Courts

Thursday 31 July 2014

Housing official claims home firebombed after work row

Tim Healy

Published 04/04/2014|02:30

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Conlon (Teresa): Dublin City Council employee  in legal action for damages against Dublin City council,  High    Court,  (3/4/14)***See Hi Ct story
Pic shows:Recent file picture of  Teresa Conlon, head of housing allocation at Dublin City Council   who is suing  Dublin City Council   for damages.
Pic: Courtpix
Teresa Conlon

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

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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 adjourned yesterday because of the non-availability of a key medical witness.

Ms Conlon's counsel, John O'Donnell, said his client 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 that the other person failed to follow the requisite procedures.

The grievance complaint made by the other employee was investigated and was found to have no basis.

A further complaint was made by another colleague in relation to Ms Conlon, but it was decided that no investigation was warranted. Both employees appealed the decision and external investigators were appointed in May 2008.

The process lasted over seven months and Ms Conlon claims that the investigations and reports cost over €150,000.

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

She claimed that 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 that the employee who had made the complaint against her had a case to answer as to how she (the employee) was involved in the allocation of specific accommodation.

FIREBOMBED

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

She further claims that 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 public representatives.

She has further claimed that 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.

Irish Independent

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