Top civil servant announces retirement date

Date published: 06 December 2019

The Head of the Civil Service has announced his intention to retire at the end of August after more than three years in the post.

David Sterling, Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service
David Sterling, Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service

David Sterling is making the announcement now so that a competition for his successor can be launched at the earliest opportunity when an Executive is restored.

Mr Sterling, whose civil service career has spanned over four decades, said he had always intended to retire in 2020. He informed colleagues this morning and has also written to local political leaders.

David Sterling said: “The last three years have been among the most challenging and difficult in the history of the Northern Ireland Civil Service. 

“We have found ourselves in the unique situation of working without ministerial direction to keep public services running and deliver the best possible outcomes for our people at a time of unprecedented challenge.

“The enormity of the task has put significant pressure on the NICS and I am proud of the way we have responded.

“Throughout my career, including my time as Head of the Civil Service, I have been impressed and humbled by the work of civil servants across departments and I want to thank them for the great work they do every day to help make people’s lives better.

“It has been an honour and a privilege to lead this organisation and I look forward to continuing to do so for the next number of months.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. David Sterling will turn 62 in March. He joined the Northern Ireland Civil Service on 13 February 1978.
  2. A recruitment competition for the Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service will be launched in due course following the return of ministers and will be overseen by the Northern Ireland Civil Service Commissioners.
  3. All media queries should be directed to The Executive Office Press Office on 028 9037 8142. Out of hours please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.

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