The sense of a changing era at Stormont has been amplified by the announcement that the head of the Civil Service is to retire.
This year has seen a new first minister, the first official opposition at Stormont since 1972, a cadre of young new ministers and the announcement of senior journalist David Gordon as the Executive’s official spokesman.
Yesterday Sir Malcolm McKibbin announced that in January he will step down as the Province’s most senior civil servant.
Sir Malcolm, who has spent five years in the position, will be replaced by a candidate who emerges from “an open external competition”, the Executive said.
In a statement, the veteran mandarin said: “Against a challenging backdrop of increasing demand and finite resources, it has been an honour and a privilege to successfully lead the Civil Service through its most radical reform programme in over 40 years so that today, it is well placed to meet the challenges of the future.”
First Minister Arlene Foster said: “Over the past five years, Sir Malcolm has been instrumental in helping to lead and reshape the Northern Ireland Civil Service and his leadership has displayed the best attributes of our public servants.”
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said that Sir Malcolm had provided “sound and constructive advice to ministers”.
He added: “As head of the Civil Service, Malcolm has led by example and served ministers and the entire Executive with integrity and impartiality.”