Ian Marshall was born on a mixed family farm near Markethill in Co. Armagh, Northern Ireland. His father was a farmer and his mother a school teacher, he was the 3rd of four children.
In the early years he attended Newry Model Primary School with his siblings, where his mother was a teacher, transferring to Markethill Primary school when his mother moved to take up a teaching post closer to the family home. He subsequently took the transfer test and moved on to complete secondary education at The Royal School Armagh, progressing to Greenmount Agricultural College to further his education undertaking a Diploma in Agriculture with a view to return to the farm to expand and grow the family business.
During this period the dairy business was grown and expanded in conjunction with a beef enterprise with cereals grown on farm to complement the livestock enterprises. At the same time as a young man a significant amount of time was committed to support the work of the Ulster Farmers’ Union through their committee structure, Management Board and Executive Committee culminating in his election as Vice President in 2011 and election as President in 2014.
A number of years later he returned to academia when the opportunity arose to complete a Masters in Agri-Food Business Development at Ulster University and Babson College in Boston, USA.
Ian Marshall has a natural ability to lead and plan, he is a strategist by nature and gets great satisfaction from negotiation and dialogue, finding solutions to problems and managing crises.
Ian Marshall currently works within the Centre for Advanced Sustainable Energy (CASE) at Queens University Belfast (QUB). He formally worked in the Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS) also in QUB which is one of four Global Research Institutes at Queen's University Belfast, and was established to address the key, international challenge of the future of the world's food systems.
Following two terms as Vice President and a term as President Ian Marshall stepped down in 2016 from the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU). He has also served on the Agri-Food Strategy Board for NI (AFSB), the Executive Committee of the Young Farmers’ Club of Ulster (YFCU), The Farm Safety Partnership and the College Advisory Group to the College of Agriculture Food and Rural Development (CAFRE). Furthermore, he was Regional Chair for LANTRA NI and was a member of the Assured Foods Standards Ownership Body and sits on the UK Board for NFU Mutual.
He is also a Professional Member of the Institute of Agricultural Management P.Agric (IAgrM).
Ian Marshall has worked in political lobbying for over 35 years representing businesses, farm families, and rural communities across many organisations culminating in his work as President of the Ulster Farmers Union.
He was elected as an Independent Ulster Unionist Senator in 2018 to Seanad Eireann, making history as the first ever Ulster Unionist elected to the upper chamber of the Irish Parliament, serving from 2018-2020.
As well as his work within the Irish Senate he served on the Committee for the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, the Joint Committee for Climate Change and Environment, and the Joint Committee for Rural and Community Development.
This unique position within the Seanad created a platform to build relationships and facilitate cooperation north, south, east and west, across many areas of business, trade, and education, focusing on uniting people and working better together.
This work was enhanced and supported with his role as part of the British Irish Association (BIA), and with his experience having represented the Irish Government on the British Irish Parliamentary Association (BIPA).
Although not returned in 2020 Ian continued to build on the progress made during his time in the 25th Seanad.
In 2022 he stood as a candidate for the Ulster Unionist Party in the NI Assembly Elections.
Much of his work focused on building relationships and developing collaboration between business, industry, academia, and politics, ‘opening doors and opening minds’, working together for the greater good across one island and between two islands.
Ian continues working to unite people, deliver change, and make Northern Ireland a successful progressive place where everyone can prosper and everyone can call home.