Wednesday 13 December 2017

US embassy dismissed security guard after 'loss of trust'

John Greene: ‘Does not know why he was dismissed’
John Greene: ‘Does not know why he was dismissed’

Sam Griffin

An Irish security guard at the US embassy was dismissed after he lost the "trust and confidence" of his bosses, an Employment Appeals Tribunal has heard.

John Greene is taking a case against the United States government after he was dismissed two years ago.

The embassy is arguing it has sovereign immunity and that the tribunal does not have the jurisdiction to hear the case. It says because of the nature of Mr Greene's work in the area of security the case should not go ahead.

The US government also says immunity means the dismissal is not the subject of Irish employment laws.

At a preliminary hearing, the head of security at the embassy, John McNichols, did not state why he revoked the claimant's security clearance, in September 2013. Mr Greene's legal counsel said he does not know why he was dismissed.

Mr McNichols, who oversees all security operations at the embassy and the US ambassador's residence in the Phoenix Park, told the tribunal the claimant's duties included screening vehicles, monitoring security systems and operating X-ray machines.

Mr McNichols rejected claims that Mr Greene, who once intervened when a garda was being attacked at the embassy, was a "low-level" guard.

"There's no such thing as a low-level security guard in a US embassy," he said. "It's the most important function. I can't think of a more important function than the protection of life and property at an embassy in today's world."

He added the claimant had lost "our trust and confidence" and said that the removal of security clearance "needed to be done".

Mr Greene, who told the tribunal he had taken sick leave shortly before his dismissal, said he never met Mr McNichols and added that the issue around sovereign immunity wasn't explained to him.

The parties will provide written submissions before the tribunal decides whether or not to proceed with the case.

Irish Independent

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