Council Members

Council Members

The Patient and Client Council has a Council made up of a Chair and Council Members, recruited from across Northern Ireland under the Public Appointments Process. The Council is responsible for setting the policy and direction for the Patient and Client Council and for monitoring progress and performance.

Patient and Client Council Council Members are chosen from a wide range of disciplines and represent numerous areas of expertise.

Our Council is responsible for:

  • Setting our strategic direction.
  • Monitoring our performance.
  • Ensuring the highest standards of corporate governance and personal behaviour.
  • Ensuring proper financial stewardship.
  • Appointing and appraising senior officers.
  • Giving account to local communities.

The PCC Council currently consists of 15 members. You can read each member’s profile below:

Ruth Sutherland CBE (Chair)
Ruth is Chair of Social AdVentures, a public health social enterprise based in Salford, and Vice chair of Lloyds Bank Foundation, passionate about health and social care and social justice. Ruth began her career as a registered general nurse and progressed to work mostly in public health roles. Following a forty-year career in health and social care, public and voluntary sectors, Ruth stepped down as Chief Executive of Samaritans, UK and Ireland in Nov 2020 to pursue a portfolio career involving non-executive roles, volunteering, executive coaching and consultancy. Ruth has held senior leadership roles in the voluntary sector, working with Children, adults and older people many living with complex needs. Prior to joining Samaritans in 2015, Ruth was CEO of Relate and previously held senior executive leadership roles at the UK charities Rethink, Alzheimer’s Society and Scope. Ruth was awarded the CBE for services to vulnerable people in 2019 and the Royal College of Psychiatrists Presidents medal for services to people with mental illness in 2019. Ruth was awarded The Daniel Phelan award for outstanding achievement at the UK Charity Awards in 2022.
Alan Hanna

Alan has held several senior management positions in the voluntary sector. He is currently a freelance Consultant working primarily in the voluntary sector. He has also served on a number of public boards as a Non-Executive Director including the HSC Business Services Organisation and the NI Fire and Rescue Service. Much of Alan’s work has been in the area of learning disability and he has long personal experience of supporting a close family member with autism and learning disability. Alan has an honours degree in Modern History and an MSc in Organisation and Management. For the past several years he has undertaken a range of interim Executive appointments with voluntary organisations including Diabetes UK, Children’s Heartbeat Trust and Belfast Community Circus.

Patrick Farry

Patrick (Paddy) Farry graduated from Queens University Belfast with a degree in Business Administration. Following Post Graduate studies, he qualified as a Chartered Certified Accountant in 1987 and has worked in professional practice ever since. Since 1992 Patrick has been a partner in HLB McGuire + Farry, Chartered Certified Accountants and business advisors based in Carryduff, Belfast. Patrick specialises in taxation and general business advisory across a wide spectrum of business sectors.

He is a Non-Executive Director of Keys Premium Finance Limited, a finance company operating throughout UK and Ireland.

From 1994 to 2017 Patrick was Honorary Treasurer of NIACRO, a voluntary organisation working to reduce crime and its impact on people and communities.

For six years, retiring in 2016, Patrick was a member of the Audit and Risk Committee of the Commission for Victims and Survivors.

He is a Director of Craigowen Housing Association which provides housing and related amenities for adults with learning difficulties. He holds no other public appointments.


Paul Douglas

Mr Paul Douglas has 15 years’ experience as a senior manager within the Police Service of Northern Ireland prior to his retirement in 2010. He has extensive experience in developing strategic partnerships and change management within various organisations. He currently serves as a Lay Commissioner with the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission, is a Non-Executive Director with the Probation Board for Northern Ireland and a Non-Executive Director within the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

Cllr Martin Reilly

Councillor Reilly is an elected representative of Derry City and Strabane District Council. Cllr Reilly first joined Derry City Council in 2004 and was Mayor of Derry in 2013-2014, during the City of Culture celebrations. He has served as SDLP Group Leader on Council previously and has chaired various Council committees and continues to represent the Council on a number of outside bodies. In 2016 he was the National Chair of the Association of Public Sector Excellence (APSE). He currently works for the Alzheimer’s Society as a Northern Ireland National Influencing Officer.

Cllr Reilly graduated from Queen’s University Belfast in 2000 with a BA Hons in History and Politics. He was elected by his fellow students as a Sabbatical Officer for Education. A survivor of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Cllr Reilly retains a keen interest in improving cancer services for people across Northern Ireland.

