Allister slams £275,000 ‘golden handshake’

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Fresh controversy has erupted over the £275,000 “golden handshake” paid to departing Derry City Council Chief Executive Sharon O’Connor as she prepares to take on a new publicly funded position.

Sharon O’Connor will become chair of Northern Ireland’s new education authority board the day after she formally steps down as chief executive of Derry City Council, a move heavily criticised by TUV leader Jim Allister.

Mr Allister said: “It is scandalous that someone should receive such a sum upon leaving one publicly funded job only to immediately walk into another well-paid post.

“I have therefore tabled a question to the environment minister asking what measures are in place to claw back proportionately public ‘handshake’ payments to retiring council chief executives who are then given other paid public appointments.”

A spokesman for the Department of Education 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 declared that she has not undertaken any political activity during the last five years.

“She currently holds one other public appointment...for which she receives no remuneration.”