The Commissioners

John McBurney

IRC Commissioners (from left) John McBurney, Tim O'Connor, Monica McWilliams, Mitchell Reiss
John McBurney is an experienced solicitor practicing in Northern Ireland.  He qualified in 1979 and has significant experience in major litigation, commercial transactions, conveyancing and estate management.  He has supported victims and survivors of the Troubles in his legal work.  John was one of three persons tasked by the First and deputy First Ministers in December 2015 to make recommendations for a strategy to disband paramilitary groups and was subsequently nominated to the Commission by the Executive to report on progress towards that goal.

Monica McWilliams

Monica McWilliams is an academic and former politician.  She is a graduate of Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Michigan, and was Professor of Women’s Studies and Social Policy at the Ulster University where she holds the position of Emeritus Professor.  She co-founded the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition and led its negotiating team in the multi-party talks leading up to the Good Friday Agreement.  She was elected to the Legislative Assembly in Northern Ireland from 1998 – 2003.  She was Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission from 2005– 2011 and is the Chairperson of Interpeace, an international NGO based in Geneva.  She has published widely on women, peace and security, and on violence against women in conflict societies.  She was one of three persons appointed in 2011 to a Prison Reform Oversight Group advising the Northern Ireland Department of Justice.  Monica was one of three persons tasked by the First and Deputy First Ministers in December 2015 to make recommendations for a strategy to disband paramilitary groups and was subsequently nominated to the Commission by the Executive to report on progress towards that goal.

Tim O’Connor

Tim O’Connor is a native of Kilkeedy in West Limerick.  After a two-year stint as a teacher he joined the Civil Service in Dublin in 1974, moving to the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1979.  Most of his time there was spent working on the Northern Ireland Peace Process and he was part of the Irish Government Negotiating Team for the Good Friday Agreement.  He was the inaugural Southern Joint Secretary of the North/South Ministerial Council, based in Armagh, from 1999 to 2005.  He has also served terms as Director of the Africa Unit and of the Human Rights Unit in the Department of Foreign Affairs.  His foreign postings included the Embassies of Ireland in Bonn and Washington DC, and from 2005-2007 he served as the Consul General of Ireland in New York, USA.  Tim served as Secretary General to President Mary McAleese at Áras an Uachtaráin from 2007 to 2010.  Since retiring from the Civil Service in 2010 he has been dividing his time between his own advisory business and voluntary work, both in the public sector and with NGOs.  In 2020, he chaired the Implementation Advisory Group for the directly elected mayor with executive functions for Limerick City and County, and from February 2019 to February 2021 was Chairman of the Golf Ireland Transition Board.  He is a member of the Board of GOAL, the international humanitarian assistance NGO.  Tim was nominated to the Commission by the Irish Government.

Mitchell Reiss   

Mitchell B Reiss is a former United States Special Envoy for Northern Ireland with the rank of Ambassador.  He was also the Director of Policy Planning at the State Department and has worked at the National Security Council. Outside of government, he was the President and CEO of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in Virginia and President of Washington College in Maryland.  He has published widely on national security issues, and consults in the United States and globally on higher education and historic sites.  Mitchell was nominated to the Commission by the UK Government.