Martin Fraser, Ireland’s leading civil servant, is set to leave Merrion Street from 2022 and become Irish Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Fraser’s London move is an unusual one, but his extensive network with senior London officials has been noted. The move also comes at a time of intensely strained relations on either side of the Irish Sea as Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol continue to dominate headlines, Troubles related legacy issues persist to to the present day and the political temperature in the North remains at a near constant boiling point.
A Dublin native, Fraser is one of the most influential persons at the heart of the Irish Government despite the fact that few among the wider public will recognise him or his name. He has served as the Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach under three different Taoisigh: Enda Kenny, Leo Varadkar and now Micheál Martin. The high profile position essentially means that Fraser is secretary general to the government and allows him direct input into key national issues. He has steadily climbed the ranks of the civil service since first joining in 1986 and has served in a variety of roles including Assistant Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach from 2007 to 2011 and director of the Northern Ireland division to name just a few.
Fraser’s move is also part of a wider shake-up on the diplomatic front as the Irish Ambassador to Paris, Patricia O’Brien is set to move to Rome and be replaced by Niall Burgess, the Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). Elsewhere, Deputy Secretary General in the DFA Brendan Rogers will be appointed Irish Ambassador to the Netherlands. Elsewhere, in 2022 Geraldine Byrne-Nason will replace Dan Mulhall as the Ambassador of Ireland to the United States and vacate her role as Ambassador to the United Nations, which will be filled by Fergal Mythen, currently Director General of the Ireland, UK and Americas Division in DFA.