Tom Irvine

Tom graduated from Queens University Belfast with a BSc. in physics. Joining Ford Motor Company 1974 he has extensive experience in finance, human resources and management development training. After spending 32 years with Ford, Tom took early retirement to work in the public sector as a part-time pension lecturer with the North West Regional College and the pension tutor for Unite the Union in Northern Ireland.

He has 15 years NED experience in both private and public sectors with 7 years as a Trustee Director of the Ford/Visteon Pension Scheme and 8 years as a Board Member of the NI Local Government Pension Scheme (NILGOSC).

Currently he is an Independent Assessor for Public Appointments in Northern Ireland. Tom holds no other public appointments.

Stephen Matthews OBE

Stephen was Chief Executive of The Cedar Foundation, to October 2021, completing over 30 years’ service. Cedar supports over 3000 individuals living with disability, autism and brain injury to live the lives they choose. At Cedar he oversaw the development of a range of specialisms, including Supported Community Living for people with complex needs. He was appointed OBE in 2010 for services to people with a disability.

A graduate of the Universities of Ulster and Birmingham he is Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development qualified and a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute. Stephen is a former Chair of CO3, He continues involvement as a CEO Mentor.

Stephen was appointed an Equality Commissioner with the ECNI in February 2023.

He is NI volunteer advisor to UK grant giving charitable foundation The Henry Smith’s Charity, supporting the investment over £1m pa to NI 3rd Sector organisations.

Gary McMichael

Gary McMichael is founder and Chief Executive of ASCERT, a Northern Ireland charity providing services that address drugs, alcohol and mental health issues. He is a member of the Department of Health Substance Use Strategy Programme Board, Chair of the Belfast Drug and Alcohol Co-ordination Team and sits on a number of other regional strategic groups related to health and social care.

Gary has worked in the voluntary and community sector for over 25 years, has served on the board of the Labour Relations Agency as well as a number of charities and charitable trusts. He was formerly an elected member of Lisburn City Council for 12 years until 2005.


Briege Arthurs

Briege is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Forward South Partnership- one of the 4 area-based regeneration partnerships in Belfast. In this role she is privileged to work with the many community and voluntary groups across South Belfast. She is responsible for the delivery of many targeted programmes which build community capacity, systems for early intervention in education, health and good relations ensuring the best outcomes for everyone through shared, collaborative working.  Under her leadership, she has developed a city-wide Support hub for the many Roma families who live in Belfast and require navigation and support for access to health, education and employment.

Briege is currently Co-Chair of Belfast City Council’s multi agency Living Here Board which reports into the Belfast Community Planning Partnership. She also sits on the BCC Shared City Partnership whose focus is on good relations in sharing our city. Briege is a member of the Executive committee of NICVA, remains a member of the Chinese Welfare Association’s Advisory Committee and sits on the Senate of Queen’s University Belfast as an external lay member.

Her background is in community regeneration for both private and public sector. In the 1980s she worked for Sir Stuart Lipton on the Broadgate and Stockley Park developments in London setting up Training and Enterprise Councils in 6 London boroughs, working with councils to provide childcare facilities in workspaces and negotiating planning gain for community benefit. Upon her return to Northern Ireland In 1991 she joined the Government’s Making Belfast Work Initiative working in the North and West of the city. In 1996 she joined the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) who act as an advocate to raise standards in Catholic Education. Her work centred around brokering plans and programmes which add value and support children to get the best start in life. During this time, she was invited to chair a ministerial, inter sectoral working group to explore and develop protocols and procedures around the community shared use of school sites.

She is passionate about social justice, equality, diversity and inclusion, helping to build relationships between the community, public and private sectors to support people and improve services.

Tom Sullivan

Tom Sullivan is the Public Affairs and Policy Manager for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy in Northern Ireland where he has worked for the last 23 years.  Previous employers include British Telecom, the Northern Ireland Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders and the British Medical Association.

Tom is a former committee member and Secretary of the Irish Association for Cultural Economic and Social Relations. This group was established in 1935 to promote better understanding of North South issues. Tom served as a committee member on the management board Public Achievement from 2010 until 2016. Public Achievement’s primary activity was youth work working with young people on a regular basis in their own communities helping young people to develop their capacity as active citizens. Tom is currently a committee member of the Allied Health Professions Federation for Northern Ireland and a member of the Community Rehabilitation Alliance NI.

Tom’s interests include, football, politics, photography and the visual arts. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and is currently the Honorary Consul for the Slovak Republic in Northern Ireland which he was appointed to by the Slovak government in 2005.  He is a member of the UNITE trade union.

