MEET THE EVENT SPEAKERS Keynote Speakers
TD, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment
Leo Varadkar was born and raised in Dublin. He is a qualified medical doctor and a graduate of Trinity College Dublin.
Elected Taoiseach in June 2017, Leo Varadkar presided over a period of strong economic growth during which employment levels reached a record high, the public finances moved back into surplus, real incomes rose and poverty and deprivation rates fell to a ten year low. As Taoiseach he led Ireland’s negotiations on Brexit which ensured that there would be no hard border between North and South and the common travel area and reciprocal citizens’ rights between Britain and Ireland would remain in place. The period has also been one of major social reform during which referendums were held and won to end Ireland’s constitutional prohibitions on abortion and blasphemy and to liberalise divorce laws. Ireland also ratified the UN convention on the rights of people with disabilities and the Istanbul convention against domestic violence during his time as Taoiseach.
Following the 2020 General Election, Leo Varadkar led Ireland through the public health crisis caused by Covid-19. In his new role as Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, he is now helping to lead Ireland through the economic crisis it triggered. This means getting businesses back open and people back to work.
He was a member of Fingal County Council (2003-7) and elected to Dáil Éireann for the Dublin West constituency on his first attempt in 2007 and was re-elected to a fourth term in 2020.
As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport (2011-2014) he connected Dublin’s light rail system (the Luas), helped restore growth to the tourism industry and led the ‘Gathering Ireland 2013’. He also gave Shannon airport independence from Dublin and developed Ireland’s National Sports Campus. He look a leadership role on road safety tightening up Ireland’s road traffic laws.
As Minister for Health (2014-15), he brought in free GP care for children up to age 5 and adults over 69, after decades of delay got Ireland’s long-promised new National Children’s Hospital through planning, government approval and the legislative process and published the Public Health Alcohol Bill which is now law.
As Minister for Social Protection (2015-16) he increased pensions, social welfare payments for carers, people with disabilities and lone parents. He introduced paid paternity benefit for the first time in Ireland and extended new social insurance benefits and protections to the self-employed and farmers.
He is parliamentary leader and President of the Fine Gael party (EPP affiliate) and led the party into a historic third term in government in coalition with Fianna Fail and the Green Party.
As Ireland’s first openly gay cabinet minister and Taoiseach, he was involved in the successful campaign to secure marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples and has championed improvements to sexual health including extending the HPV vaccine to boys, made HIV testing more available and introduced a free public PrEP programme.
Leo lives in Dublin with his partner Dr Matthew Barrett.
Co-Founder Access to Medicines Ireland
Robbie became active within the HIV community since his diagnosis in 2012. Robbie is a member of European AIDS Treatment Group and is a co-founder of Access to Medicines Ireland. Robbie is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Dublin City University and has a particular interest in grassroots activism and the access to medicines movement in Eastern Europe. His research is exploring HIV/HEP C treatment activism in Ukraine.
Robbie is also co-host of the PozVibe Podcast
Filmmaker, Writer, Photographer
Originally from Castleisland, Co. Kerry, Shaun is based in Cork, having studied Multimedia at the Cork Institute of Technology and completed an MA in Film Studies at University College Cork.
He directed his first short film in 2010 and through years of directing shorts, television and music videos has developed a distinctive visual and storytelling style. Shaun’s 2013 short period film ‘Uisce Beatha’ won the ‘Filmmaker’s Choice’ Award at DC Shorts. In 2015 Shaun directed ‘(R)onanism’, a short series for RTE Ireland, produced by Fantastic Films and made with the support of the Irish Film Board.
In 2019 Shaun also directed ‘Primal’, his first theatre production, made with the support of the Arts Council’s Emerging Artists program. In 2018 he directed ‘Mary’, a short film produced with the support of the Irish Film Board’s ‘Short Stories’ initiative, starring Mark O’ Halloran. Shaun is also a prolific photographer and his exhibition ‘Personal Space: Travels In India’ ran in St. Peters Cork throughout October 2017.
Most recently, Shaun directed ‘A White Horse’, winner of the ARRI Alexa Take / Screen Directors Guild of Ireland Script Award 2019, produced by Sinead Barry. It has won numerous awards on the festival circuit, including ‘Best Irish Short’ at the Academy Award Qualifying Foyle Film Festival. In 2020 Shaun was nominated for the Virgin Dublin Film Festival Discovery Award.
Shaun is also the author of ‘The Depersonalization Manual’, a guide to dealing with anxiety-based feelings of disconnection. Shaun wrote the book after suffering with chronic Depersonalization Disorder for two years in his mid-20s. His story has been featured by the BBC.
Shaun is currently writing his debut feature film and developing ‘A White Horse’ into a mini-series with writer Paul Cahill.
Shaun’s collected work can be viewed at shaunoconnor.com.
CEO + Co-Founder of Equality for Children
Ranae von Meding
CEO + Co-Founder of Equality for Children
Ranae is a Dublin based writer, celebrant, speaker and activist. She is a same-sex parent to two young daughters with her wife Audrey. They conceived through Reciprocal IVF and Ranae carried both pregnancies. She has become an outspoken advocate for equal rights for children of LGBTQ+ parents in Ireland. She believes that all families deserve respect and recognition, no matter how they were created. Ranae writes for many national publications and also speaks regularly at events.
