News & Events

Annual Activity Report 2021-22

Welcome to the activity report for the Geary Institute for the period 2020–22. Despite the challenges of the past two years, it has been a busy and exciting time at Geary. We bid farewell to Professor Philip O’Connell, who was Geary Director from 2013–2020, and welcomed Professor Michelle Norris of the UCD School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice as the new Geary Director. We have hosted an exciting range of events and training activities, both online and in person, not least our extensive programme of webinars on Ireland’s Covid response, which drew a wide audience from policy as well as academic circles.

In addition, we have celebrated some notable grant successes, including being appointed as National Coordinator of the European Social Survey (ESS), Round 11, following on from successful coordination of ESS since 2018 (Rounds 9 and 10); and leading on a multi-partner Horizon Europe project ‘GUIDEPREP’, which will lay the foundations for Europe’s first comparative birth cohort study of children’s and young people’s wellbeing. We are also delighted that we can once again welcome visiting scholars to the Institute and continue to support Fellows’ research activity and provide desks and collaborative facilities for a wide cohort of PhD scholars.

Click here for the full activity report

Mobilising societal power: Understanding public support for nursing strikes

Framing  is  regarded  as  the  primary  mechanism through which unions generate societal power. This article  examines  the  relationship  between  societal power and framing in a significant case study—a nursing strike that successfully challenged austerity wages in Ireland. Through analysis of messages of support for the strike in newspapers and on Twitter, the sources of societal power in the conflict are identified. The findings indicate that the framing strategies unions adopt and public acceptance of these strategies depend on historical and sectoral factors. In the instant case, nurses benefitted from increased societal support for the broader labour movement and recent waves of protest.

For full publcation click here.

National heroes, disposable workers. How collective action in the health and social care sector during the pandemic negotiated with the self-sacrificing worker ideal

During the pandemic, the ideal of the self-sacrificing health and social care worker became both more powerful and more unsustainable than ever. This article explores the manner and extent to which health and social care workers collectively challenged this ideal. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in Italy, this paper discusses mobilizations organized within three occupations: doctors in training, nurses, and social care workers. The study finds that collective action partially rejected and partially reproduced the self-sacrificing worker ideal. Moreover, it shows how inequality regimes, imposing this ideal through classist, gendered, ageist, and racist-nationalist processes in a pattern specific to each occupation, fundamentally shape the ways in which the ideal is challenged, as does the political culture of the groups organizing the mobilizations.

For full publication click here.

Ryanair pilots: Unlikely pioneers of transnational collective action

In aviation, EU single market rules empowered Ryanair over three decades to defeat all pilot unions across Europe, regardless of the notionally strong power resources on which they were relying in their countries. Nonetheless, in December 2017, a transnational group of union-related pilots, the European Employee Representative Committee was critical in forcing Ryanair to finally recognize trade unions. This study shows that multinationals’ ability to circumvent national union power resources does not necessarily undermine transnational collective action. Hence, transnational union strength does not primarily depend on an aggregation of national power resources, but on union activists’ ability to exploit union-friendly peculiarities that the EU governance regime is also providing. We show that the apparently weaker institutional power resources at EU level provides more effective leverage for transnational collective action than apparently stronger power resources embedded within French, Danish, or Norwegian labour law. This requires an understanding of scale.

For full publication click here

National Coordinator of the European Social Survey

UCD Geary Institute has been appointed as National Coordinator of the European Social Survey (ESS) in Ireland for Round 11. UCD and Geary have played a central role in the development of ESS, having coordinated the Irish participation in the survey since 2018 (Rounds 9 and 10). This work is supported by a generous grant from the Irish Research Council.

The European Social Survey (ESS) is an academically driven cross-national survey that has been conducted across Europe since its establishment in 2001.Every two years, face-to-face interviews are conducted with newly selected, cross-sectional samples.  The survey measures the attitudes, beliefs and behaviour patterns of diverse populations in more than thirty nations.

The objective of the study is to offer researchers, policy makers and the public the highest quality survey data that is comparable across countries and time.More than 2,000 households will be selected to take part in the 11th round of the ESS in Ireland. The sample is representative of all residents of Ireland age 15 and up. For further information please see

'Why Do some Labour Alliances Succeed in Politicizing Europe Across Borders? A Comparison of the Right2Water and Fair Transport European Citizens' Initiatives

Szabó, I. G., Golden, D. and Erne, R. (2022) 'Why Do some Labour Alliances Succeed in Politicizing Europe Across Borders? A Comparison of the Right2Water and Fair Transport European Citizens' Initiatives'. Journal of Common Market Studies, 60 (3): 634-652.


