The Board of the Irish Refugee Council is elected by the Annual General Meeting and is responsible for the management of the organisation between AGMs. Board members can be contacted through the Irish Refugee Council at

Elizabeth Mitrow BA/LLB (Chair of the Board-on Maternity Leave)

Elizabeth joined the Board in March 2012. She graduated from the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia in 1999. She qualified as a solicitor in Melbourne in 2000, and worked in a busy litigation practice before coming to Ireland in 2005. She worked as Centres Coordinator for the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) at their head office in Dublin for two years before joining Dublin law firm Terence Lyons & Co in 2007. Since that time she has specialised in Refugee and Immigration law. She is a member of the Legal Aid Board’s panel of private practitioners for appeals to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, District Court family law proceedings and the Criminal Law Legal Aid Scheme. Elizabeth is an active member of the Public Interest Law Alliance, (PILA) through which she assists in providing “pro bono” case work and research on behalf of NGO’s. She is a longstanding legal volunteer with FLAC’s specialist immigration law clinic in the North Inner City.

Patrick Devaney (Treasurer)

Patrick joined the Board in December 2013. He is a qualified chartered accountant, tax consultant, QFA and CUA. He has been in practice for 14 years and has experience of working with various charities and preparation of accounts for same.  He is currently treasurer of Toastmasters international district d71 (Ireland & England).

Berni Smyth (Acting Chair of the Board)

Berni joined the Board in March 2014. She has over 20 years’ experience of supporting disadvantaged children and families in the youth and community sector. She has worked in a wide variety of community based projects, specialising in developing best practice in direct work with minority ethnic young people and families. She set up SPARK in 2005, a support programme for adolescent refugees and asylum seekers (including separated children) in Galway City. She was awarded a Masters in Family Support, NUI Galway in 2007. Her research explored the social support networks of young refugees and asylum seekers. She has also undertaken research into child wellbeing and family support. She currently coordinates a School Completion Project in Tuam, County Galway. She is a guest lecturer with the Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway lecturing on a number of undergraduate and Masters’ Programmes delivered by the Centre, including working with vulnerable populations. She has contributed to numerous boards and committees in the community sector, most recently as Chairperson with Macnas Theatre Co, overseeing a complete organizational restructure.

Davnet O’ Driscoll

Davnet joined the Board in March 2016. She is a solicitor specialising in equality law, employment law, industrial relations and commercial litigation. She also practices in family law and advises organisations in relation to children’s rights, child protection and education law. She is an accredited Mediator with the Mediators Institute of Ireland and a member of the Accreditation Practice Committee, trained collaborative lawyer and a member of the Guidance and Ethics Committee of the Law Society. She is an experienced Board member of a number of charities and is an active member of the Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA) providing pro-bono legal assistance and training to charities and non-governmental agencies.

Doireann Breathnach

Doireann joined the Board in June 2016. She is a business strategy consultant based in the Dublin office of the global consulting firm Accenture focusing on the Products industry sector for Irish and international clients. Doireann’s background is in development and foreign policy. She studied Economics and International Relations at Johns Hopkins University, USA where she was a John F. Kennedy Leadership fellow specialising in the Middle East political economy. She completed her traineeship in European Union’s diplomatic corps working on economic and security policy. Doireann is an Arabic speaker and lived and worked in Syria before the current conflict.

Muireann Ní Raghallaigh

Muireann joined the Board in March 2012. She is a professionally qualified social worker who is currently working as a Lecturer in Social Work in University College Dublin. Upon qualifying as a social worker Muireann worked with the HSE Team for Separated Children Seeking Asylum where she developed a keen interest in issues related to and affecting asylum seekers and refugees. Muireann subsequently undertook her Ph.D. research in Trinity College Dublin. Her research, which was partly funded by the National Children’s Office, was a qualitative study of the experiences of separated children living in Ireland. It focused, in particular, on the coping strategies used by these young people. Following completion of her Ph.D. Muireann served as Acting Director of the Bachelor of Social Studies Degree Programme in Trinity and also worked as a research fellow with the Trinity Immigration Initiative and as a lecturer in social care in the Dublin Institute of Technology. Muireann also worked, on a part time basis, as a Family Worker in Cherry Orchard Family Centre and continues to undertake sessional work there. Muireann represents the Irish Association of Social Workers on several Anti Human Trafficking Working Groups and is currently undertaking research on separated children living in foster care. She has previously conducted research on gender based violence in Ethiopia.

Susan Whelan (Secretary) 

Susan joined the Board in March 2015. She holds a Masters in International Human Rights Law, LLB in Law and European Studies and is qualified as an Attorney in New York. She is currently employed as a Research Assistant in the area of asylum and migration policy. Previous professional experience includes conducting legal research on migration, family and commercial law for a legal practice firm and as an Anti-Money Laundering analyst in the financial services industry. She undertook research for the Immigrant Council of Ireland on topics such as accessing European funding and trafficking. Wider experience includes referendum campaign involvement with Democracy Matters (Seanad), Yes for Children (Children’s Rights) and Generation Yes (Lisbon II).