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Tuesday 25 July 2017

'Bullies and perverts' in workplace causing stress to National Museum staff - report

  • Damning report on wellbeing in the workplace revealed
  • Over 40pc of staff at risk of developing anxiety
  • One employee complained of having to deal with 'bullies and perverts'
  • Arts Minister urged to address committee in wake of claims

The National Museum building is a protected structure
The National Museum building is a protected structure
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

Staff at the National Museum of Ireland claim "bullies and perverts" are endangering their welfare, according to a report on wellbeing in the workplace.

The report reveals over 40pc of staff at the National Museum of Ireland are at risk of developing anxiety or depression and how 70pc of employees surveyed want mental health support to help deal with stress.

One in five employees at the institution are 'often' or 'always' subjected to bullying, according to the unpublished report obtained by RTE.

The report, which was completed last November, shows how staff have requested 'social activities not involving the pub' as well as counselling; anger management and to know 'how to deal with bullies and perverts'.

Speaking to RTE Radio One's Drivetime this evening, a psychotherapist who was employed by the National Museum to provide an employee assistance programme, said her concerns around workplace bullying were ignored by management and by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

The museum had previously employed the services of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre to provide 'Dignity at Work' training workshops.

The report claims:

  • Over 40pc of staff at the National Museum of Ireland are at risk of developing anxiety or depression;
  • One in five employees at the institution are 'often' or 'always' subjected to bullying;
  • Another 20pc are "sometimes" the victims of bullying;
  • One employee complained of having to deal with 'bullies and perverts';
  • Over 40pc of employees at the institutions are deemed to be at risk of developing anxiety or depression;
  • Almost 70pc of respondents feel employee morale is poor to very poor;
  • 70pc of employees want mental health support to help deal with stress and depression;
  • Staff contentedness at NMI is in the bottom 20pc of Irish companies.

Stephanie Regan, who worked with the institution between 2008 and 2012, says the atmosphere remains 'toxic' at the museum.

"Over time I heard a number of stories that were very disturbing; and they were that people had made complaints and those complaints were taken off the file", she told Drivetime.

She alleged 'very senior people' were involved in the alleged bullying.

She said she made her concerns clear to management and Arts Ministers Jimmy Deenihan and Heather Humphreys; but the concerns were ignored.  

"I am over 25 years doing this work; I never heard the story being so consistent and coming from individuals not in the same room. The toxic nature of what was presented; that is what is so awful... relentless and systematic", she added.

Now, the Chair of the Oireachtas Arts and Heritage Committee Peadar Toibín is demanding representatives from the National Museum, the Department of the Arts and the Minister Heather Humphreys urgently come before his committee to address what he claims is a "HR crisis... wasting taxpayers money". 

The findings are contained in 'The Work Positive Profile Management Report', which 96 members of staff completed. There are between 140 & 150 staff at the institution.

The National Museum of Ireland operates four sites - The Archaeology museum on Kildare Street; the Natural History Museum on Merrion Street; the Museum of Decorative Arts and History in Collins Barracks and the Museum of Country Life in Castlebar.

In a statement; the museum said it had taken a range of actions since the health and wellbeing report.

"These include the setting up of a museum council, a staff consultation forum and improvements in communications between staff and management," he said.

The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht said Minister Humphreys has no involvement in the day to day running of the National Museum of Ireland.

"The Board should promote the development of the capacity of the State body including the capability of its leadership and staff. The Board is also responsible for holding the CEO and senior management to account for the effective performance of their responsibilities." it added.

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