The Commissioners

The role of the Parole Commissioners is defined by the legislation under which they operate. Chapter 7 of the Criminal Justice (NI) Order 2008 states that in discharging their functions, including those defined in the Life Sentences (Northern Ireland) Order 2001, the Parole Commissioners shall –

(a) have due regard to the need to protect the public from serious harm; and

(b) have regard to the desirability of –

     (i) securing the rehabilitation of prisoners; and

     (ii) preventing the commission of further offences by prisoners.

The Parole Commissioners are required to advise the Department of Justice in regard to any matter connected with the release or recall of prisoners referred to them under the Order or under the Life Sentences (NI) Order 2001.

There are currently 39 Commissioners who all work on a part-time basis. The Chief Commissioner is Mr Paul Mageean.

There are 16 legally qualified Commissioners; 12 from a psychology/psychiatry background; and 11 who have relevant backgrounds in criminology, probation, etc. Please find below short biopics on each of the Commissioners.

Chief Commissioner

Mr Paul Mageean

Mr Paul Mageean qualified as a solicitor in 1991 and was originally in private practice. In 1995 he joined the Committee on the Administration of Justice as their Legal Officer during which time he successfully brought a number of cases to the European Court of Human Rights. He was Head of the Criminal Justice Secretariat of the Court Service from 2004, and joined the Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland in 2005.  He was the Director of the Graduate School for Professional Legal Education at the University of Ulster from 2008 until his appointment in September 2013 as Director of the Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queen’s University Belfast until he left that position in February 2018.  He is a Human Rights Commissioner and also serves as a member of the Parole Board in the Republic of Ireland.

Commissioners from a Legal Background

Judge Desmond Marrinan

Judge Desmond Marrinan was called to the Bar of Northern Ireland in 1972 and later to the Irish Bar and the Bar of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.  He specialised in criminal law, EC law and professional negligence until appointed a County Court judge in 2003. He served as such until 2018 dealing mostly with criminal trials in the Crown Court and he continues to sit as a Deputy County Court judge.  From 2008-2011 he sat as the Recorder of Londonderry.  He was formerly the Vice-Chair of the Law Reform Advisory Committee. From 1971-1978 he lectured in public law at the Queen’s University of Belfast and latterly was an external examiner  for the Institute of Professional Legal Studies at QUB.

Ms Christine Glenn

Ms Christine Glenn qualified as a barrister in 1980. She was the Justices' Chief Executive in the Inner London Magistrates' Courts Service until 2001 and Chief Executive of the Parole Board for England and Wales from 2001 until March 2009. She sat as a judge in the First Tier Tribunal, dealing with asylum and immigration cases. She served as a member of the Thames Valley Courts Board from its inception until 2010. She also worked as a consultant on parole and criminal justice, including advising governments and training parole boards in Cyprus, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Anguilla, and the British Virgin Islands. She has worked as a Visiting Expert at the United Nations And Far East Institute in Japan and has also presented on parole and its impact on reducing prison overcrowding at the United Nations Congress on Crime in Brazil 2010. She is a member of the Association of Paroling Authorities International Training and Development Committee, representing the international division.

Mrs Anne Fenton MBE

Mrs Anne Fenton MBE has been a qualified solicitor since 1978.  She was Director of the Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queen’s University, Belfast from 1998 to 2013.  She is currently a part-time legal member of the Mental Health Review Tribunal and has previously held appointments as part-time Chairperson to both the Child Support and Disability Appeal Tribunals.  In January 2014 she was appointed Under-Treasurer of the Inn of Court of Northern Ireland.

