We should be shown respect, says board

Onchan Commissioners chairman Robin Turton

with new commissioner Chris Quirk, left

Onchan Commissioners chairman Robin Turton with new commissioner Chris Quirk, left

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The chairman of Onchan Commissioners has expressed disappointment over newspaper headlines about a newly-elected member – and says he has every confidence in him.

And one commissioner said board members deserved more respect.

Former police constable Chris Quirk was elected uncontested to Onchan District Commissioners in April.

But he was soon making the headlines when a fellow commissioner Rob Callister called for him to be suspended after it emerged he had been sacked from the local authority for an incident involving a knife.

Minutes of a meeting of the Commissioners note that a member ‘expressed disappointment regarding the press headlines that week.

‘Although the information is in the public arena, it was not made public and felt it may do a lot of damage to those new members coming forward. As the board comes to the end of its term of office more respect needs to be shown.’

Another member said there should be a period of adjustments for employees and management and felt there were flaws in the legislation.

Chairman Robin Turton also expressed disappointment over the headlines and ‘wished to state that he had every confidence in the staff of the authority’.

Isle of Man Newspapers reported that Mr Quirk was sacked from the authority in October 2014 following an incident in which he produced a knife during a row with the head boatman at Onchan Park. An employment tribunal last month upheld the Commissioners’ decision to dismiss him on grounds of gross misconduct from his job as by-law enforcement officer.

Mr Quirk, who had been employed by Onchan Commissioners as a community warden since January 2006, became angry when he returned from a period of leave in May 2014 to find his long outdoor coat issued as part of his job was being used by the head boatman at Onchan Park, John Mullins.

On June 1, Mr Quirk approached Mr Mullins in the park. ‘There followed a verbal exchange which involved the claimant producing a knife from his pocket, the claimant maintains to show Mr Mullins, the respondent maintains in an intimidating manner,’ records the tribunal.

In his statement of witness, Mr Quirk insisted at no time was Mr Mullins threatened or intimidated. He insisted he had shown him the knife when he was accused of taking his screwdriver.

But dismissing his case, the tribunal unanimously agreed that ‘producing a knife, exposing its blade and tapping Mr Mullins on the back with it in an atmosphere of animosity between the two men could reasonably be considered as intimidating, constituting gross misconduct’.

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