Justice Minister appoints nine independent members to the Policing Board

Date published: 30 June 2015

Justice Minister David Ford has announced the make-up of the Northern Ireland Policing Board which takes office on Wednesday 1 July 2015.

David Ford said “The Northern Ireland Policing Board performs an important role in holding the Chief Constable and his officers to account, ensuring that the PSNI is effective, efficient and responsive to the needs of the community it serves.

“As well as its primary duties, the Policing Board will face new challenges as it takes on responsibility for the oversight of the National Crime Agency and the forthcoming work with the Historical Investigation Unit.”

Following an appointment competition for independent members, regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland (CPA NI), David Ford appointed the following independent Board members:

  • Deirdre Blakely
  • Anne Connolly
  • Brice Dickson
  • Ryan Feeney
  • Roisin McGlone
  • Paul Nolan
  • Wendy Osborne
  • Catherine Pollock
  • Deborah Watters

David Ford added “The decision to extend the Assembly term to a five year mandate decoupled the current appropriate period for independent members from those that apply to political members. This provided an opportunity to review the appointment process.

“In order to avoid a loss of corporate knowledge and skills, I believe the time is right to adopt a rolling approach to appointments. The new appointment process will maintain community confidence by ensuring there is continuity on the Board, while at the same time bringing in new talent on a more regular basis.

“I pay tribute to the outgoing members of the Policing Board for the significant contribution they have made to policing in Northern Ireland, and their personal commitment to the Board and its work.”

Notes to editors: 

The Northern Ireland Policing Board is an independent public body established under the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000. The primary function of the Board is to hold the Chief Constable and police service publicly to account. It has a key role in ensuring the provision of an effective, efficient, impartial and accountable police service, which will enjoy the support of all sections of the community.
The Policing Board consists of 19 members, ten of whom are nominated from among members of the Northern Ireland Assembly – “the political members”, and nine are appointed by the Minister of Justice – “the independent members.”

Appointment process

The procedure for the appointment of independent members has been made in accordance with the CPA NI Code of Practice. The independent appointments were made by the Minister of Justice, taking account of his statutory duty under Part III of Schedule 1 of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 to secure, as far as is practicable, that membership of the Board is representative of the community in Northern Ireland.
The appointment of the ten MLAs who serve on the Policing Board follows an entirely different process as defined by the legislation and as such these appointments are not made in accordance with the CPA NI Code of Practice.
These appointments are made by nominating officers of the political parties, with the number of political members from each party on the Policing Board reflecting party strength in the NI Assembly. The political members will next be appointed following the next Assembly election.
The appointment of the nine independent members will take place from 1 July 2015.

Independent members

The independent members of the Policing Board are appointed for a term of either 3 years or 4 years. A candidate who has been successful in reapplying for a second term, will in the first instance, be offered the four year term. Remuneration for an independent member is £15,000 per annum and the time commitment required is a minimum of 4 days per month.
The appointment of all independent members is made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process. However, the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland requires the political activity of appointees to be published. Details of the declaration by each appointee in relation to political activity are included below.

Brief summary of independent members appointed


Deirdre Blakely has worked supporting the Voluntary/Community and public sector for over 25 years, in health inequality and human rights, mental and family health programmes including country Director for the Alzheimer’s Society and WHO Healthy Cities Network. As Community Facilitator with NICVA Community Leadership Programme, Deirdre has experience of working with challenging single identity and cross community groups. Currently, she is working across the UK and Ireland on the strategic development of organisations, good governance, audit, business planning and evaluation. Deirdre has been a Non-Executive Director with SHSCT for 8 years. Deirdre Blakely’s appointment is for three years.

Political Activity – None


Anne Connolly has over 25 years of experience as a senior leader in public service. One of her former roles was Director of Planning and Performance for the Northern Ireland Libraries Authority where she had responsibility for the creation, design, delivery and implementation of the Performance and Planning Strategy, Framework and Structures of the new organisation. Anne has been a member of the North West Prince’s Trust Board since 2014. She has served as an independent member on the Northern Ireland Policing Board for four years and as Chair for the last two years (2013-2015). Anne Connolly’s appointment is for four years.

