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Our Story Header Community Finance Ireland client An Tobar Community Wellness Centre and Social Farm

An Tobar Community Wellness Centre and Social Farm, County Armagh

Since 2016, we have been able to help clients across Ireland and Northern Ireland and this spotlight map shows how many we have worked with and the loan amounts that are working in your region.

Impact Map

meet our team

We’re a small team working throughout the island of Ireland, North and South. And we’re as passionate and committed as you.
Our expertise is in finance: it’s what we use to enable clients like you to bring about change.
We speak finance. But we hear people.

Dónal Traynor

Chief Executive

Dónal took up the role of Chief Executive in November 2020, having previously worked as Associate Director for the business’ Republic of Ireland activity. Dónal holds a degree in Economics & Geography from UCD, Grad. Dip. in Business Studies and, an MBS in Co-operative and Social Enterprise from UCC. Oh, and is QFA accredited from the Institute of Banking too. Outside of work: Dónal is a sports fanatic and will always engage in some type of energetic activity with his young family at the weekends.

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“We strive to create a lasting social impact in every community on the island. It’s the driving force behind everything that we do.”

Dónal Traynor

Phelim Sharvin

Associate Director NI

Phelim is a Chartered Banker and holds a Master’s degree in European Regional Development, Economics & Business Management. He joined Community Finance Ireland (formerly UCIT) in 2002, bringing with him nearly 20 years’ experience in the Social Finance sector and Portfolio Management. He has helped develop tailored loan products and bespoke loan funds in the local Sports, Childcare, Green Energy and Start-Up Social Enterprise sectors. Outside of work: Phelim is keen on most sport and loves to catch a live gig when he can.

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Emmett O'Hara

Associate Director ROI

Emmett joined our team in early 2021. Born in Cavan now living in Bettystown Co Meath, Emmett has over 16 years experience working across Business Development, Commercial and Credit Analyst management roles. He holds a Degree in Credit Risk from Technical University Dublin, Diploma in SME Credit and a QFA Diploma from the Institute of Bankers. When not working with clients, he spends his time supporting Liverpool and Leinster Rugby. Family time is a priority at weekends where he and his wife Miriam, cook and make the most of the local beach areas with their two children.

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Lita Notte

Group Marketing Manager

Lita trained at the Dublin Institute of Technology and Irish Marketing Institute, Lita has held senior roles in advertising and marketing, working with brands such as Guinness, Super Valu, Aer Lingus, Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank and RBS Group. Outside of work: Lita champions mental health awareness and loves beach walks with her labradoodle Lily.

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Barry Connolly

Group Finance Director

Barry is a Chartered Accountant and previously worked with PWC and KPMG, and has spent over 15 years working in the private, public and third sectors. He is on the board of both Victim Support Northern Ireland and the Halifax Foundation for Northern Ireland. Outside of work: Barry loves to travel, read, work out and sing along at gigs, where no one can hear him.

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Rose Hally

Client Relationship Executive

With over 20 years in senior management positions in the financial services sector, Rose brings real added value to every project, and is rightly known for her outstanding level of personal commitment to her clients. Rose is QFA accredited from the Institute of Banking. Outside of work: Rose loves the outdoors, especially beach walks and camping trips with friends and family.

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Barry Symes

Client Relationship Executive

Prior to joining the team, Barry had a long career in corporate finance with the Ulster Bank Group, specialising in problem-solving for his clients and helping them to future-proof their businesses. He brings the same rigour to his work with our clients today. Outside of work: Barry is a foodie and wine buff, and ideally combines these two interests with good conversation.

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Anne Graham

Client Relationship Executive

Anne joined our team in April 2021. Born and living in Donegal, Anne has over 25 years’ experience working across Financial Services in Business Development, Business Lending, and financial advice and credit control roles. Anne holds an MBA from University of Ulster, and a QFA Diploma from the Institute of Bankers. When not working with clients, Anne spends her time running and has recently taken up sea swimming on the beautiful shores of Lough Swilly. Family time is a priority at weekends and if not attending Football or GAA matches Anne enjoys cooking and making the most of beautiful outdoors in Donegal. Anne will be responsible for looking after clients in Donegal and all of Connacht. Anne is also involved in community projects on a voluntary basis locally in Inishowen.

