Sunday 19 November 2017

Lee agrees to €12,000 payout for PD worker he didn't hire

Ray Managh

A Progressive Democrats worker who took a month's leave to back George Lee's election bid for Dail Eireann yesterday settled a €38,000 damages claim for breach of contract.

Bernie Connolly, of The Waterfront, Hanover Quay, Dublin, received around €12,000 in a confidential settlement after she alleged that Mr Lee and Fine Gael top brass, including party leader Enda Kenny, had reneged on a promise to make her Mr Lee's parliamentary assistant.

Ms Connolly claimed the promises had been forgotten despite having joined the former RTE economics editor and Fine Gael elite at a celebration dinner on the night of the election count, and a festive lunch in the Members' Restaurant in Leinster House on Mr Lee's introduction to Dail Eireann.

Her allegations were denied by all of the defendants who included Mr Lee, Enda Kenny, Fine Gael general secretary Tom Curran and two TDs, Deirdre Clune and Sean Barrett.

The remaining defendants included party trustees, solicitor Enda Marren, consultant Frank Flannery, Mary Hayes and Patrick Durcan.

The Circuit Court president, Mr Justice Matthew Deery, was told the settlement was against all of the defendants. Michael Binchy -- counsel for Mr Lee, Mr Kenny and the eight Fine Gael trustees -- said the action had been settled and could be struck out with an order for taxation of Ms Connolly's legal costs.

Ms Connolly had claimed that on May 1 last year, Mr Curran invited her to be interviewed for the position of parliamentary assistant to Fine Gael's by-election candidate who at that stage had not been identified to her.

Mr Curran claimed to have the authority of his co-defendants, Ms Connolly claimed.

She was told she would need to join the campaign staff from May 6 and took leave of absence from her job with the now defunct PDs.

Ms Connolly worked all day on June 6 at the count in the RDS and attended the Fine Gael post-election dinner party in McGrattan's Restaurant where she met Mr Lee and Mr Kenny.


Ms Connolly claimed she was later told by Mr Curran to go to the Fine Gael office in Leinster House. There, she received instructions to get a letter from Mr Lee stating he was employing her.

But Mr Lee later said he knew nothing of the agreement between herself and Mr Curran relating to the job offer, Ms Connolly alleged.

She claimed Mr Lee, despite having told her he would look at her CV and come back to her, had not contacted her since.

Ms Connolly said that Mr Curran had assured her there was a clear understanding between himself and Mr Lee that she was to get the job after the election.

But on July 8, she had discovered that a colleague in her office had been asked to attend for interview with Mr Lee for the position of constituency secretary.

She emailed Mr Curran who had told her to contact Mr Lee directly. She had not contacted any of them since.

Ms Connolly stated she had suffered loss, damage and inconvenience as a result of breach of contract.

Irish Independent

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