Wednesday 23 October 2019

Probes into claims of bullying, sexual harassment at port

Barristers and investigators drafted in to investigations at Dublin Port

Investigations are under way at Dublin Port into allegations of sexual harassment and bullying at the commercial semi-state over recent months and years. Stock picture
Investigations are under way at Dublin Port into allegations of sexual harassment and bullying at the commercial semi-state over recent months and years. Stock picture

Fearghal O'Connor

Investigations are under way at Dublin Port into allegations of sexual harassment and bullying at the commercial semi-state over recent months and years.

Several separate external investigators, barristers and mediators have been drafted in by Dublin Port Company management over the past year, relating to formal complaints made by staff against colleagues.

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The allegations by staff relate to complaints and counter-complaints against each other. The subject of the complaints include bullying and sexual harassment.

In one case a mediation process led by external mediator Karen Erwin ended in recent weeks without agreement. The process had discussed a potential severance package for an employee accused of sexual harassment of female colleagues.

The employee has himself made a formal bullying complaint against one of his superiors.

The chairperson of the company has now informed all sides that an outside independent investigator is to be appointed, chosen from a panel of prominent human resources specialists.

Dublin Port Company declined to comment.

A female Dublin Port staff member informally made allegations of sexual harassment by a port company colleague to superiors in May 2017, the Sunday Independent has learned.

This and subsequent allegations have been strongly denied by the person against whom the harassment allegations were made.

An investigation, led by barrister Ruth Mylotte, is understood to have kicked off in January of this year.

In June the port company announced two internal investigations following revelations in the Sunday Independent about a total credit card spend in 2018 of €522,000, with large amounts regularly spent on staff and client entertainment and foreign travel by port managers. The port said in the days after the story broke that accountants Mazars would undertake an independent review of spending on company credit cards and official entertainment.

The company also hired PwC to investigate the source of alleged leaks of credit card spending details.

The cost of external support and specialist advisory costs at Dublin Port rose to €3.2m in 2018 from €1.77m in 2017, according to its annual report.

This does not include many of the costs from the most recent investigations.

Sunday Indo Business

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