New appointments and reappointments to the Board of National Museums NI

Date published: 17 July 2020

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín MLA has announced the appointment of the following new Trustees to the Board of the National Museums NI following open competition:

Image showing two men in a boardroom
  • Dr Riann Coulter
  • Ms Deirdre Devlin
  • Mr William Duddy
  • Miss Charlotte Jess
  • Dr Robert Whan

These five appointments are with effect from 1 July 2020 for a period of up to four years. Welcoming the appointments, the Minister said:

“I am delighted to make these appointments to the National Museums NI Board. I look forward to these individuals bringing a range of skills and experiences to their new positions, particularly as National Museums NI works towards recovery from the current challenging climate.”

The Chair, Mr Miceal McCoy, has been reappointed for a second term from 1 July 2020 to 30 April 2023. He has served on the Board since 1 January 2014.

The following Trustees have also all been reappointed for a second term from 1 July 2020 to 30 April 2023:

  • Professor Karen Fleming (has served on the board since 1 May 2013)
  • Mrs Daphne Harshaw (has served on the board since 1 May 2013)
  • Dr Rosemary Kelly (has served on the board since 1 May 2013)
  • Mr Alan McFarland (has served on the board since 1 May 2013)
  • Professor Garth Earls (has served on the board since 1 January 2014)
  • Mrs Hazel Francey (has served on the board since 1 January 2014)
  • Dr Leon Litvack (has served on the board since 1 January 2014)
  • Dr George McIlroy (has served on the board since 1 January 2014)
  • Mrs Catherine Molloy (has served on the board since 1 January 2014)

Notes to editors: 

1. The National Museums and Galleries of NI, was established under the Museums and Galleries (NI) Order on 1 April, 1998. The organisation’s corporate title is National Museums Northern Ireland (NMNI).

2. National Museums includes the Ulster Museum, the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, and the Ulster American Folk Park. It is managed by a Board of up to 15 Trustees including a Chair. The Chair attracts a remuneration of £10,000 per annum plus expenses and has a time commitment of 36 days per year. Trustees attract no remuneration and receive expenses only but have a time commitment of a least one day per month,

3. The appointments have been made in accordance with the Commissioner for Public Appointments Northern Ireland’s Code of Practice.

4. All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process. However, the Commissioner for Public Appointments Northern Ireland requires political activity of appointees to be published.

5. Biographical details:

Biography details for new Trustees to the Board

Dr Riann Coulter is the founding curator and manager of the F.E. McWilliam Gallery & Studio in Banbridge where she is responsible for all aspects of programming and planning for collections, exhibitions, publications and engagement with a wide range of stakeholders. In her roles on the boards of NI Museums Council and the Irish Museums Association she has had direct experience of constructively challenging decisions and holding others to account for decisions reached. She oversaw the development of the draft Arts, Culture and Heritage Framework for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council and is leading the Council’s large scale, ACNI funded, community engagement project Connected. Dr Coulter has published and lectured widely on Irish art and brings extensive knowledge of the museum, heritage and arts sectors in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to the NMNI Board. In the last 5 years she has undertaken political activity for the Labour Party. She does not hold any other public appointments.

Ms Deirdre Devlin has worked in a number of senior roles in the BBC and is currently an Executive Producer with the BBC, leading teams and overseeing a range of television output. She was formerly a Manager of Production, in which she had responsibility for strategic planning and successfully implementing plans to deliver on the aims of the BBC. She also has board experience having served on the boards of Co-Ownership NI, including on its Governance Committee, the Celtic Media Festival and as Chair of the Replay Theatre Production Company. Ms Devlin has an interest in heritage and culture having worked collaboratively with National Museums NI during her time at the BBC, including two major projects with the Ulster Folk Museum. She has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years and holds no other public appointments.

Mr William Duddy is a Chartered Civil Engineer and has worked in a range of managerial posts, including in NI Water where, as Director of Customer Services, he had responsibility for implementing government policy through the development and implementation of plans. He has experience of identifying, evaluating and managing risks through effective project management, and promoting good governance. Mr Duddy has financial management experience within a range of teams including identification of key financial issues and effective use of resources. He also has experience across a number of sectors (voluntary and public) including commercial skills and interest in the museums sector. He has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years and holds no other public appointments.

Miss Charlotte Jess is the Website Manager at Queen’s University Belfast, as well as the current Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Crescent Arts Centre. As Chairperson, she led on the development of a new strategy, including a defined vision, mission and values, and led the Board through a period of transformational change and a governance audit.  Ms Jess has varied experience in introducing technology-based solutions, including social media, to reach out to a wide range of audiences and stakeholders, and has a strong interest in the heritage of Northern Ireland. She has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years and holds no other public appointments.

Dr Robert Whan is Director of Armagh Robinson Library and No 5 Vicars’ Hill, Armagh, having previously taught history to university students, as well as holding positions in National Museums NI, Newry and Mourne Museum and Down County Museum. In Armagh Robinson Library he has responsibility for developing and implementing key organisational objectives. He has experience of identifying key financial issues with a view to achieving financial sustainability, and an appreciation of the influence and contribution that museums can make to society through his current employment in the museums sector. He has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years and holds no other public appointments.

Biography details for Chair and Reappointed Trustees

Mr Miceal McCoy previously was the Chairman for the Southern Local Commissioning Group for the Health and Social Care Board [NI] which ended on 31 March 2020, and past Chairman of Southern Organisation in Action in Rural Areas. He was previously a Trustee to the Board of NMNI and Commissioner for the NI Legal Services Commission. He brings governance and leadership experience and skills to the body. He has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years and holds no other public appointments.

