New appointees to NI Equality Commission

Eileen Chan-Hu has been appointed to the Equality Commission
Eileen Chan-Hu has been appointed to the Equality Commission

A former Sinn Fein special advisor, a gay rights activist, a race relations expert and a former carers’ advocate have been announced as new appointees to the Equality Commission.

The appointments were revealed on Thursday by the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Kris Hopkins MP.

They are Jarlath Kearney, Duane Farrell, Eileen Chan-Hu and Helen Ferguson. All four will begin there term in office on November 8.

Jarlath Kearney is a former journalist and ex-Sinn Fein special advisor to the DCAL minister for DCAL who previously sat on the Community Relations Council.

Duane Farrell is the chairman of the Rainbow Project and charity director for Age NI. He has more than 20 years of experience working on LGBT and older persons’ issues.

Helen Ferguson was a director of Carers Northern Ireland from 1994-2015 and has worked in the community and voluntary sector for more than 30 years.

Eileen Chan-Hu is executive director of CRAICNI (Cultivate Respect, Appreciate Inclusion in Communities in Northern Ireland), and a former chief executive of the Chinese Welfare Association in Northern Ireland, who has more than 20 years of experience of working in the community and voluntary sector.

The four replace outgoing commissioners Fidelma Carolan, Milton Kerr QPM, Liam Maskey and Stephen McIlveen.

The Equality Commission is currently headed by chief commissioner Dr Michael Wardlow. Reverend Dr Lesley Carroll is the deputy chief commissioner.

A further ten commissioners make up the body: Deborah Donnelly; Hazel Francey; William Gamble; Judith Gillespie; Tom Hartley; Geraldine McGahey; William McKee; Joseph McVey; Robin Mullan and David Rose.

Chief commissioner Dr Wardlow welcomed the four new members “as they take up the important task of promoting equality of opportunity and combating unlawful discrimination in Northern Ireland”.