“They’d have known from then that I couldn’t be counted on to fall into line.”

An organisation which plays a key role in distributing public money to community organisations in Derry has been found guilty of discriminating against a local man because of his opposition to what he characterised as a “Sinn Fein/DUP carve-up” of community organisation in the city.

The Waterside Neighbourhood Partnership (WNP) has been ordered by a Fair Employment Tribunal to pay Gary McClean £10,000 compensation for denying him a job as a Community Development Officer (CDO) in the Curryneirin area despite his having been the only candidate to achieve the required score at interview.

WNP directors’ explanations for McClean’s rejection were dismissed by the Tribunal as “unconvincing,” “deliberately misleading,” “making absolutely no sense,” etc.

The Tribunal also made trenchant criticism – “evasive,” “not credible” – of an official of the Department of Social Development (now the Department of Communities) who had sat in on the short-listing and interview processes.

The Tribunal heard sworn testimony from 10 witnesses over four days last December. The report was published on February 20th.

A decision was made by the DSD in March 2014 that funding for the Curryneirin CDO position would be routed through the WNP, rather than, as previously with community positions, through the Curryneirin Community Association (CCA).

McClean insisted that the DSD’s recognition of the WNP as “official” representative of the Curryneirin community for funding purposes was part of the process of dividing disadvantaged areas between the two main parties.

Neighbourhood Partnerships were set up in 2004 across the most deprived 10 percent of wards in the North. The DSD ruled at the time that, “It is neither possible nor appropriate for DSD to specify in detail what mechanisms should be put in place locally – the structure of the NP’s (sic.) may differ from one Neighbourhood Renewal area to another and arrangements made at local level should reflect local needs and structures.”

The has been no requirement on NPs for conformity with any particular model or mode of operation.

The Tribunal reported that, “(McClean) describes himself as a socialist, who is critical of Sinn Fein and who is critical of what he alleges is an agenda between Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party to carve up influence (and funding) between themselves in segregated areas.”

The nub of McClean’s complaint was that it was on account of these views that he was rejected for the Curryneirin post.

A former chairman of the CCA, Stephen Gallagher, told the Tribunal that community organisation in Curryneirin had managed to remain independent of “any political organisations” for the past 15 years. However, he said that he had felt “harassed” by Alison Wallace, strategy manager and director of the WNP, to invite representatives of Sinn Fein to CCA meetings.

Having obtained DSD funding, the WNP advertised the Curryneirin job in April 2015. Three applicants were selected for interview. The interviews took place on 5 June 2015, before a panel comprising three WNP directors – strategy manager Wallace and WNP co-chairs Geraldine Doherty and William Lamrock. DSD official Geraldine Boggs sat in and took notes.

When the interview scores were totted up, only McClean had reached the set threshold of 59 marks from a possible 70. Each of the panel members signed a document recording the marks of each applicant. The marks were then collated. The collated document referred to McClean as the “person appointed.” The following month, however, McClean was told that he had not been appointed, that the competition was being re-run. McClean did not apply a second time but instead lodged his complaint.

Both Wallace and Doherty suggested to the Tribunal that they had been pressurised by Lamrock into giving McClean higher marks than they otherwise would and that this had later made them uneasy. Doherty said that she had been made to feel “very uncomfortable” during the interviews. Wallace said that Lamrock “can be unpleasant at times…is very overbearing and…can cause difficulties for you.”

Both women also suggested that Lamrock had boosted his own marks for McClean because they had had a previous working relationship.

The Tribunal pointed out in its report that none of these complaints had been made at the time or immediately afterwards, but had appeared for the first time in witness statements to the Tribunal.

“This suggests that this allegation (of favouritism), like the allegation of bullying, is something that has only occurred to Ms. Wallace and Ms. Doherty relatively recently.”

Following signing of the collation sheet, the three panellists had continued discussion. Lamrock was first to leave. He was explicit to the Tribunal that he had departed in the clear belief that the matter had been concluded – McClean had been appointed.

