DAERA appoints five new members to CAFRE College Advisory Group

Date published: 24 January 2023

The Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) today announced the appointment of five new members to the CAFRE College Advisory Group (CAG).


The role of the CAG is to provide advice at a strategic and operational level to the management team of CAFRE. The group was established in January 2007 and reports to the College Director. In carrying out its work, the group takes full account of Departmental policies and strategies. The CAFRE College Advisory Group (CAG).helps CAFRE deliver excellent services to the farming and agri-food sectors.

Craig Blaney, William Harpur, Seamus McMenamin Kevin Morgan and Ryan Mortimer have been appointed for a three-year period. The wealth of experience brought by the new members will enable CAFRE to continue to be recognised as a world leader in agri-food education provision.

The Department thanks the outgoing members David Brown, Nicholas Cowan, Ivor Ferguson, Mark Gowdy and Diane Ruddock for their work on the College Advisory Group.

Notes to editors: 

1. The College Advisory Group:

i. Makes recommendations regarding the development of the College Strategic Business Plan to meet the needs of industry, participants and the community in line with the DAERA Vision and Strategic Goals and its policies on education and technology transfer;

ii. Monitors the programmes delivered by the College and makes recommendations regarding their relevance to the DAERA Strategic Goals and their effectiveness in meeting the needs of industry, participants and the community;

iii. Monitors the delivery of the College Strategic Business Plan, including achievement of physical and financial targets, and value for money and makes recommendations on how performance could be improved;

iv. Advises the College on the marketing and promotion of programmes to secure optimum industry and community involvement in the development, delivery and uptake of programmes.

2. Mr Craig Blaney will represent the Agri-food Business Development sector.  He has a vast amount of experience within the Agri-food Business Development sector having worked for 5 years in Finnebrogue in which he managed and co-ordinated PR Marketing. His next role was within Valeo Foods IE in which he looked after around 15 company owned and agency brands and was responsible for conceiving, costing and implementing PR, marketing and brand strategies.  In 2018, Mr Blaney began his own business Airtight Creative, where he works to advise businesses and guide them through the development of their strategic plans and supports the implementation of their long and short term goals.  He is also the Deputy Mayor of Ards and North Down Borough Council and is Member of both the Regeneration and Corporate Committee’s.  He was appointed as a Non-Executive Director to the Public Health Agency for Northern Ireland in August 2022 and is also a Board Member of the Northern Community Leisure Trust and the YMCA for North Down.

All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection processHowever, the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland requires the political activity of appointees to be published.  Mr Blaney is a Member of the Ulster Unionist Party, having served as the Secretary of the North Down Ulster Unionist Association for 1 year.  He was elected as a Member of Ards and North Down Borough Council for the UUP in 2019, going on to serve over three years in the role. He is now the Deputy Mayor of Ards and North Down Borough Council and canvassed for himself in the last election.

3. Mr William Harpur OBE will represent the Environment sector.  He is a fulltime farmer operating a birth to slaughter Aberdeen Angus beef herd within the Causeway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).  For over 25 years he has participated in Environmentally Sensitive Area schemes, Countryside Management and the Environmental Farming scheme.  Mr Harpur currently acts as chair for the Ulster Farmer’s Union (UFU) Environment Committee. As part of this role, he was heavily involved in developing the UFU Farming with Nature scheme.  He is a past Chair of the Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust which enabled him to oversee a partnership organisation promoting environmental management and sustainable development.  He has active participation in a CAFRE Environmental Business Development Group in which he presented a video showcasing low carbon beef production that went on to be shown at last years COP 26 summit.  Mr Harpur also had a previous 36 year career in teaching, including 12 years as a head teacher and was awarded an OBE for services to Education in Northern Ireland.

4. Mr Seamus McMenamin will represent the Red Meat sector.  He has a large amount of experience within the Red Meat sector. He graduated from Queens University Belfast with a Master’s Degree in Sustainable Rural Development and Project Management.  Over a period of 12 years he was employed by the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) in various capacities including Farm Quality Assurance Manager, Market Analyst and Agricultural Economist.  These roles allowed him to work closely with all the major red meat processors within Northern Ireland and in the delivery of a number of bespoke projects.  Between 2014 and 2020 Mr McMenamin was a member of the Senior Management Team in LMC gaining him valuable experience. Most recently, he has taken on the role of Sector Manager for Sheepmeat, Livestock and Organics for Bord Bia while also assisting colleagues in supporting the Irish Beef sector.  These roles in addition to his farming background has given him a strong understanding and ability to represent the Red Meat sector.

5. Dr Kevin Morgan will represent the Higher Education sector.  He has worked in the Higher Education sector for over 12 years, including 9 years as a researcher and over 3 years as a Lecturer and is currently employed at Queens University Belfast.  Dr Morgan has a BSc honours degree in Chemistry and PhD in Catalysis and specialises his teaching in chemistry and chemical engineering delivering both undergraduate and post-graduate programmes while also being involved in the development of content for new programmes.  He has a Post Graduate Certificate in Higher Education Teaching and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.  He also has several certificates awarded by the Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA) in areas of University Co-ordinator, Mentoring and Support Learning in a Digital Age, from the Microsoft Educators Centre, and from Advance HE for External Examiners.  Dr Morgan is a Chartered Chemist while sitting on the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Education Division Committee in addition to being elected to the RSC Ireland Regional Steering Committee.  In addition, he has been appointed to the Royal Irish Academy multidisciplinary committee for Physical, Chemical and Mathematical Sciences based on his work in Chemical Education Outreachand public communication.

6. Mr Ryan Mortimer will represent the Poultry/Pigs sector.  He has considerable experience within the Poultry Industry and is a qualified professional with a BSc Agricultural Technology with Professional Studies Degree awarded by Queens University Belfast.  For 5 years he managed a team within Moy Park where he reviewed standards and practices relating to animal welfare, sustainability and food safety, while leading and implementing programmes, protocols and policies to meet industry standards in addition to improving animal well being and productivity.  He also worked as a meat and poultry tutor in which he delivered meat and poultry industry skills NVQ’s to meat plants and butchers.  He is currently an RSPCA Assured Field Assessor for poultry farms across Northern Ireland where he is communicating directly with farmers and the issues the industry is facing first hand.  He also works on his 3rd generation family farm which comprises of goats, sheep and cattle and runs a large sheep and beef share farm alongside his brother

7. These appointments were made in accordance with the Departments statutory equality duties under section 75.  Also, in line with the Department’s published commitments in its Audit of Inequalities, DAERA took all necessary steps to address under-representation on its Advisory Group.

8. The period of appointment is initially for three years.  A payment is made for each meeting attended and expenses are available for travelling costs and childcare costs.

9. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office..

10. Follow DAERA on Twitter  and Facebook.

11. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays.





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