Rotary Ireland confirms its Virtual Conference 2021 will be open to public for free!

Dr. Ian Norton says vaccination is a privilege and urges people to counter misinformation about vaccines, particularly on social media

Rotary Ireland confirms its Virtual Conference 2021 will be open to public for free!
Staff Reporter


Staff Reporter


A medical emergency expert has warned that the race is on between the vaccines and the variants of the coronavirus and said its vital the most vulnerable people in society are vaccinated as quickly as possible before these variants begin to circle around.

Dr Ian Norton, a former head of the WHO’s Emergency Medical Team Initiative in Geneva, who’s from Cork, described vaccination as a privilege and urged people to get vaccinated.

“If you have a privilege of having access to a vaccine please take it. There are so many other countries which don’t have that privilege and when I see people not wanting to take it at home, I ask myself, do they really realise there are so many vulnerable populations in other parts of the world that have not got that privilege.”

Dr Norton, founder of Respond Global, is based in Queensland, Australia and has previously led responses to Ebola, Diptheria and measle outbreaks in various different countries. Dr Norton was speaking ahead of the Rotary Ireland Virtual Conference 2021 which takes place this Saturday.

He urged people here to to do everything they can to counter misinformation about vaccines, particularly on social media.

“If we all get vaccinated then we have a chance to get back to life as we knew it before. If we don’t and say 15 to 20% of us refuse to be vaccinated, we won’t achieve the herd immunity that we need and therefore we’ll all be stuck in this boat for some time. We must all do our best to counter misinformation about vaccines, particularly on social media, in any way we can.”

The conference which is entitled ‘Caring for our planet, our communities and ourselves’ will be streamed live from Youghal in Cork on Saturday March 6th.

It will feature a range of speakers covering such diverse topics as food and sustainability, transgender/inclusion, mental health, finance, disability, climate change and history. (See details in Note to Editor)

Conny Ovesen, the District Governor of Rotary Ireland said the organisation has seen the toll Covid was having on people and had taken the decision to open the conference to everyone for free.

“The last year has been incredibly challenging for sure and has impacted everyone in our personal and professional lives. But this pandemic gives us an opportunity to focus on what’s most important and that is taking care of our environment, our communities and ourselves. You can see from the list of topics and speakers that there really is something for everyone, so we hope as many people as possible join us for what promises to be a fun and thought-provoking series of presentations and interviews.”

Rotary, is a community and humanitarian service organisation with clubs in every county in Ireland. It currently has 72 clubs on the island with some 1,700 members. To register just go to and click on the Register for conference link.

Dr Kieran O’Connor, President of Youghal Rotary said that while there was initial disappointment that they had to cancel the physical event last September they now wanted to showcase what Cork and Rotary had to offer to as many people as possible.

“The local community and organising committee really turned that disappointment into an opportunity and ironically we have a conference which retains its strong local roots but now has international reach. As well as the speakers we will also have performances by local schoolchildren and musicians. The response has been amazing with hundreds of people from all over Ireland and from 24 countries worldwide signed up already. Come Saturday we expect those numbers to be much higher.”

 “This is a great opportunity for Irish people abroad to get a taste of home or anyone with an interest in Ireland to join our community and share the day with us. And of course, if people like what they see and hear, they might also consider joining their local Rotary club.”

The Event

What?  Rotary Ireland Virtual Conference 2021

Where? Virtual event – streamed live from Youghal.

When? Saturday March 6th ‘doors’ open 9am for ‘Showcase’, conference 10 to 12pm and 1 to 3.10pm

Who? Hosted by the District Governor of Rotary Ireland Conny Ovesen and the President of Youghal Rotary Club Dr. Kieran O’Connor.

How? Simply go to and click on the register for conference link

How much? It’s free! But maybe you’ll like what you see and consider joining your local Rotary club!

The Speakers

  • Darina Allen from Ballymaloe Cookery speaking from the comfort of her own kitchen on the legacy of Myrtle Allen
  • Dr Ian Norton, specialist emergency physician and former head of the WHO’s Emergency Medical Team on what the next couple of years with Covid will bring
  • Academic and author Sara Jane Cromwell on transgender diversity and inclusion
  • Dr Ide de Largy on mental health and developing resilience
  • Vice Admiral Mark Mellet, Chief of Staff Irish Defence forces on his 40 years of service
  • RTE Series Producer Liam O’Brien on the melting Greenland Ice Sheet
  • Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney
  • Professional chef Chris Sandford on why he set up ‘Culinary Ability Awards’
  • Author Gloria Barnett on keeping the oceans healthy
  • And many more all you have to do is go to and click register on the conference link

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