Under what conditions can organized labour successfully politicize the European integration process across borders? To answer this question, we compare the European Citizens' Initiatives (ECIs) of two European trade union federations: EPSU's successful Right2Water ECI and ETF's unsuccessful Fair Transport ECI. Our comparison reveals that actor-centred factors matter – namely, unions' ability to create broad coalitions. Successful transnational labour campaigns, however, also depend on structural conditions, namely, the prevailing mode of EU integration pressures faced by unions at a given time. Whereas the Right2Water ECI pre-emptively countered commodification attempts by the European Commission in water services, the Fair Transport ECI attempted to ensure fair working conditions after most of the transport sector had been liberalized. Vertical EU integration attempts that commodify public services are thus more likely to generate successful transnational counter-movements than the horizontal integration pressures on wages and working conditions that followed earlier successful EU liberalization drives.

This article has also been popularised in the London School of Economics and Political Science’s EUROPP Blog, the WZB Berlin Social Science Center Blog, the Journal of Common Market Studies Blog and in the TraPoCo blog.

SERP team highlights concerns over Ukrainian refugee crisis

SERP have warned Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney that not all offers of help to Ukrainian refugees are genuine. More measures are needed to guard against women and children being abused, including through so-called 'sex for rent' exploitative practices, they have said. The Sexual Exploitation Research Programme (SERP), based in the Geary Institute for Public Policy at University College Dublin, warned Mr Coveney that gender-specific safe accommodation and other specialist supports should be put in place, adding: "Ireland continues to have an active sex trade, and as such is already a destination country for victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation." Full article available here
Also the team's work on commercial sexual exploitation was highlighted in the Dáil on International Women's Day 2022.

Geary Director receives IRC Award


Academics and research staff at UCD have been recognised with several accolades from the Irish Research Council, as part of the state funder’s 2021 Researcher of the Year Awards scheme. Receiving one of the top awards, UCD’s Professor of Social Policy Michelle Norris was awarded the Impact Award for her proven record of research impact ‘beyond academia’ in the field of social housing policy.

Commenting on the awards announcement, UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact, Professor Orla Feely said: "We wish many congratulations to all our recipients in this year's Irish Research Council 'Researcher of the Year' awards, particularly Professor Michelle Norris on winning the IRC Impact Award for her far-reaching work in the field of housing finance and policy. Her work on social housing, welfare states and counterbalancing housing market cycles has important implications for housing policy in Ireland and internationally

Professor Michelle Norris is Director of UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy. Her research interests focus on housing policy and urban regeneration. She has led over 20 research projects on housing policy since 2000 and produced over 170 publications on the results.

Professor Norris is a policy adviser – domestically and internationally – on housing policy. She is currently a member of the National Economic and Social Council and chairperson of the Housing Finance Agency. In 2020, she was appointed as an expert advisor to #Housing2030 – a joint international initiative which aims to improve the capacity of national and local governments to formulate policies that improve housing affordability and sustainability.

The research impact case study ‘Funding social housing for low-income households after Ireland's economic crisis,’ outlines the impact record of Professor Norris’ research. She said: “I am honoured to receive this award in recognition of the policy impact of my work on financing and providing social housing. I would like to thank the IRC for their support for my research and for acknowledging the importance of research impact.

Confronting the Harm report launched

Confronting the Harm: Documenting the prostitution experiences and impacts on health and wellbeing of women accessing the Health Service Executive Women’s Health Service.

This study was commissioned by the National Social Inclusion Office of the Health Service Executive (HSE), in recognition of the need to strengthen the evidence base on the health impacts of prostitution and the supports that women require, given the dearth of research in this area. The overall aim of the study is to provide empirical data on the impact of prostitution on women’s physical, sexual, reproductive and mental health.  The study was undertaken by SERP in collaboration with the HSE’s Women’s Health Service – a free sexual health service for women currently involved in prostitution.

This comprehensive study explores the profile of women in the Irish sex trade, their entry routes into prostitution, and their experiences within it.  It demonstrates the wide-ranging health impacts of sexual exploitation, with a particular focus on sexual, reproductive and mental health, and highlights the specialist supports that women in prostitution require.  The research launch is supported by the Community Foundation for Ireland.  To read the full report, click here and SERP’s briefing document, click here.

Funding red tape has led to low output of Traveller-specific accommodation

WITH IRELAND IN the grip of a housing crisis, the need for adequate resourcing of Traveller-specific accommodation solutions is becoming increasingly apparent. The allocation of funding for such projects, however, has in the past been haphazardly distributed and unnecessarily convoluted. 

Since the 1998 Housing Act, local authorities have been funded by the Department of Housing to provide Traveller-specific accommodation (TSA) in their areas and it is funded separately to general social housing funding from central government. 

However, over the years many local authorities have failed to spend this money. In July, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) published the findings of equality reviews for all of Ireland’s local authorities, focused on Traveller-specific accommodation. 

The reviews found that between 2008 and 2018, of €168.8 million allocated to local authorities for Traveller-specific accommodation, just two thirds (€110.6 million) was drawn down. 

The reviews found evidence of poor information gathering to inform decision-making and in identifying Travellers’ true accommodation preference. There were also failures around staff training at local authorities, accounting for Travellers with disabilities, and ensuring there was no discrimination when it came to access to housing.

