27 September 2023

NORTHERN IRELAND: Top officials shuffled in poll lead-up

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The Permanent Secretary of the Northern Ireland Department of Health is to move to the Department of Justice as part of a major shake-up of the Province’s bureaucracy.

Richard Pengelly (pictured) is to swap roles with the top Public Servant at Justice, Peter May.

Also on the move is Katrina Godfrey, from her role in the Department for Infrastructure to head the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

Ms Godfrey will be the first woman to hold the job of Permanent Secretary within the Department.

Meanwhile, another Public Servant, Julie Harrison, is being promoted from a role within the Department of Justice to become Permanent Secretary in the Department for Infrastructure.

The moves are expected to take effect in April and are being overseen by the head of the Northern Ireland Public Service, Jayne Brady.

Sources said that with a Stormont Assembly election looming, Ms Brady was looking to the future and the possibility of an Assembly crisis that would leave Northern Ireland without a functioning Executive.

This occurred for three years between 2017 and 2020 when Public Servants, in effect, ran the Province.

The sources said Ms Brady wants the right people in place when the heads of the nine Stormont Departments could have a more prominent role, perhaps reluctantly, in the months ahead.

Belfast, 11 March 2022

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