Monday 25 September 2017

Top conductor claims she was bullied out of job at cathedral

Allison Bray

Allison Bray

IRELAND'S first ever female cathedral organist, who has been described as "the greatest conductor of her generation", claims she was bullied out of her prestigious job as choir conductor at Christ Church Cathedral by its dean.

Judy Martin (45) is claiming constructive dismissal by the cathedral and its most senior cleric, the Very Rev Dermot Dunne, who is dean of Christ Church Cathedral and Dublin and Glendalough.

In opening arguments at the Employment Appeals Tribunal in Dublin yesterday, Ms Martin's legal counsel Peter Shanley said Ms Martin was forced to resign from her job due to an ongoing campaign of "bullying, harassment and intimidation" by Rev Dunne.

Counsel for Rev Dunne, Michael MacNamee, said his client "categorically denies" the allegations.

Mr Shanley told the tribunal that his client became the first female cathedral organist in Irish or British history when she won a contract by Christ Church Cathedral to conduct its choir in 2003.

The graduate of both Oxford and Cambridge University schools of music is "regarded as the the greatest (choir) conductor of her generation", he told the tribunal.

She co-founded the choir at the Church of St Mary Magdelen at Oxford University before she was appointed director of chapel music at Worcester College, Oxford, in 2001.

Ms Dunne served under two previous deans without incident until the newly appointed dean, Rev Dunne, took over in May 2008, he said.

Relations between the two broke down and got progressively worse until Ms Martin lodged a formal complaint to a senior administrator at the cathedral in June 2009, which led to a meeting between them.

Harassment

After the meeting, Ms Martin sent Rev Dunne a letter outlining her allegations of bullying and harassment.

Rev Dunne, a former Catholic priest of 12 years who joined the Church of Ireland in the mid-1990s, responded to her letter with a three-line statement but there was no improvement in their working relationship, the tribunal heard.

In May 2010, she claimed she was wrongly accused of misconduct for allegedly communicating confidential church information to the choir -- a claim she said was "entirely fabricated" -- before appearing at a grievance hearing in which her complaints against the dean were not upheld due to lack of documentary evidence, Mr Shanley told the tribunal.

Ms Martin said the alleged bullying led her to develop psychological problems and physical illness. She took a leave of absence and, in February 2011, made the decision to tender her resignation.

Mr MacNamee said any "issues that arose" between her and Rev Dunne were the result of Ms Martin's "resistance to change" as part of an internal reorganisation.

The hearing will resume on November 14 and 15.

Irish Independent

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