Professor Karen Fleming, Belfast School of Art at Ulster University is a senior member of the leadership team of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, and director of Northern Bridge Consortium for the University. She chaired the University Research Ethics Committee for many years up to 2017, and now chairs the University Athena Swan team (gender equality). She is a member of the UK Research Excellence Framework panel for Art and Design, History Theory and Practice for the REF 2021. A textile artist of international esteem, Professor Fleming is a member of a number of boards including trustee of the Council for Higher Education in Art and Design. Professor Fleming is a member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Peer Review College and provides peer review for the Pasold Institute, the Editorial board of Iterations Journal and for international conferences. She brings creativity, management and corporate governance skills to the NMNI board. She has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years and holds no other public appointments

Mrs Daphne Harshaw is a Master’s graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, in the History of Art and taught History of Art and Art Appreciation in Dublin. She is a Communications and Marketing professional and was a Principal Officer, Personnel and Management Services, in the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, initiating programmes to promote equality and counter educational disadvantage. Mrs Harshaw is a Board Member of Cambridge House Grammar School and a former Vice Chair of Triangle Housing Association. Her experience also spans the arts and heritage sector where she worked as a curator for the National Trust and had curatorial, house and staff management experience at Mount Stewart. Mrs Harshaw brings organisational and communication skills, as well as a passion and interest in museums, to the NMNI Board. She has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years and holds no other public appointments

Dr Rosemary Kelly OBE is a Board Member of the Royal Ulster Academy of Artists and a Member of the Kilfinan Group. Her wide-ranging public service roles have included serving as Chairman of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland; President of the Association of Ulster Drama Festivals, Chairman of the Ormeau Baths Gallery and Vice Chairman of the Ulster Orchestra.  She was also Chairman of the British Council in NI (and a member of its International Board in London). Her experience also includes ten years on the governing Council of Ulster University, and as a Board member of the National Trust NI. In addition, she was Chairman of Help the Aged NI (now Age NI) and a member of its international Board in London. Dr Kelly’s experience also spans the commercial sector where she was a Governor of the Irish Times in Dublin for ten years. She is a former BBC programme producer and was, subsequently, Head of Public Affairs and Secretary Northern Ireland in the corporation. She, later, also served as a member of the Ofcom Content Board in London (the broadcasting regulator) and was a founding member of the Irish Film and Television Academy. She was awarded an OBE in January 2009 and an honorary DLitt by the University of Ulster in 2012, both for services to the Arts. She has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years and holds no other public appointments.

Mr Alan McFarland served as an officer in the British Army until 1992. He served as Press Officer for the UK Mobile Force and as a Management Consultant with the Ministry of Defence. He was also Curator of the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment Museum, was Director of the Somme Museum and is currently Chairman of the Somme Association. His wide ranging public service has included Trustee of the Scotch-Irish Trust of Ulster and membership of the NI Forum for Political Dialogue. He also served as a Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, holding a variety of positions and serving on various committees. He was a member of the first Northern Ireland Policing Board. Mr McFarland brings leadership, press and media skills, as well as a particular expertise in military history, to the NMNI Board. He has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years and holds no other public appointments

Professor Garth Earls was appointed Vice Chairman of the NMNI Board of Trustees in September 2019. He is currently a Director of Conroy Gold and Natural Resources Limited and Central Asia Resources Limited. He was previously Director of the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland, Chairman of the Geosciences Committee of the Royal Irish Academy and Managing Director of Dalradian Gold Limited.  He teaches Economic Geology at University College Cork and brings corporate governance skills and corporate strategy experience to the body.  He has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years and holds no other public appointments.

Mrs Hazel Francey spent most of her working life with Belfast City Council in various roles and led its Good Relations Unit where she had responsibility for community relations, race relations, equality and diversity. Mrs Francey is a former Board member of the Community Relations Council and is currently a Commissioner with the Equality Commission for NI for which she receives £5,000 for a commitment of about two days a month. She is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the ArtsEkta charity and a former member of the Intercultural Committee of the Bryson Charitable Group. She is also a former member of the Board of Governors of two local schools, Wellington College Belfast and Rosetta Primary. She brings equality and social inclusion experience and skills to the body. She has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years and holds no other public appointments.

Dr Leon Litvack is a Trustee of the Charles Dickens Museum, London; for this appointment he receives expenses only. He also holds UK Cabinet appointments (through DCMS) to the advisory Council on National Records and Archives, and to the Forum on Historical Manuscripts and Academic Research; for these appointments he receives remuneration and expenses. He is an academic member of staff at Queen’s University Belfast and a freelance broadcaster. He brings corporate governance, business planning, collections management, audit and HR experience, as well as skills in equality, to the body. He has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years and holds no other public appointments.

Dr George McIlroy is currently a Board Member of the NI Fishery Harbour Authority (remuneration of £3,785 per annum) and a Board Member of the Western Health and Social Care Board (remuneration of £7,980 per annum). He was previously Chief Executive/Accounting Officer of the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute as well as Chief Scientific Officer/Deputy Secretary, Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer and Member of the Departmental Board in DARD, now DAERA. Dr McIlroy is a Fellow of the Institute of Directors, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management, a Fellow of the Institute of Food Science and Technology and a Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.  He brings central government experience and corporate governance skills to the body. He has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years.

Mrs Catherine Molloy is a retired Primary School Principal and a former Trustee of Mediation NI. She was an elected member of Belfast City Council (1997-2005) and served on the then Belfast Education and Library Board, two primary school Boards of Governors, the South Belfast Partnership Board and represented Belfast City Council on the Linenhall Library Governing Body. She currently volunteers with the National Trust as a Visitor Experience Guide. She brings local government experience, corporate strategy and corporate government experience and skills to NMNI. She has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years and holds no other public appointments.

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