Northern Ireland

Garbhan Downey tribunal told council boss 'victimised' another employee

A tribunal investigating the sacking of a director at a UK City of Culture firm has been told of a previous case where a council boss victimised an employee.

Garbhan Downey has taken the case, claiming he was unfairly dismissed as communications and marketing director of Londonderry's Culture Company.

He claims Derry City Council boss, Sharon O'Connor, wanted rid of him.

The hearing was told that an industrial tribunal in 2005 ruled she victimised an employee in a different council.

In what was described as a similar case to Mr Downey's, Ms O'Connor was found to have been aggressive and abusive on the phone to the council employee.

She was said to have instigated a disciplinary process that was inappropriate and unjustified, according to the 2005 ruling.

Earlier, a human resources consultant, Dr Carol Ackah, told Thursday's hearing that the Culture Company did not have a whistleblowers policy, which she felt was a deficiency.

Mr Downey was sacked for gross misconduct last year, after speaking to the press about a shift of budget from the Culture Company to Derry City Council.

He claims he had gone to the media with a complaint that he believed was in the public interest.

Dr Ackah carried out the original investigation into Mr Downey's conduct and said he held his belief very strongly that what he did was in public interest and for the good of the Culture Company.

On Thursday afternoon, a member of his disciplinary appeals panel, Noirin McKinney, told the industrial tribunal she was sure she had made the right decision in confirming Mr Downey's dismissal on the grounds of gross misconduct.

More on this story