Wednesday 19 June 2019

Director of Christ Church takes cathedral to court

Nuala Kavanagh will seek an injunction against her suspension in the High Court
Nuala Kavanagh will seek an injunction against her suspension in the High Court

Maeve Sheehan and Jerome Reilly

A Director at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin has launched High Court action against the historic Anglican institution, after she was suspended from her post.

Nuala Kavanagh will seek an injunction against her suspension in the High Court on Tuesday, according to the court register.

Ms Kavanagh is the Director of Operations at the Cathedral, where her duties include organising events at one of the capital's most popular tourist attractions.

She is the second director at the Cathedral to clash with her employers in recent years. Two years ago, Christ Church settled a constructive dismissal case taken by a former director of music, Judy Martin, who alleged she had been "bullied" by the Dean of Christ Church, Reverend Dermot Dunne. The Dean denied the allegations.

It is understood that Ms Kavanagh was suspended from her post in recent weeks. She launched a legal action against Christ Church last Thursday, making an emergency High Court application in which only she was represented in court. Christ Church Cathedral has since been served notice of the proceedings.

The case will return to the High Court on Tuesday where Ms Kavanagh's lawyers are expected to look for an injunction to stall or reverse any action taken against her by Christ Church Cathedral.

The cause of the dispute is not known but the details may emerge at Tuesday's hearing. The court records show that Ms Kavanagh has already filed an affidavit in the High Court that outlines the background to her suspension.

A spokesperson for Christ Church Cathedral confirmed the legal action this weekend. She said the Cathedral is "aware of the proceedings" and confirmed that they relate to a "staff issue". However she added that the Cathedral's management would not be commenting on the case.

Ms Kavanagh is still listed on the Christ Church website as its Director of Operations, where her duties include the "day to day running of the Cathedral" and coordinating and promoting services and events. She is also responsible for supervising office staff and vergers.

The Cathedral is one of Dublin's biggest visitor attractions and is the city's oldest building. It dates back to the 1028, and boasts what is believed to be the largest medieval crypt in Ireland and Great Britain.

Ms Kavanagh's legal action comes two years after Christ Church settled a case taken against it by Judy Martin, the cathedral's director of music.

In her evidence to the Employment Appeals Tribunal, Ms Martin alleged that she had been "bullied" by the Dean, the Very Reverend Dunne, whom she found "quite frightening" at one particular meeting.

She claimed she was subjected to "persistent, serious bullying", complained of "constant anti-English references" being made, and she also claimed that she was ignored and patronised.

She resigned in 2011 claiming that her role had been "dismantled" and a year later took a case of constructive dismissal against the Cathedral.

The Dean and Christ Church denied the allegations made by Ms Martin.

The dispute between them was settled in January 2013, after several hours of negotiations under the auspices of the Employment Appeals Tribunal. Afterwards, both sides said the case had been "settled amicably" to the satisfaction of both parties.

The Dean of Christ Church, the Very Reverend Dunne, attended Maynooth and was originally ordained a priest.

He later left the Catholic Church and became an Anglican priest. He became Dean of Christ Church in 2008.

Sunday Independent

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