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Peter Smyth

Client Relationship Executive

Peter graduated in Economics from QUB and trained as an Accountant with Price Waterhouse. He then spent 28 years with Danske Bank, holding senior roles in various businesses and retail banking divisions. Peter is also a church trustee and treasurer. Outside of work: Peter is a serious football fan, supporting Leeds United and Glenavon. Where his loyalties would lie if they ever meet remains unclear.

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Sandra Cowan

Office Manager

Sandra is our longest serving team member, having joined us in 1999. She deals with the day to day office administration across a broad range of activities. Outside of work: Sandra is keen on baking, gardening and swimming, though not necessarily at the same time.

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Trudi Dunbar

Marketing Executive

Trudi manages our social content activity, sponsorship, events and partnership activity within Northern Ireland. She holds a degree in Business Studies and an MSc in Marketing. Trudi is happiest when shining a spotlight on the achievements and successes of our clients. Outside of work: you’ll find Trudi pottering around old buildings or on another road trip with her family in their touring caravan.

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Nicky McElhatton

Marketing Executive

Nicky graduated in English from Queen’s University Belfast and later gained an MA from QUB in Arts Management. Before joining us, he spent nine years working for arts organisations and within the tourism sector. Outside of work: Nicky is a devoted culture vulture, travel junkie and all-round Eurovision fanatic.

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Emma Thompson

Office Administrator

Emma joined our Belfast office team in 2016. She supports the daily operations of the business. Previously she held a number of significant administrative roles, including with the Northern Ireland Assembly. She particularly enjoys seeing the positive impact of our work on local communities. Outside of work: Emma is passionate about animal welfare and enjoys photography. But don’t touch her chocolate, OK?

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Terri Martin

Office Administrator

Terri is the backbone of all client support activity in our ROI office. Before joining the team, she spent ten years with Ulster Bank Group, where she honed her outstanding account management delivery and reconciliation skills. Outside of work: you’ll find Terri polishing her 1994 All-Ireland football medal for Co. Meath and coaching the Louth Girls' Western Gaels GAA team.

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Pauline Carolan

Office Administrator

Pauline joined our team in March 2021 and is based in our Ardee office. She has nearly 20 years' experience working in various sectors across the financial services industry. Pauline holds a QFA diploma from the Life Insurance Association of Ireland, and a Professional Diploma in Compliance (LCOI) from the Institute of Bankers. Outside of work: Pauline enjoys the great outdoors, and could walk and talk for hours. She also loves to travel and enjoys getting lost in the music at a live gig whenever she can.

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Damian McAteer

Chair

Damian has enjoyed a 40-year career with senior management and advisory roles in the private, public and third sectors. He has held directorships in the Waterside Trust, Inner City Trust, plus a number of other organisations. He has been deeply involved in a number of flagship economic and social regeneration projects.

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Board Members

"Every plan for social or community change starts with a dream of how something could be better. It’s idealism – and we welcome that. We share it. But the reality of transformation is what counts. And that is what we are here for: to see our clients get beyond the dream and deliver real, enduring social impact.”

Damian McAteer

Michael McGarrigle

Being the Vice-Chair of Community Finance Ireland, Michael has held various diverse roles throughout his career, including Secretary of Council for the West Financial Advisor with New Ireland Assurance, Director of Cashelard Community Development Association and he is the former National Chair of Irish Cot Death Association. Michael’s current position, in commercial activity, is Director of the property development company DMG Ltd.

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Anthony Barbour

Having a BSc in Economics and Statistics from Queen's University, Belfast, Anthony’s extensive 30-year business IT career includes senior roles at multinationals in the UK, Europe and the USA, up to and including Board level. He established his own business IT consultancy working with SMEs, corporate clients and government in UK and Ireland. He currently offers advice and support to individuals and organisations wishing to establish and expand co-operatives and social enterprises.

