Archive for the ‘Legal’ Category

Protection for (or from) Whistleblowers!

November 29, 2017

Protecting the Whistleblower

Frances Fitzgerald, the Tanaiste has resigned “for the sake of the country“..

Leo Varadkar, the Taoiseach has thanked her, for her service and has declared that it is a shame that a good woman who has done nothing wrong has resigned..

Fianna Faíl have got their way and they will quietly sit in the wings waiting, waiting, waiting until the perfect moment to pull that trigger.  They exercised their power in a big, public gesture and won this power battle..

Noel Waters, Secretary-General of the Department of Justice has decided to take early retirement and he is angry about the witch hunt against the organisation that he has been in charge of..

Noírín O’Sullivan, the Garda Commissioner, who was publicly supported by the Government retired in September (after her holidays!)..

A devious, nasty campaign against Maurice McCabe, the Garda Whistleblower, Parking Fines, Breath Tests – the whole thing is a shambles, a debacle of monumental proportions and yet at this moment in time no one is saying sorry and no one seems to be doing anything to sort anything out.

One of the critical instruments of the State, our police force, is totally out of control and no one is taking any responsibility – “I did nothing wrong“…The problem is that you did nothing!!!

But, phew..the crisis has been averted for now and there will be no General Election this side of Christmas – we can all get on with our shopping.

But..what about the Whistleblower??

Somewhere in the mix, the whole point of all of this seems to have gone over everyone’s heads.

What about Maurice McCabe??

Have we heard anyone in authority saying (in a manner that we believe them) that we will not put up with any corruption in our State organisations as it will not be tolerated and any whistleblower will get all of our protection?

Have we heard anyone apologising publicly to Maurice McCabe?

Instead we have listened to horrendous stories of legal strategies against him and “it wasn’t in my jurisdiction to interfere“.

In this country we have legislation that was enacted in 2014 to protect Whistleblowers.

The Protected Disclosures Act 2014 aims to protect people who raise concerns about possible wrongdoing in the workplace. The Act, which came into effect on 15 July 2014. It provides for redress for employees who are dismissed or otherwise penalised for having reported possible wrongdoing in the workplace. 

Some of the detail:

(from the Citizens Information Board website)

Under the Act, you make a protected disclosure if you are a worker and you disclose relevant information in a particular way.

Information is relevant if it came to your attention in connection with your work and you reasonably believe that it tends to show wrongdoing.

This wrongdoing may be occurring or suspected to be occurring either inside or outside of the country. Even if the information is proved to be incorrect, you are still protected by the Act provided you had a reasonable belief in the information.

Wrongdoing is widely defined in the Act and includes the commission of criminal offences, failure to comply with legal obligations, endangering the health and safety of individuals, damaging the environment, miscarriage of justice, misuse of public funds, and oppressive, discriminatory, grossly negligent or grossly mismanaged acts or omissions by a public body.

The definition also includes the concealment or destruction of information about any of the above wrongdoing.

The Act gives people anonymity, it describes how people should go about making a Protected Disclosure and it outlines how the Employer must act when presented with a disclosure.

All of this sounds great in practice, and there will be a poor sod who actually believes it and goes about reporting something they feel morally bound to do!! (Ssssh..if he/she was a friend or work colleague of yours what would you whisper in their ear?).

The Big Question?

So, taking the whole recent circus into account, lets be really honest here for a moment.

If you were in the scenario, working for a State body and who felt strongly about some bad crap or “wrongdoing” that was going on where you worked what would you do?

I’m guessing you would either shut up and say nothing (and perpetuate the problem) or just leave.

We have all learnt a big lesson – don’t complain!!

This is a wonderful country..

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Branding  services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

The speeding fine and the wrong address?

February 18, 2017

garda-camera

The first I knew I had been caught speeding coming out of Dublin last year was when Dee called me.

A Garda had knocked on the door of our house with a Court Summons – she was working from home that Tuesday.

He remarked that “you are never at home” as this was his fourth time calling!

