Michael Colgan, former artistic director of the Gate Theatre in Dublin, has said his “behaviour should not be equated with sex crimes”, in response to accusations of sexual harassment and bullying by former employees.
Writing in Ireland’s Sunday Independent newspaper, Colgan apologised “to anyone who was ever made to feel upset” during his 33-year tenure at the theatre in the centre of the Irish capital.
He added: “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.”
His comments come just days after the Gate announced an independent review into the allegations against him by seven former female staff.
In the newspaper article, Colgan also took “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,” he said.
In an interview with Irish television channel TV3, theatre director Grace Dyas, who was the first to complain about Colgan, said she “welcomed that he has been considering his behaviour” but insisted he needed to think more about it.
Rejecting his apology, she said it wasn’t “telling the whole truth”.
“He says that he wasn’t aware of his behaviour. However, I believe that he was made aware by several people in his own organisation that his behaviour was inappropriate.”
She added: “I think his behaviour was more than politically incorrect. I think it was abusive, I think he was bullying and I also think he was sexually harassing people consistently throughout his tenure at the Gate Theatre.”
In the wake of the revelations, Ireland’s oldest university, Trinity College, Dublin, has said it will review Colgan’s honorary doctorate when the findings of the Gate’s independent review are published in January 2018.