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Current Research Students


The School of Law at UL hosts a wide network of PhD students, conducting innovative research under the expert supervision of School of Law faculty members. Below is just a sample of the exciting research currently being undertaken by PhD students in the School of Law:


Lorraine Barron

Lorraine graduated from UL with an LLB (Graduate Entry) (first class honours) in 2011. She is pursuing a PhD research thesis under the supervision of Dr Ger Coffey and Dr Susan Leahy that critically analyses the current legislative framework in Ireland concerning the post-release management of sex offenders from a comparative perspective within a human rights and due process framework. She received the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences’ fee waiver, the School of Law Judge John Murray Tutorial Scholarship in 2012, and was awarded an Irish Research Council Government of Ireland scholarship in 2013 to continue her doctrinal research. She has published in both national and international law journals and has presented papers on her research in Ireland and other EU countries. She has lectured in Computer Ethics and Investigation Law, Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, and Criminal Law, and has tutored in EU Law, Company Law, Equity and Trusts, Contract Law, Media Law, and Legal Environment of Business. Her research interests are in the areas of criminal justice, human rights, and restorative justice. She is also a member of the CCJVS.


Cillian Blake

Cillian is a detective in the Garda Síochána attached to the Special Tactics & Operational Command. He completed an LLB in Dublin Institute of Technology in 2015 and then went on to complete an LLM in International Human Rights Law at Griffith College Dublin; the focus of his dissertation was the use of lethal force by the police in counter-terrorist operations. Cillian is a new PhD candidate at UL being supervised by Prof. Kilcommins. The title of his thesis is, “A study of the extent to which legal standards for the permissible use of force by State agents are adequately clear to protect society from excessive use.” This study will build on Cillian’s LLM dissertation and provide a more in-depth analysis of the use of force by the police.


Beth Duane

Beth graduated from the MA in Human Rights in Criminal Justice at UL, where her thesis focused on issues relating to mental health in the Irish criminal justice system. Prior to this, she graduated from NUI Galway with a BA in History, Sociology & Politics, obtaining a first class honours degree. She has previously interned with the Association for Criminal Justice Research & Development and is currently involved in establishing a new programme with ADAPT Services to raise awareness of domestic violence and how it impacts upon youth. She is currently undertaking a PhD under the supervision of Dr Margaret Fitzgerald O’Reilly and Dr Susan Leahy; her research is titled “Assessing the Causes, Effects, and Potential Responses to Prison Violence in Adult Prisons in Ireland”. Her research interests include human rights, criminology, false convictions, techniques of punishment, and criminal law.


Anna Flynn

Anna Flynn has a BA in Psychology from Maynooth University and an MA in Criminology from the University College Cork. In 2019, she started a PhD in Law at the University of Limerick in collaboration with the Irish Prison Service Psychology Service. Her research explores the management of people serving life sentences in Ireland. It is funded by an Irish Research Council Employment-Based Postgraduate Scholarship and the Irish Prison Service. She is currently under the supervision of Dr Margaret Fitzgerald O'Reilly (UL) and Dr Emma Regan (IPS). Anna has also completed a Policy and Advocacy Internship with the Irish Penal Reform Trust and has worked as a Research Assistant with the School of Law at the University of Limerick and the Irish Prison Service Psychology Service.


Gerard Greaney 

Gerard holds first class honours degrees in Business (BBS), Law (LLB), and International Commercial Law (LLM) from UL. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland (FCA), having trained and qualified in practice with PwC; he has extensive international business experience as a finance director in the multinational sector. Gerard’s research interests are in the areas of commercial, company, and contract law, intellectual property law, and international tax law. He has published on EU patent law in Business Law Review. He is currently undertaking a PhD under the supervision of Prof. Raymond Friel and Dr Eimear Spain. His thesis is entitled “Intellectual property: Developing a new taxonomy for a more responsive approach to the needs of an innovation-based economy”.

Professor Gautam Gulati MD (MBBS, FRCPI, FRCPsych, PGDipLATHE(Oxon), FHEA)

Guatam Gulati is a Consultant Forensic & General Psychiatrist trained at Oxford and holds an Adjunct Professorial appointment at UL. He holds fellowships with the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, the Royal College of Psychiatrists (UK) and the Higher Education Academy (UK). His research interests lie at the interface of medicine and law. He has published extensively in international and national peer reviewed journals. He has served as full time chair of the Faculty of Forensic Psychiatry at the College of Psychiatrists and has since founded the UNCRPD sub-committee at the College. He has co-authored two textbooks of Psychiatry: Lecture Notes, 11th ed, Wiley-Blackwell (Oxford) and Psychiatry Algorithms for Primary Care, 1st ed, Wiley Blackwell (Oxford).  He is Associate Editor with the Irish Journal of Medical Science, Correspondence Editor with the Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine and International Advisor to the International Journal of Prisoner Health. He is co-founder of the Univerisyt of Limerick Medico-Legal Research Consortium and leads the development of national and international collaborations. He has provided expert evidence to the Oireactas, High Level Task Forces, Senatorial Officens and the Ministry of Justice. He is currently undertaking a PhD on 'Enhancing Intellectual Disabilities Awareness in Irish Law Enforcement Interactions', under the supervision of Professor Colum Dunne, Professor Shane Kilcommins and Dr Alan Cusack.