Dee called me immediately as according to the summons I was due in Naas Courthouse the following Thursday week. Not only had I been caught doing 113 in a 100 stretch of the motorway leaving Dublin but I had also neglected to pay the resulting fine!

There was obviously an error as I had never even received the speeding fine.

I called the phone number for An Garda Síochána that was on the summons and as expected I was put through to some call centre.

I explained to the woman on the phone that I was more than happy to pay my fine but I had never received the notice so a court appearance should not be necessary.

Do you not send a follow up reminder, like one would get with a phone bill or any other bill?” I asked her.

No, we send one fine notice by regular post and if you don’t pay we automatically start a court process” she explained.

This is totally crazy, how can you rely on regular post with something so serious? I pay my bills, I was one of the stupid idiots who actually paid their water charges! Who can I talk to?

I was quickly given the usual “there is nothing I can do” line and was told to ring the court. I asked her if a lot of people ring with the same issue and she admitted it is a regular occurrence.

Change the stupid process maybe?!!

postman

I tried calling the court phone number she gave me and failed miserably to get past their answering machine – I guessed that would have been another pointless round of “there is nothing I can do” so I gave up.

A quick call to my solicitor confirmed that this bullshit system is what it is and the best advice was to attend at 10:30 as indicated.

Brilliant…a trip to Naas on a busy workday is all I needed!

I changed around my week so that I could make my court date. I left Cork early for Naas on the Thursday. I hoped the whole thing would be done quickly so I could make a meeting in Dublin in the afternoon. I told my client I might be delayed and quite frankly I was embarrassed about the whole court thing so I didn’t mention why.

As expected the court was a hive of activity with every sort hanging around, with many huddled in corners chatting to their solicitors.

The court clerk directed me to the lists on the wall. I was number 51 on the list in Court 1. I asked her if there was any chance that I would be gone by lunchtime. She expected I would be.

I made my way into the packed courtroom and found myself a space to sit on one of the many wooden benches. There was a very mixed crowd in the room including a bunch of tough looking lads in tracksuits near the front of the court.

The Judge got into the flow of his day with breakneck speed processing case after case.

The names were called and as each person approached the bench he shouted “Hearing date” at them.

That was the prompt to admit to the charge in question or look for a case date. It was clear that 90% of the cases were speeding fines and he flew through them one after another.

59 in a 50 – “sorry Judge, I was on holidays and missed the deadline for paying” – case dismissed!

146 in a 120 – “guilty” – “that’s a 300 euro fine. You have 6 months to pay

There was an interruption to the speeding fines to deal with one of the tough looking young lads that was in the court. It was hard to hear the conversation between the Judge and the barrister but it resulted in a hearing date and the young lad was led out of the court in handcuffs. It looked like he was quite used to this environment.

An older woman’s name was called and she shuffled to the top of the room on her bad legs “Hearing date” …”I have two already” was her response. She thought he said “hearing aid“. The whole court room giggled as well as the judge.

She received a fine.

Another poor old man who clearly needed a hearing aid tried to explain that he had paid his fine but it got lost in the post. “Case dismissed

The man was told he didn’t have to pay his fine.

Was I missing something – why not pay the fine?

Eventually my name was called and I made my way to the top of the courtroom. “Hearing date?

I accept the speeding charge but I never received the fine, your honour” I explained.

Do you want a hearing date?” he repeated.

I repeated what I said and he asked me again about a hearing date.

I’m happy to pay a fine but I didn’t receive a notice

The Judge looked at me and paused and asked carefully if I had taken legal advice and I explained that my advice was that I should attend. He gave me a look.

I was clearly missing something.

He offered to swear me into evidence at the end of the court sitting as a way to resolve this. I explained to him that I just needed to get to Dublin and was okay with paying a fine.

150 euros fine” and then he said the strangest thing “did you ever hear the expression ‘never look a gift horse in the mouth’?

Was he saying I could have got away without paying a fine – surely not?

As I walked out of the court, anxious to make my appointment in Dublin, a guy grabbed my arm and enlightened me.

You just cost yourself extra penalty points. It’s all or nothing, he was giving you a way out!

