Willie O’Dea raises plight of St Enda’s sports centre staff in Dail debate

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

FIANNA Fail’s enterprise spokesman Willie O’Dea has called on Minister Richard Bruton to investigate why redundant workers at St Enda’s Leisure Centre have not been paid their full entitlement.

FIANNA Fail’s enterprise spokesman Willie O’Dea has called on Minister Richard Bruton to investigate why redundant workers at St Enda’s Leisure Centre have not been paid their full entitlement.

Some 28 former staff at the southside complex are due €80,000 in settlement clauses - but have yet to receive anything, Mr O’Dea said.

This time last year, St Enda’s Swimming Pool closed its facility due to cutbacks in government funding.

The centre was funded by the Department of Education, and despite desperate attempts by management and politicians locally to raise money to save the facility, closure became inevitable.

As well as leaving the southside without a public swimming pool facility, the development left 28 long-serving staff out of a job.

Now, Mr O’Dea has claimed the state is not honouring a Labour Court recommendation to pay redundancy to these workers.

As a result of this, Enterprise Minister Bruton has said he will launch a full investigation.

Speaking in the Dail, Mr O’Dea said: “I know the Minister … mentioned the responsibility of employers and the usefulness of the labour relations machinery. In my constituency, there was an employer that was, effectively, the state.”

He referred to the St Enda’s Sports Complex, and its employees who took the company to the Labour Court last May.

“The court’s recommendation was the employees he paid because the redundancy happened because of the withdrawal of funding by a department,” Mr O’Dea reported.

“The Department of Education and Skills informed me the money had been put aside to pay the business but the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has refused to allow the money to be paid.”

The former Defence Minister said that the €80,000 total the workers are due is “infinitesimal when we consider what bondholders are being paid.”

“A Department is liable for this €80,000 but the State is refusing to honour a recommendation of the Labour Court. Will the Minister investigate that and revert to me,” Mr O’Dea asked.

Responding, Mr Bruton denied any knowledge of the case - but said he would look into it.

“From the Deputy’s statement, it sounds like the case has gone through the agencies for which I am responsible. At this point it is an issue in respect of honouring a recommendation. I will seek information on behalf of the Deputy but it is not available to me at the moment,” he said in the Dail.