Jim Gavin and Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin to chair new citizens’ assemblies

Assembly topics will focus on an elected mayor for Dublin and biodiversity loss

Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin is to chair a citizens’ assembly on biodiversity loss. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Former Dublin GAA manager Jim Gavin is to chair the citizens’ assembly on whether the capital city should have a directly-elected mayor, and academic Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin is to chair the assembly on biodiversity loss.

The assemblies gather for the first time at Dublin Castle next month and are scheduled to complete their work by the end the year. The chairs were appointed on foot of invitations from Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

Mr Gavin, manager of the football team that won six All-Ireland titles and the only five-in-a-row, is director of people and operations for the Irish Aviation Authority which manages air traffic control.

Dr Ní Shúilleabháin, assistant professor at the school of mathematics and statistics in UCD, works on making science subjects more accessible to a wider audience.


“The topics of biodiversity loss and a directly-elected mayor for Dublin are two important issues that impact people and communities throughout Ireland,” Mr Martin said. “These are challenging subjects, but we are fortunate to have two expert chairs who will bring particular knowledge, expertise and passion to these topics.”


More than 3,700 applications were received from randomly selected invitations to participate in the new assemblies, a response rate in excess of 10 per cent from the 34,000 randomly-selected invitations issued. Applications received from residents in the State from over 50 different countries.

Letters of confirmation are being sent to 99 citizens of Ireland for the biodiversity assembly and 67 citizens of Dublin and 12 councillors for the Dublin assembly.

A former commissioned officer and military pilot with more than 20 years service in the Defence Forces, Mr Gavin said it was a privilege as a “proud Dubliner” to be asked to chair the assembly

“This is a great city and county, renowned across the world for its history, its culture, its dynamism and most importantly its people,” he said.

“I want to work with the members of the assembly towards creating a vision for how the city and county should be managed and governed to make it an even better place to live, work, raise a family and to visit and enjoy.”

Dr Ní Shúilleabháin, a prominent media voice on science issues, said she was honoured to take the role.

“Biodiversity loss, its causes, and what we can do to address it is one of the most important and defining issues of our time,” she said.

“I look forward to starting work with the members of the assembly and identifying what practical solutions we can find to this challenge.”

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times