Andrew Lacey

Andrew was awarded a BA in Insurance & European Studies in 2001, LLB (Graduate Entry) in 2008, and a BA in Human Recourse Management in 2010 all with UL. In 2013 he completed an LLM in Criminal Law from University College Cork after he completed the Criminal Justice Masters clinical programme. Andrew is currently undertaking a PhD research thesis under the supervision of Prof. Kilcommins and Dr Alan Cusack that examines the departure from adversarialism in the Irish Criminal Justice process and the emerging transition towards dispositive justice. Andrew is the course director of the postgraduate diploma in Serious Crime Investigation, a programme accredited by UL and taught through the Garda College; he previously delivered on the BA in Applied Policing programme. Andrew has completed a specialist diploma in Teaching, Learning & Scholarship with the University’s Centre for Teaching & Learning and is a certified hate crime trainer for law enforcement in Europe with the ODIHR (Office for Democratic Institutions & Human Rights).


Karen O’Brien

Karen graduated from UL with a 2.1 honours degrees in Law (LLB) in 2013 and International Commercial Law (LLM) in 2015. Karen has tutored at UL in Commercial Law, Family Law, Land Law, Comparative Law, and Sports and the Law. Prior to this she has worked in the banking sector for 27 years, leading to her keen research interests in commercial law, contract law and land law. She is currently undertaking a PhD under the supervision of Professor Raymond Friel. In merging her interest in banking law, company law, and her personal experience working for a financial institution, she proposes to examine the recent reforms in Ireland of personal insolvency and bankruptcy law to evaluate the legislation as to whether or not these reforms are sufficient to deal with the enormity of the over-indebtedness problem facing all types of individuals caused by the legacy of unsustainable debt. Her thesis will also include a comparative element with other jurisdictions such as Australia, Canada, England, and Wales.


Dara O'Dwyer

Dara O'Dwyer graduated from UL with an LLB in Law Plus in 2016, followed by a first class honor LLM in Human Rights in Criminal Justice. She is currenly undertaking a PhD, under the supervision of Dr Susan Leahy and Dr Margaret Fitzgerald O'Reilly, examining the responses of the Irish criminal justice system to female-perpetrated sex offending. This research examines existing legislative and procedureal measures in place in Ireland, reviewing the suitability of such measures for dealing with female sex offenders. Dara has presented papers on her research at both domestic and international conferences, She has tutored and lectured in a variety of modules in the School of Law, including administrative law, criminal law, company and partnership law, family law, child law, human rights law, international labour law and legal systems and method. She also completed a Judicial Internship in the Superior Courts. Her research interests include criminology, sexual offences, criminal justice, sentencing and child and family law. 


BláithÍn O'Shea

BláithÍn O'Shea is a 3rd year PhD student in the School of Law. She is a graduate of UL (LLB, 2017) and UCD (LLM, 2019). In September 2019, under the supervision of Dr Susan Leahy and Dr Alan Cusack, she began her doctoral studies in UL. BláithÍn's PhD takes a socio-legal approach to investigate whether the principle of prison as a last resort (i.e. reducing imprisonment through use of diversion programmes and non-custodial sanctions) would be appropriate for persons with intellectual disabilities. The aim of this research is to formulate recommendations to promote changes in policy and practice that will bolster the rights and outcomes for persons with intellectual disabilities in the Irish criminal justice system.


James Meighan 

James was awarded an LLB (Hons) from the University for the West of England and an LLM from Northumbria University. His master’s dissertation was entitled The Brussels I Recast Regulation and the Relationship between the Regulation and Private International and National Law Generally. He was admitted to the Roll of Solicitors in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and England and Wales. His research interests include the operation of the Irish Free State Constitution, the relationship between the various powers under the Irish Free State Constitution, and the evolution from Saorstát Eireann to Bunreacht na hÉireann. James commenced his PhD research thesis in 2017 which is entitled “How did the Separation of Powers Inform, Evolve Under, and Influence the Irish Free State Constitution?” under the supervision of Dr Laura Cahillane and Eoin Quill. James was awarded a scholarship from UL School of Law to complete his PhD.


Nada Salahaldeen Balto 

Nada graduated with first class honours and was awarded a master’s degree (first class honours) from King Abdul-Aziz University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2013; the title of her dissertation is The Constitutional Censorship over Laws in Saudi Arabia. She was a graduate assistant in the Faculty of Law in King Abdul-Aziz University and she lectured on Constitutional Law and Administrative Law modules for LLB students; she is an established member of the National Society for the Protection of the Family in Saudi Arabia. In March 2017, Nada presented a paper at the fifth academic international conference on interdisciplinary legal studies in Oxford University. The paper was published in the Academic International Conference on Multidisciplinary Studies and Education. Nada has been awarded a scholarship from the Faculty of Law, King Abdul-Aziz University to undertake PhD research at UL in 2015. The working title for her thesis is “Codification of Sharia Discretion in Relation to Punishments in Saudi Arabia” and she is under the supervision of Prof. Kilcommins and Dr Kathryn O’Sullivan.


If you are interested in pursuing a PhD or LLM by Research, contact the Director of Postgraduate Studies for more information:

Dr Laura Cahillane