Former Northern Ireland civil service head to join peace charity board

By on 23/08/2017 | Updated on 24/09/2020
Sir Malcolm McKibbin, former Northern Ireland civil service permanent secretary

The former Northern Ireland civil service permanent secretary, Sir Malcolm McKibbin, is to join the board of Co-operation Ireland: a charity that works to advance peace and reconciliation between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Dr Christopher Moran, chairman of Co-operation Ireland, described McKibbin’s appointment as an “inspiring” move for the organisation at a pivotal time for Northern Ireland. With the main nationalist and unionist parties unable to agree a power-sharing accord, the province currently lacks an elected government, whilst Britain’s looming exit from the EU threatens fresh political turmoil.

Man in the middle

McKibbin was the most senior adviser to the former first and deputy first ministers for Northern Ireland, secretary to the Northern Ireland Executive, and corporate leader of the province’s civil servants. He had initially announced a retirement date of January this year, but deferred that until June in order to chair talks aimed at brokering agreement between the nationalists of Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party.

Moran said: “As Co-operation Ireland continues to play a leading role in the development and sustaining of Anglo-Irish relations, as well as nurturing cross-community relations within Northern Ireland and building confidence and linkages across the island of Ireland, it is important that we are able to avail of the expertise of Sir Malcolm in order to provide continued strategic direction for the organisation.”

A make or break moment

Commenting on his appointment, McKibbin acknowledged the precariousness of Northern Ireland’s current situation: “The work of Co-operation Ireland is crucial at this stage, especially given the challenges that both Brexit and the current stalemate at [the assembly’s home of] Stormont present across the island of Ireland and between the UK and Ireland. I look forward to serving Co-operation Ireland under the stewardship of Dr Christopher Moran and the leadership of its CEO, Peter Sheridan.”

McKibbin is due to take up the new position in late September. He will join other senior figures in Irish politics who already sit on the charity’s board, including the former prime minister, or Taoiseach, of the Republic of Ireland, John Bruton, and former Northern Ireland first minister Peter Robinson.

About Ben Willis

Ben Willis is a journalist and editor with a varied background reporting on topics including public policy, the environment, renewable energy and international development. His work has appeared in a variety of national newspapers including the Guardian, Daily Telegraph and Times, as well as numerous specialist business, policy and consumer publications.

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