Labour Court bullying case halted after heated outburst

 

A GARDA claims she has not been paid and has been “at the side of the road” since making allegations of bullying at work, along with other complaints, nearly three years ago.

At a rare public hearing of the Labour Court yesterday, Garda Máire O’Reilly said she had lodged a 90-page formal complaint document in December 2009 setting out serious instances, over three years, of breaches in legal and Garda procedures in the workplace. These included bullying.

She said that rather than investigating her complaints, Garda authorities had sought to “opt out” and sully her character while attempting to starve her into submission, with no income for three years, in an apparent attempt to encourage her to withdraw the complaint.

Counsel for An Garda Síochána Aoife Carroll told the Labour Court that allegations of bullying had been fully investigated by a senior officer and had not been upheld. She said Ms O’Reilly had not co-operated with this report.

Ms Carroll also denied her submission in relation to Ms O’Reilly – which was not read out – was defamatory, as had been claimed.

The hearing yesterday, which involved an appeal against an earlier decision by a Rights Commissioner under health and safety at work legislation, was adjourned indefinitely after Ms O’Reilly clashed repeatedly with chairman of the Labour Court Kevin Duffy.

Ms O’Reilly, who represented herself, complained about procedures being adopted by the Labour Court over the hearing of her case. She maintained Mr Duffy had not been impartial, and accused him of bullying behaviour. At one point she claimed he was acting as a “doormat for the Garda Commissioner”.

Ms O’Reilly sought for Mr Duffy to disqualify himself. The chairman declined and said he saw no reason to do this. He strongly rejected the allegations made against him.

On a number of occasions Ms O’Reilly told Mr Duffy to “sit up straight in your chair” and to “take your hands down from your mouth and stop muffling your answers”.

Mr Duffy warned Ms O’Reilly that there were limits and that she should not push beyond those.

He said the Labour Court had indulged her in allowing her to make extensive submissions that were of peripheral relevance to the case.

He adjourned the hearing for 10 minutes and advised Ms O’Reilly to reflect on her position.

Following more angry comments from Ms O’Reilly after the proceedings resumed, the chairman adjourned the hearing.

Earlier, reading her submission to the court, Ms O’Reilly said she had worked happily in An Garda Síochána from 1994 until 2005, after which she alleged she was “the subject of horrendous bullying”.

She said she had never been suspended from duty. “I am a serving member of An Garda Síochána, who is enthusiastically looking forward to returning to work, in accordance with health and safety.”