Tribunal adjourns after 'thug' remark


A BARRISTER asked for an Employment Appeals Tribunal to be adjourned for a short period yesterday after a witness referred to him as a “thug”.

Tom Mallon made the request after Dr Seán O’Nuallain, a former lecturer at Dublin City University (DCU), said he stood by the comment he made on a blog after an earlier sitting of the case.

Mr Mallon is representing DCU, which is appealing a 2003 Rights Commissioner decision that Dr O’Nuallain be reinstated to a permanent position in the college. Mr Mallon said he was subjected to the abuse on the Academic Tenure blog after a hearing in July.

He said he wanted an apology from Dr O’Nuallain and that he was simply doing his job by representing the university.

Dr O’Nuallain said that, based on his performance at the tribunal yesterday, he still believed Mr Mallon was a thug, prompting Mr Mallon to ask tribunal chairwoman Kate T O’Mahoney to adjourn the hearing briefly.

The tribunal rose for about 10 minutes and, on its return, Ms O’Mahoney said such an occurrence was unprecedented as far as the tribunal was concerned and that the utterance should not be admitted to the record.

She said Mr Mallon had appeared frequently at the tribunal and that his conduct had always been appropriate.

Pádraic Lyons, counsel for Dr O’Nuallain, seconded her comments. Mr Mallon thanked the tribunal.

Dr O’Nuallain said Mr Mallon had called him “a liar” in front of the press and “savaged” one of his former students earlier in the proceedings. He declined to withdraw the comment.

The tribunal heard allegations that DCU had acted “outside the law” in suspending Dr O’Nuallain from his duties in 2002 and later terminating his contract.

Dr O’Nuallain, who lectured in the school of computer applications, told the tribunal he had been “victimised” and had his rights violated by the university.

He said DCU made “bogus” charges against him which had caused considerable stress and damaged his career.

The hearing continues.