Appointments to the Board of the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill has announced the appointment of three new members to the Board of the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI).

Maureen McKeague, Colin Coffey and Ian Buchanan have been appointed as AFBI Board Members effective from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2018.

Confirming the new appointments, Minister O’Neill said: “The role of the AFBI Board is to provide strategic direction and to promote good governance including the highest standards of financial management. These new Board members bring with them experience in the agriculture, food and financial sectors within the sphere of commerce and business development. I am confident that they will make a major contribution to the role of the Board.”

Additionally, Minister O’Neill has re-appointed the existing Deputy Chair and seven Board members. Bob McCann and Hilary McCartan are re-appointed effective from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016. Prof. William McKelvey, Deputy Chair, Prof. Patrick Murphy, Sarah Havlin, Dr. Cecil McMurray, Ken Millar and David Lindsay have been re-appointed effective from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2017.

1. AFBI is a DARD Executive Non-Departmental Public Body set up under the powers of the Agriculture (NI) Order 2004. It is empowered under the Order to undertake scientific work (research and development, testing, advice and information on scientific matters and dissemination of the results of scientific research) in the fields of agriculture, animal health and welfare, food, fisheries, forestry, the natural environment and rural development and enterprise. It employs approximately 850 staff who are located across seven sites across the north.

2. The above appointments are 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. The appointees have not been involved in any political activity during the past five years.

3. AFBI Board members are expected to commit in the region of 15 days per year and will receive a remuneration of £3,865 per annum. The Deputy Chair of the AFBI Board is expected to commit in the region of 20 days per year and will receive a remuneration of £10,725 per annum.

4. Maureen McKeague enjoyed a successful career with Ulster Bank Group before establishing her own business, Lynx Business Services in 1995. During her career with Ulster Bank, Maureen completed her Banking Certificate and Trustee Diploma with the Institute of Bankers in Ireland before achieving first place in the coveted Financial Studies Diploma with the Chartered Institute of Bankers at a ceremony in London. Maureen previously worked as the International Fund for Ireland’s only female development consultant, developing a successful track record in project development. Maureen is currently Chief Executive Officer with Derg Valley Care, a local charity which provides health and social care. Maureen has worked tirelessly to develop DVC as a high quality social care provider, winning the prestigious National Training Award – individual category in 2010. Maureen has spent much of her spare time researching the benefits of complementary therapy and coaching as a supportive intervention for long term conditions, graduating in the first cohort as a mental Health and Wellbeing Life Coach in 2015 through Kingstown College.

5. Colin Coffey lives in Bangor. He is a Chartered Director and Fellow of the Institute of Directors with extensive experience in Corporate Governance. Mr Coffey has held a number of senior management posts within the Northern Ireland Food Industry including Chief Executive of United Feeds and Manufacturing Director at Pritchitt Foods. He is currently non Executive Chairman of Flint Studios a software development company, 4 Beauty Group a specialist skincare company, Newton and Bell a pension and wealth investment company and is Chief Executive of the RDA Group a specialist Property Development company. In addition, he is also a Board member of the Northern Ireland Science Park and sits on their Audit Committee.

6. Ian Buchanan lives outside Dungiven on the family farm. The hill farm is all in pasture which is fully utilised by sheep and a dairy herd. A past President of the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster, he has had a long term involvement in Rural Development, being a past member of the Rural Development Council and a past Chairman of the North West Local Action Group in the 2007 – 2013 Rural Development Programme. Ian was a founder member and inaugural Secretary/Treasurer for the first 25 years of the Sperrin Producers Co-op. He is a member of the Ulster Farmers’ Union having served as the Rural Development Chair and currently the Hill Farming Committee Chair. He is the elected Regional member for the British Wool Marketing Board of which he is currently Chairman.

7. Professor Bill McKelvey OBE (AFBI Deputy Chairperson) was born and raised on a dairy farm in County Down, who has spent most of his professional career to date working in Scotland. He currently lives near Peebles in the Scottish Borders. He was Chief Executive and Principal of the Scottish Agricultural College for ten years until early 2012. He is a Non-Executive Director of Scotland’s largest farming business, Glenrath Farms. He holds one other Ministerial appointment: he is a member of the Board of the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency. He holds a first class honours degree in veterinary science from the University of Glasgow, a postgraduate diploma from the University of Guelph, Canada, and a PhD from the University of Aberdeen. In May 2011, he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, in recognition of his contribution to science, and was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours (June 2011), for services to agriculture. In June 2012, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science Degree from the University of Edinburgh. He is a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Societies, and serves as a member of the Scottish Panel of the Awards for the Royal Agricultural Societies. He is also Chair of the Veterinary Policy Group of the British Veterinary Association.

