NUIG President refuses Oireachtas meeting

President of NUI Galway James J Browne, declined to meet with Oireachtas members over concerns with gender discrimination issues within the university.

Trevor O’Clochartaigh, Sinn Fein Senator, wrote to the chair of the Governing Body of NUIG of Justice Catherine McGuniness to request a meeting in which to discuss concerns that have been raised over gender equality issues within the university and how they intend to address these issues.

In late 2014, Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington won a case against NUIG after appearing in front of the Equality Tribunal. The tribunal found the university discriminated against the lecturer on the grounds of her gender in a promotion process in 2009.

The Higher Education Authority then said that women are very much under-represented in senior academic roles with Ireland’s third-level institutions. University College Cork being the lowest with 27 percent of women holding senior positions; Maynooth University at 28 per cent; University College Dublin at 29 percent and Trinity College Dublin at 33 percent.

NUIG caused further controversy when a questionnaire, distributed to prospective female job applicants was released. The questionnaire included invasive questions regarding their menstrual cycle and breasts. NUIG defended the questions saying they were relevant in determining whether an employee would attend work regularly and if they were fit for the job.

According to NUIG Students’ Union Welfare Officer Aoife Ní Shúilleabháin, the questionnaires were distributed by a private company and are used by many employers.

Department of Justice and Equality told The College View; “Established Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has among its functions the role of both encouraging a culture of respect for equality and also promoting an awareness and understanding of equality.”

The aim of Human Rights and Equality commission is for equality for all members, institutions and work places in Ireland, to ensure an equal working environment. Senator O’ Clochartaigh has appealed for Justice Mc Guinness to reconsider his meeting request with the Oireachtas.

Nicola Ayres

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