Brother of broadcaster Ó hEochagáin awarded €85k for unfair dismissal

Mark Keogan, brother of TV and radio star Hector O hEochagain, was today awarded €85,000 compensation for unfair dismissal in September 2009 as manager of The George Pub and Nightclub in Georges Street, Dublin.

Keogan, of Kells Road, Navan, Co Meath, had sued Vikram Ltd., which trades as Capital Bars, owner of The George and two other Dublin bar clubs Café En Seine and Howl at the Moon all of which are currently in receivership.

Barrister Francis Drumm, counsel for Keogan, told the Circuit Civil Court that the Employment Appeals Tribunal had decided Mr Keogan had been unfairly dismissed and directed he be reinstated in his job as manager of The George.

Tom Mallon, counsel for Vikram Ltd and the Receiver, told Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Matthew Deery, that the Receiver was appealing the EAT decision. The company was wholly insolvent and in receivership since November 2009.

He said the EAT order had been made against the company and the Receiver despite Mr Keogan having been dismissed before the Receiver had been appointed. The claim had originally been made against the company only but the tribunal had joined the Receiver to the proceedings.

Mr Mallon said that after the dismissal of Mr Keogan the company’s status had changed and therefore a reinstatement order was not enforceable as there was no such position currently available for him.

Mr Drumm said The George, and the two other pubs, had been taken over by the Receiver and were currently being run by an agency, Splash Hospitality Management, for the Receiver.

The court was told that in August 2009 Keogan had received a letter from the financial controller of Vikram Ltd stating that a check on the pub safe revealed a cash anomaly.

It had appeared that €1,100 in cash had been taken from the safe and replaced with a personal cheque from Keogan for that amount. Keogan had claimed it was custom and practice to cash cheques and he had previously cashed dozens of cheques which were lodged to the company’s credit.

Judge Deery said Mr Keogan was entitled to compensation for having been unfairly dismissed but said it would be inappropriate to direct his reinstatement as manager. He awarded him compensation of €85,000 against Vikram Ltd and made him a preferential creditor of the company.

The judge made no order against the Receiver and made no order as to legal costs.

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