Appointments to the Parades Commission for Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Office

November 21
17:00 2016

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Rt. Hon James Brokenshire MP today announced that he would phase in a new process of staggered appointments to the Parades Commission over the course of the next three years

In the meantime, he announced that Anne Henderson, Sarah Havlin, Paul Hutchinson, Colin Kennedy and Geraldine McGahey will serve a further term in office of up to three years, but subject to review in a years time to take account of the implementation of this new strategy on the terms of individual appointments.

Mr Brokenshire said:

The Parades Commission has an important and challenging role. I welcome the recent reduction in tensions around parades which is due to the efforts of so many on all sides. I continue to believe that wherever possible, disputes over individual parades are best settled by local dialogue and accommodation.

I want to ensure there is a measure of continuity over the coming years at the same time as being able to refresh the membership of the Commission. I have reappointed the existing Commissioners for up to three years, but I expect to discuss individual appointment periods with each of them in a years time as I seek to phase in new members. This will enable me to move to a system of staggered appointments in future years.

Biography of Appointees

Anne Henderson is currently a non-executive director of the SS Nomadic Trading Company. She was Vice Chair of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive from 2004 to 2012 during which time she also spent a short period as acting Chair. She is a chartered accountant and has worked for KPMG, Time Warner Inc and BDO Stoy Hayward. She has previously held positions on the Board of the International Fund for Ireland and the Enterprise Equity Northern Ireland Ltd and Enterprise Equity Ireland Ltd. She is a member of the audit committee of Queens University.

Sarah Havlin is a solicitor with over 15 years experience in private practice and is certified in Advanced Advocacy. She has held a wide range of public appointments that include: Legal Chair of the Exceptional Circumstances Body; Legal Chair of the DARD Independent Appeals Panel and DARD Animal Valuation Panel; Board Member and Legal Member of the Public Transport Licensing Appeal Panel; Chair of the Agricultural Wages Board; Legal Member of the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority and Legal Member of the Health and Social Care Board Independent Complaints and Serious Adverse Incident Panel. She also served as an Assistant Local Government Boundaries Commissioner in 2008 and an Assistant to the District Electoral Areas Commissioner during his recent review. Mrs Havlin currently holds an appointment to the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland.

Paul Hutchinson is a former Centre Director of the Corrymeela Peace and Reconciliation Centre. He has a background in mental health, advocacy, mediation, and the Arts. He worked for 12 years with NI Association for Mental Health, as a manager, advocate, practitioner/therapist, researcher. He was Associate Lecturer at the University of Ulster from 1999 - 2002, creating and teaching in the Department of Social work (advocacy and empowerment skills). He was a Neighbourhood Renewal Advisor in North West England for 5 years, and worked for 7 years in community cohesion projects in Oldham, Burnley and Blackburn. He also has a background in various artistic fields: as film-maker, writer, photographer and musician. He was the founder/director of Imagined Spaces, a company exploring creative community relations.

Colin Kennedy is Chief Executive of the Mary Peters Trust. Prior to taking up his current position he was Chief Executive of Lenken Healthcare (Ireland). He also spent 14 years in the finance industry. He is currently a member of the Mental Health Review Tribunal for Northern Ireland, member of the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the Northern Ireland representative on the NHS Review Body. He served as Chairman of the General Dental Council Complaints Panel from 2006 to 2009.

Geraldine McGahey stood down as Chief Executive of Larne Borough Council on 1 April 2015 when the new Northern Ireland district councils were formed. During her time as Chief Executive she was SOLACEs gender champion promoting women in local government, a representative on the Good Relations Panel reporting to the Office of the First and Deputy First Ministers and an appointee of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister to the Northern Zone Steering Committee for the Social Investment Fund. Previously, Mrs McGahey was a Building Control Surveyor in Belfast City Council (1993-2001) and Grants Officer with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (1983-1989). She received an OBE for services to local government in the New Year Honours list for 2015. Mrs McGahey currently holds an appointment as an Equality Commissioner for Northern Ireland.


The Parades Commission was established in 1997 and took on its full powers in 1998 through the Public Processions (NI) Act 1998. The Commission has 2 fundamental responsibilities:

  • To facilitate mediation between parties on disputes concerning proposed parades and take appropriate steps to resolve them;
  • To issue determinations in respect of specific proposed parades.

Under the terms of the Act, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is responsible for making appointments to the Parades Commission. The appointments are made in accordance with paragraph 3 of Schedule 1 of the Act.

Terms of Appointment

The positions of chair and member are part-time appointments.

The position of chair attracts a fixed remuneration of 50,000 per annum and members receive a sum of 22,000.

The appointments will be from 1 January 2017 for a period of up to three years to allow for a phased change in the membership of the Parades Commission.

Political Activity

All appointments are made on merit and with regards to the statutory requirements. Political activity plays no part in the selection process. However, in accordance with the original Nolan recommendations, there is a requirement for appointees political activity in defined categories to be made public.

No appointee has undertaken any political activity within the last five years.

OCPA Code of Practice

These appointments are regulated by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointment (OCPA).

Statutory Requirements

These appointments are made by the Secretary of State with regard to the equality provisions set out in section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and paragraph 2(3) of Schedule 1 to the Public Processions (Northern Ireland) Act 1998.

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