Niall commenced his career in the civil service working as a Clerical Officer in the Public Appointments Service, and has now progressed to be Vice Consul (Deputy Head of Mission) at Ireland’s Consulate General in Frankfurt, Germany. For Niall, being able to help people is one of the key reasons that he is in the job, as it is immensely rewarding. 

Tell us a little about your career path from Clerical Officer to your current role?

I started as a Clerical Officer is the Public Appointments Service in 2015, where I mainly worked on organising recruitment campaigns for hospital consultant positions. After a year, I was promoted to Executive Officer (supervisor) and moved to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, where I initially worked in the Crisis unit. I worked on responding to large-scale crises such as terrorist attacks and natural disasters, as well as training and preparing staff on how to effectively respond to such incidents. I moved on to the Foreign Birth Registrations (FBR) unit, where I approved applications for citizenship through descent. After I achieved a promotion to Higher Executive Officer, I became manager of the FBR unit. I managed a team of 35 staff across two locations, ensuring that an efficient and professional service was delivered in the face of unprecedented demand. I then moved on to be a manager in the Consular Assistance unit, where I worked with Irish citizens in difficult situations abroad – including deaths, assaults and other sensitive cases.

Since late 2019, I have had the privilege to serve as Vice Consul (Deputy Head of Mission) at Ireland’s Consulate General in Frankfurt, Germany. I have helped to establish the Consulate – Ireland’s first on mainland Europe – and work every day to support the Irish community here and deepen relationships with key contacts across the worlds of politics, business and culture. I also manage a busy public diplomacy programme, with events ranging from book clubs to Irish dancing to business-focused panel discussions. 

What opportunities did the Clerical Officer role provide you with?

As a Clerical Officer, I was able to use skills I had obtained through my previous academic and professional work and also contribute to the organisation’s wider goals. This included contributing to the Public Appointments Service’s equality and diversity programme – something which I am particularly passionate about. I also had many opportunities to upskill in various areas, which played a part in my achieving promotions and a diplomatic posting abroad. Being a Clerical Officer also gave me insight into the civil service as a whole and the opportunities available across the system, which led to my choosing to pursue a longer-term career in the service.

Can you tell us about a highlight from your career in the Civil Service?

One thing I am particularly proud of is the practical assistance I was able to offer to Irish citizens abroad throughout the Covid pandemic. This included helping Irish citizens who became stranded abroad to come home by issuing emergency travel documents, assisting people who ended up staying in quarantine hotels and helping hundreds of people to return home on repatriation flights from around the world. I also worked with the Irish community here in Germany throughout the pandemic to ensure that they were able to access supports such as healthcare when they needed it.

For me, being able to help people is one of the key reasons that I am in the job – so this type of work was immensely rewarding.

Why did you choose a career in the public sector?

Work/life balance was a big factor for me – I came from another career which tended to have irregular working hours so being able to have some stability was really welcome.

Another big factor was being able to work across a variety of areas and use different skills: no day is really the same and there are all sorts of opportunities to get involved with things outside of your direct working area that might interest you.