Eight years ago Fermanagh District Council appointed Rodney Connor as their new Chief Executive over Danny McSorley. All ten Unionist Councillors voted for Mr Connor, a Protestant, while 11 Nationalist Councillors voted for Mr McSorley, a Catholic. One independent nationalist voted for Mr Connor, and thus the Unionist Chair broke the tie. The Equality Commission took up the case on the grounds of “unlawful discrimination” and in 2005 the Local Government Auditor found Councillors involved guilty of misconduct.
Today in the High Court the case against the Councillors was dismissed. Below is a statement from the Leader of the UUP group, Tom Elliott, which I’m using because I can’t find any online report of the judgement.Ulster Unionist Councillors and former Councillors of Fermanagh District Council have said the judgement made today in the High Court in Belfast has confirmed their stance that they have not been guilty of any wrong doing in the appointment of the current Chief Executive of the Council.
Speaking after the judgement the current leader of the Ulster Unionist Group on the Council and MLA for Fermanagh and South Tyrone Tom Elliott said:
“The Ulster Unionist members have been consistent in their determination that they voted for the person who was the best candidate for the position. Thankfully, that decision has been clarified by the success that the Chief Executive has brought to Fermanagh District Council and now by the Courts.”
“Questions must now be asked of the role of the Local Government Auditor. For what was original cost to the Fermanagh ratepayer £38,178.00, we assume this has now spiralled to what could be in
excess of £200,000.00. Is this good value for money? It is easy for the Auditor to pursue a case like this when it doesn’t cost him or his office any financial burden”.
“I strongly believe that this financial burden should not fall to the Fermanagh rate payers but should be the responsibility of the Local Government Auditor who wrongly pursued this case.”
“The role of the Local Government Auditor must now be investigated and following his incompetent decision, surely the Auditor has no option but to stand down from his position.”