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Public appointments explained

A public appointment is generally an appointment, made by a government Minister, to the Board of a public body. Public appointments in Northern Ireland cover everything from the arts to sport and consumer interests to more specialised areas, such as historic buildings and monuments.

What is a public body?

Public bodies are organisations set up to manage, provide advice or deliver important and essential public services. While they are set up by government they work separately, at arm’s length from government.

Examples of public bodies include the NI Tourist Board, the Housing Executive, the Equality Commission, Health and Social Care Trusts and the Education Authority.

Most public bodies are managed by Boards of Directors. Most public appointments will be for member or chair positions on the board of a public body.

You can find out more about public bodies at the link below.

Making your mark

Public appointments give people from all walks of life the chance to play a part in directing and managing the services that government provides.

There are many reasons to apply for a public appointment. You may want to:

  • get more involved in the community
  • develop your skills
  • gain experience
  • help improve public services

If you are already in employment, being a board member could give you training and development opportunities that your current employer can’t provide.

You can find out more about what’s involved in becoming a public appointee at the link below.

Remember you don’t have to have a traditional career path or be involved in politics to apply

Some appointments require specialist knowledge and expertise, but many don’t.

In fact government wants to encourage more people from different backgrounds, ages and communities to apply to become public appointees.

You can find out more about current vacancies at the link below.

Appointment process

When applying for a public appointment, you should keep in mind that:

  • all appointments are made on merit, based on your talents and skills
  • an independent assessor will be involved throughout
  • the skills and qualities necessary for the post will be made clear to you - either in the original advertisement or in an information pack
  • you will be asked to complete an application form
  • your application will be assessed to see if your skills and qualities meet those required for the post you are applying for - this may involve a formal ‘sift’ and then an interview
  • the minister will make the final selection from those recommended by the interview panel
  • the successful candidate will be sent a letter of appointment and all other applicants will be informed

You can find out more about applying for a public appointment at the link below.

The Commissioner for Public Appointments

Most public appointments made by a government minister follow a selection process regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

The Commissioner’s job is to make sure appointments are made in a fair and open way. The Commissioner will also investigate complaints.  

You can find out more about the work of the Commissioner at the link below.

More useful links