Mr Noel Phoenix

Mr Noel Phoenix qualified as a solicitor in Northern Ireland in 1983 and has practised for many years in criminal law across the entire range of court tiers in the jurisdiction. He was admitted to the Roll of Solicitors in England and Wales in 2005 and is a qualified Advanced Advocate. He holds a Master’s Degree in Human Rights and Criminal Justice and serves as a member of the Human Rights and Equality Committee of the Law Society of Northern Ireland.  Noel was appointed as a Notary Public in 2006 and he served on the Solicitor’s Disciplinary Committee between 2008 and 2019.  Noel has served as a part time trainer at The Institute of Professional Legal Studies since 1998 and was appointed as a Training Principal for LPC trainees in 2007. He was appointed a Parole Commissioner in 2014 and a legal chair of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Panel in 2017. Noel has had a high profile in negotiations for the remuneration of legal aid practitioners and was elected as chairman of the Solicitors Criminal Bar Association in 2018. He continues in private practice as a senior partner in a leading law firm.

Ms Clodach McGrory

Ms Clodach McGrory practiced at the Bar in Northern Ireland from 1990 to 1995 and subsequently worked at the Law Centre (NI). She was a member of the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights from 1998 to 1999 and served a term of office on the Irish Human Rights Commission from December 2000 until August 2006. She was a member of the Prison Review Team which was appointed by the Minister of Justice in June 2011 to conduct a comprehensive review of the Northern Ireland Prison Service and reported in October 2012.  She is currently a part-time Chairperson of Social Security Appeal Tribunals and has been a Life Sentence Review Commissioner/Parole Commissioner since 2001.  Ms McGrory was appointed Chairperson of the Sentence Review Commissioners on the 21 January 2013.

Professor John Jackson

Professor John Jackson is a professor of Law at the University of Nottingham and a qualified barrister.  He was previously Dean of the School of Law at University College Dublin and has taught at several other universities including Queen’s University Belfast, the University of Sheffield, the City University, London and University College Cardiff.  He has held visiting professorships at Hastings College of the Law, University of California and the Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales and was a Fernand Braudel Senior Fellow at the European University Institute in 2007 – 2008. From 1998 to 2000 he was an Independent Assessor for the Northern Ireland Criminal Justice Review and he has been a Sentence Review Commissioner since 2012.

Mr Jeremy Mills

Mr Jeremy Mills qualified as a solicitor in 1990.  He spent 15 years with a firm of corporate solicitors in Belfast and was a partner for 10 years.  Between 2007 and 2012 Jeremy served as a part time Legal Chairman of the Northern Ireland Valuation Tribunal. From 2008 to 2012 he was also a member of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Independent Review of Decisions Panel.  He was a member of the Board of Bryson Charitable Group from 2008 until 2018. In 2009 he was appointed to Transport Northern Ireland’s panel of independent Public Inquiry Inspectors. He is also a non-executive Director of the Odyssey Trust Company and its subsidiary, W5.

Ms Anne Grimes

Ms Anne Grimes qualified as a solicitor in 1990. She worked at Law Centre (NI) for 12 years. She was appointed as an Immigration Judge of the First-tier Tribunal in 2002 and also as a Deputy Judge of the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) in 2010. Anne was appointed as a part-time Chairperson of the Social Security Appeal Tribunals in 2017. She is also a Sentence Review Commissioner.

Mr John F Gibbons

Mr John F Gibbons qualified as a solicitor in 1991, and runs his own law firm, which he established in 1995.  He was originally appointed a member of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal in 2009 and was reappointed for a third term, in 2015. He was a trustee board member and treasurer of Citizens Advice, Belfast, between 2008 and 2014. In 2010 he was appointed a legal chairman of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Independent Appeals panel and in 2012 he was appointed legal chair to the Pharmaceutical Society for Northern Ireland’s Fitness to Practice scrutiny committee.  He was sworn in as a Legal Member of the Mental Health Review Tribunal for Northern Ireland, in January 2015.

