Dublin golf club defends decision to make employee redundant

President says recession was hitting income as membership numbers declined

Donabate Golf Club president Charlie Donnelly said AIB requested that Grant Thornton carry out a review of the feasibility of the club.

Donabate Golf Club president Charlie Donnelly said AIB requested that Grant Thornton carry out a review of the feasibility of the club.

 

A Co Dublin golf club has defended its decision to make one of four employees redundant having been told it was “ within a month of being closed down”.

Betty O’Connor, a secretary manager who carried out accounting and payroll functions, has brought an unfair dismissals case against Donabate Golf Clubclaiming she was unfairly selected for redundancy.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal heard that voluntary redundancy had been offered to four staff members but that no application had been forthcoming after which time it decided the “most suitable” option was to outsource the accounting function previously carried out by Ms O’Connor.

Club president Charlie Donnelly said in 2008 the club’s membership stood at around 970 members, but in subsequent years the country was “deep in recession” meaning the club was “losing members rapidly”, with over 80 members leaving in one year alone.

“The recession was biting like hell...not only was the membership dropping but the existing membership were not playing as much,” he said, meaning other contributions were also down.

Having undergone one round of redundancies in 2009 and subsequent salary reductions Mr Donnelly said the club had undertaken further cost reductions: “we weren’t buying as much fertilizer, we weren’t buying as much sand, we couldn’t buy equipment,” he said.

He said Allied Irish Bank requested that Grant Thornton carried out a review of the feasibility of the club. In its report it suggested that the club make three further redundancies.

However, Mr Donnelly said this was “untenable” after which point the bank suggested it make two redundancies, which the club also refused, before agreeing to one.

He said the club had sought a voluntary redundancy but, when this was not forthcoming, the decision was taken over a number of meetings and conversations to outsource the accounting function.

“Ultimately that was the only way that we could accommodate what the bank’s demands were,” he said.

He said the club had offered Ms O’Connor the outsourced position but that she had rejected this offer. Mr Donnelly said she had subsequently received statutory redundancy.

The case was adjourned to resume on November 16th next at which time the Tribunal is due to hear Ms O’Connor’s evidence.