Who were the new Permanent Secretaries announced this week?

Stormont estate

The Northern Ireland Civil Service yesterday (24 January) announced new appointments to Permanent Secretary positions in several government departments.

Sue Gray has been appointed as Permanent Secretary of the Department of Finance (DoF). Ms Gray is presently the Director General of the Property & Ethics Team and Head of Private Offices Group in the Cabinet Office. No stranger to Northern Ireland, it is understood Ms Gray ran a pub in Newry during a career break from the Civil Service in the 1980s. She replaces Interim Permanent Secretary Hugh Widdis, who will return to his position of Departmental Solicitor.

Denis McMahon has been appointed as Permanent Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA). Mr McMahon is currently the Deputy Secretary, Work and Inclusion Group at the Department for Communities and was in 2007/8 then-First Minister Ian Paisley’s Principal Private Secretary in the former OFMdFM.

Noel Lavery, who is presently DAERA’s Permanent Secretary, will take up the same post at the Department for the Economy. Mr Lavery replaces Dr Andrew McCormick, who has been appointed Director General for International Relations and will focus on Brexit.

Ms Gray and Mr McMahon will take up their new positions within the next couple of months.

It is understood that further appointments will be made to Permanent Secretary positions within the next year and that Katrina Godfrey (Director of the Programme for Government at the Executive Office) and Tracy Meharg (Invest NI) will take up those positions. 

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