Ms Maura Hutchinson

Ms Maura Hutchinson qualified as a solicitor in 1996 and worked for a number of years in a City of London legal practice.  She set up and managed a grant-giving programme (Awards for All) in the charity and voluntary sector in Northern Ireland and was a solicitor at Law Centre (NI) until 2010.  Maura has been a Judge of the First Tier Tribunal - Immigration and Asylum Chamber since 2006 and was appointed as a Deputy Judge of the Upper Tribunal, Immigration and Asylum Chamber in 2015. She was appointed as an Adjudicator of the Traffic Penalty Tribunal Northern Ireland in 2006.   Maura was appointed as a part-time Chairperson of the Social Security Appeal Tribunals in 2014 and as a part-time legal member of the Mental Health Review Tribunal in 2015.   She has also previously acted as a lay member for the Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency.

Mrs Marian Killen

Mrs Marian Killen was admitted as a solicitor in 1978 and was appointed as Assistant Crown Solicitor in 2007 where she remained until 2017. She was appointed as a Deputy District Judge (civil) in the County Court and a Deputy Master in the High Court in 2009. She is a trained Mediator and Solicitor Advocate. She was appointed as a Legal Assessor to the Nurses and Midwifery Council in 2016 and as chair of HCPC Fitness to Practice Committee in 2017. She was appointed as Legal Assessor to NISCC in 2018.

Mr James Scholes

Mr James Scholes qualified as a barrister in 1973. He was appointed Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions in 2008 and served as Acting Director of Public Prosecutions from 2009 to 2011. He was appointed a Civil Service Commissioner in 2012 and he currently serves on the Board of Chest Heart and Stroke.

Mr Niall Small

Mr Niall Small qualified as a Solicitor in 1992.  He worked in private practice for 10 years before becoming a founding partner in the firm of Small & Marken Solicitors in Antrim.  He has been reappointed to the Guardian A\d Litem Solicitor Panel in Northern Ireland and has recently been appointed as a legal chair of the HSCB Disciplinary Committee for Dental, Optometry and Pharmaceutical services. He is a trained mediator and has qualified as a Solicitor Advocate.  He has held several positions with a number of voluntary organisations throughout Northern Ireland.

Mr Timothy Thorne

Mr Timothy Thorne qualified as a barrister in 1987. He practiced mainly in the fields of criminal defence and prosecution. He was a Deputy Assistant Judge Advocate General sitting in Courts Martial and is a fee-paid judge in the First Tier Tribunal, in the Immigration & Asylum Chamber and the Care Standards Tribunal. He was also a Deputy Chairperson of the National Health Service Tribunal and a consultant trainer to the Inns of Court School of Law in London. He is also presently a non-Executive Director of a legal training company.

Mr Mark Finegan

Mr Mark Finegan was admitted as a solicitor in 1993. He spent ten years as a solicitor in private practice before joining the Department of the Director of Public Prosecutions in 2003 as a Senior Public Prosecutor. Since 2010 he has worked as a Senior Principal Legal Officer in the Office of the Attorney General for Northern Ireland. He is a qualified Solicitor Advocate and has been a member of the Crown Court Rules Committee since 2011.

Mr Martin O’Brien

Mr Martin O’Brien has been a practising barrister at the Bar of Northern Ireland for 29 years, specialising in employment and discrimination law. He has a Masters degree in Human Rights and Emergency Law, and for 18 years was an academic lecturer at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies, Queen’s University, Belfast. Martin was called to the Bar of Ireland in 1998 and served as a part time Judge of Employment Tribunals from 1998-2009. He is also a part-time Judge of Appeals Tribunals, and an Adjudicator of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeal Panel. Martin is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. In addition to sitting on a number of boards and committees, Martin is the current Chairman of the Board of Governors of St. Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon and is also the Chairman of a children’s Safeguarding Advisory Panel.

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Commissioners from a Psychiatry and Psychology Background

Dr Adrian Grounds

Dr Adrian Grounds was a University Senior Lecturer in forensic psychiatry at the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge, and an honorary consultant forensic psychiatrist in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust, until retiring in 2010. He is now an honorary research fellow at the Institute of Criminology, and a medical member of the First Tier Tribunal (Mental Health) in England. He has also been a Sentence Review Commissioner since 1998.

