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Storey criticised over Housing Executive appointments

Mervyn Storey's oversight of Housing Executive appointments has been criticised. Picture by Hugh Russell.

DUP minister Mervyn Storey has been censured by the quango commissioner for breaches of public appointment guidelines while he was in charge at the Department of Social Development (DSD).

Judena Leslie's office conducted an audit of three appointments made to the Housing Executive last year.

The commissioner concluded that "overall this public appointment process was unsatisfactory" and she identified a "number of weaknesses in procedures".

DSD officials breached the code governing public appointments three times, Ms Leslie said.

Her concerns centre on the under-representation of women on the Housing Executive board.

Rather than boosting the number of women, last year's recruitment of three new members saw the proportion of men on the board increase.

There are now only two women on the Housing Executive board, compared to nine men and a chairman.

"Apart from the perceptions of a lack of fairness and equality that a poorly balanced public board can create, such a body is at a disadvantage when seeking to understand the needs of its service users and the views of the wider public," Ms Leslie said.

The commissioner said the outcome of the appointment process overseen by Mr Storey, who now heads up the Department of Finance and Personnel, would lead to an "exacerbation of an already poorly gender balanced board" and had the potential to damage Housing Executive's reputation.

Ms Leslie's report made 11 recommendations on how DSD could improve its public appointments process.

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