It was then that Wallace and Doherty’s concerns appear to have emerged. The Tribunal reported: “It appears that despite the clear markings recorded by Ms. Doherty and Ms. Wallace and despite the clear terms of the collation sheet, those two interview panel members for some reason had decided that the claimant was not to be appointed.”

DSD representative Boggs testified that she had not been aware at the end of the process that McClean had been appointed. She had not seen the individual scoring sheets or observed the compilation of the “collation” sheet noting McClean as the “person appointed.”

The Tribunal commented: “She had been sitting at the same table as the interview panel and yet claims not to have seen the completion and signing of the collation sheet. Completion and signing of that sheet must have taken some minutes.”

The Tribunal described the DSD official’s evidence on this point as “simply not credible.”

Boggs said that Lamrock had been “quite forthright,” “vocal” and “wanted a higher score.” In contrast, the “two girls were quieter.” Asked why she had not previously mentioned this if she’d thought it significant, she replied, “I did not think it was my role.”

The Tribunal commented: “Again, this evidence is not credible. Given the expenditure of public funds, her role had been to act as an observer on behalf of DSD…If bullying or favouritism had taken place, it had been her role to report it. She did not. She did not even make any adverse comment in her notes, which she had then destroyed anyway.”

Asked whether there could be any interpretation of the signed collation sheet other than the obvious – that McClean had won top marks and had been appointed – Boggs replied, “probably not.”

“That response was evasive,” said the Tribunal. “No other interpretation of the collation sheet was possible. Her answer should have been a straightforward ‘No.’”

Boggs said in evidence that she had destroyed her notes immediately after the interviews. The Tribunal noted that, “She was unable to explain the purpose of destroying the notes.”

Another WNP director, Karen Mullan, gave evidence that, shortly after the day of the interviews, Doherty had told her that she had “concerns” about the interviews. The Tribunal noted that these concerns of Doherty’s had not been mentioned by Mullan until cross-examination before the Tribunal.

Mullan is a member of Sinn Fein. She is also manager of the main community group in the Nationalist Top of the Hill area of the Waterside.

The weeks following the interviews saw a furry of emails between Mullan, the three panel members, and another WNP director, Linda Watson.

On June 12, Lamrock wrote: “We need to call a meeting of the Company as there are risks and issues for us in this matter.” No such meeting was held. The Tribunal commented that, “If such a meeting had been held, there could have been a full discussion between Mr. Lamrock and the other two interview panel members.”

Wallace wrote to Doherty and Lamrock again on July 6, making the point that “two of the panel had major concerns.” Lamrock replied: “The recruitment was run and scoring completed…This brought an end to the process…”

On the following day, Mullan wrote again to the three interviewers, Lamrock, Doherty and Wallace: “If two out of three interviewers are not happy with the candidate I think we should go back out to re-advertisement.”

Lamrock wrote back: “There was a successful candidate. Now for that decision to be overturned there must be a strong reason based on fact that will stand up to scrutiny. Otherwise the company would open itself to risk. I am not prepared to do that. This is public funds…”

Told that he had not been appointed, McClean asked for the interview notes. However, the Tribunal recorded, the notes forwarded by Wallace “had a significant part removed without any indication that that part had been removed. In particular, that part recording the setting of the threshold marking of 59 marks and the blank space where the interviewers would have completed their names…(Wallace’s) only explanation was that she had been advised that the names of the interviewers should not be related directly to each scoring sheet. However, since the place for the names had been blank…there was absolutely no reason for the deletion other than the obvious reason of avoiding telling the claimant that the threshold marking had been set at 59 marks and that therefore he had exceeded the threshold mark.”

The Tribunal described Wallace’s evidence on this point as “unconvincing and evasive.”

