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Ritchie appoints new charity commissioner

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie has today announced the appointment of a new local Charity Commissioner to the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland (CCNI).

Ms Rosemary Connolly was appointed to the position of ‘legally qualified’ Charity Commissioner. Legislation says that at least one Commissioner must be a barrister or solicitor of at least seven years standing and this appointment meets that requirement.

Margaret Ritchie said: "Ms Connolly has the skills and experience to make a valuable contribution to the work of the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland. She has an extensive legal background in equality and human rights issues and, along with her personal commitment to the work of the charitable sector, she will prove to be a real asset to the Commission. I welcome this appointment which will bring the total number of Commissioners up to seven, as required in the legislation.”

Speaking about her appointment to CCNI, Ms Connolly said: "I had no hesitation in accepting this appointment and am looking forward to working with my fellow commissioners and with local charities as we take forward a challenging programme of regulation."

Margaret Ritchie commented on the progress made to date by the Commission in putting in place a regulatory framework for charities in Northern Ireland. She said: “I welcome the progress made to date by the Commission and plans are well advanced to have a charity register in place early next year.

“The Commission has also launched the consultation on its draft public benefit guidance. This will be essential to allow charity trustees to prepare for registration and application of the public benefit test in 2010. The Commission has held public road show events across Northern Ireland. These have provided a valuable opportunity to discuss the public benefit requirements and to raise awareness of the wider regulatory requirements.

“There is much work still to do but I am confident that we now have the necessary team in place to make a real difference to the work of local charities.”

The appointment of Ms Connolly has been made in accordance with the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Irelands Code of Practice. The appointment was made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process. However, in accordance with the original Nolan recommendations, details of any political activity of the appointee, if any declared, have been published.

Notes to editors:

1. The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland (CCNI) is a Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB), funded by grant-in-aid from the Department for Social Development (DSD). It was established under the Charities Act (NI) 2008 and became operational on 27 March 2009 through (Commencement No. 1) Order (Northern Ireland) 2009.

2. Its mission is to introduce a regulatory framework for the charitable sector in Northern Ireland, in line with developments in the rest of the UK and Ireland. This will provide a structure and process through which charities can demonstrate their contribution to society, the public can be assured regarding how charities are spending any donations and government can assist in the better governance of the charity sector.

3. The Charity Commission comprises of a Chief Commissioner, a Deputy Chief Commissioner and up to five Charity Commissioners. The legally qualified Commissioner has been appointed for a period of three years.

4. This appointment takes effect from 2 November 2009 and it is a remunerated position. The legally qualified Commissioner will receive £2,000 per annum in line with payments to other Charity Commissioners. The Chief Commissioner receives £5,000 per annum and the Deputy Chief Commissioner £3,000 per annum. Expenses will be paid in line with normal NICS guidelines.

5. Appointee:

Ms Rosemary Connolly

Ms Connolly is the principal solicitor in a specialist employment and equality law practice in Warrenpoint, Co. Down. She has 25 years experience as a serving solicitor. She was appointed to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland for the period from 1999-2003. Other positions include Chair of Newry & Mourne Local Strategy Partnership (1995-1998), Chair/Secretary of Burren Community Forum (1995-date), Director of NI Family Care Society (2006-2008) and Member of the Committee on the Administration of Justice (1995–date).

Other Current Ministerial Appointments/Remuneration/Political Activity - She does not hold any public appointments and has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years.

6. For media enquiries please contact the DSD Press Office, tel 028 9052 9297. Outside office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.