Board of Directors
Cyril ForbesCyril is currently the Chairman of Microfinance Ireland and an independent director with expertise in both Public and Private sectors, based on a 50 year insurance career. Currently Director of the Social Finance Foundation and Former Deputy Chairman of JLT Ireland Ltd, Director of Don Bosco Teenage Care, The Dublin Docklands Development Authority & Business in the Community, The Housing Finance Agency and Chairman of Kennedy Forbes Ltd and The Crafts Council of Ireland.
Sheelagh DalyComing from a strong business background as well as extensive experience in local development, Sheelagh Daly is Head of Enterprise in County Wicklow where she manages the delivery of state supports to micro enterprise through the Local Enterprise Office. A graduate of Shannon College of Hotel Management, Sheelagh spent a number of years working abroad before returning to Ireland to run her family business. Diversifying from the private sector into the field of local development, education and training, Sheelagh holds a Masters from UCD Smurfit Business School. Sheelagh has a strong focus on strategic planning, project management and business growth.
Born in Derry in 1953, Harry was educated in St Columb’s College and joined Bank of Ireland in 1970. Harry undertook all duties associated with a banking apprenticeship prior to his appointment to the role of Assistant Manager of the Coleraine Branch in 1979. Awarded a scholarship by the Bank in 1982, Harry undertook his Banking Diploma followed by a degree in Banking and Finance, taking first place in each. He returned to the Bank in the role of Advances Manager followed by a period as District Manager with responsibility for a number of Branches and a Business Centre. This was followed by his appointment to the role of Head of Credit Northern Ireland and subsequently Director of Credit UK where he was responsible for €20bn of business and Corporate lending. He filled these respective roles for over twelve years. His final responsibility in the Bank was that of Group Head of Credit Skills Development in which he delivered a series of business lending programs to senior personnel throughout the Group.
Mary O’ ShaughnessyDr. Mary O’Shaughnessy is a lecturer with the Department of Food Business and Development and Centre for Co-operative Studies, UCC. Her research interests include sustainable rural development, co-operative and social enterprises. She is a board member of the EMES University Based International Research Network on social enterprises, NUI Academic Board (Rural Development) and the Hope Foundation.
Brendan WhelanBrendan Whelan is CEO of the Social Finance Foundation, having worked on its establishment in 2006/7. The Social Finance Foundation (SFF) is the parent company of Microfinance Ireland. Prior to joining the SFF, Brendan worked as General Manager, IT, Operations and HR in Bank of Ireland. Brendan is a University College Dublin Commerce graduate and a graduate of Management Studies from Stanford University in California. Brendan is a Fellow of Institute of Bankers in Ireland. Brendan is also a Board member of Special Olympics Ireland and Chairman of St. Catherine’s Association in Wicklow, which provides services to children with intellectual disabilities.
Ger ClearyA native of Killeigh, Co Offaly, Ger Cleary is a Director at Glenisk, Ireland’s largest yogurt maker. Ger has worked full-time in the family business for the past 20 years. Ger is a former finalist of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year programme; in 2007 & 2014. He was selected as one of eight finalists in the Industry category, in recognition of his contribution to the growth of Glenisk. He is also a Member of Council of the Small Firms Association. Ger holds a Bachelor of Commerce Honours degree from University College Dublin.
Páraig HennessyPáraig is a Principal Officer in the Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation (DJEI), a key economic Department of State, and a Director of Peakconnexxion Ltd. Páraig has more than 35 years experience as a manager, leader, negotiator and strategist in all aspects of Government, change and organisation development with a particular focus on entrepreneurship, intellectual property, legislation, EU affairs, trade, research, innovation and access to finance. Páraig currently heads the access to finance and entrepreneurship unit in DJEI seeking alternative credit options for small businesses and enhancing Irish entrepreneurs and start-ups.
Gerry O’ Neill
Gerry O’Neill is a member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accounts. He retired from the Whelehan Group in 2005 having served for 30 years as finance director and company secretary. In recent years, he has been a board member of First Step, and has provided business and financial advisory services to a number of developing companies in the Irish healthcare sector.