The Ulster Unionist Party's Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy today confirmed that he would not appeal the Fair Employment Tribunal’s decision in a case brought by Dr Alan Lennon.
In June the Tribunal upheld Dr Lennon’s claim of religious discrimination in relation to a public appointment selection process for the Chair of Northern Ireland Water.
Confirming his decision not to appeal the Minister said: “I have considered the merits of an appeal and I have come to the conclusion that it is not in the public interest. The prospect of success in any appeal is at best uncertain.
“Substantial public money has already been spent contesting this case and I have considered the additional significant costs of any appeal in making my decision. Both sides have been funded by public money and this would continue to be the case in further proceedings.
“Even if an appeal was successful this may result in further proceedings before a Tribunal, incurring a greater cost to the public purse. Such costs are unquantifiable at this time.
“I also acknowledge that a Tribunal is more often than not in the best position to assess evidence and its value. Therefore I am not satisfied it is in the public interest to appeal this matter.
“It is important to note that the Tribunal decision sets no precedent in respect of public appointments.”
Danny Kennedy added: “The Tribunal’s finding relates to a specific complaint brought by Dr Lennon and it is not my intention to review any of the appointments made under the tenure of my predecessor.
“I have seen the good work performed by a range of people appointed before I came into office. As the current Minister for the Department for Regional Development I want to confirm my continued commitment to public appointments having due regard to the Commissioner for Public Appointments Code of Practice.”
The Minister concluded: “I will ensure my Department discusses the issues arising out of the Tribunal hearing with the Equality Commission and the Commissioner for Public Appointments in Northern Ireland.”