history of blockw

BlockW was established in 2018 as a female-led network to meet the growing need for a forum to create awareness of the ever evolving range of Blockchain DLT technologies as well as other emerging technologies like AI, Data  Analytics, Cybersecurity, IoT, Robotics, Quantum Computing . The forum members came from business, academia, government bodies and civil society .

To achieve its objectives BlockW creates a wide range of networking, education and information sharing events including in person, hybrid and online events. We also collaborate with researchers to scope and advance emerging opportunities in the field of Blockchain DLT technologies and other emerging technologies.

Since its formation in 2018 Block W has grown to partner with organisations nationally and internationally including the Bigger Pie, Women in Immersive Technologies, Women  in AI, INATBA, British Blockchain Association, Slovenian Blockchain Innovation Ecosystem, Australian Blockchain Association, Blockchain Ireland, Tech for Good.


BlockW was founded by Niamh O’Connell, Emma Walker, Prof. Joyce O’Connor, Paula Kelleher, Mai Santamaria and Laura Clifford. An informal group of women were also active members of the Steering Group for periods of time over the last number of years, including Sorcha Mulligan, Caroline Kennedy, Fiona Delegany , Smitri Verma .

Strategic Review

Block W continued to grow and develop during the Covid period. In 2022 a  Strategic Review of its mission, focus and work to date was undertaken . In one sentence BlockW mission is to make emerging technologies more inclusive . This revised mission reflects the ever changing nature of emerging technologies, more targeted initiatives will be pursued .

Block W 2023  Governance Structure and Team

BlockW was incorporated as a not for profit association whose current Board of Directors are:

  • Professor Joyce O’Connor Chair
  • Alan Haugh Company Secretary
  • John Mc Garrigle  Treasurer
  • Dr Irina Tal

Professor Joyce O'Connor


A global Eisenhower Fellow, Professor Joyce O'Connor is the Founding President of the National College of Ireland (NCI). She is recognised as a leading academic and researcher. Throughout her career, Professor O'Connor has championed access to education. Recognising the importance of early learning in the area of disadvantage, she established the Early Learning Initiative in NCI. As Chair of the Vision for Change she was involved in redefining government policy in mental health. As a non-executive director, she served as a member of the Board of CRH plc, Hugh Lane Gallery and the Digital Hub Development Agency. Currently Professor O'Connor is Founding Member and Chair of BlockW and Chair of the Digital Group of the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA).

Dr Irina Tal

Dr. Irina Tal is an Assistant Professor, School of Computing, Dublin City University (DCU), Academic Lead MSc in Blockchain – Distributed Ledger Technologies (partly funded by Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet) and a LERO (lero.ie) Funded Investigator. Her teaching is mainly focused in the Cyber Security area. Prior to joining DCU as an Assistant Professor, Irina was a Lecturer with National College of Ireland and Programme Director MSc Cybersecurity (part-time programme) and BSc in Computing and Business Information Systems (3rd and 4th years). Irina was also a Postdoctoral Researcher at DCU working on a H2020 EU project in the area of technology enhanced learning where she was involved in the development of STEM learning content using novel technologies and methods and the delivery of this content in primary and secondary schools in Ireland. Her research interests include cyber security, usable and accessible privacy and security, blockchain, smart cities, vehicular networks, and technology enhanced learning.

John McGarrigle


A former Registrar and Company Secretary at National College of Ireland, he joined the College as Director of Finance and Business Development at the College as it commenced a major expansion with a new campus in the IFSC. Prior to joining the College John held senior management positions in multinational organisations both in Ireland and internationally. He was the Director of Finance for MVCI Europe, a division of the Marriott International Inc. the large US hotel group. He also held a number of senior management positions with the McInerney Group in Spain and Portugal and was Group Financial Controller during the group’s restructuring. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland and is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin.

Alan Haugh


Advisory Steering Group

The Governance structure includes an Advisory Steering Group
Paula Kelleher CITI, Maria Flannery KPMG and Sorcha Mulligan, Origin
This Advisory Steering Group is actively involved in delivering BlockW’s Mission and Vision

Academic Advisory Board

Dr Susan Rea MTU, Dr Irina Tal and Prof Joyce O’Connor
This Academic Advisory Board helps to keep BlockW abreast with current and future developments in emerging technologies and to facilitate and encourage research.


Ambassadors’ role is to highlight the work of BlockW and to continue an active association with its work, mission and vision.