Thursday 18 January 2018

Top civil service job for man behind queen, Obama visits

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

THE senior civil servant who guided the visits of Queen Elizabeth and US President Barack Obama was appointed to the top position in the public service yesterday.

Martin Fraser was appointed as secretary general to the Government and secretary general of the Department of the Taoiseach.

Brian Purcell, the head of the Irish Prison Service, was appointed to the Department of Justice. Mr Purcell followed the same route as his predecessor in both jobs, Sean Aylward, who is now retiring.

Mr Fraser is currently the Taoiseach's Northern Ireland office chief and has been an assistant secretary in the department since 2002.

As reported in the Irish Independent last week, he was the favourite to replace the outgoing secretary general Dermot McCarthy.

From Malahide in north Co Dublin, Mr Fraser is in his early 40s and married with two children. He is a GAA fan and supporter of the St Sylvester's Club and is described by friends as a sociable man who enjoys a pint.

Mr Fraser was pivotal in the teeing up and organisation of the queen's visit, which passed off successfully. He was also involved in the running of Mr Obama's visit.

He was also a key figure in the negotiation of the Hillsborough Agreement, which was the final deal for devolution of justice powers from Westminster to the Northern Executive.

"He's cool, well organised and good at putting people in place. He's very politically astute. He was superb during the queen and Obama visits," a source said.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is also understood to have developed a good relationship with Mr Fraser.

The civil servant briefed him as opposition leader on developments in the Northern Ireland peace process.

The Government appointed Mr Fraser on the recommendation of Mr Kenny. Mr Fraser holds a B Comm degree from UCD and an Msc (Econ) degree from Trinity College Dublin.

On his appointment, Mr Fraser will also become the chairperson of the National Economic and Social Council. He joined the Department of the Taoiseach as finance officer in 1999.

As assistant secretary he has served as head of the Northern Ireland Division, Corporate Affairs Division and Economic and Social Policy Division.

He previously served in the Departments of Social Welfare, Foreign Affairs, Agriculture and Food.

Irish Independent

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