Full article here

Geary Director launches Housing2030 report report for the UUNECE, UN Habitat and Housing Europe

Prof Michelle Norris, Director of Geary Isntitute for Public Policy co-authored the Housing2030 report for the UUNECE, UN Habitat and Housing Europe as part of the Housing2030 project which aims to show how policy makers can improve affordable housing outcomes.

Full Release

A breakthrough #Housing2030 report by Housing Europe, UNECE and UN-Habitat shows effective policies for affordable housing in the UNECE region

Time to think and do differently

Approximately 50 million people in the UNECE region live in inadequate housing conditions, while unaffordability and housing exclusion are also prominent issues in the region. This has led many housing experts, including the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, to declare that our housing systems are “in crisis”.[1]

The households who must live with the worst effects of this crisis have been let down not always by a lack of action, but often by a lack of knowledge on the part of policymakers. They are also subject to forces beyond their control; from climate change, unguided or unregulated investment flows, insufficient state supports, and most recently, a global pandemic. To address the huge challenge of housing affordability for those in urgent need of better housing outcomes in the UNECE region, Housing Europe, UNECE, and UN-Habitat have, along with an expert team of writers, researchers and collaborators, spent over two years developing an in-depth report: “#Housing2030: Effective policies for affordable housing in the UNECE region”.

The report was presented at the UNECE Ministerial Meeting held in Geneva under the title “Affordable, adequate, and resilient housing in liveable cities, including cities which face extreme weather conditions” on 6 October 2021. Developed under the joint international initiative of UNECE, UN-Habitat and Housing Europe, known as #Housing2030, the report focuses on solutions to the housing affordability crisis in the UNECE region, highlighting existing policy instruments and good practices that have been shown to be effective.

“The #Housing2030 report offers a very rich toolkit, which can help to support the work of our sector, but at the top of it is political commitment, dialogue, willingness to see the bigger picture and providing necessary financial and human resources to deliver the basic human right that decent, quality housing really is”, the President of Housing Europe, the European Federation of public, cooperative and social housing, Bent Madsen stressed.

UNECE Executive Secretary, Ms. Olga Algayerova stressed that “UNECE supports the key messages of the #Housing2030 report that there is an urgent need to rethink housing policy making. Housing policy should be based on a stronger engagement of national and local governments in shaping the markets to better deliver the housing we need to move away from simply relying on market mechanisms. Multilevel governance approach and international cooperation must be further strengthened”.

The #Housing2030 report focuses on four topics: (1) Housing governance and regulation; (2) Access to finance and funding; (3) Access and availability of land for housing construction; and (4) Climate-neutral housing construction and renovation. #Housing2030 and its rich website, which will eventually include over a hundred best practices,[2] make clear what affordable housing entails: effective governance, strategic land policy, as well as purposeful circuits of investment and active promotion of climate neutral and affordable housing and neighbourhoods.

Since its foundation, UN-Habitat has worked to promote the realisation of the right to adequate housing for all as one of the transformative forces that can lead the world to overcome challenges related to climate change, poverty, exclusion and inequality. We are committed to ensure that the growth of cities and nations around the world translates in more equally distributed opportunities, and that no-one and no place is left behind. Increasing housing affordability is critical in reaching this goal and is now made even more urgent by the impacts of COVID-19. For this reason, Housing2030 is as timely as it is crucial,” Christophe Lalande, Housing Lead Specialist in the Land, Housing and Shelter Section at UN-Habitat said.

The study draws on the experience of over 100 researchers, policymakers, housing providers and advocates from across the ECE region and beyond, to define useful approaches, outline their advantages and disadvantages, and illustrate their practical application. The study involved an extraordinary level of engagement, despite the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic, using survey instruments, online workshops and podcasts in order to maximise the exchange of policy experience and good practices.

The study also underlines that housing is central to peoples’ lives, health, dignity, safety, as well as the liveability of their neighbourhoods. Housing also contributes significantly to social solidarity, environmental sustainability, and economic stability.

The report will support policymakers to shape more resilient housing systems, and ensure that decent homes and neighbourhoods are affordable, safe and accessible, by implementing the SDGs by 2030, meeting the Paris Agreement climate goals, and realising the Right to Adequate Housing. Progress can be accelerated with high-level support and long-term commitment.

UNECE, UN-Habitat and Housing Europe strongly believe that governments can drive action to address housing and related concerns, supported by capable and dedicated policymakers, experts, and informed advocates. The report offers key policy stakeholders, such as housing ministers and mayors, the tools to shape more inclusive and sustainable housing systems, together with the households and communities they serve.

More information about the study, its conclusions and recommendations, and the work of #Housing2030 can be found at  and


For press inquiries, please contact Diana Yordanova.

For more information about the #Housing2030 report, please contact Dara Turnbull.


