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New man Sterling in charge of Civil Service in Northern Ireland

By Noel McAdam

The man left holding Stormont's purse strings after the Executive collapsed has been appointed head of the Civil Service on an interim basis.

David Sterling took over the post yesterday, allowing Dr Malcolm McKibben to take up his role as effective chairman of some of the talks aimed at restoring the Executive.

Dr McKibben, who himself had expected to have resigned by now, said: "In the face of these unusual circumstances, making this temporary appointment allows me to concentrate fully on my role in the talks and for David to discharge the significant responsibilities of the post."

Dr McKibben now plans to stand down at the end of June - just after the Secretary of State James Brokenshire's "immovable" date for an agreement of June 29.

The Executive has not met since mid-winter. There is no budget or programme for government for the current financial year, which began in April, along with major funding decisions which have been left in abeyance.

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