Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 26 October 2014

Verbal warning for charity boss

An Ulster charity boss has been disciplined after a row with a senior colleague.

An Ulster charity boss has been disciplined after a row with a senior colleague.

Sunday Life can reveal Positive Futures chief executive Agnes Lunny - who was awarded an OBE this year for her work with people with disabilities - received a verbal warning after the charity's finance director, Brendan McAleer, made a total of 17 complaints against her.

Senior sources in the charity say that although 11 of the allegations were dismissed by an independent disciplinary investigation, the panel found six of the complaints "could have been seen to undermine Mr McAleer".

The charity's Board of Trustees has issued a statement to Sunday Life saying it has "complete confidence" in its chief executive.

Ms Lunny, who was registered blind as a child and orphaned at the age of 16 following a family tragedy, also apologised to the finance director.

The Bangor woman was a founder of Positive Futures, which was established in 1995 to provide support for people with learning disabilities across Northern Ireland. The charity now employs more than 200 people.

We attempted to speak to Agnes Lunny about the allegations made against her, but she refused to comment.

But Sióbhan Bogues, who is chair of the charity's Board of Trustees, issued a statement on the matter.

Said Ms Bogues: "Positive Futures follows all appropriate procedures and fulfils all legal requirements in relation to management and operational matters.

"Internal matters are addressed internally and confidentially.

"The Board of Trustees has complete confidence in our Chief Executive, Agnes Lunny OBE, who has been instrumental in guiding the development of the charity since it began over 10 years ago.

"Positive Futures understands that the media has been approached with anonymous, unsubstantiated and incorrect allegations concerning the organisation.

"These allegations cannot be published because they are untrue and we are disappointed that other internal matters have been made public.

"We reiterate that Positive Futures follows appropriate procedures in all matters and wish to state that we are taking legal advice about this development.

"No further comment is possible at this point in time."

High-profile supporters of Positive Futures include film star Adrian Dunbar, DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson and SDLP leader Mark Durkan.

Mr Donaldson described the row as "unfortunate", adding: "I have the highest regard for Positive Futures and I also hold Agnes Lunny in high esteem.

"I believe this situation will not undermine the great work the charity plays and the great role Agnes plays across Northern Ireland."

sbreen@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

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