The position of director of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which had been vacant for a protracted period, has been filled.

Richard Browne, who has been the NCSC's acting director since July of last year, has been appointed to the role following an international competition.

Prior to becoming acting director, Mr Browne was the organisation’s deputy director, and has worked with the centre since 2014.

"Richard is an extremely highly qualified and high calibre professional," said Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan.

"He will bring his vast experience, to continue his work in building and leading the NCSC. Under his lead, the NCSC will further develop its operational capacity and expertise, and support the development of the policy and legislative framework relating to cyber security in the State."

Last year the Government came under fire because it was claimed that the NCSC had been under resourced and because the director role had gone unfilled for an extended period of time.

One of the reasons cited for why the role had not been filled was because the salary on offer was too low compared to private sector norms.

In July the Government said that the director role was to be re-advertised with a salary of €184,000 to reflect the scale and importance of the role and to attract experienced candidates.

It also said at the time that staff numbers would be doubled over 18 months, with up to 70 people expected to be working at the cyber defence agency within five years.

In May of last year the role of NCSC came into sharp focus when the HSE became the subject of a ransomware attack.

The infiltration paralysed systems and caused huge disruption across the health service.

The NCSC is also to be given a single secure HQ within the Department of Communications new headquarters in Beggars Bush in Dublin.