Suspended Ulster Bank manager seeks order preventing dismissal

Suspension centres on interest rate allegedly applied to parents’ bank account

Ulster Bank  claims the interest rate being paid on Clodagh Kinsella’s parents’ account appeared substantially above the market rate for similar products.   Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Ulster Bank claims the interest rate being paid on Clodagh Kinsella’s parents’ account appeared substantially above the market rate for similar products. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

An Ulster Bank manager who has been suspended from her job for more than 12 months has asked the High Court for an order preventing her dismissal.

Clodagh Kinsella has been on paid suspension for almost a year pending an investigation by the bank into her alleged knowledge of, and alleged involvement in, the managing of her parents’ Ulster Bank Money Market account.

Ms Kinsella, Collegewood Park, Clane, Co Kildare, who has been with the bank for more than 12 years, denies any wrongdoing.

The suspension centres around a deposit account belonging to her parents which contained their life savings and attracted interest. The bank claims the interest rate being paid on that account appeared substantially above the market rate for similar products.

Ms Kinsella says she never tried to hide her relationship with the owners of the account and her interactions in relation to it had been fully transparent.

She aid in a sworn statement she accepted she had sought to ensure her parents obtained a good rate which “was not unusual for bank staff members and associated family members.”

Disciplinary hearing

She had been due to go before a disciplinary hearing conducted by the bank but last month secured a temporary High Court injunction restraining it continuing the disciplinary process.

The matter returned before Mr Justice Paul Gilligan at the High Court on Thursday when Ms Kinsella’s lawyers applied for injunctions preventing her dismissal and restraining the disciplinary process continuing until the full hearing of her action.

Ms Kinsella, represented by Mark Connaughton SC and Tom Mallon BL, wants the disciplinary process halted on grounds including alleged unreasonable delay in holding the investigation.

Ulster Bank says the disciplinary process should be allowed to continue and the injunctions should not be granted.

Mr Connaughton argued there was “no valid basis” for his client’s “unnecessarily and unconscionably long” and “wholly improper” suspension. This “unfair process” was heading down one route only and must be stopped, he argued.

The suspension was a “softening up process” leading to his client’s dismissal, he argued.

Health

Ms Kinsella’s health had been affected by her suspension, she had suffered stress, anxiety and distress and fears her reputation has been irreparably damaged by the process, the court heard.

Opposing the injunctions application, Oisin Quinn SC, for Ulster Bank, rejected arguments it had delayed the disciplinary process.

Previously, the court heard, the bank had writte to Ms Kinsella’s lawyers saying it had carried out a detailed investigation to ensure fair procedures would be followed. It also said the decision to suspend was taken after Ms Kinsella was given an opportunity to respond to the issues it raised.

The hearing continues.