FIRE SERVICE FINANCE CHIEF AT HEART OF WHISTLE-BLOWING ROW RESIGNS !

A SENIOR fire service manager at the heart of a whistle-blowing controversy has resigned. According to sources, Terry McGonigal, director of finance and performance management, has decided to leave the service.

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There have been three investigations into NI Fire and Rescue Service after whistle-blowing allegations

Three years ago, whistle-blower employee Linda ford, was suspended from her high-profile accountancy role for almost a year after she had raised the alarm on financial wrongdoing. Last year she received a record £20,000 compensation payout from the fire service. The mother-of-one also received a personal apology from the most senior civil servant at the Department of Health, permanent secretary Dr Andrew McCormick, for the ” unacceptable ” handling of her case. An independent investigation last year found Ms Ford and a second senior finance worker had been moved to other jobs or locations over the previous three years after launching grievance cases against Mr McConigal. The investigation reported that internal correspondence sent by a former acting chief fire officer, Louis Jones, in July 2010 recommended that Mr McConigal receive a precautionary suspension until both cases had been resolved. Following Mr Jone’s retirement, his successor Peter Craig decided that the finance chief would not be suspended – a move criticised by the investigators who said it was based on ” unsound logic “. Ms Ford has returned to the fire service but has not gone back to her previous accountancy role because some of her grievances remain outstanding. Mr McGonigal’s resignation comes before former fire service chiefs are to appear before Stormont’s health committee in the coming weeks.

WITH MANY THANKS TO : SEANIN GRAHAM, HEALTH CORRESPONDENT, IRISH NEWS.

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