A PRESBYTERIAN minister has been appointed as the new prisoner ombudsman for Northern Ireland.
Rev Dr Lesley Carroll will take up the three-year post in March and succeeds Tom McGonigle, who retired in August 2017.
Her role, which includes a salary of £62,713 per annum, will involve investigating prisoner deaths, incidents of serious harm and complaints.
Rev Caroll was ordained in 1988 and served in congregations in north Belfast and was also convener of the General Assembly’s Church and Society Committee for seven years.
She was previously a member of the Roe House assessment team within Maghaberry Prison as well as serving on the Consultative Group on Dealing with Northern Ireland's Troubled Past as well as working with Victim Support NI since 2016.
In 2016, she stood as an Ulster Unionist candidate in the Assembly election, but failed to secure a seat in the north Belfast constituency and left the party the following year.
She is currently deputy chief commissioner of the Equality Commission.
Peter May, permanent secretary of the Department of Justice, said: "I would like to congratulate Lesley on her appointment.
"The role of the Prisoner Ombudsman is a challenging and vital one in the criminal justice system.
"I am confident Lesley will bring her extensive experience and skills to the role. I wish her every success for her term of office."
He also thanked the chief inspector of criminal justice, Brendan McGuigan, for covering the responsibilities of the Prisoner Ombudsman since the retirement of Mr McGonigle.