Marine Institute

Senior Leadership Team

Dr Paul Connolly - CEO of the Marine Institute

Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine InstitutePaul has a PhD from University College Dublin (1986), a Masters in Business Administration from National University Ireland Galway (2006) and completed the Timoney Advanced Leadership Programme in 2016. Paul was appointed CEO of the Marine Institute in October 2019 and previously was Director of Fisheries Ecosystems Advisory Services (FEAS) at the Institute.

He has considerable expertise in the provision of scientific advice to Government on a range of marine issues, including fisheries, aquaculture and climate mitigation. He has extensive experience in working with stakeholders and chaired the Minister's Irish Fisheries Science Research Partnership (IFSRP) from 2008 to 2019. Paul is also skilled in the crafting of strategies for international organisations, for Government and for the Marine Institute.

Paul has played a leadership role internationally. He was elected President of the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) for a three year term (2013 to 2015). ICES is an intergovernmental organisation of 20 countries that border the North Atlantic. Its objectives are to advance scientific understanding of marine ecosystems and provide impartial scientific advice for meeting ocean conservation, management, and sustainability goals. These issues are very important to the work of the Marine Institute.

In October 2020, Paul was elected by the Member States of ICES to the ICES Board (Bureau) for a three year term (2020 to 2022).

Under Paul's leadership, the Marine Institute is well placed to support the marine elements of the Programme for Government including the blue economy, offshore renewable energy, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) and scientific advice on the sustainable use of our ocean resources, particularly in relation to fisheries and aquaculture.

Patricia Orme - Director of Corporate Services (CS)

Patricia Orme, Director of Corporate Services

Patricia is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Ireland and holds a First Class Honours Bachelor of Commerce Degree (Law and Accounting) from National University of Ireland Galway. Patricia began her career with the international accountancy firm Mazars, in Dublin.

Prior to joining the Marine Institute, Patricia was a Director in KPMG, one of Ireland's largest professional service providers. There, she had more than 20 years' experience providing financial, audit, risk management, governance and advisory services to public, private, indigenous and international clients. She held leadership roles with responsibility for strategy, client relationship management, financial performance and Human Resources.

Patricia has lectured on the Masters of Accounting programme at NUI Galway, delivered training and presented to Boards on Corporate Governance and other matters. From 2011 to 2018, she served on the Board of Directors and as Company Secretary of Croí Heart and Stroke Foundation.

As Director of Corporate Services, Patricia has responsibility for Corporate Governance, Finance, Human Resources, Facilities and Library Services. She served as the Institute's Data Protection Officer until December 2020 and currently is Joint Risk Officer.

Michael Gillooly - Director of Ocean Climate and Information Services (OCIS)

Michael Gillooly, Director of Ocean Climate and Information Services  Michael holds a Bachelor of Science (University College Galway), a Masters in Environmental Science (Trinity College Dublin) and a National Diploma in Aquatic Biology (Galway Regional Technical College, now Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology).

Michael is responsible for the leading, managing and developing of services and delivery of programmes including Research Vessel Operations, Advanced Mapping Services, Oceanography and Climate Services, Information and System Development Services, Marine Infrastructures and Ocean Energy.

Michael has 30 years' senior management experience in marine technical research and operational projects, and infrastructure projects e.g. weather and observation buoy networks, Galway Bay cabled scientific observatory. His experience also extends to operational programmes such as INFOMAR mapping, RV and ROV programmes, operational oceanography and climate change. Strategic planning experience includes the national marine plan (Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth), Integrated Digital Ocean programme and multiple project business planning.

Michael was co-author of the 2005/2006 INFOMAR proposal which was supported by Government as a 20 year programme (scheduled to complete in 2026), Michael was a national delegate to the Steering Council of the International Council for Exploration of the Sea (ICES) from 2016 to 2018. He is currently a national delegate on the Assembly of Members of the EMSO and EURO ARGO ERICs, and is an Executive Board Member of EurOcean.

