About Us

IFAN was conceived in 2010 by Ruth Charles, a Dietitian working in Paediatrics at a time when there was extremely limited HSE funded Allergy Services in existence.  Its original aim of highlighting the diagnosis and management of suspected food allergy by regulated health care staff in community and hospital settings, remains the same. The first “meeting” was held on February 2, 2010 at the Maldron Hotel Portlaoise.  As a result of this meeting a network of stakeholders with a wealth of knowledge and experience was identified.  IFAN was officially “born” in July 2011.


IFAN Executive Committee 2022

Co Chairs 

  • Dr. Aideen Byrne, Consultant Paediatric Allergist, Children’s Health Ireland: Crumlin & Tallaght Hospitals.
  • Dr. John Fitzsimons, Consultant Pediatrician with a specialist Allergy Interest.  Children’s Health Ireland: Temple Street and Connolly Hospitals.
  • Professor Jonathan Hourihane, Professor of Paediatrics, RCSI.  Children’s Health Ireland:  Temple Street and Connolly Hospitals.


  • Ruth Charles, Registered Dietitian (Paediatrics), Specialist Lecturer and Clinical Tutor, University College Dublin.

IFAN Executive Committee 2019/2021

  • Dr. Aideen Byrne, Paediatric Allergist
  • Ruth Charles, Secretary
  • Dr. Miranda Crealey, Higher Specialist Trainee NCHD Paediatrics
  • Dr. John Fitzsimons, Paediatrician with an Allergy Interest
  • Niamh Flynn, Parent
  • Dr. Beth Gordon, NCHD Paediatrics
  • Professor Jonathan Hourihane, Paediatric Allergist
  • Dr. Susan Keogh, NDCH Paediatrics
  • Dr. Fiona Magee, GP
  • Dr. Carol Stephens, Basic Specialist Trainee NCHD Paediatrics

IFAN Core Working Group 2011

  • Ruth Charles, Registered Dietitian (Paediatrics)
  • Deirdre Daly, Clinical Nurse Specialist Allergy
  • Dr. John Fitzsimons, Paediatrician with an Allergy Interest
  • Professor Jonathan Hourihane, Paediatric Allergist
  • Dearbhla Hunt, Registered Dietitian
  • Teresa Kelly, Registered Dietitian
  • Dr. Imelda Lambert, Paediatrician
  • Dr. Teresa McSweeney, Senior Area Medical Officer
  • Dr. Sean O’ Callaghan, GP
  • Caroline O’Connor, Registered Dietitian


Special thanks to Aoife Crowley, Bronagh Clarke, Emily Butler and all the staff at UCC’s Department of Paediatrics & Child Health for their highly efficient administration from 2011-2021.

Thanks to Dr. James McIntosh and staff at Safefood and Pat O’Mahony and staff at FSAI for facilitating the first network and core working group meetings.

Thanks to all IFAN members and Anaphylaxis Ireland (now disbanded) for their contributions and support over the years.

The Timeline of IFAN


From it’s conception in 2010, IFAN was born in July 2011.  At that time it was co-chaired by Prof. Jonathan Hourihane, Paediatrics and Child Health at Cork University Hospital and Dr. John Fitzsimons, Consultant Paediatrician, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda, Co. Louth; Ruth Charles acted as secretary.

IFAN became affiliated with EAACI through Prof. Hourihane and also the Irish Association of Allergy & Immunology (IAAI) and presented at their annual meeting in July 2011 in Trim, Co. Meath.

In October 2011, wider professional members were sought for a Core Working Group. On Thursday Dec 8th 2011, that group had its first meeting hosted at the FSAI offices in Dublin.

A long term aim of IFAN was identified as working towards highlighting the need for and the development of a fully resourced national allergy service for patients and HCP’s in phases. There was no public or HSE funding available to support this aim and so unrestricted educational funding was sought and secured from pharma and nutrition industries.The administration of IFAN’s account was facilitated by the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health in UCC.

Phase 1 “Development of national Food Allergy care pathways”. A timetable for care pathway development was devised and ran to plan. Final drafts were reviewed by colleagues in Medicine, Nursing and Dietetics.

IFAN’s website and logo was designed by Bennis Design and was formally and publicly launched on June 17th 2013 at the Royal College of Physicians in Dublin when the website www.ifan.ie went live and received national media interest.

