Report: National Museum staff 'at risk of depression' because of 'bullies' and 'perverts'

The National Museum of Ireland.

An unpublished report reveals that staff in the National Museum of Ireland have complained of "bullies" and "perverts".

The findings are contained in 'The Work Positive Profile Management Report', which was completed last November, and details claims by employees that "excessive drinking, bullies and perverts" are endangering their welfare.

The report also explains that the concerns of a psycotherapist around workplace bullying at the institution were ignored.

The report contained a survey, carried out by HR academic Robert Kerr of Ulster University, of 96 staff into employee well-being at the institution.

Up to 80% of the staff had been working for the institution for five years or more. There are between 140 and 150 staff at the institution.

    The results found:

  • More than 40% of employees at the institutions are deemed to be at risk of developing anxiety or depression; as measured by an index supplied by the World Health Organisation.
  • One in five employees at the institution are "often" or "always" subjected to bullying.
  • 20% are "sometimes" the victims of bullying, while one employee complained of having to deal with "bullies and perverts".
  • Almost 70% of respondents feel employee morale is poor to very poor- with poor communication and a lack of trust at the Museum.
  • Seven in 10 employees want mental health support to help deal with stress and depression.
  • Staff contentedness at NMI is in the bottom 20% of Irish companies.

The report also reveals how staff wanted "social activities not involving the pub" as well as counselling, anger management and to know "how to deal with bullies and perverts".

It concludes that an unacceptably high number of staff endure personal harassment or friction with colleagues.

The revelations have prompted calls for the Arts Minister to appear before an Oireachtas Committee to discuss matters at the institution; and to address an allegation her department failed to act when alerted to alleged bullying.

The National Museum of Ireland operates four sites -

The Archaeology museum on Kildare Street, where the Seanad is to move

The Natural History Museum on Merrion Street

The Museum of Decorative Arts and History in Collins Barracks

The Museum of country life in Castlebar

Stephanie Regan, a psychotherapist who worked with the institution between 2008 and 2012 to provide an employee assistance programme, claims her concerns around workplace bullying were ignored by museum management and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

She says the atmosphere remains "toxic" at the museum.

Ms Regan told RTE Radio 1's Drivetime: "Over time I heard a number of stories that were very disturbing, and they were that people had made complaints and those complaints were taken off the file.

"I am over 25 years doing this work, I never heard the story being so consistent and coming from individuals not in the same room. The toxic nature of what was presented; that is what is so awful...relentless and systematic."

She says she made her concerns clear to management and Arts Ministers Jimmy Deenihan and Heather Humphreys, but the concerns were ignored.

Peadar Toibin.

The Chair of the Oireachtas Arts and Heritage Committee, Peadar Toibin, is demanding representatives from the National Museum, the Department of the Arts and Minister Heather Humphreys urgently come before his committee to address what he claims is a "HR crisis..wasting taxpayers money".

The museum said it had taken a range of actions since the health and well-being report.

Their statement said: "These include the setting up of a museum council, a staff consultation forum and improvements in communications between staff and management."

The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht said Minister Humphreys has no involvement in the day-to-day running of the National Museum of Ireland.

Arts Minister Heather Humphreys

The department said: "The Board should promote the development of the capacity of the State body including the capability of its leadership and staff. The Board is also responsible for holding the CEO and senior management to account for the effective performance of their responsibilities."

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