The storm over al­le­ga­tions about Michael Col­gan’s con­duct has raged for more than two weeks. The Sun­day In­de­pen­dent asked him to write a piece to re­spond to the con­tro­versy

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - FRONT PAGE - Michael Col­gan

LAST March, when I fi­nally left the Gate, I was con­vinced that I had done a good job, be­lieved that I had been a good boss, and that I was liked by all the staff. Re­cent reve­la­tions have made it clear that this can­not have al­ways been the case, and that over the years there were mo­ments where, through mis­judged be­hav­iour, I caused up­set to some of my co-work­ers. This re­al­i­sa­tion has been deeply dis­tress­ing and I sin­cerely apol­o­gise to any­one who was ever made to feel up­set.

I al­ready knew that I was not po­lit­i­cally cor­rect, that I of­ten sac­ri­ficed proper con­duct for a punch­line, and that, at times, could be too ex­act­ing as a boss. But re­al­is­ing that I have been re­spon­si­ble for caus­ing dis­tress to some of those with whom I worked so closely has shocked me, and I am truly sorry.

These re­al­i­sa­tions have come with great force and I see things dif­fer­ently now. I be­lat­edly re­alise that the seed of the prob­lem lay in the ob­scur­ing of lines be­tween my work and my life, the un­seen prob­lem of over­lap be­tween work and play.

My life was my work, my work my life. My house be­came my of­fice, my of­fice be­came my home. My Thurs­day was the same as a Sun­day and my 9am the same as 9pm. I led my­self to be­lieve that my col­leagues were my friends. The lines had be­come blurred and I failed to see that when I spoke to my co-work­ers that we weren’t ac­tu­ally speak­ing as friends but that they re­mained em­ploy­ees and I should have re­spected the dif­fer­ence.

I spent 33 years con­stantly as­sess­ing my re­la­tion­ship with the Gate au­di­ence but failed to prop­erly as­sess the re­la­tion­ship I had with my staff. When they laughed at my jokes I thought it was be­cause I was funny. I think now it was be­cause I was their boss. When I read in a re­cent news­pa­per re­port that a for­mer em­ployee said that she thought she liked me but now re­alises she doesn’t, it shook me. I gen­uinely thought ev­ery­one at the Gate liked me.

The con­ver­sa­tions we had in that of­fice felt the very same as the con­ver­sa­tions I had with friends. I am so sorry to think that dur­ing what I thought were good times, work­ing with that highly tal­ented team, that I failed to no­tice that there were some who were feel­ing some­thing else. There is no doubt that if I could re-live my time there, I would act dif­fer­ently. I would strictly ob­serve the bound­aries and set a stronger code of ethics.

How­ever, my be­hav­iour should not be equated with sex­ual crimes. I take se­ri­ous is­sue with much of the re­cent press and so­cial me­dia ref­er­ences to me. It is wrong that I have been the sub­ject of gross in­sin­u­a­tions and that my fam­ily have had to suf­fer to­tally false sug­ges­tions that I might be guilty of more than mis­judged be­hav­iour.

We are liv­ing in a cli­mate where to be ac­cused is now enough to be deemed guilty. It is a wor­ry­ing in­dict­ment of our times that one can be put through such a pub­lic on­line trial with the me­dia as judge and Twit­ter as jury.

But for the mo­ment, the main pur­pose of this state­ment is to apol­o­gise to any per­son, in or out of the of­fice, whom I have hurt. I would also like to apol­o­gise to any of my friends who may have been in­ad­ver­tently up­set due to my ebul­lient be­hav­iour. Fi­nally, I would like to apol­o­gise for any stress caused to the cur­rent board and man­age­ment of the Gate. There is a new team in place there and the last thing I would have wanted to do is to dis­tract them from the ex­cel­lent work they have be­gun.

‘The pur­pose of this state­ment is to apol­o­gise to any per­son whom I have hurt’

Photo: David Conachy

‘I WAS NOT PO­LIT­I­CALLY COR­RECT’: Michael Col­gan, when he was artis­tic di­rec­tor of the Gate.

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