Board members, policies and governance

The Liverpool Irish Festival are led and supported by a Board of Trustee Directors, who volunteer their time, services and experience in the pursuance of supporting our Memorandum of Understanding and our policies. We are governed by a strong set of policies, which are reviewed annually. They have been consolidated in to one document, which can be found here.

The Liverpool Irish Festival is a charity (registered number 04800736) and a registered company (1100126) with a Memorandum of Understanding, available using this link. We are supported by Liverpool City Council and the Irish Government’s Emigrant Support Programme.

Below is the list of current Board members.

John Chandler – Chair. Retired manager of Children and Family services. Experience in statutory, voluntary and private sectors, encompassing strategic and operational management, fundraising, creating and managing projects throughout the Northwest. Previously, a national consultant for the Department for Children Schools and Families on commissioning and developing services. Founded Liverpool Irish Festival in 2003.

Dr Paddy Hoey. Lecturer in Media and Politics at Edge Hill University. Formerly lecturer in Journalism, Media and Politics at Liverpool Hope University and journalist for the Liverpool Daily Post and ECHO as well as contributor and presenter on City Talk FM. Paddy has been a music, literature and comedy columnist for Liverpool ECHO and Post and writer and contributor to the Liverpool Comedy Festival. He has also held a consultant role with the Laughterhouse Comedy Club in Liverpool. Enthusiastic podcaster and blogger.

Greg Quiery. Retired education consultant and senior manager in the Liverpool Education service. Former head teacher and community development worker and manager within the community and voluntary sector. Greg has been a lecturer and also developed a series of Liverpool Irish heritage walks and an Irish heritage trail for Museum of Liverpool. Greg has some project management and fundraising experience and is Chair of the Liverpool Great Hunger Commemoration Committee.

Patrick Donnelly. An independent management consultant and recent Associate Partner in IBM Finance and Risk Management. Consulting practice with experience of directing and delivering transformation across global organisations within the UK and internationally. Patrick’s experience includes programme and change management, strategic planning, procurement transformation, systems implementation and customer relationship management.

Tony Birtill. With 30 years of experience in further and higher education, Tony is Secretary of Liverpool branch of the Gaelic League (founded 1896). He teaches Irish classes at the Liverpool Irish Centre and contributes to Irish language media and the Irish Post. Tony is an NUJ member.

Professor Mary Hickman. Professor Emeritus of Irish Studies and Sociology at London Metropolitan University, Mary was Professorial Research Fellow, Centre for Irish Studies, at St Mary’s University, London between 2012-2016. Mary was pivotal in establishing the Irish Studies Centre at London Metropolitan University in 1988; and was also Director for the Institute for the Study of European Transformations, at London Met 2002-2012. Mary’s research specialisms include Irish migration and diaspora. Her latest book is Women and Irish Diaspora Identities (edited with J. MacPherson, 2014). Mary has extensive experience of community involvement and of being a trustee, currently being a trustee of the London Irish Centre, a member of the Mayor of London’s Community Advisory Committee for the St Patrick’s Day Festival, and Chair of the campaign Votes for Irish Citizens Abroad (VICA).

Professor Peter Shirlow. Professor Peter Shirlow is the Blair Chair and Director of the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Irish Studies. He was formerly the Deputy Director of the Institute for Conflict Transformation and Social Justice at Queens University Belfast. He is a Visiting Research Professor at the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice and sits on the editorial boards of Irish Political Studies and International Planning Studies and as a board member of the mental health charity, Threshold.

Dr Joe McGrath. Joe is Programme Leader at the Liverpool Business School at Liverpool John Moore’s University. He is an experienced Principal Lecturer with a demonstrated history of combining higher education and commercial practice. Skilled in programme development at all levels, coaching & mentoring, marketing, digital marketing, strategic planning, business development, and lecturing.

Michelle Rushforth. Currently the Higher Education Quality Manager at LIPA, Michelle worked for 17 years at the University of Liverpool and as Head of Teaching Quality for 8 years. She is from County Down and has lived in Liverpool since 1996. She has considerable experience in policy development, regulation, audit, writing submissions/bids and partnership development. Michelle has a keen interest in Irish music, comedy and dance. Having joined the Board in autumn 2017, she is looking forward to working on local engagement, festival evaluation and development.

Emma Walsh. Professional reader and aspiring writer with experience in journalism, blogging and social media. Currently working in communications for national charity The Reader, Emma is “an Irish mongrel with loyalties divided between Tyrone and Dublin” but has called Liverpool home for the last decade.

Wendy Simon – Board observer. Assistant Mayor and Cabinet Member for Culture Tourism and Events at Liverpool City Council and political lead for all major events held by the city. Wendy is responsible for Culture Liverpool, the sports & leisure department, libraries, St George’s Hall, Liverpool Town Hall and the Cruise Liner Terminal holding strong links with all cultural partners in the City. A social work manager by occupation, specialising in Child Protection, Wendy also has post-graduate qualifications in Law and Social policy & Criminal Justice Management.