Nine Victim Support board members quit over alleged bullying

NINE Victim Support board members have already resigned from the troubled organisation because of the alleged bullying and aggression of one member, it emerged yesterday.

This brings to 20 the number of board members who have resigned in the past year. On Tuesday, 11 Victim Support board members including founder and life president Derek Nally and chairperson Máiréad Fernane resigned.

But the two blocks of resignations from the crisis-ridden organisation were for completely different reasons.

Mr Nally and Ms Fernane said they resigned because the organisation faced staff and financial difficulties and an outside consultant was needed to sort it out.

But the nine board members resigned last Augustafter former chief executive Lillian McGovern says she was forced out of her job.

One of those board members, Paddy Madden, said: "We resigned because we could not take the bullying and aggression of one particular board member and could not get backing for an independent consultant's report which recommended major changers."

Lillian McGovern istaking a constructive dismissal case against the organisation claiming she was forced out of her job because she tried to make the organisation more professional.

Ms McGovern is also taking a civil case in the courts against Victim Support claiming she was bullied and harassed. Victim Support denies all these claims.

Independent consultants, Farrell, Grant and Sparks produced a report in January 2003 for the Department of Justice and Victim Support which recommended major changes including:

A new middle management layer.

A drastic cut in the numbers on the 28-member board.

Closer work with the Gardaí to improve referral procedures.

Almost none of theserecommendations have been implemented, said Paddy Madden.

But Victim Support chairperson Máiréad Fernane, who resigned on Tuesday, rejected this claim.

"We did appoint two middle managers that were predicated on the number of garda referrals increasing and had to let them go because our numbers continued to go down," MsFernane said.

Responding to the claims that nine other board members resigned because of bullying and harassment by one member, Ms Fernane said she could not comment on this because of the upcoming court case.

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice has confirmed that it is keeping the situation under review and monitoring its financial outlay to see if it will regroup and appoint new board members. It has already given Victim Support €643,125 of its €1.02m funding for this year.

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