[1] See:

[2]The #Housing2030 website provides an online resource of best practices, practitioner presentations, webinar recordings and audio podcasts. It also offers a living platform for sharing policy progress among the ECE community (


Full Report

Marie Curie Fellowship Contesting Governance by Numbers

New Marie Curie Fellowship project from January 2022: “Contesting Governance by Numbers: The Mobilizations of Food Delivery Couriers across Europe in Time of the Pandemic (COGONU)”

With the support of Professor Roland ErneDr Lorenzo Cini has won a prestigious 2-year Marie Curie Fellowship with the project “Contesting Governance by Numbers: The Mobilizations of Food Delivery Couriers across Europe in Time of the Pandemic (COGONU)”. Based in the Geary Institute from January 2022, he will investigate the causes, trajectories, and outcomes of mobilisations of workers in the platform economy since 2016 in different European cities before and during the Covid crisis.

His project has three main research objectives:

  1. mapping all episodes of couriers’ mobilizations across Europe since 2016 accounting for similarities and differences in terms of strategies, action repertoire, and mobilization capacity.
  2. conducting an in-depth analysis of three cases of mobilization that have exhibited variation in terms of action repertoire, forms of organizing, alliance building and target, to understand the dynamics of contention, their political strategies, and policy outcomes.
  1. aiming to explore the processes of transnational coordination and organization among couriers, union representatives, and activists and their feedback effects on both corporate and EU governance.

Dr Cini will work closely with Professor Erne and his team from the European Research Council project “Labour Politics and the EU’s New Economic Governance Regime (European Unions)” who are also hosted by the Geary Institute for Public Policy.

Publication in the Journal of European Social Policy

Criticism from European Commission consultants has led to a new publication in the Journal of European Social Policy

Dr Sabina Stan, Senior Social Scientist at the European Research Council group of “Labour Politics and the EU’s New Economic Governance Regime” and Professor Roland Erne, Principal Investigator of same ERC project based in the Geary Institute for Public Policy, have been criticised by two legal consultants to the European Commission on their earlier article (Stan et al. 2020) on the regressive distributive effects of the European Health Insurance Card across social classes and European regions. Dr Stan and Professor Erne have replied to the criticism in the Journal of European Social Policy by “Bringing society back into our understanding of European cross-border care”.



We are pleased to discuss our study on the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and the redistributive effects of EHIC-related east–west patient and payment flows across regions and social classes. Our critics confirm our key finding: EHIC patient outflows from Eastern European (EE) to Western European (WE) countries result in a much higher relative burden for the budgets of EE states than outflows from WE to EE do for WE countries. Starting from what they see as the true mission of social security coordination, however, they also tell us that we should never have studied the redistributive impact of EHIC patient and payment flows in the first place. In this response, we therefore explicate the differences between our empirical sociological perspective and our critics’ normative legal approach. This is important, especially when social facts contradict normative legal assumptions as in our case. The EU laws that govern EHIC patient and payment flows are indeed based on the free movement provisions of the EU’s internal market project, but our empirical findings show that the promise of ‘economic, social and territorial cohesion, and solidarity among Member States’ contained in Article 3.3 of the Treaty of the European Union is not realized in practice in the case of east–west EHIC payment flows and patient mobility.

Time for a paradigm change? Incorporating transnational processes into the analysis of the emerging European health-care system

Time for a paradigm change? Incorporating transnational processes into the analysis of the emerging European health-care system

Stan, S. and Erne, R. (2021) 'Time for a paradigm change? Incorporating transnational processes into the analysis of the emerging European health-care system'Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research 27 (3): 289-302.



Health services have long been insulated from the process of European integration. In this article, however, we show that we are witnessing their re-configuration in an emerging EU health-care system. The article uncovers the structuring lines of this system by focusing on three interrelated EU-wide processes influencing the integration of national health-care systems into a larger whole. First, the privatisation of health-care services following the constraints of Maastricht economic convergence and the EU accession criteria; second, health-care worker and patient mobility arising from the free movement of workers and services within the European Single Market; and third, new EU laws and country-specific prescriptions on economic governance that the EU has been issuing following the 2008 financial crisis. The article shows that these processes have helped to construct a European health-care system that is uneven in terms of the distribution of patient access to services and of health-care workers’ wages and working conditions, but very similar in terms of EU economic and financial governance pressures on health care across EU Member States.

Social media is reducing climate change debates to your views on veganism

Ten years ago, when we ranked the most controversial articles on Wikipedia, George W. Bush was at the top of the list with global warming at number five. The article on global warming has now been re-titled as climate change, but this remains among the most polarising issues of our time – and one frequently debated on social media.

This might seem like it’s due to the way climate change is often presented primarily as a political issue: something you can choose whether or not to support. But perhaps it’s as much a result of the way social media works. Our recent research shows that polarisation on social media is mathematically inevitable.

What’s more, this polarisation is allowing online discussions about climate change to be overridden by culturally-focused arguments about things like diet. This appears to be further cementing the idea that climate change is a matter of ideology, making it harder to convince people to support action to tackle it.

Full article here

Geary Adjunct joins Sunday Business Post team

Dan O’Brien has joined the Business Post as a columnist. The leading economist and commentator will write a weekly column and quarterly economic outlooks.

