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​Fergus Finlay praises LIT Department Vision

We must take the labels away and look at the person behind them…professionals must pledge to never perpetrate an injustice.”

These were some of the words spoken by Mr. Fergus Finlay, CEO of Barnardos, when he spoke at the launch of The Department of Applied Social Sciences, in LIT recently.


Finlay was speaking to a large attentive audience including: Social Science practitioners, Social Science students, agency personnel and academic staff at LIT Thurles campus. In a wonderful and authentic address, Finlay spoke of his own experience as a parent of his daughter Mandy, who has Downs Syndrome. He was told by the Consultant present at her birth over forty years ago to: “take her home, she won’t ever amount to much, but she won’t cause you much trouble either.” Mandy has since represented her country in the Special Olympics, graduated with a Certificate from Trinity College and has achieved many other accolades including a meeting with President Bill Clinton.

Launch_of_App_Social_Sciences_Dept_Jan_2016.jpgFinlay is currently championing a media campaign for those working in the caring professions to rethink what their professionalism means and to work genuinely to keep the person at the centre of their commitment to care. He was highly complimentary regarding the official vision of the new Department of Applied Social Sciences in LIT because of its commitment to: “the creation and application of Social Science knowledge, in support of best practice and courageous social change, in a society where people matter.” He spoke of the dangers of over bureaucratising services, where the time given to caring, is compromised in administration procedures.

He challenged the current students and graduates within the new Department to remain continually open to being trained by the people they would work with. He warned against the rush to assess and diagnose people without giving due recognition to knowing the person and their potential.

The audience also heard from Cathy Jones (Psychologist and Head of the new Department), who spoke about the current undergraduate degrees in Social Care and Community Work and; Masters level programmes offered in the Department. She stated also that:

“We need to be cautious about the demands of bureaucratic procedures towards professionalization and regulation in the sector. These should not erode professional wisdom and effective work with people in the Sector.”


Pictured at the official launch of LIT’s Department of Applied Social Sciences were LIT staff Dr Michael Ryan, Dept of Applied Social Sciences; Ms Marian Duggan, Head of Faculty of Business & Humanities; Ms Cathy Jones, Head of Dept of Applied Social Sciences; Dr Maria Hinfelaar, LIT President & Mr Fergus Finlay, CEO Barnardos & Guest Speaker at the event.


A graduate from the Department, Paul Creaven highlighted how he was taught how to question and challenge attitudes or practices that perpetrated discrimination. Other students spoke of the importance of their placement experiences in the various programmes, as excellent opportunities to explore the theory and practice domains within the Social Science Disciplines. Mr Finlay, concluded his address with a poignant metaphor that those who work with the marginalised are like ‘Sherpas on Everest,’ because no-one can climb Everest on their own.  The large audience left thoroughly inspired by Mr. Finlay’s address, the launch proceedings and the post launch discussion.​

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Photo: Launch of App Social Sciences Dept Jan 2016 Ms Cathy Jones, Head of Department of Applied Social Sciences at LIT & Mr Fergus Finlay, CEO Barnardos at the launch of LIT’s Department of Applied Social Sciences​​​​​

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