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Sunday 23 July 2017

Charges brought over handling of 460 redundancies at Clerys

Deirdre Foley
Deirdre Foley
Mary Mitchell O'Connor

Criminal proceedings have been opened over the handling of collective redundancies at Clerys department store.

Businesswoman Deirdre Foley faces a single charge of impeding a Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) inspector, as well as three counts of breaking protection of employment laws.

Two other executives, as well as the previous owners, OCS Operations (now in liquidation), and Natrium, which took over the iconic department store in 2015, have been served summons with connected charges.

The case had its first listing at Dublin District Court yesterday before Judge John Brennan, who granted an adjournment until May 19.

Plea

None of the defendants have yet entered a plea.

Breffni Gordon, for the prosecution, told the judge the prosecutions have been instituted by Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor.

OCS Operations petitioned the High Court for liquidation on June 12, 2015, he said.

This was followed by the collective redundancies, in which 460 people lost jobs - 130 of whom were directly employed by Clerys.

Lawyers for the defence argued that, in the interest of a fair trial, an order should be made for disclosure of evidence at this stage, but Mr Gordon resisted the application and said the disclosure would be provided at a later stage.

The judge was told Ms Foley has an application before the Court of Appeal on April 28 in a bid to overturn a High Court ruling last year dismissing her challenge to the investigation.

OCS Operations has three charges. It operated Clerys Department Store and Warehouse from 2012 until a liquidator was appointed in June 2015.

The alleged offences are failing to initiate consultations with representatives of employees' affected by the collective redundancies; failing to supply employee representatives with all relevant information relating to the redundancies; and not notifying the jobs minister in writing, on June 12, 2015 - the day of the Clerys takeover.

There is one charge against Natrium, the company that took over OCS Operations in 2015, and which is co-owned by Ms Foley.

It is accused of obstructing or impeding a WRC inspector on June 27 last year at 25-28 North Wall Quay, the company's address.

Ms Foley, of Hollybank Avenue, Upper Ranelagh, Dublin 6, who has a 20pc share in Natrium, faces four charges.

Also before the court is Mark Redmond, of Belfry Dale, Citywest Road, Saggart, Co Dublin - an employee of D2 Private, a firm owned by Ms Foley - and Brendan Cooney with an address at Weirview Drive, Stillorgan, Co Dublin - a director of OCS Operations Ltd.

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