‘Obvious’ job grantnot ‘open and fair’

THE appointment of Londonderry Sinn Féin councillor Elisha McCallion (née McLaughlin) as a temporary financial adminstrator at the Galliagh Development Trust (GDT) in 2008 was “obviously” not “subject to an open and fair recruitment process,” according to a Department of Social Development (DSD) letter obtained by the Sentinel.

Monica McIntyre, of DSD’s Local Neighbourhood Renewal Unit, wrote to the community group on June 28, 2010, to advise the group that all posts needed to be ‘advertised publically in future.’

Last month the Sentinel reported how the failure to publically advertise the job given to Councillor Elisha McCallion (née McLaughlin) back in 2008 was deemed “unacceptable” by DSD.

Former Sinn Féin Mayor Cathal Crumley - project manager at GDT at the time - wrote to the Department in February 2008 regarding the “temporary appointment of Miss Elisha McLaughlin” to the position of finance administrator.

In Mr Crumley’s letter, which has been obtained by the Sentinel, he explained that the appointment had been made in line with the directions of DSD and with the approval of the Labour Relations Agency (LRA).

DSD confirmed to the Sentinel that Mrs McCallion’s (née McLaughlin) appointment to the position on a temporary basis was acceptable to the Department as a stop-gap measure.

However, checks carried out by DSD in June 2010 revealed that “the post had not been advertised in 2008 as promised by GDT and the temporary employee appointed had remained in post until she resigned from her job in May 2010.”

DSD earlier advised this paper: “The Trust claimed to have written to the Department in January 2009 regarding its intentions at that time in relation to the post and post holder and produced a copy of the letter. The Department has no record of having received this letter in 2009.”

The Sentinel has now obtained a copy of the letter from Ms McIntyre to the Trust in June 2010, shortly after Mrs McCallion’s (née McLaughlin) resignation from the post, regarding DSD’s dissatisfaction with the appointment.

She wrote: “Despite the Department issuing GDT with a new contract for Funding, it is clear that you decided not to re-advertise he post despite your early assurances.

“It is important that all posts funded by DSD are subject to an open and fair recruitment process and it is obvious that this was not done on this occassion.

“I am also aware, however, that Ms Mclaughlin has since resigned from the position and that GDT has sought guidance from the Deparment on recruiting on her replacement.

“Therefore we intend to take no further action at this stage other than to remind you of the need to ensure that all posts are advertised publically in the future.”

DSD provided the Sentinel with a copy of the letter after the paper probed recruitment practices at Londonderry community groups over the past three years.

The Sentinel asked DSD how many times it had carried out checks in relation to job appointments at DSD-funded community groups in the city.

It emerges the GDT job appointment was the only instance of DSD carrying out a review.

A spokesperson stated: “Over the past three years DSD has only had cause to carry out one check relating to job appointments to DSD funded community groups in Derry.

“This check identified there was an issue around recruitment of an employee within Galliagh Development Trust (GDT) in the period 2008/10. “Project promoters are the employers and responsible for adhering to employment legislation as per section 7(xxvii) of the standard contract for funding.”

Last week the Sentinel reported how 44 per cent of politicians employed within the last five years by community groups financed through the Department of Social Development’s (DSD) Neighbourhood Renewal fund were Londonderry Sinn Féin representatives

Of nine councillors across Northern Ireland employed by community organisations in receipt of Neighbourhood Renewal funding, four where republicans from Londonderry.

Add DUP Alderman Drew Thompson, who works for the Waterside Area Partnership (2008/2009 - 2012/2013), and the quota of Londonderry councillors employed by groups in receipt of Neighbourhood Renewal cash is 56 per cent of the province-wide total.

In total five local political representatives were paid out of the state purse for community work whilst also claiming up to £9,738 in basic allowances; the Mayor of Londonderry is meanwhile entitled to up to £30k in allowances during his or her year in office.

And during the summer the Sentinel also reported how most Londonderry community workers paid out of the DSD Neighbourhood Renewal fund earned more than the average wage between 2009 and 2011 with one state funded employee taking home a handsome £41k-£44k.

The Sentinel revealed that hundreds of state-funded community workers were being paid more than what the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) calculated to be the median gross annual income in the city in 2010 (£18,699).

And the paper showed that dozens of community workers in the city earned between £10k and £20k more than this median wage over 2009/10 and 2010/11 alone.

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