Press release

Appointment of new members to Equality Commission

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State announces the appointment of Equality Commission members


Four new members of the Equality Commission have been appointed by Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Kris Hopkins MP. The new commissioners will take up office in early November.

Eileen-Chan-Hu; Duane Farrell; Helen Ferguson and Jarlath Kearney will take up office on 8th November and will replace Fidelma Carolan, Milton Kerr, Liam Maskey and Steven McIlveen who are standing down after serving two terms.

Mr Hopkins said:

The Equality Commission under the leadership of Chief Commissioner Michael Wardlow plays a vital role in protecting and promoting equality for everyone in Northern Ireland’s diverse society.

I am delighted to make these appointments to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and I am confident that they will continue to enhance the Commission’s central role in protecting and promoting equality in Northern Ireland.

Mr Hopkins also thanked the outgoing Commissioners. He said:

The outgoing Commissioners have made a real and valued contribution to the promotion of the equality agenda in Northern Ireland.

Their dedication to the work of the Commission has been invaluable and I am extremely grateful to them for their commitment over the last six years.


Equality Commission for Northern Ireland The Equality Commission was established in 1999, as part of the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. It took over the functions of the Fair Employment Commission, Equal Opportunities Commission, and Council for Racial Equality and Northern Ireland Disability Council.

The Equality Commission is responsible for policing the Statutory Duty on all public authorities in Northern Ireland to have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity across a range of areas including religion, political opinion, gender, race, age, marital status, sexual orientation, disability and those with and without dependants.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is responsible under the Northern Ireland Act 1998 for making appointments to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

More information can be found on the Equality Commission’s website

Terms of appointment Appointments are made in line with Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments regulations.

The positions are part-time appointments.

The position of Commissioner attracts a fixed remuneration of £5,000 per annum for a commitment of approximately two days a month.

Biography of Appointees

Eileen Chan-Hu is Executive Director of CRAICNI (Cultivate Respect, Appreciate Inclusion in Communities in Northern Ireland) and former Chief Executive of the Chinese Welfare Association in Northern Ireland. She has over 20 years of experience of working in the community and voluntary sector. Eileen stood at the local council elections in 2014 as a NI21 candidate.

Duane Farrell is currently Charity Director for Age NI and Chairperson of the Rainbow Project. He has over 20 years’ experience of working on LGB&T and older person’s issues.

Helen Ferguson was a Director, Carers Northern Ireland, from 1994-2015. She has over 30 years’ experience of working in the community and voluntary sector.

Jarlath Kearney is a former Sinn Fein party member and Special Advisor to Minister for DCAL. He was previously a journalist and Chief Political Correspondent with the Belfast Media Group. He is a former member of the Community Relations Council and currently serves as a Board Member of the Arts Council NI.

Political Activity All appointments are made on merit and with regards to the statutory requirements. Political activity plays no part in the selection process. However, in accordance with the original Nolan recommendations, there is a requirement for appointees’ political activity in defined categories to be made public.

As noted in the biographies, Eileen Chan-Hu and Jarlath Kearney have declared political activity in the past ten years.

OCPA Code of Practice The appointment process has been regulated by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointment (OCPA) and all stages of the process were overseen by an independent panel member.

Statutory Requirements This appointment is made by the Secretary of State with regard to the equality provisions set out in section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and paragraph 2(3) of Schedule 1 to the Public Processions (Northern Ireland) Act 1998.

Published 20 October 2016