Appointment of Chairperson and extension to the terms of appointment to the Board of the Middletown Centre For Autism

Date published: 18 April 2024

The Education Minister has announced the appointment of a Chairperson to the Board of the Middletown Centre for Autism (MCA).

Appointments - Board of the Middletown Centre For Autism
Appointments to the Board of the Middletown Centre For Autism

Two existing Directors have had their terms of appointment extended until 30 June 2024, or until such earlier time as the ongoing public appointment competition can be completed and new Board appointments can be made.

Education Minister Paul Given said:

“I am pleased to appoint Sheila Darling as the new Chairperson to the Board and thank her for her work as Vice Chairperson over the last three years. The wealth of knowledge and expertise she will continue to bring to the board will prove invaluable.

“I would also like to thank the current Directors for their dedication and service since their appointments in 2016. I am particularly grateful for their continued presence on the Board in an interim capacity, while the current public appointments competition is concluded.”

The appointments are as follows:


Mrs Sheila Darling has served as Vice Chairperson on the MCA Board since 1 April 2021. She is a former Principal of St Mary’s High School, Downpatrick.  She continues to bring to the Board experience in leadership and governance, experience of influencing the strategic direction of an organisation and a knowledge of the education sector.


Extensions to Current Term of Appointments

Mrs Dorothy Angus has served on the Board since 16 March 2016.  She was Director of Access, Inclusion and Well Being in the Department of Education (DE) from 2005 to 2012 and also held posts at director level in the former Department of Finance and Personnel and the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister. She is currently a school governor and a volunteer with both Business in the Community’s ‘Time to Read’ scheme and the NSPCC’s Schools Service. Mrs Angus continues to bring to the Board skills in the fields of management, business planning and organisational and policy development.

Mrs Irene Murphy has served on the Board since 16 March 2016. She has enjoyed an extensive career working across Northern Ireland in the fields of special educational needs and disability. Following on from work as a Careers Service manager and Head of the Disablement Advisory Service in the Training and Employment Agency, she joined DE as Head of the Special Education Team and subsequently as Head of the Special Education and Inclusion Review Team. In a voluntary capacity, Mrs Murphy has worked as secretary to the Belfast branch of the National Deaf Children's Society and a governor of a local school. Following retirement Mrs Murphy established a small business in the hospitality sector. and continues to bring to the Board skills in the field of special education and autistic spectrum disorders.

None of the DE appointees hold any other Ministerial public appointments and all have declared that they have not undertaken any political activity during the past five years.

The Department of Education in the Republic of Ireland has appointed a new Vice Chairperson and re-appointed three Directors. The appointment of the Chairperson and Vice Chairperson rotates between the two jurisdictions.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Middletown Centre is a joint north south initiative with funding provided by the Department of Education and the Department of Education in the Republic of Ireland, to support the promotion of excellence in the development and harmonisation of education and allied services to children and young people with autistic spectrum disorders.
  2. DE currently provides the Chairperson and four Directors to the MCA Board. The newly appointed Chairperson has a term of appointment from 1 April 2024 ending on 31 March 2027 (unless terminated before that time). The Chairperson’s remuneration rate is £230 per day with an estimated workload of 2-3 days per month.  Directors are remunerated at a rate of £160 per day with an estimated workload of 1-2 days per month.
  3. Follow us on Twitter @Education_ni
  4. Media enquiries to the Department of Education Press Office at

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