Suzanne Wylie's words last year were eerily prophetic. The most powerful unelected woman in Belfast spoke of how tough it could be to appear on the front page of newspapers.
"At the top of an organisation, it can be very lonely at times because ultimately the buck does stop with you, and particularly in a political organisation," she said.
Belfast City Council's chief executive was referring to the occasions she had hit the headlines over City Hall's handling of loyalist bonfires.
But the controversy now engulfing her is far more serious than anything before.
The image of eight ordinary families - treated so differently to that of former IRA leader Bobby Storey's at Roselawn Cemetery - led to an understandable wave of anger across the city and beyond. The council's apology has not lessened it.
Wylie is a popular figure with councillors and staff. Highly personable and approachable, she became the council's first female chief executive in 2014.
While the elected representatives are officially the bosses of senior council officers, the power and influence of the latter can't be underestimated.
Councillors come and go but the officers remain in place and, with full council and committee meetings generally suspended due to coronavirus, more power fell into officers' hands.
Wylie has worked for the council for over 30 years, joining as an environmental health officer after graduating from the University of Ulster.
In an interview with Best Of Belfast last year, she recounted how she was tasked with inspecting animals in the abattoir.
The male workers there tested her mettle. "Sometimes in the mornings when I came in I would find all sorts of bits of animals in my welly boots because they wanted to see what kind of stuff was this girl made off," she said.
A workaholic who sets her alarm for 5.30am, she rose through the ranks at City Hall. She put some of her success as chief executive down to her focus on building relationships. She knew "all the players in this city" and it helped to be able to pick up the phone and "problem solve together".
Councillors from a wide range of parties speak of Wylie as "very accommodating" and someone who constantly works to find compromises.
She is a well-known figure cycling to and from work - as late as 11pm some nights. She told Best Of Belfast how she kept "a pair of straighteners in the office" and would use the hand-dryer in the toilets to dry her hair.
Three years ago ex-DUP councillor Graham Craig was at the centre of a sexism storm when he said he enjoyed the sight of Ms Wylie on her bike.
The council's director of city and neighbourhood services, Nigel Grimshaw - the second top official at the centre of the Storey cremation controversy - left his job as the most senior police officer in Belfast to join the council in 2015.
His approach to loyalist bonfires has led to him being better liked by SDLP and Alliance councillors than by unionist ones. He is also unpopular with Sinn Fein.
Grimshaw is seen as tougher and more formal in his approach to councillors than Wylie.
"He is an old copper. He has no time for social niceties and chit-chat. He's a plain speaker," said a council source.
As the PSNI's former Belfast Area Commander, he had dealt with high-profile public order matters, including contentious parades and protests, in the city. He had also battled the threat from dissident republicans and was heavily involved in the implementation of the Patten policing reforms.
His departure from the PSNI surprised many colleagues.
Grimshaw had never been afraid to speak his mind during his police career.
He had regularly called for political leadership to be shown in Northern Ireland and had accused politicians of not moving quickly enough to develop a shared future to help ease tensions on the street.
In 2014 he hit back at Sinn Fein allegations of a "dark side" to policing following the arrest of Gerry Adams by detectives investigating the murder of Jean McConville.
Those remarks did not endear him to the party.