Galway West TD Derek Nolan has warned that a recently established taskforce to review gender equality matters at NUI Galway will not succeed if it does not have widespread support from University staff.
“Recent cases against the University have highlighted significant equality issues and there is real concern among staff that these are not isolated incidents. That the University acknowledges these issues is to be welcomed and offers, I believe, the basis for their resolution.
“There is genuine anger at what has transpired however, and a feeling amongst all sections of the university, including academic staff, non-academic staff and students, that a thorough and completely independent investigation of systems of promotion and recognition, including gender equality is necessary.
“There is significant opposition to the taskforce as announced, not least the absence of published terms of reference, the methods of appointment, the expertise available and how it will carry out its function. Concerns that the review will not be fully transparent or independent are genuinely held by staff and their union representatives.
“NUI Galway needs to face these recent challenges in an agreed and collaborative way. I fear that the process that is currently developing will not enjoy the widespread support of staff and so will be incapable of achieving its objective and engendering support. This would not be a good outcome for the University, its management team, staff or students. It would also seem to be completely avoidable.
Deputy Nolan concluded by stating that, “I have written to the President and Governing Body of NUI Galway asking them to revisit the construct and remit of this taskforce so that it can achieve support from all NUI Galway stakeholders. This will require real and meaningful engagement with staff and their union representatives to make this a reality. To proceed at this point, with such level of disagreement, would surely not achieve a positive and accepted outcome“.
Meanwhile, University President Dr. Jim Brown has yet to provide any indication of his intention to follow through on the statement that he was open to an ‘amicable’ solution to the case of 5 unpromoted female lecturers who have taken cases in the high court. It is believed that the women have sought to establish exactly what such an amicable resolution would involve but have not yet received any commitment from the university management.
An academic council meeting on Wednesday next week has a proposal before it to promote the 5 women. It is hoped that this will be carried though many remain skeptical given that the academic council itself is 81% male. This statistic is compounded by the fact that the council contains all of the men promoted in the highly disputed promotion rounds of 2009 and 2014 in which both the 5 women and Dr. Micheline Sheehy Skeffington were denied promotion.