Varadkar calls for ‘no tolerance’ of workplace harassment

Joan Burton says claims of what happened women at Gate Theatre ‘hardly actually believable’

 Minister for Arts Heather Humphries was meeting the Arts Council to discuss allegations of sexual harassment at the Gate Theatre in Dublin.   File photograph:  Matt Kavanagh.

Minister for Arts Heather Humphries was meeting the Arts Council to discuss allegations of sexual harassment at the Gate Theatre in Dublin. File photograph: Matt Kavanagh.

 

The Taoiseach has said there should be “no tolerance” of assault, sexual harassment or bullying in any workplace.

Leo Varadkar was speaking in the Dáil on Tuesday before Minister for Arts Heather Humphries met the Arts Council to discuss allegations of sexual harassment at the Gate Theatre in Dublin.

A number of former female employees at the Gate have made allegations of bullying and sexual harassment against its former director Michael Colgan. Mr Colgan has yet to respond publicly to the allegations.

Mr Varadkar said he had discussed the matter with Ms Humphries and that “there can be no tolerance, in my view, of assault or sexual harassment or bullying of any sort in any workplace”.

Mr Varadkar said he was full of admiration for people who came forward to tell their stories.

Independent investigation

He said the Gate was a private institution, with its own board, but that it was incumbent on the company to put in place an independent investigation to ensure the allegations were thoroughly investigated.

He said he did not believe issues of bullying and sexual harassment were unique to any one sector. “I think they are probably prevalent in society.”

The Taoiseach was replying to Labour TD Joan Burton, who said the Gate was a significant recipient of public funds over the years and the Government should take a leadership role on the matter.

A spokeswoman for Ms Humphries confirmed last night the Minister held an exploratory meeting with the Arts Council to discuss bullying and sexual harassment in the arts sector. Further discussions would take place in the coming days and an announcement on the issue would be made in due course, she said.

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