Tuesday 26 September 2017

Council official allegedly targetted for raising queries settles action

Teresa Conlon, leaving court today, after her case.
Teresa Conlon, leaving court today, after her case.
Teresa Conlon, pictured leaving the Four Courts after she settled her High Court action for damages.Pic: Colins Courts

A COUNCIL official who claimed her house was fire bombed and her mobile phone hacked after she raised questions about a colleague's allocation of housing in Dublin has settled her action for damages in the High Court.

As part of the settlement of Teresa Conlon's action against Dublin City Council, a statement was read in court in which the local authority said she is "a member of staff of the utmost honesty and integrity."

The council said it was happy to correct any inaccuracy in its records relating to her and regretted any distress or upset suffered by her in the past.

Ms Conlon, an administrative officer  in the council's housing and residential services department, had sued her employer for alleged negligence and breach of duty.  She also claimed for intentional or reckless infliction of mental suffering.

When the case was was called before Mr Justice Sean Ryan yesterday, he was told by John O'Donnell SC, for Ms Conlon, the matter had been resolved and could be struck out.

Mark Connaughton SC, for the council, read out a statement in which he said she "remains a loyal, hardworking and valued member of the staff of Dublin City Council who has served the council well for many years."

The council was happy to acknowledge she was was "exonerated in two separate investigations", he said.

"She is an remains a member of staff of the utmost honesty and integrity."

Last April, the court heard that in 2007, Ms Conlon "discovered a fraudulent allocation of housing within Dublin City Council" and asked for it to be investigated.   She contended another employee had failed to follow procedures when allocating a particular property.

The other employee launched a "vindictive grievance" claim and an appeals process also took place.

The matter escalated when a report containing an incorrect finding was leaked to the media and  Ms Conlon's mobile phone was hacked.

Ms Conlon's lawyer said she was  put under significant stress and her house was firebombed during which her car went on fire.

The council had denied the claims.

The court heard the grievance complaint made by the other employee was investigated and it was determined there was no basis for it.

Another complaint was made by another colleague in relation to Ms Conlon, but it was decided that no investigation of the matter was warranted.

Both those employees appealed the decisions and external investigators were appointed in May 2008 and the process lasted in excess of seven months.

Ms Conlon, it was claimed, on a number of occasions highlighted her dissatisfaction with the manner in which the appeal investigation was being conducted and claimed the grievances were motivated by malice.

The investigation found the employee who had made the complaint against Ms Conlon had a case to answer as to how she  was involved in the allocation of specific accommodation.

Ms Conlon claimed it also made an incorrect ancillary finding relating to the management in the housing allocations section but the council refused or neglected to amend the final report.

She further claimed there was a leak of the report to the media and arising from the failure to amend the report.

As a result, she became the subject of intense scrutiny and investigations by a number of public representatives, she claimed.

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