The board of Temple Bar Cultural Trust (TBCT) has received advice from legal and human resources experts on how to deal with the impending return of its chief executive, Dermot McLaughlin, from his short-lived secondment to Derry UK City of Culture.
Mr McLaughlin had been seconded to Derry for a year as project director but announced last Friday that he was resigning after just five months in the post. He also indicated that he would be returning to TBCT on May 7th, and the board was then informed. A board meeting held in Dublin City Council’s Civic Offices, starting at 8am yesterday, heard from Brendan McCarthy, a human resources adviser with employers body Ibec, and Patricia Heavey, of solicitors PF O’Reilly, on issues arising from the recent audit of TBCT.
The audit – carried out by the council’s internal audit unit – found serious failings in corporate governance, including breaches of the Companies Acts, minutes of board meetings being unavailable and company credit cards used by staff for personal expenses.
Yesterday, Mr McLaughlin was told in an email by acting chief executive Ray Yeates: "Given the difficulties the company is now facing in dealing with all of the issues arising at present, the board have asked that you do not attend at the offices of TBCT while on secondment".
After some acrimonious exchanges, the board agreed to initiate an expeditous investigation of the audit report’s findings. This would be carried out by an independent external person, who would then make recommendations on what should be done.
It is understood that the directors are concerned that due process should be observed in reaching any conclusions in relation to the responsibilities of senior staff, including Mr McLaughlin – irrespective of whether moves are made to wind down the company.
The findings of the audit were considered by the city council's audit committee last Thursday and will be further considered by the full council on Monday next, at which city manager John Tierney — as TBCT's sole shareholder — may indicate his intentions.