Belfast Telegraph

O'Connor's reign marred by storms

By Rebecca Black

Sharon O'Connor was a senior officer in Down District Council before taking up the position of chief executive of Derry City Council in October 2011.

As part of her £105,000 pay deal she also received £5,000 towards rent in lieu of removal expenses she may have incurred coming from Co Down to the Derry city area.

Six days of mentoring during her first year as chief executive, costing £500 per day, were also approved by Derry City Council.

During her tenure she oversaw two key years including a stopover in the Clipper Round the World race and the City of Culture celebrations in 2013.

But while the year of events was deemed a triumph, it did not pass without controversy.

In March 2013 Ms O'Connor relocated the Culture Company, which had its base in Ebrington, to Derry City Council offices and sacked its marketing manager, Garbhan Downey. He later challenged the decision in an industrial tribunal, citing unfair dismissal. The action ultimately proved unsuccessful. A spat between Ms O'Connor and the then chief executive of the Culture Company, Shona McCarthy, was played out in the public arena and hit the headlines across the UK.

Before her move to Derry, Ms O'Connor had been employed as director of development with Down District Council, having worked there since 2000.

She is a graduate of the Ulster University and previously ran her own business.

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