Meet the Respondent – Donna McNamara

Last Wednesday we met Claire Hendrick and below is a post on Donna McNamara, who is working with Claire as a respondent. They presented their work together last November during the workshop on freedom to choose


Donna McNamara

My name is Donna McNamara

I am from Ireland

I speak English

I have experience of researching human rights, legal capacity and access to justice. My PhD looks at the way in which the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities can be used as a tool for law reform in the criminal justice system. I am particularly interested in the way in which police officers interact with suspects with disabilities and the supports that can be put in place to enable people to participate in criminal investigations.

I am interested in all kinds of stories, but especially stories about criminal responsibility and guardianship.

My 7 word autobiography is ‘Graduate student, teacher, loves animals and chocolate!’

I joined the VOICES project because I am interested in the meaning of legal capacity and assisted decision-making so I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of this project. I was particularly fascinated by the aims of the project, and was curious about how it would work. I have also long admired the work of everyone at the Centre for Disability Law and Policy in NUI Galway, and could not wait to meet everyone.

What was your favourite part of the first workshop?

My favourite part of the first workshop was meeting people from all over the world, especially the storytellers who shared their experiences with us.  I particularly enjoyed learning about the power of storytelling and the way in which we can use personal experiences to reform law and policy.

What are you hoping to learn from the project?

This project has introduced me to new research methods and ideas about how human rights law can be applied in practice. From working with Claire over the past few months, I have learned more about the lived experience of guardianship in Ireland and the reality of substituted decision-making. I am hoping to work with Claire to find practical solutions which would allow people to exercise their right to make decisions.

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