Governors appointed to Belfast Metropolitan College

Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry today announced the appointment and reappointment of members to the Governing Body of Belfast Metropolitan College.

The Minister has appointed six new governors and re-appointed three existing governors, whose first terms of office had come to an end. The appointments took effect from 1 August 2015 and each is for a period of four years.

The new governors are Mrs Catherine Burns MBE, Ms Kate Burns, Mrs Kay Collins, Mr Jim McCall, Mrs Kathleen O’Hare and Mr Brian Wilson. The governors who are being re-appointed for a second term are Mr Frank Bryan, Mrs Wendy Gillies and Mr John McGrillen.

The governing body of a further education college is responsible for securing the efficient and effective management of the college, determining its strategic direction, appointing its senior staff and ensuring that the college acts as a responsible employer.

Appointments to the governing bodies of further education colleges are not currently remunerated.


1. Belfast Metropolitan College (Belfast Met) is one of six, large further education colleges across Northern Ireland. Its main campuses are at Titanic Quarter, Millfield, Springvale, Castlereagh, Tower Street and Whiterock. In 2013/14 (the latest year for which full, validated statistics are available), Belfast Met had over 37,000 enrolments and employed 827 people (expressed as full-time equivalents).

2. The new appointments are being made by the Minister following a public appointments competition. Both the appointments and reappointments are being made in accordance with the Code of Practice of the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland.

3. Appointments and reappointments to the governing bodies of further education colleges are for a period of four years and are not currently remunerated. However, plans to remunerate chairs and members of the college governing bodies are in train. It is anticipated that remuneration will be introduced during the early part of the term of these appointments.

4. Mrs Catherine Burns MBE was formerly employed as Head of Corporate Services with the NI Transport Holding Company, parent company for Translink. Mrs Burns is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). She has been involved with the Belfast Samaritans for many years during which time she has held the posts of Recruitment Director and Chair of the Strategic Fundraising Committee. Mrs Burns was awarded an MBE in 2009 for services to Public Transport and the wider Community. Mrs Burns does not currently hold any other public appointments.

5. In 2013 Ms Kate Burns set up a company with family on Rathlin Island, to put in place the first fully commercial kelp nursery in the UK and Ireland and a processing facility to produce fresh kelp food products. She continues to carry out assignments through the consultancy she set up in 2007, carrying out evaluations and writing rural and regional development plans at home and abroad. Prior to this Ms Burns was Chief Executive of the Irish Central Border Area Network. She has previously held a diverse range of Board positions in the tourism and rural development sector across the island of Ireland. She holds an MSc in Rural Development and a Diploma in Community Development Practice. Ms Burns does not currently hold any other public appointments.

6. Mrs Kay Collins has worked as a professional accountant for over 20 years and is a qualified Chartered Accountant. She has been a Partner with Goldblatt McGuigan since 2008. Her role within the firm is largely delivery of audit, accounting and business services to a wide range of both public and private sector clients. She is responsible for the firm’s Audit Department and is the Staff Partner, dealing with all Human Resources in the firm.

Since 1998 Mrs Collins has served on the various governing bodies of the former North East Institute of Further and Higher Education, the Temporary Executive for the Merger and, for the last eight years, the Governing Body of Northern Regional College, where she fulfilled the role of Vice Chair. She also served as Chair of the Finance and General Purposes Committee for her last four years at Northern Regional College, and during 2014 served for a period as acting Chair of the governing body. Mrs Collins does not currently hold any other public appointments.

7. Mr Jim McCall is a qualified professional social worker and has been employed in a variety of professional and senior manager positions during his career. Until March 2015, he was Managing Director of Four Seasons Health Care in Northern Ireland and Wales. Prior to taking up this role in 2008, he was Chief Executive of the former Ulster Community and Hospitals Trust. He is a non-executive Director with Diabetes UK.

Mr McCall was appointed to the Board of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive from 1June 2015, for a period of up to five years, with remuneration of £6,740 per annum.

8. Over the last 30 years, Mrs Kathleen O’Hare has taught in both the primary and post-primary sectors as well as in teacher education. For the last three years, she has served as head teacher at Hazelwood Integrated College following a period of 10 years as head teacher at St Cecilia’s College, Derry. As an experienced head teacher, she has been a member of appointments panels for new head teachers around Northern Ireland and, through the Regional Training Unit, mentors and coaches up to three new head teachers each year.

For a period of eight years, until 2014, Mrs O’Hare was a member of the Senate of Queen’s University Belfast, serving on a number of committees. She acts as an Associate Assessor for the Education and Training Inspectorate. She has also served as a Director on the Boards of the Verbal Arts Centre, The Old Library Trust Healthy Living Centre and the Ebrington Maydown Group. Mrs O’Hare does not currently hold any other public appointments.

9. Mr Brian Wilson is currently employed by British Council (Northern Ireland) as a Skills Advisor (International Partnerships). His role involves advising on system reform in skills provision in international contexts and creating opportunities for UK skills providers who are working, or plan to work, internationally. He provides advice to countries in the Middle East, North Africa, wider Europe and the Americas. He has recently returned to Northern Ireland following an overseas posting with the British Council in Nigeria and Morocco. Mr Wilson does not currently hold any other public appointments.

10. Mr Frank Bryan is an executive coach and business mentor, with a portfolio of non-executive board directorships including the Institute of Directors’ UK National Board and Queen’s University Belfast spin-out companies. He currently chairs the Belfast Met Trust and the Audit & Risk committee of the Police Ombudsman’s Office for Northern Ireland. Across these various roles he has led on strategic development, good governance and constitutional reform. Mr Bryan is a Chartered Electrical Engineer, a Fellow of the Institute of Directors and holds Diplomas in Company Direction and Executive Coaching.

He also has a number of charity and social enterprise interests including the NI Hospice (Trading) Ltd and Ballynafeigh Community Development Association. He has been a member of the governing body of Belfast Metropolitan College since August 2011. Mr Bryan does not currently hold any other public appointments.

11. Mrs Wendy Gillies is Programme Manager at the East Belfast Partnership and is responsible for development of the new Connswater Community Greenway, currently under construction. She has been involved in the strategic direction, planning and sustainability of the organisation. Mrs Gillies has an extensive background in finance, operations and project management. She was awarded social entrepreneur of the year in 2010 and is also on the Boards of The Odyssey Trust Company and W5. She has been a member of the governing body of Belfast Metropolitan College since August 2011. Mrs Gillies does not currently hold any other public appointments.

12. Mr John McGrillen is Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board. He was formerly Director of Development at Belfast City Council, and prior to that Chief Executive of Down District Council. He is a graduate of Mechanical Engineering from Queen’s University Belfast and also holds an MSc in Engineering Computation and an MBA in International Business. He has been a member of the governing body of Belfast Metropolitan College since August 2011. Mr McGrillen does not currently hold any other public appointments.

13. All appointments are made on merit and political activity played no part in the selection process. However, the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland requires the political activity of appointees to be published. None of the nine governors have carried out any political activity in the past five years.