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ICOS/UCC Sustainability Conference

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A Sustainable Dairy Future

How Irish farmers are turning challenge into opportunity

We are delighted to invite you to the ICOS/UCC Sustainability Conference 2023 –  “Developing a Sustainable Dairy Future”. This essential two-day conference will take place on the  4th & 5th December 2023 in the Aula Maxima, in  University College Cork. It aims to discuss and demonstrate a  sustainable, profitable path for Ireland's dairy industry amid pressing environmental, economic, and regulatory challenges. 
Enterprise, Trade and Employment  Minister Simon Coveney TD will open the two-day event, also to be addressed by  senior level figures at the forefront of Ireland’s agrifood sustainability agenda (see further details attached). The conference is jointly organised by the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society  (ICOS), University College Cork (UCC Food Industry Training Unit), ICOS Skillnet and The Plunkett Institute.
The cost for this event is:  €280 per person and will include a formal dinner on the 4th December to be held in the Kingsley Hotel, Cork. A limited number of rooms have also been reserved, should you require overnight accommodation (note the cost of accommodation is not included in the price). To avail of the  discounted accommodation rates please reference at time of booking:  ICOS/UCC Sustainability Event - Conference Dinner.
Download the full conference brochure at the following link: The future of Sustainable Dairy_Full Conference Brochure









Below you will find the biographies of the speakers presenting over the two days of the conference.



Simon Coveney T.D. is the Minister Enterprise, Trade and Employment, appointed December 2022. He is also the Deputy Leader of Fine Gael. He has served as Minister for Foreign Affairs (2017 – 2022) and Minister for Defence (2020- 2022). Between November 2017 and June 2020 he also held the office of Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) He has previously served as Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (2016- 2017), Minister for Defence (2014-2016) and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (2011-2016). First elected to the Dáil (Irish Parliament) in 1998, he was elected to the European Parliament in 2004 where he was a member of the EPP-ED group. He was a member of the EP Foreign Affairs Committee and the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee and a substitute member on the Fisheries Committee. Mr. Coveney was the author of the European Parliament's Annual Report on Human Rights in the World for the year 2004 and again for 2006. He was a member of Cork County Council and the Southern Health Board from 1999 to 2003. Mr. Coveney holds a B.Sc. in Agriculture and Land Management from The Royal Agriculture College, Gloucestershire. He was also educated at Clongowes Wood College, County Kildare; University College Cork and Gurteen Agricultural College, County Tipperary. In 1997/8 he led the "Sail Chernobyl Project" which involved sailing 30,000 miles around the world for charity. He is married to Ruth and they live in Cork with their three daughters.


Bill Callanan is Chief Inspector at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).  He is responsible for the provision of advice on the practice of Agriculture and on Science and technology related to the agrifood sector within DAFM.  Heading up the Agricultural Inspectorate, with over 300 graduates across the Department, he has direct responsibility for DAFM’s research, feed and fertiliser, pesticides, crops, animal breeding, horticulture/plant health and is environment policy lead on climate, water and biodiversity.





Mary Gurrie is Programme Manager of the EPA’s Water Management Programme with responsibility for the monitoring, reporting and assessment of water quality in Ireland. Mary has worked in the EPA for more than 20 years including in the laboratories, licence enforcement and on water quality. 






Edward Burgess leads the farm advisory and “Knowledge Transfer” activities in Teagasc’s Agricultural Catchments Programme (ACP),  which has been monitoring water quality in six contrasting agricultural landscapes for 15 years.  The programme is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to evaluate the measures implemented under Irelands Nitrates Action Plan and the Derogation.  Prior to working in the catchments programme Edward was an agricultural advisor to drystock farms in south Co. Wicklow.  Edward has a Master’s Degree in Agricultural Science from UCD and when not discussing agriculturally related water quality issues with farmers, policy makers or researchers you will probably find him coaching youths rugby in Tullow RFC. 





