Thursday 22 March 2018

Four female lecturers at NUI Galway initiate High Court case against college

Adrienne Gorman, Sylvie Lannegrand, Roisin Healey, Micheline Sheehy Skeffington, Margaret Hodgins and Elizabeth Tilley at NUIG. Photo: Andrew Downes.
Adrienne Gorman, Sylvie Lannegrand, Roisin Healey, Micheline Sheehy Skeffington, Margaret Hodgins and Elizabeth Tilley at NUIG. Photo: Andrew Downes.
Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

FEMALE lecturers who were passed over for promotion at NUI, Galway have initiated a High Court case against the college.

Four of the five women who were shortlisted for promotion along with Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington only to be passed over are taking the case.

They submitted papers to the High Court on the matter and papers have also been served on the college.

The four taking the case are Dr Margaret Hodgins, Dr Sylvie Lannegrand, Dr Adrienne Gorman and Dr Róisín Healy. The fifth female lecturer, Dr Elizabeth Tilley is pursuing a separate case in the Labour Court.

They had all been deemed eligible for promotion to Senior Lecturer posts in 2009 but were all turned down.

This was raised by the Equality Tribunal when it found in favour of former botany lecturer Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington who it ruled had been discriminated on the grounds of gender. The university was ordered to promote the botany lecturer who has since taken early retirement.

Dr Healy said the group had attempted to reach a satisfactory resolution with the university over a number of months but none was forthcoming.

“We’ve had three meetings with the university, the most recent in late March where we have discussed the matter in length but received no satisfaction,” she said.

While they will now move forward with the High Court case, Dr Healy said she still hoped an amicable solution could be found.

“This is a last resort for us. The reason we initiated the High Court case is because we had six years to initiate it and that time has passed since we were notified of the 2009 promotions round outcome. We were down to a matter of days.

“We were overlooked in the 2009 promotion round, this has been proven. All we want is a resolution to this grievance,” she added.

Following on from the Equality Tribunal finding the university set up a task force on gender equality. However, it has been criticised by Ms Sheehy Skeffington and the academic section of Siptu over its lack of independence. Siptu has directed its members not to co-operate with it.

Dr Sheehy Skeffington has offered to donate her €70,000 damages to the women’s court case.

Both of the unions at NUI Galway, SIPTU and the Irish Federations of University Teachers (IFUT), are supporting the cases. The two unions have now also offered financial contributions.

Meanwhile the IFUT has called on the Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan to implement a recommendation from the European Commission to improve pay transparency to help close the gender pay gap.

Joan Donegan, Deputy General Secretary of IFUT called on the Minister to “make a clear and detailed public statement regarding the extent of the crisis at NUIG and set out clear actions to be taken, as requested by the European Commission.”

NUI Galway declined to comment yesterday.

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