Wednesday 26 September 2018

More charges brought against businesswoman Deirdre Foley in Clerys redundancies trial

Businesswoman Deirdre Foley.
Businesswoman Deirdre Foley.

Tom Tuite

Two extra charges have been brought against businesswoman Deirdre Foley who is facing trial over the handling of redundancies at Clerys department store.

Ms Foley already faced a single charge of impeding a Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) inspector and three counts of breaking protection of employment laws.

Her co-defendants are two executives, Mark Redmond and Brendan Cooney, the previous owners of Clerys, OCS Operations Ltd (now in liquidation), and Natrium Ltd which in 2015 bought the iconic department store on Dublin’s O’Connell Street.

They are to go trial in January, however, today additional charges were brought against Ms Foley, Mr Cooney, Mr Redmond and OCS Operations Ltd.

In the fresh charges, brought before the court by way summonses, it is alleged that on November 24 last year they failed to keep records as required to ensure compliance with Section 18.1 of the Protection of Employment Act.

Ms Foley also had one other new charge for refusing in a letter to comply with lawful requirements of an (WRC) inspector.

Judge John Brennan noted from prosecution counsel Breffni Gordon that these charges could join up with the proceedings already on-going. Disclosure of evidence has also been provided.

Ms Foley and two of the co-defendants were not present and were represented by a solicitor and counsel. However, Mr Cooney did attend court.

Judge Brennan adjourned the case to be mentioned again at Dublin District Court in November.

Books of evidence and 11 boxes of material have already been handed over to the defence pursuant to disclosure orders made at earlier stages by Judge Brennan. The criminal proceedings have been brought by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and the WRC.

OCS Operations petitioned the High Court for liquidation on June 12, 2015. This was followed by the collective redundancies in which 460 people lost jobs; 130 of them were directly employed by Clerys, the court has heard.

Earlier the district court was told that during the probe a laptop was seized at the offices of Ms Foley's firm, D2 Private Ltd but it was returned to her after a forensic image of it was taken.

OCS Operations Ltd already had three other charges. It operated Clerys Department Store and Warehouse, from 2012 until a liquidator was appointed in June 2015, when it ceased trading.

These alleged offences are under the Protection of Employment Act for failing to initiate consultations with representatives of employees affected by the collective redundancies in OCS Operations Ltd, failing to supply employee representatives with all relevant information relating to the redundancies and not notifying the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in writing, on June 12, 2015 – the day of the Clerys takeover.

There remains only one charge against Natrium Ltd, the company that took over OCS Operations Ltd in 2015 and which is co-owned by property developer Deirdre Foley and a UK based business which has an 80 per cent stake. Natrium Ltd is accused of obstructing or impeding a WRC inspector on June 27 last year at 25-28 North Wall Quay, the company’s address.

Deirdre Foley, of Hollybank Avenue, Upper Ranelagh, Dublin 6, who has a 20 per cent share in Natrium Ltd, already had four other charges. One of them alleges that it was with her consent or connivance that Natrium Ltd impeded a WRC inspector on June 12, 2015.

Her remaining charges are under Protection of Employment Act for failing to initiate consultations with representatives of employees, failing to supply them with all relevant information relating to the redundancies and not notifying the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in writing, on June 12, 2015.

Mark Redmond, of Belfry Dale, Citywest Road, Saggart, Co. Dublin is an employee of D2 Private Ltd, a firm owned by Deirdre Foley. He also faces same charges for allegedly failing to notify the Minister or consult with workers’ representative or provide them with relevant information about the redundancies.

Brendan Cooney, a director of OCS Operations Ltd, with an address at Weirview Drive, Stillorgan, Co. Dublin already had the same charges plus an additional one under the Workplace Relations Act for giving false or misleading information to an inspector.

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