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Watchdog probes complaint against council chief executive Anne Donaghy

Anne Donaghy, chief executive of Mid and East Antrim council outside the council offices in Ballymena. Picture by Peter Morrison
Brendan Hughes

A WATCHDOG is probing a council chief executive's refusal to say sorry after a report recommended she apologise for risking "reputational damage" to an Irish language group.

An independent report recommended that Mid and East Antrim council boss Anne Donaghy apologise following inaccurate comments she made about Conradh na Gaeilge (CnaG) at a council meeting earlier this year.

The group had strongly rejected claims by Ms Donaghy that she had contacted CnaG and arranged a meeting but it had failed to turn up.

The report recommended that Ms Donaghy "read out a statement at a public council meeting" to acknowledge her comments "may have inadvertently misled council and that she apologises to council and to Conradh na Gaeilge".

However, Ms Donaghy has refused to make a verbal apology, saying it would be a "forced act of penance".

She sent the report – which cost ratepayers £1,400 – to CnaG alongside a letter in which she acknowledged she may have inadvertently misled councillors and caused unintended reputational damage.

At the time Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhéin, advocacy manager for CnaG, welcomed the report's findings but said they were "surprised and disappointed" its recommendations were not being fully met.

Mid and East Antrim council has said the matter has been "dealt with in line with council policy".

In a letter to CnaG in recent weeks, the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman's office acknowledged receipt of the Irish language group's complaint.

A spokesman for the ombudsman's office said: "We have received a complaint in relation to this matter which is currently being assessed."

The row erupted in February after councillors discussed whether to hold an event to mark Irish Language Week.

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