Political Activity – None


Brice Dickson has been Professor of International and Comparative Law at Queen’s University Belfast since 2005. He teaches and researches human rights law, employment law and judicial activism, and co-ordinates Masters’ courses in human rights. From 1999 to 2005 he was the Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. Brice has been a member of the Privacy Advisory Committee of DHSSPS since 2007 and an independent member of the Northern Ireland Policing Board for three years (2012-2015) where he served on the Performance Committee and the Partnership Committee. Brice Dickson’s appointment is for four years.

Political Activity – member of the Alliance Party


Ryan Feeney is a Senior GAA official employed as Head of Community and Public Affairs for Ulster GAA. He also leads on engagement and marketing for the Casement Park Provincial Stadium development project. Outside the GAA he is a Visiting Professor of Governance and Policy at Ulster University. He has served as an independent member on the Northern Ireland Policing Board for four years (2011-2015). Ryan Feeney’s appointment is for four years.

Political Activity – None


Roisin McGlone is currently an independent consultant. Formally as Chief Executive Officer of Interaction Belfast and previously Co-ordinator of the North Belfast CDC ‘Community Bridges Programme’, she has over 20 years’ experience working on interfaces and promoting inter–community and inter-Agency dialogue.

Roisin was one of the first Community Relations Officers in the Belfast City Council and has been involved with conflict transformation programmes in Croatia, Macedonia, Guyana, America and South Africa. She has been a Board member on the Community Relations Council since 2014. Roisin McGlone’s appointment is for three years.

Political Activity – None


Dr Paul Nolan is an independent researcher, best known for the three Northern Ireland Peace Monitoring Reports which he produced for the Community Relations Council. More recently he was lead researcher on a study of the loyalist flag protest, published by the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation at Queens University Belfast. Paul’s early career was in community education. He was Director of the Workers’ Educational Association before moving to Queens in 2001 to become Director of the Institute of Lifelong Learning. Paul Nolan’s appointment is for four years.

Political Activity – canvassed for the Alliance Party


Wendy is the Chief Executive Officer for Volunteer Now. She was a member of the UK London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Advisory Group for volunteering and a member of the DCAL NI 2012 Leadership Group. Previously in 2010 Wendy was appointed to the Board of Directors of the International Association for Volunteer Effort and has led on the development of a Global Network of National Volunteer Centres. For ten years (2002-2012) Wendy served as a Board member for the National Museums of Northern Ireland. In 2001 Wendy was awarded the OBE for services to volunteering. Wendy Osborne’s appointment is for four years.

Political Activity - None


Catherine Pollock graduated from Teesside University with a BSc Hons in Criminology and Psychology. She was elected Education and Welfare Officer at the Students’ Union in 2002 and since leaving has been working and volunteering in the Community and Voluntary sector, gaining extensive experience in community safety and working with interface communities. Currently working for the Bogside and Brandywell Initiative, she has responsibility for co-ordinating the Triax Community Safety Forum. She is a former member of the Derry District Policing Partnership and the Policing Community Safety Partnership and was Vice-Chair in 2012. Catherine Pollock’s appointment is for three years.

Political Activity – None


Deborah Watters is Deputy Director of Northern Ireland Alternatives (NIA) and one of the founder members. NI Alternatives is a community based restorative justice programme operating in the Greater Belfast area. She has served as a Board member on the Northern Ireland Policing Board since 2011 and was the Vice-Chair of the Partnership Committee during this period. She is also a Board member of Include Youth. Deborah Watter’s appointment is for four years.

Political Activity – None

The Board’s political members are:

  • Jonathan Craig MLA – DUP
  • Brenda Hale MLA – DUP
  • David McIlveen MLA – DUP
  • Robin Newton MLA – DUP
  • Gerry Kelly MLA – Sinn Fein
  • Caitr√≠ona Ruane MLA – Sinn Fein
  • Pat Sheehan MLA – Sinn Fein
  • Ross Hussey – MLA – UUP
  • Dolores Kelly MLA – SDLP
  • Trevor Lunn MLA – Alliance

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