It’s all or nothing – the judge can’t insist on you paying a fine and waive the second part, which is the extra penalty for not paying. This stupid system is costing the country as the judge must dismiss the case and waive the speeding fine or else charge you in full!

Damn – I messed up.

While I was totally frustrated at this point I had to be happy with my decision to get out of there and make my client meeting.

This system is totally crazy – one fine by regular post that never reached me, no reminders, four house calls by a busy Garda, a court wasting valuable time and resources and I wasted a whole day including the cost of travel.

I guarantee 100% that if you drove through the M50 auto toll heading to Dublin airport and you did not pay your toll fee then they would track you down with notices, reminders and further notices.

The following day I read how the government agency, Tusla sent a written apology to the Garda whistleblower, Maurice McCabe because of their fiasco with the false sex accusations. Ironically the whistle blowing was about members of the Gardaí squashing speeding fines.

Their apology went to the wrong address!

There is a of time being wasted by An Garda Siochána and the courts because of really poor systems that results in ordinary folk being dragged unfairly to court on nonsense charges..come on!!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service agencu that offers Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

Pillars of Society to be exposed?

June 23, 2015

Betrayal

I knew something was wrong with my buddy. I had known this for a while as he just hadn’t been his normal colourful, jovial full of beans, self.

I’ll tell you another time” was what I got from him the few times I pushed to figure out what was wrong.

Eventually he started to open up “I’ve really messed up, I’ve been an awful fool” he began.

I’ve lent the guys some money to help them keep things afloat before they bring in investors and I’m starting to get worried that I won’t get it back“. He was talking about the two guys he was working for.

It might sound totally off the wall that an employee would lend his employers money for their business but this was just typical of him.

In truth he can’t “work for anyone“. He gives everything 1,000% as he has done in every aspect of his life for as long as I have known him. He is passionate, he takes ownership and he gives absolutely everything to things and people he cares about. In this case this unrivalled passion had out him and his family in a very vulnerable position.

Early days

To be honest I was surprised and concerned when I heard he was working with this crew as in the trade they always had quite a poor reputation for not paying their bills etc.

I mentioned these rumours to him when he took the job but he was convinced that they were legit and while they had cash flow problems it was because they had overextended themselves (just like half the business people in the country). He felt they were good guys underneath it all and he was going to do everything to help them pull through this challenging time.

As usual he gave this job everything, hardly ever taking a day off and as always working every spare minute – I was worried that he would burn himself out. During the course of his time working there he introduced me and I got to know the two guys he worked for, one in particular. They were quite open about how thrilled they were with my friend and the job he was doing for them but they were also concerned that he was doing too much.

Waiting on investment

As mentioned earlier it turns out that besides working every hour that god sends he also lent them a significant amount of money – they were about to bring in an investor into part of the business and a deal was supposed to be close. However the cash flow situation was critical so they needed emergency funds to tide the business over until this deal was over the line – without these funds there was a risk that the business would literally implode. The banks were in no mood to lend money.

On this basis he lent them personal money to help tide them over until the date when the investment money came through – of course this was crazy but if my buddy believes in something or someone he would do anything to help them.

It started with a relatively modest amount of money – the investment process was delayed so more was required. There were further delays so even more was required and this went on and on for months. In the end it accumulated to quite a huge sum, enough to buy a house – at this stage he was virtually putting in money to protect the money he had already put in or else all would be lost.

Deal done

Eventually the investors insisted on a 100% buyout and a deal was done, much to the relief of my buddy. Unfortunately at this point in time his relationship with his bosses had broken down, primarily because of this money situation and when he looked for the return of this nothing was forthcoming.

I even jumped into the middle of this situation to see if I could do anything by way of mediation as I could see this situation getting very nasty – while they acknowledged to me that they owed him the money they insisted that they were not in a position to repay it and could only manage this over a period of more than 10 years.

My buddy who bailed out these “friends” with his own personal nest-egg was now totally caught and had to resort to the courts to force the return of his money.

Pillars of Society

In my view what happened next was one of the most despicable, disgusting things that I have ever witnessed in business.

