The Law Society of Ireland has launched an investigation into the circulation of “highly offensive” posts about female trainee solicitors at its Blackhall Place campus.
The body said it was “appalled” to learn about the inappropriate comments, said to have been posted to a private WhatsApp group.
The group, circulated among male first-year trainees, contained messages about their female colleagues and was called ‘T*ts and Filth.’
In a statement, the Law Society said its counselling service has been providing additional supports to students since the group was revealed.
It said it had “taken immediate action to thoroughly investigate the circumstances” behind the allegations and would take disciplinary action if they are found to be true.
In the meantime, access to private messaging groups has been blocked within the law school.
Meanwhile, the Director of Education at the law school's Blackhall campus, TP Kennedy has issued a warning about the messages to the entire student body.
“It has been brought to the attention of the Law School staff that a group of students have been posting inappropriate content relating to female students in messaging groups,” he wrote in an email.
“The content of these posts is highly offensive and also gives rise to profound ethical concerns.
“These messages have caused deep distress to many students. This kind of behaviour will not be tolerated and has no place on a professional training course.”
'Fit and proper'
He warned that trainees are subject to the same ethical rules and regulations as practicing solicitors.
“Posting inappropriate content may have the effect of bringing the profession into disrepute and consequently may raise concerns as whether any trainee involved in generating or circulating such content might be a ‘fit and proper person to be admitted as a solicitor,’” he wrote.
He noted that “certain messaging apps” had now been blocked and said the students would be provided with “appropriate additional training.”
Noeline Blackwell, CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, said the claims are very concerning.
“Especially about people that they knew,” she said.
“To treat them as objects; to treat them as objects to be humiliated and shamed – that is an extraordinary thing to say about some of the most privileged young people in our society.”
She said it can be devastating to learn that your colleagues have been posting offensive things about you.
“Obviously they look at the people around them very differently when they know that people could be thinking and talking about them in that way,” she said.
“They are the people who feel the shame – although the shame isn’t theirs; the shame is for the people who are in the group.