Professor Peter Hepper

Professor Peter Hepper is a Professor of Psychology at the Queen’s University of Belfast. He has previously served as: Director of Research, School of Psychology, Queen’s University Belfast; Chair of the Irish Football Association Appeals Committee, Non-Executive Director Ulster Hospitals Trust. He is a Chartered Psychologist and a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and has been Visiting Professor at Kyushu University, Japan, University New South Wales, Australia, Vanderbilt University, USA. Professor Hepper is a qualified hostage negotiator and forensic interviewer of children. He is trained in linguistic threat analysis, behavioural indictors of violence and violent attacks and assessment and management of espionage threats.

Dr Damien McCullagh

Dr Damien McCullagh is a Consultant Clinical & Forensic Psychologist within the Mental Health and Learning Disability Directorate of the Southern Trust (2000-present). He is a Chartered member of the British Psychological Society. He has previously worked as a Principal Psychologist with the Northern Ireland Prison Service where he had primary responsibility for providing psychological risk assessments on Life Sentence Prisoners to the Life Sentence Review Board (1997-2000). He previously held posts in Adult and Child Psychology Services in the Republic of Ireland and with Sperrin Lakeland Health and Social Services in Omagh (1989-1997). Dr McCullagh is an Honorary Lecturer in Forensic Risk Assessment at Queen’s University, Belfast.  He is also an Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) accredited Behavioural Investigative Advisor. He has previously been the Chairman of the Board of Governors of Drumragh Integrated College in Omagh from 1995-2005.

Dr Micaela Greenwood

Dr Micaela Greenwood is an independent business psychologist and management consultant. Her previous positions include Principal Occupational Psychologist at the Police Service of Northern Ireland and Associate Director of the MSc in Occupational Psychology at Queen's University of Belfast. Micaela was appointed as a Sentence Review Commissioner in 2015.

Mrs Deborah McQueirns

Mrs Deborah McQueirns is an independent Registered and Chartered Forensic Psychologist, Chartered Scientist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS).  Her previous positions include Principal Forensic Psychologist in female and high secure prisons, Consultant Psychologist in private healthcare specialising in forensic learning disability and acquired brain injury and specialist forensic psychologist in forensic mental health.  She is currently working as a consultant psychologist in the High Secure Estate in England, as an independent trainer and a practitioner psychologist.  Her particular areas of expertise are in personality disorder, forensic learning disability and mental health. Mrs McQueirns is also a   PhD researcher at the University of Portsmouth in narrative identity and agency in older male prisoners.

Mr Emmet Murray

Mr Emmet Murray is a Health and Care Professions Council registered and British Psychology Society Chartered Forensic Clinical Psychologist currently working in the area of Adult Mental Health and Child Protection. He was previously a Principal Psychologist with the Northern Ireland Prison Service and is currently an Expert Advisor with the National Policing Improvement Agency.

Dr Shelagh-Mary Rea

Dr Shelagh-Mary Rea was a Consultant Psychiatrist with specialist status in General Adult Psychiatry and Old Age Psychiatry.  She practiced as a Consultant in Old Age Psychiatry for twenty-four years in the Northern Sector of the Western Health and Social Care Trust areas until her retirement in 2010.  She worked as a part-time medical member of the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority for Northern Ireland from April 2009 until her retirement in December 2018.  She is a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Ms Claire Hunt

Ms Claire Hunt is a Registered Psychologist, Chartered Forensic Psychologist and an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society. She has worked as a Forensic Psychologist for 24 years. She is a psychologist member of the Parole Board for England and Wales and she also works part-time in mental health services, as a Consultant Psychologist. Ms Hunt has been working as an expert witness in criminal and family law proceedings for 16 years and regularly attends court to provide expert testimony. Previously she worked in HM Prison Service for 11 years, working with high risk offenders, both male and female.

