Ireland Allegations must be taken seriously, but we can't assume they're true - Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

16:26  07 november  2017
16:26  07 november  2017 Source:   Independent.ie

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Earlier: Leo Varadkar will be elected the youngest ever Taoiseach this afternoon when the Dáil meets. Mr Varadkar gas been Fine Gael leader for 12 days and later today he will take over as Taoiseach . ‘People say they ’ re too busy; they ’ re often too afraid’.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins © Provided by Irish Independent Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has stressed that bullying and harassment cannot be tolerated in the arts world, but urged caution saying such allegations need to be investigated fully.

Mr Varadkar was speaking in relation to the allegations levied at former artistic director of the Gate Theatre Michael Colgan.

Several women, including former employees at the Gate Theatre, have made claims against Mr Colgan ranging from verbal harassment to inappropriate behaviour.

Theatre director and arts practitioner Grace Dyas was the first woman to speak out.

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Petitioning Taoiseach (PM) of Ireland Mr. Leo Varadkar TD and 11 others. Flagged petitions are reviewed by Change.org staff to determine if they violate our Terms of Service or Community Guidelines. Thank you for taking the time to report content.

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Former director of the Gate Theatre, Michael Colgan © Niall Carson/PA Images Former director of the Gate Theatre, Michael Colgan Mr Colgan is expected to issue a statement regarding the allegations in the coming days.

Mr Varadkar said: "I don't think that anyone can ever tolerate systemic bullying or harassment or physical or sexual assault in any workplace, whether it's the arts, or the Oireachtas or anywhere else."

He added he is "encouraged by the fact that more people are willing to come forward and tell their stories" and as a means of changing "the culture around these issues".

However, he also said: "It's important at the same time that as society we don't enter 'The Crucible' here.

"Allegations are allegations and they should be taken seriously, but we shouldn't always assume they're true and that's why they need to be investigated first."

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Leo Varadkar TD. Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland. Flagged petitions are reviewed by Change.org staff to determine if they violate our Terms of Service or Community Guidelines. Thank you for taking the time to report content.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will hold separate talks with the DUP (above) and Sinn Féin on Friday. They take their role very seriously and that’s fine but they also have to acknowledge that there is the consent principle which underlines everything in the Good Friday Agreement,” she said.

He added: "I think we need to bear in mind that all forms of inappropriate behaviour or boorish behaviour or obnoxious behaviour don't necessarily constitute bullying sexual assault."

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Mr Varadkar said that although the Gate Theatre receives substantial public funding it is not a public body and it is a matter for the company itself "to put in place its own procedures to investigate them properly".

The board of the Gate Theatre has hired an external consultancy company, Reputation Inc, to field queries regarding the harassment controversy.

The board has held several emergency meetings in recent days to discuss the allegations. Reputation Inc says the board will issue a statement shortly.

Gate Theatre Gate Theatre Speaking on RTÉ's 'Claire Byrne Live' last night, Ms Dyas said Mr Colgan had "too much power".

"He wasn't accountable to anybody in that structure, he wasn't accountable to the Arts Council, he wasn't accountable to the Government, he wasn't accountable to his own board - he sat on his own board.

"He could literally do what he liked and nobody had any recourse," she said.

Arts Council director Orlaith McBride said she believed staff at the Gate were living in a "culture of fear".

Ms McBride stressed that this culture of fear is not confined to the Gate and can be found "across the sector".

Labour MP investigated after harassment claim .
Labour MP Ivan Lewis is under formal investigation following an allegation of sexual harassment but has not been suspended, Sky News understands. Earlier this month, the Bury South MP denied he had ever made non-consensual sexual comments or sexual advances towards women.It followed allegations, reported by BuzzFeed News, that he touched a woman's leg and invited her to his house at a Labour Party event in 2010, when she was 19.A formal complaint about Mr Lewis has now been lodged with the party.

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