8. Bob McCann lives in Newtownabbey. He is a Chartered Certified Accountant and has a broad management background having held a number of senior management posts in both the private and public sectors, including Group Financial Controller and General Manager (Finance) in NIE, and Director of Finance in the IT company Sx3. He is currently the Chairman of the Northern Health and Social Care Trust and a Non-Executive Director of Warrenpoint Harbour Authority, a member of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, and a member of the NI Valuation Tribunal.

9. Hilary McCartan is a Chartered Accountant by profession and lives in Belfast. Mrs McCartan has held a number of senior management posts in the private sector including the role of Finance Director, and a number of non-executive roles in the public sector. Mrs McCartan has two other public appointments. She is a Commissioner on the Londonderry Port and Harbour Commissioners and a Non-Executive Director of the Business Services Organisation.

10. Professor Patrick Murphy lives in Rostrevor, Co Down. Professor Murphy has been involved in management, governance and teaching at every stage of education from nursery to university level, including seven years as Director and Chief Executive of Belfast Institute of Further and Higher Education. He holds a Ministerial public appointment on the Southern Education Library Board, where he chairs the Audit and Finance Committees. He is also Chair of the Northern Ireland Medical Research Ethics Committee (REC B) in the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety.

11. Dr Cecil McMurray lives in Helens Bay, Co Down. Dr McMurray has held a number of senior positions with the Department of Agriculture Northern Ireland and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and Queens University Belfast. He is an independent consultant, operating through Sci-Tec Consultancy, who has recently worked internationally for the World Bank, the European Commission and Ministries of Agriculture in several countries world-wide. He was named by the UK Science Council as one of the UK’s top 100 scientists in 2014. He has first class honours degrees in both Chemistry and Agriculture and a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Bristol. He returned to the north following a Research Fellowship in the Chemistry Department of Harvard University USA to a post as head of department at the Department of Agriculture, Veterinary Research Department. During his career he held senior appointments in both QUB (Professor of Agricultural Chemistry as Head of Department in the Facility of Agriculture) and later as an honorary Professor in the University, and in DARD as Chief Scientific Officer. Following retirement he chaired an advisory group on TB diagnostics. In 2014 he was appointed by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to the TB Strategic Programme Review Group. He was awarded a CBE for Public Service in 2002.

12. Sarah Havlin is the Certification Officer of Northern Ireland; a quasi-judicial and regulatory public office in the field of Trade Union Law. A solicitor by profession, she has a background in agricultural law, including the Chairmanship of the Independent Agricultural Appeals Panel for Farming Grants and Subsidies and Animal Valuation, and she currently serves as the Chair of the Agricultural Wages Board. She is a visiting tutor at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queen’s University and an Associate Lecturer in Law with the Open University. Mrs Havlin also holds a Ministerial public appointment in the Exceptional Circumstances Tribunal and the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority.

13. David Lindsay lives in Killinchy, Co Down. Mr Lindsay has a First Class Honours degree in Food Technology. He is a fully chartered member of the Chartered Quality Institute and is a certified construction project sponsor and Prince 2 practitioner. Mr Lindsay is the Project Sponsor for the Northern Ireland Fishery Harbour Authority (NIFHA), and also holds a Ministerial public appointment with The Northern Ireland Food Advisory Committee.

14. Ken Millar lives in Comber, Co Down. Mr Millar was CEO and Accounting Officer of a Department of Finance and Personnel Agency between 1996 and 2002. He was a Director in his own consultancy company and later served as CEO and interim Accounting Officer for the Northern Ireland Law Commission until March 2015. Mr Millar was involved in preparatory work in relation to the formation of AFBI and in its organisational development between 2006 and 2010. Mr Millar also holds Ministerial public appointments as Chairman of the Police Rehabilitation and Retraining Trust and also as a Non-Executive Member of the Board of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.