03 July 2009

Irish Political Party Fianna Fail issues warning about bullying, harassment and sexual harassment

FIANNA Fail has drawn up a new policy to prevent bullying and sexual harassment in the party.

And it contains a warning that "appropriate disciplinary action" will be taken against any party member who violates the policy in the workplace (the Dail and Seanad) and at work-related events such as conferences.

It comes after a female member of the parliamentary party, Senator Mary White, complained last year that she was being bullied by someone in Leinster House.

The new document, titled "Fianna Fail policy on preventing and dealing with bullying/harassment at work" was presented to party TDs and senators last night at their parliamentary party meeting.

It contains a list of examples of bullying, including verbal abuse, humiliation, menacing behaviour, being treated less favourably than colleagues, and being "blamed for things beyond the person's control".

It also contains a detailed section on sexual harassment, which it defines as including unwanted physical contact such as unnecessary touching, making sexually suggestive gestures, making lewd comments or displaying pornographic material.


The policy document states bluntly: "Any such bullying, harassment or sexual harassment will not be tolerated by Fianna Fail and may lead to the imposition of appropriate sanctions". But it also makes clear that sexual harassment is not to be confused with "friendly behaviour or relationships which are mutually entered into".

The move is likely to be welcomed by employment rights groups, who have warned that bullying is the silent scourge of the workplace.

Last October, Fianna Fail Senator Mary White revealed in the Seanad that she had been subjected to bullying by somebody in Leinster House the previous day.

"I was actually bullied by somebody yesterday and I told my colleagues in my office what was said to me," she said.

Ms White, who has declared her interest in running for the presidency, went on to say: "People have no right to intimidate other people or to try to diminish them. How dare they!"

The Fianna Fail policy states that it has been drawn up to comply with the party's obligations under health and safety legislation. It is based largely on the Health and Safety Authority's code of practice on workplace bullying.

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