Saturday 17 February 2018

Solicitor told sister: I love you, but it's best for us to part ways

Deirdre Taaffe leaving court yesterday. Photo: Courtpix
Deirdre Taaffe leaving court yesterday. Photo: Courtpix

Ray Managh

Well-known Dublin solicitor Donal Taaffe wrote to his sister saying he loved her, but they should part ways after working together, a court heard.

Mr Taaffe conceded in the Circuit Civil Court that he had unfairly sacked his sister from his legal practice. Her claim against him for unfair dismissal was settled.

Barrister Mary Paula Guinness told the court that two years ago the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) had awarded Deirdre Taaffe, of Millers Wood, Bray, Co Wicklow, just under €25,000 compensation which her brother had appealed.

Ms Guinness said Mr Taaffe had conceded at the EAT that he had unfairly dismissed his sister - but was appealing the award on the basis she had allegedly contributed to her dismissal.

Andrew Whelan, counsel for Mr Taaffe, told Judge Alison Lindsay that the unfairness of Ms Taaffe's dismissal was not being challenged. However the award of €24,736 was.

Mr Taaffe, of Donal Taaffe & Co, Malthouse Square, Smithfield Village, Dublin, said in 2008 his company experienced a huge downturn in business.

He had warned staff that redundancies would be inevitable and asked Deirdre, his older sister, to come in and give him a hand when it suited her, paying her out of his own pocket.

A dispute over holidays had led to him dismissing Deirdre at the end of 2011. He told Mr Whelan it was an extremely upsetting time and he suspended her for a month, writing to her in October 2011 dismissing her.

"I told her in a letter that she was my sister and I loved her and that in time we might realise a parting of the ways was the best way to go," he said.

He said he was not disputing the fact that fair procedures had not been followed by him.

Both parties accepted the court's offer of a brief adjournment for negotiations.

Shortly afterwards Ms Guinness said the matter had been settled on the basis that Mr Taaffe agreed to the court granting a decree for €20,000 being made in favour of his sister, the payment of which would be "on agreed terms".

Irish Independent

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