In 2017, student members of the Fáilte Refugees Society became aware of the City and University of Sanctuary movement in Ireland and the need to create a university-wide movement to challenge educational inequities that existed nationally and in the West of Ireland in particular.  An initial meeting was held with the Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI), NUI Galway’s centre for civic and community engagement, and with the CKI’s full support, the students went on to form a university-wide University of Sanctuary’ Steering Committee. 

At the time it was felt that a university-wide movement at NUI Galway required a breadth of individuals from within and outwith the University who could commit to and drive new initiatives which would remove barriers for asylum seekers and refugees wishing to pursue higher education. Invitations to join the steering committee were sent by the founding chairperson to NUI Galway student groups including the Student’s Union, senior management, professional services and academic staff of the University. In addition, a number of representative from local advocacy groups and NGOs were also invited to join the committee. The aim of this committee was to develop a university-wide University of Sanctuary Steering Committee to further embrace and develop a  formal commitment to the Places of Sanctuary ethos, and to impact local and national policy.  At the Steering Committee inaugural meeting, it was decided to widen the remit of the movement to also include members of the Irish Traveller Community, who too frequently remain on the periphery of Irish society with limited access to higher education and consequent opportunities. 

Currently, the University of Sanctuary Steering Committee membership comprises forty representatives from various organisations and offices, including the Vice President for Equality and Diversity; the College of Science and Engineering; the College of Medicine, Nursing, & Health Sciences; the College of Arts, Social Sciences & Celtic Studies; the College of Business, Public Policy, & Law; the Irish Centre for Human Rights; the Centre for Adult Learning & Professional Development; the Community Knowledge Initiative; the Access Centre; the Students' Union; the Fáilte Refugees Society; Minceirs Whiden (Travellers Talking) Society; various NUI Galway student services offices; the Great Western and the Eglinton Direct Provision centres residents’ committees, the Galway City Partnership; the Galway One World Centre; the Galway Integration Consortium; the Galway Traveller Movement; the Galway Anti-Racism Network; and AMACH LGBT+ Galway.

Steering Committee Members


Ms. Colleen Baxter

Ms. Evelyn Bohan

Ms. Imelda Byrne

Dr. Louise Campbell

Dr Helen Casey

Dr Nessa Cronin

Dr. Deirdre Curran

Ms. Mary Dempsey

Ms. Sinead Dolan

Ms. Lorna Farren

Mr Philip White


Mr. Aidan Harte

Mr. Brian Hughes

Ms. Precious Jubane

Dr. Elaine Keane

Ms. Maureen Kelly

Ms. Fiona Kennedy

Ms. Mary Liddy

Dr. Frances McCormack

Mr. Jimmy McGovern

Ms. Suzanne McKane

Ms. Nora Mongan


Dr. John Morrissey

Ms. Anna Ní Fhlatharta

Ms. Róisín Nic Lochlainn

Mr. Obadiah Niyibizi

Dr. Chris Noone

Ms. Jacqueline Phiri

Ms. Lorraine Tansey

Mr Simba Tshoga

Mr. Owen Ward

Mr. Martin Ward