New Advisory Board appointed to safefood

1 February, 2008. A new Advisory Board has been appointed to safefood, the all-island agency promoting food safety and nutrition messages. The new board is comprised of twelve members with multidisciplinary backgrounds including a chef, a horticulturist, a restaurateur and a cheesemonger.

Appointed by the North South Ministerial Council, the new board will support safefood's Chief Executive, Mr. Martin Higgins in his work and provide advice on strategic matters relating to food produced and consumed on the island of Ireland.

The new Advisory Board members are Dr Ken Baird, Mr Joe Byrne, Mr Brian Cunningham, Mr John Dardis, Ms Aoife Healy, Ms Susan Heraghty, Ms Lynn Ní Bhaoighealláin, Mr Neven Maguire, Mr Seamus Sheridan, Mr Con Traas, Mr Campbell Tweedie and Ms Jane Wells.

Commenting on the appointments, Mr Martin Higgins, Chief Executive, safefood said, “Food safety and nutrition are multi-faceted subjects requiring multi discipline approaches. Each member of our new advisory board brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from their respective disciplines, which will undoubtedly prove beneficial to safefood's work in improving public health on the island”. 

Mr John Dardis, safefood Advisory Board Chairman said, “It is an honour to be asked to Chair the new safefood Advisory Board. Food safety and nutrition have become increasingly important issues for the island of Ireland. Consumers want to know more about the food they are eating at every step from the farm to the table. They also want to know that it is safe and nutritious. The new Board is very much looking to continue safefood’s great work into researching food related issues, keeping consumers informed on all matters of food safety and nutrition and co-operating with partners to tackle problems such as obesity”.

For further information / media queries please contact

Niamh Burdett / Kate FitzGerald, WHPR  
Tel: 01 669 0030 
086 6086 764 (Niamh)      
086 3873 083 (Kate)

Fiona Gilligan
Tel: 01 4480600

Editors Notes

safefood was established under the Belfast Agreement on 2nd December 1999 and operates on an all-island basis. Made up of four directorates, Marketing and Communications, Corporate Operations, Human Health and Nutrition and Food Science, safefood works in partnership with others to promote and publicise the key messages of hygiene, safety and nutrition in food produced and consumed on the island of Ireland.

safefood Advisory Board Members’ Biographies

Mr John Dardis – Chairman
A native of Co Kildare, educated at Newbridge College and University College Dublin, where he graduated with a degree in Agricultural Science, Mr Dardis was engaged in beef and tillage farming for many years.  He has also worked as an agricultural journalist and was Arable Editor with the Irish Farmers Journal for 21 years, and Agricultural Journalist of the Year in 1978.

A former chairman of the Progressive Democrats, Mr Dardis was a member of Seanad Eireann from 1989 to 2007, serving as Deputy Leader of the Seanad for 10 years.  He served on Kildare County Council from 1991 to 2003.  His other appointments include membership of the National Forum for Europe; the All-party Committee on the Constitution; and the Joint Committee on European Affairs from 1979 to 2007.  Mr Dardis was also an alternate member of the British-Irish Parliamentary Body from 2002 to 2007.

Mr Campbell Tweedie – Vice Chairman
Mr Tweedie has extensive senior management experience of the Northern Ireland agri-food industry, as well as considerable international experience.

He pioneered the establishment of an international processing business, which is at the cutting edge of developments in retail packaging, and meeting the requirements of multiple retailers in the United Kingdom, Ireland and other countries. 

Mr Tweedie holds directorships in several companies and is President of the Northern Ireland Meat Exporters' Association.   He also has interests in livestock farming and is a member of the board of the Livestock and Meat Commission.

Dr Ken Baird
Dr Baird is Technical Director of Moy Park Ltd. He holds a BSc in Microbiology, a B Agr in Agricultural Bacteriology, and a PhD, all from the Queen's University Belfast (QUB). 

Dr Baird is Chairman of the QUB Food Science Advisory Board; is a Fellow of the Institute of Food Science Technology (IFST); and of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce (RSA). 

He is a member of the advisory board of the Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health (NICHE) at University of Ulster, and of the Scientific Advisory Committee of safefood.

Mr Brian Cunningham
Mr Cunningham runs a company engaged in mussel farming in Carlingford Lough.  He became a fisherman in his teens, following in a family tradition, and bought his first trawler while still in his twenties. He still maintains a business interest in four trawlers operating from Kilkeel, Co. Down.