Mrs Siobhan Keating

Mrs Siobhan Keating is a Registered Psychologist (HCPC) and Chartered Forensic and Clinical Psychologist (BPS). She currently works as a Consultant Psychologist in Belfast Health & Social Care Trust in the forensic learning disability service. Previously she was a Principal Psychologist with the Northern Ireland Prison Service and a Senior Occupational Psychologist with the Dept. of Employment (NW England). She is an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society.

Dr Linda Blud

Dr Linda Blud is a Chartered Psychologist, a Registered Forensic Psychologist and Chartered Scientist. She served as a member of the Parole Board in England and Wales between 2004 and 2012 and was re-appointed to the Board in 2017. She served as a member of the MOJ Correctional Services Accreditation and Advisory Panel, of England and Wales between 2008 and 2016 and a member of Scottish Government Accreditation Panel for Offender Programmes between 2006 and 2010. She was a Principal Psychologist at HMP’s Offending Behaviour Programmes Unit from 1995 – 2001. Since that time she has worked as an independent forensic psychology consultant and has worked with a number of prison psychology services in Europe and America, including Northern Ireland, where she provided support with programme delivery and risk assessment between 2011 and 2015.

Mrs Dawn Harris

Mrs Dawn Harris is a BPS (British Psychological Society) Chartered Forensic Psychologist, Associate Fellow of the BPS and a registered HCPC (Health Care and Professions Council) Forensic and Clinical Psychologist, and an accredited Psychotherapist.  She previously worked in the Scottish Prison Service, becoming Head of Psychology for a maximum security prison and open, low secure prison.  She is experienced in the assessment and treatment of offending behaviour, and is co-author of the Sex Offender Treatment Programme currently being delivered in Scotland in both the prison and community settings, and also wrote the anger management programme that is currently being delivered in Scotland in the prison setting.  Dawn has a specialist interest in the assessment and treatment of psychological trauma, particularly within the offending population. She co-founded and owned a private psychiatric hospital in 2015 which specialised in treating people with a history of psychological trauma, and was the first specialised hospital in the UK.  She developed and now delivers BPS approved training to professionals in Trauma Informed Practice.  Dawn is also a risk assessor for the Risk Management Authority in Scotland, authorising her to assess people considered at high risk of committing further sexual and/or violent offences and are potentially facing an Order of Lifelong Restriction. Dawn currently works in independent practice providing a highly specialist forensic and clinical service.

Dr Andrea Higgins

Dr Andrea Higgins is a BPS Chartered Clinical Psychologist, and HCPC registered Practitioner Psychologist. She is the Clinical Director of “Aware”, an organisation for Depression and Bipolar disorder providing services across the Republic of Ireland. She is also a Consultant Clinical Psychologist with the Ministry of Justice, UK. She has worked in a variety of clinical and forensic settings, providing specialist services including the assessment of risk of reoffending, which is an area of special interest for her. She has completed doctoral training in forensic clinical psychology and associated specialities and is experienced in the identification and management of risk of reoffending in both community and prison populations. Dr Higgins is the former chair of the Division of Clinical Psychology within the Psychological Society of Ireland and Vice-Chair of the Neurological Alliance of Ireland. She has a special interest in offending behaviour in the context of neurological conditions and mental health issues. In 2013, she established a clinical psychology service in a specialist neuropsychiatric hospital, providing services to patients with neurological, neuropsychiatric and mental health conditions. She is an Adjunct Lecturer in University College Dublin, Clinical Tutor in Trinity College Dublin and a member of the European Huntington's Disease Network working groups.

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Commissioners from a Criminal Justice Background

Mr Stephen Murphy CBE

Mr Stephen Murphy CBE is a former Director General of the National Probation Service for England and Wales, prior to which he was Chief Probation Officer first in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and then in Northumbria.  He is a member of the Parole Board for England and Wales on which he also served from 1995 to 2005.

