herald

Monday 23 April 2018

Prosecution drops its case against Deirdre Foley over Clerys jobs axe

Deirdre Foley is in the clear
Deirdre Foley is in the clear

The prosecution case against a businesswoman involved in the takeover of Clerys department store has been dropped.

Deirdre Foley had faced charges related to the redundancies at the store that followed its buyout in 2015

However, it emerged yesterday they were dropped at Dublin District Court owing to delays in disclosure of evidence.

Ms Foley, her co-defendant Mark Redmond and previous owners of Clerys, OCS Operations, had faced allegations of breaking protection of employment laws.

Former Clerys employee and spokesman for the workers, Gerry Markey, said they were disappointed by the outcome.

"We are really disappointed that three years of waiting and suddenly it's all fallen on its knees," he told the Herald.

In December, prosecutors had already dropped the most serious charges against Ms Foley.

A charge against Natrium, which bought Clerys in a €29m deal and in which Ms Foley has a 20pc interest, was also dropped at that time.

She was due to go on trial in January on a single charge of impeding a Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) inspector and three counts of breaking protection of employment laws.

Hopeful

However, following legal argument about non-disclosure of earlier drafts of witness statements, the charge against Ms Foley for impeding the WRC on June 12, 2015, was dropped by the prosecution.

Mr Markey said he was not surprised all of the charges were dropped against Ms Foley, after what had happened in December.

"I was hopeful that it wasn't going to happen, but it's not a shock," he said.

"I do want to say that it's time to get the law changed so that what happened to us will never happen again."

He added that the State will now likely never be reimbursed for the payment of redundancies to the workers. The taxpayer footed the €2.5m statutory redundancy bill.

OCS Operations had in 2015 petitioned the High Court for liquidation of the business, which led to the redundancy of 460 workers, some 130 of whom worked directly for Clerys.

The manner in which the sale was handled caused massive controversy and resulted in a Government report examining laws to protect employees.

A spokesman for Ms Foley declined to comment on the case when contacted last night.

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