Economy Minister confirms Invest NI review panel members

Date published: 22 February 2022

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons today confirmed the appointment of two panel members to the Independent Review of Invest Northern Ireland.

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons
Economy Minister Gordon Lyons

Dame Rotha Johnston DBE and Ms Maureen O’Reilly will work with the panel chair, Sir Michael Lyons, to deliver an independent assessment of Invest NI’s efficiency and effectiveness, as well as its capacity to strategically align with the Department’s 10X Economic Vision.

The Minister, Gordon Lyons, said:

“I am pleased to announce that Dame Rotha Johnston and Ms Maureen O’Reilly have been appointed to the panel to deliver the Independent Review of Invest NI.

“Dame Rotha and Ms O’Reilly bring with them extensive skills and an in-depth understanding of the Northern Ireland economy. I have no doubt that these appointments will ensure the panel has the necessary expertise and experience to undertake a rigorous examination of Invest NI, in line with the review’s terms of reference.

“I wish the review panel every success and look forward to the publication of their report in September 2022.”

Sir Michael Lyons added:

“I am very pleased that Dame Rotha Johnston and Maureen O’Reilly have agreed to support me in undertaking the Independent Review of Invest NI.

“Collectively, these panel members bring a wealth of professional business experience and economic policy expertise. They will also offer an important local insight and a comprehensive understanding of Northern Ireland’s economic performance.

“I am committed to engaging widely and ensuring that all voices are heard. We will shortly be launching a public call for evidence to ensure that stakeholders from all sectors and regions of Northern Ireland have an opportunity to contribute to the review.”

Dame Rotha Johnston said:

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to this fundamental review of Invest NI and look forward to engaging with stakeholders from across Northern Ireland in the coming months.”

Maureen O’Reilly said:

“This review represents an important opportunity to assess the performance and trajectory of Invest NI and I am very pleased to have been appointed to the panel.”

The Minister today made a statement to the Assembly about the review. Read his statement on the DfE website.  

Notes to editors: 

1. The Independent Review of Invest NI aligns with the ‘New Decade, New Approach’ commitment for Departments to review their Arm’s-Length Bodies.

2. Sir Michael Lyons is Chairman of the English Cities Fund, which is currently reshaping large parts of Salford, and has other large-scale regeneration developments in Plymouth, East London, Wakefield and Liverpool. He is currently Chairman of SQW Ltd and has held a number of other Board positions as well as various nonexecutive and advisory roles. He is a former Chairman of the BBC (from May 2007 to end of April 2011). He led the national ‘Lyons Inquiry’ into the functions and funding of local government (published March 2007) which argued for greater devolution and emphasised the local authority's role in ‘Placeshaping’. He led two other significant Reviews concerning the relocation of government services (2004) and the management of public assets (2004).  He is a former Deputy Chairman of the Audit Commission (2003 to 2006) and Professor of Public Policy at Birmingham University (2001 to 2006). Sir Michael recently chaired the Belfast Innovation and Inclusive Growth Commission that published its “reset for growth” report in July 2021.

3. Dame Rotha Johnston DBE has a wealth of experience in business and commerce within the private and public sectors in Northern Ireland. Rotha is currently a Director of Wildflower Property, Chair of Northern Ireland Electricity Network, Director at QUBIS, and member of KPMG NI Advisory Board. Previously Dame Rotha was Chair of Northern Ireland Screen and a Belfast Harbour Commissioner. She was also Business Development Director at the Local Enterprise Development Unit, a BBC Trustee, Pro Chancellor and Chair of Senate at Queen’s University Belfast and Deputy Chair of Invest NI.

4. Maureen O’Reilly is an independent economist with more than 25 years’ experience working with the public, private and third sectors across a range of economic research and policy areas. She was previously Senior Research Economist with the Economic Research Institute for Northern Ireland. Prior to this she led the Policy Evaluation Unit at the Northern Ireland Economic Research Centre. She is currently a member of the Northern Ireland Fiscal Council and Senior Research Associate with the Centre for Cross Border Studies. She also sits on the Barnardo’s UK Economics and Corporate Strategy Panel and is a Board member of Enterprise Northern Ireland. 

5. The Department's 10X Economic Vision is available at:

6. The terms of reference of the review are available at:

7. The Independent Review Panel can be contacted directly at:  

8. To keep up to date with news from the Department you can follow us on the following social media channels:

Twitter – @Economy_NI

Facebook – @EconomyNI
Skills to Succeed Facebook –

Instagram – economy_ni

LinkedIn – Department for the Economy NI

9. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office at

10. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

Share this page

Back to top