The Community Relations Council has appointed 10 new Members to its Board following an open and public recruitment process. The new members join 12 existing Members.
The new Members are:
Researcher at the School of Policy Studies, University of Ulster, where he is undertaking doctoral research examining the current policy process around the development of peace walls in Belfast. Previously, he worked as a research officer at the Institute for Conflict Research for five years and was involved in research projects on issues related to the conflict, human rights, equality and diversity, policing, migration, sectarianism and segregation.
Recently retired civil servant, formerly Head of the Good Relations and Reconciliation Division of OFMDFM where he was responsible for developing a number of key policies: A Shared Future policy; the Racial Equality Strategy; Victims and Survivors policy; a 10 year strategy for children and young people; ex prisoners support and a range of conflict transformation interventions. During that time he was acting Director of Equality for a year. He was Private Secretary to Sťamus Mallon, the Deputy First Minister during the first phase of devolution. He also held the post of First Secretary (Political) in the British Embassy, Dublin.
Director of Ballynafeigh Community Development Association, a shared neighbourhood in South Belfast which is diverse in terms of social class, ethnicity, lifestyle and housing tenure. As Director she has been involved in the implementation of community relations and community development programmes, delivering welfare rights and advice services, work with children and young people, older people and training and employability initiatives and managing a Community House and Resource Centre
Dr Leon Litvack
Reader in Victorian Studies at the School of English, Queen’s University. He is a Canadian by birth, was educated in Toronto, London and Edinburgh and has lived and worked in Northern Ireland since 1991. He presents programmes on religion and ethics for BBC Radio Ulster, and has a particular interest in investigating inter-faith issues; he is a regular contributor to Thought for the Day and Prayer for the Day. Dr Litvack is a world authority on the life and work of Charles Dickens and is a Trustee of the Charles Dickens Museum in London and a Governor of the Linen Hall Library in Belfast.
Originally from Newtownstewart Co Tyrone she is a consultant who has worked in community development and community cohesion and regeneration throughout her working life in Belfast and London. Prior to taking up the position in 1996 of Chief Executive with Belfast European Partnership Board and then the Local Strategy Partnership, she co-ordinated community development programmes in North Belfast (1985-96) and worked in East London from 1979 to 1985 with minority ethnic communities in Hackney and then with Newham Council’s housing department (1984-85). In 2006-07 she was an Independent Member of the second Northern Ireland Policing Board. From 2003-2006 she served on the Belfast District Policing Partnership. She currently volunteers with a number of organisations working with Interface communities and community education.
Youth Officer with the Southern Education and Library Board with specialist interest in inclusion of young people in the social, educational, cultural, political and linguistic life of Youth Services and Society. She has 23 years experience in youth work within both the statutory and voluntary youth sectors and has a particular interest in enhancing opportunities for local communities to deal with the issues of exclusion and peacebuilding.
Hassan Sami Mansour
Part-time Administrator at the Belfast Islamic Centre. Born in Canada he has been living in Northern Ireland on and off since 1973. He represents the Islamic Centre on several forums and groups.
Recently retired Belfast Telegraph journalist where he had been working for the last 35 years. At the Telegraph he was a leader writer from 1991 until 2008, a role he combined with working as a feature writer and then as business correspondent. He was acting business editor when he took early retirement in 2009. He edited the 100 Small Steps book produced last year by the One Small Step Campaign. In his capacity as peace agent with May Street Presbyterian Church he was instrumental in developing cross-community links with nearby St Malachy’s Catholic Church
Dr David Russell
Head of Communications and Education at the NI Human Rights Commission.
He has worked extensively in formulating and submitting to the Secretary of State, the Commission’s advice on a Bill of Rights as mandated by the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and most recently acted as an advisor to government on the working group tasked with reviewing the Department of Education’s Community Relations Programme.
Dr Jacqueline Witherow
Policy Development Officer at the Arts Council of NI and formerly an independent community development consultant. She has recently been awarded a PhD in Ethnomusicology by Queen’s University Belfast for research on the Protestant flute band tradition in Northern Ireland
The 12 existing members who continue on the Council are
Tony McCusker (Chair), James Deery, Stephen Farry MLA, Hazel Francey, Eileen Gallagher, Sylvia Gordon, Maureen Hetherington, Tony Kennedy, Rosaleen McCorley, Stella McDermott, Eamonn Oakes, David Porter.
Notes for Editor
The Community Relations Council was established in 1990 as an independent company and registered charity. Its aim is to promote a peaceful and fair society based on reconciliation and mutual trust. It funded over 800 community relations and victim support projects last year (see CRC Annual Report at www.nicrc.org.uk) . It receives funding from OFMDFM and manages part of the EU Peace III funding and the Community Bridges Programme of the International Fund for Ireland.
Members of the Community Relations Council serve a three year term and (apart from the Chair) the positions are unpaid.