Statement re: Eduardo Ramos
The Department of Foreign Affairs regrets the distorted manner in which the media has been briefed on this matter.
As the Department has repeatedly pointed out, housekeeping staff in Embassy residences are the personal employees of the incumbent Ambassador. The Department's rules are quite explicit on this point and reflect international practice. The rules are long established and have been consistently implemented, including during Padraic MacKernan's recent term as Secretary General.
The personal nature of the contract is illustrated by the circumstances of this case. Eduardo Ramos was initially employed by Ambassador MacKernan in Washington as a tutor to meet particular requirements within the MacKernan family. He moved with Ambassador MacKernan between different Embassies, except during the Ambassador's period as Secretary General of the Department in Dublin.
As incoming Ambassador to Paris, Ambassador Anderson wishes to have the opportunity to exercise her personal discretion in making an appointment to this sensitive domestic post. A number of considerations are relevant in making this choice, including professional qualifications. In a private letter to Ambassador MacKernan, Ambassador Anderson also explained that in her personal circumstances and given the nature of some of the housekeeping tasks involved, she would have a preference for a female employee in this role.
The employment of household staff in any home is clearly a very personal matter. The official Embassy residence is also the private home of the incumbent Ambassador. The Department has always respected this fact and very many Heads of Mission – including Ambassador MacKernan in all his posts as Ambassador - have exercised their right to choose their own members of household staff.
The Department requires that members of household staff are fully informed that their contract of employment terminates with the posting of the individual Ambassador. It also requires that the terms of the contract are fully respected and notice given as appropriate. In this particular case, the incoming Ambassador emphasised that Mr. Ramos should be treated with consideration and suggested that Ambassador MacKernan might give Mr. Ramos a three and a half month period of notice rather than the one month specified in his contract.
The Department respects the position of household employees in official residences abroad but cannot accept that media briefing should become part of a campaign for compensation. It will respond as appropriate to the legal action which has been initiated on behalf of Mr. Ramos.
17 June 2005