Garda unpaid for over three years fails in case at employment tribunal

Leitrim-stationed garda failed to provide sick certs

A garda who has not been paid since January 2010 failed in a claim for unpaid wages at the Employment Appeals Tribunal yesterday

A garda who has not been paid since January 2010 failed in a claim for unpaid wages at the Employment Appeals Tribunal yesterday

Wed, Aug 28, 2013, 01:00


A garda who has not been paid since January 2010 failed in a claim for unpaid wages at the Employment Appeals Tribunal yesterday.

Garda Máire O’Reilly, who was stationed at Manorhamilton Garda station in Leitrim and previously at Ballymote, Co Sligo, was told she failed to make her application under the Payment of Wages Acts within the required time period and her case could not be heard.

In what was a tense and occasionally chaotic hearing, Ms O’Reilly, representing herself, claimed she was bullied by gardaí. She accused Aoife Carroll, counsel for An Garda Síochána, of defamation and claimed the Rights Commissioner, the Labour Court, the Chief State Solicitor’s Office and the tribunal were “colluding” with her employer.

Bullying complaint

Garda O’Reilly joined the force in 1994 and was on sick leave from March 2008. She made a bullying complaint in December 2009. From then on she was not paid, she said, and had no income to feed herself. She claimed the bullying allegations she made were not properly investigated. Her employer had been stringing her along with “a promise of return to duty”, but she had been “locked out”.

In one exchange with tribunal chairwoman Niamh O’Carroll-Kelly, Ms O’Reilly accused her of being “partial”. Ms O’Carroll-Kelly responded that she would not “sit here and be insulted”. In another, when the chairwoman asked Ms O’Reilly to clarify the date of her submission to the Rights Commissioner, she continued making notes and said: “Just one moment, please, I don’t have a secretary.”

The chairwoman said she was a patient woman, but would not tolerate Ms O’Reilly’s “blatant lack of respect”. She said she would award expenses against her if she did not show respect to the tribunal.

Ms O’Reilly then accused her of being threatening and said the threat had “been prepared in advance”.

Sick certificates

Ms Carroll told the tribunal Ms O’Reilly had been unpaid since January 1st, 2010, because she had ceased submitting sick certificates. She had had previous unsuccessful hearings with a Rights Commissioner and at the Labour Court. The Rights Commissioner had ruled Ms O’Reilly’s application under the Payment of Wages Acts was out of time, Ms Carroll said. The Acts required she make a complaint within six months of the date when the contravention began, but she did not complain until August 2011.

Ms Carroll also said Ms O’Reilly’s complaint of bullying had been fully investigated and rejected on the grounds that Ms O’Reilly did not co-operate. And she denied she had defamed Ms O’Reilly and said there had been no collusion in the case.

Garda O’Reilly responded that there had been exceptional circumstances and that the tribunal had the power to take those into account.

After a brief deliberation, Ms O’Carroll-Kelly said there were no exceptional circumstances in the case and ruled Garda O’Reilly was out of time with her complaint.

A separate action was also dismissed on the basis Ms O’Reilly could not prove she notified her employer within the required time period.