Monday 11 December 2017

Ex-theatre worker left in tears after rows, court told

Greg Harkin

AN arts project co-ordinator at a theatre company wept as she told how she was forced to take anti-depressants after a series of rows with her bosses.

Lisa Finn (40) had to take a break from giving evidence at an industrial tribunal after breaking down in the witness box.

She is suing the Balor Theatre in her home town of Ballybofey, Co Donegal, alleging constructive dismissal.

Ms Finn told the hearing at Donegal courthouse that the final straw in her ongoing rows came when she discovered some staff at arts projects based at the theatre were able to take time off in lieu and get paid.

Relationships with her bosses deteriorated, she said, in mid-2008.

The theatre company was meeting to discuss how it would handle making two applications to Donegal County Council for grants to fund projects.

She said one member of the board, Jim Houlihan, told her he couldn't attend the meeting.

Other members of the board had met and decided to drop one of the projects, a decision taken by them and not her, said Ms Finn.

"I called Jim Houlihan to tell him of the decision. The call lasted 49 minutes and he said to me, 'how dare you make decisions'. He went on to tell me I was no good," said Ms Finn, wiping away tears.

Mr Houlihan, she alleged, had humiliated her at meetings earlier that year by questioning the work she was doing.

She said she was left "devastated" by the phone encounter and had complained to Ciaran Quinn and Mark McCollum, other board members, that she was being bullied and wanted to make a complaint.

Ms Finn said a meeting was called the following month to discuss the issue but that Mr Houlihan had resigned.

Stress

Other board members had "thanked him for all his hard work" and no mention was made of the incident. "Ciaran Quinn said to me 'you've won, he's gone'," she alleged.

"Mark apologised to me. He said 'sorry Lisa'. I was told that's the way Jim Houlihan was. He was an authoritative figure because things worked at Donegal County Council, where he had worked."

The former theatre worker claimed that she suffered stress as a result of the incidents and the alleged failure of managers to investigate them.

Ms Finn, the only witness so far, will be cross-examined when the case resumes in January.

Irish Independent

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