Belfast Telegraph

Board backs Gilligan 'quit' move

Members of Northern Ireland's Policing Board have backed the decision of their chairman to stand down temporarily until a police investigation into his role in a Belfast land deal is complete.

Barry Gilligan, 58, has postponed his return to office after heart surgery pending the completion of the criminal investigation.

The wealthy Co Fermanagh developer has insisted he will be fully vindicated, but decided to step away from board duties until the issue is dealt with.

At the firstly monthly meeting of the board after the summer break, members supported Mr Gilligan's stance.

"Members agreed that due to the nature of the role and work of the board's chairman there was a need to ensure that the integrity of the post is protected," said a board statement.

"For this reason, members agreed that the position adopted by Mr Gilligan at this time is appropriate."

Mr Gilligan has voluntarily been interviewed by police, and detectives have searched his home in south Belfast and his office at the board's headquarters in the north of the city.

They are investigating a land deal involving the father of three's property company, Big Picture Developments.

Detectives were called in six months ago by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive to investigate its role at a site in Nelson Street, Belfast, owned by Big Picture. Mr Gilligan said he would co-operate fully with the police.

He was originally expected back at his desk this month following six months of recuperation after the surgery.

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