Callely judgement in Haughey footsteps
Ivor Callely probably (undoubtedly) had ambitions to follow in the footsteps of his hero Charlie Haughey in other ways.
He may not have done so in the way he most wanted to by achieving high political office but he has got close with another, unintended connection.
Lawyers refer to the rights a citizen has in such matters, especially in relation to tribunals of one sort or another) as ‘Haughey rights’ as a result of a case in which the great man’s brother was involved arising from the political turbulence in Northern Ireland. (Apologies for saying in an earlier version of this that it was Charlie himself).
That case was In re Haughey [1971}IR 217 which is, in many ways the foundation for what we today describe as ‘constitutional’ justice, i.e. natural justice enhanced by the commitments in Article 40 of the constitution to fundamental personal freedoms. Indeed the Taoiseach had reason to be gratefiul for these rules in his appearances before the McCracken tribunal.
While further detail on the case is awaited press reports give us a reminder that whatever one thinks of the actions of a person, let’s say an employee guilty of suspected theft, this will not diminish their right to a fair disciplinary process. In this writer’s opinion the notion of ‘summary dismissal’ is legally questionable and potentially exposes an employer to great risk. Where such ‘smoking gun’ cases arise the better route is suspension and intiation of the full procedure; investigation, notice of charges, displinary hearing with representation etc.
A few years ago an employee in a Dublin city centre convenience store who was captured on CCTV stealing bus tickets got €15,000 in compensation when she was summarily dismissed (admittedly by text message!), but without the benefit of any of the procedure just mentioned.
The higher courts have consistently taken a very firm line on application of the principles and practise of fair procedure. (Even the Labour Court got a rap on the knuckles in the Ryanair case). The Employment Appeals Tribunal has done likewise.