So no surprise that Sinn Fein are training some big guns on Conor Murphy’s successor at DRD, Danny Kennedy for deciding not to appeal the
Equality Commission’s Fair Employment Tribunal’s ruling against the South Armagh MP… As Mr Murphy told the BBC, it leaves him in an invidious position:
The Sinn Fein representative told the BBC that the outcome of the tribunal had effectively branded him as “sectarian” and “a liar” and said he did not intend to let the findings stand.
The cost of these proceedings so far is estimated to be several hundred thousand pounds (no settlement has yet been made for compensation). And it is not the only complicated legal case that Mr Murphy has left behind him at DRD.
Interestingly in a presser on the Sinn Fein party website, the former Minister appears to suggest that Mr Kennedy ought have got rid of the very man he (Mr Murphy) appointed as Chair of Northern Ireland Water:
Further to this the glaring contradiction stands that my decision not to appoint Alan Lennon is sectarian yet Danny Kennedy’s decision to do likewise stands without any challenge.
Danny Kennedy took essentially the same decision as I did not to appoint Alan Lennon to the board of NIW. He has not explained the rationale for this.
I would challenge the Minister to do this and explain how my decision, which I stand over and have explained publicly, is deemed sectarian yet his is not?
A certain tortured logic at play there. The truth is Mr Kennedy would have no grounds for dismissing the man Mr Murphy put in place without the potential of invoking the kind of trouble Mr Murphy now finds himself in.
One of the former members of NIW’s Board, whom Mr Murphy himself sacked, Declan Gormley is currently suing:
…Mr Murphy personally and the department for misfeasance and defamation. Mr Gormley’s offer to withdraw the case if the department and Mr Murphy apologised to him and cleared his name was declined and the case is now expected to be heard in December.
The last piece of this intriguing jigsaw comes from one of Mr Kennedy’s current fellow members of the Executive, Sinn Fein’s Minister for Agriculture, Michelle O’Neill. The News Letter again:
As soon as the tribunal decision emerged last month, Sinn Fein called for an appeal and on Monday Sinn Fein minister Michelle O’Neill claimed that Attorney General John Larkin agreed that it “should be appealed”.
The Attorney General’s office declined to comment on Sinn Fein’s claim. It is understood that the advice to which Minister O’Neill referred was given to Mr Kennedy and then circulated to every Executive minister.
The convention, as Slugger understands it, is that such advice is generally circulated under the terms of strictest confidence. It’s also true to say that it is the job of the AG to advise rather to instruct the Minister, as Ms O’Neill appears to imply.
It’s also true to say that if there was clear and substantial grounds identified for appealing the Equality Commission’s ruling, Mr Kennedy would find it hard to refuse to take action…
And in fact the absence of any public discussion of just what those grounds might be suggests this three ring circus smacks just a too much of desperation on someone’s part…
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty