Wednesday 21 March 2018

TD tells tribunal he fired childhood friend from €40k job

Difficult: Clare TD Michael McNamara. Photo: Tom Burke
Difficult: Clare TD Michael McNamara. Photo: Tom Burke

Gordon Deegan

A LABOUR TD has revealed that he had to "bite the bullet" and dismiss a parliamentary assistant who was a childhood friend.

At an Employment Appeals Tribunal hearing in Ennis yesterday, Michael McNamara said that "a degree of sentimentality" initially stopped him from dismissing friend Conor Daly, but his contract was terminated in March 2012.

The politician said that he knew Mr Daly from childhood when they would play together with Mr McNamara's cousins at their home in east Clare.

Mr McNamara said that Mr Daly started to cry when he told him at a "difficult" meeting in March 2012 that he would not be renewing his probation period.

At the hearing where Mr Daly is claiming unfair dismissal, Mr McNamara recalled saying to Mr Daly: "Conor, I'm sorry, it is hard, it is very hard, it is not easy for me either. He started crying. I told him 'I don't want to do this, but I simply think that this employment relationship is not going to work out'."

The TD said that he told Mr Daly "you simply haven't been performing the duties and I don't think you are going to be able to even with the training that you have received".

Mr McNamara recalled from the meeting that Mr Daly had requested another probation period.

"I told him 'I don't think that's possible and I can't afford in my position to be before the Employment Appeals Tribunal'. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and he said 'Mike if you think I would do that do you, you just don't know me' and I said 'that is neither here nor there'."

The Labour deputy said that Mr Daly – unemployed at the time – worked as a driver on his successful 2011 General Election campaign and he then employed him as a parliamentary assistant, without interview, with an annual salary of around €40,000.

Mr McNamara said: "I was unhappy with his performance during that time and I extended the probation period by another six months.

"I received a number of complaints from constituents and Labour Party representatives in Clare that Conor didn't appear interested in helping constituents coming in. Constituents didn't feel that their queries were being dealt with sympathetically."

Solicitor for Mr Daly, Kate McInerney, said that her client will say in evidence that "he was doing his best and there was little guidance from Mr McNamara and that the TD's communication was poor".

She said that Mr Daly was never given an opportunity to improve and said to Mr McNamara "I don't believe you have acted fairly." This was denied by Mr McNamara.

The hearing was adjourned to September 18 when Mr Daly will give evidence.

Irish Independent

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