Tuesday 12 December 2017

TD calls for tribunal appeal to be thrown out

Joan Blackbyrne, former secreterial assistant to Thomas Pringle. Photo: Tom Burke
Joan Blackbyrne, former secreterial assistant to Thomas Pringle. Photo: Tom Burke

Fiona Ellis

A FORMER secretary of Independent TD Thomas Pringle told an employment appeals tribunal she "just wanted to retire with dignity" but said she was fired for being sick instead.

Joan Blackbyrne took an unfair dismissals case against both the Donegal TD and the Houses of the Oireachtas after she was let go while on sick leave last year.

However, after the last proceedings the tribunal ruled the Houses of the Oireachtas as "never having been the employer" of Ms Blackbyrne.

Yesterday the tribunal, chaired by Penelope McGrath, heard how Ms Blackbyrne's claim for unfair dismissal against Mr Pringle was submitted 21 days too late.

Ms Blackbyrne's job with Mr Pringle was terminated on January 27, 2012 when Mr Pringle said he decided to hire part-time workers, instead of one parliamentary assistant.


A T1A, the initial form filled out to initiate a claim, must be received by an employment appeals tribunal within six months from dismissal. This can be extended to 12 months in exceptional circumstances. Ms Blackbyrne's T1A form citing Mr Pringle as her employer was submitted on August 17, 2012.

"I felt I was unfairly dismissed," Ms Blackbyrne said. "I just wanted to retire with dignity."

Mr Pringle said "the claim was outside the time scale and should be disallowed."

Ms McGrath agreed that the inner workings at the Houses of Oireachtas was confusing, but added that before the six-month limit was up Ms Blackbyrne "knew there was a question mark over who the employer was and it wasn't a surprise Deputy Pringle was in the frame."

The tribunal adjourned to deliberate the technicality and will issue a written determination.

Irish Independent

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