Independent Chair to take forward work on Mother and Baby Homes, Magdalene Laundries and Historical Clerical Child Abuse

Date published: 06 July 2020

The Department of Health and The Executive Office have announced the appointment of Judith Gillespie as the new Independent Chair on an inter-Departmental working group.

Judith Gillespie
Judith Gillespie, the new Independent Chair on an inter-Departmental working group

The working group will take forward work on Mother and Baby Homes, Magdalene Laundries and Historical Clerical Child Abuse.

The appointment commenced with effect from 1 June 2020 and will run for an initial period of one year.  

Membership of the Group includes representatives from The Executive Office, the Departments of Health, Justice, Education, Economy, Communities and the Departmental Solicitor’s Office.

Welcoming the appointment, Health Minister Robin Swann said “I would like to welcome Ms Gillespie to the role of independent chair of the Inter-departmental Group. I am confident that her wide ranging experience and leadership skills will be a major asset to the Group.”

Taking up post, Ms Gillespie said: “I feel honoured to have been appointed to this important role. I am keenly aware that the work of the Group is approaching a crucial stage.  I look forward to progressing this work, and to engaging with stakeholders as appropriate going forward.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. Judith Gillespie grew up in North Belfast and joined the RUC GC in 1982. She became Deputy Chief Constable in June 2009 also acting as Chair of the 2013 World Police and Fire Games Company Board.
  2. On leaving PSNI in March 2014 she became an independent leadership advisor.  For four years she served as a Commissioner with the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland. She was appointed to the Probation Board for Northern Ireland in 2015, to the Garda Policing Authority in Dublin in 2016 and to the Prison Service Pay Review Body for England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2020.  She chairs the Careers Advisory Forum, is a Visiting Professor at Ulster University and works on a voluntary basis for the Marie Curie charity.
  3. All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process. Ms Gillespie declared she has not engaged in any political activity in the last five years.
  4. For media enquiries please contact DoH Press Office by email:
  5. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt.
  6. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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