The two most senior officers on Belfast City Council have lodged a formal grievance amidst controversy over the council's handling of Bobby Storey's cremation at Roselawn Cemetery.
The Belfast Telegraph can reveal that Chief Executive Suzanne Wylie, and Director of City and Neighbourhood Services Nigel Grimshaw, have warned that they may have to resign if their "concerns are not resolved".
They informed party group leaders at City Hall of the news on Wednesday.
In the correspondence seen by the Belfast Telegraph, Ms Wylie wrote: "It is with deep sadness and regret that I have to inform you that Nigel and I are lodging a formal grievance with the City Solicitor which includes an indication that we may have no option but to resign if our concerns are not resolved.
"This decision is directly, but not solely, related to the issues which arose around the Bobby Storey cremation."
Referring to bonfire controversies in recent years, they said: "You will be aware there have been difficult periods for both of us each summer for the last three years in relation to bonfires and the political ramifications of decisions which needed to be made.
"I can assure you that we and all chief officers have always done our utmost to serve all eight political parties in this council and to best serve this city."
The council is tomorrow expected to vote for an independent investigation into events at Roselawn Cemetery following Bobby Storey's funeral.
The DUP motion at the emergency meeting will be supported by the SDLP, Alliance, Greens and Ulster Unionists.
Ms Wylie and Mr Grimshaw have issued personal apologies to those families denied the same cremation service as Mr Storey.
His was the only cremation service on 30 June where 30 people were allowed to participate in an outdoor committal in the cemetery.
There has been widespread anger that the other eight families were denied the same rights.
The council has admitted the decision was an "error of judgment".
In a statement issued through public relations firm Brown O'Connor - and not through the council's press office - Ms Wylie and Mr Grimshaw expressed their "sincerest apologies to those families who were affected".
They recognised that events on 30 June in Roselawn were "unacceptable" and said they wished to "apologise to those families wholeheartedly and unreservedly".
They said that an internal report was being prepared for the council on the facts of the case.
"This will clarify the sequence of events that took place, and what measures the council will take to ensure that a situation like this does not happen again," they said.
Ms Wylie and Mr Grimshaw said the past few months had presented enormous challenges in terms of Covid-19.
"This has required us to make rapid decisions on many fronts, and in a very complex political landscape," they said.
"We pride ourselves in maintaining the integrity of the council in what is, at times, a very difficult environment.
"We and all chief officers have always done our utmost to serve all eight political parties in this council and do our best to serve this city."
They added: "We are concerned about certain statements and comments that have been made, and the impact these may have on our roles in Belfast City Council. We are formally raising these issues with party leaders and the chair of the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee.
"Due to an ongoing process, we will not be commenting further."
The DUP motion calls for the investigation "to inform councillors and the public about the decisions which were taken, the background to those decisions, the basis upon which those decisions were taken, and who took those decisions".