Belfast Telegraph

Red Sky whistleblower Jenny Palmer keeps her housing board role

By Rebecca Black

Red Sky whistleblower Jenny Palmer has been reappointed to the Board of the Housing Executive, but she still has not received a promised apology from the DUP.

The move comes after the Lisburn councillor took part in a television programme earlier this year which probed allegations of political interference in the awarding of contracts by the Housing Executive.

Councillor Palmer wept on film as she claimed that Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland's special adviser Stephen Brimstone had attempted to pressure her into voting to extend the contract of a firm which charged taxpayers for work that was never carried out.

Mrs Palmer said that Mr Brimstone had attempted to pressure her to change her vote at a board meeting of the Housing Executive discussing its £8m-a-year contract with east Belfast company Red Sky, telling the programme: "He needed me to basically go against the decision of the board on the extension of the contract for Red Sky.

"I said to him: I don't think I can do that."

She added: "He said, 'The party comes first – you do what you're told, otherwise there is no point in [you] being on the board'."

During the programme, Mrs Palmer was clearly deeply distressed as she described a phone call in which she claimed Mr Brimstone had instructed her how to vote at a meeting of the Housing Executive board of which she is a member.

Reflecting on what had happened, she said she felt she was "like a lamb to the slaughter; I was worthless in their eyes; I was expendable".

Yesterday, Mr McCausland announced that Mrs Palmer had been reappointed to the Housing Executive Board.

Her term will run until March 31, 2015 and she will receive £6,740 per annum for the role.

Mrs Palmer is a member of the Northern Ireland Housing Council and has represented it on the Housing Executive Board since 2007.

In August, Cllr Palmer revealed that she was in talks with the DUP about receiving a public apology from Mr Brimstone.

She confirmed that she had met with DUP leader Peter Robinson and during the meeting it was agreed that she would receive a public apology from Mr Brimstone.

Mrs Palmer said she was happy with the wording of a draft apology that had been drawn up and added that she expected it would be released shortly after Mr Brimstone had signed off on it.

But three months later, the statement has still not been released.

Yesterday, Mrs Palmer told the Belfast Telegraph that she found the matter difficult to talk about.

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