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A University of Ulster lecturer and prominent Irish language advocate has been appointed a Chief Examiner with one of the UK’s leading qualification awarding bodies.

Niall Comer is the new Chief Examiner and Principal Moderator for Asset Languages (Irish) at Oxford Cambridge and RSA Examinations Awarding Body (OCR).

OCR provides a wide range of qualifications to meet the needs of learners of all ages and abilities. More than 10,000 schools and colleges actively deliver its qualifications, which include A Levels, GCSEs, GNVQs and NVQs.

Mr Comer has extensive experience as a teacher and examiner and is a member of the top-rating Irish and Celtic Studies Research Institute at the Coleraine campus.

He is President of Comhaltas Uladh, the Ulster branch of Conradh na Gaeilge (the Gaelic League), and is a former editor of the branch’s newspaper ‘An tUltach’. He is also a member of Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge (the National Body for Irish Language).

As Chief Examiner, Mr Comer will advise on linguistic matters and oversee the completion and moderation of OCR exams. He holds similar positions as a professional associate with the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) and as Chief Examiner for GCSE Irish (short course) and Key Stage III Irish Medium education. He also advises on the preparation of material for the Irish medium sector.

Before joining the University of Ulster, Mr Comer was Head of Irish in St. Patrick’s College Maghera, and Head of Irish in St. Patrick’s Academy Dungannon. He continues to work closely with the Secondary sector in Northern Ireland.

Mr Comer said: “I am delighted to have been made a Chief Examiner with OCR. It is an appointment that also underlines the status of the Irish and Celtic Studies Research Institute as one of the top three in that sector in the UK.

“The vibrancy of the language in Ireland and an ever growing Irish language community in Britain demonstrates its importance as a community language. The Institute has an international reputation for its work across many facets of the language and Celtic studies as well as for research into wider issues, such as issues that have an impact on learners of minority languages.”