The Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS; Irish: Státseirbhís Thuaisceart Éireann; Ulster-Scots: Norlin Airlann Cïvil Sarvice) is the permanent bureaucracy of employees that supports the Northern Ireland Executive, the devolved government of Northern Ireland.
The NICS is one of three civil services in the United Kingdom, the others being the Home Civil Service and HM Diplomatic Service. The heads of these services are members of the Permanent Secretaries Management Group.
Northern Ireland was established by the Government of Ireland Act 1920 and the first devolved Parliament of Northern Ireland took office on 7 June 1921. The first civil servants were transferred from the Irish civil service headquartered at Dublin Castle. The departments of the Northern Ireland Government were initially the following:
An additional Ministry of Health and Local Government was formed in 1944, in preparation for the National Health Service and other aspects of the welfare state. In 1965, that department was split between the Ministry of Health and Social Services and the new Ministry of Development. A further Ministry of Community Relations was established in 1969, in response to the early stages of the Troubles.
The Parliament of Northern Ireland was dissolved on 30 March 1972, when direct rule was imposed by the United Kingdom Government. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland assumed responsibility for government and was assisted by a new Northern Ireland Office. The NIO absorbed the Ministry of Home Affairs and took direct responsibility for security, justice and constitutional policy.