independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Lennon waiting for NI Water payout

Alan Lennon was overlooked for a top job with Northern Ireland Water because of his religion, a tribunal found

A Protestant man overlooked for a top job with Northern Ireland Water because of his religion has been told he would have to wait at least another fortnight before compensation is determined.

Alan Lennon could receive a substantial sum after he won his case for religious discrimination against the Department of Regional Development (DRD) in June.

However, lawyers acting for the department have questioned the validity of the tribunal findings because a member of the panel was 70 and was not eligible to hear evidence at the time the decision was presented.

The department's concerns were raised as legal representatives gathered at Killymeal House in Belfast's gas works to thrash out details of the financial remedy.

Tribunal chairman Samuel Crothers said that, although the findings were not made public until June, the unanimous verdict was made in May, before the panel member turned 70. "By May 21 we would have been in a position to give our decision," Mr Crothers said.

The employment tribunal found that former Sinn Fein minister Conor Murphy breached a code of practice when he appointed Sean Hogan to the position as chairman of NI Water in March last year. Mr Hogan was the only Catholic applicant for the job. Four others, all Protestants, were turned down.

Mr Murphy has consistently denied any allegations of discrimination.

The hearing was adjourned at the request of DRD lawyers. Legal representatives are to indicate a way forward by November 21.

In July the current Ulster Unionist Roads Minister Danny Kennedy said his department would not appeal against the decision because of cost implications for the public purse.

Outside the tribunal Dr Lennon declined to comment.

Press Association

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