Page last updated at 09:51 GMT, Monday, 13 July 2009 10:51 UK

Nuala O'Loan appointed to Lords

Nuala O'Loan
Nuala O'Loan has been elevated to the House of Lords

Former Police Ombudsman Dame Nuala O'Loan has been appointed to the House of Lords.

Dame Nuala was made ombudsman in October 1999 and started work in the job the following summer before stepping down from the post in 2007.

During her time as ombudsman, Dame Nuala led investigations into the police's handling of the Omagh bomb in 1998 and other controversial inquiries.

Dame Nuala said she saw her new role as a wonderful opportunity.

"Throughout my career I have always tried to bring an independence of thought to issues in a way which would benefit people and enhance the services they get," she said.

"I hope my experience will be of value to the House of Lords."

Her appointment to the Lords was announced alongside that of Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks.

The two new peers will sit on the cross-benches as independents.


Chairman of the House of Lords Appointments Commission Michael Jay said he was pleased to announce the appointment of two independent people of such high quality.

Dame Nuala is currently working with the Home Office on a project looking at allegations of abuse by people being deported from the UK.

She is also the Irish government's roving ambassador for conflict resolution and its special envoy for Timor Leste and for women, peace and security.

North Down Ulster Unionist MP, Lady Sylvia Hermon, said: "I am delighted, absolutely delighted, that someone of Nuala O'Loan's calibre and intellect is to join the House of Lords.

"She will no doubt enrich the place with her characteristic dignified and thoughtful style."

Professor Richard Barnett, Vice Chancellor of the University of Ulster, where Dame Nuala is a visiting professor, said she had served with great distinction.

"Given her proven track record, I am confident that in the House of Lords she will continue to provide a distinguished and dignified contribution to public service in Northern Ireland and internationally," he said.

Former SDLP policing spokesman Alex Attwood said: "From the time Nuala O'Loan took up the post of Policing Ombudsman she was fearless and determined to tell the truth, qualities which will continue to inform her new role," he said.

"While views differ on the House of Lords, she will be a formidable presence in that chamber."

In a statement North Antrim DUP assembly member Ian Paisley Jnr said the appointment was "the SDLP, by proxy" joining the House of Lords.

Dame Nuala is married to Declan O'Loan, an SDLP assembly member.

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