Monday 23 September 2019

Museum 'did not follow procedure' after sex harassment claim

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Tim Healy

The National Museum of Ireland appears to have accepted it did not apply proper procedures when it suspended one of its assistant keepers over complaints about sexual harassment, it was claimed in the High Court.

Dr Andrew Halpin of Yellowmeadows Avenue, Clondalkin, Dublin, has brought proceedings against his employer, challenging the decision to suspend him as assistant keeper of Irish antiquities following media reports in February 2017 of alleged sexual harassment.

"The National Museum of Ireland seems to be tacitly saying it did not apply proper procedures," his counsel Frank Callanan said yesterday when counsel for the museum asked for another adjournment so that there could be correspondence between the parties.

Mr Callanan complained the museum had failed to deliver a replying affidavit as directed by the court last month.

Difficulties

Oisin Quinn SC, for the museum, said the position was more nuanced than that.

There were a number of difficulties including that certain employees no longer worked for the museum, the court was told.

Mr Quinn said there was also now an issue over whether the matter should be dealt with under the civil service code or under another policy of the museum.

His side wanted to deal with these matters through correspondence with Mr Halpin's solicitors and could do so over coming weeks, he said.

Mr Callanan said the fact remained his client was suffering enormous damage to his reputation in circumstances where the museum appeared to be saying now that proper procedures had not been applied.

Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds said that she would adjourn to the case until the new year.

However, Ms Justice Reynolds told Mr Quinn that Mr Callanan had made it clear they were not interested in further correspondence and wanted an affidavit from the museum replying to an earlier Halpin side affidavit.

That should be provided by January 15 and the case could come back to court the falling week.

Irish Independent

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