Former lord mayor in unfair dismissal case against hotel

Thu, Jun 14, 2012, 01:00

FORMER DUBLIN lord mayor Royston Brady was sacked as general manager of a hotel after highlighting “illegal” bar licensing practices, an Employment Appeals Tribunal heard yesterday.

Mr Brady (39), who is bringing a case of unfair dismissal against Roganstown Hotel Country Club, said the hotel had been collecting charges of €550 from clients for late bar licences and then failing to apply to the District Court for them. The hotel said it was Mr Brady’s responsibility to apply for the licences.

The former Fianna Fáil politician, from Malahide, Co Dublin, began working at the Swords hotel in April 2008 on a salary of €70,000. He said his relationship with his employer, Ian McGuinness, managing director of the hotel owner, Nethercross Ltd, was good until February 2010.

That month he had left a conference before it started when his wife had phoned to say one of their children was ill. He was told he was not committed to his job.

Mr Brady admitted that in 2010 he was interested in running for directly elected lord mayor, a position then being flagged. He discussed politics with Mr McGuinness, who was interested in running as a councillor. He denied he ever said he would leave his position in May 2010 to concentrate on politics. He had two children and a wife who was seven months pregnant at the time, he said, and could not afford to give up his job.

Mr Brady said in mid-2010 he raised concerns that couples were being charged €550 for late bar licences for their weddings, but these were not being applied for.

“Mr McGuinness was the signatory on all exemptions,” he said. “I had no involvement in applying.”

He said it had been reported that more than 40 licences had been charged for and €22,500 collected. Mr McGuinness got “quite irate” when he raised the issue, he said. He became “extremely irate” when Mr Brady asked him about alleged sexually inappropriate behaviour involving a young woman and a relation of Mr McGuinness’s.

Mr Brady received an e-mail from Mr McGuinness on July 10th saying “as discussed” he would finish up on July 18th. Mr Brady claimed there never had been such a discussion, though he had agreed to take four weeks’ unpaid leave, as part of hotel cost-saving, when his wife had her baby.

He was in a state of shock when he read the e-mail and “rage came after shock”, he said. He confronted Mr McGuinness and asked whether he was being sacked because of the issues he raised. He was subjected to a “tirade of abuse”, he said.

On July 12th he went back to the hotel, but after telling a bride about the late licence situation and saying he would take €550 off her bill, he was told to leave the premises. His wife was eight months pregnant at the time and he “went with the option” not to tell her when he got home. She did not find out he had lost his job until a letter came from their health insurer cancelling their policy. “She handled it very well for a girl who was going to have a child in a week,” he said.

Representing the company, Judy McNamara of Peninsula Business Services said there had been concerns about Mr Brady’s performance. He had agreed to leave the hotel in May 2010 and it was his responsibility to apply for the licences, she said. She read into evidence a plan of Mr Brady’s outlining a proposed election campaign. In connected proceedings, the company appealed a rights commissioner decision that Mr Brady should be awarded €1,500 because he was not given a written contract of employment.

The main case was adjourned for further hearing in September. The decision on the secondary case was reserved.