22 Oct 2019, 16.14
In March 2019, the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission launched the Dignity and Respect Policy following consultation with the political parties, groups and staff representatives. As part of the implementation of the policy, it was agreed to survey those who work in the parliamentary workplace to:
- Determine the extent to which bullying, harassment and sexual harassment is currently prevalent within the parliamentary workplace.
- Inform how the Dignity and Respect Statement of Principles and Policy should be implemented in order to effectively discourage and prevent behaviours which are contrary to the principles and policy.
An independent, confidential online survey was conducted by Coyne Research, on behalf of the Oireachtas Commission, between the 25th March – 15th April 2019 amongst all those who work in the parliamentary workplace, including staff employed by the Service, staff employed by Members or political parties, TDs, Senators and journalists. A total of 1,401 people were eligible to participate in the survey, with 515 people completing it, representing a 37% response rate. 54% of Oireachtas staff and 25% of Political Staff or Members responded.
The survey results indicate that 78% of people feel that the Houses of the Oireachtas is a safe place work and 61% feel that they are treated with respect. However, inappropriate behaviour, in particular bullying, does occur in the parliamentary workplace with 15% of people stating that they have experienced bullying. The authors of the Report, Coyne Research, say that it is unsafe to draw conclusions from the small sample number relating to harassment/sexual harassment behaviours.
As the findings of the survey were published today the Ceann Comhairle and Chairperson of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission, Sean Ó Fearghaíl TD said, “The Houses of the Oireachtas Commission is 100% committed to the “Dignity and Respect Policy” which sets the standards of respect, dignity, safety and equality that apply to everyone in the Parliamentary Community. The purpose of the Policy is to promote a safe and harmonious workplace and to ensure that all those working in the Houses of the Oireachtas are treated with dignity and respect. I welcome the findings of the online survey. It is re-assuring that the majority of people in the Parliamentary Community feel safe and respected. However, the findings are far from perfect and have highlighted, in particular, bullying as a problem behaviour and also a reluctance of those who experience bullying to report it, stating fear of repercussions or feeling that it would be ineffective.
The findings will enable the Houses of the Oireachtas to focus on certain areas for continued improvement. The Parliamentary Community must work together to implement the policy to address bullying and other inappropriate behaviours, which will not be tolerated in any form. We will continue to support, promote and resource the policy including the provision of mediation services, a dedicated Helpline, Workplace Support Programme and review their effectiveness on an ongoing basis. A further exercise will be carried out to assess the impact of the initiatives we have undertaken.”
A copy of the results can be found here.