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Taoiseach announces Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin and Jim Gavin as Chairs

Image of Jim Gavin and Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin:

Thursday, 24 March 2022 – The Taoiseach, Michéal Martin, has today announced the appointment of UCD Academic, Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin, and former Dublin Football Manager, Jim Gavin, as the respective Chairs of the upcoming Citizens’ Assemblies on Biodiversity Loss and on a Directly Elected Mayor for Dublin.

Dr Ní Shúilleabháin and Mr Gavin will oversee the work of the two Assemblies that are due to begin with an introductory meeting in Dublin Castle on Saturday 9 April.

Dr Ní Shúilleabháin is a leading academic with a passion for communicating science to the general public. She is an Assistant Professor in the School of Mathematics and Statistics in University College Dublin, where her scholarship focusses on making STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) more accessible and exciting to a wider audience. She has extensive experience as a science communicator across print, broadcast and online media.

As Chair of the Biodiversity Citizens’ Assembly Dr Ní Shúilleabháin will help the Assembly make recommendations on how the State should respond to the crisis of biodiversity loss.

Mr Gavin is one of Ireland’s most successful GAA football managers. He managed the Dublin Men’s Senior Football Team that won six All-Ireland Championships – including five-in-a-row – between 2013-2019. He also played on the Dublin All-Ireland winning team in 1995. He is currently the Director of People and Operations for the Aviation Regulator, Irish Aviation Authority, and is a former commissioned officer and military pilot with over 20 years’ service in Oglaigh na hÉireann.

In chairing the Dublin Assembly, Mr Gavin will bring his passion for the city and county to the work of creating a new vision for how Dublin is managed and administered that befits a modern, dynamic, and diverse modern European capital.

Speaking about the appointments the Taoiseach Micheál Martin said, “I would like to thank Aoibhinn and Jim for accepting the invitation to Chair these two Assemblies. The topics of Biodiversity Loss and a Directly Elected Mayor for Dublin are two important issues that impact people and communities throughout Ireland. These are challenging subjects, but we are fortunate to have two expert Chairs who will bring particular knowledge, expertise, and passion to these topics.

Dr Ní Shúilleabháin commented, “It is an honour for me to have the opportunity to Chair the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss, and I would like to thank the Taoiseach for appointing me to the role. Biodiversity loss, its causes, and what we can do to address it is one of the most important and defining issues of our time. I look forward to starting work with the members of the Assembly and identifying what practical solutions we can find to this challenge.”

Jim Gavin commented, “As a proud Dubliner it was a privilege to be asked to Chair the upcoming Dublin Assembly, and I want to thank the Taoiseach for the invitation to do so. This is a great City and County, renowned across the world for its history, its culture, its dynamism, and most importantly its people. I want to work with the members of the Assembly towards creating a vision for how the City and County should be managed and governed to make it an even better place to live, work, raise a family, and to visit and enjoy. Chíonn beirt rud nach bhfeiceann duine amháin.”

The appointment of the Chairs follows a highly successful response from randomly selected households around the country to invitations from the Taoiseach to participate in the two upcoming Assemblies. By the closing date of 14 March 2022, over 3,700 responses were received to the 34,000 invitations that were issued representing a response rate of over 10%.

Eligibility for membership was expanded significantly on this occasion with applications received from residents in the State from over 50 different countries.

Following a further random selection of the citizens who applied, the Assembly has now reached a representative membership of Irish society, based on gender, age and location. Letters of confirmation are being sent to 99 citizens of Ireland and 67 citizens of Dublin and 12 Councillors ahead of the 9th April meeting, with each due to complete its work by the end of the year.



For more information contact the team at Q4 Public Relations:

  • Sabrina D’Angelo, email, mob. 086 032 3397 
  • Lorna Gardiner, email, mob. 086 076 1374 
  • Ronan Farren, email, mob. 087 934 0386

Photography of Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúlleabháin and Jim Gavin available from Naoise Culhane, 087 297 9739,

Biographies of Jim Gavin and Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin:

Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin

Image of Dr. Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin

Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin is an Assistant Professor in the School of Mathematics & Statistics where she is director of the BSc. Science, Mathematics & Education initial teacher education programme in the College of Science. Her scholarship focuses on making STEM, particularly the subject of mathematics, more accessible and exciting for those who have historically been left out, whether because they are underprivileged economically or because they are female.

A former post-primary teacher, she is committed to making the teaching of STEM more effective and this commitment has taken her well out of the university classroom where she has extensive experience as a science communicator on TV, radio and in print. Aoibhinn has published nationally and internationally on her research and plays an active role in a number of national and international networks.

She is the Irish representative on the WALS (World Association of Lesson Study) Council and is a member of the Irish Mathematical Society Education sub-committee. She is also a member of the STEM Education Policy Review Group and Gender in STEM group with the Department of Education. She is a co-founder of the MELSE (Mathematics Education in Lesson Study Europe) research group, which comprises of members from several countries who meet biennially to share their work.

Nominated by colleagues, she won a 2020 UCD Values in Action award for her role as a socially engaged academic, communicator and leader. She has also been recipient of the Maths Week Ireland Award (2020) and the SFI Outstanding Contribution to STEM Communication Award (2017) for her work promoting these subjects. In 2017 she was named as a European Young Leader, a group nominated to facilitate and create a more equal, innovative and inclusive Europe.

Jim Gavin

Image of Jim Gavin


  • Joined the Irish Aviation Authority 11 years ago as a Flight Operations Inspector in Airline Standards.
  • Jim is now the Director of People and Operations for the Aviation Regulator, leading the team for safety and security oversight of the civil aviation system in Ireland.
  • Former military pilot and commissioned officer, with 20 years of service in Óglaigh na hÉireann.
  • Held the senior rank of Commandant.
  • Former Chief Flying Instructor and served as Chief of Military Aviation with the United Nations multi-national peace keeping force in the Central African Republic and Chad
  • Flown 23 aircraft types to-date, is a qualified commercial pilot and holds an Airline Pilot Transport License with his last rating on the Airbus 320 family of aircraft.


  • Involved with Dublin inter-county football teams for 22 years, winning 33 inter county trophies as either a player, coach or manager.
  • Played with Dublin for 10 season (1993 to 2002) wining All-Ireland in 1995
  • Managed Dublin Football inter county teams for 12 consecutive years:
  • 2008 – 2012 with the Dublin U21 Football team winning two All-Ireland titles
  • 2013 to 2019 with the Dublin Senior Football Team. During his 7 year tenure:
    • The team won 18 out of a possible 21 trophies
    • Set a record of playing 35 consecutive Championship and League games without defeat.
    • Contested in 48 Championship games and had a 91.7% success rate (Winning 44, Drawing 3 and Losing 1)
    • His is last game in charge was the teams 37th consecutive Championship victory and a record 5th consecutive All-Ireland Football title.
    • Jim now coaches his local U13’s boys hurling, gaelic football and soccer team with his son’s clubs.

Social Work

  • Jim is a patron of TOUCH Ireland, a voluntary charity providing educational, food and clothing support to children to enable them to learn - with over 100 projects in Zambia, Cameroon, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal and Brazil.
  • Jim is also an ambassador for the Dublin Neurological Institute (DNI) at The Mater Misericordiae University Hospital.

Academic Awards

  • Doctor of Philosophy (Honoris Causa), Dublin City University (2019)

Civic Awards

  • Freedom of the City of Dublin, Dublin City Council (2020)
  • Freedom of South Dublin County, South Dublin County Council (2015)

National Sports Awards

  • RTÉ Sports Manager of the Year 2019
  • Philips Sports Manager of the Year 2013, 2019