THE DUP’s Ian Paisley has accused The Irish News of running a “hate campaign” against a council chief executive following an article about an Irish language funding row.
The paper yesterday reported how Conradh na Gaeilge (CnG) said it intended to make a formal complaint against Anne Donaghy in a dispute over comments at a council meeting.
CnG strongly rejected her claims that she had contacted the group and arranged a meeting but it failed to turn up, accusing her of risking it “reputational damage”.
It also claimed her comments impacted on a vote at Mid and East Antrim council on holding events for Irish Language Week (Seachtain na Gaeilge).
The council said a meeting was arranged through a councillor last year and released a redacted email, but no messages were disclosed showing any correspondence with CnG.
Referencing the report yesterday on Twitter, North Antrim MP Mr Paisley wrote: “The Irish News appear to be running a hate campaign against Mid and East Antrim chief executive – every month or so they run ‘well placed sources’ reports attacking her.”
Responding to his comments, CnG advocacy manager Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhéin said it had only spoken out “because of assertions made by the chief executive that we had not shown up to a meeting arranged with her”.
He said CnG has asked for the record to be amended and the council vote on Seachtain na Gaeilge retaken because her remarks “obviously influenced that”.
Ms Donaghy’s comments were made on Monday while councillors discussed whether to hold an event to mark Irish Language Week.
CnG had written to the council in January asking it to consider providing funding for groups or organising its own event.
During the discussion, Ms Donaghy said: “I did contact Conradh na Gaeilge and had a meeting and sat at the meeting with two officers and they didn’t turn up.”
Rather than holding an event, most councillors instead backed TUV councillor Timothy Gaston’s proposal to note CnG’s correspondence and refer the group to the council’s grants scheme.
The council later said its mayor is still “committed to hosting an event to mark Irish Language Week”.
In a fresh statement, a council spokeswoman said: “Contact with Conradh na Gaeilge was made via the chief executive’s office through an elected member.
“The chief executive’s understanding was that this invitation had been extended to the group through the elected member, as requested, and as is often normal practice.
“The chief executive has always been and remains willing to meet groups from all backgrounds and communities, including Conradh na Gaeilge, and has since contacted the group to reiterate this.”
It is the latest controversy to hit the council chief executive.
Last year SDLP councillor Declan O’Loan said Ms Donaghy contacted him to say she was making a complaint after a search of his emails – which Mr O’Loan claimed were searched without his consent or knowledge.
And in October Ms Donaghy faced criticism after claiming that UVF flags put on display during a loyalist band contest were “historic and not illegal”.
With many thanks to: Brendan Hughes and The Irish News for the origional story.