‘Egregious treatment’: Former ministerial driver awarded €30,000 for unfair dismissal

Trevor Shaw was let go on Christmas Day to make way for a garda to drive Charlie McConalogue after security advice changed

A tribunal has awarded €30,000 to Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue’s former driver who was subject to “egregious treatment” when he was let go on Christmas Day to make way for a garda to replace him on security grounds.

Trevor Shaw was put on notice of redundancy after the Government moved in 2022 to make the driving of most ministerial cars a garda job, reversing a decision taken to civilianise the position as an austerity measure a decade earlier.

Giving evidence on a complaint under the Unfair Dismissals Act 1977 against the Minister, Mr Shaw said he was left with “no other option” except to take a severance package because the only alternative given to him was to transfer to the Department of Social Protection to work as a clerical officer.

Ellen Walsh of Sean Ormonde Solicitors, for Mr Shaw, said the Department of Agriculture’s handling of the matter was a “fiasco” which failed to honour her client’s employment rights. She branded it a “sham redundancy”.


The complaint had been denied by the State, with barrister Declan Harmon BL telling the tribunal it was the decision was the result of security advice.

“What else was the department to do in the circumstances? The role no longer existed because it was going to be fulfilled by garda personnel. There’s no dispute on that, there was no role for the complainant to fulfil, so it was necessary to terminate the employment,” he said.

Only ministers sitting at Cabinet got garda drivers under the new security arrangements, the Workplace Relations Commission heard. This meant civilian drivers stayed on the Department of Agriculture rota to serve Minister of State Martin Heydon, who does not sit at Cabinet.

Mr Shaw said his fellow drivers “tried to get answers but couldn’t” from their individual ministers.

“Some guards had moved in. We’d been told: ‘Lads, the writing’s on the wall, you’ll all be gone by summer’. It was an absolutely horrible time for us, we didn’t know whether we were coming or going,” he said.

He said he only got official notice himself in November 2022.

Mr Shaw said there were no firm details given to him on the proposed transfer to the Department of Social Protection. He said any prospect of office work was “absolutely” unsuitable for him. “I don’t have computer skills ... The thoughts of going into an office and being asked to do something on a computer terrified me.”

In his decision, adjudicator Breiffni O’Neill said that if an employer was going to cite redundancy as the reason for a termination, it had to show that there was a situation of redundancy and also that it had acted fairly.

The Department of Agriculture “acted wholly unreasonably” by dismissing Mr Shaw in a “peremptory” manner without any sort of consultation process on alternatives to redundancy, Mr O’Neill wrote.

The alternative of the temporary clerical officer role was suggested without any discussion of Mr Shaw’s skill set, Mr O’Neill noted. He noted further that there had been no avenue of appeal offered.

“It is symptomatic of the egregious treatment of the complainant throughout this process that the date of the termination of his employment was Christmas Day, namely December 25th, 2022.”

Mr O’Neill awarded €30,000 for the unfair dismissal, stating that this sum was to be paid in on top of the worker’s statutory redundancy entitlements and the undisclosed ex gratia payment already made.