A senior police officer who turned down a £500,000 pay-off two years ago is to retire.
Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie will step aside next March after spending more than three decades with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). She is the highest-ranking female member of the force.
The mother-of-two spurned a lucrative redundancy package established as part of wider policing reforms in Northern Ireland.
Policing Board chair Anne Connolly said: “A positive role model, DCC Gillespie has used her wide-ranging experience to provide inspiration and encouragement to officers and staff both within the service, within the wider Northern Ireland community and within policing nationally and internationally.”
The policy of awarding sizeable redundancy packages to retiring officers, introduced to make way for more Catholics and minorities as part of the transition from conflict to peace time, has ended.
The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) was renamed the PSNI as part of changes which followed the signing of the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement.
Before the 2011 deadline for the redundancy scheme named after its architect, Tory peer Lord Chris Patten, Mrs Gillespie said she loved her work too much to give it up.
Then she said: “My sense of vocation and commitment to policing now is no less than when I joined the Royal Ulster Constabulary in 1982.
“I enjoy what I am doing, it’s much more than money, it’s a sense of fulfilment and a great career with the capacity to make a real positive benefit.”
The ardent Chelsea fan was awarded an OBE in 2009.
The Policing Board is made up of politicians and community members and scrutinises the police force.
Its chair said: “Judith has made an enormous contribution to policing in Northern Ireland throughout her 31-year career.”
Appointed the first female assistant chief constable in the PSNI in 2004, she achieved further success when appointed deputy chief constable in June 2009.
“As a chief officer, DCC Gillespie has provided strong leadership to the service in driving forward a programme of policing change and reform,” Ms Connolly added.
“A strong advocate for women in policing, Judith championed the introduction of the first gender action plan and diversity strategy for policing in Northern Ireland.”
A PSNI spokesman confirmed she had notified the Policing Board of her intention to retire on March 31 2014.
Stormont Justice Minister David Ford sent his best wishes.
“Over a long and very distinguished career in policing, DCC Judith Gillespie has made an enormous contribution to the security and safety of the Northern Ireland community,” he said.
“Judith has successfully opened many doors that have changed the face of policing and made the PSNI an employer welcoming to everyone. In her role as a senior officer Judith has been a key driver of the reforms that have modernised the PSNI and made it fit for policing in the 21st century.
“I look forward to continuing to work productively with Judith over the next few months and sincerely thank her for her service to date.”
Democratic Unionist Party Board member Jonathan Craig said she could look back on her achievements with pride - including breaking through the “glass ceiling”.
“Undoubtedly, this accomplishment still acts as an inspiration for others,” he said.
“Whilst we may have taken differing views on a range of matters at the board, I wish DCC Gillespie every success for her future, wherever that may lead.”