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Obituary: Diarmuid UaConaill - HISI's first chair

HISI and the Irish Computer Society are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Diarmuid UaConaill who died peacefully on July 2, 2018. Our condolences are with his family.

Diarmuid (pictured far-right at the 2009 IMIA Board Meeting in Hiroshima) was one of a handful of people who began the establishment of the Health Informatics profession in Ireland. Diarmuid was the Irish representative to IMIA for 30 years from 1980 to 2010, where he also served as Secretary to IMIA from 2003 to 2009. In 2012 Diarmuid was awarded the O'Moore medal by HISI for his outstanding contribution to Health Informatics.

HISI, the Healthcare Informatics Society of Ireland, started out as the Medical Specialist Group of the Irish Computer Society in 1976 of which Diarmuid was a founder. The influx of non-medical members caused an early change of title to the Healthcare Specialist Group (HCSG-ICS).  

Since the ICS was a member of IFIP, there was an immediate connection to Technical Committee 4, which in 1978 was transformed into IMIA with the status of a Specialist Group of IFIP. From the start, Rory O'Moore represented HCSG-ICS at TC4 and IMIA.  

In 1980 he handed over this role to Diarmuid, who continued to represent the Group, and later HISI, at IMIA until 2010, when Mary Sharp took over. 

In 1995 Tony Carroll and Diarmuid UaConaill were among the Irish delegates to Medinfo '95 in Vancouver.  The conference inspired them to establish HISI, the Healthcare Informatics Society of Ireland.  After relevant negotiations, HISI was established in 1996, affiliated to the Irish Computer Society and incorporated the Healthcare Informatics Section of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland.  In 1997 HISI was accepted as the member body representing Ireland to both EFMI and IMIA.

HISI began with Diarmuid as its first Chair, he continued to serve for many years as Honorary Treasurer to the Society. In his role as chair he put the main energies of HISI into an Annual Conference, with international speakers and a major exhibition by systems suppliers. His legacy lives on with the HISI Annual Conference & Scientific Symposium. Now in its 23rd year the event is a cornerstone of the annual eHealth calendar. 

Diarmuid also served as a member of ICS Council alongside fellow former HISI Chair Prof Mary Sharp. “Diarmuid was a founding member of HISI; it is an example of Diarmuid's insight and vision that HISI is able to celebrate over 20 years as a community for Health Informaticians. We are saddened by his passing, but heartened by his extraordinary legacy and the inspiration that he has been to Irish Health IT Professionals”, said Mary.

Diarmuid is a great loss to not only HISI and ICS but Irish society as a whole, we were lucky to have him.

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