Successes of the .ie Policy Advisory Committee

Since its inaugural meeting in 2015, the .ie Policy Advisory Committee (PAC) has been instrumental in the evolution of the .ie namespace – Ireland’s national internet domain. David Curtin, Chief Executive of the IE Domain Registry writes.

The PAC’s achievements can be attributed to three critical success factors:

  1. a multi-stakeholder policy advisory committee (PAC);
  2. a structured policy development process (PDP); and
  3. an effective PAC modus operandi.

The PAC’s achievements are significant. It has reviewed 14 policy change requests to enhance the .ie namespace (11 of which were implemented following consensus for the changes amongst the .ie stakeholders represented).

The PAC has held four public consultations to capture the opinions of the wider Irish internet community (including the public), and to ensure that these are taken into consideration during the policy development process. Furthermore, the PAC has held four additional consultations with targeted stakeholders deemed to be most impacted by the relevant policy change request to ensure their input is considered.

A further milestone for the PAC relates to its crucial role in aiding the .ie namespace’s compliance preparations for the EU General Data Protection Regulation in 2018. It oversaw a policy change request for modifications to a suite of Policies which ensured continued compliance with local and international data protection laws. Of particular note is the fact that this work was undertaken and completed prior to the publication of the Data Protection Act 2018, and before international best practice within the wider domain industry had emerged.

How has this been achieved?

1. A multi-stakeholder PAC

Collaborative engagement

The cohesive working nature of the PAC membership has been crucial to its success. The stakeholders represented on the Committee dedicate considerable time and effort to the PAC’s work, and members are committed to enhancing the .ie internet infrastructure for the benefit of Ireland Inc.

The membership works collaboratively, on a volunteer basis, typical of internet governance models.

The PAC convenes face-to-face on a quarterly basis to advance the various policy change proposals under review. Further engagement between meetings is facilitated by means of conference calls and via a dedicated mailing list to maintain momentum in discussions.

Multi-stakeholder co-operation

The PAC membership is truly multi stakeholder, with representatives from government, business and the domain name industry. The mix of public policy professionals and practitioners from the sales channel and industry associations working together to meet a shared goal of enhancing the .ie namespace is an example of multi stakeholder-ism at work.

The PAC capitalises on the diverse expertise and experience within the membership to thoroughly evaluate the multi-faceted considerations associated with each policy change proposal. These considerations include public policy, consumer protection, commercial impacts from the perspective of industry practitioners, and international best practice within the online world.

Clear terms of reference

The clear and precise terms of reference, which acts as the rulebook for the PAC’s operations, is the foundation upon which is built the trust and cooperation between industry stakeholders and the board of IE Domain Registry (registry operator). The policy development process, modelled on industry best practice, is another important foundation. A strong Chairman completes the tripod, ensuring the seamless operation of the PAC.

2. A structured policy development process

The PAC considers policy change requests using a defined framework — the 10-step policy development process, which was developed in 2011. This framework provides the opportunity for interaction between the stakeholders, the IEDR board, end users and channel operators. Including a public consultation step (when considered necessary) gives the opportunity for participation by consumer protection agencies, the general public, and interested public policy experts. It provides for an iterative approach in developing solutions.

Working groups

Working groups are formed when the issues are complex or require research and documentation in order to discuss and develop competing alternatives — on policy or on implementation options. Working group membership can include guest speakers and non-PAC personnel who are subject matter experts.

Secretariat support

The Secretariat has been instrumental in driving the successes of the PAC since its formation. This is an essential component, in our experience. An expert and professional Secretariat leverages the ideas and experience of PAC members, builds momentum and presses the group to achieve its deadlines.

3. An effective PAC modus operandi

The PAC modus operandi is a bottom-up process, is consensus driven and is transparent:

Consensus driven

A key success factor thus far has been the drive and ability to build broad consensus among the stakeholders represented on the PAC. Avoiding the need for a unanimous decision allows progress to be made where there is strong consensus. The PAC adopts an iterative approach; attempting to address potential issues in the policy proposal and also in the proposals for its implementation. Addressing these issues and concerns up-front in this manner avoids problems with subsequent implementation.

Bottom-up (not top-down)

The bottom-up approach ensures that the needs of users are first and foremost. Policy changes and new policy proposals can be submitted by any interested party; by the PAC members, by government, by the general public. Top-down imposition of policy is not an appropriate modus operandi for the .ie namespace given its important cultural and business value to the Irish internet community as a national resource.


Transparency has been fundamental to the PAC’s successful operations. There are open lines of communications directly to the PAC that can be utilised by any interested party. Furthermore, the decision-making process is always comprehensively documented at each meeting in the minutes, which are made publicly available online, at

The Policy Advisory Committee is currently enhancing the options for disputing a .ie domain registration with the planned introduction of the .ie Alternative Dispute Resolution Policy. Ensuring “Fair Play and a Fair Hearing”, the easier and more affordable online dispute resolution process will be introduced on 1 July 2019. It will be managed by an independent service provider and will include a mediation option for the complainant and the domain holder.

