Victims Focus Group - Membership



 

Judith Thompson

In August 2015, Judith was appointed by the First and Deputy First Ministers as Commissioner for victims and survivors of the conflict in Northern Ireland.  This role was established by legislation in 2006 and its principal aim is to promote the interests of victims and survivors. Judith’s commitment to promoting the interests of victims and survivors of conflict and trauma is based on more than 30 years’ working in various roles within justice organisations and in communities.

Prior to taking up her role as Commissioner Judith worked for over 10 years with Skills for Justice, the licensed Sector Skills Council for Justice across the UK. She also worked closely with the Police Service for Northern Ireland to support police reform and in reviewing and developing its response to victims of crime. She has been responsible for making sure the standards and competence frameworks for policing within the community are fit for purpose in Northern Ireland.

In her early years as a community-based probation officer in North Belfast, Judith saw first-hand the impact of the conflict both on families and on communities. On a number of occasions she was responsible for supporting and securing services for those who had suffered violence and trauma. Later, while working as a probation officer in Northern Ireland’s prisons she supported prisoners – particularly young women – who had experienced serious violence and abuse.

From 2000 to 2004 Judith was the NI Manager of the Community Justice National Training Organisation, leading skills and qualifications development for work with victims and survivors as well as community safety and work with offenders. She worked with the Home Office on a new Probation Officer Qualification for England and Wales and with the Probation Inspectorate to monitor its delivery. She also led the development of a Government endorsed qualification framework for Community Safety in NI.



Maria McDonald

Maria McDonald BL is an Irish Barrister called to the bar in 2007. Maria has acted as a consultant on issues relating to female genital mutilation, gender-based violence, criminal legal aid, international criminal law and victims’ rights. Her work has been referenced in the Seanad (Irish Parliament) and used for the filing of an amicus curiae brief before the International Criminal Court. From 2008 to 2014 she lectured part time in Dublin City University in subjects such as international human rights law, public international law and mental health law.

Maria is a founding member of the Victims’ Rights Alliance, a group of victim rights NGOs and human rights organisations who are working together to ensure that the Victims’ Rights Directive is implemented effectively in Ireland.

Maria is frequently asked to contribute to international reports on victims’ rights and has been invited to speak at numerous events abroad, including the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) Victims of Crime International Forum and the European Crime Prevention Network (EUCPN). Maria is liaising with stakeholders in Ireland and abroad on the implementation of the Victims Directive in Ireland. Maria is also currently working with the Irish Council for Civil Liberties on ‘Developing an EU Training Model for the Victims Directive’.

Sue O’Sullivan

Throughout her career, Sue has been an advocate for safe and healthy communities and for increased services to victims.
Sue began her distinguished career in policing in 1981, holding numerous leadership positions throughout her 30 years’ service until retiring as Deputy Chief of Police (Ottawa). Continuing with her work, and drawing on her background and interest in assisting those affected by crime, she began an appointed term as Canada's Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime in August 2010. After fulfilling two full three-year mandates, she was renewed for a one-year extension in August 2016.


During her time as Ombudsman, Sue has continually placed a strong emphasis on ensuring that victims' voices are heard at the federal level and has pushed for positive change for victims of crime in Canada, including making recommendations to the Government of Canada on legislative and policy amendments.


Sue's passion for change and dedication to those she serves has been recognised on numerous occasions.
Sue has a Bachelor of Arts in Law and Sociology with a subtitle in Criminology and Corrections (Carleton University) and is a graduate of the Police Leadership Program (OACP and the University of Toronto) and the Leadership in Counter Terrorism Program.


Mary Fetchet, LCSW
Founding Director, Voices of September 11th


Mary Fetchet co-founded Voices of September 11th following the death of her 24 year old son on 9/11/01. Her 21 years of experience as a clinical social worker shaped VOICES innovative approach to providing long-term support services for victim’s families and survivors; creating the 9/11 Living Memorial Project to commemorate the 2,977 lives lost; promoting national preparedness; and assisting communities impacted by other tragedies in the U.S. and abroad.


Under her leadership, VOICES published best practices - Preparing for After: Helping Victims of Mass Violence, and VOICES of Experience: Helping Communities Heal After Traumatic Events – and conducted an academic research project, Investigating the Long-Term Impact of Bereavement Due to Terrorism.


A strong victims’ advocate, Ms. Fetchet testified before the 9/11 Commission and United States Congress on five occasions. She has received national recognition, including ABC News Person of the Year, NBC News Making a Difference and induction into the Hall of Fame at Columbia University School of Social Work.


Levent Altan

Levent began his career in the UK Ministry of Justice before spending three years in the European Commission working on European criminal law. He followed this with two years in the Cabinet Office working for Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown on European Justice and Home Affairs issues before moving on to help in the development of the UK’s Border control strategy.

In 2009, Levent joined the European Commission as a national expert tasked with writing a new EU Directive on victims’ rights. Over the next three years, he developed the European Union’s policy on victims’ rights, leading the development and negotiation of EU laws in the field including the EU Directive which establishes minimum rights for victims in 27 EU Countries.

Following a two year stint leading a Justice and Home Affairs team in a European Consultancy, Levent returned as Executive Directive of Victim Support Europe in 2014 – the leading European Victim Advocacy Network. For the last two years, he has been leading the organisation in its work to establish and improve laws and policies on victims’ rights as well as to improve victims support services in Europe. Levent regularly provides lectures and presentations around Europe on victims’ rights, policies and support mechanisms, as well as supporting capacity building work around Europe.
Alan McBride
 
Alan McBride worked as a butcher on the Shankill Road when his wife Sharon, and father-in-law Desmond, were killed in a bomb attack at the family fish shop in 1993. 
 
He has been actively engaged in peace building work for the past twenty years with various agencies and is currently co-ordinator of the WAVE Trauma Centre in Belfast, an organisation that provides care and support to individuals and communities impacted by the violence in Northern Ireland. 
 
Alan is a founder member of Healing Through Remembering, a charity set up to explore imaginative ways of dealing with the past.  He is also a Commissioner for Human Rights with the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. 
 
Alan has a First Class Honours Degree from the University of Ulster and an M Phil in Reconciliation Studies from Trinity College Dublin.