Former Clerys workers ‘mystified’ by prosecution failure

Dublin District Court strikes out charges against businesswoman Deirdre Foley and others

The 2015 closure of Clerys led to 130 people employed directly by the store, and more than 300 others working for concession holders, losing their jobs

The 2015 closure of Clerys led to 130 people employed directly by the store, and more than 300 others working for concession holders, losing their jobs

 

Former Clerys workers are “mystified” by the failure of an attempt to prosecute businesswoman Deirdre Foley and others on charges arising from the landmark department store’s closure with the loss of 460 jobs in June 2015.

Dublin District Court Judge John Brennan struck out charges against Ms Foley, Mark Redmond of Belfry Dale, Saggart, Co Dublin, and Clerys former owners, OCS Operations on Tuesday.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), which brought the charges under the Republic’s employment protection laws, and the Department of Employee Affairs and Social Protection, are consulting with lawyers on the court’s decision.

Judge Brennan struck out the charges against Ms Foley, Mr Redmond and OCS, on the grounds that the prosecution had failed to comply with an order to disclose material to the defence.

Gerry Markey, former Siptu shop steward in Clerys, said on Wednesday he and his former colleagues were “completely mystified” by the latest turn of events.

Explanation

“Everything was done by the book as regards compiling the evidence as far as we were concerned,” he said.

Mr Markey pointed out that the WRC had 2½ years to bring the prosecution and added that workers deserved an explanation for what had happened.

He was also sceptical about the department and commission seeking legal advice at this point. “The judge has thrown this out of court,” he said.

Clerys closure led to 130 people employed directly by the store, and more than 300 others working for concession holders, losing their jobs.

The controversial closure led to an investigation by WRC inspectors. Prosecutors dropped a more serious charge of impeding the inspectors’ work against Ms Foley last December.

A subsequent agreement between Siptu and Ms Foley’s company, Natrium, which bought Clerys provided a cash settlement for former store workers.

Benefits

The company also pledged that those working in the redeveloped building would have union membership and other benefits.

Politicians have yet to act on recommendations for changes to corporate and employment law by two bodies, the Duffy Cahill review group and the Company Law Review Group, that would prevent workers from losing their jobs in similar circumstances in the future.

James Brydie of Kingsmere Road, London, faces six charges arising out of the closure at a trial likely to be heard next month. The WRC said that it would inappropriate to comment as it was seeking legal advice.