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FG TD stopped secretary leaving office, tribunal told

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Cathy Shevlin , former secretary for Fine Gael TD Sean Conlon

Cathy Shevlin , former secretary for Fine Gael TD Sean Conlon

Cathy Shevlin , former secretary for Fine Gael TD Sean Conlon

FINE Gael TD Sean Conlan's former secretary burst into tears as an employment tribunal heard claims the politician stopped her from leaving his office following a heated staff meeting.

Mr Conlan denies the allegation from his former employee, Cathy Shevlin, who has taken an unfair dismissal case against the Cavan-Monaghan TD.

Ms Shevlin claims she was "bullied and harassed" by Mr Conlan before she was dismissed. The TD denies this allegation and claims he was forced to dismiss his secretary because she "publicly undermined" and "politically damaged" him.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal heard a "breakdown in communication" between Ms Shevlin and Mr Conlan's girlfriend Sarah Comiskey, who also works for the TD, led to tensions in the politician's office.

The dispute between the two women stemmed from an alleged failure by Ms Shevlin to alert Mr Conlan to an opportunity to speak in the Dail. Ms Shevlin denies the allegations and claims Ms Comiskey used abusive language towards her following the incident.

In an effort to resolve the dispute, Mr Conlan held a meeting with both employees in his constituency office in Ballybay, Co Monaghan.

Ms Shevlin's barrister, Tom Mallon, told the hearing his client became distressed during the meeting when Mr Conlan read a letter of complaint about her written by Ms Comiskey.

Mr Mallon said Ms Shevlin felt intimidated by Mr Conlan and Ms Comiskey, who both have legal backgrounds.

Ms Shevlin claims she left the room in "floods of tears", gathered her belongings and tried to leave the constituency office.

She claims Mr Conlan prevented her from leaving even though she was clearly distressed. Mr Conlan described Ms Shevlin's version of events as "fiction" and said she was upset but not distressed.

ESCORTED

During Mr Conlan's evidence, Ms Shevlin began crying and was escorted from the hearing by her husband Noel. Earlier in the hearing, Mr Conlan claimed Ms Shevlin shared sensitive polling information with his political rivals.

He also claimed Ms Shevlin planned to take a Fine Gael membership list from his office but stopped when he intervened. Mr Conlan said this was a "sackable offense". He also said his former secretary wrote a "highly critical" comment about him on a senior Fine Gael figure's Facebook page.

Ms Shevlin denies the allegations.

hnews@herald.ie


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