Senior Management Team

The Soical Care Council's interim Chief Executive, Patricia Higgins is accountable to the Council for organisational performance and management. Patricia is supported by the Director of Registration and Corporate Services.  


Interim Chief Executive - Patricia Higgins     

PAtricia Higgins - Director Patricia Higgins is responsible for Social Care Council Workforce Standards for education, training and practice. This includes: social care training, social work training, practice learning, continuing professional development, & professional conduct. She has been a Director within the Social Care Council since June 2002 and has led the development and implementation of the Councils’ registration and conduct functions. Patricia qualified as a social worker in 1985 from the University of Ulster. She has a BSc Hons in Sociology and Psychology and a Post Graduate Diploma in Education. Patricia successfully completed the Kings Fund Top Manager Programme in 2007 and the HSC Leadership Centre ACUMEN leadership programme in 2012.

Patricia has extensive experience in social work, working in the Voluntary Sector in a range of settings: managing accommodation schemes for adult offenders; setting up community based crime prevention projects and managing a social work training unit and social work student unit. Prior to the establishment of NISCC, Patricia worked for the Central Council for Education & Training in Social Work as a Social Work Education Adviser. In CCETSW, she held lead responsibility for Diploma in Social Work programmes, Criminal Justice and Workforce Analysis. Development work included production of the social work text “Social Work and Social Change in Northern Ireland” and collaborating with colleagues in producing the anti-sectarian training pack “Getting Off the Fence”. Patricia also led an advertising campaign for social work called “Social Work Works”.

Director of Registration & Corporate Services - Declan McAllister

Declan is a psychology graduate from Queens University Belfast who spent 5 years working in advertising and marketing, returning to Queens to complete a Masters Degree in Information Management. He worked in the private care sector up to 1996 and took up the position of Corporate Services Manager with the Northern Ireland Guardian ad Litem Agency (NIGALA) where he has spent 21 years helping shape the statutory service for the representation of children in family law and adoption proceedings.

Declan has extensive experience working closely with the social work profession in the area of child and family care. He has strong relationships with the Department of Health, the Northern Ireland Court Service and Law Society with expertise in the area of corporate and information governance. He led the introduction of the NIGALA electronic case management system GCIS in 2008 and in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunal Service he orchestrated the introduction of the Criminal Justice Secure Mail system (CJSM) in family proceedings, the delivery of awareness raising training in data protection for Northern Ireland solicitors and has been on a mission to deliver a less paper working strategy across the family proceedings stakeholder group.

A strong believer in putting the citizen at the centre of public services, he is looking forward to working with all Council colleagues and stakeholders to continue to, strengthen the regulatory service to social work and social care professionals, maintain levels of public confidence in the social work and social care professions and work collaboratively with stakeholders to build a strong foundation of professional regulation in Northern Ireland.




Interim Director of Regulation & Standards - Marian O'Rourke

As interim Director of Regulation and Standards, Marian is responsible for leading the Social Care Council’s work in setting standards of conduct and practice for the social work and social care workforces and supporting registrants to meet their standards and improve their practice. 

Marian’s directorate includes workforce development which helps registrants to maintain their registration though on-going learning and development as well as regulation of social work education and training at both qualifying levels and Fitness to Practise. 

Marian qualified as a Social Worker in 1984. Her early career was in the justice sector where she worked as a Probation Officer. In 1999 she was appointed as Professional Manager with the Northern Ireland Post Qualifying Education and Training Partnership (NIPQETP) and joined the Social Care Council in 2009. In 2014 she was appointed as Head of Workforce Development, with responsibility for workforce regulation and standards across the Northern Ireland social work and social care workforce. 

Marian has undertaken a range of leadership development opportunities associated with both her practice background, role in regulation and at a broader strategic level across the public sector.