Taoiseach rules out Cortex redundancy probe

An investigation into Vita Cortex’s refusal to pay redundancy to 32 workers will not be possible, the Taoiseach told the Dáil.

He said statutory redundancy from the State — two weeks’ wages for each year of service — will be paid into the workers’ bank accounts on Monday.

The company’s owner, Jack Ronan, has claimed inability to pay the further €372,000 workers believe they are owed.

Enda Kenny said the director of corporate enforcement, Paul Appleby, has considered the company’s claim and has taken legal advice on the issue.

“He was satisfied he had insufficient grounds to take any formal action against the company at this time,” Mr Kenny said.

In a statement Labour Party TD, Ciarán Lynch, said he had written to Mr Appleby, saying he should carry out a full examination of the company’s accounts.

“The most recent accounts filed by Vita Cortex (Ind) in 2010 show the company was owed €712,370 in ‘management charges’ by Web Circle Limited, — a company which is part owned by the Vita Cortex (Ind) owner’s wife, Deirdre Ronan,” said Mr Lynch.

“Web Circle Limited last filed its accounts in 2009 and has not filed its most recent annual returns. Clarification is needed whether this money has been paid or simply written off. If this money has not be repaid this would represent a gross breach of company law,” he said.

His Cork South Central constituency colleague, Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, said he had written to Mr Appleby asking for such an investigation as far back as December.

Mr Martin published a response from Mr Appleby which said that, even though Vita Cortex had not been repaid debts it was owed “this of itself does not disclose circumstances suggesting fraud, illegality or unfair prejudice which is the principal basis on which I can exercise a power of investigation”.

Mr Martin said the Government must “think outside the box” and become more active on the issue. The Taoiseach said there is a “moral responsibility involved” in the case and the Government would “continue to exhaust all of the machinery” available to help staff.

As workers begin the 56th day of their sit-in, Mr Kenny said it was not nice to see them “sitting in this plant, feeling very aggravated”. He said the Government would give a report to the Labour Relations Commission based on his meeting with the workers and their union representatives, and “invite the commission to get involved here again”.

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