By Sarah Mac Donald - 18 July, 2017
Of the 43 part-time centre-based secretaries who were offered either a statutory redundancy payment or revised conditions involving reduced hours and pay, 21 took redundancy option.
The President of Accord, Bishop Denis Nulty, has acknowledged that job losses at Accord have been the “most painful part” of the agency’s two-year restructuring process.
In a statement, Dr Nulty said he was aware of the anxiety felt by Accord people and was sorry that such upset had been experienced.
The bishops’ marriage care service has seen its resources and staff reduced in a rationalisation plan which has also seen the agency establish three new limited companies.
The three companies will represent Accord in Dublin, Northern Ireland, and the 35 centres in the rest of the country including Central Office in Maynooth.
Forty-three part-time centre-based secretaries were offered either a statutory redundancy payment or revised conditions involving reduced hours and pay.
Twenty-one staff took the redundancy option. No redundancies were made in either Dublin or in Northern Ireland. In 2014, redundancies were made in Central Office.
From 2011 to 2015, State grants to Accord’s marriage preparation and marriage and relationship counselling services were reduced by almost 54 per cent. Since 2015, the State withdrew its funding for Accord’s marriage preparation courses.
The review of Accord involved information meetings and consultation with membership and staff, and this was overseen by Bishop Nulty.
This consisted of correspondence and meetings at national, regional and individual level in order to brief personnel on developments and address concerns arising from Accord’s changing structure and reduced resources.
Commenting on Accord’s restructuring process, Bishop Nulty said, “Accord’s pastoral services to soon-to-be married couples, and to couples who require counselling, are recognised throughout Ireland for their high professional standard and as invaluable supports to the sacrament of marriage. This is due to the dedication of our marriage preparation facilitators, marriage and relationship counsellors and staff.
“Over our 55-year history they have been most generous in their commitment to serving the common good and we, as a society, are all the better for it. At a human level, therefore, reducing staff numbers has been by far the most painful part of this restructuring process. From my discussions I am aware of the anxiety felt by Accord people on the ground and I am sorry that such upset has been experienced.
“It is my fervent prayer and hope that the staff who have left will find suitable employment if that is their wish, and that the restructured Accord will bring much needed stability to our organisation helping us to both contribute to the success of the World Meeting of Families next year and to effectively serve the needs of our clients into the future,” Bishop Nulty said.
The first Accord centre (formerly CMAC) was founded in Belfast in 1962. Accord aims to promote a deeper understanding of Christian marriage and offers people the means to safeguard and nourish their marriage and family relationships.
Accord operates in 55 centres throughout the island of Ireland – North and South. Heretofore Accord’s governance structure operated as an unincorporated association.
The restructured Accord will operate as three separate companies limited by guarantee: