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Organist and Dean at loggerheads

10 August 2012


Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin 

Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin 

A FORMER organist at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, has brought a claim for constructive dismissal against the Cathedral, and against the Dean, the Very Revd Dermot Dunne, alleging bullying, harassment, and intimidation.

Judy Martin was the organist and choirmaster at the cathedral from 2003 until she resigned in February of last year. She has been described as "one of the finest choral conductors of her generation", the Employment Appeals Tribunal in Dublin was told.

The tribunal heard, during opening arguments by Ms Martin's legal counsel, Peter Shanley, that she was forced to resign from her job owing to a campaign of "bullying, harassment, and intimidation" by Dean Dunne.

The counsel for Dean Dunne, Michael MacNamee, said that his client categorically denied the alle­gations.

Mr Shanley told the tribunal that his client became the first female cathedral organist in Irish or British history when she was offered a con­tract from Christ Church Cathedral to conduct its choir in 2003.

She had co-founded the choir at St Mary Magdelen's, Oxford, before being appointed director of chapel music at Worcester College, Oxford, in 2001.

Ms Martin served the cathedral without incident until Dean Dunne, (a former Roman Catholic priest and Archdeacon of Ferns, who joined the C of I during the 1990s) took over in May 2008, he said.

Relations between the two broke down, and became progressively worse, until Ms Martin lodged a form­al complaint to a senior ad­ministrator at the cathedral in June 2009. This led to a meeting between the two, but there was no improve­ment in their working relationship.

The tribunal was told that, in May 2010, Ms Martin said that she was wrongly accused of misconduct for allegedly communicating confidential church information to the choir - a claim that, she said, was "entirely fab­ricated" - before appearing at a griev­ance hearing in which her complaints against the Dean were not upheld, owing to the lack of docu­mentary evidence.

She took leave of absence, suffering from psychological and physical ill­ness which she attributed to the alleged bullying. In February 2011, she tendered her resignation.

Appearing for the Dean, Mr Mac­Namee said that any problems between her and Dean Dunne were because of Ms Martin's "resistance to change" as part of an internal reorg­anisation.

The hearing was adjourned until November.

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