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Explain why you quit, minister urges Sport NI members

By Staff Reporter

Published 16/07/2015

Letter: Caral Ni Chuilin
Letter: Caral Ni Chuilin

Minister Caral Ni Chuilin is to write to the Sport NI board members who dramatically resigned en masse, plunging the quango into chaos.

The Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister is "disappointed" that two-thirds of the board - nine out of 14 members - quit without giving her a fuller explanation of why they resigned.

In a joint letter to the minister, they said: "We have at all times operated professionally and competently with openness, honesty and integrity and with the best of motives for sport and Sport Northern Ireland.

"Regretfully we believe the conditions no longer exist in which we feel we can make this important contribution to sport and we now wish to resign... with immediate effect."

Ms Ni Chuilin said the nine had not given her the courtesy of a meeting to set out their reasons, but added "that was their prerogative".

"I did find it disappointing that board members could not explain to me their reasons," she told Stormonts culture and arts committee, but added that taking no action was "not an option".

Around a tenth of the 140 employees of Sport NI have made allegations, including sexism, gender bias, harassment and bullying - and more complainants are coming forward.

Last week Ms Ni Chuilin imposed an interim executive team of civil servants after the mass walkout that followed an internal audit report on a range of allegations relating to the leadership and management within Sport NI, whose chief executive Antoinette McKeown was suspended earlier this year following a number of grievances lodged both by her and against her.

Friday, July 3 - Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin demanded an urgent meeting with the heads of Sport NI following a damning internal report.

Monday, July 6 - Nine out of 14 board members resign and claim the conditions no longer exist for them to operate competently.

Wednesday, July 8 - Minister sets up an interim team of civil servants headed by DCAL director of culture Arthur Scott to devise an action plan to tackle the report.

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