Saturday 24 June 2017

Businesswoman faces trial over Clerys job losses

Natrium Ltd businesswoman Deirdre Foley faces four charges. Photo: Tony Gavin
Natrium Ltd businesswoman Deirdre Foley faces four charges. Photo: Tony Gavin

Tom Tuite

Criminal proceedings have commenced over the handling of collective redundancies at Clerys department store.

Businesswoman Deirdre Foley faces a single charge of impeding a Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) inspector, as well as three counts of breaking protection of employment laws.

Two other executives, as well as the previous owners, OCS Operations Ltd (now in liquidation), and Natrium Ltd, which took over the department store in 2015, have been served summons with connected charges.

The case had its first listing at Dublin District Court yesterday before Judge John Brennan, who granted an adjournment until May 19. None of the defendants have yet entered a plea.

Breffni Gordon, for the prosecution, told Judge Brennan the prosecutions have been instituted by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and the WRC. OCS Operations petitioned the High Court for liquidation on June 12, 2015. This was followed by the collective redundancies in which 460 people lost their jobs, he said.

The judge was told Ms Foley has an application before the Court of Appeal on April 28 in a bid to overturn a High Court ruling last year dismissing her challenge to the investigation.

Mr Gordon said that during the investigation a laptop was seized at the offices of Ms Foley's firm, D2 Private Ltd, but it was returned to her after a forensic image of it was taken.

OCS Operations Ltd has three charges. It operated Clerys Department Store and Warehouse from 2012 until a liquidator was appointed in June 2015.

Offences

The alleged offences are under the Protection of Employment Act for failing to initiate consultations with representatives of employees' affected by the collective redundancies in OCS Operations Ltd, failing to supply employee representatives with all relevant information relating to the redundancies and not notifying the jobs minister in writing on June 12, 2015 - the day of the Clerys takeover.

There is one charge against Natrium Ltd, which is co-owned by property developer Ms Foley and a UK-based property investment and hedge fund business which has an 80pc stake. Natrium Ltd is accused of obstructing or impeding a WRC inspector on June 27 last year at 25-28 North Wall Quay, the company's address.

Ms Foley, of Hollybank Avenue Upper, Ranelagh, Dublin 6, faces four charges. One count alleges it was with her consent or connivance that Natrium Ltd impeded a WRC inspector on June 12, 2015. Her other three charges are the same as those against OCS Operations Ltd.

Also before the court is Mark Redmond, an employee of D2 Private Ltd, who faces the same charges for allegedly failing to notify the minister or consult with workers' representatives or provide them with relevant information about the redundancies.

Brendan Cooney, a director of OCS Operations Ltd, with an address at Weirview Drive, Stillorgan, Co Dublin, also has the same charges plus an additional one under the Workplace Relations Act of giving false or misleading information to an inspector.

Irish Independent

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