Extern’s Board of Trustees is responsible for our governance and strategic direction. The Board is accountable for everything we do, including setting our strategic direction, scrutinising our performance and supporting & empowering our Executive Team of Directors.

Board members do not receive any remuneration in respect of their services to the charity. Receipted expenses are reimbursed when incurred. The Directors, who are non-executive, represent a diverse range of relevant experience including:

  • finance
  • legal
  • criminal justice
  • housing
  • health
  • children’s services
  • business research and
  • mental health

Check out our trustees' bios below

Gerry Campbell
Chair of Extern Group & Extern Ireland Director


Gerry is the current Chief Executive of the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools, an organisation established as an upper tier of management for Catholic schools in 1989 in response to concerns about underachievement

Gerry had previously led Colleges NI, the membership body representing the six Regional, Further and Higher Education Colleges in Northern Ireland. Before that, he was Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children & Young People between July 2008 and June 2011. Prior to that, Gerry was the Director of Corporate Services with the Northern Ireland Social Care Council, overseeing corporate governance, financial management and human resources for over six years.

Between 1999 and 2002, Gerry was the Regional Commercial Training Manager for the British Red Cross, responsible for all commercial training activities in Northern Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Previous to that, he was involved in private sector work including graduate recruitment and training.

Gerry is currently the Chair of two small charitable organisations in Antrim and was previously a Non-Executive Director and Deputy Chair of the Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and a Board Member with Sport Northern Ireland. Gerry is also the independent Chair of the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee with the Commissioner for Older People in Northern Ireland. In a voluntary capacity he is the Chair of the Board of Governors of a primary school in Antrim and a Governor of a post-primary school in Randalstown.

Allen McCartney
Extern Group Vice-Chair, Extern Northern Ireland Director and Extern Ireland Director/Treasurer

Allen is by profession a Chartered Electrical Engineer and Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, with degree qualifications in both electrical engineering and corporate leadership. He has had a distinguished career in Northern Ireland Electricity and Viridian Group.

He is currently a self employed business consultant, a Lay Magistrate, an Independent Board Member of the Northern Ireland Legal Services Agency, and a Lay Assessor for NI Medical and Dental Training Agency.

Aideen D’Arcy MBE
Extern Supporting Communities Chair, Northern Ireland Chair, Extern Group Director/Treasurer & Extern Ireland Director

Aideen lives in Belfast and was educated at Queen’s and the Ulster Universities. After graduating in Geography from QUB, Aideen taught in the post-primary sector before embarking on a rewarding career in social housing for over 30 years, specialising in the provision of supported accommodation for vulnerable people, including frail elderly, homeless, mentally ill and learning disabled people and street drinkers, as well as ethnic minorities. She initiated many innovative and statutory organisations on an all-Ireland basis.

Aideen served on the NI Regional Council of the Society of St Vincent de Paul for over 15 years and undertook several initiatives to improve standards of accommodation and service provision of the organisation's homeless facilities throughout Ireland, recognising that everyone should have a safe place to call home and a stake in their community in order to have the opportunity to fulfil their full potential in life.

Brendan Johnston MBE
Extern Northern Ireland and Extern Group Director & Chair of Audit & Risk Committee.

Brendan Johnston is a social worker and has spent his career in statutory social work in Northern Ireland. He has had experience of many different roles in his career, working in all programmes of care though mainly in the area of children’s services. In the late ‘90s he worked closely with Extern West, particularly with development of Killadeas and later Roscor.

As well as his qualification in social work, Brendan has a Diploma in Management Studies and an MBA. In 2004, he completed the Top Management Programme run by the Kings Fund. Brendan has also been involved in a number of joint training initiatives with colleagues from CO3 and the Republic of Ireland.

Brendan previously worked as an Assistant Director of Social Services at the Western Health Social Board, where he was responsible for commissioning children’s services and training for social workers and social care workers.

More recently, Brendan was the first Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Social Care Council and was responsible for establishing the regulation of social care workers in Northern Ireland. His work at the Council and in previous roles has provided him with a large range of experience in Strategic Management, Policy Formulation, Governance Risk Management, Finance and Human Resources. Brendan retired from the Council in early 2013.

Dermot O'Donnell
Extern Ireland Chair and Extern Group Director 

Dermot is skilled in the areas of Conflict Management, Educational Television Production, Group Facilitation, Quality and Innovation Management and Outcomes and Impact Measurement.

His professional career has seen him involved with the City of Dublin Public Library Service, An Garda Sίochána, Respond Housing Association and currently, the Disability Federation of Ireland.

Ian McAvoy
Extern Northern Ireland Director and Company Secretary, Extern Group Director and Company Secretary, Extern Supporting Communities Director and Company Secretary and Extern Ireland Director

Ian lives in Belfast and was educated at MCB and London University. After graduating in economics Ian studied accountancy. After a spell in practice, he became the Finance Director of a leading Irish brand and was promoted to Chief Executive, holding that position for 16 years. He has much expertise in strategic planning, transformation, finance and marketing.

Ian was Chair of PlayBoard, Vice Chair of Sport NI, Director of Sport NI, and is presently Vice Chair of Ark Housing.

He has a keen interest in rugby and football, initially as a player and now as an administrator, and holds the positon of Chairman of Rugby at Queen's University, Belfast.

He is married to Lynne with three grown-up children.

Dr Shane McCarthy
Extern Ireland Director/Company Secretary, Extern Northern Ireland Director & Director of Extern Group

Shane holds a Masters in Criminology and is a practising solicitor and Notary Public based in Cork and Skibbereen, West Cork. Shane is Chairman of the Standing Committee on Regulation for the Society of Chartered Surveyors in Ireland. He is also Chairman of the Law Society of Ireland Committee for Human Rights, and is a member of the Irish Parole Board.

Andrew McCloskey
Extern Northern Ireland Treasurer, Extern Supporting Communities Director/Treasurer, Extern Group Director & Chair of the Business Development Committee

Andrew is a business professional with more than 20 years’ experience in global companies. He has worked in the procurement, IT, and planning departments specialising in the use of technologies to enhance business performance and holds a Master of Business Administration from Ulster University and a Law Degree from the Open University. He is currently employed by Moy Park, Craigavon.

Dr Colm Ó Cuanacháin

Extern Ireland Director

Colm has a background in education and worked as a Principal in primary schools in Tipperary and Cork.  He has a PhD in human rights education and has been working in human rights and development for almost twenty years.  He was director of Comhlámh, and Secretary General of Amnesty International in Dublin.  He then moved to work with ActionAid International as global head of campaigns, before joining the senior management team at Amnesty International's global secretariat in London. 

His responsibilities on the Amnesty senior management team included campaigns, membership support, management of the national level offices, strategy, evaluation and governance. He is now providing strategic advice and support to a number of organisations.  Colm is chairperson of Accountable Now, a Berlin based international standard for the development sector, and co-clerk of the Quaker United Nations Organisation based in Geneva.

Malachy McAleer OBE

Extern Northern Ireland Director

Malachy graduated in 1975 from QUB and was employed by Consulting Engineers; achieving professional chartered status in 1982, before moving to a lecturing role with Sligo IT and subsequently South West College. Here, he was appointed Chief Executive and Accounting Officer with responsibility for an annual turnover of £40 million. He retired in late 2017. Malachy’s interests include community sport and sustainable development.

He has acted as Chairman for Youth Sport Omagh during the development of their £2.5 million multi-sport facility; initiated a Beacon Award winning Energy Farm project with the Camphill Community; and was Senior Responsible Owner for the £29 million SWC Erne PassivHaus Premium Campus development during the design and planning phases.

He is married to Colette and together they have three married children and five grand-children.

Grainne Hassett
Extern Ireland Director

Grainne Hassett completed a BA degree and postgraduate LLB degree in National University of Ireland, Galway. She qualified as a solicitor in 1996.  Her professional experience ranges across both private practice and as an in-house legal counsel for a number of financial institutions: Bank of Ireland, Friends First and Mercer.

Specialist areas where Grainne offers experience and expertise include banking and financial services, risk/governance advisory, commercial disputes and litigation; including regulatory investigations. She also has a well proven track record in general corporate and commercial transactions, with additional specialist experience in pensions law and practice.

Always keen to stay up to date professionally Grainne has successfully completed Diplomas in Commercial Conveyancing and in Commercial Litigation with the Law Society of Ireland. She is an accredited CEDR Mediator with a strong interest in alternate dispute resolution.

Grainne is a member of the Irish Women’s Lawyers Association and participates in the Law Society/Bar Council Mentoring Programme.

Molly Buckley 
Extern Ireland Director

A Public Health Nurse by profession, Molly has worked extensively in community development and family support service, and is best described as an equality and disability rights activist.

She is a former CEO of The Irish Wheelchair Association and is currently Vice Chair of the Offaly branch.