New Permanent Secretary roles announced

Date published: 24 January 2018

The Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) has today announced changes at Permanent Secretary level following an external competition.


Denis McMahon who is currently Deputy Secretary, Work and Inclusion Group in the Department for Communities, is to take up the position of Permanent Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

Noel Lavery, the current Permanent Secretary DAERA, will move to the Department for the Economy, replacing Dr Andrew McCormick, following the announcement that he is to be appointed Director General of International Relations, reflecting the increasing challenges of Brexit.

Sue Gray, who is the Director General, Propriety and Ethics Team and Head of Private Offices Group in the Cabinet Office, will be the new Permanent Secretary in the Department of Finance. Hugh Widdis who has been undertaking the role in a temporary capacity will return to his position as Departmental Solicitor and Head of the Government Legal Service in Northern Ireland.

Further appointments may be made from this Permanent Secretary competition which will remain live until the end of March 2019. The Executive Office’s Katrina Godfrey and Invest NI’s Tracy Meharg are the next two successful candidates on the list for this competition.

Denis McMahon and Sue Gray will take up their new posts over the next couple of months.

Notes to editors: 

1. The Permanent Secretary competition received 42 applicants, of which 21 were listed for interview. The post was advertised on October 16, 2017, with a closing date for applications of November 3. Interviews were held from January 3 to 16, 2018.

2. The Permanent Secretary salary scale is £114,047 - £133,327.

3. Media enquiries to TEO Press Office on 028 9037 8283. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Office via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.

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