Victims’ Commissioner Kathryn Stone is leaving her post to take up a new job in England, it has been announced.
No details of Ms Stone’s new post have been released yet. The Office of the First and deputy First Minister said it will begin recruiting for her successor soon.
Ms Stone said her post in Northern Ireland has been the most challenging of her career, adding that she didn’t take the decision to leave lightly.
“I have not reached this decision lightly and it has, unquestionably, been the most difficult decision of my professional life and possibly the most emotionally taxing,” she said.”I am very sorry to be leaving a place that has become my home and leaving people who have become close friends.
“Throughout my career, I have taken on jobs and roles through which I can potentially make a difference. Given the situation here, this has been the most challenging role of my career. I am therefore grateful for the kind and thoughtful words of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.
“I have been uniquely privileged to serve individuals, families and groups and would further hope that they, most importantly, feel that I have made a difference: that I have represented them openly, fairly and with passion. It has been my guiding principle not only to give them a voice but to give them a voice that is heard, listened to and acted upon.”
Paying tribute to Ms Stone, who was appointed in 2012 for a four-year period, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness said she had worked tirelessly for the good of victims.
“We thank Kathryn Stone for her service to all victims. She has been tireless in her efforts to ensure people, families and groups were afforded a quality service, in acknowledging the legacy of the past and in building a better future, said the Ministers.
“Since Kathryn took up the post in September 2012 there have been considerable developments in the sector particularly the recent independent assessment of the Victims and Survivors Service. We remain committed to ensuring that the advice and recommendations brought to us by Kathryn are implemented.
“Throughout her time in office, Kathryn offered clear independent advice to Ministers on matters affecting victims and survivors. Kathryn brought considerable experience and professionalism to the post. She has represented and worked for all victims to highlight their concerns and improve their lives and we will be sorry to see her leave.
“We thank Kathryn for her work here and wish her every success in her new post.”
The Commission for Victims and Survivors was established in May 2008.
Ms Stone said she wishes her successor and Northern Ireland well for the future.
“I have been proud to serve both the First Minister and Deputy First Minister. I have been even prouder to serve all victims and survivors. I am equally proud of the achievements of the Commission staff and the Victims’ Forum. It has been an honour to work with them and to work here.
“I wish my successor well. I also hope that in Northern Ireland we can continue to embed and strengthen the political process for the benefit of everyone.”