Appointments and re-appointments to Further Education Colleges

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton MLA, has announced the appointment of a new governing body member for Southern Regional College and six re-appointments to the Governing Bodies of four Further Education Colleges.

The governing body of a further education college is responsible for securing the efficient and effective management of the college, the provision or securing of suitable further education to its students and determining the college’s strategic direction. This takes into account the educational needs of industry and commerce, and the local community.

The Economy Minister has appointed Dr Eileen Stewart and reappointed Nicola Wilson to Southern Regional College and reappointed Isobel Allison and Gillian McConnell to Northern Regional College; Catherine McFarland and Martin O’Kane to North West Regional College; and Peter Archdale to South West College. 

The appointment of Dr Stewart is effective from 22 June 2016. The reappointments of Catherine McFarland and Martin O’Kane are effective from 1 July 2016. The reappointments of Isobel Allison, Gillian McConnell, Nicola Wilson and Peter Archdale are effective from 1 August 2016. The appointment and six re-appointments are all for four year periods.

Notes to editors:

1. Northern Regional College, North West Regional College, Southern Regional College and South West College are four of the six Northern Ireland further education colleges.

2. The reappointments have been made in accordance with the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland code of practice, found on the Public Appointments website.

3. Appointments to the governing bodies of further education colleges are for a period of four years.  The post of member of a college governing body is remunerated at £250 for a Governing Body meeting and £150 for a committee meeting or event sanctioned by the Chair. Travelling and subsistence allowances are also payable at Northern Ireland Civil Service rates.

4. Dr Stewart was appointed from the reserve list of a sector-wide member competition which took place during 2015. She is currently employed as Head of Emergency Planning, Safety and Estate Branch within the Finance and Corporate Affairs Division of the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI).  Prior to joining AFBI in 2007, Dr Stewart worked as lecturer in the area of Food and Nutrition at Queen’s University, Belfast.  Between 2007 and 2012, she undertook the role of external examiner for Food Science and Nutrition award and degree programmes at Letterkenny Institute of Technology and University of Reading.  Dr Stewart does not currently hold any other public appointments and has not carried out any political activity in the last five years.

5. Mrs Isobel Allison is an HR specialist with over 15 years’ experience of leading HR strategy in commercial and care organisations within private, public and charitable sectors across UK and Ireland.  Mrs Allison does not currently hold any other public appointments.

6. Mrs Gillian McConnell is an architect.  Following her studies, she went on to work at Building Design Partnership’s Belfast office for 12 years, contributing to prestigious projects as George Best Belfast City Airport and Victoria Square Shopping Centre and Regeneration Project. During that time she also sat on the company’s Quality of Life Committee for three years.  At present, Mrs McConnell works part time privately.  Mrs McConnell does not currently hold any other public appointments.

7. Mrs Catherine McFarland is a Chartered Public Finance Accountant with an MSc in Innovation in Public Service and an MA in Administration and Law.  She has 30 years’ experience in the Public Sector in both Education and Local Government, the main focus of all of her roles centring on Finance and Governance. Mrs McFarland does not currently hold any other public appointments.

8. Mr Martin O’Kane has been working in the voluntary sector with Royal National Institute of Blind People for the last 12 years.  He is manager of three of the organisation’s key services that support people with sight loss in Northern Ireland; Employment, Welfare Rights and Youth Services. Mr O’Kane does not currently hold any other public appointments.

9. Mrs Nicola Wilson holds an MSc in Local Economic Development from University of Glasgow.  She is currently employed as Head of Department: Economic Development with Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.  Mrs Wilson does not currently hold any other public appointments.

10. Mr Peter Archdale served in the Royal Navy until his retirement in 2006. He was previously Vice Chairman of Council for Nature Conservation & the Countryside (CNCC), statutory advisory council to Department of Environment and is a board member of various charities.  Mr Archdale does not currently hold any other public appointments.

11. All reappointments and 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. None of the six governors being reappointed have carried out any political activity in the last five years