The third day of the Industrial Tribunal into the alleged unfair dismissal of the City of Culture’s former marketing chief has heard that Garbhan Downey believed that the outcome of his disciplinary and appeal hearings was predetermined before they even took place.
Mr Downey said the presence of Council HR chief Sinead McNicholl at his disciplinary hearing - and her interjection with new evidence regarding the movement of Culture Staff - had “undermined me and caused me to lose faith in the process”.
Discussing the disciplinary panel, which compromised of Arts Council member Noirin McKinney and Culture Company Board member Brian Dougherty, Mr Downey told the Tribunal he believed that there was a “third member” on the panel in the guise of Ms McNicholl, who said she was there purely in an advisory capacity.
He had previously told the Tribunal he believed that Ms McKinney was not wholly independent due to her professional relationship with Council Chief Executive Sharon O’Connor, with whom she had worked with previously..
Under cross-examination from the barrister for the Culture Company Conor Hamill, Mr Downey told the Tribunal that he believed “Ms McKinney and Ms McNicholl did all they could to advance the arguments of Sharon O’Connor”.
He also referred to an email sent by Sinead McNicholl to appeal panel member Harry McConnell two days before the hearing was due to take place which stated: “I am fully of the opinion that this will go to industrial tribunal.”
“This did not set the scene for a fair and impartial hearing which would have resulted in my reinstatement,” he said.
“The entire process was tainted and flawed. The conduct of the entire process was oppressive, unreasonable and unfair. The basic principles of natural justice were ignored and the sanction was, the circumstances, disproportionate, excessive and unfair,” he added.
Mr Downey, who was on a salary of £65,000, is claiming for loss of earnings from January 22 2013 until June of next year, when his contract was due to end.