Halligan’s brother defends Minister, says €7,500 award ‘fundamentally wrong’

Independent Alliance Ministers ‘ganged up on’ over Korea trip – McGrath

Independent Alliance Minister of State for Training and Skills John Halligan, who is in Thailand on Government business, could not be reached for comment on his brother’s interview. Photograph Nick Bradshaw.

Independent Alliance Minister of State for Training and Skills John Halligan, who is in Thailand on Government business, could not be reached for comment on his brother’s interview. Photograph Nick Bradshaw.

 

John Halligan’s brother has defended him after the Workplace Relations Commission found the Minister of State discriminated against a woman during a job interview.

Brendan Halligan was reacting to the commission’s ruling this week that the Department of Enterprise and Innovation should pay compensation of €7,500 to a civil servant whose marital status and children his brother asked about. John Halligan, the Minister of State for Training and Skills, has apologised for his questions and said he will pay the compensation himself.

The Independent Alliance Minister initially claimed he had asked a male candidate the same question, but he later told RTÉ radio he could not remember the exact details of the interview, as it was 14 months ago. The commission heard evidence that he had not asked similar questions of other candidates.

Speaking to Waterford Local Radio (WLR), Brendan Halligan said his brother was “fundamentally wrong” and careless but should not pay the €7,500 himself. Mr Halligan, who was his brother’s general-election agent last year, said that the Minister always stood up for victims.

Distress

He also said that the Workplace Relations Commission was “fundamentally wrong in making that sort of payment for that sort of discrimination”.

Brendan Halligan said that he was not minimising what had happened but added: “What I call distress and trauma is a woman or a girl who has been raped. And she makes a decision that she wants to go and have an abortion and she can’t do it, because the supports aren’t in this country to do it.

“I think it becomes easy for someone to say they’ve been discriminated against or hard done by,” he said,

But he said was “not talking about this case particularly”.

The Minister, who is in Thailand on Government business, could not be reached for comment on his brother’s interview.

Good minister

His fellow Independent Alliance Minister of State Kevin Boxer Moran said whether Mr Halligan resigns is a matter for the Taoiseach and the Waterford TD himself, who has said he will not do so.

“But at the same time he is a good minister, he is getting on with his job and he is doing the job,” Mr Moran said.

“As a member of Government I want to apologise to the woman and her family in question in relation to this.

John himself is feeling the pain, and he has brought it upon himself.”

He also described the cancelled peace mission to North Korea by Mr Halligan, Minster for Transport Shane Ross and Minister of State for Disability Issues Finian McGrath as a holiday.

“Korea is off the agenda for now and into the future,” he said, adding that there was “ no one more annoyed” than himself “in relation to what happened with North Korea”.

Mr McGrath said he and his colleagues were “ganged up on” and “ridiculed” over the trip.

He said he was concerned about “groupthink” in Irish society and the media.

“I’m always on about nuclear disarmament.

I think we have major problems in relation to North Korea and the US. I think we have a very volatile situation there, and I will express that voice within Government,” Mr McGrath said.