Council chief executives

The 11 chief executives-designate have now been appointed and will take on their full responsibilities from 1 April 2015.

Jacqui Dixon new Jacqui Dixon
Antrim & Newtownabbey

Jacqui Dixon is Chief Executive of Newtownabbey Borough Council. She holds an MBA, has worked in local government since 1999 and was appointed to her current post in 2010. Her previous positions were Director of Development Services (2007-2010) and Economic Development Manager (1999-2005) at Newtownabbey and Director of Development Services at Craigavon Borough Council (2005-2007).

“I am proud of the work already achieved by both councils, as they prepare for a successful merge,” she remarked. “Both have a reputation of being organisations that strive to provide quality facilities and services across their boroughs.”

Roger Wilson Roger Wilson
Armagh, Banbridge & Craigavon

A County Armagh man, Roger Wilson has been Chief Executive of Coleraine Borough Council since 2008. He was previously Strategic Director of Corporate Services at Armagh City and District Council (2004-2008) and Head of Human Resources and Organisational Development (2001-2004) at Craigavon Borough Council.

“The ‘ABC council’ as it’s currently known will be the largest council in Northern Ireland, outside of Belfast,” Wilson commented. “The new council area has much to offer and I am looking forward to progressing the many benefits that it has.”

©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 28th March 2014
Mandatory Credit -  Darren Kidd /

 Suzanne Wylie, who today was appointed Chief Executive of the new Belfast Council. Suzanne Wylie

Suzanne Wylie will become Belfast’s first female Chief Executive. She is currently the city’s Director of Health and Environmental Services and has worked at the council for 25 years. Her experience covers emergency planning and waste management.

“This is a time when the elected members, the officers and the various stakeholders of Belfast all need to work together for the good of the people of the city, the council and its employees,” Wylie stated. “I am passionate about my home city of Belfast and am committed to dealing with some of our longstanding issues such as health inequalities and community cohesion.”

David Jackson David Jackson
Causeway Coast & Glens

David Jackson is Head of Performance, Governance and Policy at Coleraine Borough Council and responsible for committee administration, member and mayoral services, planning issues and the registration of births, deaths and marriages. He has been a senior manager at Coleraine since 2009 and was previously a managing consultant with PwC in Belfast.

“It is an honour and a privilege to be given this opportunity to serve the 140,000 citizens of the new district,” he remarked. “I love living in this wonderful area, and will do everything within my means to work with our elected members for its betterment.”

Brendan Hegarty Brendan Hegarty
Fermanagh & Omagh

Brendan Hegarty has been Chief Executive of Fermanagh District Council since April 2010, initially as acting Chief Executive after the retirement of Rodney Connor and then permanently from February 2011. He has 24 years’ experience in local government, including five years in Omagh District Council, and sees community planning as a particular priority.

“My view is that there is significant potential in relation to developing a shared vision for the development of local communities,” Hegarty said. “It’s important that priorities are met in the timescales set out but we cannot ignore the factor of what resources will be available.”

John Kelpie John Kelpie
Derry & Strabane

John Kelpie is Derry’s City Engineer and also a Strategic Director with Derry City Council. Kelpie declined to comment on his appointment but was praised by Councillor Kieran McGuire, who chairs the Derry and Strabane Statutory Transition Committee.

“Throughout this demanding recruitment and selection process John clearly demonstrated he has the key competencies required for this challenging role,” McGuire said. “We sought someone with a proven ability to focus on the future, demonstrate leadership, promote and facilitate change, deliver excellence, serve the community and effectively work with partners.”

Anne Donaghy Anne Donaghy
Mid & East Antrim

From County Tyrone, Anne Donaghy has been Town Clerk and Chief Executive of Ballymena Borough Council since 2009. As part of her local government career, she has been Director of Environmental Services at Antrim Borough Council and has also gained experience in strategic planning and front-line service delivery.

“I believe Mid and East Antrim can lead the way in fully grasping the opportunities to deliver on behalf of our citizens, ratepayers, councillors and council officers,” she said. Ballymena will be merged with Larne and Carrickfergus boroughs in order to form the new district.

Theresa Donaldson Theresa Donaldson
Lisburn & Castlereagh

Theresa Donaldson has been Chief Executive of Craigavon Borough Council since December 2010. She worked as a social worker for 12 years before becoming Deputy Director of the Northern Ireland Guardian Ad Litem Agency in 1996. Donaldson completed a PhD in 2002, following a research fellowship with the Centre for Childcare Research.

She has also worked in the voluntary sector and as Director of Policy and Service Development at the Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission. She is “delighted to have been appointed but sad to leave Craigavon” and has wished its councillors “every success in the future.”

Liam Hannaway Liam Hannaway
Newry, Mourne & Down

Liam Hannaway is the current Chief Executive of Banbridge District Council, having been appointed in July 2007. He was previously Banbridge’s Director of Development and held several positions in the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

Hannaway, who lives in the new council area, said: “I relish the challenge of establishing this new organisation, with its wide range of functions and maximising the economic potential of this important district on the island of Ireland.”

Anthony Tohill Anthony Tohill
Mid Ulster

A former Derry GAA player, Anthony Tohill is a Strategic Director and Head of Building Control at Derry City Council. Tohill is a native of Swatragh, near Magherafelt. He has won five Irish News Ulster All-Star awards, and captained Ireland’s winning international rules team in 2001 and returned as the team’s manager in 2010.

Tohill declined to comment on his appointment but Councillor Sean McPeake, who oversaw his selection, remarked: “Anthony has proved himself to be a man of outstanding ability as is shown in his many walks of life.”

Stephen Reid Castlereagh CEO Stephen Reid
North Down & Ards

Stephen Reid has been Chief Executive of Castlereagh Borough Council since 2011. He was previously Director of Leisure, Tourism and Community Services with North Down Borough Council (2000-2010) and also worked at Ards Borough Council for 11 years.

He holds a BSc degree in recreation management from Loughborough University and an MBA from Queen’s University Belfast. “I have previously worked in both North Down and Ards councils and know both to be excellent examples of local government working well for local people,” Reid remarked.

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