Cork Alliance Centre

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Sheila Connolly


Sheila is the Manager of the Cork Alliance Centre since it opened in 2002 and has been instrumental in informing its ethos, modus operandi and programme design and implementation. She holds a strong belief in the importance of one-to-one work and the power of supportive reflective relationships for people on release from prisons and in the years that follow. Sheila has a strong understanding of desistance and recovery journeys and is solid in her belief in the importance of the Support Worker role in the process.  Sheila holds a Diploma in Life Coaching, and is a reformed Accountant. In 2014 Sheila graduated with a first class honours MA in Restorative Justice from the University of Hull. Her thesis researched and gained insight from service users on restorative interventions, their timing and potential impact.

In 2001 she established the Linkage Programme (now IASIO) office in Cork supporting ex-offenders into training and employment.  Before making Cork home, Sheila worked overseas for six years with Concern Worldwide in East Africa and Southeast Asia, eventually moving from South Sudan to Cork.  Prior to that, she worked in the Irish IT sector in the 1990s. 

Sheila is a board member of the Sexual Health Centre in Cork, on the Cork advisory group for MOVE and volunteers with the Society of St Vincent de Paul.

Emma Sliney

CSS Coordinator

Emma is the co-ordinator of the community support scheme in the Cork Alliance Centre. She has been in this role since 2012 and has played an integral role in developing and managing the project. Prior to this Emma was a support worker in the Cork Alliance Centre since its opening in 2003. She worked in New Zealand as a probation officer for two years during this time while on sabbatical. She also has extensive experience working with youths, in Cork Probation Hostel and St Joseph’s School, Ferryhouse. Emma received her Bachelors of Sociology and Psychology Honours Degree in 1995 and spent the next 3 years travelling the United States, Australia and South East Asia; she worked with the elderly during this time. On return to Ireland she completed a Diploma in Youth and Community Work at UCC.

Emma is passionate about the client centred approach used in The Cork Alliance Centre and developing meaningful relationships with service users.  As a parent to two small children she understands the demands parenting plays in everyday life and she hopes to support clients in this process. Emma enjoys the daily challenges of desistance work and engaging in continuous professional development and networking. Emma provides a bi-weekly in-reach service to Cork Prison to meet with new referrals to the CSS programme.

Vicky Seaman

Support Worker

Vicky is a Support Worker at the Cork Alliance Centre since September 2006. Prior to this, Vicky worked with the homeless services following her graduation from CIT with a Diploma in Applied Social Studies and Social Care in 2002.

Vicky has a keen interest in education, and in 2010 completed a two year Diploma in the Psychology of Criminal Behaviour at UCC. She is an alumnus of the Irish Institute at Boston College having been chosen to take part in their Women’s Health and Wellness programme in Boston and Detroit in 2010. Vicky graduated from UCC with an MA in Criminology in 2016. Her thesis focused on the work of the Cork Alliance Centre with a particular emphasis on the service user experience. Vicky is a PhD Criminology candidate at UCC, researching the experience of women with criminal convictions, their desistance process and the impact of trauma on their lives. 

Vicky is passionate about the work of the Cork Alliance Centre and really enjoys combining her on-the-ground experience with academic research and development.

Vicky provides the Cork Alliance Centre in-reach service to both Portlaoise and Midlands prisons.

Gillian Butler

CSS Support Worker

Gillian is a Support Worker on the Community Support Scheme (CSS) in the Cork Alliance Centre since 2016. Gillian returned to education in 2009 when she completed a course in Applied Psychology and Social Studies and when on to graduate from UCC in 2013 with a BSocSc Honours Degree in Youth and Community.

Gillian has worked with young people at risk in residential care and in youth organisations. She has also worked as a Traveller Community Health Worker.

Gillian has a strong bond with the work of the Cork Alliance Centre and a real value of the person centred approach. Her first-hand experience is a real strength in her work as she understands the difficulties and challenges people are faced with when desisting from crime. Gillian is committed to the change process and to supporting people in this journey. Knowing personally how difficult the transition from prison is, Gillian has been a strong advocate for the Cork Alliance Centre for many years. Having walked the walk, Gillian has a real understanding of the recovery process, together with accepting yourself and being accepted by others.

Gillian delivers weekly in-reach service to Cork Prison, Midlands Prison and Portlaoise Prison to meet with new referrals for the CSS programme, and continues the work in the community with programme participants on their release from prison. As part of CSS, Gillian provides outreach support in the community from the Probation Office in Portlaoise for programme participants living in the surrounding areas.

Gillian really enjoys this work and takes great encouragement from watching the progress of those who engage with Community Support Scheme and the Cork Alliance Centre.

Graham Cambridge

Support Worker

Graham is a Support Worker for the Cork Alliance. Graham has a strong interest in working with people in the community. He is very keen in supporting people to make positive changes to their lives. Prior to this role, he has worked as an Outreach Worker for Churchfield Community Trust and as a Support Worker for the Grattan Project. Graham also has experience working with young people in Cork City Learning Support Service and Cobh Gardaí Diversion Project

Graham sees the importance of education, having left school at the age of 14, he returned to education in 2007 to do a Certificate/Diploma in Non Formal Guidance in University College Cork. When he finished his diploma, Graham wanted to further his education and graduated with a BSocSc in Youth and Community from UCC in 2013. From here, he continued his studies and graduating in 2015 with a Masters in Criminology in UCC where he received a First Class honours.

Graham found his niche while studding in Criminology and started a PhD in 2015. His thesis looks at the life experiences of working class adult males living in Cork, who have come into contact with the criminal justice system, and how these life experiences can impact on their efforts to desist from offending and reintegrate into broader society. He hopes to finish his PhD in 2019, and use the findings of his research to support the service users of the Cork Alliance Centre.

Jane Mulcahy

PhD Research Student

Jane is a PhD candidate in law at University College Cork. Her research is into post-release supervision of long sentence male prisoners and the practices, actions and resources in the community that enhance their reintegration prospects. Jane is the recipient of the Irish Research Council’s funded employment scholarship and is co-funded by the Probation Service.

Jane was thrilled to secure the Cork Alliance Centre as her employment partner under this PhD scheme. Having attended “The Journey of Desistance” conference in 2013 Jane found it inspirational and knew that she would learn a lot about the actual practice of desistance work (to supplement the academic theory and penal policy analysis) and gain a better understanding of the challenges facing people in their journey to turn their lives around.

Jane has worked as a researcher, mainly in the area of criminal justice, penal policy and social justice since 2005. As an independent research consultant Jane wrote the research report on The Practice of Pre-trial detention in Ireland (2016) for the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) as part of an EU Commission funded project facilitated by Fair Trials International.  Between 2010 and 2013 she worked as Research and Policy Officer at IPRT. Previously she was senior legal researcher on the Codification of the Criminal Law project at University College Dublin. Prior to that Jane worked on the law of homicide at the Irish Law Reform Commission, writing the Consultation Paper on Involuntary Manslaughter (2007) and the Report on Homicide: Murder and Involuntary Manslaughter (2008). 

Jane studied Law and German at UCC and lived in Berlin for two years. Jane is passionate about the arts, especially literature and theatre. She has written, directed and acted in several plays.