New permanent secretaries appointed

Permanent secretaries are the most senior civil servants in each department and work to ensure that the Northern Ireland Civil Service supports the Assembly, the Executive and the institutions of government.

Politically impartial, they are directly accountable to their respective minister in overseeing the implementation of the programme of government, while offering strategic advice to the minister on policy and implementation. They are also responsible for effective management of their department’s operations including account management and financial control. Here are the permanent secretaries heading up the new departments in Northern Ireland.

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The Executive Office: Malcolm McKibbin

Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) McKibbin is also the most senior adviser to the First Minister and the deputy First Minister. A civil engineer by training, McKibbin graduated from Southampton University before joining the Roads Service where he went on to be Chief Executive. He led Northern Ireland’s first Regional Transportation Strategy before becoming permanent secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development before taking up his role with the civil service.

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Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs: Noel Lavery

A chartered accountant by profession, Lavery joined the office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) in 2009 in various roles before taking up the position as Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) permanent secretary in 2013 and took up the position with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in May 2016.

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Communities: Leo O’Reilly

A former permanent secretary in the Department of the Environment (DOE) since August 2009, O’Reilly overseen the local government shake up and the transfer of planning powers to local councils. Previously he had held the position of director of personnel and director of finance in the NI Prison Service post for the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) before joining the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) in 1997, where he went on to be its permanent secretary.

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Economy: Andrew McCormick

Andrew McCormick has worked in the civil service for almost 40 years mainly in the Department of Finance. He has previously been a permanent secretary for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety and was Chief Executive of Health and Social Care for almost a decade.

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Education: Paul Sweeney

A permanent secretary for the Department of Education since 2010, Sweeny has previously held the same post at the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure. He has previously held the post of deputy secretary in OFMDFM having come from deputy secretary of DRD, where he was responsible for spatial planning and transport.

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Finance: David Sterling

After an early career in the Police Authority for Northern Ireland, Sterling took on a range of jobs including overseeing water and sewerage reform as senior finance director at the Department for Regional Development. He was made permanent secretary of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in 2008 and in 2013 chaired the Executive’s G8 Summit steering group. He was transferred to the Department of Finance and Personnel, as permanent secretary in 2014.

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 Health: Richard Pengelly

Richard Pengelly has been the Department of Health’s permanent secretary since 2014 having previously held the post at the Department for Regional Development. A chartered accountant, he worked in the Northern Ireland Audit Office and in private accounting practice before joining the department.

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Infrastructure: Peter May

Peter May was appointed as the permanent secretary of the new Department for Infrastructure having previously held the same position as permanent secretary of the Department for Regional Development since 2014. In previous positions he has been principal private secretary to the Deputy First Minister, deputy director, Strategy and European Affairs in the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister and business transformation director in the Water Service.

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Justice: Nick Perry

Nick Perry has been the permanent secretary of the Department of Justice (DoJ) since April 2010. Before that he was Director General of Criminal Justice and Policing in the NIO. Previously he has been posted in policy and finance positions, as well as being principal private secretary to Mo Mowlam and Peter Mandelson.

 

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