Two new members appointed to Victims and Survivors Service Board

Date published: 07 October 2022

Two new members have been appointed to the Board of the Victims and Survivors Service (VSS).


Dame Sandra Horley and John Cahill will take up their positions for a four-year term in October 2022.

The new appointments will ensure that the Board can continue to support the VSS in meeting its corporate aims and objectives.

A list of successful candidates who have not been selected on this occasion has been retained and will be considered by ministers upon their return, in order to fill the remaining three vacancies on the VSS Board.

Notes to editors: 

1. The public appointment process is being carried out under the principles of the Commissioner for Public Appointments Northern Ireland (CPANI) Code of Practice.

2. The First Minister and deputy First Minister launched a public appointment competition for new Victims & Survivors Service (VSS) Board Members on 10 January 2022.7

3. In the absence of Ministers, the TEO Permanent Secretary, Dr Denis McMahon, has decided to appoint two new Board Members in order to reduce the risk of the VSS Board becoming inquorate. There are three remaining vacancies that will be considered by Ministers upon their return.

4. The remuneration for VSS Board member positions will be up to a maximum of £3750 per annum (£125 per day) plus travel and subsistence costs. This is calculated on the basis that general Board membership will require an average of 30 days per annum.

5. The appointment will be for a period of four years and each member will be eligible for reappointment for one further term.

6. John Cahill is a graduate of Queen's University Belfast and Warwick University. He worked as a Cost Accountant for Glen-Dimplex before joining Short Bros Plc. He was also head of Information Technology Services for the Bombardier Aerostructures Division, managing IT in Belfast, Morocco, USA, Canada and Mexico and a member of the senior management teams in Montreal for Bombardier Aerostructures Division and Shorts Bros plc (now Spirit AeroSystems Belfast).

7. Dame Sandra Horley was born and raised in Canada, and was educated at McGill University, Montreal, and Birmingham and Oxford Universities, UK. Over four decades she worked in the field of homelessness and domestic abuse in the UK.  For 38 years Sandra was Chief Executive of Refuge, the national domestic abuse charity, supporting 7,000 victims and survivors every day.  She grew a single shelter for abused women and children into the UK’s pre-eminent provider of support services for victims and survivors of domestic violence, rape and sexual assault, stalking, forced marriage and ‘honour-based violence’, modern slavery and human trafficking. Sandra is currently a board member of Bromford Housing Association in England and chairs its Communities and Customers Influence Network. In 2021 Sandra was conferred a Damehood for her contribution to the protection of women and children and promoting greater understanding and awareness of domestic abuse

8. Neither Sandra Horley nor John Cahill holds any other public appointments.

9. All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process.  However, the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland requires the political activity of appointees to be published. The appointees have not declared any political activity.

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