Project Team 

LEONARD AllanAllan LEONARD is co-founder and editor-in-chief at FactCheckNI. He is a peace journalist and editor-in-chief of Shared Future News, which reports on peacebuilding in Northern Ireland. He served as managing director at the Northern Ireland Foundation, an independent charity established to promote peace and reconciliation, where he also gained international experience supporting programmes in other divided societies. His professional background includes project and staff management, fundraising, marketing and communication. 

YOUNG EndaEnda YOUNG is co-founder of FactCheckNI and is a highly experienced mediator, conflict resolution and negotiation trainer and co-founder of Transformative Connections (TranConn). He has been involved in conflict resolution in Northern Ireland for over fifteen years and currently works at the William J Clinton Leadership Institute at Queen’s University Belfast.  He holds an MA from the Queen’s University, which focused on the use of conflict transformation and is a Rotary Peace Fellow, a member of Mediators Beyond Borders International and an accredited mediator with both the International Mediation Institute and the Mediators’ Institute of Ireland.  Enda has worked with a wide variety of groups both locally and internationally in the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Thailand, Malaysia, Turkey, Canada and the United States.

YOUNG OrnaOrna YOUNG is co-founder of FactCheckNI. She holds a PhD in politics from Queen’s University Belfast and is a co-founder of Transformative Connections (TranConn). Her expertise lies in bespoke research design, community-based research, ethnographic and action research, social media and how it informs inter-communal dynamics and report writing. Orna has previously lectured part-time at a local university, and also appears as a social and political commentator for the BBC and UTV.

Writers/Researchers

HOLLAND JennyJenny HOLLAND (Freelance Journalist) learned the importance of getting your facts right when doing A-levels at Methodist College Belfast in the early 1990s. She’s done research for newspapers, magazines and academia in the USA, London and Northern Ireland. After studying English at Trinity College Dublin, she worked for three years in the busy metropolitan newsroom of The New York Times, where she learned the adage, “if your mother says she loves you, check it out”. She has a Masters Degree from the Department of War Studies at King’s College in London.

McGARRY NadineNadine MCGARRY recently graduated from the University of Liverpool with a Law and Philosophy LLB degree. She was a member of the Washington Ireland Program Class of 2017, where she served as an intern at a bi-partisan lobbying firm in Washington, DC. Spending a summer in America during the Trump Administration opened her eyes to the era of ‘fake news’. The importance of promoting factually accurate political discussion in Northern Ireland is why she is contributing to FactCheckNI.

MURTAGH RobertRobert MURTAGH is a Masters in Law student at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB). He holds a BA degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, also from QUB. Robert is part of the Washington Ireland Program Class of 2017, and served as an intern at the office of Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer. He is the current Speaker of Queen’s University Belfast Student Union (QUBSU) Council, and was previously QUBSU Council Representative to the University Senate. Robert has also served as a trustee at Public Achievement, an organisation focused on youth civic education. He also held the position of chair at an international aid organization called Project Zambia.

Advisory Group 

BLYTHE RhyannonRhyannon BLYTHE currently works as for a national human rights institution, specialising in international human rights law. She is currently responsible for their programme of strategic litigation, advising government and civil society on human rights compliance and engaging with international human rights mechanisms. Rhyannon holds a LL.M in human rights and criminal justice and is a qualified barrister, having been called to the Bar of Northern Ireland in 2008. She also sits on the board of trustees for Victim Support NI.

John FOSTER. Belfast, Northern Ireland. John FOSTER has been a secondary school teacher at Methodist College Belfast (MCB) since 1986, where he has held the position of Boarding Master and teacher in charge of school charities. He initiated and developed a successful Model United Nations programme, which saw MCB host twelve international conferences, with pupils since the 1990s attend events in the UK, Ireland, and the United States. John discovered FactCheckNI at a Democracy Day event sponsored by Building Change Trust, which led to rolling out a programme of fact-checking training to some 200 Fourth Form and 600 Sixth Form students at Methody. He is excited about the prospect of students delivering fact-checking training to their peers. John is highly motivated to improve the political literacy of citizens.

MEBAN AlanAlan MEBAN is a prominent blogger in Northern Ireland and a previous winner of Slugger O’Toole’s Political Blogger of the Year award. Better known online as @alaninbelfast he posts about politics, processes, accountability and transparency on Slugger O’Toole. On his own blog, Alan in Belfast, he airs views and reviews about arts and culture. His Applied Mathematics degree is rarely used, even though he spent a lot of time crunching numbers in Excel in a corporate IT environment before going freelance in August 2015. Alan is a member of the Ofcom Advisory Committee for Northern Ireland.

Julia PAUL Julia PAUL is a journalist and a broadcast academic. She has lectured at Queen’s University in Belfast and taught journalism all over the world. Julia was a broadcast journalist with the BBC for 18 years, winning an award for her coverage of politics in Northern Ireland on the weekly television politics programme ‘Hearts and Minds’. Her PhD examined the role that this journalism played in Northern Ireland’s transition from violent conflict to peaceful devolution. Julia has a special relationship with Afghanistan, and is currently writing her first novel which is set in the country, as well as delivering a project in Kabul, funded by the British Council, to collect recordings of oral histories and creative stories from women writers across the country.

PETO JohnJohn PETO is the Director of Education at the Nerve Centre, responsible for a range of projects that support Digital Creativity in Schools and Communities across Northern Ireland.  From a background in film and television production, John has overseen the establishment of Ireland’s first FabLabs, as well as operating the Nerve Centre’s Creative Learning Centres and pioneering the use of Digital Creative Media in Conflict Education through the Teaching Divided Histories Project.

POWER TracyTracy POWER is Director of Analysis in the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).  She is a geographer by training and has worked in NISRA and its predecessor for 27 years within many NICS departments to support evidence-based policymaking for health, justice, environment, education and employment.  One of her current responsibilities is liaison with the UK Statistics Authority which has the remit of ensuring the trustworthiness of official statistics.  She believes that fact checking is a useful tool whereby users of statistics can be assured of their quality and reliability.

SHORTT ClaireClaire SHORTT took up a secondment from NISRA to Belfast City Council in 2008. Claire’s degree is in geography and after graduating lectured for 3 years in geography and sociology in Lisburn College. From 2003 to 2008 Claire worked in the Department of Health’s Information and Analysis directorate, and focused on allocation of resources across Northern Ireland. In her current role Claire is responsible for council links through NISRA to other government and agency departments.

THORNBURY AndreaAndrea THORNBURY is the manager of two open data projects at NICVA. Detail Data is a three-year programme that builds the capacity of the voluntary and community sector to request, access, and use open data for service delivery, fundraising, and lobbying. ODI Belfast is part of the Open Data Institute’s global network and provides local linkages to ODI expertise and resources, and is committed to developing the economic, social and environmental benefits of open data. She is also the manager of NICVA’s Research Unit and is a member of the Northern Ireland Open Government Network and Open Data Strategy Steering Group. Andrea has a degree in Law & Government from Ulster University and a masters degree in Human Rights and Criminal Justice from Queen’s University Belfast.