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Arts Council Northern Ireland boss awarded £12,000 in age discrimination case

ACNI chief executive Roisin McDonough Arts Council of Northern Ireland chief executive Roisin McDonough
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Arts Council of Northern Ireland chief executive Roisin McDonough has been awarded a £12,000 payout in an age discrimination case against the funding body.

McDonough, who has been chief executive since 2000, applied to ACNI for flexible retirement in January 2017, asking to reduce her working hours from five days a week to four.

Northern Irish Arts Council chief executive sues for age discrimination

Following the request, no decision was taken and McDonough alleged that she was asked instead about her plans to retire fully, and became aware of speculation within the workplace about when she would retire and who would replace her.

McDonough claimed this was “inappropriate and undermining to her position”, leading to an internal grievance procedure being launched and proceedings being lodged.

An internal panel upheld her grievance and recommended her flexible retirement request be processed immediately. She began flexible retirement in September 2017.

The £12,000 has been awarded without admission of liability.

McDonough was supported by the Equality Commission Northern Ireland.

She said: “It’s important if people feel their rights at work are not being upheld that they know they can seek independent support and they will be listened to. Public sector workers, at whatever level they are employed in an organisation, are entitled to the same rights as anyone else.”

“I believed my flexible retirement request was in line with the organisation’s human resources policies. I was disappointed that my request was not being progressed and felt under pressure to provide a definite date for retirement. I believed that this was inappropriate and that any decision on my retirement should be mine and mine alone.”

In a statement, the arts council said: “The Arts Council of Northern Ireland agreed a settlement with Roisin McDonough and regrets wholeheartedly the hurt caused to a valued member of our staff. The arts council has agreed to review its equal opportunity policies with regard to age and refresh its equality training for all board and staff members.”

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