“I am delighted to be joining the Business Post and look forward to being part of an authoritative team of opinion writers and analysts. The newspaper has a reputation for independent and trusted journalism. It also has a loyal, knowledgeable and growing readership, which I now have the opportunity to engage with,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien is chief economist at the Institute of International and European Affairs, Ireland’s leading foreign affairs think tank, and adjunct research fellow at the Geary Institute for Public Policy in University College Dublin.

Full article

New European birth cohort study 'Growing Up in Digital Europe' (GUIDE) achieves 2021 ESFRI Roadmap status


Announcement: ESFRI 2021 Roadmap Success


Europe’s first cross-national birth cohort study, Growing Up in Digital Europe (GUIDE) has been included in the 2021 European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) Roadmap – marking it among the highest quality and most valuable research infrastructures in Europe.

GUIDE is jointly coordinated by research teams at UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy and Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). The UCD team is led by UCD Geary Institute Fellow Associate Professor Jennifer Symonds and includes UCD Geary Fellows Associate Professor Orla Doyle, Assistant Professors Seaneen Sloan and Laura Taylor. The MMU team is led by Professor Gary Pollock at the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit.


Growing Up in Digital Europe (GUIDE) 

GUIDE is a pan-European research infrastructure that will provide policy-makers with comparable cross-national information on the development of children’s wellbeing from birth to age 24-years. GUIDE has an accelerated birth cohort design following two age cohorts (infants and eight-year-olds) approximately every three years. The study has received political and/or institutional support from 20 countries who were part of the ESFRI application and plans to expand its consortium to new partner countries during the next four years.

GUIDE has already received EU funding to assess its feasibility (MYWEB), develop its research design and business plan (ECDP), and to initiate a ‘Starting Community’ (COORDINATE).

The GUIDE survey is scheduled to begin in the mid to late 2020s and will continue until the early 2050s. This landmark longitudinal study will produce harmonized data across partner countries, allowing for rigorous cross-national comparisons of environmental and social causal factors and child wellbeing outcomes thanks to GUIDE’s longitudinal design.

Lead investigators Jennifer Symonds and Gary Pollock are looking forward to working with ESFRI on the development of the project.

Associate Professor Symonds said: "Achieving ESFRI Roadmap status is a landmark accomplishment for child wellbeing research in Europe. Having GUIDE on the ESFRI Roadmap confirms the importance of longitudinal evidence on child wellbeing for informing policy-making across Europe."

Professor Pollock said: "I am delighted that GUIDE has been included on the ESFRI 2021 Roadmap. It is a ringing endorsement of the work of the many international partners we have worked with over the years. It is pleasing that the EU recognises the importance of comparative longitudinal surveys for policy making."

Geary Director meets Minister for Further and Higher Education

Geary Institute Director Professor Michelle Norris met with Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science  Simon Harris TD on his recent visit to UCD where he heard about outstanding Covid 19 research among the UCD research community.

Simon Harris Visit
Minister Simon Harris and Geary Institute Director Professor Michelle Norris

Simon Harris Visit 2
Professor Orla Feely Vice President For Research, Innovation & Impact

Simon Harris Visit 3
Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD

SERP receives funding to document pathways out of prostitution

SERP – the Sexual Exploitation Research Programme in the Geary Institute for Public Policy, UCD – has received funding from the Community Foundation for Ireland’s Covid-19 Response Fund to document the supports women require to exit prostitution.  Pathways to Exit: How women leaving prostitution can be supported to rebuild their lives and regain their voice is a collaborative project in partnership with frontline support and advocacy agencies Ruhama and the Immigrant Council of Ireland. 

As a result of the pandemic, there is growing recognition that women need urgent support to exit prostitution. This project will document the extensive work undertaken by specialist frontline services to support women to exit prostitution, rebuild their lives and regain their voice.  SERP will examine how agencies involve women in shaping their services, and how they build women’s capacity to have a voice on issues that affect their lives. The project will be directly informed by women’s own views and experiences in identifying what quality service provision looks like for those who have been trafficked and exploited in the sex trade. This study will generate a model of good practice for the provision of exiting supports.  SERP is delighted to be the recipient of a Covid-19 Response Fund award to undertake this work.  Full news item available here.

Europe-wide survey aims to measure children's well-being as they grow up

Researchers are developing the first ever Europe-wide survey to track the well-being of children as they grow up, providing data to inform policies that directly affect their lives.

For the first time, a survey will offer policymakers unique insights into key transitions in children’s lives, the ability to make international comparisons on child and youth well-being and to evaluate policies over time. This will help them to make more informed decisions on issues ranging from education, to health and social policy. Full article here

Dr Monica O’Connor of SERP provides expert evidence to the Citizens Assembly on Gender Equality

Dr Monica O’ Connor of SERP presented expert evidence to the Citizens Assembly on Gender Based Violence and Gender Equality on 13th March 2021. Drawing on her decades of experience as both a frontline worker and researcher on violence against women, Dr O’Connor explores the nature and prevalence of GBV.  She considers the impact of legislation in this area and the role of cultural impunity in allowing violence against women and girls to persist.  She also provides an analysis of how progress towards gender equality continues to be undermined by the expanding global commercial sex trade, and how prostitution and pornography are antithetical to the achievement of true equality between the sexes.