Another WNP director, Linda Watson, told the Tribunal that a few days after the interviews she had been informed of the concerns of Wallace and Doherty. But, the Tribunal recorded, “At no stage had she asked for sight of the collation sheet or for any of the documentation…She merely stated that she had taken it that ‘what Ms. Wallace told me was the truth.’”

The Tribunal declared: “In short, Ms. Watson’s evidence was not credible.”

Watson is a prominent campaigner for the DUP in Derry. She is a senior community coordinator in the Unionist Caw/Nelson Drive area.

Doherty accepted in cross-examination that she had been an active member of Sinn Fein in the Mountainview area of the Waterside, where McClean, too, lived: “She stated however that she knew very little about him. That was unconvincing. This had been a small area in a small city where both individuals had been involved in community work for lengthy periods.”

One implication of Doherty knowing little about McClean would have been that she couldn’t, then, have held his political views against him. Doherty is a former secretary of the SF branch which covers Mountainview.

Doherty repeatedly insisted that she had no knowledge of the North West Social Forum (NWSF), of which McClean had been coordinator. She was “absolutely sure” that she had never heard of this organisation. She was then shown a copy of McClean’s job application in which his employment by the NWSF between 2002 and 2005 was highlighted under the heading “relevant experience.” She explained that she had read “most of” the application, but “not in any real detail.” She agreed that she had had the application form in front of her during the interview.

The Tribunal found it “not credible” that Doherty had not read that part of the application form which referred to relevant experience. This was “particularly implausible” given that “she now states that she had been concerned about the claimant’s experience.”

McClean believes that part at least of the reason his experience with the NWSF had been ignored or had counted against him was that Sinn Fein at the time didn’t accept the PSNI as a legitimate police force and objected to the NWSF working and liaising with the force.

“They’d have known from then that I couldn’t be counted on to fall into line.”

, ,

  • chrisjones2

    Looks like the DUP and SF are getting along fine in Derry

  • Vince

    At leadership level they were getting along just fine until SF were eventually embarrassed into acting over the RHI scandal.

  • SDLP supporter

    Orwellian. Fine piece of investigative journalism.

  • 1729torus

    Both SF and the DUP are getting stale from being in power too long, but the DUP seems to be suffering somewhat more severely.

    The difference IMHO is that SF contests elections in other jurisdictions besides NI, which helps keep it fresh and accountable. The DUP is like a company that only looks for business in NI, and mostly east of the Bann at that. SF are like a company that operates all over Ireland. Even though both organisations are roughly the same size within NI; SF are going to be more innovative, more competitive, more prestigious, less parochial, and better able to achieve economies of scale than the DUP as a rule.

    This article is further evidence that the DUP’s future is bleak. Unionist voters are increasingly turning to alternative Unionist parties at a local level, even as they are holding their noses and voting for Arlene at Assembly level in spite of the sleaze. It is unsustainable for the DUP to be getting less and less of the local seats, but to retain its presence at Assembly level in the medium to long term. Eventually TUV, PUP, and other Unionist parties on the ascent at the lower level will break through. By this point, the DUP will be an oversized husk that will fall over surprisingly quickly. Who do they have besides Simon Hamilton and Arlene Foster?

  • 1729torus

    Why would SF sabotage one of their assets?

  • Jag

    I honestly couldn’t believe the above. I thought “Eamonn McCann” die-hard socialist, People Before Profit, rival to SF and DUP, particularly SF, was just badmouthing his political rivals.

    And then I read the full Tribunal decision. And every word above is absolutely true. Great article Eamonn. Shame on SF and DUP, particularly SF.

    http://www.equalityni.org/ECNI/media/ECNI/Cases%20and%20Settlements/OITFET%20online%20decisions%20as%20pdfs/McClean-v-WatersideNeighbourhoodPartnershipLtd.pdf

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/834f385fd3ea62f6c8a72df930cff0b9e9125ca49b4eca4207ff790e38d8bff1.jpg

  • Abucs

    Government looks more and more like a collection of disorganised mafia groups.

