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Suspension arose from involvement in industrial dispute, which HSE allegedly found was not authorised 
The High Court has ordered the Health Service Executive (HSE) to halt a disciplinary hearing, scheduled for this Tuesday, into the actions of a paramedic who was suspended from work 40 months ago. 
The employee’s suspension arose from his involvement in an industrial dispute, which the HSE allegedly found was not authorised. 
Helen Callanan SC told the High Court on Monday that her client would be at risk of dismissal if the February 8th hearing was to proceed. Her legal team had asked the HSE to postpone the hearing pending the outcome of these judicial review proceedings but the request was refused, she said. 
Mr Justice Meenan said he would usually be reluctant to grant a stay when the HSE was not represented in court and when the issue has been alive since October 2018. However, since the man was not currently engaged in employment duties, the judge said he could not see how the HSE would be prejudiced by him making the interim order sought. 
In a sworn statement, the advanced paramedic claims he had participated in an October 2018 industrial action authorised by his trade union, the Ambulance Service Representative Association (NASRA), which is a branch of the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA). 
The worker claimed he joined the dispute with his fellow PNA-NASRA members and “at all material times” he worked within the confinements and remit of the industrial action. He claimed he “at no stage” refused to respond to calls and he would “never have put anyone’s health or welfare at risk”. 
The work-to-rule action involved standing down vehicles that do not comply with the daily inspections or with health and safety legislation and various other safety conditions, he said. 
During the action, the man said, he twice stood down the ambulance he was assigned upon allegedly finding the medicines bag on board was not fully stocked. However, upon alerting central ambulance control in both instances he followed instructions to drive to another station to collect the missing medications, he claimed. 
On another occasion during the action, he allegedly notified his supervisor that he was missing various items, including his National Ambulance Service identification card as per the staff policy. While he was then supplied with most of the items, the man claims a superior refused to provide written instruction authorising him to work without his ID card. 
He alleges that it was after this that the superior informed him that his union was not recognised and that he was being stood down from his duties. He said he was shocked to have been suspended, but he alleged that this superior had had a “negative attitude” towards him for a number of years. 
The employee said he was surprised when a HSE report into the allegations against him allegedly made a finding that there had been no authorised industrial action on the dates in October 2018. The finding was made without the matter having been put to him by the investigator, he claimed. 
He said he could face dismissal on foot of the report, which he claimed has made a “significant error” in relation to the basis for his defence. 
In the substantive proceedings, the applicant seeks an order quashing the HSE’s October 2018 decision to suspend him from work, as well as the subsequent investigation report. 
He is also asking the court to issue an order that would prohibit the HSE from further disciplining him in relation to the complaint about these events. He also seeks various declarations, including that his suspension for over three years was disproportionate. 
The matter was adjourned to next month, but Mr Justice Meenan granted liberty to the HSE to apply in the meantime if it wanted to vary or remove the stay. 
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