New independent members appointed to Northern Ireland Policing Board

Date published: 10 April 2024

Justice Minister Naomi Long has announced the appointment of three new independent members to the Northern Ireland Policing Board (NIPB). The appointments are effective from 1 April 2024 for four years.

Following a Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland regulated public appointment competition for independent members, Justice Minister Naomi Long appointed the following independent Board members:

  • Marian Cree
  • Patrick Nelson
  • Thomas O’Reilly

Naomi Long said: “I am delighted to welcome Marian, Patrick and Thomas to the Northern Ireland Policing Board.  Collectively, they will bring with them a wealth of valuable experience, knowledge, and unique insights to the Board.  This will further enhance the Board’s work in securing an effective and efficient police service.  Members also play a vital role in holding the Chief Constable to account for the delivery of policing.

“Over the past year, policing has been impacted by a number of significant incidents. Rebuilding public confidence in policing must be the Board’s priority and I look forward to working with the Board towards that goal.”

Concluding, the Minister paid tribute to the outgoing members of the Board. She said: “I thank those members whose terms concluded on 31 March 2024, including the Chair, Deirdre Toner and Vice Chair, Edgar Jardine – along with Dr Janet Gray MBE for their support, years of service and valuable contributions they have made to policing in Northern Ireland.  I wish them well for the future.



Notes to editors: 

•           The Northern Ireland Policing Board is an independent public body established under the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 (the 2000 Act).  The primary function of the Board is to hold the Chief Constable and police service publicly to account.  It has a key role in securing the maintenance 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 appointed by the Minister of Justice following open competition – “the independent members”.

Appointment process

•           The procedure for the appointment of independent members is compliant with the Commissioner for Public Appointments Northern Ireland (CPANI) Code of Practice.  The independent appointments were made by the Minister of Justice taking account of her statutory duty under Part III of Schedule 1 to the 2000 Act to secure that, as far as is practicable, the membership of the Board is representative of the community in Northern Ireland.

•           The ten MLAs who serve on the Policing Board are nominated by their respective party nominating officers according to d’Hondt principles,  as required by the 2000 Act.  These nominations are not subject to the CPANI Code of Practice.

•           The 2000 Act provides for the appointment of a Chair and Vice-Chair of the Policing Board.  Appointments to these offices are made by the Board from among its members in accordance with the Act and are not subject to the CPANI Code of Practice.

•           All three appointments will be for a period of four years.

•           In the absence of a Minister of Justice, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland consulted: The Executive Office; the Chief Executives of all the local District Councils; and the Chief Constable. 

•           On her return to office, the Minister of Justice consulted the First Minister and deputy First Minister. 

•           Remuneration for an independent member is £15,000 per annum and the time commitment required is a minimum of four 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.


Mrs Marian Cree

Marian is currently the Legal Services Oversight Commissioner for NI (LSOC) having been appointed in April 2017 to present. Remuneration for this is £35,000 per annum.

She has recently finished a 3-year term serving as a Commissioner on the Parades Commission for NI.

In 2015 Marian established the first Office for the Competition & Markets Authority in Northern Ireland Office and was the Head of the Office for two years.

Marian’s main career was in the NI Civil Service holding many policy posts for a period covering 32 years.

Since 2018 she has been a Board member for ASCERT, a charity organisation that supports young people with addiction problems.

Political Activity – none.

Mr Thomas O’Reilly

Tommy has had an extensive career in public service, holding positions including Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Department of Education responsible for education policy and children services and the Department of Communities responsible for working age employment services and benefits. He was CEO of the Social Security Agency for six years, was a non-Executive Director in the Scottish Government and has worked with the European Union in South Africa, Jordan and Greece on social welfare projects. He was Vice Chair of the Ashton Community Trust, Belfast for three years and brings to the Board significant experience in governance, strategic decision making, programme management and organsiational leadership.

Tommy is currently Chairperson of the Northern Ireland Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment. Remuneration for this is £20,000 per annum.

Political Activity – none.

Mr Patrick Nelson

Patrick Nelson has been CEO of the Irish Football Association since 2009. Patrick is a director of the Association's stadium company and a trustee of its charitable foundation. He is also a director of the International Football Association Board, responsible for the Laws of the Game.

Before moving into football, Patrick worked in the global payment cards industry, with roles at Capital One, MasterCard and American Express.

He holds a Business Studies degree from Nottingham Trent University and a master's in European Sports Governance from Sciences Po, Paris.

Patrick was appointed as a Visiting Professor at Ulster University in 2020.

In 2022, Patrick was appointed as Chair of the National Trust Regional Advisory Group for Northern Ireland.

Political Activity – none.


The Board’s political members are:

Gerry Kelly                  Sinn Féin

Cathal Boylan Sinn Féin

Linda Dillon                 Sinn Féin

Trevor Clarke DUP

Keith Buchanan          DUP

Cheryl Brownlee         DUP

Eóin Tennyson Alliance

Nuala McAllister          Alliance

Mike Nesbitt                UUP

Mark H. Durkan           SDLP

For media enquiries contact the Department of Justice Press Office at

The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted out of hours 028 9037 8110.

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