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Dr Ciara Fitzpatrick is thrilled to be joining her alma-mater in April, as a lecturer in Law. Ciara graduated with a PhD from Ulster University in July 2019, the same institution which awarded her an undergraduate law degree, with First Class Honours in 2010.

During her undergraduate journey, Ciara was accepted onto a Street Law module where she was provided with the opportunity to teach young offenders about the importance of human rights and social justice.

It was this experience that sparked Ciara’s interest in social welfare law and access to Justice. Her PhD thesis focused on the increasing conditional nature of the contemporary social security system for the unemployed and more acutely the affect that political rhetoric has on the development of primary and secondary legislation.

For the last two years, Ciara has worked as Communications and Policy Officer at Law Centre NI, an organisation which seeks to use the law for social change and provide free legal assistance and representation. She has played an important role in highlighting the human rights implications of the introduction of Universal Credit (UC); the new working age benefit and subsequently pushing for change.

She is a founding member of the NI Cliff Edge Coalition, which is campaigning for the continuation of welfare reform mitigations in Northern Ireland and for the introduction of new measures to ease the hardship associated with UC. Outside of work, Ciara is the President of the St Patrick’s Conference of St Vincent De Paul in North Belfast (which services the most deprived wards in Northern Ireland). In this role, Ciara along with a team of volunteers support those who are facing destitution in the local community by providing for essential needs such as food, gas and electricity.

She also recently became a new mother, with the birth of her son, Finian.

Ciara’s research focus will be on gender, socio-economic rights and social security law. She is looking forward to making a contribution to the department’s teaching and research profile.