New Board members were appointed in December 2011.
Martin Cronin, Chairperson
Martin Cronin was Chief Executive of Forfás, the Republic of Ireland’s national enterprise and science policy research agency, from 2002 until 2009
He is a Board member at Appian Asset Management, the Tyndall National Institute and the Irish Academy of Engineering, and Chairman at the Technology Research for Independent Living (TRIL) research programme. He has been a Board member at the Institute of Public Administration, Dublin, and at the Higher Education Authority, Dublin, a member of the Irish National Competitiveness Council and a member of the Advisory Council for Science, Technology and Innovation.
He was Director of Operations in IDA Ireland, the agency responsible for the promotion of Foreign Direct Investment into the Republic of Ireland, from 1994 until 2002. During that time his responsibilities included the IDA's project groups which work with visiting companies to secure investment decisions, IDA's Overseas Marketing network and its Information Technology and Marketing Services Groups. Prior to joining IDA, Martin worked in Tinsley Wire in the production of wire and fencing products. He has also worked with General Electric in the manufacture of power transistors and in the Electricity Supply Board.
Joanne Spain, Vice Chairperson
A graduate of Trinity College Dublin, Joanne Spain has worked in the field of politics and economics for the past ten years. Joanne currently works as economic advisor to the Sinn Fein Oireachtas team and produces the party’s pre-budget submissions and budgetary responses. She has been based in the Dail for the past 5 years, initially as a parliamentary assistant shadowing the Finance, Workers’ Rights and Enterprise departments.
As well as dealing with financial legislation for most of this time, she also had responsibility for producing major policy documents, including a job creation submission to the Oireachtas Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. Her current work involves continuous engagement with the Department of Finance and the EU/IMF/ECB representatives overseeing the implementation of the financial programme currently in place.
Joanne previously worked as the overall political manager of the Sinn Fein party in Leinster House, was chairperson of the party’s national policy committee, and is also a member of the party’s Ard Comhairle. In 2006, she attended negotiations at St. Andrew’s as part of the Sinn Fein delegation.
Brendan Butler joined the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC) in 1988 having previously worked in the public sector for 15 years. Brendan worked in a number of different roles in IBEC including as Director of the Small Firms Association (SFA) also as IBEC’s Director of Social Policy and Director of Enterprise.
In 2010 Brendan became IBEC’s Director of Policy and International Affairs. Brendan was involved in the negotiations for the various social partnership programmes first introduced in Ireland in 1987.
Brendan is a member of the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) and the National Competitiveness Council (NCC). Brendan holds a B.Comm from University College Dublin and M.Sc. (Economics) from Trinity College Dublin.
Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1941, Jack Gallagher is a graduate of Stranmillis College, Belfast; the Open University; and Queens University, Belfast. On his retirement in 1993 he had enjoyed thirty two years working as a teacher and as Vice Principal/Principal of Lisnasharragh High School in South East Belfast (1979-1993).
In the period from 1979-1998 Jack represented FIFA as Honorary Instructor and Technical Adviser for Coach Education. This involved activity on behalf of FIFA in asssociation with Government Sports' Commissions; National Governing Bodies; Coca -Cola Asia; Adidas and the International Olympic Committee in thirty five countries world wide.
In 1998 he was awarded the Merit/Excellence Award of the PR China FA for services to Football Development in twenty five cities in PR China over a thirteen year period.
From 2000-2007 Jack was employed at different periods in the Northern Ireland Assembly as Special Ministerial Adviser and Senior Assembly Assistant at Stormont. These positions involved working in a supporting role to deal with complex problems. offering advice and influencing strategic direction in an environment characterised by rapid political, structural and cultural change.
From 1999-2007 he was a member of Northern Ireland Sports' Council including a four year term as Chair of Sports Development Committee;Chair of Audit Committee and V-Chair Safety in Sports' Grounds Committee. He was a member from 1994-97 of the N-S Liaison Committee.
Married for forty eight years, he has two children and four grand children.
Ray Hayden has over twenty years experience in both print and broadcast journalism. An award-winning journalist, he has worked for newspapers in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
His broadcasting experience is extensive. He worked as a Current Affairs/News/
Parliamentary reporter and Producer for the BBC before moving to UTV where, for 10 years, he was the Industrial/Business Correspondent. He has also reported for ITN and Sky News.
Before moving to broadcasting, he was Deputy Editor of the ‘East Antrim Times’, Larne; General News Reporter with the ‘Connacht Tribune’, Galway and Trainee/Junior Reporter with the ‘Midland Tribune’ in his home town of Birr, Co. Offaly.
In 1995, he set up Anglewise which focuses on Public Affairs, Media Skills Training, Presentation Skills Training, PR Crisis Training and DVD production.