You can watch Dr O’Connor’s expert evidence here

And view the subsequent Q&A session with the Assembly on Dr O’Connor’s evidence here



Exploitation ‘as Usual’: Emerging evidence on the impact of Covid-19 on Ireland’s sex trade

Exploitation ‘as Usual’: Emerging evidence on the impact of Covid-19 on Ireland’s sex trade

December 2020

With the support of the Community Foundation for Ireland, the aim of this study is to formally and rigorously document the impact that Covid-19 was and is having on Ireland’s sex trade at this unprecedented time in our history. It was designed to enhance understanding of how the sex trade responded to the pandemic, and examine the implications both of the crisis itself, and the way the trade adapted to it, for sex buyers, women in prostitution and the services that support them. The study also contributes to the wider evidence base on the continuing operation of the commercial sex trade in Ireland and highlights some of the measures required to tackle, overcome and prevent sexual exploitation in this context in the future.

To read the full report click here

Bringing EU citizens together or pulling them apart?

Stan, S., Erne, R. and Gannon, S. (2020) 'Bringing EU citizens together or pulling them apart? The European Health Insurance Card, east-west mobility, and the failed promise of European social integration'. Journal of European Social Policy

Published December 6, 2020

Abstract. Although the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) was meant to bring Europeans together, this study shows that it is amplifying social inequalities across regions and classes. First, we evaluate the effects of east–west EHIC mobility, and of Eastern Europeans’ participation in it, on the practice of EU social citizenship rights to access cross-border care along spatial (east–west) and social class divides. We then assess the impact of these mobilities on healthcare resources in Western and Eastern Europe. Our findings show that the EHIC reinforces rather than reduces the spatially and socially uneven access to social citizenship rights to cross-border care. Moreover, EHIC patient outflows from Eastern to Western Europe result in a much higher relative financial burden for the budgets of Eastern European states than outflows from Western to Eastern Europe do for Western European countries. As a result, east–west EHIC mobility is reproducing rather than reversing healthcare inequalities between the two regions. Hence, the EHIC does not fulfil its promise of European social integration – not, however, because it creates a burden on Western European welfare states as often argued in Eurosceptic tabloids, but because it increases social inequalities both inside and between richer and poorer EU member states.

Labour Market Policy in the Covid-19 Pandemic

Geary institute Director Philip O’Connell made a presentation on Labour Market Policy in the Covid-19 Pandemic to the National Economic Plan Stakeholder Consultation, on Wednesday Oct 21st.  He said that the scale of the unemployment problem would require a sharp increase in investment in effective education training and employment supports targeted at young people, new entrants, those with low qualifications and those displaced from hard-hit sectors. He also argued that dealing with the high incidence of low pay in Ireland would be an essential dimension of future labour market policy, requiring a sectoral or national approach to strengthen social dialogue and collective bargaining.

Sexual Exploitation Research Programme receives funding

In the summer of 2020, SERP – the Sexual Exploitation Research Programme at UCD - received funding from the Community Foundation for Ireland (€14,000) to undertake focused research on the impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic on the sex trade in Ireland.  This study explores the extent to which the trade continued to operate under ‘lockdown’ restrictions, and the behaviours and actions of sex buyers during this time.  In collaboration with a number of frontline support agencies, we are also documenting the experiences of those who have remained in prostitution during the pandemic, the risks they face as a result and how support services have adapted accordingly to try to meet their needs. 

SERP has also received three-year funding from the NoVo/Tides Foundation – a US-based philanthropic organisation (circa €180,000) – to support our continuing work to develop and strengthen the evidence base on commercial sexual exploitation in Ireland, and to ensure that this underpins public awareness raising and advocacy work. These funds will also be used to develop a partnership with the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWC) to coordinate the development of an effective strategy on public awareness around prostitution and will contribute to the funding of a large scale ‘behaviour and attitudes survey’ focused on the commercial sex trade in Ireland.

ESS Round 9 Report Launched

The first National Irish Report on the European Social Survey Irish Social Attitudes in 2018-19: Topline Results from Round 9 of the European Social Survey, was launched by Principal Investigators, Micheál Collins, Mathew Creighton and Philip O’Connell on 22nd September, 2020.

Copies of the report are available here:

The launch webinar is available here: Webinar

The European Social Survey measures the attitudes, beliefs and behaviour patterns of diverse populations in more than 25 countries. Every two years, face-to-face interviews are conducted with newly selected, cross-sectional samples. The objective of the study is to offer researchers, policy makers and the public the highest quality survey data that is comparable across countries and time.

