Tuesday 12 November 2019

'Suspended' Enable Ireland employee had to be removed from premises with help of gardai

Twitter (Stock photo)
Twitter (Stock photo)

Saurya Cherfi

An employee from an Enable Ireland disability centre had to be removed from their offices with help of gardai after she was suspended pending an investigation, a Dublin court has heard today.

The employee has allegedly posted photographs of children on social media without permission, the court heard.

Barrister Mary Fay told the court that Enable Ireland Disability Services Ltd had become aware earlier this month that information coordinator Caroline Sheehan, who works at one of its centres at Sandymount Avenue, Sandymount, Dublin, had allegedly posted pictures of children from the centre on her Twitter account.

Ms Fay told Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke that Ms Sheehan had allegedly failed to remove the publically accessible images of the children, who are under six-year-old and are clearly identifiable, from her Twitter account, despite several requests to do so.

Judge Groarke heard the company was looking for injunctions restraining Ms Sheehan, with addresses at Tritonville Road, Sandyford, Dublin, and Fingal Street, Rialto, Dublin and who has been suspended on full pay pending an investigation on the matter, from attending the Sandymount centre.

The judge allowed Enable Ireland to make its application ex-parte (one side only) after hearing that attempts had been made to serve Ms Sheehan, who did not attend the court and was not legally represented today, with the proceedings.

Ms Fay said the images had been posted without permission from Enable Ireland and/or the children’s parents.  A formal complaint had been made to Twitter.

Enable Ireland claimed Ms Sheehan’s alleged behaviour was in breach of data protection and privacy laws.

The judge heard that Ms Sheehan, when informed of her suspension, had allegedly refused to leave the Sandymount Centre, which takes care of more than 400 children and employs 100 people, and had needed to be removed on several occasions with the assistance of An Garda Siochana.

In an affidavit John O’Sullivan, national director of services and community fundraising at Enable Ireland, claimed that Ms Sheehan, when being removed by the Gardaí, had insisted to leave the centre through its front door, in “full view” of children and parents to “draw the most attention to the event.”

Mr O’Sullivan claimed that Enable Ireland had needed to engage a private security company for its Sandymount centre following the incidents, as it is concerned that Ms Sheehan’s alleged behaviour would have an effect on the service provided to children.

The court heard that staff members have expressed concern for their own safety and Ms Sheehan’s alleged actions leave Enable Ireland exposed to potential claims from its service users and employees.

Mr O’Sullivan claimed Ms Sheehan’s alleged behaviour had caused considerable disturbance and nuisance to staff members and to the centre service users.

The court heard Ms Sheehan was not currently authorised or entitled to attend the Sandymount centre.

Judge Groarke today granted Enable Ireland an interim injunction restraining Ms Sheehan from attending or entering the Sandymount centre or any premises owned by Enable Ireland until she is permitted to return to work.

He also granted an injunction restraining Ms Sheehan from interacting with employees and children at the centre.

Judge Groarke, directing Ms Sheehan be served with the proceedings, adjourned the matter to next week.  

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