RTÉ colleagues shocked by Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh’s allegations of sexual harassment
TV presenter Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh has launched a working case against RTÉ relating to alleged sexual harassment that is said to have taken place three years ago.
he likes nationwide The host, 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 Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), details of which emerged yesterday, includes new allegations that have not previously been made public.
That Irish Independent has learned the case differs from a previous complaint, which related to an incident when she was only 18.
The more recent allegations and RTÉ’s response to them are now set to be the subject of a three-day WRC hearing next month. Ms Ní Chofaigh has launched an assault case against the national broadcaster in the High Court.
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, it emerged that the presenter would testify.
However, the alleged perpetrators remain anonymous by order of the WRC.
Her complaint is being dealt with under the Employment Equality Act and concerns allegations of discrimination through harassment in July 2019 and subsequent victimisation.
Ms Ní Chofaigh initiated proceedings in the High Court in April 2020 and lodged her WRC claim a few weeks later. It’s not uncommon for complaints on the same topics to run parallel on both forums.
But while the WRC case is now ongoing, it is not yet clear when the related civil action could go to court.
It will be late next month before the WRC hearing begins. However, it is already clear that RTÉ will contest the case.
“We absolutely reject all allegations against RTÉ,” her lawyer Mairéad McKenna told BL yesterday.
The alleged harassment dates back to Ms Ní Chofaigh’s time nationwidewhich she joined in October 2019.
The mother-of-four has not commented on the nature of her case and has previously shared it Irish Independent she couldn’t 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 understood 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 rather serious situation with an internal investigation I instigated 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.
RTÉ said yesterday it had no comment on the current case.
Ms Ní Chofaigh did not attend the brief hearing yesterday but was represented by solicitor Claire Bruton BL, who was retained by Aileen Fleming of Daniel Spring & Company Solicitors. Ms Bruton said she had “no problem” with an order for the media not to name the alleged perpetrators, but added: “My client is very keen that the matter goes public.”
She referred to an internal investigation report in which three people were named, one of them a “public figure”.
The judge, Mr O’Neill, said one aspect of the allegation regarding alleged comments made after a photo shoot had to be heard in a private session.
Ms Bruton said her client was harassed and “paused in the office” after raising the issue.
It is expected that two or three other witnesses will be called in addition to hearing Ms Ní Chofaigh.
Ms Ní Chofaigh has been a familiar face to television viewers for decades.
She presented with The Afternoon Show Between 2003 and 2009 he was a judge in The All Ireland Talent Showand took part in a reality show Celebrity Bainisteoir. She was also an actress, appearing in Irish-language comedies crisis hurry.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/rte-colleagues-shocked-at-blathnaid-ni-chofaighs-claims-of-sexual-harassment-41615955.html RTÉ colleagues shocked by Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh’s allegations of sexual harassment