Wednesday 21 August 2019

Sinn Féin TD settles unfair dismissal case

Maurice Quinlivan
Maurice Quinlivan

Anne Marie Walsh

Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan has settled an unfair dismissal case with his former parliamentary assistant.

This is despite him winning the case at its first hearing at the Workplace Relations Commission last year.

Mary Roche appealed the Workplace Relations Commission decision to dismiss her claims at the Labour Court.

Mr Quinlivan attended a Labour Court hearing where it emerged Ms Roche had withdrawn her claims. Sources said the parties had settled.

"The appeal has been withdrawn," he said after leaving the court. "I've no further comment to make."

Ms Roche also declined to comment as she was leaving.

Labour Court chairperson Caroline Jenkinson had earlier adjourned proceedings to allow them to consider their position.

After two hours, both parties confirmed Ms Roche was withdrawing her appeals. There was no indication given to the court that a financial settlement had been made.

Ms Roche originally took a case at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) against three employers.

They were Mr Quinlivan, Sinn Féin and the Houses of the Oireachtas. However, adjudication officer Catherine Byrne ruled Mr Quinlivan was Ms Roche's employer.

Ms Roche provided secretarial services for the newly-elected deputy following the general election in 2016.

In January 2017, Mr Quinlivan wrote to her to notify her that instead of employing her through the Oireachtas scheme, he was transferring to a "vouched allowance" option.

This arrangement is available to politicians and permits them to hire contractors for up to €41,092.

In a letter on January 19, Mr Quinlivan asked her to collect her belongings and go on "gardening leave" as he did not wish her to work her notice period.

The WRC adjudicator found he was entitled "to change the way he availed of secretarial support". She said a redundancy payment of €22,297.27 was in excess of her statutory entitlement.

Ms Roche also made complaints about her contract of employment, hours of work, breaks, annual leave, public holidays and minimum notice.

Her claims were dismissed. The adjudicator could not deal with her unfair dismissal claim as she did not have a full year working for Mr Quinlivan as required under legislation.

Irish Independent

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