From 2000 to 2002, he served as Special Adviser to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI), Sir Reg Empey, in the devolved administration in Northern Ireland.
Hubert Brown Kerr
Hubert Brown Kerr is a fully qualified, award-winning baker who established his own business in 1989. Since then, he has built up a highly successful business selling biscuits to all of the major supermarket chains, and major health food stores, throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland. He has also opened depots in Paris, Chicago and Toronto from where he distributes extensively to the whole of Europe, North America and Canada.
In the past he has worked with Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board, in promoting Irish produce and has represented Ireland on a number of promotional trips to North America and Canada. For the past 10 years he has also worked in an advisory capacity with the Bank of England.
Hubert is involved in horse-racing and is well known in horse-racing circles in Ireland. He also has a keen interest in history and has been a contributor of artefacts to the Battle of the Boyne Museum in Drogheda.
Timothy Mayes was born and brought up in Gilford County Down. After obtaining an Honours Degree in Law at Queens University Belfast he was admitted as a Solicitor in 1983.
He commenced his own practice in Portadown in 1990 and experienced considerable growth during the course of his tenure as Principal. In 2010 he joined forces with another practice and retained the post of Consultant within the new practice. In addition to carrying on his legal practice, over the years he has served on the boards of three property companies. He is currently a director in the Gilford Regeneration Company as well as being active within the local Residents Group. These organisations aim to improve matters relative to the village of Gilford.
He is an expert on all island transport matters particularly the rail system and has had a long standing commitment to the Two-Tier Dickson Plan for Education in the Craigavon Area which entails transfer at age 14. He has been a member of the Board of Governors of Tandragee Junior High School for the past 20 years and Chairman for the past ten years. He also sits on the Exceptional Circumstances Body of the Department of Education as a Legal Chairman.
Outside of this his main interests centre around Church Outreach Work, Irish History 1900 to 1926, Football and Ulster-Scots Culture.
Dr Bridget Meehan
Dr Bridget Meehan is a political advisor for Sinn Fein working in the Derry constituency. She has a first class honours degree in computer science from the University of Ulster, a Masters’ degree in computer science from the University of Limerick and a PhD in Engineering from the University of Ulster.
She worked in the computing industry for over 10 years mainly in the telecommunications sector and also taught as a lecturer in computer science at the University of Ulster.
More recently, Bridget changed career and became involved in community development and politics. In that context, she worked as the strategy manager for the Neighbourhood Renewal Board in the Waterside in Derry, and also participated in Derry’s regeneration process where she was chair of the City Region Assets sectoral working group.
She currently sits on the Regeneration Strategy Board. The regeneration process emphasised a rights-based approach to regeneration whereby the necessity to promote equality and address inequalities through targeted interventions was paramount.
Kevin Norton is Chief Executive of Basta Parsons Limited. He was educated at Newbridge College and is a Commerce Graduate of UCD. After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, he worked in industry for 10 years before setting up his own Accountancy practice.
His involvement with BASTA began when he advised on a Management takeover in 1984 – the first BES Scheme in Ireland. In 1990, when BASTA was on the verge of liquidation, he initiated a rescue, which led to him becoming Chairman and Chief Executive.
Basta is now the leading supplier of builder’s hardware in Ireland. Since 1990, Basta has made 3 acquisitions in Britain. These acquisitions enabled it to develop exports from Ireland, have a wider geographic spread of sales, and larger portfolio of products. Today, 60% of its sales are outside Ireland.
Mairead Sorensen is Chairman of Butlers Chocolates . She has worked in the family owned business for 30 years and her primary areas of interest have always been strategy, marketing and product development. She was Joint Managing Director until nine years ago.
During the course of her career, Mairead has been involved with the Irish Management Institute, Network and the American Chamber of Commerce. In 1991, she won the Veuve Cliquot Business Woman of the Year. She travels extensively both for work and pleasure and is on the Export Trade Council of Ireland.
Mairead is Vice Chairman of the Hope Foundation in Ireland and also on the board of the Hope Foundation UK. Hope is a charity set up in Ireland, taking care of the needs of street children in Calcutta.
Patricia McKeown is the NI Regional Secretary of the public service union UNISON. She is lead negotiator in the public service and represents both UNISON and ICTU on a wide range of public policy forums. Patricia is a lifelong campaigner for equality and human rights - with a primary focus on women’s rights. She represented ICTU in the Bill of Rights Forum and was Chair of its Working Group on Socio Economic Rights.
Patricia is the outgoing President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (2007-2009) and currently represents ICTU on the cross border body InterTradeIreland. She has previously chaired the ICTU Northern Ireland Committee and as a trade union nominee was Deputy Chairperson of the Equal Opportunities Commission (NI).