The strange case of the government TD and the employment dispute
Writing on politics you often get accused of bias. Whoever does not agree with what you say immediately finds a reason to say you are just against them. I get accused of defending FF, being a secret Labour lover, a respecter of shinners, a shinner hater, and once even of wanting to be selected as an FG candidate! Anyway one passes no heed and tries instead to focus on telling a story as fairly and as honestly as one can. Opinions are nothing unless you have reason to believe that they are correct and have a firm basis.
However, sometimes you get accused of protecting people, because you know them or like them. I always say that I am willing to hear any story and cover any story but you need information to do so. Sometimes the people who want something covered don’t give you much to go on.
I recently received an email from a source not wishing to be identified. It concerned a government TD, James Bannon. Now, Mr. Bannon and I are well known to each other and despite what many think I have always found him a decent man and a good sort. However it appears he recently came into conflict with his own parliamentary assistant.
The assistant felt rather badly treated and decided to bring their case to an employment rights commissioner. The source then says that while awaiting this ruling the worker was suspended. The assistant had worked in the office for a decade and felt that very little support was given.
The source goes on to say that the rights commissioner made a ruling on April 12th and found in favour of the worker but a matter of days after this was dismissed from their post.
That seems a rather striking story and begs some serious questions about workers rights and the treatment of staff within the Oireachtas and how parties deal with these issues.
Unfortunately as the source did not want to be named it hampered further investigation on my side. I did however want to get a fair view of the story and decided to ask Mr Bannon directly to see if the facts stacked up and I laid out the story as I had heard it to him. Unfortunately Mr. Bannon said that he would not comment on the matter as there could be further issues and he told me that any query should be directed to the FG press office.
This was disappointing as I would have liked to hear Mr Bannon’s side of things but I contacted the FG press office who asked me to leave the matter with them for 24 hours. I did so only to be told that they had looked into the matter and the position was that ‘no comment’ would be made.
It seems strange that suspensions, dismissals and rights commissioners would be involved in a matter within the Oireachtas and a government party where one might expect that such issues to be of deep concern. However I do not know what position or details FG may have on the matter and cannot verify if there is more to the story. Talk of a lack of rights for Oireachtas workers is not new, there is no HR department and there are very few protections afforded them. The TD tends to have control. There have been dismissals in the past but the problem is that those affected by it are rarely willing to speak out as if this is your career then to do so would see it effectively ruined.
So next time you blame the media for not covering something just try to remember any journalist, blogger or writer can only work with what you give them and we must try to be fair, but can only do that if you are open with it and share your side of things.