Colgan accuser won't engage with Gate Theatre HR expert until board are replaced

Update 9.21pm: One of the women who has accused Michael Colgan of inappropriate behaviour has said she will not engage with an independent HR expert appointed by the Gate Theatre.

This evening, the Gate announced that Gaye Cunningham, an industrial relations expert, would contact those who have made complaints.

The Gate said it takes claims of abuse of power relating to Mr Colgan extremely seriously.

Grace Dyas, who was the first woman to raise concerns about Mr Colgan publicly, said neither she nor the other six women who have complained about the former Gate Director are comfortable with the current makeup of the board.

Grace believes that people who sat on the board with Michael Colgan should be replaced, and until then, she will not engage with Ms Cunningham.

"I feel that the statement released today moves this on no further except to say that we've hired Gaye Cunningham," she said

"It's exactly the same proposition that the Gate made to the public when they published that they would appoint a HR person and that they could email a confidential email address," she added.

Earlier: The Gate Theatre has issued a statement addressing allegations of "inappropriate behaviour and abuse of power by the former Director of The Gate Theatre".

"We take extremely seriously the allegations and reports which have emerged over past weeks in relation to inappropriate behaviour and abuse of power by the former Director of The Gate Theatre (“the Gate”), Michael Colgan", it said.

"It is essential to the Gate's culture, and its future, that anyone who works for it, or has any dealings with it, is treated with respect and is not subjected to harassment, bullying or discrimination of any type."

The Gate Theatre statement went on to reveal that they have appointed an independent expert to conduct a review into the allegations.

"We have listened to the views of the people who have come forward in recent days, as well as various other stakeholders, and taken on board the concerns and feedback expressed.

"We have today taken the decision to appoint Gaye Cunningham as an independent expert. Ms. Cunningham will conduct an independent review of the matter and deal, in a confidential and transparent manner, with any complaints forthcoming, having regard to allowing for due process to all parties concerned.

The report is expected in January of next year.

Ms Cunningham has been a Rights Commissioner since 2008 and she will contact any current or former staff members who have spoken out on the record.

The Gate have said that other people wishing to come forward with concerns can contact Ms Cunningham directly via cunninghamconfidential@outlook.ie and that any emails already sent to confidential@gate-theatre.ie will be accessed only by Ms Cunningham and that account will be subsequently closed.

"We are fully committed to taking the necessary steps to deal professionally and compassionately with the issues arising,” they said.

Meanwhile, board members and senior staff of arts and culture organisations are to be sent on workshops on bullying, abuse of power, and sexual harassment in the workplace, according to Minister for Culture Heather Humphreys.

“In recent times, there have been a number of alarming allegations and reports of sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace relating to the arts community,” she said.

“While all workplaces are obliged to comply with employment legislation, I have identified a number of actions that I can take as minister in relation to the bodies reporting to my department.”


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