It is increasingly likely the post of Head of Communications in the Northern Ireland Office will have to be advertised in wake of appointment of current incumbent

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There has been a mutinous response in some civil service circles following the ‘parachuting’ into the NIO press office of Amanda Craig who had originally worked as a press officer for the Historical Enquiries Team and for the press office of the PSNI.

Dennis Godfrey the Director of Communications in the NIO is retiring in the Autumn. A circular from nowhere landed with NIO employees announcing that Amanda Craig was joining the Press Office as ‘Head of Communications.’

The job had not been advertised openly and there was no evidence of any internal trawling to fill the post. All jobs, especially well salaried civil service posts are hotly contested in the current economic climate. Several names of people who might have been interested in the Head of Communications job were run by me. No-one up until now was afforded an opportunity to throw a hat in the ring. Having raised this issue I now know ‘ feathers have been flying.’

No-one is questioning the integrity or capacity of Amanda Craig but it was the manner of her appointment which has put the cat among the pigeons. She was literally parachuted into the job. Many questions are now being asked. Why did this happen? Why was she the chosen one over and above all others? She is a relatively young woman, who recently gave birth to a little baby.

Dennis Godfrey’s post is a very senior one carrying Grade 3 status. As Director of Communications he is more than a media liaison figure. He is one of the Secretary of State’s most senior and trusted advisors on major sensitive political matters. When he goes his job ‘goes’ with him. In the waning world of importance of the NIO with devolution now fully up and running the post of Head of Communications will have a lower grade attached to it. That said, it is still one of the ‘plum’ jobs in the NIO carrying with it an open door networking opportunity.

No- one has advised me that Amanda Craig is ‘acting up’ as ‘Head of Communications.’ I am told her job description is ‘Head of Communications.’ Everyone is clamming up when calls are put through to the NIO.

It is now being suggested to me that ultimately the job being done by Miss Craig will have to go to ‘open competition in the interest of transparency.’

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I am a regular contributor to discussion programmes on TV and radio both at home and abroad. An experienced political editor and author specialising in Politics, Security and 20th Century Art.

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