Thursday 14 November 2019

Total of 21 secretaries at Catholic marriage counselling service Accord take redundancy

Part-time secretaries offered statutory redundancy payment or revised working conditions involving reduced hours and pay

(Stock image)
(Stock image)
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

Almost half of the part-time secretaries working for Catholic marriage counselling service Accord have taken redundancy.

A total of 43 secretaries were offered the statutory redundancy payment, which comes on the back of a restructuring at the group.

The staff were also offered revised working conditions involving reduced hours and pay, can confirm.

Twenty-one of the centre-based staff took the redundancy option, significantly reducing the workforce in the 35-centre group.

There were no redundancies in either Dublin or in Northern Ireland.

A spokesperson for the group said the redundancies are a result of the "significantly reduced level of government grant aid over recent years."

The Catholic Bishops' Marriage Care Service previously announced compulsory redundancies for approximately one-third of its staff in 2013.

It blamed cuts in Government funding for the move, as four-and-a half of Accord's 12 full-time equivalent posts were cut.

In the period from 2011 to 2015 State grant aid in support of Accord’s two main services 'marriage preparation' and 'marriage and relationship counselling' was reduced by almost 54pc. 

"This grant cut occurred at a time when there was an increase in demand for Accord services especially due to the harsh impact of the recession on families," the spokesperson said.

Accord is now at the end of its two-year restructuring process and is now operating as two limited companies with the third to become operational shortly. 

The three companies will represent Accord in Dublin, Northern Ireland, and the thirty-five centres in the rest of the country including Central Office in Maynooth.

All couples intending to marry in the Catholic Church are expected to complete a pre-marriage course which is generally provided by ACCORD.

Bishop Denis Nulty, President of Accord oversaw the review of the group. He said he was aware of the "anxiety" felt by members of the group and said he was "sorry such upset has been experienced."

"Accord’s pastoral services to soon-to-be married couples, and to couples who require counselling, are recognised throughout Ireland for their high professional standard and as invaluable supports to the sacrament of marriage," Bishop Nulty said.

"This is due to the dedication of our marriage preparation facilitators, marriage and relationship counsellors and staff.  Over our 55-year history they have been most generous in their commitment to serving the common good and we, as a society, are all the better for it. 

"At a human level, therefore, reducing staff numbers has been by far the most painful part of this restructuring process. 

"From my discussions I am aware of the anxiety felt by Accord people on the ground and I am sorry that such upset has been experienced."

He added; "It is my fervent prayer and hope that the staff who have left will find suitable employment if that is their wish."

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