Tuesday 20 March 2018

Goodman's former pilot loses action for unfair dismissal

Dismissed: Ronan Murtagh
Dismissed: Ronan Murtagh
Larry Goodman

Luke Byrne

THE former private pilot for beef baron Larry Goodman had an unfair dismissal claim dramatically thrown out at the Employment Appeals Tribunal yesterday.

Ronan Murtagh, a son of Kingspan founder Eugene Murtagh, had taken the case against Mr Goodman's firm Venair.

He claimed that he was unfairly dismissed by Mr Goodman after he and fellow pilot David Dwyer wrote a letter in April 2009 complaining about a new pilot -- referred to as "PQ".

After Mr Murtagh's last witness gave evidence yesterday, Mr Goodman's barrister Ercus Stewart made an application to have the case thrown out before Mr Goodman's witnesses were called.

He argued there was no case to answer because Mr Murtagh had conceded to him that no dismissal had taken place "30 or 40 times" during cross-examination.


Mr Stewart said that for the tribunal to continue would be a waste of taxpayer money and the time and money of those involved.

Tom Mallon, barrister for Mr Murtagh, said a letter from Mr Goodman's solicitors in June 2009 confirmed the company had "no choice" but to "terminate" Mr Murtagh's contact.

He said that natural justice required both sides of the story to be heard and contended that Mr Murtagh's employment ended at some point in 2009.

The four-person tribunal took just under an hour to throw out the case, ruling that no dismissal had taken place.

"It was appropriate. There was no dismissal," Mr Goodman told the Irish Independent after the hearing yesterday.

"I have no further comment to make on it," he added.

Mr Mallon said they would await the full written decision of the tribunal before considering a legal challenge in the Circuit Court.

Mr Murtagh claimed that he lost his job after he and Mr Dwyer informed Mr Goodman that they would no longer fly with the new pilot because, they alleged, the pilot's behaviour was unsafe.

During the fifth day of the hearing yesterday, Mr Dwyer admitted that on one occasion he was forced to hand over control of the plane to the new pilot during a landing because he couldn't see the runway. But he rejected an allegation that he had completely lost awareness of the positioning and direction of the plane.

Irish Independent

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