Blathnaid Ní Chofaigh withdraws sexual harassment and victimization lawsuit against RTÉ

TV presenter Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh has dropped her employment suit against RTÉ.

he claim relating to alleged sexual harassment is said to have taken place three years ago and a hearing on the matter was due to begin today.

However, the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) was told this morning that it would not proceed and Ms Ní Chofaigh did not attend.

Her attorney, Claire Bruton, read a statement saying her client “withdraws her allegation of discrimination by the defendant.”

She said an agreement had been reached “to proceed within the framework of an ongoing working relationship”.

The lawyer added that Ms Ní Chofaigh now fully accepts the findings of an RTÉ’s internal inquiry into the matter.

She said no compensation was paid under the agreement.

Mairéad McKenna SC, performing for RTÉ, confirmed the position.

The popular Nationwide presenter, 51, has previously spoken out about being sexually harassed at work when she landed her first job at RTÉ over 30 years ago.

However, her complaint to the WRC included new allegations that had not previously been publicly voiced.

The Irish Independent understands her case differs from a previous complaint, which related to an incident when she was just 18.

The more recent allegations and RTÉ’s response to them should be the subject of a four-day hearing before the matter is withdrawn this morning.

Ms Ní Chofaigh has launched an assault case against the national broadcaster in the High Court and it remains to be seen whether this will move forward.

There has been little activity since her lawsuit was filed.

While RTÉ insiders knew the WRC case was drawing near, the publicity nonetheless came as a “shock” to many of Ms Ní Chofaigh’s colleagues.

At a preliminary hearing at Lansdowne House in Dublin last May, it emerged that the presenter would say what she thought happened.

However, the WRC ordered the alleged perpetrators to remain anonymous.

It was under the Employment Equality Act and concerned allegations of discrimination through harassment in July 2019 and subsequent victimisation.

Ms Ní Chofaigh started proceedings in the High Court in April 2020 and lodged her WRC claim a few weeks later.

At the preliminary hearing, Ms McKenna said: “We absolutely deny all allegations against RTÉ.”

The matters alleged in her now withdrawn complaint dated back to Ms Ní Chofaigh’s time at Nationwide, which she joined in October 2019.

The mother-of-four has not commented on the nature of her case and previously told the Irish Independent she was unable to comment.

However, she has spoken out about the earlier harassment incident.

In an interview with Newstalk in 2008, she revealed the devastating effect it had on her life.

“So sexual harassment, no one understood,” she said.

“I took it as a feeling of what it made you feel, but I didn’t have the words to express it.

“I didn’t even understand you calling it that, but someone is trying to undermine you by making you feel dirty and making sexual innuendos.

“That’s the only definition I have of it because I was there.

“I found myself in a pretty serious situation with an internal investigation I had launched into what I had been through with a male colleague.

“To say at 18, ‘Oh my god, oh my god, what happened?’ and this thing, the investigation, runs in front of me like a machine and I have no control over it.

“Finding yourself in front of suits being asked questions and not knowing how you feel.”

Ms Ní Chofaigh described herself as very innocent when she started at RTÉ and believes people took advantage of her.

The perpetrator in this incident is dead and RTÉ has ​​never released the outcome of its investigation.

She referred to an internal investigation report in which three people were named, one of them a “public figure”. Blathnaid Ní Chofaigh withdraws sexual harassment and victimization lawsuit against RTÉ

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