Amnesty dismissal case ‘complex’

Ex-manager claims removal part of wider dispute, Employment Appeals Tribunal hears

The Employment Appeals Tribunal heard  an allegation of unfair dismisal by a former manager at the Irish arm of Amnesty International would require at least four hearing days. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

The Employment Appeals Tribunal heard an allegation of unfair dismisal by a former manager at the Irish arm of Amnesty International would require at least four hearing days. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Tue, Jul 16, 2013, 14:50

A case in which a former employee of the Irish arm of Amnesty International alleges she was unfairly dismissed by the organisation would require at least four hearing days, the Employment Appeals Tribunal has been told.

Helen Duignan, a former manager with Amnesty, is claiming her dismissal was part of a wider dispute with the organisation, and her case involved complex and extensive documentation.

Ms Duignan’s solicitor, Barry Creed of McDermott Creed and Martyn solicitors, said his client was currently unemployed but had made extensive efforts to secure further work since her dismissal.

Mr Creed agreed with Marcus Dowling BL, for Amnesty International, there was little to be gained in hearing evidence from witnesses this morning as it was unlikely even one witness would conclude evidence today.

‘Very unsatisfactory’

Mr Dowling told tribunal chairman Peter O’Leary that while the hearing dates were a matter for the tribunal, starting this morning “would be a very unsatisfactory way of running it”, as even if the parties had access to stenographers it would be hard to remember complex evidence by the next available hearing date.

In response to an inquiry from the chairman, Mr Dowling said he was unable to immediately describe his client’s exact legal status, whether it be a registered charity or a limited company, and would take instruction and revert to the tribunal on the point.

Mr O’Leary said the tribunal had delayed the start of the hearing by three quarters of an hour, as a member was unwell and a replacement had to be found. He said the tribunal must take responsibility for this but he said he did not want to see the entire morning wasted.

After a short adjournment he ruled the tribunal would assign two days, February 3rd and 4th, 2014, for the case. He further instructed both Mr Dowling and Mr Creed to use the remaining time this morning to make some progress, privately, on what were the main issues which the tribunal would need to hear. Both men agreed to report to the tribunal before lunch.