Iona Institute NI Board


Baroness Nuala O’Loan DBE, MRIA

Nuala O’Loan DBE has been a Member of the UK House of Lords since 2009. She was the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland from 1999-2007. She has produced more than 100 articles and other publications on law, policing, faith and other issues.

In the House of Lords, Baroness O’Loan is currently campaigning for conscience rights through her sponsorship of a parliamentary bill which seeks to protect the freedom of conscience of medical professionals, including doctors, midwives, nurses, and pharmacists.


Chair:  Alban A Maginness BA ( Hons) LLM, BL

Primary degree in Modern History Ulster University (1973): Barrister at Law, Queens University Belfast (1976): Master of Laws on Human Rights Law QUB (2007). Practised law at the Bar of Northern Ireland from 1976 until 2012. Also a member of King’s Inns.

Elected as an  SDLP Councillor to Belfast City Council in 1985. Re – elected until retirement from the Council in 2009. Elected Lord Mayor of Belfast in 1987 being the first Nationalist / SDLP and Catholic Lord Mayor of Belfast. Elected to the new Northern Ireland Assembly to represent North Belfast in 1998 and re- elected until retirement in 2016. Former member of the Committee of the Regions of the European Union.2003- 2007. Now a Radio and Television commentator and columnist for the Belfast Telegraph.

Secretary:  Mary Lewis BL

LLB 1987 (Queen’s University Belfast) Certificate in Professional Legal Studies 1988. Called to Northern Ireland Bar in 1988 and to the Irish Bar in 2001. LLM in Discrimination, Human Rights and Emergency Law 1992 Certificate in Dispute Resolution and Mediation 2012 (Queen’s University Belfast). Diploma in the New Evangelization (with Distinction) (School of Annunciation) 2017.

Research Officer Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights Northern Ireland 1989-1990. Various roles in Equal Opportunities Commission 1990-1995. Chief Legal Officer Equal Opportunities Commission (1995-1998). Self-Employed Barrister 1998- 2012. Student of Theology at the School of Annunciation, Buckfast, Devon (2015-2019) to Masters level. Currently member of the Irish Bishops Council for Life.

Declan O’Loan BSc, PGCE, MBA

Declan is a former member of the Northern Ireland Assembly in the North Antrim constituency, and a serving member of Ballymena Borough Council. He is a member of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). He studied at Imperial College London and Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge and is the Honorary Consul of Romania in Northern Ireland.

Declan is married to Baroness [Nuala] O’Loan, the first Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland.

Brett Lockhart QC

Brett is a barrister by profession and practices largely commercial law. He was educated at University College, Cardiff and Queen’s University, Belfast, he was called to the Bar in 1982.  He is a former Chairman of Governors, Methodist College, Belfast, and a member of the Joint Independent Group for Study & Action (JIGSA), a political and economic think tank in Northern Ireland.

Formerly an elder in the Presbyterian Church, Brett was received into the Catholic Church in 2002 and was deeply influenced by the writings of John Henry Newman.  He was ordained as a Permanent Deacon in the Diocese of Down & Connor in 2018.  Brett is actively involved in St Brigid’s Parish in Belfast but retains a strong ecumenical focus. He is married with 4 adult sons and lives in Belfast.

Tracy Harkin


Tracey is a graduate of Queen’s University Belfast. Following the birth of her daughter Kathleen Rose with Trisomy 13, Tracy has campaigned for an improved awareness and support for babies diagnosed with life limiting conditions.

She has appeared regularly in local  media discussing a range of issues relating to life, faith and family, and is also a regular contributor to EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) Radio and Television.

David Quinn 

David Quinn is the founder and director of The Iona Institute in Ireland.

He is a well known journalist who specialises in religious and social affairs. Currently he has columns in both The Irish Independent and The Irish Catholic. He frequently appears on radio and television programmes and also contributes to numerous magazines overseas.

As Director, his main function is to represent the Institute publicly, and to run and coordinate its various projects and undertakings.

Eamonn Gaines

Éamonn Gaines is originally a Dubliner who has made his home in Northern Ireland.

Married with five children, he has taught philosophy and in particular Bioethics in Maynooth, Queen’s Belfast, St Malachy’s & the Redemptoris Mater Seminaries, the Irish Dominican Studium and the Maryvale Institute. He has also worked in learning support, especially with mature students and those with specific learning difficulties.


Leah Gaines

Leah Gaines is a graduate of the Queen’s University Belfast, a Software QA engineer by profession, and a wife and mum to five daughters.

A native of Co Down, she has worked variously in web design, as a freelance software tester and lately in network marketing. She is also the primary carer for her three year old daughter Naomi, who was born at 26 weeks gestation and has complex needs.