Sharon O’Connor appointed chair of new education authority

Sharon O'Connor has been Derry City Council chief executive since 2011
Sharon O'Connor has been Derry City Council chief executive since 2011

Sharon O’Connor will become chair of the north’s new education authority board the day after she formally steps down as chief executive of Derry City Council.

The Department of Education has now confirmed the public appointment of Ms Sharon O’Connor to the post at the new Education Authority, which will be established formally on 1 April 2015.

The Education Authority will take over from the Western Education and Library Board and the other four ELBs in the north when they are disbanded next month.

Ms O’Connor has been appointed for the next four-year term at a salary of £50,000 plus travel and subsistence expenses.

The appointment came to light after TUV MLA Jim Allister questioned Education Minister John O’Dowd on the matter in the Assembly yesterday.

A spokesman for the Department of Education confirmed the appointment today.

He said: “Ms O’Connor has over 20 years’ experience as a Chartered Director, Non-Executive Director, Vice Chair, Committee Chair and Board Member and in 2009/10 was the Institute of Directors, Public Sector Director of the Year.

“Ms O’Connor has been Chief Executive of Derry City Council since 2011. Her contract with Derry City Council terminates on 31 March 2015.

Ms O’Connor has declared that she has not undertaken any political activity during the last five years. She currently holds one other public appointment as a Non-Executive Director of ILEX-URC for which she receives no remuneration.”

Ms O’Connor is understood to have already begun transferring responsibilities at Derry City Council to her successor in the new Derry-Strabane supercouncil, John Kelpie, before it comes into being at the start of April.