‘I absolutely refute findings of NI Water industrial tribunal’ – Murphy
Sinn Fein MP and former regional development minister Conor Murphy has said he “absolutely refutes” the findings of an industrial tribunal which criticised him. The tribunal claims that a Protestant, Alan Lennon, was overlooked for a promotion to the post of chairman of Northern Ireland Water because of his religious persuasion.
Criticising evidence from Murphy – whose decision it was to appoint a candidate – as being ‘implausible and lacking credibility’ the tribunal heard that five candidates put themselves forward for the job, with the only Catholic, Sean Hogan, accepting the job.
Despite the findings of the Tribunal, Murphy insisted that he did not think he had anything to apologise for. He said he would speak to the lawyers who represented DRD, with a view to appealing the decision. He continued, “This particular appointment was audited by the appointments commissioner who found that it was properly adhered to. You have the responsibility as a minister to make that appointment, you also have the responsibility when you make that appointment to stand up in front of the assembly and to answer for that appointment.”
“So judging against the criteria that’s been put in front of you and not introducing any other criteria, you have to make a judgement weighing up the advantages or disadvantages of each of the five candidates against that criteria and that involves a subjective judgement.”
Murphy added, “That’s what I did – I came to my judgement and I’m satisfied it was the right judgement and I stand over it and I refute absolutely that I made it on any other basis other than merit.”
The Equality Commission, who supported Alan Lennon’s case said it was their view that the standards of fairness and non-discrimination that are expected in employment situations should apply equally to all public appointments. “A key part of this is the requirement for a sufficient degree of transparency and accountability in the process to assure people that selection is based on merit and that, if unlawful discrimination occurs, it can be challenged.”
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