New chair and vice-chair elected at NIPB

Mukesh Sharma DL has appointed as the new chair of the Northern Ireland Policing Board (NIPB).

Apr 11, 2024
By Paul Jacques
Vice-chair Brendan Mullan, chief executive Sinead Simpson and chair Mukesh Sharma.

He replaces Deirdre Toner, whose term concluded on March 31.

Brendan Mullan has been elected vice-chair, taking over from Edgar Jardine.

Mr Sharma said: “I am honoured to have been elected as chair of the NIPB.

“I am a firm believer in the importance of the Board’s oversight role for confidence building in policing, and for making sure the best possible policing service is delivered to the community.

“Policing is a challenging job and a job that is essential for the safety of everyone in our community. I very much respect the work of officers and staff who deliver the service to the public on our behalf.

“I am committed, along with colleagues on the Board, to maintain the lobby with the chief constable for proper resourcing of policing so that the progress made in policing is not lost.

“As chair, I am looking forward to meeting, listening to and engaging with all those who have a contribution to make to the Board’s work and that of policing.”

Mr Sharma was born in England and raised in Northern Ireland within the Indian community. He has a breadth of experience in business growth and acquisition, organisational change, partnership working and advocacy in developing international partnerships.

Most of his business life has been in the travel, tourism and airline industry and he has worked in the UK and abroad, heading up a number of major companies during this time.

In 2016, he was commissioned as Deputy Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast and was appointed MBE in 2016 for services to the travel industry in Northern Ireland.

He has led many initiatives across Northern Ireland to promote the arts, community cohesion and the prevention of racism, sectarianism and hate crime.

Mr Mullan said: “The Board’s assurance and oversight role is fundamental to the delivery of effective and efficient policing. As vice-chair I am very much looking forward to supporting the chair and the board in progressing key legislative duties and the wide programme of work.”

Mr Mullan has extensive senior management experience in the voluntary, public and private sectors, successfully leading organisations at managing director and chief executive level.

He is a Fellow of the Institute of Directors and a Chartered Director. His academic background also includes a degree in business administration and accountancy from Queen’s University Belfast, an Irish Peace Institute Management Fellowship, and a German Marshall Fellowship to the US.

He is a previous winner of Institute of Directors’ Northern Ireland Non-Executive Director of the Year award and was recognised at the UK Director of the Year Awards for Excellence in Corporate Governance.

Under the NIPB’s Standing Orders the positions of chair and vice-chair will be for a two-year term.

Justice Minister Naomi Long paid tribute to the outgoing members of the Board and said: “I thank those members whose terms concluded on March 31, 2024, including the chair, Deirdre Toner, and vice-chair, Edgar Jardine – along with Dr Janet Gray MBE for their support, years of service and valuable contributions they have made to policing in Northern Ireland.

“I wish them well for the future.”

The Justice Minister also announced the appointment of Marian Cree, Patrick Nelson and Thomas O’Reilly as independent members to the NIPB. The appointments are effective from April 1, 2024 for four years.

The appointments followed a Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland regulated public appointment competition for independent members.

Ms Long said: “I am delighted to welcome Marian, Patrick and Thomas to the Northern Ireland Policing Board.

“Collectively, they will bring with them a wealth of valuable experience, knowledge, and unique insights to the Board.

“This will further enhance the Board’s work in securing an effective and efficient police service.

“Members also play a vital role in holding the chief constable to account for the delivery of policing.

“Over the past year, policing has been impacted by a number of significant incidents. Rebuilding public confidence in policing must be the Board’s priority and I look forward to working with the Board towards that goal.”

Ms Cree is currently the Legal Services Oversight Commissioner for NI (LSOC) having been appointed in April 2017.

She has recently finished a three-year term serving as a commissioner on the Parades Commission for NI.

In 2015, she established the first Office for the Competition and Markets Authority in Northern Ireland Office and was the Head of the Office for two years.

Mr O’Reilly has had an extensive career in public service, holding positions including Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Department of Education responsible for education policy and children services and the Department of Communities responsible for working age employment services and benefits.

He was chief executive officer of the Social Security Agency for six years, was a non-executive director in the Scottish government and has worked with the EU in South Africa, Jordan and Greece on social welfare projects.

He was vice-chair of the Ashton Community Trust, Belfast for three years and brings to the Board significant experience in governance, strategic decision making, programme management and organisational leadership.

He is currently chair of the Northern Ireland Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment.

Mr Nelson has been chief executive officer of the Irish Football Association since 2009. He is a director of the association’s stadium company and a trustee of its charitable foundation. He is also a director of the International Football Association Board, responsible for the Laws of the Game.

Before moving into football, he worked in the global payment cards industry, with roles at Capital One, MasterCard and American Express.

He was appointed as a Visiting Professor at Ulster University in 2020.

In 2022, he was appointed as chair of the National Trust Regional Advisory Group for Northern Ireland.

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