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Saturday 23 August 2014

Dublin City Council official says home was firebombed and phone hacked, court hears

Published 03/04/2014 | 17:31

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A council official claims her home was firebombed and her mobile phone hacked

A COUNCIL official claims her home was firebombed and her mobile phone hacked after she raised questions about a colleague's allocation of housing in Dublin.

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Administrative officer, Teresa Conlon (55), is suing her employer Dublin City Council  for alleged negligence, breach of duty and intentional  or reckless infliction of mental suffering over the incidents.

The case will go on in the High Court next month after it was yesterday adjourned because of non availability of a key medical witness.

Her counsel, John O'Donnell, said she was an exemplary employee who in 2007 "discovered a fraudulent allocation of housing within Dublin City Council" and asked for it to be investigated.

The other employee involved launched a "vindictive grievance" procedure and an appeals process took place.

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

Counsel said his client was put under significant stress and her house was firebombed during which her car was also set on fire.

Mark Connaughton SC, for the council, said his side did not accept the case as presented and the claims are denied.

Ms Conlon, who is attached to the council's housing department, had on September 28, 2007, become the subject of a 17-page letter of complaint and grievance submitted by a fellow employee, it is claimed.

The complaint, she claimed,  followed a request by Ms Conlon that an allocation of housing by the other employee be investigated as Ms Conlon contended the other person failed to follow the requisite procedures when allocating a particular property.

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

Ms Conlon claims the investigations and reports cost in excess of €150,000.

Ms Conlon, it is claimed, on a number of occasions  highlighted her dissatisfaction with the manner in which the appeal investigation was being conducted.

She claimed the grievances were motivated by malice . She also, it is claimed highlighted the detrimental effect the investigation was having on her health but the appeal investigations continued.

Ms Conlon says no grounds of evidence to substantiate the claims was found in either case.

However, in relation to the housing allocation, it was found the employee who had made the complaint against her (Conlon) had a case to answer as to how she (the employee) was involved in the allocation of specific accommodation.

Ms Conlon claims there was an incorrect ancillary finding relating to the management in the housing allocations section, but the defendant refused or neglected to amend the final report.

She further claims there was a leak of the report to the media and because of  the failure to amend the report, she had become the subject of intense scrutiny and investigations by a number of public representatives.

She has further claimed the council was in possession of recordings of some of her mobile phone conversations and did not tell her or did not seek to deal with the issue.

Ms Conlon alleges there was a failure to conduct the appeal investigation discreetly and she was caused to feel stressed and menaced in the course of her employment.

The claims are denied.

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