The website hosted food specific care pathways aimed at primary and secondary care and an “Egg Ladder” to help promote tolerance in certain individuals.  Since its launch, the website has been visited by over 190, 000 first time users and has had over 630,000 page views.

Photo right – IFAN launch June 17, 2013 L-R Dr. Teresa McSweeney, Dearbhla Hunt, Prof. Jonathan Hourihane, Ruth Charles, Dr. John Fitzsimons

Phase 2 “Pathway dissemination and national HCP education”.

In late 2013, IFAN took to the roads of Ireland and brought the pathways and IFAN to 12 national venues (2 shown above) and addressed over 400 personnel from predominantly community healthcare settings.  The majority of attendees reported learning something new along with a change in practice as a result of the presentation.

After the road tour IFAN had a database of over 700 members which had extended to include Medical Scientists, Pharmacists, Caterers.  Due to emerging GDPR, the database was destroyed and IFAN now maintains an email only contact list of over 600 members.


IFAN published a joint position statement on “Testing for Food Allergy” in collaboration with the IAAI.  After the tragic death of a Dublin teenager due to fatal food anaphylaxis IFAN published a statement on “Anaphylaxis and Fatal Reactions to food”.


brought the welcome addition of Dr. Aideen Byrne as co chair of IFAN.  Photo below left of IFAN at EAACI Dublin, resulting in an international interest in IFAN. We also had a presence, shown below right, at the popular Hot Topics seminar in Dublin in Summer 2014 extending IFAN’s awareness among GP’s.

Six informative newsletters were circulated to IFAN members from 2014/2015, the “In the news” section of the website took over as a portal for information dissemination to a wider audience in the absence of a member database.

IFAN with ICGP trainers. Courtesy Bobby Studio.


IFAN publishes “Best practice integrated services in food allergy diagnosis and management in Ireland”.

Photo right shows IFAN chairs at ICGP training meeting (Courtesy of Bobby Studios).


IFAN collaborates with Dietitian colleagues in CHO 6 and co-writes a chapter on Allergy for the Nutrition Reference Pack.  IFAN continues to contribute to version updates in accordance with recent evidence.

Travel Bursary introduced: travel grants of up to €500 were offered by IFAN to members presenting original work, relevant to the field of Food Allergy at an International meeting.

IFAN first tweeted and the account @IFANdotIE is administered by Dr. John Fitzsimons.

Meetings between IFAN and the HPRA are initiated and deal specifically with issues surrounding AAI’s.


IFAN publishes “Guidance for Schools”

20 questions about allergy and eczema” resource published jointly with IFAN and the Irish Skin Foundation.

Formal collaboration begins with the ICGP on the production of a Food Allergy Guidance proposal for GPs.

Contact is initiated with Tusla regarding allergic children in the early childcare setting.

IFAN hosts Paediatric Allergy study day in Tallaght Hospital Dublin in partnership with King’s College London Allergy Academy.


IFAN publishes “Living with Food Allergy” in Plain English for parents and carers.

Egg Ladder is revisited and updated in accordance with feedback received and the latest evidence base.

IFAN starts to lobby the Dept of Education, National Office for Health Protection & Child Health, Children and Young People’s Services Committees DCYA to formalise our significant, growing and unaddressed concerns at the lack of any coordinated national policy for the care of children with food allergy in schools, in order to ensure their inclusion in all aspects of school life and their physical safety.

IFAN produces “Allergic children in early childcare environments: key learning points for all staff” and presents it to Tusla.

IFAN accompanies parents to a meeting with Minister for Health Simon Harris to advocate on behalf of their child.


IFAN challenges unsafe, untrustworthy information presented at national level as fact  which could actually result in a significant risk to the health of children by increasing their risk of developing IgE mediated nut allergy. (FSAI Healthy eating, food safety and food legislation” A guide supporting the Healthy Ireland Food Pyramid).

IFAN ceases to seek further unrestricted educational financial support from industry.

IFAN hosts Paediatric Allergy Study day in UCD in partnership with King’s College London Allergy Academy.


IFAN publishes guidance on “Coronavirus and Food Allergy”


IFAN chairs and participates in a series of industry sponsored education podinars on Food Allergy, Immunotherapy, Asthma and Eczema.

Since December 1, 2021, IFAN formally declared a cessation of any funding or financial support sourced from industry, pharma or commercial enterprises.


Website undergoes a review and upgrade

IFAN collaborates with HSE and CHI to host its first webinar on milk and egg allergy.

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