Mid and East Antrim Council confirms departure of chief executive

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has confirmed it no longer employs chief executive Anne Donaghy.

A council spokesperson said: “The council does not publicly comment on personnel matters, however, can confirm that Ms Donaghy is no longer employed by Mid and East Antrim Council.

“We can also confirm that contrary to media reports, the council has not approved a financial exit package for Ms Donaghy.

“In light of ongoing legal proceedings, the council will not be making any further comment.”

Anne Donaghy.

Ms Donaghy who has been absent from her post since September 2021 has remained silent.

The issue of her long-term absence was discussed behind closed doors on January 10 by the newly-formed Personnel Committee.

In November, the council approved the “adoption and implementation of the chief executive grievance procedures”. The new grievance procedures included the establishment of a grievance committee and a grievance appeal committee.

Interim HR director Patience Enenmoh clarified in response to councillors’ queries this was “in relation to the grievance procedure and not the disciplinary, capability and redundancy procedure”.

Ms Donaghy was suspended from the council in December 2021.

Withdraw Staff

In August 2021, the NI Assembly’s AERA Committee (Committee for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs) carried out an investigation into the decision made by Mid and East Antrim Council and DAERA to withdraw staff from undertaking checks on goods entering Larne and Belfast ports on a temporary basis on February 1 that year.

Twelve environmental health officers employed by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council were temporarily withdrawn from inspection duties due to apparent security concerns following the appearance of graffiti at the Port of Larne where they had been assisting with checks post Brexit.

The Protocol requires the completion of checks on certain goods shipped from GB into the province’s ports in advance of onward transit to the Republic of Ireland, and into the EU.

Ms Donaghy indicated she would be seeking independent legal advice in a “personal and private capacity” over some elements of the report on the AERA Committee’s findings.

In October 2021, the PSNI confirmed detectives from Criminal Investigation Branch visited the council’s headquarters at The Braid in Ballymena as part of an investigation into suspected offences of misconduct in public office and under the Freedom of Information Action 2000.

Ms Donaghy has been chief executive of Mid and East Antrim Council since 2015 and previously was chief executive of the legacy Ballymena Council.

She was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday 2020 Honours list for services to local government and the community during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Interim chief executive Valerie Watts was appointed by Mid and East Antrim Council in June.

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The temporary chief executive’s salary was listed at between £107,255 and £116,221 per annum.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter