Northern Ireland news

Belfast City Council digital innovation tsar Jayne Brady announced as new civil service chief

Dr Jayne Brady has been announced as the new head of Northern Ireland's Civil Service

BELFAST City Council's digital innovation commissioner Jayne Brady has been announced as the new head of Northern Ireland's Civil Service.

Dr Brady, who has an engineering background, will succeed Jenny Pyper, who has been serving as an interim head since December 2020.

Ms Pyper was appointed after First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill failed to agree on a preferred candidate in an initial recruitment round last year.

The ministers agreed on Ms Brady after a second round.

Dr Brady said she was "honoured" at the appointment and praised her new "dedicated and skilled workforce" which she said has "done an outstanding job in the most challenging of circumstances".

She will oversee the further development of the service "as a high-performing organisation that effectively supports the institutions of government".

"I am under no illusions about the scale of the challenges ahead, but I am looking forward to supporting the executive in delivering their commitments and priorities."

Ms Brady has more than two decades of leadership experience, ranging from blue chip corporations to start-ups and with a track record in venture capital initiatives.

She was recently appointed to the UK Government's Innovation Expert Group and is an entrepreneurial expert for the Said Business School at Oxford University.

Mrs Foster said it is "a hugely significant appointment" and after a "tumultuous year for the public sector a renewed focus on rebuilding and delivering for the people of Northern Ireland" is needed.

"Jayne is an experienced and highly skilled leader who has much to bring to the role."

Ms O'Neill lauded Dr Brady's "extensive experience and skills" for the "critical leadership role" supporting the executive to deliver New Decade, New Approach (NDNA) agreement commitments, Programme for Government and "the monumental task of recovery" from the pandemic.

SDLP MLA Colin McGrath said constructive civil service reform which was laid out in the NDNA agreement "must be the top priority".

"A proper, functioning civil service that is fit for purpose in a post-pandemic recovery will be vital in administering the way forward with whichever financial supports to businesses are needed," he added.

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