‘It’s our time to shine’: Town Clerk

Derry City Council's Town Clerk Sharon O'Connor.
Derry City Council's Town Clerk Sharon O'Connor.

Derry’s Town Clerk Sharon O’ Connor says it’s time to “put to one side” the controversy over her decision to centralise the City of Culture marketing operation and now focus on ensuring 2013 is “our time to shine.”

Writing in today’s ‘Journal’, the Council chief acknowledges that the last week or so has been a “challenging time” for all those concerned “for the future welfare of the city.”

However, she says it is now time to “move forward and get on with the job at hand.”

Last week, it emerged that Ms. O’Connor had informed the Culture Company - the body tasked with delivering the 2013 programme - that its marketing function wasn’t performing.

She ordered it to hand over those responsibilities to the Council and to move staff to Council offices. However, she indicated that the transfer move would not include the Company’s Director of Communications Garbhan Downey who has since been suspended.

Sharon O’Connor says her decision to change Culture Company’s marketing structure was “taken in the best interests of the city moving forward.”

She adds: “As Chief Executive of Derry City Council, I am personally responsible with making sure that the £12.6 million DCAL has provided for the City of Culture project is delivered per the letter of offer they provided to Derry City Council. With that in mind, I took the decision to maximise the opportunities that exist to profile the launch and the programme for 2013 by realigning resources so that the marketing teams work collectively with the objectives of the One Marketing plan.”

She says both Council and the Culture Company are continuing to work in “close partnership” to review all options that will assist in this implementation process.

An important part of this transition process, she says, will be engagement with staff affected by the change or “who have felt unsettled by the events of the past week and reassure them that by working collectively we can achieve more and maximise the opportunities that exist.”

The Town Clerk says that, while there are many challenges facing Derry, she’s confident the city has huge potential and, “with strong leadership, partnership working and positive engagement with the local communities, we can achieve real success for the city in 2013 and beyond.”