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Businesswoman to go on trial over handling of Clerys redundancies

460 people lost jobs, 130 of whom were directly employed by Clerys.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

BUSINESSWOMAN DEIRDRE FOLEY will go on trial in January on charges connected to the handling of collective redundancies at Clerys department store.

Foley faces a single charge of impeding a Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) inspector as well as three counts of breaking protection of employment laws following the takeover.

Her co-defendants are two executives, Mark Redmond and Brendan Cooney, the previous owners of Clerys, OCS Operations Ltd (now in liquidation), and Natrium Ltd which in 2015 bought the iconic department store on Dublin’s O’Connell Street.

The case had its fourth listing at Dublin District Court today before Judge Conal Gibbons for hearing dates to be fixed.

Prosecution counsel Breffni Gordon said it has been suggested that the trial could be held from 2 January until 19 January next and it would take at least two weeks.

Judge Gibbons agreed to fix the hearing dates suggested by Gordon. However, following a submission by solicitor James MacGuill for Natrium Ltd, he also ordered that the case would be listed again for mention in September.

MacGuill had said there were matters of an urgent nature that needed to be addressed and the trial estimates were the prosecution’s estimation that it would be a two-week trial. He said that his side has not seen the disclosure yet and they would like to be able to contribute to the court marshaling its time.

Foley, Redmond and Cooney had been excused from attending court today.

The criminal proceedings have been brought by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and the WRC.

Liquidation

9929 Clerys workers_90506260 Deirdre Foley Source: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

OCS Operations petitioned the High Court for liquidation on 12 June 2015. This was followed by the collective redundancies in which 460 people lost jobs; 130 of them were directly employed by Clerys, the court has heard.

Earlier the district court was told that during the probe a laptop was seized at the offices of Foley’s firm, D2 Private Ltd but it was returned to her after a forensic image of it was taken.

OCS Operations Ltd faces three charges. It operated Clerys Department Store and Warehouse from 2012 until a liquidator was appointed in June 2015, when it ceased trading.

The alleged offences are under the Protection of Employment Act for failing to initiate consultations with representatives of employees affected by the collective redundancies in OCS Operations Ltd, failing to supply employee representatives with all relevant information relating to the redundancies and not notifying the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in writing, on 12 June 2015 – the day of the Clerys takeover.

There is one charge against Natrium Ltd, the company that took over OCS Operations Ltd in 2015 and which is co-owned by property developer Deirdre Foley and a UK-based property investment and hedge fund business which has an 80% stake. Natrium Ltd is accused of obstructing or impeding a WRC inspector on 27 June last year at 25-28 North Wall Quay, the company’s address.

Charges

Deirdre Foley, of Hollybank Avenue, Upper Ranelagh, Dublin 6, who has a 20% share in Natrium Ltd, faces four charges. One count alleges that it was with her consent or connivance that Natrium Ltd impeded a WRC inspector on 12 June 2015.

Her other three charges are under Protection of Employment Act for failing to initiate consultations with representatives of employees, failing to supply them with all relevant information relating to the redundancies and not notifying the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in writing, on 12 June 2015.

Mark Redmond, of Belfry Dale, Citywest Road, Saggart, Co. Dublin is an employee of D2 Private Ltd, a firm owned by Deirdre Foley. He faces the same charges for allegedly failing to notify the Minister or consult with workers’ representative or provide them with relevant information about the redundancies.

Brendan Cooney, a director of OCS Operations Ltd, with an address at Weirview Drive, Stillorgan, Co. Dublin has the same charges plus an additional one under the Workplace Relations Act for giving false or misleading information to an inspector.

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Tom Tuite

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