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Erskine Holmes, OBE

Erskine is the co-founder of Community Finance Ireland, whilst being the former CEO of the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations from 1975 to 2000. In addition to this, Erskine has held Board positions with Ulster Garden Villages (UGV), Lagan Navigation Trust, Somme Association & NI Co-op Forum.

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Ian McAvoy

Ian worked in manufacturing for 20 years as a Financial Director and Chief Executive. During his tenure the business expanded into Britain and Europe, seeing a £12.2M increase in turnover. He has also held senior/board positions with PlayBoard NI, Sport NI, Board Disability Sport NI and Community Change.

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Audrey Murray, MBE

Audrey worked in social enterprise and social finance for over 25 years, including spells as contract manager for the Social Entrepreneurship Programme and Northern Social Enterprise Hub. In 2014, Audrey was awarded an MBE in recognition of her work in the Social Economy sector. She currently serves on the boards of Blythswood Care Ireland, NICVA, Business LED and Ethical Development Trust North.

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Martin Stroud

A founder part of Hazelwood Integrated School, Martin sat on the Board of Governors for 14 years and remains deeply involved in the integrated education sector. He is Chair of the Belfast Charitable Trust for Integrated Education (BELTIE), which helped establish Cranmore & Millennium Integrated primary schools. Martin is also an executive member of the NI Co-op Party.

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Andrew Ward

Andrew is joint CEO Inishowen Development Partnership. Former director BIM (Irish Sea Fishery Board) Loughs agency and chair Foyle Fishermen's Co-op. He is also member of Donegal County Development Board.

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Catherine Blackbourne

Catherine Blackbourne has over 20 years’ experience as a Qualified Accountant and she currently holds consultancy positions within a Social Enterprise, Property companies and a Facilities Management company. Previous roles have been in sectors including the transport industry, mechanical and electrical contracting, property investment and development, and corporate banking. Catherine has a Master of Arts in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University and is a Fellow of the Chartered Accountants Ireland. She is currently on the Board of Ark Housing and is a Parent Governor at Ballyclare High School.

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Kevin Hegarty

Kevin Hegarty is a Solicitor based in Belfast specializing in Medical Negligence, Healthcare Litigation, and general litigation. He is qualified in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and England and Wales, and actively practices across both Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Kevin spent a number of years working in one of Ireland’s largest commercial firms, before returning home in 2018 to work O’Reilly Stewart Solicitors. Outside work Kevin is a keen sportsman and plays with Queens Grads Football Club, as well as enjoying running, cycling and golf.

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Susan Lynch

Susan has worked in the Irish Credit Union Sector for over 25 years. Currently working fulltime as a Chief Executive, she is involved in many committees in the sector on a voluntary basis. She is a member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and a Fellow of Accounting Technicians Ireland. She has experience in strategic finance, collaboration, stakeholder management and has strong leadership skills. Susan is also a Director with the Guild of the Little Flower in the Liberties, Dublin.

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Douglas McIldoon

Douglas spent most of his career in the Civil Service based in Belfast, with a three-year secondment to the European Commission. He served as Director General for Electricity and Gas, overseeing the introduction of natural gas and renewables into Northern Ireland and the creation of the all-Ireland energy market. Since retirement he has been active in a number of organisations in the voluntary sector with a bias towards co-operative projects.

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Jim Malone

Jim is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, holding an undergraduate and MA degree in Agriculture. He also holds further qualifications in Rural Development Practice (UCG), Environmental Impact Assessment (UCD), Training and continuing Education (Maynooth). A former Chief Executive of a national farm management training organization. He worked as National Agri Business Consultant with a national accountancy firm. He spent five years working in Saudi Arabia with Masstock as their training and development manager. He has delivered EU supported training In Russia (TAC-IS), Albania and Romania (Phare). I Jim is a founding member of Ardee Community Development Company and served on Louth LEADER and Louth County Enterprise Board (Evaluation Committee). He is a Fulbright scholar and a member of the Fulbright alumnus.

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