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NIO Appoints Former DFI Chief as New Permanent Secretary

The freshly-appointed new Permanent Secretary of the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) will bring a “wealth of experience” to the role, Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris has said.

Julie Harrison has been appointed to the role, replacing outgoing Madeleine Alessandri, who left the post in July to become the new Chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee and Head of the Joint Intelligence Unit.

Ms Harrison was previously Permanent Secretary of the Department for Infrastructure (DfI), having joined the NI Civil Service in 2020 as Deputy Secretary in the Department of Justice (DoJ).

She was appointed as Strategic Advisor to the NI Strategic Investment Board in 2015, having previously served as Northern Ireland Chair and UK Board Member of the National Lottery Community Fund, a Director of the Building Change Trust and co-optee to the Northern Ireland Committee of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.

Mr Heaton-Harris said he was “delighted” Ms Harrison had taken on the role.

“She is an outstanding civil servant, has a passion for the place and will bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the post,” he said.

“The NIO has some of the most dedicated and hard working civil servants I know, all of whom are committed to making a positive difference and to delivering for all the people of Northern Ireland.

“Julie will play a central role in supporting them and in guiding the department to realise its vision for Northern Ireland: to make it a better place to live, to work and to invest. I look forward to welcoming Julie to the NIO and to working together.”

Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, who made the appointment with the approval of the Prime Minister, also congratulated Ms Harrison on her new role.

“Julie brings a wealth of experience from her time in the Northern Ireland Civil Service and I look forward to working with Julie in her new role as Permanent Secretary at the Northern Ireland Office,” he said.

“I would also like to thank Madeleine Alessandri for her excellent leadership of the department over the last three years and Dominic Wilson for steering the department over recent weeks.”

Ms Harrison, who is expected to take up the post in September, said: “I am looking forward to working with the Secretary of State, the team in the NIO and a wide range of community, business and political voices to create solutions that enable Northern Ireland and the people who live here to prosper.”

Source: Belfast Telegraph