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Sexual harassment case by Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh against RTÉ postponed until September

The Nationwide presenter is alleging she was sexually harassed, victimised and isolated at the national broadcaster.

Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh
Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh
Image: RTÉ

A SEXUAL HARASSMENT case being taken against RTÉ by well-known broadcaster, Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh, has been postponed until September due to the unavailability of several of the station’s witnesses to give evidence.

A scheduled sitting of the case being taken by the Nationwide presenter at the Workplace Relations Commission did not proceed today as it is understood a number of witnesses had contracted Covid-19.

Ní Chofaigh is alleging she was sexually harassed, victimised and isolated in RTÉ.

Counsel for RTÉ, Mairéad McKenna, BL, applied to the WRC for an adjournment of the case as she explained a number of the broadcaster’s witnesses were unable to attend.

While sympathetic to the plight of RTÉ’s witnesses, counsel for Ní Chofaigh, Claire Bruton BL, said her client was disappointed that the case was not able to proceed as scheduled.

Bruton said Ní Chofaigh had been waiting a long time for the case to come to hearing and she was anxious that the matter could proceed and be brought to finality.

WRC adjudicator Breiffini O’Neill granted RTÉ’s application for an adjournment of proceedings and fixed the hearing to go ahead over four days after the holiday break starting on September 8.

O’Neill informed all parties that he would be directing that all witnesses in the case would be granted anonymity and their names should not be published by media covering the hearing.

The WRC adjudicator said he would also hear evidence about any events which are meant to have happened in a hotel following a photo-shoot in private.

O’Neill explained that the alleged incident involved “a couple of high-profile individuals” who were completely incidental to the central allegations of the case but he believed their names “should not come out.”

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The inquiry was told that direct evidence from Ní Chofaigh, who is one of five witnesses on behalf of the complainant, could take in excess of four hours.

RTÉ is expected to call up to seven witnesses as part of its defence in the case.

Ní Chofaigh, who did not attend the hearing, has lodged a complaint against RTÉ under the Employment Equality Act with claims that she suffered discrimination in July 2019 as a result of being sexually harassed and subsequent victimisation.

At an earlier preliminary hearing of the case in May, the WRC heard that that Ní Chofaigh would claim she had been “side-lined in the office” after raising allegations of sexual harassment.

RTÉ has denied allegations that the presenter was harassed by other personnel at the station.

About the author:

Seán McCárthaigh

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