Northern Ireland Branch


Committee Members 

All committee members may be contacted through Anne Kerr, BPS Advisor for Northern Ireland:

NIBPS Branch Office 
School Of Psychology 
The Queens University of Belfast 
18-30 Malone Road 

Tel: 028 9097 4129 
Fax: 028 9097 4160 
Email: [email protected]


Nichola Rooney

Elected Sept 2016-19




Chair Elect



Past Chair



Honorary Secretary/Honorary Treasurer

Elected in 2015 for three years until 2018

Barbara McConnell

Barbara is a Developmental Psychologist and Chartered member of the British Psychological Society. She has served as an ordinary member, Hon Gen Secretary and Chair of the Northern Ireland Branch. She was one of the founding members of the NI Division of Education and Child Psychology and continues to serve on this committee. She is a Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies in Stranmillis University College and Course Director for the Masters in Early Childhood Studies. More recently she also works as an Associate Assessor for the Education and Training Inspectorate in NI. Her research interests include Early Interventions and impact on child Development. She is currently chairing the Public Health Agency’s Workforce Development group for Infant Mental Health 

Honorary Secretary/Honorary Treasurer (Assistant)



Elected Committee Member (1)
Web Editor

Elected in 2015 for three years until 2018

Paul Wilson

Paul is a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the BPS, serving on the committees of the Division of Academics, Researchers and Teachers of Psychology (DARTP) and the Northern Ireland branch. He is a Lecturer (Education) in the School of Psychology at Queen’s University, Belfast where he specialises in Individual Differences, Psychometrics & Statistics. His research interests are in cognitive ability, personality and factors influencing educational attainment, as well as pedagogy - particularly in the use of student response systems in the classroom.

Elected Committee Member (2)
Press Officer

Elected in 2015 for three years until 2018

Alison Clarke

Elected as Press Officer, Alison is interested in addressing the curiosity of the general public in how psychology can deliver beneficial effects in how they live their lives. After twenty years in training, development and management consultancy, she brings coaching psychology to the aid of dissatisfied people, young and old, at work or play and teaches them how to transform experiences of loss, disappointment and anxiety including overcoming severe fear of flying. 

Elected Committee Member (3)


Elected in 2015 for three years until 2018

Liz Simpson

Dr Liz Simpson is a Senior Lecturer at Ulster University, a registered Health Psychologist (HCPC), a Chartered Psychologist (BPS), a member of the School of Psychology Research Institute and Chair of the Health, Education and Well-being RRG. She is Course Director of the online BPS accredited MSc in Health Psychology. She is past chair of the Division of Health Psychology Northern Ireland Branch and deputy chair of the Division of Health Psychology Training Committee, she sits on the Partnership and Accreditation Committee and is a committee member of the Northern Ireland Branch of the British Psychological Society.  She has over 20 years’ experience of research in health psychology and has supervised several PhD projects investigating factors that contribute to health and well being with age. She has published high quality papers on psychological well-being and health, presenting her work at national and international conferences. She has worked in the area of healthy cognitive ageing, looking at lifestyle factors that may impact on this such as dietary intake and physical activity. She is interested in biological mechanisms and their interplay with psychological and social factors such as  immune function and cognition, HRT use and psychological well-being during the menopausal transition. She is currently collaborating on two funded projects, one by the Alpro Foundation (The health benefits of soy products on menopausal women), and the other is the National Institute for Health Research (Walk with me study – to develop interventions to encourage walking in sedentary older adults). She is PI on a recently funded CHSNI project using the theory of planned behaviour to gain a better understanding of e-cigarette use in secondary school children and their parents.

Elected Committee Member (4)

Elected in 2015 for three years until 2018

Geraldine O’Hare

Geraldine is a Chartered and Registered Forensic Psychologist and Head of Psychology Services and Interventions with the Probation Board for Northern Ireland where she has worked for just over 20 years. Geraldine is the Chief Assessor for Forensic Psychology with the British Psychological Society and sits as Chief Assessor on the Qualifications Board for Forensic Psychology. She is also a Chartered Scientist and Associate Fellow of the BPS.  Geraldine led in the establishment of the Special Interest Group in Forensic Psychology with the NIBPS and PSI and was the first Chair of both Divisions of Forensic Psychology with PSI and the NIBPS. Geraldine is also a Partner with the HCPC in Fitness to Practice, Registration and CPD.

