Northern Ireland news

Head of north's civil service Sir Malcolm McKibbin to stay on until April

Senior civil servant Sir Malcolm McKibbin is to remain in post for several months, it has been reported. Picture by Mal McCann

THE north's most senior civil servant, Sir Malcolm McKibbin, is to remain in office despite earlier plans to step down this month.

An Executive Office spokesman confirmed last night that Sir Malcolm had been asked to stay on following a request from Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness before the latest crisis.

The spokesman said: "Sir Malcolm McKibbin was asked by the First Minister and deputy First Minister to postpone the date of his retirement".

"He has agreed to do so and will remain in post until April."

Sir Malcolm became head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service - which is separate from the British civil service – in 2011.

He has overseen the work of more than 23,000 officials and the reduction in the number of government departments from 12 to nine.

He was due to leave office at the end of this month but will remain in post amid the political uncertainty at Stormont.

Two other senior civil servants - David Sterling, permanent secretary at the Department of Finance, and Andrew McCormick, permanent secretary at the Department of Enterprise - are believed to be among the front-runners tipped to take over the top job.

Both men appeared before the Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee last year to give evidence as part of its inquiry into the RHI scheme.

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