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Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin receives apology from UCD over sexual harassment from colleague

The broadcaster and lecturer was harassed by a colleague at the university for two years.

Dr Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain (file photo).
Dr Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain (file photo).
Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

BROADCASTER AND ACADEMIC Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin has received a written apology from President of University College Dublin, Professor Andrew Deeks, over harassment from a colleague at the university from 2015 to 2017.

In The Irish Times on Saturday, Dr Ní Shúilleabháin revealed that she had been subjected to regular harassment by a professor at the university, Hans-Benjamin Braun, over a two-year period after she had first reported the issue to the authorities in Belfield.

In a statement issued to a number of media outlets yesterday, Deeks apologised to Ní Shúilleabháin.

However, she later tweeted: “I’m very surprised to be reading about an apology from UCD President Andrew Deeks, since I haven’t received one or any communication from him on this matter.”

A few hours later, she tweeted an update, stating: “For the record, I have since received a written apology and will be speaking with President Deeks during the week.”

Ní Shúilleabháin stated that Braun had regularly shown up in her office at UCD, asked her out on dates, and made persistent phone calls.

Ní Shúilleabháin reported the situation to gardaí and Braun (58), worked in UCD until last year, was issued with a court order in late 2019 barring him from contacting her for five years, the Irish Times reported.

Zero-tolerance approach

On Saturday, Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris, commended Ní Shúilleabháin for speaking out about her “horrific” experience of sexual harassment as he promised a zero-tolerance approach to tackle the issue at third level.

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“She shouldn’t have had to endure what she endured. And we need to make sure it never happens again,” Harris said in a video posted on Twitter.

He acknowledged that sexual harassment is not an issue confined to third level, but that he wants the sector to lead the way by adopting a “zero-tolerance approach”.

“So let me be clear. If there are any old dinosaurs out there in the system, your day is gone. Third Level, the higher education sector, the further education sector is to be an environment of respect, inclusion, tolerance and safety.”

Harris said he was written to the president of every university and higher education institution in the country asking them to produce an action plan on tackling sexual violence and harassment.

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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