Belfast Telegraph

Sport NI tight-lipped as grievance probes under way into boss

By Deborah McAleese

The first female boss of Sport NI is currently on leave from her £75,000-a-year post while an investigation is carried out into a number of grievances lodged both by and against her.

Antoinette McKeown - ­­­the first woman to become CEO of the public body for the development of sport in Northern Ireland - has not been at work for three weeks.

It is understood several internal issues have been raised against Ms McKeown, who joined the body 18 months ago. Sport NI and the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure have refused to give any explanation for the mother-of-two's absence.

The only comment provided was that she "has not left her post".

A source close to Sport NI told the Belfast Telegraph, however: "A number of grievance procedures have been lodged against Ms McKeown. "She herself has lodged a grievance. She has been absent for three weeks." When contacted by the Belfast Telegraph Ms McKeown would only say: "I am on leave. I remain in my post."

Sport NI, which receives around £28m in public money each year, would not say how long Ms McKeown is expected to be on leave for or if it is paid or unpaid leave. The body also refused to confirm that a number of grievances were under investigation and would not provide any information about the complaints.

Sport NI would only say that Ms McKeown "has not left her post".

The Department of Culture Arts and Leisure also refused to comment and said it was a matter for Sport NI. Ms McKeown was appointed to Sport NI's top post for the development of sport in Northern Ireland in June 2013.

She left her job as chief executive of the Consumer Council to take up her new role several months later.

Profile

Antointette McKeown was brought in to shape the future of Sport NI, making it clear she wanted to create better facilities and conditions for sports people here. The Co Armagh woman, who comes from a family of 10 and is a self-confessed sports fanatic, succeeded Nick Harkness who had served in an acting capacity after the resignation of Eamonn McCartan.

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