Reappointment of two Non-Executive Members of the Children’s Court Guardian Agency for Northern Ireland

Date published: 04 April 2024

Health Minister, Robin Swann, has announced the reappointment of the Non-Executive Chair and the Non-Executive (Social Work Professional) Member of the Children’s Court Guardian Agency for Northern Ireland (CCGANI), formerly known as the Northern Ireland Guardian ad Litem Agency (NIGALA).

Gemma Loughran’s reappointment as Non-Executive Chair and Veronica Callaghan’s reappointment as the Social Work Professional Non-Executive Member commenced on 23 March 2024 and will end on a date not later than 22 March 2028.

The role of the Agency’s Non-Executive Chair attracts an annual remuneration of £7,951 with a time commitment of 2-3 days per month. The role of Agency’s Non-Executive Member attracts an annual remuneration of £4,174 and carries a time commitment of a minimum of 30 days per annum.

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

The Children’s Court Guardian Agency for Northern Ireland was established by the Children’s Court Guardian Agency for Northern Ireland (Establishment and Constitution) Order, which came into operation on 6 March 2023. The Agency provides children’s court guardians who are appointed by the court to represent children and young people in family law proceedings, including care and adoption proceedings.  

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

Notes to editors: 

  1. Gemma Loughran is a retired county court judge with extensive experience of family law both from her work as a barrister and her role on the Bench.   She co-authored with Michael Long ‘The Law on Children in Northern Ireland’.   She is a part-time tutor in the Institute of Professional Legal Studies in Queen’s University. She was a principal lecturer in St Mary’s University College.
  2. Veronica Callaghan has been a social worker since 1980 and  has worked in the voluntary and statutory sectors with experience across disability, family support and safeguarding as well as looked after children services. Holding operational and strategic positions she has led on significant change and improvement initiatives. Employed by the NISCC in 1994 and later the DHSSPSNI she had responsibilities for professional social work regulation, workforce, and policy development. In 2007 she took up an Assistant Director Social Care Governance and Workforce position within the NHSCT. Prior to retirement   she was Director of Women, Children and Families with strategic oversight of specific medical care services, public health nursing and social care.
  3. Appointments to CCGANI are made by the Department of Health.
  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 appointees declared that they had not engaged in any political activity in the last five years.
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