Sex assault victims urged to speak out

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has encouraged victims of sexual harassment to come forward and report their cases as it may empower others who might be afraid to do the same.

His comments come after the Gate Theatre in Dublin appointed an advisor on sexual harassment claims and said it was looking for people to come forward.

Mr Varadkar’s comments also come on the back of the resignation of British defence secretary Michael Fallon this week over allegations against him.

The entertainment industry in the US has also seen claims against high-profile figures.

Speaking in California while visiting Facebook’s headquarters, Mr Varadkar said if people had been harassed or abused,they should come forward or approach human resources officials in workplaces.

On the Gate Theatre allegations, he said was cautious about commenting as he did not know the facts.

However, he added: “I think it would be right and appropriate for people who have been sexually harassed to come forward. That requires a degree of bravery, of course, but also it empowers other people to do the same, maybe people who were afraid to do so in the past. When they see others coming forward, they will be encouraged to do so as well.

“We also need to counter-balance that with the understanding that an allegation is an allegation and people have the right to due process and the right to have their good name protected.”

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg met the Taoiseach yesterday and promised his company would create hundreds more jobs in Ireland. Mr Varadkar explained the firm was “very committed to Ireland, very happy in Ireland” and is going to increase its employment by several hundred next year.

However, the Taoiseach does not think plans by US president Donald Trump to significantly reduce its 35% corporation tax there would hurt Ireland.

“I don’t think the US proposals will have much impact on us,” he said. “As a country, we believe that individual countries can set their own tax rates, so I don’t think it would make any sense for us to criticise America or anyone else for reducing their tax rates.”

He said what Ireland always said about its tax rate was that it was “constant” and the 12.5% level had stayed unchanged for decades. US companies and Facebook wanted to know about the pool of talent and that there were qualified people they could employ, he added, and wanted to know Ireland would stay in the European Union. The firms were also very interested in talking about our data protection and legal framework laws, said Mr Varadkar.

He said 10% or 150,0000 to 200,000 of workers in Ireland were in multi-national companies and this was as diversified as other countries.

Mr Varadkar yesterday was also due to meet Apple CEO Tim Cook and said it was Ireland’s intention to establish an escrow account, where the €13bn EU fine over the tech firm would be held.

He said Ireland would do nothing with the money, as other countries could have a claim on it and the whole matter still needed to be decided by the European Court of Justice.

“So it will be many years before we know where that money goes,” he said.


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