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Still locked out? Report of NUJ Ireland women's conference

23 September 2013

The NUJ Ireland women's conference 2013 took place in Saturday 21 September in The Teachers' Club, Dublin. Participants were welcomed to the event by NUJ equality officer Lena Calvert and Mary Curtin, NUJ member, former radio producer and TUG secretary in RTÉ.

Mirror, Mirror? Does media representation of women in Ireland re-enforce or challenge stereotypes?


Suzy Byrne has worked in the area of LGBT and disability equality and community development in paid and unpaid roles over the past twenty years and is currently employed as a senior personal advocate for people with disabilities with the National Advocacy Service in Dublin. Suzy blogs about news and current affairs and has won a number of awards for her work. She regularly appears on TV and radio providing political commentary and analysis and information on the role of social media in politics.

Kathleen McDonnell is an Education Officer with Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre. She also currently sits on the Traveller Education Advisory Consultative Forum. From 1998 to 2004 she worked as a Traveller Community Healthcare Worker in the Blanchardstown/ Finglas area. She was the first Traveller to be hired by the Health Service Executive as the Joint Coordinator of a Primary Healthcare team in 2004.

Esther Lynch is Legislation and Social Affairs Officer with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. She advises Congress on matters relating to corporate governance, labour law, and safety, health and welfare. Esther is a Board Member of the Health and Safety Authority. A member of the NUJ she has studied Media at DIT and has a particular interest in stereotyping and the portrayal of older women in the media.

Panel session chair was Anthea McTiernan.

Sexism in the workplace: how to identify, challenge and resist inequality and organise fair workplaces

This session included panellists who have fought and won on issues in their workplace including how fighting for employment status delivers for women and how one chapel used the employers agenda to improve maternity leave entitlements for the chapel.

"Silly girl journalist wins age discrimination case' was the headline in the Sunday Times when a young woman won her landmark case in 2006. Far from being a 'silly girl' that NUJ member now works for the Irish Times and her story shows that fighting for your rights at work does no damage to your career.

Nicola Coleman is an NUJ official who represented an NUJ member in Ireland's first equal pay claim on age and gender discrimination. She has organised members who were wrongfully classed as self-employed in national newspapers, securing employment contracts and all associated rights.

The session was chaired by Emma O'Kelly and was not recorded for publication.

Learning the lessons of the Lock Out: can we use the centenary of the 1913 as a spring board for action?


Dr Ida Milne is a historian who uses oral testimony to explore her research interests – medical history, newspaper and trade union history, Protestant identification with the new Irish nation. With Dr Mary Muldowney, she organised the 1913 Lockout Alternative Visions oral history project, training trade unionists and community activists to collect oral histories in their workplace and communities. She is a founder member and director of the Oral History Network of Ireland. Dr Milne is a member of the NUJ and is a former journalist and librarian at Independent Newspapers.

Dr Mary Cullen is a former Senior Lecturer in Modern History at NUI Maynooth and currently a Research Associate at the Centre for Gender and Women's Studies at TCD. Her main area of research and publication is in the history of the first wave Irish Women's Movement. Her Telling It Our Way: Essays in Gender History was published by Arlen House in 2013.

Ethel Buckley is National Campaigns and Equality Organiser and Head of the Policy Research Unit in SIPTU. She was recently elected to the Executive Council of the ICTU. She was a union activist and Shop Steward in University College Cork before choosing to work full-time in the trade union movement. She is a strong advocate within the movement of the need to move away from the servicing model of trade unionism towards grassroots campaigning and organising. She is a feminist and lives in Dublin with her partner and three young children.

The session was chaired by Kitty Holland.

Closing remarks were made by Norma Prendiville former chair of the Irish Executive Council and NUJ Ireland Southwest branch chair.

Through out the day there was an Arlen House bookstall at the conference. Arlen House was originally founded in 1975 as Ireland's first feminist publishing house. It was re-launched in 2000 with the aim of continuing to expand the original objectives of publishing high quality feminist and academic titles for Ireland and beyond.

The publisher brought a wide range of books to the NUJ's women's conference and including rare titles as well as contemporary publications. Arlen House is also the publisher of Mary Cullen's latest book: Telling it our way – Essays in Gender History.

Tags: , gender, sexism, women, women in the nuj, nuj women's conference, dublin lock-out, arlen house, siptu, rté, irish south west branch