In her spare time you’ll find her out with the kids on the cargo bike or undertaking yet another DIY project.
TD, The Labour Party
Ivana Bacik, TD
Dublin Bay South
- Ivana grew up in Rathgar/Terenure and lives in Portobello with her young family.
- Ivana is a lawyer and has taught law over many years in Trinity College Dublin.
- As a student activist Ivana was taken to court and threatened with prison for providing information on abortion - in a case that paved the way for repeal of the Eighth Amendment and legalisation of abortion in Ireland.
- She was first elected to serve in Seanad Éireann in 2007.
- An experienced legislator, Ivana has seen more of her opposition bills become law than any other senator.
- Ivana’s reforming legislation has tackled issues suchas working conditions for freelancers, secular marriage,women’s health rights and LGBT equality.
- A long-term campaigner for constitutional change,Ivana was a leading national and local voice in theMarriage Equality and Repeal the 8th campaigns.
- Ivana was a founder of the Portobello EducateTogether multi-denominational school start-up groupand is on the Board of Canal Way ETNS, Dublin 8.
- She is currently working with families across DublinBay South to ensure increased provision for childrenwith autism in local schools.
- Ivana is a keen cyclist, swimmer and climatecampaigner.
- She is working closely with Labour councillors inDublin Bay South to improve cycling infrastructure, increase green spaces for communities and enhance the water quality and recreational value of Dublin Bay.
- Ivana’s surname is Czech. Her paternal grandfather was imprisoned by the Nazis. After WWII, he moved to Ireland with his young family, where they settled in Waterford. Her mother’s side of the family are very proud Murphys from Co. Clare.
Social Policy Executive at Ibec
Meadhbh Costello is a Social Policy Executive at Ibec, the Irish employer and business representative body. In this role, Meadhbh is responsible for providing support and strategic advice to Ibec member organisations on diversity and inclusion, as well as lobbying and the development of policy positions on issues related to inclusion, skills and the labour market. Prior to joining Ibec Meadhbh has extensive experience as a Policy Analyst and Project Manager in the business, think tank and Government ministry sectors in Ireland and abroad. Meadhbh holds a BA in philosophy, political science, economics and sociology from Trinity College Dublin.
Lord Mayor, Cork City
Councillor Colm Kelleher, Ardmhéara Chorcaí
Colm is a Fianna Fáil councillor, a member of Cork City Council and current Cork City Lord Mayor.
Family: Adam age 13 and Emily Rose age 7
Ward: Cork City South West
Career: Self Employed in the Motor Industry
Member of Fianna Fáil Party
Member of Cork City Council since 2019
Chair of the Joint Policing Committee
Chairperson, Cork LGBT+ Pride Festival
Clive Davis has been Chairperson of the Cork LGBT+ Pride Festival for the past 11 years and has piloted Cork Pride's strategic development from a small local Pride march into a national weeklong LGBT+ Festival; he has also achieved Charitable Status for Cork Pride, which we were awarded last year - we are the first and only Pride organisation to have achieved this in Ireland. Clive is currently a Regional Director with Youth Work Ireland, Manages Youth Work Ireland Laois, is Co-Chair for the InterPride Governance Board, Co-Chair of the Ireland Pride Network, and a Board Member and current Treasurer of LGBT Ireland. Clive was also the former Community Co-ordinator of the Cork Gay Project where he also gave site specfic D&I training; he was Volunteers Coordinator for the Yes Equality Cork Campaign, and was Regional Co-ordinator of the LGBT Helpline.
Meet Our Host
Our Conference Host
Triple threat performer Paul Ryder has been trailing the lights of Dublin for close to twelve years now. His character of The Ringmaster launched the infamous Ringmasters Drag Race which will be ten years of age in 2021.
His career soared with becoming a regular contributor for radio and television broadcasting and becoming a much loved member of the Ireland AM, Elaine the and Virgin Media Television team. His broad spectrum of topical reporting has kept him on the airwaves for the last 4 years covering the likes of television’s greatest moments such as Love Island, The Oscars, The Brits and so much more with a new exciting segment nearly every week.
His extensive work in the world of MC and brand relations has seen him up and down the country in both his drag persona and as his charming and witty self. From performing and co-hosting at the notable Image Awards in 2018 and again in 2020 where he was the interval star to his work with brands such as BPerfect Cosmetics in which he has been their only host of events for their entirety, to working for the likes of Facebook, Google, Twitter to organising, producing and performing for their staff, directors and clients. Paul proudly hosts PERFORM, a theatre, performance based festival in the RDS every year where he has interviewed the likes of Adam Garcia and Kimberly Wyatt and this year will take on another year as host.
In 2020 Paul started his very own, self produced and distributed podcast ‘Influenced’ which saw him delve into the lives of stars such as Simon Delaney, who talked about the entertainment industry and the importance of being ‘ON’ for every gig that comes your way. He spoke to BBC Masterchef winner and broadcaster Riyadh Khalaf about the marriage referendum and what it was like that big gay day in May and how his father contemplated suicide following Khalaf’s revealing his homosexuality and Valerie Roe revealed her secret life as an international pop star and life behind Lillies Bordello, the infamous Dublin nightlife spot which she managed for several years.
He is gearing up for an 18 date tour in October across Europe and a return to pantomime this Christmas and is happier than ever with the future and its prospects and he is thrilled to be back as host for Work With Pride 2021.