The Board

Board Members are appointed by the Department for Infrastructure on the basis of open public advertisement. The number of Board members, including the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, may be no less than ten and no more than fifteen and up to four Board Members shall be members of Belfast City Council.

The management of Belfast Harbour is independent of Government and falls to the Board and the management team. The duties of Board Members are akin to those of a company director, in particular to be accountable for the proper exercise of the statutory and administrative requirements placed upon them. In addition Board Members are required to:

  • Ensure high standards of corporate governance.
  • Establish the overall strategic direction of the Port having regard to the best interests of the Port and the local economy following consultation with key stakeholders.
  • Ensure that, in reaching decisions, Government policy and relevant guidance provided by the sponsor Department are taken into account.

Dr David Dobbin CBE


David Dobbin was appointed to the Board in 2012 and took up the position of Chairman in 2015. He has extensive board level experience across the private, public and voluntary sectors and is actively involved in promoting regional economic development. He is currently Chairman of Firmus Energy and a member of the KPMG Northern Ireland Advisory Board.

David has wide industrial experience having previously held a number of senior executive roles in Dale Farm, Boxmore International, Dalgety, C&C and Rothmans International. He has also served as Chairman of a number of organisations including: Dairy UK, Ulster Rugby Management Committee, the Northern Ireland Food & Drink Association, the Strategic Investment Board, Inter Trade Ireland, the Prince’s Trust NI, CBI NI, the NI Centre for Competitiveness and as President of the Northern Ireland Grain Trade. He has also served as a Non-Executive on the boards of Food from Britain, the NI Agrifood Strategy Board, Invest NI, BT Ireland, Queen’s University Senate and was Vice Chairman of the Ireland/Northern Ireland 2023 Rugby World Cup Bid. 

LinkedIn profile

David Dobbin

Joe O'Neill


Joe was appointed CEO of Belfast Harbour on 1st January 2018 having joined the organisation in 1997 and having held a number of prior roles within Belfast Harbour including Commercial Manager, Port Manager and Commercial Director.

Prior to joining the Port, Joe held positions with Undus Ltd and Cantrell and Cochrane Ltd.  Joe was previously Chairman of the MAC theatre in Belfast, stepping down on 31 December 2017.

Joe is a board member of the Simon Community and the UK Major Ports Group; a member of the University of Ulster Economic Policy Centre, CBI Regional Council, the Centre for Competitiveness and a Council Member of the British Ports Association, is Chair of Renewed Ambition Real Estate Initiative and is a member of Belfast City Council’s Growth and Innovation Commission.

Email Joe O'Neill
LinkedIn profile

Joe O'Neill

Councillor Ciaran Beattie

Board Member

Councillor Ciaran Beattie is a full time member of the council and represents the Black Mountain Electoral Area. He is a member of the People and Communities Committee and the City Growth and Regeneration Committee. He does not hold any other public appointments.

Cllr Ciaran Beattie.jpg

Jane Chambers

Board Member

Jane Chambers was first appointed to the Board in February 2016.  She is a Chartered Civil Engineer, Chartered Environmentalist and Chartered Water and Environmental Manager holding a Masters’ Degree in Civil Engineering from Queen’s University, Belfast.

Jane has had a long career in both contracting and consultancy environments, specialising in environmental protection and major infrastructure delivery.  Currently, Jane is working as a project manager in the delivery of the Greater Dublin Drainage project for Irish Water.  Previously, she delivered project management services for Water Service / Northern Ireland Water and, ultimately, eliminated risks of Infraction Proceedings being instigated by the European Commission for non-compliance with the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive.

Jane Chambers.png

Diana Fitzsimons

Board Member

Diana Fitzsimons was first appointed to the Board in February 2016.  She is an FRTPI planner and an FRICS development surveyor, having formerly worked in N. Ireland as a Senior Lecturer in Planning & Development; as a Principal Commissioner with the Planning Appeals Commission; as Office Director of the planning consultancy Turley; and as a sole practitioner planning consultant.

She has extensive practical experience in urban regeneration, port planning, housing development and mixed use master planning. She was formerly Chair of both the RTPI and the RICS NI Branches; a member of RICS Governing Council; a member of the Ministerial Advisory Group; deputy President of the International Federation for Housing and Planning (IFHP); Co-Chair of the UN Habitats Professionals’ Forum; and Deputy Chair of the charity Lionheart. She is currently Chair of Radius Housing Association; an IFHP Council Member; a member of the RICS Awards Panel; and a Visiting Professor in the Built Environment at Ulster University.

d fitzsimmons.png

Deborah Lange

Board Member

Deborah was first appointed to the Board in February 2016.  Deborah is also Deputy Chair of the Board and Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee of Invest NI.

Deborah is a Certified Public Accountant.  Previously she was Senior Vice President of Tax at Oracle Corporation based in California.  She was also a member of the boards of Planitax and Liquid Engines, both software companies; Chair of the Silicon Valley Tax Directors Group; past Chair of the Tax Committee of the American Electronics Association and a member of the Executive Committee of the Tax Executive Institute.  Deborah is a past member of the Board of Queen’s University Belfast Foundation.

Deborah Lange.png

Councillor Malachai O’Hara

Board Member

Cllr Malachai O’Hara joined the Board in April 2020 and is a full time member of Belfast City Council. He is the party’s group leader for the Green Party at Belfast City Hall and represents the Castle District Electoral Area.

He is a member of the City Growth and Regeneration Committee, Planning Committee and the North Belfast Policing and Community Safety Partnership. Malachai is the Deputy Leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland and a board member of a regional mental health charity.  

Mal head and shoulders.jpg

Councillor Emmet McDonough-Brown

Board Member

Cllr Emmet McDonough-Brown is a full time member of Belfast City Council. He is a member of the Alliance Party at Belfast City Hall and represents the Botanic Electoral Area.

He is a member of the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee.  Emmet is also appointed to the Belfast Policing and Community Safety Partnership; The Lyric Theatre Education Advisory Panel and the South Belfast District Policing and Community Safety Partnership.

Cllr Emmet McDonough-Brown.jpg

Gerard McGinn

Board Member

Gerard McGinn is an experienced business leader. He has been CEO of financial institutions in London, Dublin, and Belfast, as well as Permanent Secretary of the Department of Education and the former Department for Regional Development. He is an Independent Non-Executive Director of both the Progressive Building Society and AXA Insurance DAC. He is the current Chair of the Strategic Investment Board, appointed in September 2013.

Gerard McGinn, CBE.jpg

Councillor Donal Lyons

Board Member

A native of Dublin, Donal has lived in Belfast for 15 years and has represented Balmoral as councillor since 2015.

After studying Chemistry at University College Dublin, Donal worked in Dail Eireann, before building a career in public policy and human rights.

He is SDLP Group leader on Belfast City Council and a former Chairperson of the Planning Committee and the City Growth and Regeneration Committee. Donal has particular interest in lifelong learning and serves as vice chair of the board of Libraries NI. He is married with three daughters.

Cllr Donal Lyons.jpg