Tuesday 23 May 2017

Ireland captain Emma Byrne hails 'victory' after players and FAI come to agreement

Aine O’Gorman, left, and team captain Emma Byrne during a press conference in Dublin. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Aine O’Gorman, left, and team captain Emma Byrne during a press conference in Dublin. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Republic of Ireland women's captain Emma Byrne claimed victory after the players reached an agreement regarding working conditions with the Football Association of Ireland.

The Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU) and Professional Footballers' Association of Ireland representatives secured an agreement with the FAI after nine hours of talks which ended at 4am on Thursday.

Team members on Wednesday carried out their threat not to attend an FAI training camp in Dublin as they fought for the right to compensation from their governing body to cover lost earnings while on international duty and improved resources.

Byrne tweeted: "Long night, tough going - finally both sides came to an agreement! Victory! thank you for all your support. It proves unity is a powerful force."

Among the players' demands were match fees of 300 euros, bonuses of 150 euros for a win and 75 euros for a draw, gym membership for the squad and the provision of team clothing - with some players claiming they have had to change in airport toilets to hand back tracksuits after games.

SIPTU services division organiser Ethel Buckley said: "This landmark agreement was only possible due to the organisation, bravery and commitment of the national-team players. Their courageous action in publicly outlining their concerns provided their union representatives with a solid foundation from which to engage with the FAI and find a just resolution to this dispute.



"The events of the past two days amount to a short, sharp and successful campaign to advance the rights of women in sport. They are also a reminder that, in any area of modern Irish society, women should never accept being treated as second-class citizens."

PFAI player executive Ollie Cahill added: "The PFAI would like to thank SIPTU, who stood by us and guided us throughout this dispute. We would also like to thank the public for getting behind our union and supporting these inspirational women, and we now look forward to these players taking women's football in Ireland to the next level."

The FAI confirmed on Thursday morning that talks had led to all issues being resolved and that the players would resume training ahead of Monday's friendly against Slovakia.

Its statement read: "The Football Association of Ireland and the Republic of Ireland senior women's national team have reached agreement, following mediation talks.

"Discussions between both sides came to a successful conclusion earlier (on Thursday) morning, where all 'Issues to be addressed', as outlined by the players, were successfully resolved.

"Following the positive outcome to the mediation process the players confirmed that they will return to training today, in preparation for their international fixture against Slovakia on Monday at Tallaght Stadium."

A group of 13 players held a press conference in Dublin on Tuesday to express their growing disquiet over the situation.

The PFAI, which is affiliated to SIPTU, claimed the FAI had refused to enter into negotiations with it, but the FAI insisted it had made repeated overtures to resolve the matter.

In a separate development on Wednesday, FAI chief executive John Delaney was voted on to the UEFA executive committee at the UEFA Congress in Helsinki. Delaney refused to answer any questions about the women's issue.

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