Belfast Telegraph

Ex-MLA's relief at collapse of case brought by SDLP colleague's daughter

By Donna Deeney

An ex-East Londonderry MLA has broken his silence about a bitter fallout with former SDLP colleague John Dallat after the collapse of an industrial tribunal.

Mr Dallat's daughter, Helena Dallat O'Driscoll, accused Gerry Mullan of discriminating against her on the basis of her gender and marital status by refusing to employ her as his constituency manager in 2016.

The case, which was due back in court this month, was struck off in July after Mrs O'Driscoll failed to pay a fee of £200 to allow it to proceed.

At the time, the presiding judge told Mrs O'Driscoll's legal team there was "little or no reasonable chance" of success.

Mr Mullan told the Belfast Telegraph that he felt compelled to speak out so that there would be no cloud hanging over his character.

"Only after serious reflection have I decided to speak publicly about the traumatic circumstances in which I found myself following my election to Stormont," he said.

"The fact that one of the most stressful and potentially damaging episodes for both my entire family and myself has at last been brought to its rightful conclusion gives me no great pleasure or cause for celebration.

"Mrs O'Driscoll was left in no doubt that the case of discrimination that she tried to bring against me had little or no chance of success.

"I am pleased the judge saw how flimsy her accusations were and that she didn't pursue the case, which allowed it to be struck off, and that the cloud hanging over my good character has now been lifted.

"Defending myself against what I consider to be totally vexatious and unfounded charges of discrimination and unfair treatment has proved to be very costly both in terms of legal fees and the stress that automatically accompanies such matters."

A feud between Mr Mullan, Mr Dallat and the SDLP was played out in public after the party selected Mr Dallat as its candidate for East Londonderry in the Assembly election in March this year instead of Mr Mullan, who was the sitting MLA.

The Belfast Telegraph attempted to speak to Mrs O'Driscoll and Mr Dallat about the matter, but without success.

However, a spokesman for the party said: "The SDLP rejects Mr Mullan's narrative."

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