Wednesday 13 December 2017

Fine Gael TD to pay €25,000 to former secretary

Sean Conlan
Sean Conlan
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

FINE Gael TD Sean Conlan will be forced to pay his former secretary €25,000 after an employment court found she was unfairly dismissed.

Cathy Shevlin took an unfair dismissal case against Mr Conlan after she was sacked from her job in his constituency office.

During a three-day hearing in front of the Employment Appeals Tribunal, Ms Shevlin claimed she was "bullied and harassed" by Mr Conlan and forced to take stress-related sick leave.

Mr Conlan denied the allegation and claimed he dismissed his secretary because she publicly undermined him on social media and gave voting information to his political rivals.

Ms Shevlin's legal team was contacted by the tribunal and told it had ruled in her favour this week, the Irish Independent understands.

Compensation for the dismissal was set at €25,000 but Mr Conlan can appeal the tribunal's decision.

Mr Conlan did not respond to requests for comments.

In December, the tribunal heard how a breakdown in communication between Ms Shevlin and Mr Conlan's fiancé Sarah Comiskey resulted in workplace tensions.

Ms Comiskey works as Mr Conlan's taxpayer-funded parliamentary assistant which comes with a salary of around €50,000. Ms Shevlin said she had a good working relationship with the politician until Ms Comiskey was employed.

She told the tribunal the TD prevented her from leaving his constituency office after a heated argument about her working relationship with Ms Comiskey.

On the day, Ms Shevlin left the office in Ballybay, Co Monaghan, in tears and later took time off for stress leave.

Mr Conlan denied he stopped her from leaving his office.

He claimed he sacked his secretary after she publicly undermined him while on sick leave by posting comments about him on Facebook.

He also claimed she shared important voting information he had collated with a local Fine Gael activist who was working with a political rival.

Mr Conlan said the allegation that he bullied and harassed Ms Shevlin was untrue and aimed at damaging him politically.

Irish Independent

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