Former NI Events Company directors prepared to relinquish directorships

Visit Belfast chief executive Gerry Lennon is among ten former board members at the now defunct Northern Ireland Events Company who are prepared to give pledges not to act as company directors
Alan Erwin

TEN former high-profile board members at the now defunct Northern Ireland Events Company are prepared to give pledges not to act as company directors, the High Court has heard.

A Stormont department had been seeking disqualification orders against the one-time representatives of a quango set up to attract show business and sporting stars to the region.

But lawyers disclosed that all but one of the 11 respondents have now signalled a willingness to give undertakings they will accept no further directorship roles for certain periods of time.

The alternative resolution is expected to be finalised when the case returns to court in September.

Applications were brought by the Department for the Economy following critical reports into the oversight and running of a body which folded back in 2007.

The ten prepared to give the pledge are:

- Gerry Lennon, the current chief executive of Visit Belfast;

- Jim Rodgers, the former Lord Mayor of Belfast;

- Alan Clarke, the former chief executive of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board;

- Jim Clarke, the current chief executive of the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools;

- Paul McWilliams, the former chairman of the Royal Group of Hospitals;

- Bill White, the managing director of polling firm LucidTalk;

- Mervyn Elder, a former director at Belfast City Council;

- Victor Haslett, a former director of Bangor Football Club;

- Catherine Williamson, who has links to the hospitality industry in Northern Ireland; and

- Aideen Corr.

The only respondent not giving an undertaking is Jasper Perry, a former chief executive of the NIEC.

Last year the NI Events Company's former chief executive, Janice McAleese, was banned from acting as a company director for 14 years.

Her conduct had been heavily criticised in a report issued by the Northern Ireland Audit Office in September last year.

The Audit Office probe was also scathing in its assessment of oversight from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) for a body formed in 1997 to support major sports and music events.

It identified failures in the risk management process and in dealing with a whistle-blower's complaints.

Lawyers for some of those who sat on the NI Events Company's board previously claimed they were being made scapegoats to deflect attention from civil servants who failed to provide proper scrutiny.

But at a hearing in Belfast it was revealed that all but one of the former directors (Perry) have indicated they are willing give undertakings which would apply for a period to be agreed with the Department.

It is understood that some of the other ex-board members may still seek liberty to act as a director in exceptional circumstances during any disqualification period.

Adjourning the case until September, Master Kelly said it would allow time to finalise the expected outcome.

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