Belfast Telegraph

My reputation is in ruins, says community worker

by Chris McCann

An east Belfast community worker has been removed from his office after |allegations were made against him in a Sunday newspaper.

On Tuesday a Belfast City Council official ordered David McConnell to leave his office based in the Inverary Community Centre in Sydenham.

The centre office was used by MrMcConnell to run the George Best Community Cup — a cross-border/community initiative which brought over 600 children together to compete in a football tournament — and to develop the Sydenham Community Development Agency.

The council said Mr McConnell was granted permission to use the council’s facilities until August, but “matters have been brought to the council’s attention with regard to his occupation of the premises which are currently under |consideration”.

Speaking exclusively to the Community Telegraph, Mr McConnell said his reputation as a community worker “was in ruins”, but vowed to continue his work with kids in east Belfast.

He also denied the accusations made in the newspaper which were published on Sunday.

“This is all down to an article on me in the Community Telegraph recently,” he said. “Jealous people see me doing unpaid work in the community and getting recognition for it. They don’t like it.

“I have been running a youth club for nearly four years and parents trust me working with the kids.

“The George Best Community Cup involves over 600 kids — and that’s just one of my projects.

“My reputation is in ruins as a community worker. The danger is some people will think what they have read is the truth. People who know me, however, know that it’s not true.

“Not only will this [office closure] affect me, but it will have a knock-on effect on the children also.

“Our kids will now have to do without. There’s nothing else for them to do here, apart from get involved in the projects, which I’ve been running.”

Mr McConnell says he has received messages of support from the local community and a number of political leaders since he was removed from his office.

He has said he will continue his work from his home.

A public meeting on the matter will be held in the Inverary Community Centre on Wednesday, September 1, at 7pm.

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