Belfast Telegraph

Minister Appoints Transition Board to Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission

Stormont Executive press release - Department of Justice

The Minister of Justice, David Ford, has appointed a Transition Board to manage the Legal Services Commission until it closes and its functions transfer to an Agency of the Department of Justice. Arrangements are currently being put in place to establish the Agency with effect from 1 July 2014.

The Transition Board has been drawn from the existing members of the NILSC. The Minister considered that it was important to retain the experience of the existing Commissioners over a period of transition. This will help ensure continuity of delivery.

The members who have been reappointed will serve longer than would normally be expected on a public body. However, the Minister considered that it is a proportionate approach given the short tenure of the appointment and the experience each individual has of the delivery of legal aid.

Arrangements are also being made to appoint three non executive directors to provide additional support over the period.

The re-appointments are:

- Ronnie Spence (Chair) who has served three years as Interim Chair, having previously served for seven years as a Commissioner, from the establishment of the Commission.
- Fiona Donnelly who has served seven years as a Commissioner.
- Hilary McCartan who has served seven years as a Commissioner.
- In addition the current appointment of Gillian McGaughey extends until 2015 and Mrs McGaughey will continue in office until the Commission is closed.
- Dr Jeremy Harbison has been reappointed for a period of one month to ensure that the NILSC remains properly constituted pending changes to the statutory composition in September.

In making these appointments, the Minister has had regard to the CPANI Code of Practice for Ministerial Public Appointments. The Minister is conscious that it has not been possible to fully apply the letter of Code in respect of the reappointments in terms of the number of and length of reappointments. However, the approach taken is proportionate to the projected timescale to change of the status of the Commission and the importance and value in retaining the experienced Commissioners over the transition period.

Notes to editors:

1. Remuneration of Members is determined by the Minister of Justice. The remuneration payable to Commissioners is £10,688 calculated on the basis of an expected 32 working days per annum at a daily rate of £334.

This covers preparation, travel time and attendance at all Board meetings and at meetings of two of the Board’s Standing Committees. It also covers attendance at away days, working groups and ad hoc meetings as well as other duties undertaken on behalf of the Commission.

The Interim Chairman of the Commission receives £14,528 on the same basis but with a daily rate of £454. Exceptionally, an additional payment may be made for substantial additional project or task undertaken with the prior agreement of the Chairman and the Chief Executive in his/her role as Accounting Officer (payable at the same daily rates).

2. Ronnie Spence CB, Interim Chair
Mr Spence is the Interim Chair of the Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission.

He is a former Permanent Secretary in the Northern Ireland Civil Service. He is a Deputy Chair of the National Heritage Lottery Fund, (including chairing the Fund’s Northern Ireland Committee). He is a member of the NI Community Relations Council.

Mr Spence is a member of the Institute of Directors and has been the director of private sector companies. He has also contributed to the work of Northern Ireland’s two universities. His interests in the voluntary and community sectors include chairing the Ulster Sports Museum Association. Mr Spence brings wide leadership experienced to the post and a thorough knowledge of the work of the NILSC.

Mr Spence does not hold any other public appointments.

Mrs Fiona Donnelly, Commissioner
Mrs Donnelly is the Chair of the General Purposes Committee.

Mrs Donnelly has wide ranging experience gained in both the academic and practising legal arena.

Her career in the Institute of Professional Legal Studies (1995 to date) at the Queen’s University Belfast has seen her hold positions including Lecturer, Senior Teaching Fellow and, most recently, Associate Director.

Current Law Society contribution includes being both the Chair of the Children Order Panel Accreditation Board and Chair of the Advocacy Working Party. She is an accredited Mediator.

Mrs Donnelly does not hold any other public appointments.

Mrs Hilary McCartan, Commissioner
Mrs Hilary McCartan is a Chartered Accountant by profession and lives in Belfast. Mrs McCartan has over 25 years post qualifying experience in executive and non-executive roles in the private and public sectors.

Mrs McCartan holds three other Ministerial public appointments. Mrs McCartan is also a Member of the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and chairs its Finance Sub-Committee. Mrs McCartan also serves as a Non-Executive Director of the Business Services Organisation (DHSSPS) and serves on its Governance and Audit Committee.

Mrs McCartan does not hold any other public appointments.

Dr Jeremy Harbison CB, Commissioner
Dr Harbison was Chair of the Northern Ireland Social Care Council, established as the regulatory body for the social care profession in Northern Ireland, from 2001 to 2010. He is a Non-Executive Director of the Public Health Agency, established in 2009.

Dr Harbison is a Pro-Chancellor at the University of Ulster and a Trustee of the Community Foundation for NI.

Previously he had worked in the Northern Ireland Civil Service across a broad range of policy areas, following extensive experience in social research and statistics for NI government departments. This followed 10 years as a practising Clinical Psychologist.

Dr Harbison does not hold any other public appointments.

3. All 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. The appointees have confirmed that they have not undertaken any political activity during the past 5 years. These extensions have been made in accordance with the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland Code of Practice for Ministerial Public Appointments in Northern Ireland.

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