The Department for Communities Permanent Secretary Ms Tracy Meharg, has appointed five new Assistant Commissioners with effect from 1 August 2021 until 31 May 2022.
• Mr Andrew Cassells
• Mr Colin Caughey
• Mr Brendan Patterson
• Mr Trevor Rue
• Ms Karen Smyth.
Legislation governing the appointment of the Local Government Boundaries Commissioner is set out in the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972. It stipulates a requirement that a Commissioner is appointed within 8-12 years following the final report of the previous Commissioner – this was issued in June 2009.
Notes to editors:
- Appointments of Assistant Commissioners are to assist the Commissioner in her Local Government Boundaries Review. The appointments are from 1 August 2021 and will last until approximately May 2022. It is anticipated that an Assistant Commissioner will work between 5 to 30 days during this period.
- Legislation governing the appointment of Assistant Commissioners is set out in the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972 (the Act). It stipulates a requirement that a Commissioner is appointed within 8-12 years following the final report of the previous Commissioner – this was issued in June 2009, with the most recent Commissioner, Sarah Havlin, appointed in April 2020. The above Act allows for the appointment of one or more Assistant Commissioners.
- Although this appointment is not regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland (CPA NI), it will be run within the spirit of her Code of Practice.
- The posts are temporary, but Assistant Commissioners will be expected to commit to working full-time when a hearing is ongoing, and attract remuneration of £285 per day and £142.50 per half day plus travelling and subsistence at Northern Ireland Civil Service approved rates.
- All the appointments were made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process. The Appointee has declared no political activity.
Mr Andrew Cassells
Mr Cassells is a former Director of Operations with Magherafelt District Council, a senior management role within a Northern Ireland District Council prior to the review of public administration. Following this, he was Director of Environment & Property with Mid-Ulster District Council, one of the eleven District Councils within Northern Ireland. He holds a Masters (MSc) Degree in Sustainable Development and is the current Chair of Sustainable Northern Ireland. Mr Cassells has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years and holds no other public appointments.
Mr Colin Caughey
Mr Caughey is a former Director of Legal, Research and Investigations at the NI Human Rights Commission and a policy adviser with the Law Society NI. In his role as an independent expert evaluator for the European Commission, he sat on evaluation committees to assess application for funding under the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme. He has recently became a member of the UK evaluator’s society. He is currently a Member of the Board of the Police Fund and is a member of his local community action group. Mr Caughey has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years and holds no other public appointments.
Mr Brendan Patterson
Mr Patterson has been responsible for management of The Cornfield Project - a 7.5acre woodland/nature zone, located close to the family centre he manages since 2015. He has been working as Project Manager at Focus on Family, supporting the Ballysally and wider areas of Coleraine for over 13 years. He was responsible for the planning and implementation of a major community survey in 2018. He is the project manager for Ballysally Integrated Nurturing Project and the Vice-Chair of the Coleraine Neighbourhood Renewal Partnership. Mr Patterson has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years and holds no other public appointments.
Mr Trevor Rue
Mr Rue is a former member of the Planning Appeals Commission, and the Water Appeals Commission (PACWAC), having previously served as a Planning Officer in the Department of the Environment. His work in PACWAC entailed conducting hearings and public inquiries and preparing appeal decisions and recommendations to government. As Deputy Chief Commissioner he was involved in all discussions and correspondence about potential new Commission functions and how they would fit into the existing mosaic of roles and responsibilities. At the request of the Northern Ireland Local Government Association, he provided several training sessions for councillors on the planning appeals system in the run up to, and following, the 2015 local government reform. Mr Rue has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years and holds no other public appointments.
Ms Karen Smyth
Ms Smyth works for local government at a regional level, representing the interests of the 11 district councils. She was involved in the policy development and implementation of local government reform in her work for NILGA, and has assisted in developing the organisation as a trusted source of information and policy advice. She takes a particular interest in policy on planning, climate action, and the circular economy and is a member of the steering group of Climate Northern Ireland. A former non-executive director of Sustainable NI and the Building Change Trust, during the last year she has worked with Carnegie UK Trust to assist in informing their wider work on the ‘Enabling State’, and participating in the Project Advisory Team for Carnegie’s work on Embedding Wellbeing in Northern Ireland. She holds a BSc(Hons) in Environmental Health and a Masters’ Degree in Business Administration. Ms Smyth has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years and holds no other public appointments.
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