Emma O’Neill

Mental health, wellbeing and family support have been central themes of Emma’s career, spanning across two decades in both the statutory and voluntary sectors.

Emma holds a BA Hons degree in Sociology and Social Policy from Queen’s University, later developing her professional education with an ILM Level 5 qualification in Leadership and Management.

In her current role as Head of Operations for TinyLife, she leads on the delivery of services for families with premature babies.  Early intervention and collaboration are pivotal to this role, owing to health inequalities associated with premature birth and the longer-term impacts.

In previous roles she has advocated for and supported young carers and their families and managed the delivery of mental health programmes in post-primary education.

With a passion for Diversity and Inclusion, she previously held the role of Co-Chair for Action for Children’s national Gender Equality Network.

Rhoda Walker

Rhoda has a background in community development, corporate change and partnership working developed throughout her career, primarily in local government. She is currently a freelance consultant for the third sector.

A volunteer with the Northern Ireland Rare Disease Partnership since 2016, as Chair she was heavily involved in the development of the NI Action Plan for Rare Diseases.  She was awarded an MBE in 2023 for Services to People with Rare Diseases.

She is an ambassador for Medics 4 Rare Disease, a charity raising awareness of rare conditions amongst the medical community and supports Ehlers Danlos Support UK to raise awareness of, and highlight the needs of those with EDS, a condition that affects many members of her family.

She is a director of Eos Community Consulting, a community interest company with a community focus, and Chair of her local voluntary regeneration group.

Paula Bradley

Paula was first elected in 2005 to the Newtownabbey legacy Council, she served as Mayor from 2010 – 2011.

She was successfully elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2011 representing Belfast North. During her time as an Assembly member she served as Chairperson on the Committee for Health and the Committee for Communities. Paula also was an active member on many All Party Groups including Stroke and Heart Disease, Sexual Health, Infertility, Autism and Homelessness.

Paula made the difficult decision in 2021 to withdraw from full time politics to look after her mother who had a diagnosis of Vascular Dementia. She was fortunate to return to Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council and is now an Alderman for the Glengormley Urban district electoral area.

Prior to election to the Assembly Paula worked for Social Services in the Northern Trust in Whiteabbey and Antrim Area Hospitals. This, along with being full time carer for her mother has given her first hand experience of the challenges in navigating the system.

Julie Aiken

Dr Julie Aiken is Regional Manager with Samaritans in Northern Ireland since 2014. During this time she has developed the presence of the organisation in NI, led on establishing relationships with key marginalised groups and had responsibility for the delivery of Samaritans best practice media guidelines for reporting suicide. She has worked in the community and voluntary sector for nearly 15 years including at the Red Cross where she undertook research on humanitarian crises. In 2013, she was part of the team that delivered the World Police and Fire Games in NI and Giro d’Italia Big Start in 2014. Julie is a Non-Executive Director with the Police Rehabilitation and Retraining Trust. She has a primary degree in Psychology (BSc Hons) and a PhD set within a human rights framework. She has spent the last 10 years working in the field of mental health and wellbeing across the UK and ROI.

Cadogan Enright

Councillor Cadogan Enright has served East Down for almost 20 years and was last re-elected to Newry Mourne and Down Council in May of 2023 for the Alliance Party for the Downpatrick/Lecale area. Cadogan is a qualified accountant with a record of delivering large-scale information technology projects, restructuring large multinational companies and delivering shared service centres arising from mergers and acquisitions.

Councillor Enright is active in a wide range of local and national environmental organisations working for sustainable development and on environmental conservation projects. He has post-grad qualifications in energy and the built environment. He has used his skills to assist both large governmental organisations and small community organisations transition to cheaper renewable solutions for their energy needs. He is a long-standing member of the Down Community Health Committee, working on health-related issues in East Down and a member of the Strangford Lough Management Advisory Committee.

Council Meetings

The PCC is committed to conducting its business and its meetings as publicly and openly as possible and members of the public have the right to speak or ask to present at our Council meetings. Any requests to speak or present should be made at least five working days before the meeting date and should include a summary of the subject matter for consideration by the Chair. The Chair will review requests received within the appropriate notice period and will confirm any requirements or instructions in advance of the meeting – normally this will be confined to the making of a short statement or presentation (and making copies of any presentations available in advance of the meeting).

Notice of requests to speak or present can be provided by contacting Fionnuala Murphy via email or phone 028 9536 2548

The next Council meetings will take place on: 

  • Tuesday 12th March 2024, 10am – 1pm


Council Documents

Here you can find the agendas and papers for past and upcoming Council meetings.