Former IPAV president resolves case with institute

Gerry Coffey resolves case on confidential terms

The former president of the professional body for auctioneers has resolved on confidential terms a Workplace Relations Commission complaint in which he alleged “penalisation” by the organisation.

Co Galway auctioneer Gerry Coffey resigned one year ago from his role at the top of the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers, saying he was refused access to financial records and frozen out from key decisions. He had clashed with the body’s chief executive Pat Davitt, claiming he set out to “frustrate and suppress” him.

The institute represents some 1,500 auctioneers, promoting professional standards for estate agents and property valuers.

The case was scheduled for a three-day hearing beginning on Monday. However, WRC adjudicator Jim Dolan adjourned the opening of proceedings to allow for settlement talks between the parties.


“The good news is that matters have been resolved between the parties and there’s no need for my intervention,” Mr Dolan said later. “The file will be closed three weeks from today.”

In a joint statement on Monday, the parties said: “Ipav and Mr Gerry Coffey have resolved all and any issues between them and endeavour to put the recent period of dispute behind them.”

The statement was confirmed by John Hennessy, solicitor for Mr Coffey, and Jason Murray BL, who acted for the Ipav.

Mr Coffey, whose business is based in Williamstown in Co Galway, was an unsuccessful local election candidate in Co Roscommon for Fine Gael in 2019. He is not a candidate in the local election in June.

Last May, the Ipav said it received Mr Coffey’s resignation with regret but added that it had come after the Ipav’s national council (board) “unanimously” upheld a complaint against him “made by the CEO in his capacity as an employee”.

Mr Coffey said the issue centred on allegations he slammed his hand on a table in a board meeting.

The former president took a complaint against the Ipav in November seeking a WRC adjudication under the Protected Disclosures Act of 2014.

That legislation allows an employee to seek redress for an alleged contravention of the Act by an employer. According to the Act, an employer “shall not penalise or threaten penalisation against an employee, or cause or permit any other person to penalise or threaten penalisation against an employee, for having made a protected disclosure”.

Both Mr Coffey and Mr Davitt were present at the WRC on Monday before settlement talks began.

A preliminary hearing in February was told evidence may be required from 14 or 15 witnesses, up six for Mr Coffey and up to eight for the Ipav.

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times