Michael was project manager of the programmes to build the Institute's two research vessels, the RV Celtic Voyager and RV Celtic Explorer, and is the Director responsible for the programme to build the replacement vessel for the Celtic Voyager (2018-2022).

Dr Niall McDonough - Director of Policy Innovation and Research Support Services (PIRS)

Dr. Niall McDonough, Director of Policy Innovation and Research Support ServicesNiall McDonough originally trained as a marine biologist with research interests in marine aquaculture and shellfish stock restoration. He holds a first class BA Mod. in Zoology from Trinity College Dublin (1993) and a PhD from Queen's University Belfast (1998).

Following two years at the Environmental Change Institute at National University Ireland Galway, Niall served for five years as Manager of CMar, an innovation and outreach centre at Queen's University Belfast, providing research, training and advisory services for the marine aquaculture sector. In 2009, he was appointed Executive Secretary of the European Marine Board (EMB), a European marine science policy organisation representing 35 research institutes and funding agencies from 19 countries.

In 2015, he oversaw the establishment of an independent legal entity for EMB, managing its amicable separation from the European Science Foundation and becoming the EMB's first Executive Director. He returned to Ireland in 2017 to take up his current role with the Marine Institute.

Niall is a member of the Irish Government's Innovation 2020 Advisory Group and Horizon 2020 High-Level Group. He coordinates implementation of the National Marine Research & Innovation Strategy (2017-2021) and is founding Chair of the national Marine Research Funders' Forum. In November 2020, he was elected Chair of the European Joint Programming Initiative on Healthy and Productive Seas and Oceans.

Joe Silke - Director of Marine Environment and Food Safety Services (MEFSS)

Joe Silke, Director of Marine Environment and Food Safety ServicesJoe studied at Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) and at Trinity College Dublin, where he qualified with a Master's Degree in Environmental Science. His career originated in the aquaculture industry where he worked in shellfish hatcheries and on-growing facilities, and innovative production methods through the 1980s.

Following this, he moved into research activities in phytoplankton and oceanography, and carried out several projects in the field of marine aquaculture development and environmental surveying. Joe has extensive experience within the areas of risk assessment, quality control, biological and environmental monitoring.

He also has a considerable international profile having served on a range of working groups including EU inspections of third countries as shellfish toxin expert, Codex working group and has led a variety of international research activities. He is a past chair and member of several International Council for Exploration of the Sea (ICES) Working Group and is currently the Chair of the IOC Intergovernmental Panel on Harmful Algal Blooms.

As Director of MEFSS, Joe leads the teams responsible for key scientific services to Government in support of evidence-based policy advice and our objectives for safe seafood, sustainable development of the marine environment, fish health and clean seas programme.


Dr Ciaran Kelly – Director of Fisheries Ecosystems Advisory Services (FEAS)

Dr Ciaran Kelly, Director of Fisheries and Ecosystem Advisory ServicesCiaran trained as a marine biologist and subsequently as a fisheries scientist, with a degree from Trinity College Dublin and a PhD from University College Dublin. He has been involved in advice provision to government managers and policy makers for more than 20 years, working nationally and through international organisations such as the International Council for Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF).

Ciaran has previously worked as a manager of integrated advice, and manager of the Office of Research and Development at the Marine Institute which was responsible for the planning and running of the Marine Institute's National Marine Research Investment programme.

He is Director of the Institute's Fisheries Ecosystems Advisory Services (FEAS), which undertakes resource assessments of commercial fish stocks, provides advice and policy support to the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine (DAFM) and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH), and undertakes research on marine ecosystems, fish stocks and aquaculture.

Liam Lacey - Director of the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO)

Liam Lacey, Director of the Irish Maritime Development Office Liam is a Fellow of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland and holds a Masters Degree in management from Trinity College Dublin. Before joining the IMDO, Liam lectured in the area of strategic management and innovation in National University of Ireland Maynooth.

He formerly worked with Irish Continental Group as Managing Director of its Container and Terminal Division. He has extensive experience in shipping, chartering and port development. Liam was a member of IBEC's Transport Council, which represents the views of industry in the area of transport and logistics.