  • Zorin001

    Boggs said in evidence that she had destroyed her notes immediately after the interviews. The Tribunal noted that, “She was unable to explain the purpose of destroying the notes.”

    I work in the public sector and this is such a massive no-no that it immediatly set my alarn bell ringing.

  • Granni Trixie

    And with whom are the DUP doing a carve up? (See first para of post).

  • 1729torus

    See the first para of my comment 🙂

  • Cináed mac Artri

    How on earth can you read the Tribunal decision and then publish a post that completely ignores Sinn Féin in this? Other that is than the withering comment that they are getting “stale”, before two paragraphs about SF’s unionist fellow travellers.

    To be fair though I suppose ‘stale’ can be very much about dodgy dough.

    SF are campaigning in the UK election on an anti-corruption ticket. What does this Derry story reveal if not a blatant corruption of a publicly funded process?

    DUP/SF can now be added to a list of political adventurers: the snouts of Pork barrel politics, Tammany Hall, the Dáil’s past flirtation with the brown envelope (take a bow Charlie) and many others.

    The ‘politicians of the peace’ have it seems now established the north as a ‘Rotten Borough’ where the sound of the ting of the till has replaced the ping of the Armalite.

  • Granni Trixie

    Apologies.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    “Eventually TUV, PUP and other Unionist parties on the ascent at the lower level will break through” Your having a laugh mate ain’t you ! They are getting ate up alive by the DUP Monster Machine. To be quite honest I fear for them during the 2019 Local Council Elections – That just good be the final nail in the coffin for them ?

  • 1729torus

    I never said that SF were immune to the temptations of office. I just said the DUP seem to have a somewhat worse problem with corruption, speculated on the reasons for this, and noted that it heralded a long term decline for the DUP.

    This is especially noteworthy because you’d think SF would be the more corrupt of the two. Look at FF or the ANC, not to mention that SF was founded by paramilitaries .

    Of course SF are going to suffer from FF problems, partially due to lack of serious competition. But the DUP are like FF around 2004.

  • 1729torus

    Did you check the 2014 Local election results before typing that? The same election where the DUP got fewer FPVs than SF due to so many Unionists defecting to smaller parties like TUV and PUP.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    This is 2017 not 2014. I live on the ground within them Loyalist Communities, believe me the DUP are eating their election capibilities up !

  • Neonlights

    Isn’t this old news – I’d read about this a few months back. Always bad to see discrimination like this in action, but now there are mechanisms to fight back!

  • 1729torus

    So how does this work? You’re saying:

    “We didn’t want to be part of a Home Rule Parliament because the Catholics didn’t have individual liberty, Home Rule would be Rome Rule, and the IPP were gombeens. But we’ll all vote DUP ourselves for every election no matter how corrupt, theocratic, and incompetent they are!”

  • chrisjones2

    I can explain the reason …so could the Tribunal

  • Old Mortality

    These ‘community’ groups seem to exist mainly for the benefit of those who run and organise them: government-funded sinecures provided for party hacks. An ideal target for spending cuts.

  • chrisjones2

    It’s not just this. There are various contracts that have been awarded to Group X or Company Y that conveniently subcontracts work to Loyalists in the Waterside. The DUP then never challenge. It’s a cosy little arrangement that benefits everyone ……if you are linked to the right organisations

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Seems to be the jest of it now ! Don’t see any future change can only see it solidifying more ! If you are at a Belfast Election Count next week watch where the Biggest DUP vote will come from ! Yes them Loyalist District Ballott Boxes !

  • Vince

    Anyone who witnessed the backslapping between Mairtin O’Muilleoir and Peter Robinson in the Kennedy Centre on the Andersonstown Road a couple of years back will not be surprised by this sort of stuff. Similarly when Mairtin was pictured quite happily with a front organisation for the UDA. Just bizarre.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    I am glad to see an SDLP Supporter have a pop at the SF representative in South Belfast but be careful Vince it won’t be long until the slugger shinnerbot bees zoom in on you in the predicable swarm

  • Cináed mac Artri

    You actually didn’t say much about SF at all.

    You’re being rather disingenuous surely? This thread is about a Tribunal finding that shows SF and the DUP culpable in a pretty sordid little affair. You edited SF out and took the opportunity to attack the DUP.

    A quick internet search brings up stories about SF creative accounting on expenses, shenanigans over office rents etc – all matches for stories about the DUP.

    Is the most “noteworthy” point of the story not that SF are promoting themselves as the anti-corruption party? Was the RHI corruption scandal not cited as the reason SF left the northern assembly?

    During an election allegedly framed around political corruption, and the partisan finger pointing that underpins it, the inconvenient truths raised in Derry, encompassing both the DUP and SF, are notable.

    And as for “long term decline”, these incidents may be noted by the main parties in the Oireachtas. They will not countenance a return to the Haugheyisms of the past; the Republic has moved on. Observing the outworking of SF patronage in contemporary NI they may see a reason, aside from SF’s terrorist antecedents, to keep it at arm’s length.

  • 1729torus

    I’m not being disingenuous or in denial. I said above 8 hours ago that SF were intentionally letting the DUP get away with RHI until their voters forced them (“Why would SF sabotage one of their assets?”)

    Why are you suprised that SF can be hypocrites? Their leader denies being in the IRA, and guerillas tend to look after themselves once they get power

    That said, SF seem to keep their own corruption at a lower level than the DUP. No RHI or Red Sky or such. “Only” expenses fraud, jobs for the boys, and robbing €50,000 worth of printer cartridges from the Dáil every year.

    If the Dublin councillor waterboarding a man and the stories with Gerry Adams and child abuse won’t slow SF’s growth in RoI, this won’t either.

    Finally, SF and DUP are not competitors.

  • Karl

    Some people get seats in the House of Lords or the Seanad. Some get cushy community jobs.
    Party patronage is nothing new. Its not right, but it goes on and in more open forms than this.

  • Vince

    It’s not a party political viewpoint TE – more of an observation, one I suspect shared by some who support SF.

  • grumpy oul man

    How do i get on one of these gravy trains?
    Public money being used to keep apparatchiks in pocket money.
    Were do i sign up .

  • grumpy oul man

    TE. I believe you bit could you explain why.
    The DUP does squat (as far as i can see) for the loyalist community, and it seems only to happy to let gangsters run loyalist districts.
    Qhy on earth would anybody vote for a party that only recognises your existance when t wants your vote or your body at a protest.

  • Granni Trixie

    A shared out system seems to have developed between SF and DUP as in SIF arrangements.

  • grumpy oul man

    They tried to ignore it and if AF had of stood down SF would still happily be playing on the gravy boat.

  • john millar

    “The Waterside Neighbourhood Partnership (WNP) has been ordered by a Fair Employment Tribunal to pay Gary McClean £10,000 compensation for denying him a job as a Community Development Officer (CDO) in the Curryneirin area despite his having been the only candidate to achieve the required score at interview.”

    So in effect the taxpayer picks up the bill .
    The bill should be left at the doors of those responsible

    Under equality law, a discrimination or victimisation claim can in fact be brought against individual employee rather than just the employer

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Totally agree ! Cheer up on that front I think Big Al is going to take 2K off that SF vote in SB and I will enjoy all the bullshit excuses from Connelly House ?

  • mjh

    That’s a very interesting observation on the potential impact on SF’s organisational characteristics of their exposure to a wider electorate. I suspect that there is a lot in it. An excellent topic for fuller academic analysis which could explore the full extent and nature of any “competitive advantage” it may give the party.

    I don’t agree that there is evidence that unionist voters are increasingly turning away from the DUP towards alternative parties at local level. DUP under-performance in vote share in Council elections compared to Assembly has been a consistent feature in every election since the Forum in 1996. Similarly the UUP has always over-performed.

