Aoife is Senior Lecturer at the School of Law. She has worked and researched widely on children's rights and has held a number of NGO and academic positions. She also has teaching and research interests in a number of other areas including family law and civil and political rights. She researches human rights issues through the lenses of social justice, gender and psychology. Aoife recently published Children, Autonomy and the Courts: Beyond the Right to be Heard (Brill/Nijhoff, 2018), arguing that as autonomy is prioritised in liberal democracies, it should also be prioritised for children when courts determine their 'best interests'. She published a monograph on children's freedom of assembly and association in 2016.
Aoife is at present an Early Career Fellow of the Independent Social Research Foundation, working on a project considering children’s ‘competence’, rights and context, arguing that the law should treat competence differently e.g. in criminal contexts where children may act under pressure; as opposed to medical matters where they have support to carefully consider different factors. She is also working with Swedish colleagues on a Soderberg Institute-funded project examining the question of how age discrimination against children can fit in equality theories and frameworks. In 2018 she led a UK Equality and Human Rights Commission project examining good practice examples of how to make UN human rights provisions a reality.
She has also provided extensive consultancy and advice on children's rights, including for the Children's Rights Alliance for England, the Irish Ombudsman for Children, the Council of Europe, and independent litigants. She has published in a number of journals such as the International Journal of Human Rights and the Irish Journal of Family Law, recently guest editing a special issue of the International Journal of Children's Rights on giving 'due weight' to children's views on matters affecting them. She has also worked directly with children, for example in youth parliaments and teaching human rights to local primary school children through art.
Aoife has also taught at the School of Law/Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex (as a full-time lecturer 2010-2014), Dublin City University and the Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland Galway. Previous organisations she has worked for include Save the Children UK, the Children's Research Centre (Trinity College Dublin), Amnesty International (as an Executive Committee member), Rehab Group (disability organisation) and West Bank human rights organisation Al-Haq (as an intern).
Aoife received a degree in Applied Psychology from University College Cork in 2002, specialising in child psychology. She then went on to do a Masters in International Human Rights Law at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, N.U.I. Galway. After working with a number of NGOs she completed a Ph.D. in human rights law (entitled 'The International Legal Right of Children to be Heard in Civil Law Proceedings Affecting them') at the School of Law, Trinity College Dublin.
Prizes or Honours
- Ph.D. Scholarship (National Children's Office, Ireland, 2009)
- Ph.D. Scholarship (Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences, 2009)