About Us

Membership of Commission

Sid McDowell CBE - Chairman



Sid McDowell was Deputy General Secretary of the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance from 1976 to 1994 and Chairman of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive from 1995 to 2004.  Sid was also formerly Chairman of the Local Government Staff Commission for Northern Ireland and a Northern Ireland Civil Service Commissioner.  He has extensive experience of the voluntary sector having been President of the Northern Ireland Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux, Vice-President of the Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus (NI), Patron of the Council for the Homeless(NI) and a Board Member of Habinteg Housing Association.  Mr McDowell was also a non-executive Director of the Northern Ireland Prison Service.
Sid is currently Vice-Chairman of the Lyric Theatre. Chairman of Co-Ownership Housing Association and Chairman of NIACRO (formerly the Northern Ireland Association for the Care and Resetlement of Offenders).

Desmond Mitchell

Dessie Mitchell is currently a part-time Consultant and Advisor on Public Sector Policy. This involves work with Government Departments, District Councils and other Public Bodies in Northern Ireland. Dessie has provided strategy and policy advice on Governance and Structural Reforms, undertaken community consultation activities, assisted in the preparation of EU and DFID project and programme bids in Eastern Europe, and provided Local Government management programmes, and completed policy development seminars and training for senior executives,.
Dessie is retired from the position of Clerk and Chief Executive of Armagh City and District Council, a post he held from 1988 - 2000. Previous to this he was the Clerk and Chief Executive of Omagh District Council from 1973 – 1988. During his career, Dessie was a member / advisor of many key bodies on economic development, peace and reconciliation, EU monitoring committees, etc. He was an Independent Expert to the Review of Public Administration in Northern Ireland. He has also undertaken many International Consultancy Assignments, including Governance Reform and Strategic Development Programmes for Local Government in Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania and Russia.
Mr Mitchell has also held numerous other positions. These currently include Director of Armagh Business Centre Ltd, Governor of Armagh Royal School, Trustee of the Methodist Church in Ireland Ministers Retirement Scheme, and Trustee of William Johnston Memorial Trust.

Professor Bernard Cullen


Bernard Cullen is Professor of Philosophy at Queen’s University Belfast. Educated at Queen’s, the Sorbonne in Paris, and the University of Michigan, he is a graduate of the Cabinet Office Top Management Programme. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Psychoanalysis. A former Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at Queen’s, he has also been Vice-President of the Belfast & District Trades Union Council, President of the Irish Philosophical Society, President of the Irish Association for Cultural, Economic and Social Relations, and the inaugural Chair of the Ethics Committee of the British Confederation of Psychotherapists. Bernard is currently Chair of the Staff Commission for Education & Library Boards, Vice-Chair of the Council for Education in World Citizenship, and Chair of the Board of Trustees of Parkanaur College.

Brian Hanna CBE

Brian Hanna was Belfast City Council's Director of Environmental Health Services from 1984-94,. In 1994 he was appointed as the Council's Chief Executive and Town Clerk, a position in which he served until his retirement. Brian was awarded a CBE in the 2000 New Year Honours List and given an Honorary doctorate by Queen's University in 2001.He was the UK President of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health from 2002 to 2004 and a member of the UK's Sustainable Development Commission from 1999 to 2004. He is a Companion of the Chartered Institute of Management. From 2002 to 2009 Brian was a member of Queen's University Senate and since 2001 has been a governor of the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. In November 2004 he was appointed as Chair of the British Council's Northern Ireland Advisory Committee and from 2009-2011 was a member of the main Board of Trustees. He is currently the Chair of the Northern Ireland Local Government Staff Commission (having served previously as Chair from 2005-2010) and a member of the Public Service Commission, a body set up by Government to advise on staffing matters associated with the Review of Public Administration. Brian has been a non-executive director on the Board of Titanic Quarter Limited and from 2005 has been the Deputy Chair of the Northern Ireland Science Park Foundation, a not-for-profit property-based business support and technology transfer initiative based in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter involving Government, business and both Queen’s and Ulster Universities. Finally, in March 2011 he was appointed by Dublin Institute as the Chair of the governing body of its newly established Environmental Health Sciences Institute (EHSI), which is a research-focussed body led by DIT and supported by the Irish Government and a range of partners from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Jim Mc Cusker



Jim McCusker has over 40 years’ experience of industrial relations.  Most of his working life has been spent with NIPSA (Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance), where he held the position of General Secretary from 1977 until his retirement in 2003.  In addition to being appointed as Chairman of the Labour Relations Agency in 2009, Jim holds a number of other appointments including membership of the European Economic and Social Committee, Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence, Economic Development Forum and Concordia.

Dr Collim Patton



Collim Patton worked as a Consultant Psychiatrist for 27 years and in addition held the posts of Lecturer at Queen’s University, Medical Director at St.Brendan's Hospital, Bermuda and Chief Executive of the Down Lisburn Trust. In this latter role he was required to merge two separate units and introduce a general management structure into the resulting single organisation. This Trust was later acknowledged to have sound finances year on year, excellent quality systems and a record of continuous innovation.
Since retiring from full time practice in 2001 Dr Patton has variously worked in management consultancy, the provision of medico-legal opinion and on the Board of a private sector company.

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