Riverbank Loses Appeal for Unfair Dismissal

Riverbank Arts Centre Ltd has lost its appeal in the Circuit Court against a decision made by the Employment Appeals Tribunal to award two former employees e75,000 last December for unfair dismissal.

Riverbank Arts Centre Ltd has lost its appeal in the Circuit Court against a decision made by the Employment Appeals Tribunal to award two former employees e75,000 last December for unfair dismissal.

Riverbank Arts Centre Ltd, which runs the arts centre in Main Street, Newbridge with funding from Kildare County Council and the Arts Council of Ireland were ordered to pay former employees Paul Winters and Veronica Bagnall a reduced sum of €30,000 each as well as costs by the Circuit Court last Wednesday.

“They reduced the original award,” said Paul Winters speaking to the Leinster Leader.

“It’s not just about the money but more about bringing people to justice. Hopefully we can put this behind us now, accept it and move on. It has been very difficult to overcome it and very difficult to find work in the recession. I had a crisis of confidence and it has been a trauma. I hope that they [Riverbank Arts Centre Ltd] accept the judgement with grace and move on.”

Last December the tribunal ruled that Paul Winters and Veronica Bagnall, formerly the Technical Manager and Front of House Manager, respectively, were unfairly dismissed. Riverbank Arts Centre Ltd, was ordered to pay Mr Winters €40,000 and Ms Bagnall €35,000 at the time.

The claimants were among four people to lose their jobs when Strategic Arts management (SAM), the body which ran the centre, was wound up at the end of August 2008.

Despite applying for their jobs back when the centre re-opened under the management of Riverbank Arts Centre (RAC), neither were successful.

Mr. Winters and Ms. Bagnall claimed at the time that while SAM had been wound up and had been replaced by a different organisation, RAC, in terms of their core function, there was effectively no difference between the two organisations.

The Tribunal at the time noted evidence that ‘both claimants’ jobs existed in the new entity and awarded the sums of money to both claimants.

However six weeks later in early 2012 an appeal against the decision was lodged by Riverbanks Arts Centre Ltd, which was lost last week.

Meanwhile the board of Riverbank Arts Centre is scheduled to meet next weekend and will be in a position to provide a comment after the meeting. The directors are as follows Edward Prendergast (Chairperson) (Naas), Mona Considine (Longford), Josephine Mangan (Maynooth), Robert Kelly (Meath) Thomas Hunter McGowan (Former Town Manager) (Cork), Lucina Russell (County Arts Officer) (Athy).

- Paula Campbell