Dr Gareth McGrath serves as both Director of Parliamentary Services at the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive Director of Politics Plus.
As Director of Parliamentary Services he is responsible for the management of meetings of the Assembly Plenary and its committees, for the official record of proceedings, (Hansard), and for the Assembly’s research, communications, outreach & education services. This includes providing advice to the Speaker, Deputy Speakers, committee chairpersons and Members on parliamentary procedure and practice; and managing the passage of legislation.
As Executive Director of Politics Plus he is responsible for the development of leadership programmes for those involved in politics and public service, and advises on institutional strengthening.
Gareth has extensive experience in leadership and corporate strategy development, programme and project management, and procurement in public sector organisations. He has a particular interest in international issues and is working with parliaments in a number of countries emerging from conflict and instability, including Iraq and the Philippines.
Before joining the Assembly as its first Director of Engagement in 2008, Gareth worked in the chemical industry, management consultancy and the Civil Service. He received his BSc in Biological Chemistry and PhD in Chemistry from Ulster University and MBA from the Open University.
Head of Programmes
Dr Elaine O'Neill is Head of Programmes at Politics Plus. Elaine has extensive experience managing collaborative projects involving a range of public and private sector partnerships. Thus, developed broad experience in the areas of managing complex transformational change programmes, stakeholder engagement, public sector procurement and governance, development and implementation of major IT systems, performance management and managing multi-million pound budgets.
Elaine has vast expertise in the management and delivery of public-funded programmes, implementing QICR strategies, financial controls, monitoring and evaluations, staff management, strategic media and community engagement initiatives, and managing and liaising with disparate groups of stakeholders to ensure programme delivery.
She managed the development of a key capital project for Belfast city: the new visitor information centre, which involved managing public funders, procurement processes and commerciality projects. Elaine has also championed three of her own commercial ventures, including a management consultancy firm and a technology start-up.
She has successfully obtained a PhD in Management from Queen's University Belfast. Combining her commercial acumen and academic achievement, she has managed and delivered business support programmes for Invest NI, enterprise agencies, DEL and local councils, including capacity development programmes within the women’s sector.
Elaine now applies her commercial expertise within Politics Plus, implementing innovative programmes and developing international consultancy services.
Senior Programme Officer
Carla joined the Northern Ireland Assembly in April 2002 where she worked in support of the Public Accounts Committee on several high profile inquiries.
During suspension of the Assembly (2002 – 2007) she was seconded to DARDNI’s Animal Health section as an Executive Officer.
On her return to the Assembly in 2007 she worked in support of the Standards and Privileges Committee before transferring to Internal Audit where she worked as a Trainee Auditor.
Carla joined Politics Plus in April 2015.
Elizabeth Connolly is the Personal Secretary to the Director of Parliamentary Services within the Northern Ireland Assembly.
In addition to this role, she provides programme support to Politics Plus.