A distinguished 35-year career with the Isle of Man Government will come to an end on June 29 when Mark Kelly retires from his post as Chief Executive of the Department of Home Affairs.
The former Douglas High School pupil, aged 58, will leave behind a significant legacy after operating across a broad range of roles and departments during four decades of major change within the public sector.
Mark leaves Home Affairs in a strong position, having successfully delivered its core aim of maintaining public safety, an important element of the Island’s quality of life.
‘Although it’s with some sadness that I’m retiring, it’s tempered with pride in the performance of Home Affairs’ services. The dedication and professionalism of colleagues across all of our services has been inspirational and has enabled the Department to overcome many challenges.’
‘The police continue to ensure the crime rate remains low in the Island, and officers are working effectively in responding to emerging threats such as cybercrime. Among many achievements, the Force’s award of Champion status in the Investors for People scheme is indicative of the positive culture through which it operates.
‘Our prison was opened 10 years ago now and is a very well-run establishment, as acknowledged by the Independent Monitoring Board. This view was echoed recently by a team from Radio 4 who visited to cover the Island’s enlightened approach to e-cigarettes in prison, a pioneering project which gained much media attention.
‘Innovation is also a key part of the work of our Fire and Rescue Service, whose live fire facility opened almost two years ago. As well as saving money for the taxpayer in providing on-Island training for firefighters, it is the envy of many UK forces. The Fire and Rescue Service has been described as an “all-Island asset” by the Head of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate in Scotland.
‘I have admired the work delivered by probation during my tenure, which represents a fresh approach to diversion from crime. Community service has succeeded in keeping people out of prison while, importantly, making a valid contribution to society. In the field of communications, our Emergency Services Joint Control Room was a world leader when it was established and continues to maintain extremely high standards.’
Praise was also reserved for the contribution made by colleagues at Department headquarters, who have succeeded in formulating the Criminal Justice Strategy and establishing the first Criminal Justice Board, bringing together all relevant justice agencies. The legislation team is developing sentencing bills to address issues such as domestic abuse, as well as modernising laws around sexual offences.
Home Affairs Minister Bill Malarkey MHK said:
‘I wish Mark well for his retirement and would like to thank him for his hard work and diligence during my time as Minister. The wealth of experience he brought to the role has been of exceptional benefit to the Department and will be greatly missed.’
Mark’s first role in government saw him join the Tourist Board in 1983, aged 23, after graduating the previous year with a degree in economics from Liverpool University. He moved on to the Economics Section of Treasury in 1984 and stayed with the department for the next 10 years.
One of the first challenges he was presented with was organising the 1986 census. Mark recalled:
‘The census is among the most important set of statistics produced by government as it helps to shape future planning and the provision of services. It was a real baptism of fire, but also very rewarding.’
The then Economic Adviser, Steve Carse, encouraged Mark to establish a Population Unit in the early 1990s which led to greater engagement with the academic world. Mark prepared a paper on the link between population change and the economic history of the Isle of Man which he presented at Cambridge University in 1993 and was subsequently published in the Journal of Population Studies. This achievement remains a highlight of his career.
A fresh challenge presented itself when Mark joined the Department of Health and Social Security in 1995 – the area with the largest budget in government – and was appointed Deputy Chief Executive and Head of Central Services. He was present while plans were progressed on the new Noble’s Hospital in Braddan and, during a secondment to Public Health in 2001, was involved in the creation of the Island’s first long-term strategy for health alongside Dr Parameswaran Kishore and the late Dr Paul Emerson.
Mark spent 10 years with the DHSS before joining the Department of Trade and Industry in 2005 as Deputy Chief Executive, a move which demanded a transition from the delivery of large scale public services to creating an environment to support smaller, private sector businesses.
In 2010, the opportunity arose to undertake a five-month placement as Acting Chief Executive of the DHA, a move that became permanent the following year when he succeeded current Chief Secretary Will Greenhow.
‘Mark’s retirement means the Isle of Man Government will lose someone with great ability and experience, but he leaves Home Affairs in an extremely strong position and a legacy to be proud of. I offer my very best wishes to a respected colleague.’
Looking back on his career, Mark reflected:
‘I’ve enjoyed a long career in the civil service and worked with some brilliant people, which has helped me develop at every stage.
‘There have been many changes since 1983, perhaps the most significant of which has been in the way we work – the advance of technology has made many features of the workplace much faster, and it is easy to forget how far we have come.
‘When I started working in government in 1983 it sometimes took days to produce a letter. Now email and other processes allow us to connect with any number of people in an instant.’
Mark’s immediate plans on retirement include spending time with his grown up daughters, Kate and Alice, who both live in the UK, and honeymooning this summer in Crete with his fiancée Caroline, following their upcoming wedding.
Mark Kelly pictured at his desk at the Department of Home Affairs headquarters in Tromode last week