These “friends” that he literally tried to save were now denying that they ever received any money, they went on to discredit the job he did, they called his character into question, they accused him of ruining their business, they accused him of turning up for work drunk (this man didn’t have a minute to relax and have a drink!) and they accused him of putting them in fear of their lives.

I can see the deep hurt, stress, pain and worry that this has been caused to my buddy and his family – he was prepared to do anything for these modern day businessmen, his “friends” and this is what he got in return.

Not only did they take his money but they were now trying to rob every inch of his character and his reputation.

These are respected businessmen in the community with one holding a very prestigious position in a national members organisation: Pillars of our Society!

While this story is unbelievable I have sadly witnessed lots of similar stories (admittedly, none quite as nasty and as horrible as this one) where great, honest people have been taken advantage of by people with no scruples and no morals who feel this is all ‘just business‘.

Justice?

My buddy has no choice but to take this case all the way to the courts and I sincerely hope that these ‘pillars of society‘ will be exposed for everyone’s benefit and that my friend and his family will get their hard earned nest-egg back.

Unfortunately they have taken much more than his money and someone who would do anything for anyone will no longer be quite the same.

I hope justice will finally be done..

Greg Canty

Note: 24th July, 2016 

After publishing this post originally I had second thoughts as I felt it might upset my buddy and his family so I put the post to sleep.

I’ve since reflected on this and feel it is better that we talk about these things as we must all do our utmost to make sure that people in business behave properly, with morals and scruples.

Ironically after putting this blog post “to sleep” I received a letter from the solicitor who was representing these two guys instructing me to remove my blog post (it obviously got to them – I hope they read it properly and had an opportunity to reflect on their actions) as it was defamatory against his clients.

I politely responded to their solicitor indicating that the post was not ‘live‘ and that even if it was there was no mention of them anywhere so it could not be defamatory. If they recognised themselves in the post that’s not really my issue.

I love how people like this think that they can behave appallingly and then if anyone says anything bad about their behaviour they jump up and down feeling that they are the ones who have been wronged!!

If you wish to read more about defamation and protecting your reputation check out a post I wrote on this very topic.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR, Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

 

Turning the screw

April 28, 2013

Cork in the sun !

This blog post has been written and re-written so many times. I have deliberated about publishing it as it is quite a negative one.

Every journey has number of bumps and mine is no different – this is one of my big bumps!

Let’s hit that button!!

Publish

The sun was splitting the stones as I walked through Cork city on a gorgeous Saturday ten years ago with Dee and my kids, Brendan and Ellen.

It was a perfect day but my head was about to burst … I was far from perfect.

The torturing turning of the screw was full on and one of the owners wanted this pushy, challenging, drive forward, energetic, self minded General Manager out of their company.

Because of an underlying dispute between the joint owners of the company a big attempt was made a few years before by one of the parties to force me out and I managed, probably out of pure stubbornness to stick in there, putting up with the horrible atmosphere, beating every target and meeting every challenge that they put before me.

Company performance had never been better, we were making good profits and earlier, devious attempts to turn my management team against me had failed with the opposite now happening.

In a tough, competitive environment we were thriving.

The final straw was me taking on someone new on a commission arrangement with the Chairman’s permission – one of the owners felt this was reckless behaviour and coupled with a few other concocted incidents it was deemed that I was not to be trusted any more.

Walk the PlankAfter a visit by the new managing director of this global business it was decided that this boy would have to provide a detailed list of his movements for each week in advance, mornings and afternoons.

If the relevant powers decided this schedule was not appropriate it could be altered. His words were that “I was manager in name only and had to run all of my actions through someone else“.

Excellent!

I had better things to do with my life than put up with this stupidity and being constantly caught in the owners crossfire and on that sunny Saturday I decided I was done. I went home and wrote my letter informing them that my position was untenable and that I would leave in the near future.

A few weeks later I left to work on my own projects.

People ask me was it difficult (my folks thought I had lost my marbles!) to move from a good, secure, extremely well paid  job into self employment – in truth when that decision came it was not a difficult one.

Despite my considerable financial commitments (just like everyone) I had arrived at a point in my life where it was the only decision left to be made. Easy!

This turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made but I didn’t appreciate the heavy hands on my back.

Many felt I should take a legal route with my ex-employers but I decided it was better and healthier to focus all of my energy in a positive direction so that I could achieve my new goals and put bread on the table. However, ten years later it still lingers in the back of my mind and I remember the horrible feeling at that time.

It’s really important to me that I enjoy what I do and that in Fuzion we provide a great work environment for all of our team.

I call it #WinHappy

If you find that a screw is being turned on you do your best to take control.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion (for ten years now!)

Handling the pressure of not being able to pay your debts

September 18, 2011
Handling the pressure of debt

Under Pressure

I guess a lot of people are finding themselves in a situation today where they just don’t have the funds to pay what they owe.

What do you do when you find yourself in this situation? – how do you deal with it, how do you cope, how do you handle those phone calls, how do you handle the pressure?

Unless you have been in the situation before do you know what to do or how you would react?

Will you avoid all calls and email requests, will you make promises you just can’t keep, will you tell lies about cheques that have been sent or will you take every call and be up front and honest with every single caller as to what the situation is and how you intend sorting it out?

Will you promise your creditor an update within a fixed time period and actually deliver this update?

When you are in this spot more than likely on one hand you are fighting for survival, for solutions while at the same time trying to deal with this mixture of creditors – angry, understanding, patient, worried all demanding their payments.

A number of years back I found myself in this spot – I was selling the business I was a joint partner of, I had my figures done, money in and money owed. The theory was perfect – I would have enough from the proceeds to comfortably settle all monies due and even have a good balance left over!! A fine reward for 12 years of hard work..

A few things went badly wrong (a landlord deliberately delaying the lease assignment for over a year was the main problem, which caused huge problems as we were operating month to month) and I found myself with a significant shortfall – the day I did my tally that awful, sick sinking feeling just took over my body and I broke into a cold sweat realising that I was in a financial hole.

When that awful sick feeling and sheer panic eventually subsided (this stayed with me for at least a week – a dark place to be) I had to start dealing with the situation.

The supplier phone calls ? I could tell you that I took every one as they came in but honestly I couldn’t handle them, I had enough on my plate trying to get my head right and deal with the situation and I just wasn’t able to cope with these calls at the same time. I had never actually dealt with the suppliers directly, which definitely made it easier.

When I started to calm down I made my plan. I asked my good friend and accountant Tom Sheehan of TA Sheehan & Co in Cork to help.

We figured out how much we could pay everyone and Tom took over the job of negotiating with each supplier. I corresponded with all suppliers by fax (I just wasn’t able for the phone calls) and passed on Tom’s details – he took it from there and successfully settled with all of them. The business had dealings with most of these suppliers for over 12 years so I reckoned that they had made plenty from me over the years – either way I could not pay them what I did not have.

This was a horrible time in my life and I’m sure it was quite unpleasant for those my business owed money to – most of these were big multinationals but some were small businesses and I am sure these were quite worried at the time.

Was I honourable? I guess I was in the end but I do know how difficult it was to deal with those calls – for a while I did hide and I did need help to deal with the situation.

My advice for anyone in this tight spot – do what you can but don’t hide, if you need help then ask for it. Stay honourable ..

PS: Thank you Tom – the help you gave me at this time I’ll never forget and it kept me sane!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Are you doing Bad Business?

July 27, 2011
Judge Judy

Are you doing Bad Business?

I sat in the corridors of the Cork District Court for about 6 hours last week waiting for a really stupid case to be heard between us and our previous landlord.

Apparently Monday is HSE day at the District Court and these cases can drag on a little if they are not settled – the whole scenario is very strange with all sorts wandering around, many bored and others huddled in corners negotiating and planning. The odd person walks by with tears in their eyes – didn’t quite work out the way they wanted!

I wasted a full day at the court, my solicitor wasted a full day and the people on the other side wasted a full day, the judge wasted his time for something that should never have gone as far as the court.

