Non-executive board members appointed to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and its agencies

Date published: 25 September 2018

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has agreed the appointment of three Non-Executive Members (NEMs) to the Departmental Board, Northern Ireland Environment Agency Board and Forest Service Boards, as follows:

  1. Dr. Bernadette Stuart - DAERA Departmental Board (includes ARAC membership)
  2. Mr. Paul Douglas - NIEA Board (includes ARAC membership) and
  3. Mr. Brandon McMaster - Forest Service Board & Chair of Forest Service ARAC.

The role of the NEM is to offer constructive challenge to the Boards’ business, ensuring strategy and policy are effectively scrutinised, whilst contributing to the good governance of DAERA, NIEA and Forest Service.

The appointments are for three years and commenced on 1 September 2018.

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Dr Bernie Stuart

Dr Stuart was appointed as a Non-Executive Member (NEM) of the DAERA Departmental Board and the Department’s Audit and Risk Assurance Committee (ARAC) in September 2018.

Dr Stuart is a former senior member of the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) and brings a range of relevant experience and skills to the DAERA Board and ARAC. As a Senior Civil Servant, Dr Stuart has a detailed knowledge of public finances. She has worked as Director of Mental Health and Disability Policy and as Investment Director within the former Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS).

Dr Stuart has had significant experience of budgetary management. This included the allocation of capital funding with responsibility to ensure compliance in budgetary planning, management and risk. Dr Stuart also has experience in change management including in her former role as Senior Responsible Officer in the Department of Finance overseeing the project to centralise HR functions within the NICS. She was also the first Head of Public Sector Reform Division overseeing the first sub-national review undertaken by OECD and the development of the NI Innovation Laboratory.

Since June 2013, Dr Stuart has been a member of the Statistics Advisory Committee – a public body of the Department of Finance. [This is a non- remunerated position]. This position was due to end on 3 June 2018 but the Department is in the process of extending the posts of the members by one year. This has not yet been finalised as NISRA is taking legal advice.

Mr Paul Douglas

Paul Douglas has 28 years’ experience in a large public sector organisation, the PSNI, with 15 years as a senior manager. He has worked closely with stakeholders to develop key strategic goals to reduce crime and build safer communities. He was accountable for all aspects of performance within his area and had responsibility for human resources and financial management.

Between 2008 - 2010, he managed the strategic change process as PSNI moved from four districts to one. Paul currently serves as an Independent Commissioner with the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission.

Mr Brandon McMaster

Mr McMaster is a retired Director from the Northern Ireland Audit Office. He has over 40 years’ experience in the public sector, 38 of which has been as an external auditor to government departments and public bodies. He has challenged and supported management through financial and value for money audits and attendance at Audit and Risk Committees. His time in NIAO included a two-year secondment to the Department of Finance.

His Value for Money work has included strategically important reports on the Executive’s Reinvestment and Reform Programme, including the long-term impact of commitments from the use of the Private Finance Initiative and borrowings from HM Treasury on Northern Ireland’s public finances. Mr McMaster’s other reports include property asset management in which he worked closely with central government departments and the Strategic Investment Board; public sector land deals; and creating effective partnerships between the community and voluntary sectors and central government. He also has extensive experience of corporate governance and risk management gained through his audit work and membership of NIAO’s Senior Management Team.

Prior to his retirement from NIAO, Mr McMaster successfully led and delivered a major organisational change programme to restructure and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of audit and administrative functions.

Mr McMaster is a qualified Company Secretary. He also holds a postgraduate diploma in Organisational Design and Development from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and is a graduate of the Federal Executive Institute, Charlottesville, Virginia.

Notes to editors: 

  1. NEM’s are paid an attendance fee of £500 per day. The time commitment will be approximately 20 days per annum.
  2. The NEM is bound not to engage in political activity which would in the opinion of the department compromise their membership of the Board of the Department.
  3. All appointments are made on merit. Political activity plays no part in the selection process. However in accordance with the original Nolan recommendations, there is a requirement for appointees’ political activity to be made public. All three individuals have confirmed they had no political activity in the last five years.
  4. The Department may take photographs and videos at announcements and events to publicise its work. Photographs, interviews, videos or other recordings may be issued to media organisations for publicity purposes or used in promotional material, including in publications, newspapers, magazines, other print media, on television, radio and electronic media (including social media and the internet). Photographs and videos will also be stored on the department’s internal records management system. The department will keep the photographs and recordings for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which they have been obtained. The Department’s Privacy Policy is available on our website.
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  6. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or via email to Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.

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