    It is worth noting that even in 2014 the DUP’s lacklustre 23.1% of the first preference vote still produced 28.1% of the seats. That was 130 for the DUP compared to TUV 13, PUP 4 and UKIP 3.

    Who knows what will happen in 2019, but I can’t help suspecting that the minor unionist parties may suffer organisational damage, as well as loss of longer term “market share” from their total absence (apart from 1 TUV candidate) from this contest.

  • SDLP supporter

    I think that the hard truth is that all the ‘soft’ money from the EU, Peace programmes, Delors, International Fund for Ireland, etc. needs to be tailed off, and quickly. In the case of the IFI (well over £500 million) for example, it has been going for over 30 years and its work is done.

    I’ve never been able to validate the figure, but I heard that there are some 30,000 salaried ‘community’ workers in NI paid from those sources, yet the socio economic indicators haven’t changed significantly: the top deprived wards in the 1971 census are still substantially the same wards in 2011.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Because the Provos tried to wipe us out by bomb and gun and they now come to us and say we will be all right in their All Ireland ! Sorry mate f that shite WE FIGHT TO THE DEATH !

  • grumpy oul man

    Like Gusty and the OV fought ( before the provos fired a shot!
    Will there be attacks on marchers like the one of duty B specials or will we be going down the bombing route ( dublin / monaghan, Mc Gurks etc.) or will it be a replay of the shankill butchers or just shooting innocent catholic maybe machine gunning public bars.
    And will the leaders of unionism stand on platforms with the gang leaders.
    Yep your right even through the provos didn’t fire the first shots or plant the first bombs or weren’t the only ones killing or bombing it was all their fault.

  • Granni Trixie

    What makes you think that? (I really do not know if you are right or not on that one).

  • chrisjones2

    Tell that to DSD …by the way it was their ‘observer’ on the panel who shredded her notes

  • Chris Morris

    Pretty damning alright and the only surprising bit is the level of incompetence to make the corruption of the process so obvious. Disgraceful, although I write this as a community worker in England (from NI) who works in a nailed on Tory council/constituency and it’s a given that party political comments are a no-no. It wouldn’t take all the chicanery in evidence here, but I know my funding wouldn’t be renewed if I bit the hand that fed me.

  • chrisjones2

    The problem is that if the situation improves you don’t need the community workers so guess what happens

  • chrisjones2

    It’s deeper than that Granni. They have shared interests in destroying the SDLP and UUP.

  • Croiteir

    And the control freakery continues unabated in Derry

    http://thepensivequill.am/2017/06/nothing-more-than-list.html

  • Gary McClean

    “Sorry folks for not getting back sooner as I have been up to my eyes. If two out of three interviewers are not happy with the candidate I think we should go back out to re-advertisement and invite them all to apply.
    In the private and public sector they don’t appoint people just because they did the best interview, they won’t appoint unless the candidate is right for the job and if the panel does not agree, the process begins again and in the community sector we should be doing the same…

  • Gary McClean

    When questioned in the witness stand if she had ever worked in the Private sector Karen Mullan answered “No”. When asked if she had ever been involved in interview processes in the Private sector her answer was “no”. When asked if she had worked in the Public Sector she answered “yes”. When asked if she had ever been involved in interview process in Public Sector she answered “No”. When asked further “how can you possibly stand over this email”…her answer? Well she didn’t have one!!!

  • Gary McClean

    “her evidence lacked credibility” FAIR EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL

  • Gary McClean

    “The unanimous decision of the Tribunal is that the claimant had been unlawfully discriminated against by the respondent contrary to the Fair Employment and Treatment (Northern Ireland) Order 1998”.

  • Gary McClean

    If discrimination in employment was unacceptable (and it was) under the ‘Old Unionist Regime’ then it is certainly unacceptable now in 2017. (Gary Mc Clean)