Northern Ireland news

Northern Ireland Events Company directors agree to disqualification

Elton John played at Stormont in 1998 in a promotion by the Northern Ireland Events Company

TEN former board members of a now defunct quango set up to attract show business and sporting stars to the north have agreed not to act as company directors for up to nine years.

The individuals served on the board of the Northern Ireland Events Company, set up by Stormont in 1997 to organise, support, encourage, facilitate or promote the holding, or staging, in Northern Ireland of events of a cultural, sporting, recreational, leisure or commercial nature.

The company was behind events such as Elton John's 1998 concert at Stormont. It folded in 2007, leaving a £1.6 million debt that had to be settled by the taxpayer.

A six-year investigation costing £1.2 million led to disqualification proceedings against board members.

Former chair of the board Mervyn Elder accepted disqualification undertakings for nine years and other members for five years.

The other members are: Gerry Lennon, Jim Rodgers, James Clarke, Alan Clarke, Paul McWilliams, Bill White, Aideen Corr, Victor Haslett and Catherine Williamson.

A joint statement from six of the former board members criticised the "failings of government" who had set up the quango.

It said: "The sorry mess is a warning to anyone accepting an appointment to the board of a publicly sponsored company that they run the risk of being scapegoats for the failings of government in similar circumstances."

Former chief executive of the company Janice McAleese had previously accepted a disqualification undertaking for 14 years while her successor Jasper Perry (40) was disqualified for eight years.

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