Some years ago, due the changing nature of the industry, he diversified into mussel farming.  From 2003 to 2006 Mr Cunningham was a member of the Advisory Forum of the Loughs Agency – a North South body responsible for the conservation, protection and development of the Foyle and Carlingford Loughs, and acted as Secretary of the Forum’s aquaculture group. 

Mr Joe Byrne
Mr Byrne is a Queen’s University economics graduate, and was a college lecturer before pursuing a political career.  He was a member of Omagh District Council from 1993 to 2005 and served as its Chairman in 1997. He was elected to the Northern Ireland Forum for Political Dialogue in 1996.

Mr Byrne represented West Tyrone in the Northern Ireland Assembly between 1998 and 2003, and was a member of the Assembly committees for regional development; and education, training and employment. He is a member of the Northern Ireland Policing Board.

Mr Con Traas
Mr Traas is an applied fruit scientist with a Masters in Agricultural Science in horticulture from University College Dublin. He operates a premium juice manufacturing business, and owns a fruit farm near Cahir, Co. Tipperary.

He also holds a part-time position in University of Limerick, where he lectures in horticulture and biology, and conducts research on plant growth regulators, post-harvest science, and fungicide resistance.

Mr Traas is currently chairman of the Irish Apple Growers Association, has served on a number of industry and state working groups, and acts as external examiner for the certificate, diploma and degree programs in horticulture at the Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown.

He is a member of the International Society for Horticultural Science and the International Fruit Tree Association.

Ms Aoife Healy
Ms Healy is a graduate of Dublin Institute of Technology, and holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Business Studies Diploma in Management awarded by the Irish Management Institute. Ms Healy’s career has spanned engineering, recruitment and customer services with a number of international companies.

In 2003 she established the Ella Wine Bar in Howth, Co. Dublin.  She is a member of the Restaurant Association of Ireland and currently chairs the Association’s North East Branch.

Ms Susan Heraghty
Having started her career in the fashion industry in London, Ms Heraghty returned to Ireland in 1992 and became involved in the restaurant business.  Since 1997 she has been proprietor of the Number thirty two restaurant in Dundalk.

While continuing to run the restaurant, Ms Heraghty is also engaged in advertising and marketing work with the Dundalk Democrat newspaper.

Mr Neven Maguire
Mr Maguire runs the McNean House and Restaurant in Blacklion, Co Cavan, which was established by his parents in 1989. He began cooking at 12 years of age in the kitchen of the family restaurant. He gained experience in many prestigious Michelin Star restaurants in Belfast, Berlin, Luxembourg and Spain before taking over the family business in 2003.

He was resident chef on RTE’s afternoon programme ‘Open House’ for six years and has featured in many other TV programmes and series.  He has published a number of cookery books and has been involved in the promotion of a food product range for a major retailer.

Mr Seamus Sheridan
Originally from Dublin, Mr Sheridan co-owns a cheese and artisan food business with outlets in Galway, Dublin and Athboy Co Meath and a pub and restaurant in Galway.

Ms Lynn Ní Bhaoighealláin
Ms Ní Bhaoighealláin was born in Dublin and now lives in Killarney, Co Kerry.  Upon finishing her secondary education, she completed a certificate in journalism before pursuing studies in environmental management and ecology.  She holds postgraduate qualifications in Environmental Impact Assessment and in European Environmental Conservation from University College Dublin.

Ms Ní Bhaoighealláin works as an ecologist with the Killarney National Park Education Centre and was a candidate for the constituency of Kerry South in the 2007 General Election.

Ms Jane Wells
Ms Wells is Managing Director of JPR, a Belfast-based public relations agency.  She holds a joint honours degree in English and French from Queen’s University, and a post-graduate certificate in Education.  Before entering the PR field she was a teacher working in Paris and Jamaica. She has extensive experience at European level, having worked in Strasbourg and Brussels.

A Fellow of the Institute of Public Relations (IPR), Ms Wells is a former Chairman of the IPR Northern Ireland branch.  A Member of the Institute of Directors, she also sits on the Institute’s Professional Development Committee.
Ms Wells is a director of the Northern Ireland Memorial Fund, an independent charitable fund that seeks to promote peace and reconciliation.