Gary Lanigan is a Principal Researcher Officer at Teagasc. He leads the Gaseous Emissions research group at Teagasc Johnstown Castle with the primary research focus of developing GHG abatement strategies and measuring carbon sequestration in agro-ecosystems .  He obtained a PhD in plant physiology from UCD. He previously held research fellowships at Magdelene College Cambridge and Trinity College Dublin investigating the global carbon cycle.  His main focus is measurement and modelling of carbon sequestration, ammonia and nitrous oxide emissions as well as the quantification of management strategies to reduce emissions and enhance sequestration. Internationally, he has worked on a range of EU funded competitive research funded projects and is a member of the Integration Research Group of the Global Research Alliance.  He was a contributing Author to the IPCC Report on Climate, Land-Use and Food Security and he is an adjunct professor at NUI Galway and Cambridge University.




Catherine Keena grew up on an intensive beef farm in County Offaly. She undertook a degree in agriculture and worked as an agricultural advisor in Wales and in Cavan with Teagasc. Catherine has been working with Teagasc as national Countryside Management Specialist since 2000, leading the Biodiversity and Agri Environment Schemes for the Teagasc Knowledge Transfer Programme and recently completed a PhD on engaging with biodiversity on dairy farms. 






Gerry Boyle is the Chair of the Food Vision Dairy Group. He is the former director of Teagasc, leading the organisation from 2007 to 2021, during which time he was bestowed with the Academic Palm by French government in 2017, and was conferred with an honorary degree in science by University College Cork (UCC) in 2019. In 2018, he was elected president of EUAGRI, the EU network for public agri-food research and innovation organisations, and from 2017-2022 he served as an ex-officio member of the Climate Change Advisory Council.






Brian Ó Gallachóir is Associate Vice-President of Sustainability at University College Cork, delivering on UCC’s ambitious plans to consolidate its role as a leading university of sustainability. Brian is also Director of UCC’s Environmental Research Institute, Professor of Sustainability and Director of UCC Futures Sustainability, overseeing the strategic direction of research in sustainability in UCC. In addition, Brian is Director of MaREI, the €65 million SFI Research Centre for Energy Climate and Marine and Director of ERBE, the EPSRC-SFI centre for doctoral training in energy resilience in the built environment. Brian established energy systems modelling capacity in Ireland over the past 20 years and his research has underpinned Irish and EU energy and climate mitigation policies and energy company strategies. He is a recognised international leader in this field, has over10,000 citations, a h-index of 51 and is the elected Chair of International Energy Agency Technology Collaboration Programme. Brian has also increased the transdisciplinary nature of climate mitigation research and this is particularly evident in the multi-stakeholder Dingle Peninsula 2030 partnership project. He received the SFI Best International Engagement Award 2020, the SFI Engaged Research Award 2022 and UCC Leadership Award 2022. He is a member of the National Social and Behavioural Advisory Group on Climate Action, the Gas Innovation Advisory Group and the Climate Action Modelling Group. Brian is an elected Fellow of the Irish Academy of Engineering has a B.Sc. from TCD and a PhD from UCC.


David Kennedy is Head of Dairy at Bord Bia, the food marketing agency of the Irish Department of Agriculture. David started his career in 2005  as an IBEC Export Orientation Programme management trainee with Kepak Group, a major UK and Irish meat processor. Upon completion of this programme David went on to senior operations and commercial roles with Kepak across beef and lamb.  David secured a place on the Bord Bia Marketing Fellowship Programme in 2010 and spent a year in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, working on market development projects for Irish meat, dairy and prepared consumer foods companies.  Upon completion of this one year programme, David returned to Ireland and secured National Account Manager roles with Unilever and then Britvic as a National Account Manager managing head office relationships with Irish retailers over a five year period.  In 2015 David returned to Bord Bia as International Markets Manager, responsible for Bord Bia client and customer services across Africa, Asia, Middle East and Asia. In 2020 David was promoted to Head of Dairy where he leads a team whose objective is to work with Irish dairy farmers and processors in identifying opportunities to add value to Irish dairy exports through improving sustainability proof points and developing higher value markets. David holds a BBS Degree in Business Studies from University of Limerick and a MSc Masters in International Marketing Practice (Food) from UCD Smurfit Business School. David Kennedy is Head of Dairy at Bord Bia, the food marketing agency of the Irish Department of Agriculture. 