More than 3,000 households were selected to take part in round 9 of the study in Ireland in 2018-19. This sample was selected by scientific methods to generate a representative picture of people living in the country.  The Irish survey is supported by the Irish Research Council.

Philip O’Connell appointed to the Labour Market Advisory Council

Philip O’Connell, Director of the UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy, has been appointed to the Labour Market Advisory Council by the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

The Labour Market Advisory Council is an independent group of industry leaders and labour market experts appointed by the Minister.  The role of the Council is to provide advice to the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and the Government with regard to the efficient operation of the labour market with a particular view to increasing participation rates, minimising unemployment levels and reducing average unemployment durations.  The Council is to have regard to UN Sustainable Development Goal 8 which promotes ‘sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all’. Relaunch, the online platform for informing and debating public policy in Ireland, was re-launched at Chartered Accountants House in Dublin on March 27th.

The platform, initially established in 2012 with support from Atlantic Philanthropies, has recently been incorporated within the UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy.

The launch was opened by Prof Orla Feely, VP for Research, Innovation and Impact at UCD. Philip O’Connell, Director of the UCD Geary Institute outlined new features of the revamped website. Dr Ronan Lyons, Department of Economics, TCD, gave a presentation on “Fixing housing: evidence on the problems and solutions".

The new website can be reached here:

UCD Geary Research Day 2018

On Thursday December 13th 2018 we held a Research Day at Geary to exhibit the depth and breadth of ongoing research at the Geary Institute.  Over 20 Geary fellows and their colleagues made short presentations outlining their research, and PhD students based at Geary showed posters of their own work. This was a great opportunity to see the extensive range of policy-oriented research that is being conducted at Geary.


9.30: Registration & Coffee

10.00: Introduction and Welcome

10.15-11.45 Session 1


Niamh Hardiman

Vulnerability in the European periphery

Roland Erne

Labour Politics and the EU’s new economic governance regime. Methodological innovations and challenges 

Jennifer Todd and John Coakley

Negotiating a Settlement in Northern Ireland: Perspectives from Within

Patrick Paul Walsh, Enda Murphy, David Horan and Aparajita Banerjee

Framework for Achieving the Environmental SDGs in Ireland

Daniel Capistrano

Can European Social Survey data be used to monitor the UN Sustainable Development Goals?

Diane Payne, Dynamics Lab

"Demonstrating Real-time, Transparency of Paid-for Political Ads on Social Media during a Political Campaign – A Case Study of 2018 Irish Referendum on the Eighth Amendment"


11.45-12.15  Coffee

12.15-13.00 Poster Session

13.00-13.45  Lunch

13.45-15.15 Session 2


Chris Whelan

The Great Recession, Inequality and Trends in the Impact of Social Class

Stephan Köppe

Private Welfare Providers and Intergenerational Transfers

Benjamin Elsner

Immigration and the Welfare State

Orla Doyle

Tracking the PFL Cohort at Age 9 – continuity or dissolution of treatment effects?

Dympna Devine, Jennifer Symonds, Seaneen Sloan, Deirdre McGillicuddy, Mags Crean, Emma Farrell, Abbie Cahoon and Julie Hogan, Elizabeth Tobin

Children's School Lives: a national longitudinal cohort study of primary education in Ireland

Liam Delaney

Behavioural economics and public policy research at Geary Institute


15.15-15.30 Coffee

15.30-17.00 Session 3


Gerardine Doyle, Lisa Marriott, Marius Claudy, Shane O’Donnell

Sweet efforts are better than sweet words: using a ‘wicked problem’ lens to analyse sugar tax policies and its implications for the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Susi Geiger

Re-organising healthcare markets for the common good - a conceptual framework

Kalpana Shankar, Lai Ma, Pablo Lucas, Junwen Luo

Modelling the Peer Review Process at Science Foundation Ireland

Slawa Rokicki

Cost-effectiveness of a mobile Health-supported lifestyle intervention for improved maternal and infant health

Sarah Donnelly, Anne O’Loughlin, Phil Butler, Paul Carroll

Exploring Patient, Family Member and Professional Perspectives of Rehabilitation Hospital Family Meetings Using a Participatory Action Research Approach

Philip O’Connell @ UCD Geary – A new initiative at Geary

17.00 Poster Award followed by drinks reception

Social Europe Blog: New Deal for Irish Families

New blog post published at Social Europe. Geary Fellow Dr Stephan Köppe and Assistant Professor at UCD School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice comments on the need for more investment in family services.

Ireland is a laggard in family benefits and services and faces a new urgency to support families after the abortion referendum.

The blog can be accessed here: Fair Deal for Irish Families

UCD Dynamics Lab Finalist in DatSci 2018

The UCD Dynamics Lab, led by Associate Professor Diane Payne, at the Geary Institute for Public Policy partnered with the Transparent Referendum Initiative ( to gather and share information on online ads targeting Irish voters in the run up to the recent referendum on the Repeal of the 8th Amendment. The specific role in this partnership for the Dynamics Lab at UCD’s Geary Institute was to conduct an analysis of this online data.

