SDLP Opposition calls for transparency around Pengelly appointment

education cara hunter matthew o'toole Education Authority

The SDLP Opposition at Stormont has called for transparency around the process that led to the appointment of Richard Pengelly as Chief Executive of the Education Authority.


Education Minister Paul Givan appointed him to the role on Thursday. He had been working as Permanent Secretary at the Department of Justice.

Leader of the Opposition Matthew O’Toole MLA said the appointment raised a number of questions.

South Belfast MLA Mr O’Toole said:

“The appointment of the new Chief Executive of the Education Authority and the way in which it has been handled raise a number of questions for the Education Minister and the Executive. It is important that the operation of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, including the deployment of senior civil servants, is transparent, particularly following the report of the RHI Inquiry. Reshuffling Permanent Secretaries in this way is not, I believe, a good way of doing business.

“I have a number of concerns about the nature of this appointment, including the way it was announced late in the evening one day before an Assembly recess. The SDLP Opposition has therefore tabled a number of questions and written directly to Executive Ministers and the Head of the Civil Service seeking clarity on the process for this appointment, the details of any recruitment process that preceded the announcement and the discussions that took place between Ministers on the nature of such a secondment. It is in the public interest for these questions to be answered quickly.

“If the Executive wants the public to have faith in our institutions and the people running them then there is a need for maximum openness and transparency and that’s what the SDLP Opposition will continue to demand.”

SDLP Opposition Education Spokesperson Cara Hunter said:

“The SDLP has wanted to see fundamental change to the Education Authority for some time, but it is important that this change is handled in the correct manner.

“In our view the Education Authority is not currently fit for purpose and its leadership has a significant challenge ahead to correct the course the organisation is on.

"By most measures - finding school places for special educational needs pupils, ensuring the safety of children when travelling to school or establishing fair pay and working conditions for staff - there is a huge job ahead and if it is not handled correctly it will be our children and hardworking school staff who suffer.”

Font size