O’Toole: Further questions to be answered about appointment of Education Authority Chief Executive

matthew o'toole Naomi Long Richard Pengelly

Leader of the Opposition at Stormont Matthew O’Toole MLA has said that there are further questions to be answered about the appointment of former Permanent Secretary Richard Pengelly as Chief Executive of the Education Authority after he asked Justice Minister Naomi Long about the issue today.

Mr O’Toole pointed out that the former Permanent Secretary at the Department of Justice was seconded to the Education Authority following a vote proposed by Justice Minister Naomi Long’s colleague Rachel Ferguson and sought further clarity on the appointment in the Assembly today.

Matthew O’Toole MLA said:

“The secondment of Richard Pengelly from the Department of Justice to the Education Authority has raised a number of serious questions about the reshuffling of senior officials at the top of the civil service. Unfortunately, to date, the answers from Ministers have been far from satisfactory.

“Faced with legitimate scrutiny about the recruitment process, timelines, internal trawls, the level of consultation with Executive Ministers and the civil service, some Ministers have responded, it has to be said, in poor temper. I make no apologies for asking important questions and Ministers should, frankly, get used to it.

“Today I asked the Justice Minister if she had been consulted about the reshuffling of her former Permanent Secretary to a new role. I was surprised when she began by suggesting that it wasn’t a matter for her - the departure of her most senior civil servant would appear to be worth some consideration - and then when she refused to answer a question about the proposal for secondment at the Education Authority Board coming from an Alliance Party Councillor.

“The failure to answer questions isn’t good enough and if Ministers will not cooperate then the Opposition will continue to press on this issue through other means available. The way government is run in this place has to change, that much has been clear since the RHI Inquiry report, the SDLP Opposition will continue to insist on it.”

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