Who won? – truthfully.. no one  – I felt like I was in an episode of Judge Judy and the the outcome was fine from my point of view with  Judge O’Leary (I was not expecting his approach to the case) slapping the landlord across the knuckles for not being better at minding his building and his “customers”. To be fair to the Judge it was late in the day and he must have been tired and not in the mood to listen to this “nothing” case – there must be a better way of ensuring that court time does not get taken up with rubbish? He did however give the case his full attention.

It was quite funny as I presented pictures of the front of the old building to the judge – the old saying, a picture paints a  1,000 words applied as the Judge reviewed the cobwebs on top of cobwebs pictures and then listened to how the landlord visits the building up to two times a week and checks everything. The other side argued that the pictures were irrelevant as they were just taken!

My day was  worth a lot more than the outcome and the pointless hassle that went on. A little bit of reasonableness and this could have been long sorted – the eventual result? – a compromise offer I made to sort it out 6 months beforehand is exactly where the whole thing eventually turned out! Having said all that I am sure that the little experience of sitting in the box, preparing an argument will stand to me later down the line for more stupidity at some point.

This was all about Bad Business ..

Day one we had hassle with this guy even before the lease was signed – ultimatums etc – Trust your gut and walk away when you get any hint of this – we didn’t – Bad Business

We have secured a judgement against a business in Dublin that we were dealing with and who owed us a lot of money – they still haven’t paid after a lot of hassle. They were terrible from the very first moment – not turning up for meetings and then leaving us wait forever at other times. They were inefficient, sloppy, constantly changing staff and changing their minds. We should have trusted our gut and walked away, we didn’t – Bad Business

I’m sure most of you have heard about Famous and the Credit Control Warrior at this stage – just read my blog about this saga. This is another one that will do the rounds with solicitors. We wasted more time working on the account and more again chasing what is due to us. I should probably leave it off at this stage but I don’t want him to get 1% satisfaction of walking away from anything after the way we were laughed at when we looked for our payment (I’m getting angry again just thinking about it). We should have trusted our gut in the first place and never agreed to take on this work, we didn’t  – Bad Business

We deal with a printer who are really awful to deal with. They are some of the most unpleasant people that we have to deal with. We still buy from them as their prices and quality are good – as soon as another viable option  comes along we are using someone else. I resent placing orders with them and hate ever having to lift the phone to deal with them  – Bad Business

Often the Bad Business is our own fault as we should know better and trust our instincts from the beginning. I guess at times in the depths of recession you will take on business if things are quiet but this doesn’t change the eventual outcome.

Are you doing Bad Business?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

The Waiting Room Etiquette

May 15, 2011

Who waits for who?

Sitting in the waiting room for my solicitor and I start to wonder..

What does your waiting room and your waiting room etiquette say about you and your business? In my case, on this visit it probably doesn’t really matter too much as I am already a customer/client but what about your  prospects?

It’s funny but I pretty much knew that I would be kept waiting so I came prepared!

Who goes to who for meetings is another strange dynamic that varies industry by industry – for some reason with solicitors you always end up going to see them – how did that happen? At what point did that become the norm? I can understand in some industries how it needs to be that way but with solicitors, I’m not sure why?

Ok, you have done the travelling and in nearly every case you end up waiting in the waiting room for a while before they are ready to see you. I guess the solicitor could be on a call, finishing a meeting or maybe having a quick glance over your file before they are ready for you.

The customer coming to see them is definitely a big time saver for them but I’m not sure if they get a good grasp of what you and your business is all about – if they are representing you that should be important? At least some of the time it would be good.

I’m writing this by the way on my iPad while I am waiting! Now I am on a roll and don’t want to be disturbed ..

The carpet is a little worn and the seating area is a bit tired and shabby. The window on the door is cracked a little and the magazines on display are over a year old and there is even a little basket of kids toys! Hmmm..interesting client mix!

Oh, I’m up ..

Well, she apologised for keeping me waiting as she always does and we conducted our business efficiently enough after a little bit of general chit chat.

I wander back to our office and think about who comes to see us, what do they think of our waiting area and if I keep them waiting when they arrive?

Mustn’t do that …. They might start blogging about me!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion