Minister announces appointments to the Board of AFBI

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Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill has announced the appointment of seven new members to the Board of the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI).

They are Dr Michelle Costello-Smith, Theresa Cullen, Fiona Hanna, Dr Richard Horton, Joan Houston, Sharon Smyth and Richard Solomon. Their appointments will be effective from 1 April 2016 for a term of three years.

Minister O’Neill said: “The role of the AFBI Board is to provide strategic direction and to promote good governance including the highest standards of financial management. These new Board members are from a diverse range of backgrounds. They bring with them skills and experience acquired in the agriculture, food and financial sectors and in science and technology environments. The new members’ collective commercial and business development acumen will make a major contribution to the role of the Board in advancing the work of AFBI. There are many challenges and opportunities for AFBI ahead and I wish them every success in supporting AFBI towards achieving its ambitious goals.”

The Minister also took the opportunity to thank the Members of the Board who have reached the end of their term and wish them well in the future. Bob McCann and Hilary McCartan will step down at the end of March 2016 having serving two terms since April 2011.

Commenting on the new AFBI Board appointments, the Commissioner for Public Appointments in Northern Ireland, Judena Leslie said: “I am delighted to see such a diverse range of well qualified individuals appointed to the AFBI Board. We know that more diverse boards lead to better outcomes for the organisations they serve. These latest public appointments demonstrate that if Departments and Public Bodies focus on improving diversity and ensure that principle underpins an inclusive process, then it really can be achieved. Minister O’Neill is to be commended for her commitment and for providing an important step change in this area.”