NIGALA Board Profile


MR BERNARD MITCHELL was appointed as the new Chair to the Agency, from 3 November 2011 to 2 November 2015; he as reappointed to this position until 2 November 2019.  He joined the Northern Ireland Health and Social Services Postgraduate Management Training Scheme in 1978 and remained within the service until his retirement. He has worked in all parts of Northern Ireland and has experience of managing hospital, social care and community services, including ten years as Chief Executive of the former United Hospitals Health and Social Services Trust. From 1 June 2006 until his retirement on 31 March 2011, Mr Mitchell held senior positions, on secondment, in the DHSSPS and the Health and Social Care Board.


MR PETER REYNOLDS is the Chief Executive, he qualified in social work in 1987 and has worked exclusively in the area of family and child care. He joined NIGALA in September 1998 as a guardian ad litem and took up the post of Quality Assurance and Training Manager in September 2003. He then was promoted to the post of Assistant Director. Peter worked for many years with North and West Belfast HSS Trust in the role of both social worker and senior social worker. His experience in social work has involved working with children in long term care both in residential and fostering placements

MRS GILLIAN McGAUGHEY BL LLB lives in Belfast. Mrs McGaughey is a Barrister specialising in Family & Child Law and lectures at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies, QUB. She is also the Chair of the Statutory Committee for the Pharmaceutical Society for Northern Ireland and a Legal Services Commissioner. Mrs McGaughey was a Stakeholder member of the NI Social Care Council from 2001 to 2013. She is a member of the Board of Saint Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast and a Director of Belfast Cathedral Enterprises Limited. She holds no other public appointments and has not engaged in any political activity in the last five years.

MR FRED SMYTH qualified with PWC Belfast. Fred is a fellow of the Chartered Accountants in Ireland. He has held senior management roles within Bank of Ireland for over 20 years and has extensive business and retail banking experience, including heading up Corporate, Business and Retail Units across Northern Ireland. Fred has assisted the full range of private and public sector businesses from start-ups to large corporates in managing and growing their business in both domestic and overseas markets. He is a member of the Council of the NI Chamber of Commerce, current Vice Chairman of Simon Community NI the leading Charity for the Homeless. 


DR KAREN WINTER lives in Belfast and is currently a lecturer in Social work and programme director for the Professional Doctorate in Childhood Studies at Queens University Belfast. Dr Winter is also involved on a voluntary basis with Fostering Network Northern Ireland. Dr Winter`s experience will be of great benefit to the Board of NIGALA. She has significant knowledge of Social work practice both as a Team Manager within a HSC Trust and as a Guardian ad Litem. Dr Winter Holds no other public appointments.  Karen was appointed to Northern Ireland Guardian Ad Litem Agency in May 2014.