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Head of Political Strategy

Category : Government
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Location : Belfast , London
Salary : £ 43,958 - £ 71,411
Type : Fixed Term , Loan
Closing Date : 2020-08-11
Date Posted : 2020-08-02
Reference : 35985  

We welcome and encourage applications from everyone, including groups currently underrepresented in our workforce and pride ourselves as being an employer of choice. To find out more about how we champion diversity and inclusion in the workplace, visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ministry-of-justice/about/equality-and-diversity


The Northern Ireland Office is the UK Government in Northern Ireland and works to make Northern Ireland a better place to live, work and do business. We have a wide range of responsibilities, including: underpinning political stability in Northern Ireland; overseeing the Northern Ireland devolution settlement; leading on national security policy in Northern Ireland; addressing the legacy of Northern Ireland’s past; delivering elections and constitutional reform in Northern Ireland; playing a key role in rebalancing the NI economy; representing NI interests, including around the Irish border, as the UK exits the EU. Our small size and diverse portfolio create a stimulating, fast-paced and challenging working environment, with regular engagement with a range of Ministers and senior officials. We support flexible working and have a modern, flexible IT system which helps enable this.


As Head of Political Strategy you will be responsible for supporting political objectives in Northern Ireland, particularly:

  • supporting the stability and peace brought about by the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and its successors;
  • supporting newly restored institutions including the NI Executive and NI Assembly to survive and thrive to deliver for the people of Northern Ireland;
  • delivery of the New Decade, New Approach agreement to restore the institutions reached in January 2020.


You will be responsible for:

  • developing a strong expertise on Northern Ireland politics and the events, people and decisions that shape it;
  • ensuring that the Northern Ireland Office and the whole of the UK Government maintains a strong understanding of Northern Ireland’s political events and their impact on UK Government policy and approach;
  • developing and maintaining excellent relationships across the NI political system, including with officials in the institutions such as the Northern Ireland Civil Service and the Northern Ireland Assembly, with Northern Ireland’s political parties, with opinion formers and influencers;
  • identifying and managing risks to political stability in Northern Ireland, including through the relationships you build within both Northern Ireland politics and across the UK Government;
  • managing the delivery by UK Government of our commitments made under the New Decade, New Approach deal to restore the Executive, and managing the governance arrangements under that agreement to oversee wider implementation of the agreement by all parties;
  • managing a small team with a focus on coaching, empowerment and inclusion.


A detailed knowledge of Northern Irish affairs is not essential, but successful candidates will be expected to be able to quickly grasp complex political issues and work to deliver policy effectively in the context of Northern Ireland. Some knowledge or understanding of Northern Ireland politics will be beneficial.

Willingness to undergo SC clearance, or existing clearance to that level.

To be successful, you must be able to demonstrate that you have:

  • Excellent political awareness, with the capacity to understand the wider implications of both your work and that of others
  • The ability to develop and maintain effective, responsive relationships with colleagues and stakeholders in a range of contexts, and to use your interpersonal skills to achieve results;
  • Good fundamental policy making skills, with excellent written and oral communication;
  • Previous experience of working closely with Ministers and senior officials;
  • A proven ability to work at pace and under pressure and dealing with high levels of uncertainty.


Good knowledge of Northern Ireland’s political environment would be beneficial.

For the essential and desirable criteria please upload a suitability statement of no more than 250 words setting out how you meet the essential/desirable criteria


We will assess you against the following Success Profiles behaviours at Level X during the selection process.

  • Communicating and Influencing
  • Seeing the Big Picture
  • Making Effective Decisions
  • Working Together
  • Delivering at Pace

More information on behaviours and success profiles can be found here.

The interview will be of a blended nature consisting of behaviours, experience and strength-based questions. The strength-based questions will require natural responses from the candidates.

Please note that in the event of a large number of applications being received we may run the initial sift on the lead Behaviour “communicating and influencing”.


Security clearance to SC level will be required for this post.


An eligibility sift will be carried out on the basis of the information contained in the application form. It is therefore important that all applicants demonstrate in their application how and to what extent their behaviours are relevant to the above criteria. Those candidates who do not clearly demonstrate that they meet the experience and behaviours will not be invited to interview.


The successful candidate will adopt the terms and conditions of the NIO for the length of their appointment.

Neither Detached Duty terms no relocation costs will apply to this post.


Further information about the post may be obtained from Paul Flynn on e-mail to paul.flynn@nio.gov.uk.


You can apply for this post through the Civil Service website at: civilservice.gov.uk. Once logged onto the site got to the civil service jobs page and then search for jobs in the Northern Ireland Office where the application form can be found.

Additional information received after the closing date will not be considered. Failure to provide sufficient information in support of an application prior to the closing date will not be considered as grounds for an appeal if an applicant is not short listed for interview.

HCS applicants who, because of disability, need assistance in completing the application form should contact MoJ Shared Services on 0845 010 3512.

All applications for employment are considered strictly on the basis of merit.

This job description should not be taken as constituting conditions of employment.

Please note that due to the high interest in NIO secondments, feedback cannot be given if you are unsuccessful at sift stage. Feedback is available on request if unsuccessful following interview.


Further information about us

We are a small and friendly department of approximately 203 staff. Due to our size we are able to offer staff more exposure to ministers and the opportunity to work on a far wider portfolio of responsibilities than might be the case in a larger department. This creates an interesting, though often challenging, work environment.

Other Benefits

The NIO offers a pleasant, modern work environment which allows consideration of a range of flexible working arrangements which support a good work/ life balance. These include flexible/ alternative working patterns, part-time and job-share options.

Benefits include:

               interest-free season ticket and bicycle loans

                Reward & Recognition scheme

Guaranteed Interview Scheme

The Northern Ireland Office operates the Guaranteed Interview Scheme, details of which are attached to the application form for this post.

Diversity Information

The Northern Ireland Office is committed to being an inclusive employer with a diverse workforce. We encourage applications from people from the widest possible diversity of backgrounds, cultures and experiences.

We particularly welcome applications from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) candidates, as they are under-represented within the NIO at this level.

The Northern Ireland Office strives to be an inclusive employer and is recognised by its staff and externally as being an employer where Diversity and Inclusion are valued.

We hold a Diversity & Inclusion Charter Mark and are an accredited Disability Confident Leader organisation

In March 2018 we won the award for Best Employer for Diversity & Equality in Northern Ireland (small employer category) in a Gala Award ceremony hosted by Legal-Island, a multi-award winning workplace compliance company based in Northern Ireland.

We have an active D&I network supporting colleagues through D&I Advocates, championed by our Directors.

We want all our people to feel valued for who they are and we are confident that you will find the NIO a warm, welcoming and inclusive place to work.

Further information on civil service careers can be found at  www.civil-service-careers.gov.uk

The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants. 

Appointment to the Civil Service is governed by the Civil Service Commission’s Recruitment Principles. You have the right to complain if you feel a department has breached the requirement of the Recruitment Principles.

Please contact SSCL (Moj-recruitment-vetting-enquiries@sscl.gse.gov.uk) in the first instance.

If you are not satisfied with the response, you may bring your complaint to the Commission. For further information on bringing a complaint to the Civil Service Commission please visit their web pages:


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