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Sunday 25 June 2017

Mediator brought in for intense talks to tackle players' dispute with FAI

Republic of Ireland women’s team captain Emma Byrne, centre, with teammates, from left, Karen Duggan, Aine O’Gorman, Claire Shine, Niamh Fahey, Jetta Berril, Ruesha Littlejohn, Niamh Reid-Burke, Katie McCabe, Julianne Russell, Megan Campbell, Diane Caldwell, Stephanie Roche and Louise Quinn. Photo: Cody Glenn
Republic of Ireland women’s team captain Emma Byrne, centre, with teammates, from left, Karen Duggan, Aine O’Gorman, Claire Shine, Niamh Fahey, Jetta Berril, Ruesha Littlejohn, Niamh Reid-Burke, Katie McCabe, Julianne Russell, Megan Campbell, Diane Caldwell, Stephanie Roche and Louise Quinn. Photo: Cody Glenn

Gavin White and Chai Brady

Representatives for the Irish women's soccer team were locked in intense mediation talks with the FAI in a bid to resolve the row over pay and conditions.

The Republic of Ireland's women's national team held a press conference on Tuesday with representatives from the Professional Footballers' Association of Ireland and Siptu protesting against their treatment by the Football Association of Ireland.

Yesterday, talks got under way with former trade union leader Peter McLoone acting as appointed mediator.

The players are due to train today after they did not train yesterday. They are also due to face Slovakia in an international friendly fixture in Tallaght stadium on Monday, which has now been put in doubt by the dispute.

Match fees for international fixtures and tracksuit issues for travelling members of the team were among the concerns raised.

Read More: Budget for England women's team €12m more than our girls get to 'keep them on road'

Yesterday, Sports Minister Patrick O'Donovan said there needed to be a change in our national "mindset as to how we view the role of women in sport".

Mr O'Donovan said: "I think it's in everybody's interest that first of all there will be no strike, and secondly, for the players concerned, I'm sure that their only concern is to be in the best possible place they can be to prepare for the game next Monday."

He said he wanted the matter "sorted soon" and "for a process to be put in place".

"I don't believe for one minute they want to be in the space that they're in and I think that everybody needs to come to an accommodation on it," he said.

"It's 2017 and that's not good. That's why everybody's reaction to this when it came out in the media over the last 24-48 hours was the same: it's not good.

The minister said he wanted a resolution before Monday's fixture with Slovakia.

Kieran Mulvey, head of the Irish Sports Council, said the organisation was "concerned" about the dispute. Sport Ireland appointed former trade union leader Peter McLoone as mediator for the meeting.

Mr Mulvey said they wished not to "attract further international attention on this", but that "the matters are addressed" as soon as possible. "As a former head of mediation myself in Ireland, a lot of these issues should be capable to be resolved around a table. I don't know both sides of the story, but my view is the best way to resolve these is to list them out, and to sit down with an independent mediator.

"I understand from what the FAI are saying that they have a particular issue around that, but that can always be addressed by proximity talks, they don't always have to meet face to face," he said.

Mr Mulvey also said it was his understanding that the FAI had an arrangement regarding the senior team that didn't involve external representation.

"I think suddenly things that seem major in a discussion may not seem as major again once they get around the table.

"I certainly made contact with the FAI to see were they amenable to a mediator if we appointed one and I understand that's in the positive," he said.

John Delaney, CEO of the FAI, said "As you know I've been away the last number of days but as I understand it mediation has been agreed."

Mr Delaney said he "just hopes all the matters get resolved".

Irish Independent

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