Edward Carr, of Knockmaroe, Milestone, Thurles is President of the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS). Mr Carr, who also serves as Chairman of his own co-operative, Arrabawn Co-operative Society Ltd, farms at home with his wife, June and his sons Eamon and Ronan, and his daughters Lisa and Ciara. 







John Roche was appointed Chief Science Advisor in June 2018 to provide independent and strategic science advice to the Director-General and to provide leadership in the wider ministry science areas. In August 2022, John took on the additional role of Director, On Farm Support, to establish an on-the-ground service for farmers and growers. He is a member of the prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor’s forum and an Honorary Academic in University of Auckland’s School of Biological Sciences. John was previously DairyNZ’s Principal Scientist for Animal Science and has held science appointments in Australia and Ireland. He is also Managing Director of Down to Earth Advice ltd. Widely published, with a H-index of 60, and a contributor to international science and farming conferences, John has an Honours degree in Agricultural Science, a Masters in Farm Systems and Pasture Management, and a PhD in Animal Nutrition. John also has extensive experience in drystock farming and dairy.





Dr Laurence Shalloo is Head of the Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation programme in Teagasc. Laurence has been playing a key role in the development of the A+B-C system of milk payment to Ireland, and is also widely recognised and respected due to his work in developing the EBI, Pasture Profit Index, Pasture Base Ireland, and the national Carbon audit system used on Irish dairy farms. Dr Laurence Shalloo graduated from University College Dublin with a first class honours degree in Agricultural Science in 1999, and he went on to complete his PhD in 2004 on the development and use of the Moorepark Dairy Systems Model to analyse institutional and technical changes in dairy farming. He joined the research staff at Moorepark in 2004 , and is currently a Senior Principal Research Officer. Laurence is also Deputy Director of the SFI/DAFM-funded Vista Milk Research Centre and is an Adjunct Professor at UCC.





Dave Fitzgerald is the Director of Sustainability at Ornua, owner of the Kerrygold brand and Ireland's largest exporter of dairy products. He has over 24 years of experience in the food industry, working in various sectors such as brewing, distilling, breakfast cereals and dairy. With a strong background in food supply chains, Dave leads the development of sustainability strategy for the Ornua business globally, on topics including climate change, packaging, biodiversity, animal welfare and food waste. Dave holds a Master of Science degree from the University of Limerick and is a former Master Brewer. He is a passionate advocate for the role of food in addressing global challenges such as climate change, food security and nutrition. 





Professor Paul McSweeney is Vice-President for Learning and Teaching in University College Cork. His office coordinates the activities of the University’s Centre for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL), Adult Continuing Education (ACE), Centre for Digital Education, Skills Centre, Examinations Appeals, the Language Centre the university's Library system and Cork University Press, together with responsibility for delivering aspects of the University’s Academic Strategy and strategic plan. As Professor of Food Chemistry, he has an active research profile in dairy chemistry and cheese science. He is the co-author or co-editor of 15 books and about 275 research papers and reviews with a h-index of 77 with nearly 27,000 citations (Google Scholar; May 2023). He was awarded the Marschall Danisco International Dairy Science Award of the American Dairy Science Association in 2004 and in 2009 a higher doctorate (DSc) on published work by the National University of Ireland. Since 2009 he has been a member of Academic Board, the senior university standing committee of Academic Council responsible for the formulation of strategy and policy to meet the university’s education and research objectives. He has chaired the university's Examinations Appeals Committee and for over five years ADSC, the university's main academic policy committee. He is also a member of the board of the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.



