Northern Ireland

Housing boss denies retirement linked to inquiries

paddy McIntyre
Image caption Paddy McIntyre said his decision to retire is not related to any ongoing inquiries within the organisation.

The chief executive of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive is to retire. But he said his decision is not related to any ongoing inquiries within the organisation.

It emerged on Thursday that a third internal investigation is under way.

Two investigations relate to senior members of staff. The third is linked to contractors.

Paddy McIntyre has held the role since July 1999.

He said he could understand why some people might think he was leaving the organisation as a result of the inquiries.

"It is entirely wrong because as I indicated at the outset of this, I reached the magic age of 60 in March of this year," he said.

"I discussed my plans with the chairman around April of this year and also discussed it with the board. It was always my intention to indicate around the autumn what my retirement plans are."

In March, the Housing Executive asked police to investigate its involvement in how land at a site on Nelson Street in Belfast was zoned for planning.

For years, the NIHE insisted the land was designated for social housing.

The site was later bought by Big Picture Developments.

An investigation by the BBC Newsline programme showed that after that purchase, the Housing Executive appeared to change its mind, with one official writing to planners telling them that it was "withdrawing the request for social housing at the scheme".

It is believed this letter is the focus of the police investigation.

After it was discovered, senior staff at the Housing Executive ensured the letter was withdrawn and its original position of opposition to the commercial development was reinstated.

While this investigation has been ongoing, one of its directors Colm McCaughley is on sick leave.

Big Picture Developments, lists developer and Policing Board chairman, Barry Gilligan as one of its directors.

In August, police searched Mr Gilligan's home and the headquarters of the Policing Board.

Mr Gilligan who had been on sick leave for six months following heart surgery said he would not resume his position, until the police investigation into the sale of the Nelson Street land is completed.

He denies any wrongdoing.

Big Picture Developments said it contacted Clanmil Housing Association in January 2010 to offer 20% of the development at Nelson Street for social housing.

However in May the Housing Executive said the overall proposal "does not meet the identified social housing need" and the development was of a type that was "unsuitable for social housing."

Earlier this month, in a separate inquiry, Ross Campbell, another senior member of staff at the Northern Ireland Housing Executive was relieved of his duties.

He has subsequently been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation into his alleged relationship with one of the Housing Executive's contractors.

The third inquiry relates to contractors. No more information has been released by the NIHE on this investigation.

It is unclear who will succeed Mr McIntyre as chief executive of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

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