A graduate of Queen’s University, Mary has worked in the public sector since 1979 when she qualified as a Solicitor in Northern Ireland. She began her working life in the Crown Solicitor’s office where for thirteen years she acted for the government and public sector organisations in civil proceedings.
In 1992 Mary moved from legal services to policy when she took a post in the Northern Ireland Office. Her first post was leading a team tasked with a major review of the Criminal law and Criminal Justice system. From there she moved into finance at a time when the government took the decision to change from a cash accounting system to accruals accounts. She headed up the team tasked with delivery this major financial management change to the department.
From Finance Mary moved to head up the Security Policy and operations division where she had regular contact with the Military and the Police Service in handling deeply sensitive issues around normalisation programme set in train by the then prime minister, Tony Blair.
Mary moved to the political directorate of the department where she worked closely with the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, his Secretary of States and Ministers to achieve a political settlement between the local parties. She was awarded the CBE in The Queen’s New Years Honour List in 2010 for her work on decommissioning.
Mary joined the Department of Justice in 2013 when all the remaining powers has been devolved to the Executive Assembly and politics appeared to have stabilised. She has held three posts in the department before leaving to join The Executive Office in January 2017 specifically to take up the role as joint Secretary in the NSMC. She retired in April 2018.
Since retirement Mary has taken up several voluntary roles. She is on the Boards of The Princes Trust, The Golaith Trust, Glencree Peace and Reconciliation Centre which are focussed in improving the lives of our young people and promoting peace and reconciliation not just in this jurisdiction but across these islands. Mary is also on the board of The Ulster New Zealand Trust which promotes and fosters relationships between Northern Ireland and New Zealand.