Culture company budget taken over by Derry City Council

Derry Derry's term as UK City of Culture begins in less than three months

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The body charged with delivering Londonderry's UK City of Culture celebrations in 2013, has been ordered to hand over some of its multi-million pound budget to Derry City Council.

Council Chief Executive Sharon O'Connor said the company's marketing function is "not performing."

She ordered it to hand over those responsibilities to the council and to move staff to council offices.

The move will not include the Director of Communications, Garbhan Downey.

Mr Downey said he is "devastated" by the move and has now called in lawyers to clarify his position.

"I can confirm that my staff are being ordered to report to council offices on the Strand Road and the CEO of Culture Company has been advised that this transfer doesn't include me.

"This is happening because we are refusing to allow council to spend our budget on non-city of culture projects.

Contract

"The reason I am speaking publicly now is that despite Council statements, I have a genuine fear that our budget will not be spent in areas for which they were intended by DCAL, (Department of Culture Arts and Leisure), and that this would be a specific break of our contract with DCAL.

"Council have repeatedly told us that they have no money for marketing the city next year, so now they are taking ours."

Mr Downey also took issue with claims by Derry City Council that the culture company's marketing arm was not performing.

"I reject entirely Council's attempted inference that this is somehow a performance related issue.

"We had scheduled the full roll out of our marketing plans for Monday and the Council have deliberately chosen to pre-empt that.

"The full programme is going to be launched on 25th October and it is going to be a very exciting roll out of events let me assure you.

"The reason I have to speak out now is that I need to ensure that protocols are put in place immediately to ensure that the money we as culture company negotiated from DCAL is only spent on city of culture activity."

Mr Downey said his solicitor has a copy of the council letter and is currently seeking clarification of the legal status of the transfer that the council is trying to implement .

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