Citizens’ Dialogue: Revitalising Rural Ireland Empowering Communities through Social Enterprise

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Dunhill Ecopark, Ballyphilip, Co. Waterford on Monday 13 May 7:00pm – 9:00pm

The Europe Direct, Waterford Information Centre in partnership with The European Commission Representation in Ireland and Dunhill, Fenor, Boatstrand & Annestown (DFBA) Community Enterprises CLG is delighted to bring this timely Citizen’s Dialogue to rural Waterford.

This public meeting will bring together key players and experts at EU and national level to explore the potential of Social Enterprise in revitalising rural Ireland. The dialogue will give our region’s Social Enterprise stakeholders the opportunity to learn about the support opportunities available at EU level and also promote the added benefits that this partnership has the potential to bring.

There is growing momentum and interest in social enterprise at all levels – this is your opportunity to provide feedback to the EU Commission about the Future of Europe with a particular emphasis on revitalising rural communities. More importantly, the format will allow you to share your ideas, concerns and expectations on these topics, facilitating real engagement and debate. With European Parliament elections in May 2019, it is more important now than ever to have your voice heard.

Expert Panel:

Gerry Kiely – Head of the European Commission Representation in Ireland

Gerard Kiely has been Head of the European Commission Representation in Ireland since October 2016.
Prior to joining the European Civil Service, he worked for eight years at the Irish Farmers’ Association, based first in Ireland, as an economist and Liaison Officer (1981–1984), and subsequently in Belgium as Director of the Association’s Brussels office (1984–1989).
He joined the European Commission in 1989, specialising in International Relations on Agriculture.
He was the European Commission’s Spokesperson for the Agriculture Commissioners from 1991 to 1999. He then served, from 2000 to 2003, as Head of the Agriculture, Food Safety, Consumer Affairs and Fisheries Section of the EU Delegation in Washington, D.C.
More recently, Mr Kiely occupied a series of managerial posts in the Directorate General for Agriculture, including over the last six years as Head of the Unit for Pre-Accession Assistance.
Mr Kiely obtained his Master’s Degree in Agricultural Economics and his Degree in Agricultural Science from University College Dublin.

Patrick Klein – European Commission – DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (GROW) – “Advanced Technologies, Clusters and Social Economy”

Patrick Klein has been working in different and varied positions within DG GROW. He is currently Head of the Social Economy Team within the Unit “Advanced Technologies, Clusters and Social Economy”.
His main activities focus on launching specific actions and projects in order to establish a more relevant ecosystem for the development of social economy enterprises. He also coordinates the European Commission’s expert group “Social Economy and Social Enterprise” which aims to develop public policies in this area.
He has previously worked in Access to finance from 2002 to 2011 before joining the European Economic and Social Committee from 2011 to 2014.
Patrick has experience in the private sector where he was consultant for Arthur Andersen and Deloitte from 1997 to 2001. He graduated from the College of Europe (Bruges) and from the University of Law and Political Science of Strasbourg.

Brendan Whelan – Chief Executive Officer of Social Finance Foundation

Brendan is CEO of the Social Finance Foundation, having worked on its establishment in 2006/7. He is also Chairman of the Social Enterprise Task Force. A graduate of UCD and Stanford University, and a Fellow of the Institute of Bankers in Ireland, he has spent much of his career in Bank of Ireland, his last role being Director of Operations. He has been involved with the Special Olympics, as a parent, sponsor, volunteer and Chairman for many years. He is also Chairman of St. Catherine’s Association in Wicklow a S39 organisation which provides services to children with intellectual disabilities. Married to Marie, they have two daughters, one son and two grandchildren.

Janet O’Toole – Community Development Manager, Connemara West Plc

Janet is part of the management team of Connemara West Plc (, a community development company based in Letterfrack, Co. Galway which operates in the parish of Ballinakill including the villages of Tully, Tullycross, Moyard and Kylemore. Established in 1971 following a local fundraising drive and owned by 500 local shareholder families, Connemara West is governed by a voluntary Board of Directors and employs 28 people directly. Although located in a remote rural area, the company has partnerships with many national and international public and private agencies and organisations to help it deliver services, infrastructure and employment in education, tourism, heritage, childcare, community radio, sports and community services. Connemara West’s activities have earned it recognition over the years. Most recently, it is leading an action in the Irish Government’s Action Plan for Rural Development; is one of 9 case studies in the National Planning Framework, Ireland 2040 and was awarded €1.728million from the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund in late 2018.

Damien Tiernan – Journalist, Author and Broadcaster with WLR FM

Damien Tiernan is an award winning journalist, broadcaster and author. He is the voice of mid-morning radio in Waterford presenting Déise Today on WLR FM. Damien is also the former South East correspondent with RTE.

This event has been chosen as one of the 2019 European Social Economy Regions Pilot (ESER) partner events. It will take place in Dunhill Ecopark, which is a social enterprise established by members of the community to cultivate an entrepreneurial culture and facilitate job creation.

Social Enterprise Information Stands and Finger Food from 6:00pm

Citizens’ Dialogue from 7:00pm – 9:00pm

All Welcome, Book your Free ticket via Eventbrite or email:

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