Secret “Bias” Tapes Played

Posted By: March 29, 2013

The Irish News (Belfast)
December 13, 1995
by Phellm McAleer

Secret tapes which allegedly show that a Catholic man’s promotion in the Ford motor plant was blocked by a senior executive were played at the fair employment tribunal yesterday.
The tape was made by Tom Irvine, who claims he was the victim of religious and political discrimination when he applied for the post of training officer within the company in May 1992.
In a meeting with personnel officer, Brendan Callaghan, Mr. Irvine repeatedly asked if he was the best candidate for the job and the choice of the interview panel.
Earlier he told the tribunal that in a private conversation with the senior personnel officer, John Cooley, he was told his appointment was being blocked by a senior executive.
Although initially denying the allegation. Ford has recently admitted Mr. Irvine’s promotion was vetoed by a senior manager based in England, Stuart Hamer.
In the recording played to the tribunal, Mr. Callaghan is heard to tell Mr. Irvine:
“Now I’m aware. You are aware. There is more to that f***ing training officer thing than somebody will say to them.”
According to the recording Mr. Callaghan said he was: “Conscious of not being left holding the baby. Where I am responsible for decisions being made by guys…that I have not even met.”
Mr. Irvine told the tribunal his interpretation of the conversation: “I knew exactly what he was talking about. He meant people higher above him have interfered with the interview process.”
Mr. Irvine described the interference as “totally unheard of and unprecedented.”
“I was astounded because there was no reason for Hamer’s involvement. This was a job in the Belfast plant reporting to a Belfast manager who in turn reported to the Belfast plant manager.”
He told the tribunal Mr. Hamer’s intervention could only have come about because of Mr. Irvine’s “Catholic beliefs and perceived political opinions.”
Earlier Mr. Irvine criticized the Interviewing panel for failing to use a scoring system for the applicants.
“It is crystal clear Ford Motor Company drove a coach and horses through the Fair Employment Commission code of practice.”
Mr. Irvine said he had been working in the personnel department for two years before he applied for the post in the same office.
He said the plant manager had specifically requested his help because of problems with training.
The case continues.