A Belcoo man has admitted being made redundant from his job due to what he felt was his age made him feel “incredibly vulnerable”.

Seamus Gillespie, 62, worked for WD Irwin and Son Bakery for over 30 years - he loved his role as a sales manager and regarded himself as a “loyal and dedicated employee”.

In August 2022 he was made redundant, leaving him devastated.

Mr. Gillespie then took an age discrimination case against his former employer, which was this week settled for £75,000.

“I had no choice but to challenge how I was treated,” he said. “I’m glad my case is now settled, although I would rather that none of this had happened in the first place.”

The case was supported by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and was settled without admission of liability by the company.

Seamus, who worked for the well-known bakery since 1991, alleged that he was told in early 2021 that the company was looking for younger professional people from a “blue-chip background”.

He believes this was because the company thought the age profile of staff within the business was a problem.

He also alleged that he was informed that he would lose some accounts when a vacant post of ‘Business Unit Controller’ was to be filled. He believed this would result in him losing a significant proportion of his work, leaving him at risk of redundancy.

In August 2022, Mr Gillespie was informed of a project involving changes in distribution but was not included in the relevant discussions about it.

Mr. Gillespie was advised in September 2022 that he was at risk of redundancy. He was placed in a redundancy pool of one, and during redundancy meetings claimed that comments were made regarding the age profile of the senior management team being all of “one ilk and age.”

Mr. Gillespie was made redundant, and his appeal was not upheld.

“It was just devastating,” he explained. “All of a sudden you didn’t have an income, security. You didn’t have any basic hope for the future.”

“I worked for Irwins for over 30 years. I enjoyed my job, I was a dedicated, hardworking and loyal employee, with lots of experience.

“But it was very clear to me, following discussions with management, that my career with the company was over.

“I firmly believed the decision to make me redundant was based solely on my age.”