About Us
BITE is a registered charity which was established in 1989 to increase the number of young people from Ballymun schools going to Third Level Education.

Mission Statement
BITE’s aim is to support young people from Ballymun go on to Third Level Education.

Strategic Objectives
We support academic achievement.We provide advice on pathways into third level education.We support students in their transition to third level education.We promote our programme aim and activities.We collaborate with local community groups and education providers.We fundraise to deliver and expand our supports.

Our Values
– we inspire high student motivation, focus, effort and commitment towards fulfilling their academic potential and achieving their educational aspirations.
Collaboration – strong, mutually-beneficial partnerships as we engage with young people, their families, education providers /practitioners and community groups.
Engagement– our actions will make a meaningful difference to the lives of young people and their families.
Integrity –we operate under the principles of openness, transparency, equality, justice and diversity.

Our people

The Bite Team

Diane McSweeney
Hi there, I am the programme director of BITE. Coming from Finglas and being the first in my family to access college, I know how transformative and empowering education can be, but I also know there still exists many barriers.
My work is to support students and their families not only to overcome but dismantle these barriers through supporting aspirations and academics.
Before coming to BITE, I studied Communications in DCU before completing my Masters in Equality Studies in UCD and worked for several years with Science Gallery Dublin and Trinity Access Programme on widening participation and inclusion programmes and the Dáil as a Parliamentary Assistant.
Educational equality has always been at the heart of my work, and I’m honoured to led BITE, a charity with such an important history. Founded in the absence of a national strategy for third level participation, BITE was and continues to be an originator when it comes to educational access.
Our people

Our Board

Sonya Keniry
I studied Law in Trinity College Dublin and became a member of the BITE board while working as the Project Officer with Ballymun Community Law Centre. As Project Officer, I managed various ADR services, training, and education programmes.

I ran some of these projects in Trinity Comprehensive and the primary schools in the Ballymun community. I am now working in the North Inner City as the Coordinator of the Local Community Safety Partnership. I have a proven track record of working with and collaborating across various social firms, charities, and statutory agencies, with a goal of improving social justice and creating equal access to education.

I have volunteered as a range of different positions on the BITE board and was appointed Chair in 2019. I work closely with the programme director and the board of directors to support the work of BITE and am hugely ambitious for BITE in the coming year.
Margaret Lamont
I work as an Access Officer, under the umbrella of Student Support & Development, for Dublin City University, where my role is primarily to provide support to students from non-traditional backgrounds throughout their time at the University. I joined the board of Ballymun Initiative for Third Level Education in 2014. I have had many varied roles in education ranging from teaching Leaving Certificate English in Youthreach to guest lecturing and tutoring in DCU in Psychology and Philosophy. In 2016 I became a qualified Executive Life Coach.

I am passionate about equity of education and to the removal of barriers for those students who are from under-represented groups at third level education. My particular interest is in Traveller education and I am a member of a number of community and university groups who focus on the pathways that need to be created to help provide equality for Traveller students.
Mary Mc Carthy
I'm Mary MacCarthy. After leaving school I studied Science in UCD and then went to Trinity  where I took a H-Dip ED. I've been a teacher for over forty years, and taught in Trinity Comprehensive for thirty one years. Over those years in Trinity I taught Science for most of the time, but spent a few years working as the Home School Liaison teacher, where I worked with parents, engaging them in the school, which in turn helped them to ensure their children's full participate in education, and helping the students to achieve their full potential.

Since I've retired I come into the school each week and I work with sixth year students who need support in Biology. By the time my teaching days ended in Trinity there were many students who found that I had in fact also taught their parents.  I joined the Board of BITE ten years ago.
Jade Mc Donagh
I have been on the BITE Board since 2016. I grew up in Ballymun and attended local primary and secondary school, before advancing to DCU to complete my bachelor’s degree in business studies. I have held several senior roles across the financial services sector for more than 17 years, most recently becoming the Head of Bank Staff Policy and Governance with the Irish Banking Culture Board.

Throughout my school days, BITE was a continual positive presence for me. I am one of several students from my Leaving Certificate class who progressed to third level education with the assistance of BITE. I am passionate about helping students to advance their education and believe in themselves. I know first-hand the real difference that BITE can make. I am proud to sit on the Board and have the opportunity to help with the work of BITE.
Mark Stapleton
I work as a Senior Manager in Banking focussed in the area of Data, Analytics and Automation. This part of my career dates to the mid noughties with prior experience in semiconductor manufacturing. I hold a Doctorate in Physics from DCU and prior Undergraduate degree in Physics from NUI Maynooth with a breadth of teaching and mentoring experience of young people. I offer  industry expertise and understand the educational environment where BITE operates.

My role on the board offers the opportunity to connect BITE and its students with the working and third level educational world. Annually I work with BITE and colleagues in AIB to deliver maths tuitition during the mid term break to students in 5th and 6th year. I also work with the transition year coordinator to run STEM workshops in Transition Year as a way to promote pathways in STEM subjects for all students.
Fiona Gallagher
I am the former Deputy Principal of Trinity Comprehensive. I retired in the summer of 2021 after 14 years working in Trinity Comprehensive. I have over 30 years’ experience in education. I began my teaching career in St Columba’s College in County Donegal. From there, I worked in the Community/Comprehensive secondary school sector. I spent some years working in Africa as a volunteer with APSO.

When I returned to Ireland, I studied part time in UCD and undertook a Masters in Equality Studies. I worked with the Curriculum Development unit on developing programmes in citizenship and human rights education. I continue to work with many organisations in Ballymun and know the needs of the community. I believe that BITE is a fantastic resource which can support the young people and parents in Ballymun in their journey to Third Level Education.
Alice Walsh
Originally from Ballymun, I understand how important access to further education can be.  I have experienced first-hand the power of education and how it can transform a person life.  I studied law in Trinity College and went on to pursue a career as a Barrister.  

Having spent time working with the Innocence Project in the United States, I began working as a Resettlement Coordinator in Mountjoy Prison with the Irish Association for Social Inclusion Opportunities (IASIO).  I am currently working as a Social Enterprise Employer Liaison with IASIO’s Recruit and Retain Service which aims to assist Social Enterprises hire people with lived experience of the criminal justice system.

I am also a part time member of the teaching staff in Maynooth’s School of Law & Criminology, and a member of the Unlocking Potential Team which advocates for fairer admissions policies for people with criminal convictions.
Want to find out more?
BITE is here to support young people from Ballymun to progress into third level education.
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