Appointment of Non-Executive Chair & Non-Executive Social Work Professional Member to the Northern Ireland Guardian Ad Litem Agency

Date published: 19 May 2020

Health Minister Robin Swann, has announced the appointment of a Non-Executive Chair and a Non-Executive Social Work Professional Member to the Northern Ireland Guardian Ad Litem Agency (NIGALA).

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Mrs Gemma Loughran’s appointment as Chair commenced on 23 March 2020 and will run for a maximum period of 4 years. The role of Non-Executive Chair carries a time commitment of 2-3 days per month and attracts an annual remuneration of £7,444.

Ms Veronica Callaghan’s appointment as a Social Work Professional Non- Executive Member also commenced on 23 March 2020 and will run for a maximum period of 4 years. The time commitment associated with this role is a minimum of 30 days per annum and it attracts an annual remuneration of £3,876.

These appointments have been made in accordance with the Code of Practice issued by the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland.

NIGALA was established under the Health & Personal Social Services (Special Agencies) (Northern Ireland) Order 1990.  The function of the Agency is to safeguard and promote the interests of children by providing an independent social work analysis and advice in court proceedings and to provide effective representation of children's views and interests. At the heart of the Agency’s work is a commitment to provide a high quality, safe and effective service to all children and young people who are subject of public law and adoption proceedings.

The NIGALA Board is made up of 6 Members comprising the Chief Executive, a Non-Executive Chair and 4 Non-Executive Members.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Mrs Gemma Loughran was a barrister before being appointed as a county court judge in 2004, a position from which she has now retired.  She is one of the two authors of The Law of Children in Northern Ireland.  She was formerly a principal lecturer in St Mary’s College of Education.   She has served on the Board of Governors of a primary school and two post-primary schools.  She was a Non-Executive Director of the Eastern Health and Social Services Board.
  2. Ms Veronica Callaghan has been a social worker since 1980, having worked for many years in both the voluntary and statutory sectors in Northern Ireland. With extensive experience of family support, child protection and looked after children services she has held positions at both operational and strategic levels in a range of organisations.  She joined the Northern Ireland Social Care Council in 1994 followed by a period of secondment to the then DHSSPS with responsibilities linked to professional registration and regulation, workforce development and planning. In 2007 Ms Callaghan took up post as Assistant Director for Social Care Governance and Workforce within the Northern Health and Social Care Trust. Prior to her retirement late 2019 she was Interim Executive Director of Social Work and Director of Women, Children and Families Division within the Northern Trust.
  3. Appointments to NIGALA are made with the approval of the Health Minister.
  4.  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.  Both members declared that they had not engaged in any political activity in the last five years.
  5.  For media enquiries please contact DoH Press Office by email: Out of hours please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110.
  6. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt

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