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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

MEA Mayor rebuked for failing to address BBC Spotlight investigation at Council meeting


MEA Mayor, Cllr William McCaughey (DUP)


The Mayor was rebuked at a meeting of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council on Monday evening for failing to address last week’s BBC ‘Spotlight’ programme which investigated allegations relating to the local authority in his opening remarks.


Speaking at the meeting, Bannside TUV Councillor Timothy Gaston said that this would have reassured the public that the local authority is “trying to address the issues highlighted”.



However, councillors proceeded to discuss behind closed doors interim governance arrangements which are in place during the absence of Chief Executive Anne Donaghy.


Suspended MEABC Chief Executive, Anne Donaghy.

The local authority’s new human resources policy was also listed for discussion in confidence.


Meanwhile, the Department for Communities has dismissed a suggestion that Minister Deirdre Hargey should intervene over the ‘scandal-hit’ local authority.


Ballymena SDLP Councillor Eugene Reid has asked the Minister to intervene saying that “significant questions about the inner workings of the council” have been raised.



Cllr Reid said:


“As an elected representative it’s extremely frustrating that the attention of councillors is constantly diverted to crisis management when the majority of us would prefer to get on with representing our constituents and delivering the services that matter to them.


“I believe it is long past time Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey intervened in this situation – it has long since spiralled out of control.


“NIPSA first raised its concerns with the Minister in October, the problems our council has experienced have been well-publicised and still we have seen no action. The Minister needs to take responsibility and exercise her powers until things are back on an even footing.


“I am fed up with the name of our council being dragged through the mud. I got involved in politics because I wanted to improve the lives of local people, but too often we are distracted by matters like this.



“We need to see full independent investigations carried out into the concerns raised so that we can all get back to doing our jobs and delivering where it counts.”


Detectives from Criminal Investigation Branch visited Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s headquarters at The Braid, in Ballymena, on October 20 as part of an investigation into suspected offences of Misconduct in Public Office and under the the Freedom of Information Act 2000.


The council has said that it is fully assisting the PSNI with its inquiries.


A spokesperson for DfC said:


“Councils are separate, democratically elected legal entites. The Minister does not have the power to intervene as suggested or to appoint commissioners to take over the running of a council.


“It is also important to point out that there is a live police investigation. That is entirely appropriate. No-one should do or say anything that would risk compromising that police investigation.”





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