Former Consul General of Ireland in New York Niall Burgess has been appointed as Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs, a job he will assume in months. He becomes the highest ranking civil servant in that department.

Burgess who is currently head of the Anglo-Irish division in Foreign Affairs takes over from the retiring Secretary General David Cooney.

Foreign Minister Eamon GIlmore made the appointment saying “"I very much appreciate his knowledge, experience and commitment to the department and Ireland," he said. "I wish him every success in the role."

Gilmore said he had worked with Burgess on key issues such as Northern Ireland and Ireland’s relationship with the US.

While in New York Burgess focused heavily on promoting arts and culture as well as the undocumented Irish issue.

He is married with two children and is a native of Dublin. He had previously served in Chicago, Geneva and in Brussels. He trained as an archeologist before joining the foreign service.

Gilmore paid tribute to his predecessor, the English-born David Cooney.

"He is an exceptional public servant, who has demonstrated unfailing commitment to Ireland throughout his career at the department."