Former taoiseach to address Women in Media conference in Ballybunion 

Norma Prendiville


Norma Prendiville


Former taoiseach to address Women in Media conference in Ballybunion 

Bertie Ahern is among the speakers at the women in media conference

THE future of journalism, Brexit and the country’s housing crisis are among the topics to be discussed this weekend at the Women in Media conference in Ballybunion.  

And, although the majority of speakers at the three-day event will be women, former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and housing activist Fr Peter McVerry will be among the weekend’s guests at Kilcooly Country House.

Now, in its seventh year, the Women in Media conference will also attract some of Ireland’s leading female  journalists, broadcasters and politicians.

Speaking in advance of the opening session this Friday night, conference founder Joan O’Connor said:  “It is vital that we have a strong media, one that is representative of our society in terms of gender, race and sexual orientation. And one that is committed to telling the truth and to holding authority to account. We are therefore privileged in Ireland to have such strong, influential and dedicated women representing the public interest through the many media platforms that exist today.”

The opening session will be followed by a session on Women in Literature: Telling our Stories featuring writers Felicity Hayes-McCoy, Sinead Moriarty and Claudia Carroll.

The “Political Symposium” on Saturday will focus on “What the Government needs to do to solve our housing Crisis”.

This will be chaired by University of Limerick Head of Journalism Mary Dundon and the panel will include Sunday Times journalist Justine McCarthy,  Fr Peter McVerry; Housing Minister of State Damien English and Labour Housing spokeswoman Jan O’Sullivan TD.

The Women in Media panel  will debate “‘Does journalism have a future?’ and will be chaired by Prime Time’s Katie Hannon.

The panellists will include, RTE’s Six One anchor Keelin Shanley, Áine Kerr, co-founder and CEO of Kinzen, Lise Hand,  The Times (Ireland Edition), Ellen Coyne,  Senior Journalist, The Times (Ireland Edition) and Susan Mitchell, Deputy Editor of the Sunday Business Post.

The future of social media will also be debated at a separate session on Sunday morning to be chaired by Ciara Riordan, Social News Editor with the BBC.  

And an addition to this year’s agenda will be a panel discussion on “Women in STEM” which will be chaired by Newstalk’s Jess Kelly with Vodafone’s CEO Anne O’Leary Harry McCann CEO Trendster Media, Dr. Niamh O'Sullivan, Head of Genetics at UCD and Gillian Keating, I WISH Foundation.

On Saturday night at the gala dinner, the Mary Cummins Award for Women of Outstanding Achievement in the Media will be announced. Past winners include Justine McCarthy, Dearbhail McDonald, Geraldine Kennedy, Miriam O’ Callaghan, Olivia O’ Leary and Mary Maher.

The Joan Kennelly Special Media Award for photography will also be presented on Saturday along with a new award, The Social Media/Influencer Award that will recognise excellence in using new media platforms for good and the impact the influencer has in creating online discourse.

For the Brexit debate on Sunday, Bertie Ahern will be joined by Fine Gael MEP Máiréad McGuinness. All details at