Council boss 'pretended there were culture year problems'

A former director at Londonderry's City of Culture company has accused Derry City Council's chief executive of pretending there were problems to gain control of the culture year's budget.

Garbhan Downey was giving evidence in an industrial tribunal.

He was director of marketing and communications when he was sacked.

He had complained to the press that council chief executive Sharon O'Connor had decided to take control of the 2013 City of Culture marketing budget.

He claims he was justified in revealing the move, which he believed could be malpractice.

Mr Downey, who is a novelist and former journalist, said his dismissal was unwarranted, tainted and flawed and that he was victimised and punished for speaking out in the public interest.

He said Ms O'Connor wanted him out of his £65,000 a year job and is reported to have said "stick him in a back office somewhere".

The hearing has revealed more of the disagreements that have plagued the culture company, leading to resignations and public arguments.

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