Belfast Telegraph

Pay storm council chief Sharon O'Connor joins watchdog Ofcom

By Garrett Hargan

One of the highest-paid local authority chiefs in Northern Ireland is to take up a new post with broadcasting and communications watchdog Ofcom in September.

Ofcom announced that controversial Derry City Council chief executive Sharon O'Connor had been appointed as one of three new members to its Northern Ireland advisory committee.

Ms O'Connor joined Derry council in 2011 on an annual salary starting at £107,500 plus expenses.

At the time the Belfast Telegraph revealed that the council had approved a £10,000 salary increase for whoever would replace former chief executive Valerie Watts – despite staff suffering a two-year pay freeze. Ms O'Connor was quickly forced to defend being granted a £500-a-day mentor, stressing it was a vital part of her "bedding-in" process.

Ms O'Connor also requested that thousands of pounds of ratepayers' money be paid towards her rent, in lieu of removal expenses she may have incurred coming from Co Down to live in Derry.

In October 2012 Ms O'Connor informed the Culture Company that it would no longer be marketing the City of Culture celebrations in a shock move just weeks before the 2013 celebrations got under way.

Ms O'Connor was previously director of cultural and economic development at Down District Council and has been on the boards of the Arts Council Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Museums Council and the BBC Broadcasting Council for Northern Ireland. She has also run her own consultancy business.

She will be succeeded at Derry City Council by John Kelpie, who is currently overseeing the 'shadow council', which takes over next year.

Ofcom is the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries.

Belfast Telegraph


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