, close to 1.5 million people have asked the ombudsman for help with their PPI dispute.
Caroline was called to the bar and spent her early career working in the insurance industry before joining the Insurance Ombudsman Bureau in 1999. Her work away from the ombudsman service includes her role on the board of the Claims Management Regulator, which she joined in 2014.