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Bid to ban NI Events Company directors 'at advanced stage'

By Alan Erwin

Directors disqualification proceedings against eleven former board members at a now defunct quango set up to attract show business and sporting stars to Northern Ireland are at an advanced stage, the High Court has heard.

Counsel for a Stormont Department seeking banning orders against the ex-NI Events Company representatives told a judge proposals to resolve the case are being discussed.

It is understood that the negotiations involve potential undertakings not to act as company directors for certain periods.

The application brought by the Department for the Economy follows critical reports into the oversight and running of a body which folded back in 2007.

The eleven named in the papers are: Samuel Mervyn Elder, Jasper Perry, Gerry Lennon, Jim Rodgers, James Clarke, Thomas Alan Clarke, Paul Henry McWilliams, William David White, Aideen Corr, Victor Campbell Haslett, and Catherine Williamson.

Last year the NI Events Company's former chief executive, Janice McAleese, was banned from acting as a company director for 14 years.

Her conduct had been heavily criticised in a report issued by the Northern Ireland Audit Office in September last year.

The Audit Office probe was also scathing in its assessment of oversight from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) for a body formed in 1997 to support major sports and music events.

It identified failures in the risk management process and in dealing with a whistleblower's complaints.

Lawyers for some of those who sat on the NI Events Company's board previously claimed they were being made scapegoats to deflect attention from civil servants who failed to provide proper scrutiny.

But at a hearing on Thursday a barrister representing the department disclosed progress in reaching a settlement.

He said: "Discussions have been ongoing, they are at a very advanced stage.

"There are proposals and counter proposals to resolve the matter."

Following the update Master Bell agreed to adjourn the case for a further review next month.

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