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Secretary of State announces appointment of new Commissioner for Children and Young People for Northern Ireland

The Secretary of State, the Rt Hon Chris Heaton-Harris MP, has today announced the appointment of Mr Chris Quinn as the new Commissioner for Children and Young People for Northern Ireland. In the absence of Ministers in the Northern Ireland Executive, this appointment was made under the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2022.

Mr Quinn will take up his post on 18 September 2023.


Chris Quinn started his career working in the Star Neighbourhood Centre in North Belfast before taking up employment with the Bytes Project working with young people in communities across Belfast. Chris worked for the Belfast City Council as Children and Young People’s Coordinator from 2004-2008 where he set up their first Youth Council.

In 2008 Chris took up the role of Director at the NI Youth Forum, where he served for 15 years managing the organisation through the review of public administration and supporting young people to lead the youth forum through a changing policy and funding environment.

Chris has a keen interest in Participative Democracy and Social justice and has been a volunteer with a range of community and sporting groups for over 25 years. Fundamental to Chris’s work has been supporting young people to have a say on issues that affect their lives, and ensuring that their voices are heard, and acted upon, in the policy making process. He has supported young people to present to the UN Committee on the rights of the Child in 2015, 2016 and 2023.

Chris has a wide range of experience promoting the voices of young people locally and internationally and has worked hard to promote their rights and best interests in the policy making process.

Key issues that Chris has worked on have included the establishment of a NI Youth Assembly, lobbying for votes at 16 and prioritising the needs of young people who experience inequality and disadvantage.

Chris is a Qualified Youth and Community worker having graduated from the University of Ulster with a Postgraduate Masters Degree focusing on youth participation in decision making. He lives with his wife and 4 sons, is a keen Manchester United Supporter and enjoys running.

Terms Of Appointment

  • The position is full time for a term of four years with the possibility of one renewal for a further period of four years, subject to satisfactory performance.
  • The position attracts a remuneration of £75,464 (under review).


The appointment has been made in accordance with the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland (CPANI) Code of Practice.

Political Activity

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. Mr Quinn has not declared any political activity in the last five years.

Notes to editors

The principal aim of the Commissioner for Children and Young People is to promote and safeguard the rights and best interests of children and young people.

The Commissioner has five statutory duties:

  • To promote: (a) an understanding of the rights of children and young persons; (b) an awareness of the importance of those rights and a respect among children and young persons for the rights of others; and (c) an awareness of matters relating to the best interest of children and young persons.
  • To keep under review the adequacy and effectiveness of law and practice relating to the rights and welfare of children and young persons
  • To keep under review the adequacy and effectiveness of services provided for children and young persons by relevant authorities
  • To advise the Secretary of State, the Executive Committee of the Assembly and a relevant authority on matters concerning the rights or best interests of children and young persons
  • To take reasonable steps to ensure that: (a) children and young persons and their parents are made aware of: (i) the functions of the Commissioner; (ii) the location of the Commissioner’s office; and (iii) the ways in which they may communicate with the Commissioner; (b) children and young persons are encouraged to communicate with the Commissioner; (c) the content of any matter published by the Commissioner takes account, so far as practicable, of the age, understanding and usual language of any children or young persons by whom it is intended that such matter will be read and of the effect of any disabilities they may have; (d) the views of children and young persons and their parents are sought concerning the exercise by the Commissioner of his functions; (e) the services of the Commissioner are, so far as practicable, made available to children and young persons in the locality in which they live.

The Commissioner has a number of powers, including conducting investigations, conducting or commissioning research, and issuing guidance on best practice in relation to any matter concerning the interests of children and young people. Further information on the work of the Commissioner for Children and Young People can be found at

Media queries should be directed to the TEO press office via email at [email protected].

The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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