Killian McLoughlin, a Masters student at the UCD School of Sociology (MSc Programme in Social Data Analytics) worked with the Transparent Referendum Initiative data and team, as part of his MSc internship training.

The Transparent Referendum Initiative has been shortlisted as one of Finalists in the 'Best Use of Data for Social Impact' category at the Data Science Awards 2018.

More information is available here

Transparent Referendum Initiative Project

In May 2018, Ireland will hold a referendum on whether or not to repeal the 8th amendment of the Constitution, a provision that currently restricts access to abortion. The Transparent Referendum Initiative ( believes that the referendum process should allow for an open, truthful and respectful debate.

The TRI seeks to increase the transparency of paid, online advertising during the referendum campaign. Social media ads can be highly targeted based on a person's location demographics and interests, and can influence voter behaviour. Sometimes social media can also contain factually incorrect information or content. Yet at the moment they are invisible to everyone except the recipient, the platform, and the person who pays.

This makes it difficult for journalists, campaigns and regulators to carry out the important work of making sure referendums are fair: fact-­‐checking, countering misinformation and identifying where campaign financing laws are being contravened. The TRI will not take a position on the debate, but rather are working to identify ways to bring these ads out into the open.

The research group Dynamics Lab-­‐Centre for Computational Social Science at the UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy is the research partner for TRI on this project. The UCD Dynamics Lab aims to provides professional and impartial support for this project and seeks to uphold the highest research standards in this initiative.

The UCD Dynamics Lab-­‐Centre for Computational Social Science will assist with

  • Literature and documentation review

  • Data filtering; the process for sorting political ads from regular commercial ones, and data cleaning

  • Data analysis –both quantitative and qualitative textual analysis

  • Preparation of regular short reports for TRI

  • Dissemination of research findings through academic research workshops, public seminars and peer-­‐reviewed publications.

The following members of the UCD Dynamics Lab – Centre for Computational Social Science are working in collaboration with TRI on this research project.

Associate Professor Diane Payne ( University College Dublin

Killian Mc Loughlin (­‐ University College Dublin


The UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy is delighted to welcome 6 new members

The Geary Institute for Public Policy recently welcomed six new members from four Schools across UCD:

Dr Matthew Donoghue
(School of Social Policy Social Work and Social Justice)

Dr Irial Glynn
(School of History)

Professor Aisling Swaine
(School of Social Policy Social Work and Social Justice)

Dr Ernesto Vasquez Del Aguila
(School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice)

Associate Professor Frank Walsh
(School of Economics)

Associate Professor Taha Yasseri
(School of Sociology)

For a full list of Geary Fellows, please see

Details of Geary membership can be found here:

Shifting the Burden of Criminality report launched

Shifting the Burden of Criminality: An analysis of the Irish sex trade in the context of prostitution law reform
This study provides empirical data on the commercial sex trade in Ireland in the context of the current laws on prostitution. The research was funded by the Department of Justice under the Dormant Accounts Action Plan 2018, with the intention of contributing to the evidence base to inform the 2020 review of Part 4 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act, 2017
This comprehensive study explores the profile of women in the Irish sex trade, their entry routes into prostitution, the demand of sex buyers, the nature and extent of organised criminality and violence within the trade, and criminal justice responses.  To read the full report click here and the Executive summary click here.

New study finds that Eastern European migrants don’t drain Western European healthcare services

A new study demonstrates that Eastern European migrants are no drain for Western European healthcare services according to research conducted at the UCD College of Business. The findings disprove the claim that benefit tourism is a threat to West European member states. Eastern countries’ EHIC reimbursement payments to Western countries are far higher than the corresponding payments into the other direction, relative to healthcare expenditure in each region. The study was led by Dr Sabina Stan, Senior Social Scientist at the European Research Council group of Labour Politics and the EU’s New Economic Governance regime at the UCD College of Business, and co-authored by Professor Roland Erne. The ERC research group led by Professor Erne is based in the Geary Institute for Public Policy.

Geary Institute Research Skills Initiative – Masterclass Series

General Information
The Geary Institute for Public Policy is proud to be launching a new research skills initiative
for UCD students and staff. There will be three research masterclasses this semester, each
offering a seminar followed by a hands-on workshop. Spaces for the workshops are limited
and it is necessary to register in advance. Please do so using the registration links below.
More information about each event can be found on the event posters (links below).

Masterclass Series

Masterclass 1: R for Absolute Beginners
Dr Daniel Capistrano
Thursday, March 18 th , 1 pm – 4:00 pm
Further information and registration here

Masterclass 2: Systematic Literature Reviewing
Associate Prof. Jennifer Symonds
Thursday, April 8 th , 2 pm – 4:30 pm
Further information and registration here

Masterclass 3: Social Network Analysis
Associate Prof. Taha Yasseri
Thursday, May 13 th , 2 pm – 4:30 pm
Further information and registration here

For any general queries about the Masterclass Series, please contact Associate Prof. Jennifer
Symonds at