The post of ‘Head of Communications’ in the Northern Ireland Office may now end up being advertised.
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 past 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 Ms Craig will have to go to ‘open competition in the interest of transparency.’
Why is it necessary to state “She is a relatively young woman, who recently gave birth to a little baby”? Would you have made the same reference if the person in question was a 30-something man who’s partner had just had a baby? Does the fact that she is a mother make her less able to do her job? Or is it that you believe that all top civil service jobs should be held by men? The comment is not relevant to the story and is sexist in it’s inclusion. Disappointing coming from a respected journalist like yourself.
Thanks Eamonn for bringing this to our attention. Feel sorry for the lady in question as you have also pointed out but you are absolutely right in saying that questions should be asked. Have to say though, this has probably put me off from even thinking of applying as it will have to been seen to be go inside to keep people happy.
Yep – I know you are only repeating what people have said to you Eamonn, but the comment about the young woman and baby is not on.