Independent Councillor, Paudie McShane has said ‘there will be no apology’ after the DUP say that a report by external auditors Moore Stephens has shown that there is ‘no evidence of officers acting fraudulently or with any improper intent’ over the sale of council land for £1.
In a statement released to the Ballymoney Bubble by Cllr John McAuley on behalf of the Causeway Coast & Glens DUP group, the party has described the ‘attacks’ on councils Chief Executive as a ‘total disgrace’.
The statement reads: “A few weeks ago, public representatives and others took to the media and social media to blast the Chief Executive Officer of Causeway Coast and Glens Council for his handling of the £1 easement granted to the prospective developer of a hotel at the NW200 Paddock in Portstewart. The attacks upon him were a total disgrace, and our defence of him is a matter of public record.
“Now a Report by external auditors Moore Stephens NI has revealed that there is ‘no evidence of officers acting fraudulently or with any improper intent’. That is a very significant statement as it confirms what we have been saying all along. It is also in line with other reviews into Council procedures and accounts.
“It is clear beyond a reasonable doubt that all the hot air generated by the Council’s detractors is just that – hot air and devoid of any substance whatever.
Going on the DUP have asked for an ‘unreserved apology‘ to be made, saying: “Those who, without a single shred of evidence, have been making wild and scurrilous allegations of fraud and corruption, must now withdraw those allegations and issue an unreserved apology to those whom they have smeared.
“The DUP on the Council will continue to make its decisions on the basis of the facts. It is time that other Councillors did the same.
“It is our duty as a Council to get on with the task for which we were elected and ensure that we deliver a high standard of service for the people of the Borough. That is what the people want and what they deserve”.
This comes following Causeway Coast and Glens Councillors backing a motion to take no further action against the Chief Executive in his role in the planning application, despite ’15 allegations’ against Mr Jackson being upheld as part of an independent investigation by external consultancy firm Happy Rasberry.
In response to the DUP’s statement. Independent Councillor Paudie McShane has said: “Councillor McAuley (sic) needs to comprehend the details of the Moore NI report before embarrassingly citing the report as evidence.
“During cross-examination of the report by members in the presence of the author, she made clear she was not qualified to make the statement that; ‘No evidence of officers acting fraudulently with any improper intent.’ In fact, she failed to explain why she included the line in the report when pressed.
“The investigation of fraud belongs to specialist forensic auditors, the same auditors’ Councillor McAuley and his party colleagues blocked from any investigation. Unfortunately, Moore NI are not forensic auditors.
“The Councillor, in his begging letter for an apology, fails to mention the findings of the Happy Raspberry report that was so damming in its findings against the CEO and one other senior individual in the Council. He and his party attempted to bury the findings that the BBC made so very public.
“This selective evidence gathering to support his own claims evidence an individual who is ill at ease in the surroundings of public affairs and a Councillor who is desperate for a fig leaf to cover his inadequacies.
“There will be no apology.”
Councillor Stephanie Quigley has also refused to apologise saying: “I take extremely seriously the position as an elected representative that the ratepayers have put me in. This is the public purse and ratepayers money, I will make no public apology for the stand I take.”