The Showjumping Association of Ireland (SJAI) is to appeal a ruling by an employment appeals tribunal that it must pay €25,000 compensation for the unfair dismissal of a former director-general.

In a decision issued last week (4 February), the tribunal found that “proper procedure” was not followed when Patrick Cully, of Carbury, Co Kildare, was made redundant, having been in the job for less than two years.

His dismissal was said to be part of a cost-cutting exercise at a time when the SJAI was facing a deficit of €150,000.

Mr Cully told the tribunal he was head-hunted for the job and started work in January 2007.

He was involved in the cost-cutting, but claimed that at a management finance committee meeting in September 2008 he was told the position of director-general could no longer be sustained and that he was being made redundant.

“I was shocked and devastated,” he told the tribunal. “It came out of the blue.”

In a testimony given on behalf of the SJAI, Mr Cully was described as being very successful in the job and a man who was held in high regard.

As he had not worked the necessary two years, he did not qualify for redundancy payment, but all money due to him was paid, the SJAI said, and efforts were made to find him alternative employment.

But the tribunal ruled that Mr Cully should have been warned in advance that his job was in jeopardy.

It noted his offers to work a shorter week, or for less pay, and concluded that proper procedures were not used and that the dismissal was unfair.

Both sides declined to comment to H&H, but an SJAI spokesman said that as a result of the cost-cutting, the financial situation has been “turned around” and the association will show a surplus for 2009.

The director-general’s post remains unfilled.

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (11 February, ’10)