Hazel Smyth (Chair)
Hazel is an elected Councillor on Westmeath County Council as one of the first Green Party representatives. Passionate about the environment, she studied environmental law in UCC, was Auditor of the Environmental Society in University College Cork and attended the Climate Change Talks in Copenhagen as an Irish delegate. She is a barrister by background, with a masters in international commercial law and qualifications in privacy law, commercial contracts and employment law. She is Chair of the Mullingar Sustainable Energy Community and a member of the environment strategic policy committee on Westmeath County Council and is looking forward to initiating lots of great, new energy saving and energy efficient projects.
John O’Connell (Treasurer)
John is a Partner in Stephens Cooke & Associates, Chartered Accountants & Registered Auditors, since 2009 as well as being appointed a Director of Blackhall Financial Services Limited, a Wealth Management business.
John is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Ireland (FCA), as well as being a Qualified Financial Advisor (QFA). In addition to these, he holds a Bachelor Degree in Business Studies (Accounting) (BBS) from Waterford IT, Diploma in Corporate Restructuring & Insolvency from the Law Society of Ireland, Diploma in Managing People and a Certificate in Personal Insolvency with Chartered Accountants Ireland.
With over 17 years’ experience in the Finance & Accounting areas, with the support of his team of accountants, he advises companies and individuals in relation to business development, restructure and taxation in addition to overseeing the general business advisory and compliance for his clients.
Isabella Donnelly (Co-Secretary)
Senior Energy and Environmental Engineer
Currently regional coordinator and county mentor with ORS and SEAI. Also involved in a number of community projects around Ireland researching energy efficiency and renewable energy potentials. Expert coordinator to the European Innovation Programme focusing on ‘Sustainable Industrial Crops’. PhD in bioenergy and agronomy from UCD. Member of ESBs Innovation Stakeholder Panel on renewable energy and electrification of heat/transport in Ireland.
Passionate about community owned renewable energy, associated local employment and how communities can have sustainable, local circular economies.
Anthony Palmer (Co-Secretary)
Anthony Palmer is an IT professional currently living in Mullingar. His obtained his Ph.D. in Chemistry from UCD but found his R&D training and technical background were applicable to IT startups. He was involved as a founding member of Vordel, Cartell.ie, MIT Mullingar, Midland Careers Expo and assists MidlandJobs.ie to support enterprises recruit locally thereby reducing commuting and improving life/work balance. He has an interest in alternative energy, EV and construction/renovation projects. His home renovation was awarded an A1 BER energy rating.
Paddy Mathews (PRO)
Currently: Head of Operations, Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, Fáilte Ireland.
Previously: Various roles in Failte Ireland, including Head of Investment & Innovation, and Manager of Environment & Planning.
Involved during this time with various sustainable tourism initiatives, including providing assistance to tourism businesses to reduce their energy and water consumption and waste production, liaising with SEAI and EPA. Involved also with various slow tourism and ecotourism initiatives.Also previously worked as a planning and heritage conservation consultant and prior to that, was Planning Officer with the Heritage Council.
I live in Mullingar so my interest in the Mullingar SEC is personal.
Gerard Keena (Project Manager)
Gerard has worked in the IT and Telecommunications industry for over 40 years in project and programme management senior roles. These projects covered design, installation, commissioning and operational of systems in Ireland, Sweden, China, Japan and Africa.
I’m originally from Galway but have been based in Mullingar since 2010. I’m currently working as a full-time family carer.
My background is in inventory planning & procurement in the oil & gas sector, pharmaceuticals and software industries.
I’m a volunteer with Butterfly Conservation Ireland and locally with the Baltrasna Boreen Biodiversity Group.
I was also Chair of the Westmeath branch of Birdwatch Ireland for 5 years until last year.
Anna and Brian Browne
Anna and Brian moved to Mullingar in 2006, and soon after they installed water heating solar panels on their roof. This heats water for them for approximately 80% of the year.
Anna designed and developed the school garden for METNS at their original and current locations. The couple also manage a forest (established in 1995) under Continuous Cover Forestry principles.
Anna runs a grows and sells flower and plants as bigskyflowers.ie and teaches sustainable skills online and in person.
When Brian is not developing websites, he volunteers at CoderDojo Mullingar.
Profession – Adult Education and Chairperson of CBRRC
Six years involvement in Columb Barracks working in education with voluntary and community groups. Set up a number of programmes to engage clients in basic skills to enhance social, education and community involvement. Passionate about retaining and enhancing the Columb Barracks as a resource for voluntary and community organisations in the midlands. Currently investigating the potential of the Columb Barracks as an innovative sustainable energy hub with a myriad of educational benefits.
I am a Director and Charted Energy Consultant working with ORS. During my time I have been actively involved in managing the SEC programme in which ORS operate as sustainable mentors to Midlands and Southeast regions. Also I work and manage a number of other programmes with SEAI which will help in the relationships within SEAI to support our community project. This experience along with experience with EMP’s (Energy Master Plans) will help support Mullingar SEC with their mission of delivery of projects to the community to reduce the towns overall carbon footprint.
Currently a Civil Engineer working for the railway in the track and structures department.
I have a MSc in Sustainable Energy and Green Technologies from University College Dublin, UCD and a BEng. (Hons) Degree in Civil Engineering from Athlone Institute of Technology, AIT. Previously I worked as a lecturer in Australia teaching engineering subjects to third level students that included renewable energy and environmental sustainability modules.
One of the highlights of my professional development was in 2017/18 when I joined a programme of study located in New Zealand and Antarctica. The programme focused on the science of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean as the thermostat for our planet and how Climate Change has affected that fine balance, global weather patterns and intrinsic ecosystems.
Fundamentally, researchers and scientists, who focus their work on Antarctica, have identified the need for the communication skill sets of artists to help bridge the gap between the scientific data they produce and people.
I was a student at Limerick school of Art and Design over 20 years ago and have returned to part-time study in the National College of Art and Design, NCAD. This time my focus is on the visual arts, primarily painting, printing and photography as mediums to communicate the importance of energy management and biodiversity.
As CEO of Westmeath Community Development for several years I have managed, among other things, the LEADER Rural Development Programme as well several other EU and Exchequer funded programmes aimed at Social and Economic development and employment in Co Westmeath. Central to our work was the encouragement of sustainable communities by acknowledging, promoting and supporting the role they play in improving lives. I look forward to exploring and learning with Mullingar SEC how sustainable energy communities can further these objectives.
My background is in communications and events. M.A. in public affairs & political communications.
Current employment – event programmer & sustainability office St. Patrick’s Festival, Dublin
My interest in the group is to learn more about being a sustainable energy community and the steps involved and to help communicate the committee’s objectives and goals via community events.
Kathy Garvey and John Fitzpatrick
Kathy and John live in the Downs and are interested to know about the sustainable energy activities going on in the Mullingar area.
Jack O Sullivan
Jack O’Sullivan is a Founder Member and Director of Zero Waste Alliance Ireland (ZWAI), a voluntary environmental NGO focused since 2003 on changing consumer behaviour and waste management policies and practice to achieve a Zero Waste society and implementation of the Circular Economy; and he is also Managing Director of Environmental Management Services (EMS), which he established in 1981 as the first environmental consultancy to begin operating in Ireland. Jack is a founder member of the Climate Change Committee of An Taisce – the National Trust for Ireland – the country’s premier and longest established environmental NGO – and he has been a member of the Columb Barracks Restoration and Regeneration Committee since 2018.
Jack has more than 40 years of international experience in environmental policy and legal work, including expert witness in High Court cases. Widely experienced in the areas of sustainability, zero waste, circular economy, renewable energy, organisational strengthening & capacity building; development of public participation in environmental decision-making, rural development issues, application of EU Directives, planning appeals and inquiries, coastal resources management, marine and freshwater pollution by oil and other substances, Environmental Impact Assessments, and Screening Reports for Appropriate Assessment (required by the EU Habitats Directive); reviews of infrastructure projects; ecological surveys and baseline studies; integrated constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment; and preparation of environmental reports on solar, wind and biomass energy. Though maintaining a broad base of work in Ireland, Jack O’Sullivan has undertaken a wide range of assignments in Britain, Middle East, Far East, Africa, and Central and Eastern European countries (Lithuania, Russia). His work for the European Commission included developing a manual and guidelines for assessing, quantifying and reporting oil pollution of the coast; preparation and delivery of Lithuania’s first national environmental strategy under the EU Phare programme, preparation of Terms of Reference for waste management in Kaliningrad Oblast, Russian Federation, and Terms of Reference for support to waste management in the Russian Federation. Jack O’Sullivan has lectured at University College Dublin (hazardous waste and environmental legislation); University College Galway (Master’s Degree in Rural Development); the former Dublin Institute of Technology, now Technical University of Dublin (Master’s Degree in Sustainable Development – a course which he helped to initiate and on which he taught for many years); and the UN World Maritime University, Malmö, Sweden (marine pollution by oil and hazardous materials).