24 September 2005

Retirement of ‘top securocrat’

The Irish News Online

By William Graham

Sir Joseph Pilling, who was once labelled by Sinn Fein as being the “top securocrat” at the Northern Ireland Office, has retired.

Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness had earlier this year criticised Mr Pilling but the NIO Permanent Secretary was defended by the then Secretary of State Paul Murphy who emphasised his support for the Good Friday agreement.

According to Sinn Fein the Permanent Secretary had once told a private meeting in the United States that the worst case scenario would be that SF would become the largest party in the north.

It was announced yesterday that Jonathan Phillips (53) has been appointed Permanent Secretary at the Northern Ireland Office and succeeds Sir Joe Pilling.

Mr Phillips takes up his new position at the beginning of December.

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