New Parole Commissioners for Northern Ireland announced.

Date published: 09 December 2022

Four new members have been appointed to the Parole Commissioners for Northern Ireland.


Ciaran McQuillan and Diane Nixon are appointed as Legal Commissioners. Deepak Anand and Dr Kate Geraghty are appointed as Psychology Commissioners.

As an independent body, the Parole Commissioners’ role is to make decisions on the release or otherwise of those serving extended or indeterminate sentences, and in relation to the revocation of licences and recall to prison in cases where an offender is subject to post custody supervision.

Richard Pengelly CB, Permanent Secretary, Department of Justice said: “These new appointments will add to the collective wealth of knowledge and experience of the Parole Commissioners and I want to wish them well in their new roles.” 

 These appointments bring the complement of serving commissioners to 37.

Notes to editors: 

1.  The Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 2008 renamed the Life Sentence Review Commissioners (LSRC) as Parole Commissioners and introduced new public protection sentences. 

2.  Commissioners are appointed under Schedule 4 of the 2008 Order.  They serve in a fee-paid capacity and in accordance with the legislative requirements individual Commissioners have professional qualifications or experience in the legal, medical, criminological and rehabilitative fields. The Chief Commissioner is appointed from within the existing Commissioners.

3. The appointment process reflected the principles and practices of the Commissioner for Public Appointments Northern Ireland Code of Practice.  Appointments were made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process.

4. The new Commissioners do not hold any other public appointments in Northern Ireland.

5. Pen pictures for new legal and psychology parole commissioners

Ciaran McQuillan

Mr Ciaran McQuillan qualified as a Solicitor in 1994. He worked in private practice for 12 years specialising in Personal Injury litigation and Criminal Law. In 2006 he joined the Public Prosecution Service of Northern Ireland as a Senior Public Prosecutor. He has been an Assistant Director within the PPS for the last 12 years and is presently Head of the Serious Crime Unit. Since 2013 he has been a member of the Magistrates Court Rules Committee and until 2020 he was a member of the Law Society’s Advocacy Working Party. Prior to his appointment as Legal Commissioner he has served as a Criminal Justice Parole Commissioner since 2019.

Political Activity: None

Diane Nixon

Ms Diane Nixon is a Senior Lecturer and Director of Education at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies, Queen’s University Belfast, where she is responsible for delivery of professional legal education to trainee barristers and solicitors. She is a Fellow of Advance Higher Education Academy and is a member of the Cambridge Assessment Network.

She was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1997.  She practised full-time as a barrister until she returned to Northern Ireland in 2008 when she combined teaching with professional practice at the Bar.  She was called to the Bar of Northern Ireland in 2008.

In 2013 Diane qualified as a police station representative under the Solicitors Regulation Authority and Legal Aid Agency scheme regulations for England and Wales.  She is also “duty-qualified” for England and Wales. Her full-time professional legal practice was focused on criminal and regulatory matters.

Diane was appointed Chief Examiner (Professional Ethics) to the Bar Standards Board Centralised Examinations Board in 2019, having held the post of Assistant Chief Examiner since 2014.  She is a member of Curriculum and Assessment Review Group convened by the Bar Standards Board.

Diane provides Continuing Professional Development programmes and podcasts and is an approved trainer for the Middle Temple Advocacy pupillage programmes

Political Activity: None

Deepak Anand

Dee Anand has been a practising forensic psychologist for over 22 years. His career has included roles as Senior and Principal Lecturer/ Programme Director for a number of postgraduate programmes in forensic psychology in England. He has worked as a consultant forensic psychologist in the UK and Ireland and currently sits as a specialist member of the Parole Board of England and Wales. Dee has held every senior role in Forensic Psychology in the UK - including as Chair of the National Division of Forensic Psychology for two separate terms, Chair of the Training Committee for Forensic Psychology overseeing standards of education provision and accreditation for University Courses in forensic psychology in the UK, Chair of the Qualification Board for Forensic Psychology and is the current Head of Qualification in Forensic Psychology for the British Psychological Society. He has worked as COO for a national mental health charity and has delivered a number of keynote speeches, invited talks and conference presentations nationally and internationally. His particular areas of interest include mental health, personality functioning and psychopathy, sexual and violent offending. He remains a practising forensic psychologist preparing specialist reports in civil and criminal cases across the United Kingdom.

Political Activity: None

Dr. Kate Geraghty (B.A., HDip, MA, Foren.PsyD; CPsychol; AFBPsS) – Pen Pic

Kate is a HCPC Registered Practitioner Psychologist, a BPS Chartered Forensic Psychologist and an associate fellow of the BPS.  Kate completed her undergraduate studies at Trinity College, Dublin, studying Sociology and Social Policy before undertaking postgraduate courses in Psychology. Kate has extensive experience working in numerous forensic and clinical settings including prisons, the community, and secure hospitals. She has held clinical lead roles a in prison based Therapeutic Community (TC), as well as within a complex needs service in a HMP Young Offender Institute (YOI). Kate has also acted as an Expert Witness for the Parole Board and Court proceedings in England, and for the Scottish Prison Service. Her area of expertise includes assessing the risk of offending, assessing and managing personality and mental health difficulties, and managing and treating complex trauma. Kate has undertaken significant research in risk assessment and female offending, and published research on Therapeutic Communities, gangs and delivering trauma therapy in prison. Kate is a university guest lecturer on Forensic and Clinical Psychology Doctoral programmes. Kate is an enthusiastic psychologist with a passion for adopting trauma-informed and evidence-based approaches to her work whilst maintaining public protection.

Political Activity: None

6.  For media enquiries contact the Department of Justice Press Office via Email 

7. 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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