Se­nior cu­ra­tor’s sex ha­rass­ment of top ar­chae­ol­o­gist

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - NEWS - By Michael O’Far­rell

FOR 10 years for­mer ar­chae­ol­o­gist Adri­enne Cor­less held her tongue – just like oth­ers who’ve ex­pe­ri­enced sex­ual ha­rass­ment and bul­ly­ing.

But, in Fe­bru­ary this year, when other al­le­ga­tions at the Na­tional Mu­seum of Ire­land sur­faced, some com­men­ta­tors doubted the sever­ity of the sit­u­a­tion.

Yet Adri­enne knew things were even worse than what had been re­ported. She said so in her ket­tleon­therange. com blog in a post en­ti­tled A Work­place Fa­ble.

Ini­tially she didn’t name the in­sti­tu­tion, or the name of her tor­men­tor but on Mon­day – af­ter read­ing the sto­ries of those al­legedly ha­rassed by Michael Col­gan at the Gate – she up­dated her post to re­veal she was writ­ing about Andy Halpin and the Na­tional Mu­seum.

The blog de­scribed how Mr Halpin had first kissed her, un­wanted, on the cheek af­ter her first in­ter­view for the job. He did so again at the end of her first day and again at the end of the first week. Adri­enne re­solved to keep her dis­tance. But her col­league would lean over her desk, an arm on each side of her body, en­trap­ping her com­pletely.

Be­fore long he’d touched her but­tock – twice – while alone in a store room. On an­other oc­ca­sion, he had leaned down and, un­prompted, kissed the top of her head. Then there was the mea­sur­ing and the tall woman fan­tasy.

He asked Adri­enne to stand up against the door so he could mea­sure her. ‘He’d seen some tall school­girls vis­it­ing the pub­lic side of our work­place and he “wanted to pro­long the fan­tasy” he had with tall women, by con­trast­ing my short stature with the tall girls he’d seen just prior.

‘He said I was a “foil for his fan­tasies”,’ Adri­enne, now a yoga teacher, wrote. She told how she wasn’t the first per­son to be tar­geted by Mr Halpin.

‘I con­fided in new friends in other de­part­ments and they told me sadly that it had hap­pened be­fore.’

Mr Halpin, she told the MoS, was even re­ferred to as ‘Handy Andy’ by his fe­male col­leagues be­cause of his un­wel­come touchyfeely rep­u­ta­tion. Adri­enne’s com­plaint – when she found the courage to make it – was suc­cess­ful. Mr Halpin was mildly sanc­tioned in 2007 and kept his job. But Adri­enne’s con­tract was ul­ti­mately not re­newed. As a con­se­quence her PhD, which was re­lated to her day job, was lost too.

And as she pre­pared to leave the mu­seum in 2012, her most se­nior su­pe­rior – Pat Wal­lace – asked if she would mind brief­ing Mr Halpin since he would be tak­ing over her work. ‘Over my dead body,’ she told him.

In an­other blog post on Thurs­day, Adri­enne re­called fur­ther de­tails of mak­ing her com­plaint.

She wrote: ‘I re­flect on the time I made my for­mal com­plaint, when a se­nior man­ager and Pat Wal­lace met with me in my of­fice, in­for­mally, to check on me. I felt like they cared, but Pat Wal­lace el­bowed the other man in a chummy way, and chuck­led, “HO HO, I’d never have thought Halpin had it in him.” (The other man blanked this.)

‘It was like he hadn’t thought him man enough be­fore now. How’s that for “locker-room talk”, with me right there? I ask my­self, what hope did I have if the boss be­haved like he was im­pressed at the ca­pa­bil­ity of an­other man in his staff to sex­u­ally ha­rass a woman?’ In re­sponse to the mea­sures an­nounced by Arts Min­is­ter Heather Humphreys, Adri­enne said: ‘There’s a new di­rec­tor due to be ap­pointed and I just hope that per­son has the vi­sion and the where­withal to go in and tear down the ex­ist­ing struc­ture and start all over again.’

Brave: Adri­enne Cor­less at home yes­ter­day

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