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Monday 21 May 2018

Taoiseach calls for independent inquiry into Gate allegations

Amy Huberman praised those who spoke out in the #metoo campaign
Amy Huberman praised those who spoke out in the #metoo campaign

An independent investigation should be established into allegations of sexual harassment and bullying at the Gate Theatre, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

The Taoiseach told the Dail there should be "no tolerance of assault, sexual harassment or bullying of any sort in any workplace".

"I want that message to go out very clearly," he said.

He was speaking after former tanaiste Joan Burton described allegations emerging from the Gate as "harrowing and grotesque".

Mr Varadkar praised women who have come forward to tell their stories, saying they "may help to change the climate and make people who may consider treating fellow workers, or people subordinate to them in the workplace, in such a beastly manner".

However, on the issue of allegations facing the former theatre director Michael Colgan, Mr Varadkar said the Gate is a private institution and not a public body.

"It has its own board and trustees, and it is incumbent on them to put in place an independent investigation to ensure the allegations made are thoroughly investigated," he said.

The Taoiseach has discussed the issue with Arts Minister Heather Humphreys, who has in turn met with members of the Arts Council to see if wider action needs to be taken in the sector.

However, Mr Varadkar added: "I do not believe for a second matters like bullying or sexual harassment are unique to any one sector.

"They are probably prevalent in society and I am full of admiration for the people who have come forward in this and other countries to tell their stories."

Leadership

Ms Burton said the descriptions of what has been happening "in partially publicly-funded employment is hardly believable".

"I know the Taoiseach does not have a direct role in this, but as a public funder I ask him or his Government to take a leadership role," she said.

Meanwhile, actress Amy Huberman has commended those who have spoken out about sexism in the entertainment industry.

The Striking Out star said she was unsurprised to hear accounts posted as part of the #MeToo campaign as "almost all women have experienced sexism to varying degrees".

"It's very brave to speak out, and I think it's important for women to have support, and to be heard and for things to change massively," she said.

The #MeToo campaign began in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault scandal, with women and men sharing their experiences of sexual harassment and sexism online.

The actress was attending the Jaguar Ireland Funds luncheon, hosted in the Merrion Hotel.

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