Mrs Elaine Peel

Mrs Elaine Peel is currently a Company Director.  She was formerly an Assistant Chief Probation Officer with 24 years’ experience of working with offenders.  During her time with the Probation Board for Northern Ireland she was instrumental in setting up a wide range of multi-agency services for prisoners and their families and the implementation of the first programmes to deal with domestic violence in Northern Ireland.  She was a Director of the National Community Justice Training Organisation.

Mrs Alexandra Delimata

Mrs Alexandra Delimata is a self-employed consultant who works primarily with community groups, enterprises and small businesses in North West Ireland. Until 2004, she was Corporate Secretary of The Travel Partnership Corporation, an international consortium of travel associations.  Prior to relocating to Ireland in 2001, she was Assistant Director, Corporate Development, for the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Geneva.

Mrs Ruth Laird CBE

Mrs Ruth Laird CBE is a human resource professional with particular experience in organisational development, equality and diversity in the public, private and voluntary sectors.  She was formerly Director of the National Trust NI, Director of HR for BBC (NI) and a Fair Employment Commissioner.  Ruth has held appointments as a NI Judicial Appointments Commissioner; Civil Service Commissioner; Independent Assessor for Public Appointments; a non-executive Director of both the Northern Ireland Prison Service and the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority; Board member of Business in the Community and member of the Council of Ulster University.  She is currently a member of the Legal Services Civil Appeal Panels, a panel member for Police Misconduct Hearings and member of the Mental Health Review Tribunal. Ruth was appointed in April 2019 as a non-executive Director to the Board of the Western Health and Social Care Trust.

Professor Duncan Morrow

Professor Duncan Morrow is an academic in the Ulster University where he is Director of Community Engagement.  Until 2012 he was Chief Executive of the Community Relations Council (CRC) and has taken an active role in peace building and the legacy of violence in the past. Dr Morrow is also a Sentence Review Commissioner for Northern Ireland. He is chair of the Scottish Government Independent Advisory Group on Hate Crime, Prejudice and Community Cohesion.

Mrs Elsbeth Rea OBE

Mrs Elsbeth Rea OBE is a retired social worker. She has worked as both a Senior Probation Officer with the Probation Board for Northern Ireland, as a lecturer in Social Work at Queen’s University Belfast and for various social work and social care bodies and agencies on a sessional basis.  She is currently a Lay Magistrate and a Lay Member of the Bar Disciplinary Committee.  She has held public appointments with the Northern Ireland Committee of Ofqual, the Ulster Community and Hospitals Trust, the Police Authority for Northern Ireland and the Eastern Health and Social Services Council.

Mrs Debbie Hill

Mrs Debbie Hill is a barrister (non-practising).  She began career in Youth Justice before working in the Probation Service as a District Manager responsible for courts and as the District Sex Offender Specialist. She re-trained as a barrister.  She is currently an independent member of the Parole Board for England and Wales, a lay member of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board and the Mental Health Review Tribunal for Wales.  Mrs Hill is currently sitting as a Chair for the General Chiropractic Council fitness to practice Panels and is also a lay member/Chair for the MPTS fitness to practice hearings.

Ms Mary Barnish

Ms Mary Barnish is a former senior probation officer who worked for London Probation for 35 years.  Her management roles have included the family courts service, programmes for women offenders, victims unit, and a public protection unit responsible for the assessment and supervision of high risk offenders. From 2002 -2005 she was seconded to HM Inspectorate of Probation for England & Wales, auditing accredited programmes and conducting effective supervision inspections, including a thematic inspection on domestic violence. More recently she was a member of London Probation’s Inspection and Standards unit where her responsibilities included HR and complaints investigations and conducting serious case reviews.

