Northern Ireland Civil Service Board Welcomes Independent Non-Executive Members

Date published: 06 February 2023

The Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) Board has announced the appointment of three Non-Executive members. It is the first time external experts will sit on the Board and the change has been welcomed by existing members.


The new appointees will provide support and challenge to the Service’s most senior leaders.

The NICS Board is crucial to the whole system approach needed to support the Executive effectively. It provides strategic leadership to the work of the Civil Service and has oversight of the organisational change underway to enhance delivery and impact. 

The new board members are Patrick Magee, Laura McKeaveney and Frances Ruane.

Welcoming the appointees, Jayne Brady, Head of the Civil Service and NICS Board Chair said: "The Non-Executive Members join us at a pivotal time as we build upon the strengths of the Civil Service. They will support us as we address the challenges and grasp the opportunities ahead.

“Making positive change goes beyond individual departments and requires working across organisational boundaries, with a range of people and perspectives. The appointment of external board members is a significant step on our journey of continuous improvement.

“They bring exceptional international experience in key areas of focus for the Civil Service, including strategic organisational transformation, socio-economic policy development and government investment.”

Patrick Magee is an expert in investment banking and corporate finance. He was previously Chief Commercial Officer at the British Business Bank plc (the UK Government’s Economic Development Bank).  During his tenure, the Bank helped deliver economic growth by supporting over £85billion of investment in UK businesses.   Prior to this, Patrick was a Managing Director at JP Morgan Cazenove.

Laura McKeaveney is internationally recognised for her expertise in Human Resources, organisational development, culture change and Equality, Diversity & Inclusion. Her experience includes 25 years at senior global executive levels leading HR and organisational transformation; most recently for Novartis, a leading pharmaceutical company headquartered in Switzerland.

Frances Ruane is an eminent Irish economist and previous adviser to the NI Economy Minister and Scottish First Minister. She currently chairs Ireland’s National Competitiveness and Productivity Council which advises the government on economic policy.

The new members will each serve a term of three years, working with the Chair and wider Board, with an immediate focus on preparing the foundations for the return of the Executive and developing and implementing the NICS Board corporate plan.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Civil Service Board provides strategic leadership to the work of more than 23,000 Civil Servants and is crucial for achieving a cross-departmental and collaborative approach to service delivery.
  2. The appointment of independent non-executives to the Board was a key recommendation of the PAC’s 2021 report on Capacity and Capability in the Northern Ireland Civil Service (external link opens in a new window / tab)
  3. This is the first-time independent members have been appointed to the board which includes representation from all 9 government departments and is Chaired by the Head of the Civil Service.
  4. The Non-Executive Members terms began on 01 February 2023 and run for a period of three years.
  5. Non-Executive Members will be remunerated at £12,000 per annum.
  6. Non-Executive Members should not occupy paid party-political posts. Any potential conflicts of interest must be disclosed to the Chair for decision.
  7. The NICS Board meets between 8-12 times per year and on other occasions as circumstances require. Non-Executive Members are required to commit up to 20 days per year.
  8. Biographies below, bio photos attached.


Patrick Magee

Patrick Magee is an experienced board director with extensive experience in both the private and public sectors. Patrick is currently the Senior Independent Director at International Biotechnology Trust Plc, listed on the London Stock Exchange. He is also a member of the Investment Committee at Queen’s University, Belfast and is an adviser to and investor in a number of high growth companies.

Until June 2022, Patrick was Chief Commercial Officer at the British Business Bank plc, the UK Government’s Economic Development Bank and was an executive director on the Bank’s Board. During Patrick’s tenure, the Bank helped to deliver economic growth through supporting over £85 billion of investment in UK businesses, via the debt and equity markets. 

Before joining the British Business Bank in 2014, Patrick worked at the Shareholder Executive from June 2012 to October 2014. Prior to the Shareholder Executive, Patrick was a Managing Director in the corporate finance division of JP Morgan Cazenove, having worked at the predecessor firms for almost 18 years. In his Investment Banking career Patrick advised on a broad range of M&A, Capital Markets and Corporate Broking assignments. Patrick also spent two years on secondment to the Panel for Takeovers and Mergers. Patrick has an MBA from Georgetown University, Washington DC and an LLB from Queen’s University Belfast. 


Laura McKeaveney

Laura McKeaveney is the Managing Partner of McKeaveney Consulting, which is the culmination of her 30 + years of international leadership experience across a range of industries (FMCG, IT, Medical Devices, Life Sciences).

Laura’s passion is growth, growth of individuals, teams and organisations. She has significant experience reshaping organisations based on changing conditions, building organizational models and culture change programs to enable companies and people to grow and reach their full potential.

She has been recognized by global companies for her work in delivering progressive personal and organisational development programs and internationally recognised for her work in Talent Management and Equality, Diversity & Inclusion with a particular focus on women in leadership and people with disabilities.

Laura has led large global, culturally diverse teams in both HR and Patient Engagement. She has extensive experience of interactions at Board level and has worked on issues including People strategies, Ethics, Risk & Compliance, Corporate Social Responsibility, Reputation Management, Equality, Diversity & Inclusion and the Pharmaceutical industry’s direct engagement with patients.

Laura also dedicates her time to non-profit institutions. Through McKeaveney Consulting, she raises funds for various philanthropic projects focused on social impact. She is currently the Chair of TinyLife - a Northern Ireland charity for neonatal care, former Board member of Patient Focused Medicines Development (PFMD) helping to shape the external landscape and elevate the voice of patients in healthcare decisions. She was Chair of an International school in Switzerland and a founding member of the European Pharma Industry patient think tank strategy group. Laura has a 20-year-old daughter currently studying at Bath University. Laura spends her time between Belfast, Bath and Basel Switzerland. She holds a BA and MBA (University of Ulster) and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (FCIPD).

Frances Ruane

Dr Frances Ruane is an Irish economist, with a wide range of international experience. She studied Economics at UCD and at Oxford University, where she graduated with a DPhil in 1980.

Over several decades, Frances has gained wide experience of the public policy-making process in Ireland. This includes as a Board member of IDA Ireland, Forfás, Higher Education Authority, Health Research Board, and the Commission of the National Pensions Reserve Fund. She currently chairs the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council and has previously chaired the National Statistics Board and expert groups on health and disability policy reform. She has also served as a member of expert groups on taxation, skills, and innovation. Her commercial Board experiences include Bord Gáis Éireann, PIMCO Fund Managers, and Dodge and Cox Fund Managers.

Outside Ireland, Frances’s advisory roles have included membership of the Economic Advisory Group (EAG) at the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland, and in Scotland as a member of both the Council of Economic Advisors to the Scottish First Minister, and the Enterprise and Skills Review Group. In addition, she has served as a member of the European Statistical Governance Advisory Board, the Euro-50 Group and the World Bank Data Advisory Panel.

Dr. Ruane was Director of the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) from 2006 to 2015. She previously held academic positions at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) between 1977 and 2006, as well as administrative positions, including College Bursar. Prior to TCD, she worked as an Economist at the Central Bank of Ireland and IDA Ireland. Her research interests are in international economics, economic development and public policy making. Her recent publications include a co-authored paper comparing competitiveness in Ireland and Northern Ireland. She is currently a member of the Royal Irish Academy and an Honorary Fellow of TCD.

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