Thursday 21 November 2019

Social worker gets €40,000 after losing job over teen supervision

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

A SOCIAL worker has been awarded over €40,000 after losing her job following the statutory rape of a teenager who was in state care during a weekend away.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal has found that Louise Brickley, of Main Street, Clonaslee, Co Laois, was constructively dismissed from her job at youth care organisation Extern Ireland.

She lost the job she had held for three years following the incident while supervising a girl (15) during a visit to a chalet complex run by Extern in the North.

The girl was living in a HSE facility, but was on a youth project organised by the care organisation at the time.

Extern, based in Kill in Kildare, provides care services for young people to the public health sector in Ireland and the UK.

It runs youth projects and also has a residential facility in Northern Ireland.

Ms Brickley's solicitor, Ger O'Donoghue, said she was "very pleased" with the outcome after the tribunal awarded her €40,971.84 compensation, and she has since found work.

"The tribunal's determination shows she was well justified in bringing the matter before it in the first instance, and she was vindicated," he said.

Ms Brickley, who was in her 20s, travelled to the north with the girl and a colleague, who was supervising a second girl.

Three young men from another youth project in the Republic, who were under the supervision of two men, were also staying there.

The tribunal said the girl sneaked out of her room in the small hours of the morning to another chalet, where consensual sexual intercourse took place.

It said that Extern knew the teen had behavioural issues, "which included sexualised behaviour".

The girl was under full-time night supervision at the HSE facility, with a staff member remaining awake throughout the night. However, there was no night supervision at the centre in the North, it said.

It said the four employees were only required to work from 8am to midnight and were not expected to supervise the children during the night.

The tribunal found that Ms Brickley was not responsible for the girl when the incident took place. It said the social worker was asleep and off duty and the girl was in the care of her employer at the time.

The 2008 incident came to light when the girl, whom the tribunal referred to as KO, told a member of staff at the HSE facility that she had unprotected sex at an Extern building in Northern Ireland.

Extern did not respond to a request to comment yesterday.

Irish Independent

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