Additional gender inequality cases expected at NUI Galway

Micheline Sheehy Skeffington: more cases in the pipeline against NUIG, it has been warned.

Further Micheline Sheehy Skeffington-type gender inequality legal cases could come out of the woodwork at NUI Galway, it has been claimed.

Galway senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh said “institutional discrimination across all grades of staff remain unresolved” at the university.

The Sinn Féin representative said SIPTU is reporting increased caseloads of women at NUIG seeking help from the trade union.

The Connemara-based representative said the problem of gender inequality is getting worse, not better, at NUIG despite setting-up a gender equality taskforce and the appointment of a vice president for equality.

“Despite lots of talk of change and new initiatives being announced at the university, it appears that the underlying issues that gave rise to a number of high-profile court cases have not been adequately addressed and that things may in fact be getting worse,” he said.

Senator Ó Clochartaigh raised the matter on the Order of Business in Seanad Éireann. He said relations between senior management and trade unions have deteriorated, and there has been very little progress in relation to solving issues such as grading of staff, promotions, and pay and conditions.

Dr Micheline Sheehy-Skeffington, who was not promoted by NUIG in 2009 because she was a woman, won €70,000 in compensation from an Equality Tribunal.

She is using the award to help five other women to pursue their discrimination cases against NUIG – one is being pursued through the Labour Court; the other four through the High Court.

Urging the president of NUIG, Dr James Browne, to constructively engage with unions, Senator Ó Clochartaigh warned there may be many more cases that could come to the fore.

“It is now over two years since the Micheline Sheehy Skeffington Tribunal case. It is my understanding that staff representatives believe that over two years has been spent trying to engage with senior management of NUIG, who have frustrated efforts to seek proper resolution to issues and who fundamentally fail to acknowledge that this is a very serious issue that must be addressed properly.

“I would not be surprised if we see more cases of gender inequality in NUIG coming to the fore in the near future, and I am calling on the president, Jim Browne, and his staff to engage in a more constructive way to ensure that his legacy is not one of having presided over widespread discrimination in a university that prides itself on research excellence in the area of fundamental human rights,” added Senator Ó Clochartaigh.