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Barry Doyle

Since graduating with an MSc in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) in 1994 Barry has worked as a GIS / IT professional and business consultant in various roles in both the public and private sector in Ireland. With over 13 years’ experience working as a Project Leader in the Irish Local Government Sector Barry has been responsible for leading and delivering various innovative projects at both a Local Authority and Sectoral level with a particular focus on Digital Transformation, Geographical Information Systems, Information Management and Open Data.

Prior to joining Galway County Council in November 2018 Barry championed, defined and led the Digital Transformation Programme in Roscommon Country Council with the overall aim of embracing opportunities presented by ongoing advances in the digital technologies, broadband availability and capacity, and Cloud based enterprise solutions to transform how the Council provides services to, and interacts with, the citizens it serves. In line with this Barry completed a Special Certificate in Designing Innovative Services with Cork Institute of Technology in 2018.


Gemma Garvan

Gemma Garvan is Director of Informatics at St James’s Hospital in Dublin which last year became the first digital acute hospital in Ireland, which is the start of a landmark change for how care is delivered.  Gemma is an experienced Health Informatics Leader with a demonstrated history of working in the hospital and health care industry.  Prior to taking up her role at St James’s Hospital in 2018 she was Head of Access to Information at Healthlink. Gemma began work as an analyst programmer with The National Healthlink Project and moved into a project management role over a decade ago. Gemma has a BSc in computer science and software engineering and an MA from Trinity College in Dublin.

Barry Lowry

Barry Lowry is CIO for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, a position he was appointed to in 2016. He is tasked with delivering the Public Service ICT Strategy. Prior to 2016, he spent almost 35 years in the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) on work ranging from the programming of mainframe computers to operating as a team leader in the design of client server systems. For the five years prior to his appointment, Lowry was the director who oversaw the establishment of ICT shared services in NICS. He also operated as the Head of Profession for ICT. In 2011 he was voted the Northern Ireland IT Professional of the Year by his associates.

Aileen McHugh
Kieran O’Hea

A native of Cork, Kieran O’Hea is Leicester City Council’s Head of Smart Cities, where he is leading the implementation of a Smart City Strategy that is city-needs led and demand-driven. He was formerly Chief Digital Officer of Brisbane, where he led the development of the city’s digital economy strategy. Before focusing on city strategies, Kieran led the development of digital strategies for a number of government agencies in Dublin. He has also worked for the European Commission, developing funding programmes in the area of digital content.

Donal Spellman


Tim Willoughby

Tim Willoughby is Head of Digital Services and Innovation at An Garda Síochána. He was formerly CTO of the LGMA, with over 20 years in a number of Senior Management and Technical Roles in the Local Government Sector. He has been working in the Public service for almost 28 years. Tim has a Civil Engineering Degree from TCD and a Masters in Innovation from the University of Ulster.

Moyagh Murdock

Moyagh Murdock has been in the transport sector for over 20 years in various capacities. Currently, Moyagh is the Chief Executive Officer at the Road Safety Authority. In her early career she spent 10 years in the airline industry having worked at Bombardier in Belfast as an aircraft systems engineer. She was then Chief Operating Officer for Bus Éireann having joined the Company in 2007 as the Deputy Chief Mechanical Engineer with responsibility for the fleet maintenance and garage operations. In 2012 she was awarded an MBA from Dublin City University (DCU) and holds a Certificate of Professional Competence in Road Transport Operations Management.

Caron Alexander

Caron Alexander is Director of Digital Shared Services at the Northern Ireland Civil Service.  She has more than 30 years of experience in the UK public sector.  Caron is responsible for providing ICT shared services to 27,000 staff, for the NI citizen portal and contact centre services, delivering the NI Digital Transformation Programme and driving forward the NI Open Data agenda.  Previously Caron held a number of senior technical, programme and change management roles in the Northern Ireland Civil Service.

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Michael Redmond
Michael Redmond is Chief Operating Officer at the Office of the CIO/eHealthIreland. A highly experienced leader within eHealth and Digital, Michael has a reputation for delivering results, driving excellence and building capability in each and every one of his career roles to date. Hugely experienced across the public sector, he is known to be acutely customer focussed; his strategy of simplifying the digital agenda resonates with the C-suite, staff and the general public alike. As COO, Michael manages the largest ICT investment budget in the whole public sector. Also a qualified and certified CIO, Michael studied Computer Science at Trinity College Dublin.
In 2008, Stella founded Annertech, Ireland’s leading open-source digital agency. Since its inception, Annertech have grown to become the "go to" Drupal experts in Ireland and work with a variety of clients in both the private and public sectors. Stella is an active contributor to the Drupal open-source content management system, and maintains many modules including Commerce Realex, Commerce Donate and Code Review. She is a member of the international Drupal Security Team, and was recently chairperson of the Drupal Ireland Association.

Dominic Byrne is Head of Information Technology with Fingal County Council and has 26 years’ experience working in IT.  He holds a Degree in Information Technology and a Masters in Internet Systems.  He is responsible for managing the provision of IT services in Fingal County Council and his current interests include Digital Government, Smart Cities and Civic Tech.  He is a member of the Smart Dublin Executive Committee and the Public Bodies Working Group on Open Data.