Leinster House officials must investigate bullying and harassment, equality group insists

In a major Houses of the Oireachtas Commission survey which was leaked earlier this week, officials found that a large number of people working in Leinster House have suffered significant bullying and harassment.

Leinster House officials must investigate bullying and harassment, equality group insists

An internal Dáil equality group has demanded Leinster House officials investigate bullying and sexual harassment problems at the campus every two years after uncovering a litany of issues within the political arena.

Green Party TD and women's parliamentary caucus chair, Catherine Martin, insisted the "urgent action" is needed alongside a detailed Dáil debate on what is happening in the shadows of power, saying the problem must not continue to be ignored.

In a major Houses of the Oireachtas Commission survey which was leaked earlier this week, officials found that a large number of people working in Leinster House have suffered significant bullying and harassment.

The survey, which was launched in March on the back of similar revelations at the House of Commons in London, was based on the views of 514 people working at the parliamentary campus and found:

  • 15% of people experienced bullying with abuse of power and verbal bullying the most common issues
  • 8% said they experienced harassment including discrimination and or derogatory comments
  • 3% said they faced and have reported sexual harassment on campus

Of the people who said they have faced bullying, 57% said this was from their direct employer or line manager and 43% said it was from another person with whom they were working.

However, 78% of people surveyed also said they felt safe working at Leinster House and 61% said they feel they are treated with respect in the workplace.

Responding to the findings on Friday, Ms Martin said the survey "clearly shows bullying and harassment issues are of real concern in Leinster House".

And in a clear warning of the depth of the problem, Ms Martin added that an investigation into the prevalence of the cases must take place every two years to ensure people working at Leinster House can do so in safety.

The findings of the survey clearly show that bullying and harassment are issues of real concern in Leinster House.

"The women’s caucus is calling on the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission to take urgent action to ensure that there is adequate support available for victims and robust procedures in place to deal with misconduct.

"We are calling on the Oireachtas Commission to conduct this survey every two years so that these issues can be monitored, and any supports put in place should also be reviewed.

"We will be requesting that the findings of this survey be debated in both Houses of the Oireachtas," Ms Martin said.

Her calls were echoed by Fine Gael TD and women's parliamentary caucus deputy chair Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, who said a "zero tolerance approach to bullying or harassment" is needed in Leinster House "as should be the case in any workplace".

The problems in Leinster House are not believed to be on the same scale or as commonplace as those uncovered at the House of Commons in the past year.

However, the detailed Irish survey has underlined the fact that serious bullying, harassment and sexual harassment cases have occurred at Leinster House - a situation which will put pressure on the Government, individual parties and TDs, and Oireachtas officials to ensure the previously hidden problem is fully addressed.

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