Inquiry told of FAI layoffs and rehiring at lower pay


The Football Association of Ireland made eight development officers redundant before re-employing a number of them in similar roles at lower pay, the Employment Appeals Tribunal was told yesterday.

The tribunal was hearing a case alleging unfair dismissal brought by Paul Sheridan, a former development officer with responsibility for soccer in Co Wicklow.

Giving evidence at the opening of the case, FAI head of human resources Stephen Driver said that in 2010 the association drew up a cost-saving plan to make 13 of the 170 staff in the association redundant. Eight of the 13 were development officers, two of whom were re-employed in similar positions.

Fixed-term contracts

At the hearing yesterday chairwoman of the tribunal Dorothy Donovan asked if the two new positions were created “from within the ranks of the development officers, doing similar types of work”.

Mr Driver agreed this was the case but said the new positions, while similar, could have involved a different emphasis on certain aspects of the work.

Mr Driver told counsel for the FAI Eamon Marray that Mr Sheridan had been working on fixed-term contracts from 2002 to 2007 as a regional development officer covering counties Wicklow, Carlow and Wexford. He told the tribunal a decision had been taken in 2005 to increase the numbers of development officers with the aid of co-funding from local authorities and other agencies.

Numbers rose from “about 12” to “about 60” and due to the intensification Mr Sheridan’s status changed in 2007 from regional development officer to development officer, and he became one of two officers with responsibility for Wicklow.

‘Fairest way’

However, by 2010 there was a “real need” to rationalise and on November 24th that year both Wicklow officers were told their positions were being made redundant “and one was being created” . Mr Driver said “the fairest way was to go through an interview to see who would get the one position”. Mr Sheridan was unsuccessful in the competition.

Mr Driver agreed with Ann Marie Phelan BL that the successful applicant was on an annual salary of about €42,000, half of which was co-funded. The annual cost of this employee to the FAI was about €30,000.

He said Mr Sheridan, one of the non co-funded workers, was on an annual salary of about €52,000 with an overall cost of about €60,000.

Mr Driver acknowledged that the successful applicant lived in Tramore, Co Waterford, while Mr Sheridan lived in Gorey, Co Wexford. But he said the distance to Wicklow was not an issue. He said neither man had been told before interviews that the new position carried a salary of about €40,000.

The hearing is to continue on June 5th.