In the news

April 23, 1999

Calm, reliable and genial, George Quigley is not a man who inspires cross words.

He has put his qualities to use not only as a civil servant and businessman, as chairman of Ulster Bank, but also working to bring communities together in Ireland, assessing issues around teaching and standards on the Dearing Committee and, lately, serving as a member of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. His ability to ask difficult questions without making enemies may also come in handy in his new post as chairman of the Scottish Fee Support Review.

Now aged 69, he was educated at Ballymena Academy and Queen's University, Belfast, where he gained a first-class degree in history, followed by a PhD. Having co-edited a book on John Mey, a 15th-century archbishop of Armagh, he continues his interest in medieval church history as a hobby, along with gardening and music.

Appointed assistant principal in the Northern Ireland civil service, he rose to become a permanent secretary in four different departments by the time he left in 1988.

Since then, his interests have been steered more towards business and education. A former director of the main board of National Westminster Bank and now chairman of NatWest Pension Fund, he has also just been appointed chairman of Short Bros.

He has long been involved in cross-border business initiatives in Ireland and helped with a major report comparing economies north and south of the border. He also mooted the idea of "a third track", covering development of economic opportunities for the whole island of Ireland. In 1997, he received the Compaq Lifetime Achievement Award for promoting cross-border economic cooperation.

Described as "energetic and avuncular", he can also be sharply critical. He resigned as founding chairman of the Royal Hospitals Trust, which runs Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital, after criticising the way the National Health Service was run.

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