Sinn Fein is to take legal advice on the allocation of up to £5k to Craigavon Council’s chief executive in her bid to apply for a super-council post.
Dr Theresa Donaldson’s request was approved by a majority of councillors last week.
Sinn Fein Cllr Mairead O’Dowd has criticised the decision, adding that her party would be seeking legal and financial advice.
Party colleague Cllr Tommy O’Connor said the proposal came before council without any detail of what the money would be spent on or any ‘proper explanation’.
“We have serious concerns about the legal and financial implications it may entail. It is possible and indeed likely that Craigavon’s unionist representatives on the Statutory Transition Committee have disqualified themselves from the appointment process for the chief executive of our new councils.”
He claimed the chief executive had failed to comply with council’s Good Governance Policy regarding declaring a conflict of interest. He was also concerned that she remained in the chamber while the matter was dealt with. He accused unionists of pushing this decision through without the “necessary information”.
Mrs O’Dowd said: “Accountability is a key factor when deciding how to spend public funds and agreeing spend in this cavalier manner is not only dangerous, it fails to comply with the good governance requirement for transparency and openness.”
The council said: “Craigavon is very proactive in that a training programme has already started for relevant staff (and members). This is the biggest change to local government for 40 years and as such, while delivering economies of scale for the ratepayers, will involve a significant change for our staff and for our main stakeholders. It’s imperative therefore that we as a council can embrace the inevitable challenges bringing three organisations together as smoothly as possible. Council considered it prudent therefore to ensure that the chief executive is adequately supported to manage the business as usual and deliver the change program.”