A State workplace watchdog has ordered that a former driver for Minister of Agriculture Charlie McConalogue receive €30,000 for his Christmas Day unfair dismissal.

At a Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) hearing, former Garda Trevor Shaw claimed he was let go from his job in a "sham" redundancy process, which left him to choose between the prospect of a job in a dole office or ending 40 years’ service to the State with a severance package.

Mr Shaw served as a ministerial driver from May 2011 until December 2022 and was provided with a new fixed-term specified contract for each dissolution of the Dáil.

Mr Shaw (65) retired from the gardaí in 2011 after 31-and-a-half years of service to keep up the driving work when civilians initially replaced gardaí.

Mr Shaw sued the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine for unfair dismissal and, now, WRC adjudicator Breiffni O'Neill has ordered the Minister to pay Mr Shaw €30,000 compensation for his unfair dismissal, which came into force on Christmas Day 2022.


In a hard-hitting ruling concerning the Department’s treatment of Mr Shaw, Mr O’Neill said that he was making the €30,000 award arising from “the egregious conduct” of his employer surrounding the dismissal and Mr Shaw’s insufficient efforts to mitigate his financial loss.

Mr O’Neill stated that the award is in addition to both the redundancy and ex-gratia payment that Mr Shaw has already received.

The State has denied the unfair dismissal claim, but Mr O’Neill stated that Mr Shaw’s employer “acted wholly unreasonably both in peremptorily dismissing Mr Shaw and not engaging in any consultation process whatsoever with him prior to his redundancy”.

He said that the peremptory nature of the dismissal was underscored by the failure to offer an appeal of the decision to dismiss Mr Shaw.

Mr O’Neill stated that such a process could have given Mr Shaw “the opportunity to defend his future employment and highlight his willingness to work in alternative roles”.

Egregious treatment

Mr O’Neill stated that it is symptomatic of the egregious treatment of Mr Shaw throughout this process “that the date of the termination of his employment was Christmas Day, namely 25 December 2022”.

Mr O’Neill stated that it was the evidence of a Department of Agriculture official that Mr Shaw was dismissed on the grounds of redundancy because he was a civilian driver.

The Department’s witness claimed that Mr Shaw was no longer required because a decision had been made, on foot of security concerns, that the drivers of all the regular attendees at cabinet - namely the cabinet office holders as well as the super junior ministers - had to be serving members of An Garda Síochána.


Mr O’Neill stated that when redundancy is cited as the reason for the termination of employment, it is necessary not only to satisfy the definition of redundancy but also to demonstrate that Mr Shaw was fairly dismissed.

Mr O’Neill stated that Mr Shaw heard rumours in early 2022 that a decision had been made to dismiss all the civilian drivers.

Mr O’Neill said that Mr Shaw was gravely concerned for his livelihood after this and repeatedly questioned the Department about it, although he received no clarification whatsoever about his future employment “and was effectively left dangling for almost a year, until he finally received notification of his termination on 25 November 2022 without any consultation whatsoever having been engaged in by the Department prior to this”.

Mr O’Neill stated that in addition to the absence of a consultation process, he also noted the Department’s "shocking assertion" that they were obliged to dismiss Mr Shaw on foot of an instruction from the Department of Public Expenditure.

Mr O’Neill stated that any prudent employer, in addition to engaging in a meaningful consultation with Mr Shaw, would have insisted that the Department of Public Expenditure incorporate all civilian drivers of regular cabinet attendees, who were at risk of redundancy, into a selection matrix.

He said: “This matrix should have also included drivers of junior ministers, who were to be retained, and appropriate redundancy selection criteria should have been chosen, rather than relying solely on the criterion of which minister they were driving for.”


Mr O’Neill noted that only one alternative to redundancy was presented by the Department to Mr Shaw prior to issuing his notification of dismissal.

Mr Shaw was offered a position as a temporary clerical officer in the Department of Social Welfare.

Mr O’Neill stated that this role “was offered without any consultation or discussion around the complainant’s skillset and was refused by him because it was unsuitable largely because he did not have the IT skills that he believed would be required for the role”.

Ellen Walsh, of Seán Ormonde Solicitors, told the hearing that the Department of Agriculture’s handling of the matter was a "fiasco", which failed to honour her client Mr Shaw’s employment rights, branding it a "sham redundancy”.