Mrs Louisa Fee

Mrs Louisa Fee qualified as a Solicitor in September 2004.  She worked in General Private Practice until October 2017 specialising in Family and Criminal law.  She was appointed to the Guardian Ad Litem panel in 2012.  In November 2017 she was appointed legal advisor for the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, and thereafter became the Director of Legal Services in October 2018.  She was appointed to the Civil Legal Services Appeals Panel in April 2019.  She was sworn in as a Legal Member of the Mental Health Review Tribunal for Northern Ireland in August 2019.  She has been appointed to the Board of Governors at Park Education Centre, Aquinas Grammar School and St Brides Primary School Belfast.

Mr Mike Fowkes

Mr Mike Fowkes is a former police officer who served in Devon and Cornwall Police for thirty years. As a police senior investigating officer (SIO) he led teams on numerous murder and major crime investigations. Following his retirement he briefly worked as an independent civilian SIO with the Historical Enquiries Team of The Police Service of Northern Ireland, reviewing unsolved murders committed during the Troubles. He also acted on behalf of a community safety partnership as an independent chair and overview report writer for a domestic homicide review and carried out investigatory work for a criminal law practice representing clients facing allegations including murder. His voluntary roles included working with young offenders as part of youth offender panels and also, as a lay panellist, on a committee helping in the recruitment of new Magistrates. He is currently working as a self-employed lay panel member on fitness to practise hearings for three health and social care regulators. He is also a chair of Mental Health Act panel hearings, reviewing cases of patients detained for treatment in secure psychiatric hospital wards and making decisions on whether to uphold the patient’s detention, or to discharge them.

Mr Jarlath Kearney

Mr Jarlath Kearney is currently an Equality Commissioner for Northern Ireland, appointed by the Secretary of State in 2016. He is an experienced senior strategy advisor. In 2018, he was appointed as a National Expert for the European Commission’s TAIEX Programme on a project of institutional transformation, equality and rights, and democratic development in the Balkans region. Jarlath was previously a Board member of both the Arts Council for Northern Ireland and the Community Relations Council. He holds Masters degrees in Human Rights Law and Journalism Studies, and writes a regular column for The Irish News.

Mr 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. He has served as an Assistant Director for the last 9 years and is presently head of the Serious Crime Unit. He is a member of the Law Society’s Advocacy Working Party and in 2013 was appointed to the Magistrates Court Rules Committee.

Ms Tracy Overing

Ms Tracy Overing was called to the Bar of Northern Ireland in 2004.  She specialises in the area of children and family law and continues to practise in other areas of law including criminal, matrimonial and judicial review.  Ms Overing is a well-respected member of the profession with extensive experience in complex cases of fact and law including the sexual abuse of children, domestic abuse, wardship, adoption, public and private law proceedings with domestic and international elements, Hague Convention and Non-Hague Convention proceedings.   She has completed additional training to become an Advanced Advocate.  Ms Overing appears in all court tiers and has been involved in a number of cases which have set legal precedent.  In October 2014 Ms Overing was appointed as Chair of the Disability Appeals Tribunals conducting appeal hearings in the application of social security law.   She continues in this post to date.

Mrs Vilma Patterson

Mrs Vilma Patterson spent over 30 years in the construction industry as a Director and Shareholder of John G Duff (Annandale) Ltd. Interested in skills development for the industry she is a past member of the Training Committee for the Construction Industry Training Board for Northern Ireland. In 2002 she was the founding Chair of the Women in Business Network, and is a former Board Member of the Women on the Move Network which works to support and encourage female entrepreneurship. Ms Patterson is past Chairman of the Probation Board for Northern Ireland and she has been a non-executive member of the Audit Committee of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, and also a Civil Service Commissioner for Northern Ireland. Previously Vilma was a Member and Chair of the Independent Monitoring Board for HMP Maghaberry 1996 to 2008 and Chairman of the Association of Members of Independent Monitoring Boards for Northern Ireland. She was a member of the Parades Commission for Northern Ireland for period 2006-2010. From 2011-2013 she was a member of the Prison Service Pay Review Body.  Currently she is a Member of the Armed Forces Pay Review Body, the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland and is a Non-Executive Member of the Board of the Criminal Case Review Commission.

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