Gemma O’Doherty settles unfair dismissal case with Independent

Newspaper group apologises and pays undisclosed sum, acknowledging ‘exceptional work’

File photograph. Garda whistleblower John Wilson with former Irish Independent reporter Gemma O’Doherty at the Employment Appeals Tribunal. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

File photograph. Garda whistleblower John Wilson with former Irish Independent reporter Gemma O’Doherty at the Employment Appeals Tribunal. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

An unfair dismissal case taken by former Irish Independent journalist Gemma O’Doherty against her former employer has been settled at the Employment Appeals Tribunal.

Ms O’Doherty, from Shankill in Dublin, was made redundant by Independent News and Media in August 2013 after more than 18 years working for the company.

She had claimed she was chosen for redundancy in the wake of a conflict that ensued after she called to the home of former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan as part of her investigation into the wiping of penalty points.

At a hearing in May, Brian Kennedy, for the Irish Independent, said a suggestion Ms O’Doherty was chosen as retribution for her investigating a story on Mr Callinan having his penalty points quashed was “vigorously disputed” and “absolutely wrong”.

He said without informing her editor, Ms O’Doherty had “decided to show up” at the home of Mr Callinan at 10pm on April 11th, 2013. He was away and his wife answered the door and was “somewhat upset”, Mr Kennedy said, as was Mr Callinan when he heard of the incident.

The newspaper “apologised” and “there the matter rested”, he said. Ms O’Doherty’s story appeared on the front page of the paper a week later.

Mr Kennedy said the decision to make Ms O’Doherty redundant was about the nature of services she provided, not the quality. The newspaper group had sought cost savings of €26 million, including 29 staff reductions, he said.

On Monday, Independent Newspapers unreservedly apologised to the journalist for any stress and hardship caused to her. The case was settled with undisclosed damages to Ms O’Doherty.

A statement read after the settlement was announced said: “Independent Newspapers wish to acknowledge the exceptional work of multi-award winning investigative journalist Gemma O’Doherty for the Irish Independent during the course of a lengthy career.

“Independent Newspapers accept that Gemma O’Doherty has acted at all times in a professional and diligent manner and in the best interests of Independent Newspapers.

“Independent Newspapers unreservedly apologise to Ms O ‘Doherty for the stress and hardship caused to her and her husband as a result of its actions.

“Independent Newspapers have agreed to pay to Ms O’Doherty undisclosed damages and to indemnify her in relation to her legal costs.”