Belfast Telegraph

Sport NI unveils new board months after mass walkout

By Noel McAdam

Sport NI is having its top team restored - after operating at only half strength for six months.

Five new board members for the quango were announced yesterday following the en-masse resignations by nine people in July which plunged the organisation into chaos.

The new blood includes Wilma Erskine, chief executive of Royal Portrush Golf Club and Kieran Harding, who is an assistant manager at Irish Premier league side Portadown FC. Sports and Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin said the move would provide "high-quality leadership" for the quango where two-thirds of board members quit following a severely critical internal report that pinpointed "the leadership, management and the overall culture within Sport NI".

It then later emerged around one in 10 of the entire workforce had complained about how they had been treated. Sinn Fein's Ms Ni Chuilin said a "culture of fear" existed inside the organisation and relationships had "broken down" but told a Stormont inquiry it was a "complete mystery" when the board members had quit.

Yesterday, the minister said: "These high-calibre appointees bring a wide and varied range of skills and experience which are vital to the organisation now and into the future.

"The new board members will provide high-quality leadership to Sport NI, allowing it to focus on its mission of leading sports development at all levels."

The other three new members are Kyle Ferguson, from Ulster University, who has researched the role of sport in the community; Celine McStravick, director of the National Children's Bureau NI and Dr Catherine O'Mullan, director of curriculum at the Northern Regional College (NRC) who has led the establishment of a number of sports academies in golf, football and GAA.

Mrs Erskine is the chief executive of Royal Portrush, where she is also a member of the board organising the 2019 Open Championship and Mr Harding is managing director of Business in the Community and director of East Belfast Enterprise.

"I wish the appointees every success as they take on the challenges that lie ahead," the minister added.

Belfast Telegraph


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