Campaign against pay out growing

Sharon O'Connor has quit social media after the online backlash
Sharon O'Connor has quit social media after the online backlash

ALMOST 2,000 people had by last night registered their opposition to a severance package for outgoing Derry City Council boss Sharon O’Connor.

A Facebook page voicing opposition to the awarding of pay deal has been attracting hundreds of supporters every day since it was set up less than a week ago.

Those behind it have expressed indignation that Derry City Council’s Town Clerk and Chief Executive is to secure a redundancy and pension pay off worth a reported £275,000.

Ms O’Connor is expected to step down from her job at the helm of the council even before the merger of the council with Strabane District Council in April 2015.

Ms O’Connor is understood not to have applied for the top job in the new amalgamated council, a position which has been filled by former Derry City Council Strategic Director John Kelpie.

Derry Councillors have reportedly given their approval for Ms O’Connor’s severance and redundancy package, although there has been vocal opposition from some independent members within the new supercouncil after the matter was later brought before them in confidential business.

A spokeswoman for Derry City Council refused to comment on or confirm the figures involved, saying that the local authority “does not comment on individual staff matters”.

She added however that “in common with other councils, Derry City Council operates a standard severance package that applies to all employees”.

The spokeswoman also confirmed that Sharon O’Connor was “committed to ensuring a smooth handover to the new Council and remains an employee of Derry City Council”.

Those behind the Facebook campaign meanwhile yesterday posted that there were now two ideas being floated as possible next steps - a petition and also a generic e-mail “that everyone could all send to Council to express our feelings about the £275K pay out”.

Sharon O’Connor is a Chartered Director with over 25 years experience.

A successful businesswoman, Belfast native Ms O’Connor has held non-executive roles in the Arts Council NI and the BBC Broadcasting Council in Northern Ireland, as well as a senior role at Down District Council.