Elected Committee Member (5)

Elected in 2015 for three years until 2018

Jacqueline Bates-Gaston

Dr. Jacqueline Bates-Gaston has been a member of the BPS since her student days and has a wide area of interests. She has served on various committees including the Northern Ireland Branch, the Divisions of Forensic Psychology locally and Nationally, the Occupational Section,the Forensic Training Committee, the Expert Witness working group, the Presidential Task Force and the Professional Practice Board.  She has worked in the rehabilitation of service users with mental and physical difficulties, has been a Senior Lecturer in Applied Psychology at the University of Ulster and was an Honorary Professor at  the University of Herriot Watt for ten years. More recently Jacqueline was the Chief Psychologist for the Northern Ireland Prison Service and as the first prison psychologist in Northern Ireland  she developed and implemented a range of services and interventions for both service users and staff. Her research interests include women and work, terrorism, desistence and criminal justice systems. She has been invited by the Governments of China, Norway, Russia and Canada to share her forensic psychology experience and currently is a member of the Parole Board for England and Wales. 

Elected Committee Member (6)

Elected in 2016 for 3 years until 2019

Carol McGuinness

Carol is Professor Emerita at Queen’s University Belfast.   She is a Chartered Psychologist and a member of the Division of Academics, Researchers and Teachers of Psychology (DARTP).  She served as Chair of the Northern Ireland Branch from 2010-2015.  Currently she is the Branches’ representative on the BPS Structural Review Group.  Her research interests are in the application of cognitive psychology to children’s learning in classrooms.   She also leads on the Origins of Psychology in Northern Ireland history project.  

Appointed Committee Member (1)


Co-opted for 2016/17

Sheila Peelo


Appointed Committee Member (2)


Co-opted for 2016/17

Ciaran Shannon


Appointed Committee Member (3)



Marie J. Hill

Dr Marie J. Hill is a Chartered Educational Psychologist and Chair of the Division of Educational and Child Psychology (DECP) for Northern Ireland. She works with children between the ages of 0-19 years as an Educational Psychologist for the Education Authority. Her research interests are in the training, deployment and impact of classroom assistants; Dynamic Assessment; and evidence-based practices. 

Appointed Committee Member (4)


Co-opted for 2016/17

Clare Byrne

Clare Byrne is a Forensic Psychologist, working in psychological assessment and intervention with offenders, as well as the training and supervision of other forensic psychologists. Clare enjoys being part of the BPS' forensic division to enhance, share and promote the practice of forensic psychology in diverse settings. Coming from an academic research background, she made the move to practice in 2002 and qualified in 2005, but is pleased to find that her research interests around identity, desistance, and gender continue to resonate with issues in current practice.  As chair of the DFP's Northern Ireland branch in 2016 & 2017 she is working to raise awareness and thinking around the role of trauma in offending, in the subsequent experiences of those within the criminal justice system, and what that means to those working with them; as well as wider, interconnected issues of mental health and criminal justice working.


Appointed Committee Member (5)


Co-opted for 2016/17

Yvonne Cooke


Appointed Committee Member (6)


Co-opted for 2016/17

Victoria Simms




Equality & Diversity

 Michele Kavanagh



Blain Murphy

Blain is a PhD Student in the centre of Public Health in Queen’s University Belfast. His primary research interest is in haematological conditions that lead to cancer but he also studies the effects of other premalignant conditions on quality of life. He does work in dementia and residential homes.  

Student Co-ordinator

Susan Lagdon


UG Student Rep

Grace McClements

Grace is an undergraduate psychology student at Ulster University. Through her role as a student rep, she advises undergraduate students of the benefits of becoming a member of the society, as well as keeping them up to date with events happening throughout the year.

A Level Teachers

John Dennison


Sport & Exercise

Gavin Breslin

Dr Gavin Breslin is the Head of School of Sport at Ulster University. He is Chair of the Working Group in Sport and Exercise Psychology for NIBPS and is a former committee member of the Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology. Gavin’s research interests are in sport, physical activity, mental health and wellbeing.

Assembly Officer

Arlene O’Connor

Ben Mallon


BPS Advisor

Anne Kerr




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