Anne Donaghy, chief Chief Executive of Mid and East Antrim Borough, launches legal action against employer after suspension

The Chief Executive of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has reportedly initiated discimination proceedings against her employer after being suspended.

Chief Executive of Mid and East Antrim Council Anne Donaghy.

It is reported that Anne Donaghy has been subjected to a precautionary suspension today while an independent investigation is conducted into allegations against her.

Solicitor Kevin Winters, acting on behalf of Ms Donaghy, said his client wanted “to place on record her firm denial of all unsubstantiated allegations made against her in recent media reports.”

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“She is again deeply concerned to learn about a further example of what amounts to a systemic leakage of confidential Council decision making to the media and other third parties,” he told the Irish News.

“The latest instance of such leaks relates to a password protected confidential email communication sent to councillors confirming a decision on her suspension.

“Within a very short time of her receiving formal correspondence about her suspension the decision was posted on social media.

“Throughout this politically driven agenda to unseat her as Chief Executive of Mid and East Antrim she has retained her dignity in the face of often heavy media intrusion into her family and private life.

“To date there has been zero accountability on the part of the council on the manner in which it has conducted itself on a series of issues all of which are the subject of pending disciplinary and other proceedings .

“We can confirm our client as a disabled person has initiated proceedings against the council within the Disability Discrimination Act 1995

“She is claiming discrimination on grounds of her sex, religious and political beliefs.

“She is making this formal announcement now in response to the unjustified decision to suspend her at a time when she is on sick leave

“Such decision making has been crass, insensitive and in many ways given the cynical deployment of the media by the council, utterly predictable .

“She will contest the suspension decision issued today and is confident that once due process is complete she will return to her position as Chief Executive.”

In October, NIPSA claimed almost two in three staff on the council said they experienced “bullying and/or harassment at work”. On Tuesday, BBC Spotlight programme claimed the PSNI is investigating allegations of misconduct in public office at the local authority.

The programme claimed that the police investigation related to correspondence about the withdrawal of Larne Port workers operating the Northern Ireland Protocol back in February.

Employees were removed from duty after Ms Donaghy, as chief executive, had said she was worried about threats from paramilitaries, after graffiti threatening them appeared in the area. The PSNI later reported that there was no evidence of a genuine threat.

The BBC reported that the chief executive’s precautionary suspension is a separate matter from the police investigation into the council. The council declined to offer any comment.

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