Unicef reaches settlement with former executive director Verwoerd

Unicef Ireland has reached a settlement with Melanie Verwoerd, the organisation’s former executive director and the partner of the late Gerry Ryan.

Ms Verwoerd was fired by Unicef Ireland in Jul 2011, a move which sparked some to withdraw their support.

At the time, Ms Verwoerd said her employment was terminated by email because the board “felt that the media interest in my relationship with Gerry Ryan, who died on Apr 30, 2010, was damaging Unicef”.

The charity later issued a statement in which it rejected that assertion, and said the dismissal was because of Ms Verwoerd’s “refusal to accept the board’s view of the matter as being a negative issue for the success of Unicef Ireland’s mission and the lack of agreement on a sufficiently adequate approach to address the issue”.

It said its story was being overshadowed by stories “relating to the private life of Ms Melanie Verwoerd”.

The statement also said Ms Verwoerd had not fulfilled the board’s request to develop a plan for how future media attention could be refocused on the charity, and that she would not agree to the suggestion that she entrust the function of a spokesperson to another executive for six months.

Yesterday the charity said “all outstanding contractual matters” between itself and Ms Verwoerd had been “resolved to the mutual satisfaction of both parties”.

Ms Verwoerd’s successor, Peter Power, praised her “major contribution to the welfare of millions of children worldwide”.

He said: “On behalf of Unicef Ireland I wish to acknowledge that her departure was in no way a reflection on her performance which was always of the highest standards.”

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