FG TD Seán Conlan ordered to pay ex-secretary €25,000

Cavan-Monaghan deputy expected to appeal against tribunal finding of unfair dismissal

Seán Conlan: his former secretarial assistant Cathy Shevlin took an unfair dismissal case against him, and it was heard over three days in October and December last year. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Seán Conlan: his former secretarial assistant Cathy Shevlin took an unfair dismissal case against him, and it was heard over three days in October and December last year. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

 

A Fine Gael TD has been ordered to pay his former secretary €25,000 after an Employment Appeals Tribunal found against him.

Mr Conlan’s former secretarial assistant Cathy Shevlin took an unfair dismissal case against him, and it was heard over three days in October and December last year.

While the EAT’s final decision is not expected to be published for another six weeks, The Irish Times understands both parties were informed of the outcome yesterday.

It is still open to Mr Conlan to appeal against the decision, and it is expected he will do so. He did not return calls or requests for comment.

Ms Shevlin became the secretarial assistant to the Cavan- Monaghan TD following the 2011 election, a position that pays €623 a week gross. TDs are entitled to hire two staff members: a secretarial and parliamentary assistant.

She was dismissed in March 2013 and Mr Conlan had told the tribunal the reason for her dismissal was to do with issues of misconduct, and he cited a number of alleged examples.

He said he gave Ms Shevlin an oral warning in July 2012 for sharing confidential tally information collected at the general election and which he said was “gold dust” to politicians. Ms Shevlin disputes these claims.

‘Sobbing uncontrollably’

Mr Conlan said Ms Shevlin had posted a comment on Facebook undermining him for his non-attendance at a constituency meeting.

It is understood the tribunal took issue with the Facebook posts in its findings. Mr Conlan denied he harassed and bullied Ms Shevlin.

The tribunal also heard a meeting between Ms Shevlin and Mr Conlan’s parliamentary assistant Sarah Comiskey ended with Ms Shevlin feeling threatened and intimidated.

Ms Shevlin brought the unfair dismissal case before the EAT after divisions arose between herself and Ms Comiskey – who the tribunal heard is in a relationship with Mr Conlan – and which were never resolved.

Jeweller dispute

Mr Conlan had claimed an email written by the jeweller Freya Hart complaining she had received no payment from Mr Conlan for the ring was received by only two figures in Government, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and another senior Minister, understood to be Minister for Arts Heather Humphreys, a constituency colleague of his.

Mr Conlan said he had brought the ring back to Dublin for appraisal, that there had been a “breakdown in communications for a number of hours” with Ms Hart, but the ring had been returned the following week and the matter had been resolved to everybody’s satisfaction.

He claimed somebody close to the Taoiseach or to the Minister was responsible for leaking the email, a charge rejected by spokepeople for Mr Kenny and Ms Humphreys.

During the controversy over the appointment of Seanad candidate John McNulty to the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Mr Conlan said there was a fear in Fine Gael that the Taoiseach was returning to the days “days of stroke politics” and “the days of Charlie Haughey”.