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.
Fiona graduated from Queen’s University Belfast in July 2016 with a BSc Honours Degree in Psychology. Previous to obtaining her degree, she worked as a Retail Manager for Lipsy, where she co-ordinated numerous sales events and played a central role in the promotion of upcoming events via a social media strategy.
Since joining the Politics Plus team in August 2016, Fiona manages the online and social media communications to highlight and promote the ongoing work of Politics Plus. She maintains and regularly updates the Politics Plus website to ensure content is fresh and interesting. She also works closely on the delivery of the Women in Public Life Programmes, international delegations and supports the planning and co-ordination of upcoming events.
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.
Politics Plus Intern
Rachel graduated from Queen’s University Belfast with a first class honours in Joint BA International Politics and Modern History in 2015. Rachel studied at West Virginia Wesleyan College as part of the Study USA programme ran by the British Council. While at WVWC Rachel majored in Business Management and became a Residential Assistant.
During her final year of her degree, Rachel interned with Enterprise SU within the Student Development Team at Queen’s Students’ Union. Enterprise SU is a student focused team that empowers Queen’s students to achieve their full potential, whatever their degree pathway. Rachel was instrumental in delivering the various programmes including “Innovateher” and “What’s the Big Idea?”
After graduating, Rachel joined the British Council NI as Study USA Programme Officer. In this role, Rachel facilitated the students leaving for America, liaised with American colleges, organised internships for students and acted as a point of contact for students on the programme.
Having joined the Politics Plus team in October 2015, Rachel is now studying for a MA Politics at Queen’s.
Within Politics Plus, Rachel develops a social media strategy to highlight the important work of Politics Plus, supports the delivery of Women in Public Life programmes and works closely on facilitating international study visits.
Politics Plus Intern
Throughout his academic career, Peter Kelly has had the opportunity to study within numerous learning environments such as Canada, Mexico, the United States, and Northern Ireland – Each building his repertoire of cultural knowledge and linguistic prowess.
During his time in Mexico, Peter was an active public member working with a team of like-minded young adults restoring parks, painting community centres for low income housing projects and volunteering in local primary schools.
Since joining Politics Plus in February 2017, Peter utilises his fluency with languages and intercontinental familiarity to consult on international projects administered by the amazing programmes in Politics Plus. He also works closely with the social media managers to sprout new ideas towards increasing youth engagement in politics and provides assistance organising the development of a book managed by the team.
Ambassadors' Forum - Politics Plus
9th August 2017
The US:NI Youth Leadership Initiative
9th August 2017
Yasmin Ratansi MP’s visit to Northern Ireland
9th August 2017