NICS head David Sterling on driving diversity and another year without ministers

Written by Civil Service World on 23 December 2019 in News
News

As 2020 approaches, senior figures from across government reflect on their highlights and challenges of 2019, look ahead to the next 12 months and share their favourite festive memories

Photo: PA

What was your highlight of 2019?

In what has been another difficult year there have been a number of highlights, not least the phenomenal success of The Open Championship at Royal Portrush Golf Club. This was the culmination of a huge collaborative effort over a number of years. It showcased all that is best about Northern Ireland on a global stage. The icing on the cake was an Irish winner, Shane Lowry. However, the standout highlight for me has been the passage of the Historical Institutional Abuse (NI) Act on the last day of parliament. In the absence of our executive, the victims and survivors of institutional abuse have had to wait too long for justice. This act helps put right a grievous wrong and paves the way for them to receive the redress they so clearly deserve.

What has been the most significant change in your organisation this year?

I am pleased we are continuing to make good progress with our goal of making the NICS a truly diverse and inclusive organisation. We have seen improvements in our gender balance at senior levels and worked hard, with some notable success, to promote LGBT inclusion. But perhaps the most significant achievement has been managing public services without ministers for well in excess of 1,000 days – something I wouldn’t have thought possible when the institutions collapsed in 2017. That said, we need our ministers back – their absence is being felt more and more acutely across public services.

"Perhaps the most significant achievement has been managing public services without ministers for well in excess of 1,000 days – something I wouldn’t have thought possible when the institutions collapsed in 2017"

What will be the biggest challenge of 2020 – and how are you preparing to meet it?

In the midst of so much uncertainty it’s difficult to pick out the biggest challenge. In 2020 it looks like we will be planning for another round of political talks to re-establish the devolved institutions, and the possibility of direct rule if these fail – alongside the ongoing challenge posed by Brexit. And all in an uncertain and tight budgetary context. Plus ça change…

Tell us a favourite festive memory from your youth...

The Beano Annual, Airfix models, The Great Escape, Quality Street, the Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special and my granny (with most of a bottle of sherry in her) reminding me that “an orange and a thruppenny bit was all we got in our day”. And that was just last year…

Author Display Name
Civil Service World
Image description
PA
Share this page
Editor's Pick
Promote as primary content
Not Promoted

Share this page

Further reading in our policy hubs

CONTRIBUTIONS FROM READERS

Please login to post a comment or register for a free account.

Contact the author

The contact details for the Civil Service World editorial team are available on our About Us page.

Related Articles

Related Sponsored Articles