James Doyle is a Legal Counsel and Governance Executive and joined ICOS in 2016. He helps co-operatives to design and maintain structures that meet service user needs and comply with law. That includes rule changes, share management, member relations, board governance and assisting on the largest dairy co-operative amalgamations in recent years. James plays a leading role on legislation. On the modernisation of co-operative legislation and on the regulatory framework around sustainable ESG, he works with stakeholders to ensure that the interests of ICOS members and the features of the co-operative model are supported and strengthened. James is a solicitor, qualified in both Ireland ( 2009) and in England and Wales (2010) and holds an honours degree in Business and Law from University College Dublin (2005).  





TJ Flanagan is the Chief Executive Officer, ICOS. He was formerly Dairy Policy Executive of ICOS. Mr. Flanagan is a UCD Agriculture Graduate with over 15 years of experience working with ICOS and co-ops across a range of sectors. Since 2007 , he has served as Secretary of the ICOS Dairy Committee and has been responsible for the development of dairy policy within ICOS. Prior to that, he spent five years as Secretary of the ICOS Marts Committee. He is the Secretary of the National Dairies Association and a member of the National Milk Agency, as well as being a member of the Technical Advisory Committee of the Bord Bia Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme. He also currently represents ICOS on the COPA COGECA (General Confederation of Agricultural Cooperatives) Milk Working Group in Brussels, as well as the European Commission Civil Dialogue Group on Milk. Mr. Flanagan was also responsible for the establishment of the Plunkett Institute, an ICOS initiative to develop a Corporate Governance Standard for Co-op Directors and is Executive Director of the Institute. The Institute is currently delivering a number of Director Development Programmes in co-ops across the country.




Billy Kelleher MEP (Fianna Fáil, Renew Europe) is former Irish Minister for Trade, Commerce and Industry. Billy was elected to the European Parliament in 2019, representing the people of Ireland South. Prior to his election, Billy was his party’s national spokesperson on Health. Previously, he was their spokesperson on Business, Enterprise and Innovation and led his party’s work on amending the Constitution with regard to abortion rights. Billy serves as a full member of the ECON and FISC committees, and is a substitute member of the ENVI committee, responsible for health and agri-environmental issues, and of the SANT committee which is responsible for public health. He is also a member of the former ANIT committee that looked at the issue of animal welfare in the transport sector. Billy comes from a dairying family in Glanmire, Co. Cork. 





Mark Jordan is the Chief Strategy Officer at Skillnet Ireland. Having worked in the UK, US, Switzerland & Ireland, he is an experienced and innovative leader possessing expertise in business strategy, commercial partnerships, technology deployment, operational management, system transformation and regulatory compliance. At Skillnet Ireland, Mark is leading the skills investment and partner strategy. He is engaged with the european commission, higher education, government departments, business representative groups, enterprise agencies and both international and indigenous companies operating across all major business sectors – all with a focus on supporting the competitiveness of business in Ireland, and readying companies for future world of work.





Moderating this event:

Damien O’Reilly is the EU Affairs and Communications manager for ICOS. He is based in Brussels where ICOS has had an office since 1973. Damien joined ICOS in November 2022 after over two decades working as a broadcast journalist and presenter with RTE. He presented “Countrywide” on RTE Radio 1 and also worked presented and reported for news, sport and current affairs programmes. Damien is also Vice President of the European Network of Agricultural Journalists.




Caitríona Morrissey is deputy editor of the Irish Farmers Journal.  A former winner of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists’ top prize for Agri-journalism, she has a keen interest in the increasing environmental regulation and sustainability demands on Irish agriculture. Hailing from a dairy, beef and tillage farm in Co Tipperary, she holds a B.Agr. Sc. honours degree in animal science from UCD and has worked in national print and digital media for almost 20 years, including with the Irish Independent and The Irish Field. 




















Food Industry Training Unit

University College Cork , Western Road, Cork