Co-founders of Social Justice Ireland to retire

Fr Sean Healy and Sr Brigid Reynolds have served marginalised people for over 50 years

Social Justice Ireland co-founders Sr Brigid Reynolds and Fr Seán Healy are to retire later this year from the independent advocacy research agency where they have been, respectively company secretary and chief executive since 2009.

Both have been thanked by agency chair Prof Tony Fahey “for their contribution to public life spanning more than 50 years, and their tireless work, energy and dedication to the cause of social justice both here in Ireland and across the globe”.

They were “at the forefront of working to build a just society and ensuring that the voice of those who are vulnerable or marginalised is heard in the public policy debate for more than half a century”, he said.

He recalled how 14 years ago they established Social Justice Ireland as an independent social justice think-tank and how “through rigorous independent social analysis and evidence-based policy proposals” it had become “a vibrant, respected and trusted voice in discourse about public policy”.


For more than a quarter of a century before establishing Social Justice Ireland he said, both Sr Reynolds and Fr Healy worked “for Ireland’s Catholic religious congregations on issues of social justice and public policy”.

“Prior to that,they worked for more than a decade in Africa on issues of justice and development, supporting communities to improve their living standard in an effective and sustainable manner.”

They had written or edited 43 books on public policy as well as three books on spirituality for social engagement, while their contribution to the literature on public policy in Ireland was “substantial,” he said. “They pioneered a post-graduate degree programme in Social Justice and Public Policy, which is now offered in conjunction with South East Technological University”, he said, with more than 150 of its graduates now active in the work of social justice and public policy throughout Ireland and beyond.

This would continue after their retirement and the Social Justice Ireland board had “developed a comprehensive transition plan to ensure not just that their work is maintained but that it is built upon and developed in the years ahead,” he said.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times