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Meet our Staff, Board Members, and Patron.


Walter Sutcliffe

A graduate of the University of Cambridge and the Royal College of Music, London, and former Staff Director at Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Düsseldorf, Walter Sutcliffe has extensive opera and theatre experience, and has directed critically-acclaimed productions which have been seen in the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Italy, France and Estonia.

As stage director, Walter has been a regular guest at the Oper Frankfurt, and has directed productions for Teatro Regio di Torino, Semperoper Dresden, Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse, Theater Magdeburg, Theater Chemnitz, Di Capo Opera, New York (where he directed the American stage premiere of Leoš Janáček’s first opera, Sarka), Klangbogen Festival, Vienna (where he directed the Austrian premiere of Michael Tippett’s The Knot Garden), and the Royal Academy of Music, London, amongst many others. Debuts at Teatro Municipal de Santiago, Chile and Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires are also planned.



Clíona Donnelly

Clíona studied History at Queen’s University, Belfast, and then completed a MSC in Marketing and Entrepreneurship at the University of Ulster. She previously worked for the Dublin Business School and the Abbey Theatre in Dublin before moving back to Belfast to join the Northern Ireland Opera team in March 2011. Clíona is a trustee of the Board of the St. Anne’s Trust and the Belfast Philharmonic Society.

Clíona was awarded a British Empire Medal in June 2018 for services to music and young people in Northern Ireland.


Emma Martin

A recent graduate from Ulster University in Marketing, Emma is about to embark on a MSc in Software Development at Queen’s University, Belfast. She has previously held marketing positions with Ulster University, HMC Global and Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service. Emma is also a Student Ambassador for the Chartered Institute of Marketing and President of the Enactus Ulster society where she leads a team of students to create social enterprises. She brings with her a wealth of marketing experience and project management to her role here at Northern Ireland Opera.



Rachael Kelly

Rachael studied Communications and Media Studies at Ulster University and has a PHD in Film Theory also from Ulster University. She has previously worked for companies such as CCEA and Ulster University. Most recently she worked for Dance Resource Base NI as an Administrative Assistant. Rachael also wrote a novel called Edge of Heaven which has won numerous awards and has Co-Founded a group called Cinepunk for film lovers.


Roy Bailie OBE Chairman

Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle CBE Vice-Chairman

James Hunt

Ken Lindsay

Stephen Kingon CBE

Professor Dolores O’Reilly

Jane Wells

Richard McBride


Sean Rafferty

Sean Rafferty was born in Belfast and brought up in Newcastle, Co. Down. He studied law at Queen’s University. Belfast, and soon after began his career in broadcasting. Sean is a respected arts broadcaster, having presented a variety of radio and television programmes on BBC Radio 3, BBC Northern Ireland and BBC Radio Ulster. Since 1997 Sean has been the regular presenter of In Tune on Radio 3.