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Big Interview: 'My father's death made me determined to stand up for colleagues rights' - Garda union leader Antoinette Cunningham

Garda union leader Antoinette Cunningham tells Paul Williams how she smashed the glass ceiling

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Achiever: Antoinette Cunningham, who has been promoted to the rank of inspector since this photo was taken. Photo: Liam Burke/Press 22

Achiever: Antoinette Cunningham, who has been promoted to the rank of inspector since this photo was taken. Photo: Liam Burke/Press 22

Achiever: Antoinette Cunningham, who has been promoted to the rank of inspector since this photo was taken. Photo: Liam Burke/Press 22

As a lone woman in a traditionally male-dominated world, Antoinette Cunningham probably holds the national record for smashing through a succession of glass ceilings and rising through the ranks to one of the top jobs in Garda trade unionism.

She officially broke the final gender barrier earlier this month when, following an independent external selection process, she emerged as the best candidate for the job of general secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) - the first woman to hold the position in its 43-year history.

On her way to achieving that career-defining milestone, Ms Cunningham also achieved four other records for equality, having been the first woman to serve at every executive level of the union.